No matter how I look at it, which perspective I try to take, I cannot find a single war or battle that wasn’t fought over the belief in a persons own immortal soul – the piece of that person that has them conceive their own spirituality. Some may say that they are not spiritual people, that agnosticism is their personal stand. Yet if we truly take the time to sit quietly, contemplatively and look into ourselves will we not see that there must be something more to us, to our being, than the demand to satisfy basic elemental needs? Could it be that the one thing we have the hardest time explaining is what motivates us in the first place?
Ancient Egyptians believed that the human soul was made up of five parts: the Ren, the Ba, the Ka, the Sheut, and the Ib*. Of all these divisions, one of the most important parts was the Ib, or the heart. This, to the ancient Egyptians, was considered the root of all thought and intention, including emotions. We know that it feels like your heart is breaking when you experience true sadness, like the death of a loved one. Or your heart feels as if it may burst when you discover new love. Do these emotions come from our physical body, chemicals aflame within in our systems creating a purely organic reaction? Or is the heart and the soul one? Did the Egyptians have a greater spiritual endowment of understanding?
It is true that the heart and the mind can sometimes feel as one, with either controlling the other despite our bravest opposition. Battles have been fought over love, hurt pride and ego. (Helen of Troy comes to mind…) And I can personally say I would die for the ones I love.
The cynic in me however, bears to question these emotions. Would it not be less complicated if love was all in our heads, if we could turn off the emotion like a dripping faucet to quiet our minds? There are times when I wish I would never have loved, for then maybe I never would have lost… Although the times when I feel this way are never those moments when I am lost in happiness, overcome with joy – or even love.
The physical heart is our most important organ. Some would argue that the brain would have to take that task, for without it we would not have the consciousness that allows us to experience the cerebral manifestations we are exposed to in life. Yet the life that is pumped from this flesh and blood machine which sits within the walls of our chest is what keeps us alive and viable beings.
Is it so much of a surprise then that when we are experiencing grief, jealousy or rage we often have a palpable pain in our chests? I remember feeling as if I had been physically stabbed in my heart, to the point I lost my breath, when I was told the person most dear to me had died. My heart felt broken, the corporeal misery was genuine and undeniable.
The Buddhists say that a closed heart does not unconditionally love itself or others, and that when our hearts become calloused and locked we can only experience fear and loneliness. It is not a coincidence that the Heart Chakra is positioned in the middle of our chests, above our hearts. If we open our hearts we will be able to experience unconditional love, compassion and forgiveness. So this most vital organ in our body is the key to our understanding of life because life revolves around love and loss. We will infinitely endeavor to understand its function because that may be a step to help us understand ourselves.