At the core of our physical being, in the center left of our chest, is an organ pumping the red life force of nutritious fluid that carries oxygen and nutrients to every cell of our body that it may live and breathe. This organ is the central supply of all activity of our body/mind. If you have ever seen a beating heart, with inner chambers undulating in the perfect synchronization of a single heart beat, and not felt the awesome mystery and miracle of such a display, I invite you to look deeper.
How amazing to see an invisible force in action. How mysteriously beautiful. The entire process is impelled by the need and longing of each cell for oxygen and fuel to sustain being. It is this very longing and need that propels the enactment of the most exquisitely complex and intricate processes of interrelationship of the organism that is known as the human body.
Without need there would be nothing happening. The self-sustaining activities of the body/mind are the basis and support for what may be called our precious human existence. The intricate interrelationship of the basic elements of earth, wind, water, fire and space configure, recycle, and reconfigure in infinite patterns—and we call this our life. Our heart, and every other cell of our physical being, is made up of exactly the same elements that appear `outside' or in the world. In fact, what we call our body/mind is simply the interplay of all the infinitely appearing, reconfiguring elements of matter and energy in playful dance.
What is this mysterious force that moves all of life, ranging from the heliotropic movement of a plant towards the sun, to a living heartbeat, to the interactive dance of countless galactic worlds? A mystic knows this great mystery to be a dance of divine love, an eternal display of countless forms and emptiness in perfect equipoise and ceaseless expression of itself. Or we could say that the entire creation of the universe is a longing of the cosmic heart to give expression to itself in its self-love.
If we consider that this might be true, then it follows that our very longing and our deepest yearning is the very impetus for all of life to appear. Every appearance, every arising of form, however, is followed by its disappearance or its dissolution. If our desire seeks to find fulfillment in something that is thought to be outside of ourself, in the form of any object that is doomed by impermanence to change—then our heart will continue to break in its unrequited yearning.
Our longing for experience continues to demonstrate a process of desire, a need-propelling activity to satisfy that desire, momentary fulfillment (if object is attained) or disappointment (if object is not attained). None of this activity, however, seems to fulfill our deepest longing. In fact, this very activity—to satiate desire through acquiring countless objects thought to promise fulfillment—seems to create our suffering and disappointment, our feelings of failure and inadequacy for attaining happiness.
If we are mistaking the temporal or relative and impermanent for what the heart is actually seeking (a permanently satisfying happiness), then we are forever doomed to suffer the lack. It is here in this broken heart that the promise of fulfillment actually awaits recognition. A heart that is broken by its unfulfilled longing is suffering from the truth that it will never be satisfied by anything that appears temporarily in the world.
A broken heart that can dwell right there in its pain and frustration and feeling of failure is closest to union with its deepest desire. If the heart can open to what is beneath the surface of unrequited longing and pain, it can embrace what is before, during, and beyond any impermanent or worldly seeking for happiness. A broken heart is ready to awaken to its deepest fulfillment.
If we do not cease grasping at new ideas for temporary satisfaction, we will continue to distract our attention away from this most tender and ripe potential place of true self-discovery. If we could learn to be with our most vulnerable feelings without seeking to change our experience, we might discover the hidden depths of our longing. If we could learn gradually, incrementally, to stay wherever we feel pain and longing, we could open to what is the deeper root of those feelings, to what is in fact the very source of all longing.
This suggestion to remain with feelings of loss and vulnerability is not a technique or discipline that we have been taught in our homes or schools for the most part. In fact, our world and our modern world's economy seem to work by repeatedly unsated mad consumer attempts to buy happiness in one form or another. Where and how do we learn to stay in the broken heart and dwell in the creative forces of our lives that seek to awaken us from our sleep? We turn to those who have made the journey through the broken heart and penetrated to its deepest center.
The mystical traditions all speak of the breaking open of the heart as a necessary prerequisite for the divine filling. How we can learn to bear the wound that is there is the big question. Let us consider how this might be possible. First, it seems that to remain with an open heart is to be able to remain with, to endure, to allow whatever our experience seems to be.
If there is disappointment, we must stay with that rather than seek to change that experience. Right there we could cease attempts at changing anything and simply abide in the feelings and direct sensations of the experience. As we allow whatever feelings about the situation to reveal themselves, and maintain an open willingness to allow feelings to emerge without grasping or pushing them away, we can begin to appreciate the changing and open quality of the stream or process of unfolding sensation and feeling. We can begin to sense the impermanent and changing quality of all phenomena and experience.
Allowing feelings to reveal themselves without grasping means that as thoughts about these feelings arise, we do not cling to them, involve our attention in them, or conclude anything. Instead, we just allow whatever data surfaces to speak equally and not dilute our focus of attention away from the direct bodily and emotional sensations that will continue to be felt. We use the breath to breathe space into sensation, so that we can be there with openness and attentive caring. We acknowledge and let go with our attention that continues to flow with the changing sensations. We allow the flow of the presence of awareness that does not cling to anything felt but continues to remain open to whatever will reveal itself. We let attention flow with the changing feelings and thoughts.
