A lot of times I hear people ask what is the difference between mind and heart. How do we know if we use our mind or our heart? I have been wondering the same question for a long time. When my mind thinks about something, reasons about something or imagines something, I see this as kind of like surfing. Imagine when we surf on the ocean, we go with the wave. Usually we won’t try to stop, because we know we will fall and might get hurt. We let the wave continue to lead us until we get to the shore. When our mind thinks about something and it keeps rolling, most of the time we will let it keep rolling like we go with the wave, especially if we are full of emotions. And we won’t stop it until we reach the point to stop us. That is the point where we hit the shore. This kind of surfing is on the very surface of the ocean. So this kind of mind is like the very surface of our inner world.
“O My servants! My holy, My divinely ordained Revelation may be likened unto an ocean in whose depths are concealed innumerable pearls of great price, of surpassing luster. It is the duty of every seeker to bestir himself and strive to attain the shores of this ocean, so that he may, in proportion to the eagerness of his search and the efforts he hath exerted, partake of such benefits as have been pre-ordained in God’s irrevocable and hidden Tablets. (Gleanings From the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh 153)
In God’s teaching, we learn that we can’t find a hidden treasure unless we dive into the ocean. If we see our inner world like an ocean, then we know we can’t find the treasure unless we dive into our deeper mind. How can we dive into it? Here, I will use what I experienced recently as an example and show you how I observe different depths of my mind in my mediation.
There are many fears we have when we raise kids. My daughter just turned fifteen. She wants to be like her friends and to learn to drive. To me, trusting her to be able to drive safely is my concern. The more I insist she needs to wait, the more she feels it should be now. So I bring the question to my meditation. I put away all my thinking and just look into my feelings. I see hurt and pain from been misunderstood. The feeling brings me to look deeper and try to see what I am afraid of. The conflicts we have had before seem to flow up to the surface. I see in those different conditions of conflict there is the same thing, the same painful feeling. I look and look again and try to find what I was really afraid of. I can’t find the reasons but only the pain I am afraid of. All the reasoning is the effect of the root issue. The root issue is the pain which I am afraid of.
Then I start to ask myself another question, what causes this fear? Honestly, I can’t see the answer. But it seems there is something that tells me to look at others’ feelings. When I switch my attention to my daughter’s feeling, I start to feel her heart and pain. We were in the same degree of fear but afraid of different things. If my daughter has her needs as an indicator whether she is loved or not, then if I insist not to give in, it will cause her fear. This is the same with me, if I use how much she shows responsibility as an indicator to determine if she has earned my trust and is able to get what she asks for, we both are experiencing the fear in our own path. This act of “looking at others’ feelings” helps me come to realize we are the same, we experience the same degree of fear when we have conflict. Coming to this realization helps me to overcome my own pain and be able to feel my daughter’s pain. And be able to embrace instead of letting the painful feeling continue.
I start seeing the meaning of what I have experienced. I know that I need to cultivate compassion more and the solution requires that I consider the fear which my daughter might have. So how can I resolve the issue? Maybe we can address how to achieve that goal together by looking into how we can share the responsibility. Which part she can learn to earn herself and which part can we provide as parents. So she can plan ahead and start doing something to show she is responsible. In the process we can help each other without fear.
O SON OF MAN! If thou lovest Me, turn away from thyself; and if thou seekest My pleasure, regard not thine own; that thou mayest die in Me and I may eternally live in thee. (The Hidden Words of Bahá’u’lláh, Arabic 7)
When my mind shifts from reasoning into feeling, it’s like my mind stops surfing on the surface of the ocean and starts to dive into the ocean. The top layer of the mind is feeling. When I look deeper into the fear, I dive into it more. When I receive inspiration, I start to turn away myself and not focus on my painful feelings anymore. The inspiration surely is not on the surface of the mind. When I get past that point, I feel my mind is in a stable condition and am able to look into my daughter’s feelings. At that point, the meaning and the purpose for what I experienced becomes clearer and clearer. The deeper we dive into our mind, we see the opposite side of things and different meanings. In that deep layer of mind, we understand the reason why God allows that thing to happen. We see the purpose and we see what we have to learn from it. We may see the particular things we need to improve. For me this experience is for me to learn to be more compassionate and be able to see a way to make things work.
When we close the door to our feelings, we close the door to the vital currents that energize and activate our thoughts and actions. We cannot begin the process of understanding the effects of our emotions upon us, our environment, and other people, or the effects of the emotions of other people upon themselves, their environment, and us. Without an awareness of our emotions, we cannot associate the effects of anger, sadness, grief, and joy-within ourselves or others-with their causes. We cannot distinguish between that part of us which is personality and that part of us which is soul. Without an awareness of our feelings we cannot experience compassion. How can we share the sufferings and the joys of others if we cannot experience our own? (Gary Zukav, the Seat of the Soul)
Like learning to dive, we need to practice diving into our mind. In this meditation process, we observe different things in different depths of our mind. Seeking inspiration and seeking the love of God, we need to pass the agitated surface and go deep into our heart. In that state of mind, our mind is calm enough and able to simply observe what is there and not be caught up in it. In that state we may be able to see that inspiration is different from imagination. We will be able to understand the meaning of what we have experienced and see our heart’s desire from God. We see that the challenges we encounter are for a great purpose, for us to grow spiritually. We also feel more connected with God and feel more His love. This is what I would say: Behind the fear is a solution when we anchor our heart to God.
This is how I learned more about God, by seeking the meanings to overcome the challenges I have and understand what God has desired for me. The more I try to seek His pleaure, the more I feel His love.
O SON OF BEING! Thy Paradise is My love; thy heavenly home, reunion with Me. Enter therein and tarry not. This is that which hath been destined for thee in Our kingdom above and Our exalted dominion. (The Hidden Words of Bahá’u’lláh, Arabic 6)
O SON OF BEING! My love is My stronghold; he that entereth therein is safe and secure, and he that turneth away shall surely stray and perish. (The Hidden Words of Bahá’u’lláh, Arabic 9)