(Continued from a previous post: Responsibility: if there is no doer and no-self, and if there no nobody here doing anything, then what about responsibility?)
Question: You mentioned earlier that the heart opens? That sounds rather fluffy and vague to me – what does it mean?
Tom: Yes, I know, it’s a bit of a vague term, but I like it! What I call heart opening is not the same as Freedom – it’s important to realise that – but there is a relationship between the two. The heart can open to a large extent without Freedom being realised, and conversely Freedom can be realised and the heart not be open. However the heart can only really fully open when Freedom has been realised, and by that I mean when the notion and sense of doership has been seen through and seen to be false.
So what is heart opening? Well it happens differently with different people, depending on their conditioning, but essentially it is an openness of the emotional centre and a tendency towards feeling open, loving, peaceful and joyous.
Question: What do you mean by ‘openness of the emotional centre’?
Tom: I mean a willingness to feel one’s feelings, really feel what you’re feeling. When this happens, when we allow feelings to come and go, over time our emotions start to balance out and a feeling of wellbeing and love can start to naturally emerge.
We start to feel happier, more grateful, more loving, kinder, and more considerate. A sense of wellbeing becomes our norm. These are the characteristics of an open heart, a loving heart, and as I said, it can occur before of after enlightenment (realising Freedom), or not at all.
Q: Does that mean that you become unconditionally loving all the time?
Good question. Of course, like all subtle objects (such as emotions, feelings and mental states), emotional love and compassion also come and go. This is quite natural. You are not necessarily loving 100% of the time, far from it! You remain thoroughly human: you can get irritated by relatively superficial things, you may feel grumpy if you haven’t had enough sleep, but the tendency is more towards those loving emotions.
You see in Freedom it doesn’t matter: you are not trying to be loving or kind, you are not trying to open the heart. It’s something that can’t be forced, and the heart is naturally more open at some times compared to at other times. That is fine, and that’s just how it goes. Sometimes it’s good for the heart to be closed. But, when it’s safe to do so, we can allow ourselves to feel whatever we are feeling, not pushing ourselves, not forcing our heart open or becoming overly sentimental, but by just being real with who we are at this moment in time.
This willingness to feel is a form of fearlessness. We are unafraid to feel, we are unafraid to feel unhappy, we are unafraid to feel even fear. When we are essentially unafraid of our feelings, we start to become extraordinarily sensitive. Lots of emotions and feelings can flood in, feelings we may have held back and suppressed for many years. Energetically and emotionally this can be a time of great ups and downs in our ‘spiritual-emotional’ journey.
Our emotional apparatus, over time, becomes more sensitive and we learn who we are on an emotional level. Over time our emotions start to balance our and come into alignment with the body and the world. At this point we can learn to better trust our emotions as a source of intelligence and allow them to guide us in our actions and relationships.
Q: Did you say that heart opening can come before or after Enlightenment? (To be continued in a future post)
Q: I’ve noticed that I often feel less than I did before, for example I care less about some things now (To be continued in a future post)