With Valentine’s Day on the way, I thought it would be interesting to discuss matters of the heart. Valentine’s is traditionally about the celebration of romantic love, a wonderful human kind of love. Today, I wish to give this celebration new meaning by looking at it from a different angle, that of higher love, and by focusing on the source of that love, the heart.
From the human perspective, the heart is the wellspring of feelings. On the positive side, they are the warm and fuzzy kind: love, sympathy, happiness, and the like. On the negative, the heart feels fear, anger, hurt, and sadness, for example.
The spiritual heart has a life of its own, one that is beyond human feelings. Spiritual heart gives us direction, drive, strength, determination, maturity, and many other empowering principles if we listen, connect, and apply.
How to distinguish the two? Let’s look at some examples.
“I didn’t have the heart to tell him/her” is a common phrase. What does it mean? Did someone chicken out? Or did they sense something that led them to understand that speaking up wasn’t necessarily the right thing to do? Here, the heart either felt fear (human) or expressed wisdom (spirit). In either case, the heart provided an impetus for restraint.
“I had a change of heart” expresses a similar experience. However, don’t we usually change our mind? “My head says one thing but my heart says another.” Notice that there are times when your head can’t articulate the reason, but your heart knows. Intellectually, it may make no sense, but the heart impels us toward something.
On the human level, this is based on feelings, such as a need, desire, or want: “I want that cookie even though it will ruin my diet.” Or, more simply, “I need a relationship.” “I want a new job.” “I wish to travel.” Sometimes these things are in our best interest, sometimes they are not.
From the spiritual level, the heart provides a similar impetus. It, too, is a driver of some kind of movement or action. Because it comes from a higher level, this impetus transcends feelings and intellect, and its resulting movement is always toward a higher purpose or greater good.
- Have you ever had the urge to go somewhere or call someone that came to you unexpectedly but turned out to be the right thing at the right time?
- Have you ever been in a conversation, thinking one thing in your head but hearing different words come out of your mouth, words that were exactly the right thing to say?
- Have you been willing to forego something important for yourself because it was right for your relationship?
That’s spiritual heart.
These examples are meant show that the nature of the spiritual heart is not only beyond the traditional understanding of human love but also exists for the purpose of creating something greater. They show the experience of the spiritual level, where the heart’s wisdom is here to guide us.
Wisdom comes from qualities of the well-developed spiritual heart, some of which are:
- Courage (from Latin cor, meaning heart)
- Devotion, reverence
- Duty, honor
- Acceptance, respect
- Enthusiasm (from the Greek en- + theos meaning inspired, from god)
- Striving, which is the love of labor and the labor of love
These are a few of many divine principles that the spiritual heart can teach us, principles we are meant to learn and develop through life experience.
Ultimately, the spiritual heart is the basis of the peace that passes understanding, the place of central stillness, the source of inner strength. Without it we are but a ship lost in the midst of a turbulent ocean, being knocked about by the winds and waves and whims of life as well as our feelings and thoughts about that life.
This Valentine’s day, I hope you will seek to express both kinds of heart, both human and spiritual, as the path to loving more deeply and living more powerfully.