A matter of faith vs experience?
“How to differentiate between the voice of the heart and the voice of the mind?”
This is a very pertinent question and I began to think deeply and feel deeply too about this. In fact, anything that I watched on TV, any song I heard, any interactions I had - I began to view them in light of the heart vs mind. God always answers us - we miss God because He/She/It does not come in a form that we are expecting!
Before I present my rule of the thumb for differentiating between the voice of the mind and that of the heart, I remember very vividly a deep thought process that I was going through during my undergraduate days at Brindavan. There seemed to be no resolution for a problem that I was pondering about. It was like the proverbial hen and egg situation - as to which came first?
My thought was this, “Swami says that if you have faith, you will get an experience. But, to have faith in the first place, I need an experience right? If I witness some grand miracle, naturally I will get faith. So instead of faith producing experiences, I think it must be the other way where experiences produce faith.”
I walked into the Trayee Brindavan compound and unlocked the AVC room. It was part of my duty to place mikes for the bhajans that would begin shortly in the Sai Ramesh hall. As I pulled a drawer to take out some XLR cables that were needed, my eyes fell upon a small book entitled something like “Len Chibbey dreams..” or something like that. ( I do not remember the exact title)
I just turned to the first page and came to know that this book was an imaginary ( or was it?) conversation between Len and God.
Len and his conversation with God
I randomly flipped to a page and there in front of me was Len’s question to God. ( I try to capture the gist in my own dialogue format)
“Why don’t you reveal yourself to your creation? That experience will simply transform anyone....”
( Wow, I thought. This was exactly what I had been thinking - one experience and God would gather all the faith He wanted!)
God -, “I would love to do that Len! But tell me how should I do it?”
Len - Simple God! Do a miracle - and make is so magnificent that everyone is simply stunned! ( an obvious answer but now I was completely in grip of the book)
God - I am ready Len. Can you tell me what miracle should I do?
Len - (after some thought) Well! How about this? Make the whole sky and oceans pink in colour. That way nobody will miss the miracle and all will be stunned.
God - (with a sigh) That will not work Len.....
Len - (Surprised at God’s stupidity) Why? Just listen to me. It will thrill all.
God - The thrill will not last Len. Soon it will become “common knowledge”!
Len - What do you mean? How do you say so?
God - From past experience Len. The last time we met - you called yourself Ben then - you wanted me to make the oceans and skies blue. I did so. Now, nobody seems to look at them in awe and thrill. In fact, you have “scientific” explanations as to why the skies and oceans are blue.
Len - So then.....maybe we should search for some other miracle.....Something that science cannot explain....
God - Then that gets classified as a coincidence, a stroke of luck, a bizarre oddity or at best something that will be explained by science in due time. Then you guys go about making theories.......
Len - But God! The whole skies turning pink along with all the waters in all oceans is indeed a miracle. It DEFINTELY IS A MIRACLE!!
God - That's your faith Len.....
Len - Now what does that mean?
God - See Len, have you ever wondered as to the beauty of how your heart beats, how you breathe, how you do things that a tree or a stone cannot? That is my miracle Len. A dead body has all the chemicals, structures and proteins of a live body; but it is not the same. Your life is a miracle.
Len - Wow! If seen that way, the wonders of the world will make us experience miracles always!
God - Hahahahaha! Len, you have stumbled upon a great secret. If one has faith, every breath that one takes becomes a miracle, an experience of the cosmic consciousness. But without faith, even if a ‘miracle’ like the skies and oceans turning pink happens, you take it as some bizarre occurrence, an oddity or at best an unexplained scientific phenomena. Its faith that makes an experience, a miracle. Without faith, the grandest of experiences too get slighted
I stopped reading at this point. The answer that I was seeking had been thumped into me in such a strange sequence of events. What a coincidence!
Hey! There I go again - coincidence indeed! Is it not said that co incidences and miracles where God chooses to be anonymous? I have my faith. This is no coincidence. This was the answer to my question. Never saw that book again after that day.Hope to find it someday, somewhere.
