Friday, March 23, 2012

Words from the Heart, To the Heart

Today I would like to speak of something of great interest to so many of us, and it has to do with how profoundly intimate communication can take place. We so much want to connect with one another in a meaningful way, but the commonplace give-and-take of daily life usually leaves us lacking. We attend to an onrush of words from so many sources, yet we get very little sustaining nourishment from these words, which are typically given and received without passion or conviction. There is no fault-finding intended by saying this, only to point out that we do not often find ourselves in situations where the deepest aspect of another is touching the deepest part of us.

Somehow, through an extraordinary good fortune in my privileged life, I have come to know of something different from this. When I was a young lad of twenty-seven I first came to India, a place I found to be very exotic and mysterious—filled with myriad contradictions and incongruities. One evening I ended up almost by accident at a large gathering where a very highly respected spiritual teacher would be speaking. I had no real interest in such things, but I was sufficiently curious that I went nonetheless.

What happened next was beyond anything I had ever experienced before. This woman was speaking in Hindi, a language I did not understand at all, about ideas completely unfamiliar to me, in a context that I had never been in before, but yet when I got up from my seat at the end of her talk, I knew that everything she had said had gone right into my heart. Something had been communicated which would totally change my way of seeing the world, and yet I had not understood a single word. What is this?

I speak as a person who does not at all tend towards the spectacular or the fantastic, but this was my direct experience. A person spoke, and something remarkable was communicated that did not come from the words that were spoken. It was a direct transmission that allowed an essential intercommunication to be imparted directly and immediately through non-verbal means. Having had this experience, it made me wonder what it implies about the nature of all communication.

But the example I just gave may be so unfamiliar and unlikely for most people as to be unhelpful, so let us look instead at more viable instances in life where such communication can take place. Can one envision a bond between two people, totally relaxed with each other, easefully coming together in unconditional love and respect, where the words that were spoken came directly from the heart and are received devotedly in the heart?

Not demanding anything from one another, perfectly present in the here-and-now, speaking and listening from a place of not-knowing, completely freed from the cage of narrow notions of who one is or who the other is. Hearing everything as if for the first time, without goal or obstruction, open in a way that merges the space between the two.

For this to be so, what would be required? Well, nothing additional is required. There is no effort to make, no habits to be corrected, no attentiveness to be created or obligation to be fulfilled. It is simply a matter of allowing our moment-by-moment attention to be undistracted. We may have been trained in life to follow after all our thoughts and emotions and all our judgments and assessments, but instead, for short moments many times, over and over again we keep returning to our own natural intelligence that is open and vast.

We discover this place again and again and grow more and more confident that it is not distant from us. We sense to our delight that no one is a stranger and that every sound calls us back to that place. When the heart is at rest in this place of peace, then it is not distant from other hearts that are at rest. From this place of non-separation, the most intimate of heartfelt communication takes place.