In our society it’s common to revere the brain’s intelligence and see the emotions as loose cannons we need to control. This view has caused us to forget other forms of intelligence that can take us where the brain never will.
The brain is unparalleled in its ability to analyze and sort information, but it prefers to keep the status quo rather than take a chance on new information. The brain goes into panic mode when we bring up the subject of love because experiencing love requires the brain to surrender control. The brain hates vulnerability, but the courageous heart has an intelligence of its own.
Neuroscientists have discovered the heart contains at least forty thousand neurons, which rivals subcortical centers in the brain. We’ve all been taught that the brain is the command center of the body, but scientists have recently discovered that the heart also sends signals to the brain. When the heart sends a message to the brain, it obeys. When the brain sends a message to the heart it weighs the brain’s message according to its own brand of logic and then chooses whether or not it will comply.
Doc Childre and Howard Martin of the Institute of HeartMath write, “The heart isn’t only open to new possibilities, it actively scans for them. The intelligence of the heart acts as an impetus for what some scientists call qualia—our experience of the feelings and qualities of love, compassion, nonjudgment, tolerance, patience and forgiveness.”
The brain defends the personality and insists we’re separate beings, but the gut also contains neurons that appear to give us the ability to feel what others are feeling and gain a sense of oneness. Many researchers refer to the intelligence of the heart and gut as “emotional intelligence” to differentiate it from brain intelligence, but the intelligence we’re speaking of has nothing to do with sloppy sentimentality.
Emotional intelligence is not about being emotional. Being emotional can best be understood as the polar opposite of extreme logic. When the brain is in charge, we’re logical, rational, analytical, and put our feelings aside. Emotion is energy moving through the body that sets off complex physiological and chemical reactions. In fact, our emotional reactions are much faster than the brain’s ability to think. When the emotions are in charge, we’re erratic, irrational and perceive everything through our feelings.
Many who believe they’re following their heart have instead become slaves to the chemical cocktail the body prepares when we’re being emotional. Obviously giving free reign to either the brain or the emotions causes problems. We’ve all observed people who seemed to be stuck at either end of the pendulum or those who swing violently back and forth between the two. Most try to strike a balance between the brain and the emotions, but that’s like trying to keep oil and water mixed.
Unfortunately heart intelligence remains silent unless we purposely listen to it, but the brain keeps up its incessant chatter whether we want to hear it or not. When we are willing to listen to what the heart is telling us, we’re not just hearing our own thoughts, we’re connecting with the Divine. Rumi explains, “There is a rope of light between your heart and [Source] that nothing can weaken or break, and it is always in His hands.” The brain will keep us rooted to the earth but the emotional intelligence we access through the heart is a gateway to transcendence. Transcendent love isn’t an emotion or a commodity that we give or receive; it’s an all-encompassing state of being.
Spiritual masters all tell us that “God is love,” and above all else wants each of us to experience that love. According to many religions, God created humans to supply himself with obedient worshippers or as a means to gain self-knowledge by experiencing through creation. Either way, humans become little more than cosmic playthings. The Gnostic writer Valentinus describes Ultimate Reality’s motivation to create in a far different way:
Since the Father was creative, it seemed good to him to create and produce what was most beautiful and most perfect to himself. For he was all love and love is not love if there is nothing to be loved.
Rumi pointed out the same motivation when he said, “Without Love, nothing in the world would have life.” Ultimate Reality’s desire to love could never be satisfied by robotic clones that lack free will. Obviously, love can only be appreciated, exchanged and expressed between beings that can choose for themselves and exercise free will. Rumi explains, “. . .when the love for [Source] brims over in your heart, know that love for you is also brimming in His.”
We become aware of that love affair when we let go of the emotion that masquerades as love and experience Divine love through the heart’s intelligence. No matter how much the brain protests, at our innermost core our greatest desire is to give and receive love. Our world has taught us that love hurts, but the love offered by Source transcends duality by providing complete safety. Rumi explains:
You are—we all are—the beloved of the Beloved, and in every moment, in every event of your life, the Beloved is whispering to you exactly what you need to hear and know. Who can ever explain this miracle? It simply is. Listen and you will discover it every passing moment. Listen, and your whole life will become a conversation in thought and act between you and Him, directly, wordlessly, now and always. It was to enjoy this conversation that you and I were created.
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