Now, why this whole elaborate story?
Listening to the heart is to take a leap of faith. And faith seeks no reason. It seeks no rationale. It is calm and steady for it is based on something far superior to logic.
When there is a situation swimming in us and we seek an answer - we hear so many voices. These are not multiple voices but two voices actually - the mind and the heart.
And the answer boils down to...
1. There was also a nice answer that was presented there and I thank my brother, Amey, for it - "Swami often says that in the battle between head and heart there is no good or bad / right or wrong decision but only peace or conflict... Know that when there is peace it is a decision the heart has corroborated and when there is conflict... well, the heart has taken its day off!"
2. The mind is the one that tries to reason. It is always seeking logic. Since logic is based on acquired and processed information, it is definitely not all encompassing. So, the mind finds it very difficult to arrive at the PERFECT answer. Thus, it throws up choices seeking to select the best possible one from so many. It is the mind that sounds itself in multiple voices.
The heart on the other hand does not suggest. It calmly says what has to be done. Many times, this solution does not seem logical at all. In fact, it may surprise you as to why this solution is even being said from within you. Neither does the heart offer any choice; it presents the one answer - simple and straightforward.
As soon as the heart provides the solution, the mind immediately leaps up with all the pros and cons of the solution. Not “all” the pros and cons for the mind can never comprehend “all” of them. The heart does not try to disprove the mind. It simply sticks to its guns.
The mind speaks like this, “You should do this....or wait....maybe this too. But the third option also should be considered. The reasons are as follows - 1,2,3,4 etc. There are also reasons why you should not do each of these and these are 1a,2a,3a,4a etc.”
The heart speaks like this, “Do this.”
The mind immediately jumps to analyse the solution of the heart and throws up the pros and cons.
The heart silently yet firmly remains unruffled - “Do this”, it says. No reasons given!
The many voices of the mind slowly drown the single sweet yet firm voice of the heart. After a while, the heart’s solution is almost forgotten for it is not heard. The heart is a gentleman while the mind is a brawler!
If I want to listen to my heart, I have to do one thing. Silence the mind!
And to do that, one has to get thoughtless for the mind is nothing but a bundle of thoughts. Now, this is no mean task. Its very tough to be ‘thoughtless’( in this sense of course!)The recourse is to reduce the thoughts. And how to do that - by concentrating on only one thought. And let that thought be anything - a lovely memory, God, a flame, a light, one’s breath. No wonder that concentration is the first step in meditation!
3. My teacher in college gave me this simple test to perform while determining the source of the "inner voice". It's called the the selflessness test. I am writing this as the third method because one has to be at a certain level of spiritual evolution before being able to use it. It is as simple as checking how selfless the prodding of the voice is. If it's selfish, it is the mind; if selfless, it is the conscience or heart because that is the voice of God.
Once the brawling mind is silenced or at least the noise is reduced, the voice of the heart is heard. All that is needed now is the courage to follow the heart. And to do that, one needs to take a leap of faith.
Will it give me success surely?
It will not be called the leap of faith then! ;)
© 2011 Aravind Balasubramanya
Dr Rajni Jalota on May 27, 2017:
Sai Ram.Really a very good explanation and I know Swami wanted me to read this and I could relate it to my own experience.
saisarannaga on June 25, 2016:
Sairam! Again this is a chance encounter with your fluent and nice narration. This conflict goes on forever. Till I reach the progress in spirit, it is a tough quest. One need to develop immense faith in Swami!
veena on June 21, 2016:
I really feel blessed to have come across this article. Now I believe that it is not a coincidence. Great writing.
