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Our brain is very often overcrowded with doubts and mistrust. We start to feel lost and confused, no longer sure of what is right and what is wrong. We hope so much that we will develop confidence in our mind and yet doubt always creeps in. But what can be done? How can we achieve any sense of knowing in such states, with so many contradictory thoughts running around in our mind? Before answering this question, we need to understand a few things about our mind and the nature of thinking.
The mind is by its very nature contradictory. As ironic as it may sound, it is never “single-minded.” Any thought in one direction is accompanied by a thought in the other direction, any opinion by its opposite opinion, and anything can be looked at from another perspective. It is not only in arguments and debates that we sometimes have an entirely legitimate opposing view; it happens constantly within our mind, where our thoughts convince us—and unconvince us—very efficiently on almost any matter or subject.
Add to this the fact that our mind is quite exposed to external pressures. Again, this is its nature: the mind absorbs influences easily, which is why it can become conditioned so quickly. Perhaps you are still struggling to release your mind from childhood conditioning, social morality, and expectation.
One last characteristic of the mind is that it is not meant to tell you what is true or real. Its role is learning and registering how life functions. Since it is all about functionality, you can confidently consult your mind when you need to remember how to drive your car or work out your schedule. Try, on the other hand, to seek its advice about things that really matter—such as your life’s meaning, purpose, and true path—and your mind will be utterly confused. Under such unnatural pressure, it will simply show you all the possible “pros and cons,” to the point where you become even more torn and divided inside. Everything will seem reasonable and, at the same time, nothing will.
“Crises” of Doubt and Uncertainty
Of course, none of us can eliminate doubt or confusion completely, nor should we aspire to achieve such a perfect doubt-free state. Sometimes it is essential to go through “crises” of uncertainty in order to transcend a situation and make the leap to the next phase. However, even then, in our darkest moments, it is important to have an anchor of a solid, unbreakable knowing, or we might sink into sheer hopelessness.
It is not the mind that will offer us a real solution. The mind is very good at presenting problems, not at revealing crystal-clear, insightful solutions. The bottom line is that if you are seeking heart wisdom, seek it in the correct part of your being.
This is where the first secret power of the heart comes in: your heart always knows what your mind forgets. I call the heart the “body of knowing.” It is the center in you that knows the truth, even when your body trembles with anxiety, your mental center is crammed with negative thoughts, and your emotional center is in a state of overwhelming turmoil.
“Knowing” Is Remarkably Different From “Thinking"
While thinking always offers concepts and possibilities in contradictory pairs, knowing cannot be contrasted with some thought or other. It exists beneath all fluctuating thoughts. Unlike feelings, emotions, and thoughts, it does not obey the law of constant change. It is, in essence, permanent and eternal. Our thinking tells us there is no such thing, except perhaps for some repeatedly proven laws of science. Yet knowing that you can know without a shadow of doubt is a power beyond the realm of thinking.
Of course, your knowing could evolve and expand, and be redefined more deeply or accurately. Yet, fundamentally, it is indestructible. It is what our innermost recognizes as “true.” In contrast to knowledge, which tells us how things work, knowing is direct: it is a feeling and an insight into the nature of things. It is ungraspable by linear and logical thinking, almost like a subtle, silent smile within your heart.
Unlike what we may think, our heart accumulates a great deal of knowing throughout life. This knowing is sometimes the “nectar” we extract from the flowers of our different experiences. Indeed, the wisdom that we carry with us from our deepest life experiences is not affected by fleeting thoughts. However, an even greater part of our knowing is simply here, within our heart, regardless of what we know from experience during our lifetime.
The Mysterious Connection Between Knowing and Remembering
While knowledge is seen as something you acquire and add to your understanding, knowing feels much more like a reawakened memory—something you have always somehow known, yet your mind has forgotten.
There are clear indications of this reawakening of dormant memory. When you know instantly that something is true, your body recognizes it physically and a profound inner “Yes!” seems to emerge from your very cells, which your body experiences physically. Sometimes we are filled with tears—beautiful, happy tears that come directly from within our heart in response to deeper truths.
One of my all-time favorite stories that bears such deeper truths is the Buddhist legend of the Chinese Bodhisattva Quan Yin entering heaven.
As soon as the great saint leaves her body, her soul is elevated toward the golden gates of heaven. Both just outside and beyond the gates a holy crowd of saints, masters, and angels awaits her, full of admiration for the legacy of illumination the “Goddess of Mercy” has been able to leave behind her on Earth.
Quan Yin is just one step from passing through the gates, but something bothers her. She looks down below her feet and sees planet Earth full of misery and confusion. Utterly lost sentient beings scream for guidance. She then asks the other great beings: “But what will happen to all those suffering beings?” and they answer:
“Oh, do not worry about them! You did your share. They will require many incarnations and a great deal of learning through suffering to attain Buddhahood. This could take many thousands of years, although a relatively short time in cosmic terms. Eventually, one day, they will all join us in enlightenment.”
Quan Yin listens to their answer attentively and then looks again beneath her feet. Intellectually, she understands the answer very well, yet her heart refuses to follow. She tells her fellow masters: “
You are asking me to enter the gate, but how can I leave a part of my body outside? The enlightenment that has been revealed to me was the truth of oneness. All these beings below are my legs and hands. How could I possibly enter without a leg or a hand? I can only enter as a complete being and a full body. I will therefore never enter the gate, until all sentient beings will be able to follow. We shall enter as one.”