Allowing feelings to reveal themselves without pushing them away means becoming very aware of resistance and fear which may be directing attention away. Resistance often appears in the form of thoughts that reflect doubt about what we are doing, or suggestions of inadequacy and failure, or agitation and physical discomfort. Please keep in mind that resistance can take many different forms. We simply allow whatever experience continues to emerge, as our attentive and willing inquiry allows the deepening expression of what is there to acknowledge itself and continue to speak. We allow the unobstructed revelation of what is seeking to express itself through feelings, bodily sensations, and thoughts that arise and dissolve. We must remember not to allow our attention to be directed away with thoughts about what's happening, and continue to redirect our attention into the direct experience of changing sensations.
To open our heart to our deeper experience, we must be willing to bear or sustain what we consider to be the uncomfortable energies of want, need, frustration, expectation, anger, terror, desperation, hope and fear. To open our heart to our experience is to find the presence or the spaciousness of awareness in which we can remain in the midst of whatever discomfort might be arising—simply remaining spaciously aware of it with our breathing and ongoing willingness to abide continually with it—as it reveals itself in its momentary, impermanent, and changing quality.
It is exactly here, in the midst of our discomfort, where we do not distractedly run away and attempt to manipulate our experience, that we may begin to discover the natural dissolution of desire, fear, disappointment, sadness, or whatever feeling or emotion has kept us running in circles. As we commit to remaining present for the deeper expression of our longing or dissatisfaction, we begin to directly experience the self-liberating or dissolving of whatever we held to be our desire or the grief associated with never having attained it.
Longing was held to be a real need that we had to act out—simply because we did not give it our deepest attention. In the light of that attentive inquiry, that `being with directly', the experience dissolves into the next moment where what we thought was there is there no longer. Desire naturally dissolves if we do not seek to satisy it. Unrequited desire or grief naturally dissolves if we do not seek to distract ourselves from its feeling.
As we gradually develop the capacity to bear the feelings of the broken heart, this very heart that yearns for fulfillment is guided into its deepest source of true happiness. The heart that is encouraged by its commitment and courage is willing and more capable of increasingly abiding in the difficulties or the energetic discomforts of experience. This heart, that is pumping with the healthy vigor of loving commitment and growing strength, may gradually open deeper and deeper into its center or core, where there is revealed again and again—through all kinds of experience— its empty, open, luminous, clear, infinitely spacious center, where satisfaction is already present.
The heart learns to open deeper and deeper into the center of itself or into the space of its true nature, where there is revealed none other than the great space of pure awareness itself— empty, luminous, and brilliantly radiant and whole with infinite potential for all arising and dissolving of myriad worlds of infinite form. This heart is radiant and remains the center of all experience, the unchanging core of satisfaction and contentment that requires nothing and is independent of any cause or condition. This radiance is the source of all cause, condition or circumstance. Here the heart is one with its deepest yearning. Here the heart knows Itself. Nothing short of this remembrance or recognition can or will ever satisfy it.
The longing heart is the perfect expression of itself. If we simply allow our heart's deepest yearning to direct us to its very source, we will discover its secret center where all desire arises. All desire has only one fulfillment. All desire seeks to unite with its source. All desire, relentlessly unfulfilled by temporary resolution, leads us home if we would follow it in. This means that the broken heart is the doorway into our true nature. This means that if we stop trying to ameliorate our pain, if we cease distracting ourself from our feelings of grief, we can enter our radiant core.
So, let us resolve to face the truth of ourselves, to penetrate to this inner radiant heart wherever we have opportunity to do so. The greatest opportunity for finding our true nature is through the heart that longs for Itself. This heart can never be satisfied by anything less than the truth and, precisely because of this, each of us has an inner wisdom that is ever whispering to us. We must listen very closely to this inner voice that knows when we are fooling ourselves with irrelevant or temporary substitutes, knows when we are walking away from the way in and instead into a detour, knows when we are turning away from our opportunities. This inner voice does not judge or condemn. It simply knows, feels and points to a habitually patterned way of being or reacting, so that you will notice what is obstructing your way in. Let it guide you and encourage you on. Do not take this voice of pure guidance and turn it into an abusive authority, throwing you out into further separation or alienation from your heart's true center.
Listen to your deepest heart voice speak and resolve to go home. Look within and dare to release the habitual tendencies that move us out and away into further experience. Open your heart and hear it whisper to you. Hear it whisper in your dreams . . . listen. Hear it whisper in your sadness . . . listen. Hear it whisper in your discomfort . . . listen. Hear it whisper in the crack of your broken heart. Let your broken heart become a quivering heart that is trembling with prayer. Stay awhile in the inner chambers of your heart and let it reveal its intricate splendor.
You must become quiet in order to feel and hear and know the inner whisperings of your heart. It does not set off firecrackers to get your attention, but instead leads you to look down and notice a budding flower, an insect with a broken leg, the sound of a bird's wing in the air, the cry of a child, or a disappointment. Turning in, abide in the sacred stillness of your whispering heart and let it speak your way home. Let your heart guide you into your true nature—the heart of all hearts, the center of all creation.
- Andrea Pucci, Center Voice: Summer-Fall 2000.
Andrea Pucci is a forty-eight year old nurse currently living in Bishop, California, in the shadows of the High Sierras. On October 2, 1997, after a fourteen year journey, Andrea had a Gnostic Awakening during a Fall Meditation Retreat at Cloud Mountain. Andrea is a visiting teacher at the Center for Sacred Sciences in Eugene, Oregon.