–by Stephen Murphy-Shigematsu (May 12, 2017)
These are the times that try our souls. Each of us needs to undergo a tremendous philosophical and spiritual transformation. Each of us needs to be awakened to a personal and compassionate recognition of the inseparable interconnection between our minds, hearts, and bodies, between our physical and psychical well-being, and between our selves and all the other selves in our country and in the world. Each of us needs to stop being a passive observer of the suffering that we know is going on in the world and start identifying with the sufferers. Each of us needs to make a leap that is both practical and philosophical, beyond determinism to self-determination. Each of us has to be true to and enhance our own humanity by embracing and practicing the conviction that as human beings we have free will; that despite the powers and principalities that are bent on objectifying and commodifying us and all our human relationships, the interlocking crises of our time require that we exercise the power within us to make principled choices in our ongoing daily and political lives, choices that will eventually, although not inevitably—there are no guarantees—make a difference. […]
In Japanese, heartfulness is represented by the character 念 consisting of two parts: 今, now; and 心, heart. 心 is Kokoro, which includes feeling, emotion, mind, and spirit—the whole person. In English, “heartfulness” may be closer to this holistic meaning than the word “mindfulness”, which for some people evokes images of the brain as detached from the heart.
Minds and hearts are separated in a Western sense, with mind as reason deemed superior to emotion or feeling of the heart. Heartfulness rejects this dominance of the mind and intellect, and opens us to be guided by one’s heart. Being in a state of heartfulness means listening to the heart, to one’s inner voice and forgetting the self, becoming selfless. Heartfulness is cultivating the heart through inner stillness and silence, becoming more human, being more truthful with one’s self. It is opening the heart, becoming more loving, compassionate, and kind, to one’s own self and to all other human beings. Its practice is gentle, appreciative, and nurturing.
Heartfulness begins with mindfulness and extends into other ways of being, embracing vulnerability, humility, acceptance and authenticity. Realizing our connectedness with others leads to empathy, deep listening, and respect. We become compassionate persons and responsible citizens acting to eliminate suffering in self and others and in the world. Heartfulness is compassionate mindfulness in which the awareness of being connected to the self, perhaps a Higher Self and with everything and everyone makes us hate injustice and moves us to do things for others because their welfare is our concern.
Listen to your heart.
Listen with your heart.
See with your heart.
Open your heart.
What will your heart tell you today?
–Stephen Murphy-Shigematsu from his website [Illustration offered as an anonymous gift :-)]