True to her word, the Bodhisattva has never taken that one step into heaven and she remains there forever, waiting.
Whenever I tell this story—which inspires many in the Buddhist Mahayana tradition to take the known “Bodhisattva Vow”—in a lecture or a seminar, most of the participants become overwhelmed and tearful. They may not be as mature as the Buddha and able to make such a bold and selfless commitment, but they are instantly reminded of a deeper truth about life’s meaning and purpose. They cry because their heart recognizes the truth through the thick veils of their forgetful mind.
Exercise: Recognizing what you know
The following exercise is the easiest way to recognize your heart’s capacity to remember and know. Think of an event or moment when you heard, read, watched, or experienced something that touched you deeply and perhaps even brought you to tears. It could be a scene from a movie that made you cry, a lecture or a passage in a book that shook you to the core, or a beautiful moment with people that was so real it moved you uncontrollably.
As soon as you have your moment, write down what it was that you responded to so strongly and the way in which you responded (physically, emotionally, energetically, and perhaps spiritually). Ask yourself: “What truth about life’s meaning and purpose was my heart reminded of? What knowing did I recognize during that event?”
If more than one moment or event came to you, repeating the exercise again and again can only deepen your insight.
All of us have experienced moments or events that reawakened our heart’s memory. Once the intensity of those moments has dissipated, we tend to think, mistakenly, that they were just “experiences” and are now lost. We expect that the experience must return in order for us to know once more. But these were not just experiences. Once your memory is awakened, your body’s cells carry it within them.
Strangely, we accept that traumas leave unhealthy marks in both the psyche and the body, but when moments are involved in which we come to know the deeper truths of our life, we believe they are wiped away by the strong currents of thought and emotion. The truth is that knowing is far more powerful than the most intense experiences. Every fragment of knowing is like the markings left by the waves of the sea on the shore of your being.
"Knowing" Is A Kind of Silent Confidence
Being overcautious and avoiding defining our understanding and learning as “knowing” is unwise, and yet there is a deeper reason behind this reluctance to fully own our moments of knowing. We are often cautious because we feel that on a social level to know things beyond doubt is to be too arrogant and defiant. However, not knowing does not make us humble, but only more confused and incapable of navigating through the many voices within and without.
Knowing is not arrogance. It is actually a kind of silent confidence that nothing can crush, the same feeling that the Beatles captured when singing “Nothing’s gonna change my world.” Your knowing does not go against society. On the contrary, since it is truly confident, your knowing does does not need to defend or justify itself at all.
To ensure that the body of knowing within your heart is conscious and present at any given moment, you must declare that you know—especially when you need it most, when both your mental and emotional state as well as external circumstances entirely contradict and attack this knowing. This is the deeper meaning of the cliché “to follow your heart.” If you follow your heart’s knowing persistently, you gradually become far less exposed to pressures.
What Do I Know With Certainty Within My Heart?
Since knowing is so much more concrete than thoughts, feelings, and experiences, it is your first step to indestructibility. Once you recognize it, you can hold on to it in the face of all destructive emotions and thought patterns. Even in the midst of an anxiety attack, you are still able to reside peacefully within your heart.
So listen to your heart and gently answer this question: “What do I know? What do I know with certainty within my heart—a certainty that no doubts can reach or harm?”
To answer this honestly, turn your awareness toward your heart and gradually find there a hidden yet wholly solid conviction. It may not be the kind of conviction that tells you whether to turn right or left on life’s path, or exactly what decision you should take at any juncture. But it will certainly tell you what is real for you, even if you have not experienced that enough. Remember that the heart’s dormant memory precedes experience.
The first answers might be quite abstract and might mainly concern deeper and general truths about life’s meaning and purpose. Since the heart’s knowing, unlike the mind’s knowledge, is all about the “why” and the “what for”—why we are here; what are the most important values of life—this is a good starting point. Eventually, what you recognize as real will become your heart’s compass in more substantial choices and decisions in life.
©2018 by Shai Tubali. All Rights Reserved.
Reprinted with permission of the publisher, Conari Press,
an imprint of Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC. www.redwheelweiser.com
The Seven Chakra Personality Types: Discover the Energetic Forces that Shape Your Life, Your Relationships, and Your Place in the World
by Shai Tubali
Chakras are energy centers in our bodies through which we experience life. Each one holds a different energy, purpose, and meaning and examining these qualities can help us use the chakras as a tool for understanding ourselves and coping with change. Understanding our chakra type can help us better understand our own unique structure and reveal why we have certain tendencies and are attracted to specific things. We can use this information to help us make the right decisions in our careers, lifestyle, and relationships and to fulfill our greatest potential in life. (Also available as a Kindle edition, Audiobook, and MP3 CD.)
About the Author
Shai Tubali, chakra expert, spiritual teacher, authority in the field of Kundalini and the subtle body system, lives in Berlin where he runs a school for spiritual development and holds seminars, trainings, satsangs, and retreats. Since 2000 he has worked with people from around the world, accompanying them on their spiritual path. He has written 20 books on spirituality and self-development, including Wake Up, World, a bestseller in Israel, and The Seven Wisdoms of Life, winner of the USA Best Books Award and finalist for the Book of the Year Award. Visit his website at https://shaitubali.com