In Zen, this “heart” is called shin or xin. That comes from the Pali term citta. Most translators (me included) translate it as “mind,” but heart is closer in meaning. The problem is that a lot of academics are allergic to the more mystical, wishy-washy side of Buddhism, so we try to put everything into pragmatic psychological terms.

 

By Anshi

What is the heart?

Not the one in our chests, that’s settled, but the one we intuit when we think, “My heart.” The one that moves us and stills us, the one that tells us to reach out, push away, hold on and let go. The one that we can share in intimate, vulnerable moments, often found in the night or by firelight.

The heart that beats with some deeper purpose than survival. What is that heart? Why does it hurt when it goes unshared?

In the space between us, there can be a crackle, a moving, shining warmth that seems to travel free of misunderstandings. It shows us a deeper truth that our others senses can’t convey: no separation, no distance between. This heart seems to yearn for itself, to meet itself in another. To see and be seen, to feel and be felt just as it is, just as we are. To spark and be sparked without end.

We do everything for this heart; even our most self-destructive acts are means for us to find it or forget it. But we can’t find it that way, and we can’t forget it. Even my Alzheimer’s-inflicted grandma is moved by it.

It’s just ourselves, the person before the name.

We can’t find ourselves because we already are what we’re looking for. The most we can do is reach out to another and soothe their doubts so that we might both share in a shining moment where we forget everything that we weren’t born with.

In that orgasmic moment beyond pain and fear, we’re already here, already complete.

In Zen, this “heart” is called shin or xin. That comes from the Pali term citta. Most translators (me included) translate it as “mind,” but heart is closer in meaning. The problem is that a lot of academics are allergic to the more mystical, wishy-washy side of Buddhism, so we try to put everything into pragmatic psychological terms.

I can’t do that anymore, and I don’t need to—there are already plenty of excellent teachers and writers down that path. I’m here trying to touch base with the often-overlooked demographic of mystic misfits with powerful yin energy. So, just between us yinners, xin is the heart. Its boundaries are only the ones we put on it through conditioning. When those boundaries disappear, there’s brightness that would blind the eyes if they could see it.

It speaks in whispers, murmurs, and momentary glances, not in prose or shouts. Like a river in the dark stretching between dusk and down. Cooled by the moon and warmed by the wind, it carries us along on that lifelong journey back to who we are. Unfortunately for me—an introvert—it’s a journey that we can’t take alone, because it rests on us seeing what’s common to all of us. You can’t do that in isolation. How could I have ever thought that I could?

Because, grinding it down to its essence, the heart is fellow feeling. Nothing more and nothing less. You’re not alone.

 

 

AnshiAnshi is the pen-name for a Buddhist writer. If you know who Anshi is, please don’t tell anyone since these posts often have sensitive autobiographical info in them. Anshi is a Chan Buddhist priest in the Oxhead tradition. Feel free to check out his sangha, The Wounded Healer.

 

 

 

 

Photo: Pixabay

Editor: Dana Gornall

 

Were you moved by this post? You might also like:

The Power of Grief & How it Changes Us

  By Carmelene Melanie Siani   "I have to get out of here," my friend Sarah said in a rush, "I can't watch this." Sarah's mother had recently died of cancer and the movie we were watching---without either of us knowing beforehand---contained a scene in which...

There is Beauty in a Broken Heart—An Impossible Gratitude

  By John Pendall I'm terrified of love. It's raised me higher than any philosophy, religious experience or drug. It's pulled me into the deepest pits of despair, where even suicide sounds pointless. How can something have such power? How can it inspire such...

Showing Kindness Even When You Don’t Agree (& Don’t Feel Like Being Kind)

  By Daniel Scharpenburg I want to talk about a thing that happens a lot in life. We see people and we don't meet them with kindness, with an open heart. We sometimes reserve our Bodhisattva intention. But that's not what we're supposed to be doing, and we come...

5 Types of People to Avoid on Your Personal Growth Journey

  By Crystal Caracciolo We have all heard the saying “Tell me who your friends are and I will tell you who you are.” This seems to warrant the idea that we are much like the company we keep, and for some this may be true. However, if we...

Comments

comments