Mind in the Heart

Hi Cynthia — I’m writing to you here because the comments section to your most recent blog doesn’t seem like the right place. I’m neither a Wilber expert or apologist, but doesn’t he use the developmental line of emotional intelligence to describe what, in the Eastern Orthodox tradition, is called putting the mind in the heart?  To me the important thing is that we are seeing, across different traditions, how the process of “coming on line” of the capacities of heart and gut (Gurdjieff’s emotional and moving centers) are brought into language. And even more important, that you are showing Christians that this is both possible and necessary. It seems to me that contemporary teachers like Adyashanti and Thomas Hubl place much attention on the development of these centers, but their way of talking about them is quite different. Of course, I’m interested in your response. Aren’t these different models and methods for the process of putting the mind in the heart? Thanks in advance, and appreciative of the dialog!

Thanks, Marianne, for your great and timely question.

Yes, Ken Wilber does address emotional intelligence in one of the several developmental lines in his overall mapping of consciousness, but the point is that only the COGNITIVE line really breaks into an articulated “third tier” or nondual typology (I have Integral Spirituality on my lap as I speak). And this obscures the basic point which I believe, the Christian mystical tradition has been making all along:  namely, that the cognitive line will not kick into “third tier” mode until the mind is in the heart, not just attitudinally (as a stage of growth) but physiologically—neurologically—as well. Brain must entrain to heart before there is a stable platform to run the nondual perception program and the nondual seat of selfhood. Ken’s map, while acknowledging that there’s more to consciousness than just the cognitive line alone, fails to demonstrate how the lines must necessarily come together at the junction point of mind and heart.

And yes, I do think there’s a growing awareness among contemporary spiritual teachers of the need for mind/heart engagement and the full maturation of our human personhood as constituents of a genuine nondual emergence (Ken’s latest mnemonic gambit, “Showing Up, Waking Up, Growing Up, Cleaning Up,” implicitly acknowledges this.) But I nonetheless believe that his maps do not sufficiently demonstrate the physiological basis of nondual perception, nor the key role that heart perception plays in catalyzing this shift. Thus, they unintentionally devalue the Western contribution to this conversation, misrepresenting the personal and ardor-filled nature of so much of Western (not just Christian, but even more Sufi and Jewish) mystical discourse as simply signs of an immature spiritual development rather than a mode of signalling the active presence of HEART in the field of perception.

The dialogue continues….all insights sincerely offered get ground and burnished in the school of “sohbet,” or spiritual conversation.