Yarisha on March 02, 2016:
Thank You, Thank You, Thank You... for allowing Him :)
saiamogh on March 01, 2016:
What a subtle explanation ? At the beginning I have struggled to understand it and not able to apply it with my situation as I am not able hear my heart's voice. However, Sister Sai Jahnavi has managed to explain it by corelating with her experience. Overall, it has provided a great insight and enjoyed reading every single word.
arularasi on March 21, 2015:
It was bliss filled showers of swamis love that i experienced while reading the post. As u have mentioned swami guides us in different ways . For me this post was swamis answer for my prayers to let me know how to know that i am following my heart. Thank u brother for being swamis instrument of love and peace. Jai sairam
promise on September 11, 2014:
it've been great going through this article. Luv it.
adeniran julius on August 31, 2014:
good work.thank God for elementarily but complete explanation.It has being a confusion till you put d light.
Aravind Balasubramanya (author) from Puttaparthi, India on January 31, 2012:
@ Sai Jahnavi - That is really a beautiful episode....Those lines were surely put there especially for you! Thank you for sharing and enhancing the hub!
Sai Jahnavi on January 31, 2012:
A beautiful article again, reading this for the second time. This time, I am writing to share an experience in a similar role..
Recently I was asked to speak at my centre to share my experiences with Swami. Now I was in a similar debate..
My mind said, you aren’t a great speaker, you haven’t had interviews with Swami, you don’t have big miracles that give people goose bumps, what are you going to go up and say? that you feel Swami is with you always? He holds your hand? He gives you darshans in your dreams which you think is reality? And most of all, you know it’s usually only eminent devotees, His institutes students who give talks not someone ordinary like you! And many more such questions..
But in my heart, I felt, Swami is giving you an opportunity and He will give you the strength also. So just do it!
This debate went on for months, Swami came to my rescue in many ways, He made me read a similar dilemma faced by Mrs Geetha Mohan Ram, He made me read messages that said He will give you the strength. My heart pounded louder and said, see, Swami is again telling you, go for it, He will speak through you..
Finally, my mind gave up, not because of these feelings of the heart but because of this-
One day I was reading Sathyam Shivam Sundaram. The chapter I was reading was experiences with Swami, and again the debate started. My mind said, see here also can you see any 'ordinary devotees' experience? its all extra-ordinary miracles. Then again, Swami came to my rescue, the next page was all about how the devotee hadn't even seen Swami in His physical form, and how she was hesitant to share her experience here, but how Swami told her, "so what if you haven’t had interviews? You have had inner views!!"
This line in bold put an end to my minds doubts, and my heart won. I made up my mind to speak on the dais, and waited for my opportunity.
There again it was laid in front of me, and this time I accepted it with a silent mind and a smiling heart.
I again went back to my book to pick this up and quote it in 'my' talk! and I couldn’t find this page even after frantically looking at each line in the book.
One may say, it must have been some other book, or my imagination. But I know what is was and is!
And do I have to say, how He spoke through me, and how much love I saw in the eyes of devotees who came to me later.. That day I could feel the pure love in so many hearts, I felt this love could only flow for our Swami, from our Swami and to our Swami! I was so blessed to have Swami spoken through me only for me to witness so much of Love!
himansnu on January 08, 2012:
Sairam ..good one
Narayanan on October 21, 2011:
Nice post. Heart truly has to rule if we to be triumphant in our life's journney. I did a post on these heart matters sometime back through a little humourous route and it can be read at : http://chapter18.wordpress.com/2010/09/11/the-hear...
Yogesh on September 09, 2011:
Beautiful Baru !
"The many voices of the mind slowly drown the single sweet yet firm voice of the heart. After a while, the heart’s solution is almost forgotten for it is not heard. The heart is a gentleman while the mind is a brawler! "
A word on logic and processed information. What we call as information or facts are sensory perceptions and since these are considered to be more "objective" than the perceptions of the mind or heart, we give more importance to it. I think the rishis of the yore rightly said that the truth cannot be perceived by the senses or the mind. That is why they emphasised on heart rather than the senses or mind.
Balasubramanya Subbarao on September 09, 2011:
You have explained well the aspect of Heart and Mind.
sai on September 07, 2011:
"The heart silently yet firmly remains unruffled - “Do this”, it says. No reasons given!" - This was excatly how it was for me. But I foolishly ignored it.
Aravind Balasubramanya (author) from Puttaparthi, India on September 07, 2011:
@ Spirit Whisperer - Truly speaking, the terms sub conscious, conscious and super conscious are not something I have grasped clearly. Am a pilgrim discovering. IN my experience, I have heard two kinds of voices - one that suggests and one that is calm yet firm. So I call them the mind and heart. This is MY UNDERSTANDING ONLY and not what any scriptures are saying. So, am really unable to explore those terms in depth. Would be grateful if am educated on them.
@Slaty O'Brian - You have left one possibility which in my opinion is the Truth. And that is as follows.
Every being is in reality, God. The whole process of life is a game of devolution of God to mineral and evolution of mineral to God via man.
Everyone - you and me included is God. But we do not realize for we are in different stages of evolution. Take the case of the atomic theory. The Bohr's theory of atom is taught in the 6th grade and it works in finding solutions! But once you reach University, you are taught the Quantum theory and Bohr's model is absolutely wrong. Then still, why is Bohr's theory taught? Thats because it is necessary for evolution.
Our concept of God is like that of a professor who is taking us through our grades till we realize that within us too is that professor - just that he/she has not blossomed yet.
So God is a being that has knowledge of its divinity and all of us, who lack this knowledge ( or have it in varying degrees) are pilgrims on the path to God or Truth.
In Christianity, you can see the evolution in Jesus' life too. He began by saying the he was "the messenger of God". Later on He became the "son of God." Finally, He said, "I and my father are one!"
@ Hema B - Everyday I wake up so that I make more efforts in this direction.
@ Anonymous - Thank you. It was a lovely experience. As they say greatness lies not in giving the right answers but in asking the right questions
@ Darshi - Seeing your heart smile, mine smiles too
darshi on September 07, 2011:
And so my heart said absolutely nothing after reading this, except SMILE widely (showing all 32 teeth). Anna, I remember reading this conversation between Len and God in another post of yours...I am absolutely positively sure that I'm on the right track, listening to Mr Heart and ignoring Mr Mind's fickleness.
Thanks a bunch big bro! It sure wasn't a coincidence that I read this today :D
Anonymous on September 07, 2011:
Thank you very much :)
Hema B on September 07, 2011:
Well written. Now it needs to be implemented
Ron Hooft from Ottawa on September 07, 2011:
Interesting. But why would a god have to perform a miracle? Just showing up would be good enough. I can't buy the idea that a god would need any device to prove it exists. It sounds like an excuse for the fact that a god does not exist but people want to believe it does, not the other way around.
Were there a real god I am sure it would have no problem convincing anyone and everyone it exists if that is what it wants to do.
So there are three possibilities.
1 A god exists but it is not all powerful and can't make us see it exists without question.
2 A god exists but does not want to show itself.
3 No god exists.
Xavier Nathan from Isle of Man on September 07, 2011:
You have written another wonderful hub in which you have clearly and very cleverly described the conflict within us all. Sometimes the words we use to describe this conflict distracts us from the truth. You use the words heart and mind here in your hub and this could be a source of confusion for the reader who may talk about the conscious, subconscious, higher consciousness, ego, God, Holy Spirit etc. It is only a humble suggestion but perhaps you might define what you mean by heart and mind so everyone reading this hub can compare their definitions of the concepts with yours otherwise it is difficult to know where people are coming from when they comment.
I love the story of how God slipped that book to you in answer to your query.
Anjali Sai on September 07, 2011:
"co incidences are d miracles where God chooses to be anonymous..."...gud 1.....
Is dis d same book which swami blesed on sm gurupoornima? i hav forgoten d year....bt i cudnt c dat book in buk stal latr on
Priya Lakshman on September 07, 2011:
What a wonderful explanation..Thx and loved every word of it..
Aravind Balasubramanya (author) from Puttaparthi, India on September 07, 2011:
@ Zaylen Zen - Thank you so much! Happy that you enjoyed it so much! :)
ZaylenZen from Sydney. on September 07, 2011:
I really enjoyed that. I'll be literally following your hubs.