Like the diamond in the heap of grain, a thought encountered in a paragraph from Science (1) flashed forth a suggestive gleam — and a train of ideas was born. This is the paragraph:
I remind you that the uses to which the heart and the blood and the blood vessels are put, engaged the attention of naturalists very early. They (the naturalists) kept coming back century after century to an attempt at solution, always thinking that an answer had been found, but never aware of the inaccuracy or the inadequacy of those answers. We think now that we have been making and are making great strides toward understanding. And we are. But let me remind you also that in a very real sense, we possess small likelihood of thinking of kinds of mechanisms except those which lie reasonably close to our hands. And yet, in connection with the circulation and its mechanics, the questions we can and do ask for which there is not even an approach to an answer are very startling. I am thinking, in the heart, of so essential a part of its mechanism as rhythm — rhythm itself being a phenomenon widely recognized as occurring in many aspects of nature, without in most situations our having the remotest notion as to how to proceed to find an answer to our enquiry concerning its origin or its nature.
— Learned Sirs, if you could fathom that marvel, you would know the secret of the Universe. That mysterious and invincible rhythm that comes to you through your stethoscope, if you could trace it to its source, would take you out to the very borders of universal manifestation — beyond the planets in their courses, beyond the Pole-star, beyond the realms of Time itself, to where Eternal Duration holds sway over the deeps of Space. In that human heartbeat you hear an echo from Infinitude, because, as you yourselves have half-perceived, everything in manifested life responds in rhythm to "that Absolute Unity, that ever-pulsating great Heart that beats throughout, as in every atom, of nature." (2)
This little man, this soul tossed on the frothy billows of circumstance, who comes to you for help in keeping his bark seaworthy, is himself an epitome of the Universe. "He is in little all the sphere," as George Herbert, the Welsh-English mystic (1593-1633) says in his poem on Man. To the myriads of infinitesimal lives that ensoul the cells and atoms of his being, a single beat of his heart is the beginning and ending of a definite cycle. Imagine him expanded to the utmost in all his spiritual parts and principles, and you have the Adam Kadmon, the Heavenly Man, the cosmic entity itself, of which the "one absolute attribute, which is Itself, eternal, ceaseless Motion, is called . . . the "Great Breath" . . . the perpetual motion of the Universe." (3)
We can follow this Rhythm or Motion to the very confines of thought, but we can never get away from it. It manifests in the coming-into-being of worlds and systems and their august deaths, when they sink again into "the dark mystery of non-Being";* and it is in the ceaseless reimbodiments of all lesser creatures, down to the very smallest; it governs the beating of the Solar heart in its eleven-year cycle; it is seen in the tides of the ocean, the fluctuations of the seasons, day and night, sleeping and waking, the fall of the leaves and budding of the trees, in Mendeleef's table of the Elements, in Bode's Law, and in all the majestic movements of the celestial bodies. It is "finite and periodical" in the manifested universe, but "eternal and ceaseless" in the Intra-Cosmic Spaces. . . . That human heart will cease to beat; it and the Universe and all in it will in time pass away, but the underlying immortal Rhythm is unceasing, and will one day bring them forth again.
"We must put hard heads at the service of soft hearts," said Dr. Cohn at the close of his address: another flash of the diamond, for he has unconsciously touched an ancient truth, which does put the head at the service of the heart, as a matter of their essential nature, linking both in a mystic spiritual unity.
Our Theosophical Teachers have pointed out (and history supports this) that the ancients held the heart to be the seat of the understanding, in some sense, of the deeper thinking faculty, and that the head (the brain-mind) was second to the heart and guided by it in its intellection. How is it that we, for example, still use the expression, "to learn by heart — "? It is a carry-over, undoubtedly, from the days when the relations of heart and brain were better understood. "As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he," is still a common saying. "What his heart thinks his tongue speaks," said Shakespeare. And there is still a minority of scholars and thinkers, who conceive the heart to be the organ of "inmost and most private thought," to quote from the dictionary. Yet for the most part the thoughtless multitude of today think of the heart only as the seat of the emotions, sentiments, and even passions, or at best as expressing the motivating power to thought.
There is a modern revival in Theosophy of the ancient teaching regarding the heart and its spiritual functioning in our human makeup, and it was given by Dr. de Purucker in several of his talks to his students. (4) The heart, he said, is the most evolved organ in the body, "the hyparxis, physically speaking," and is actually the organ of our Inner God, whose ray touches it and fills it with its presence. That is why it is in actual fact the abode of conscience, love, peace, courage, hope, and wisdom. The mystic heart, of which the physical organ is the physical vital instrument, is higher than the brain, said Dr. de Purucker, "because it is the organ of the individual's spiritual nature, including the higher manas or spiritual intellect."
Here is a teaching to fire the imagination — that man carries within his breast, pulsating, vibrating with cosmic life, a tangible link with the spiritual worlds to which he aspires. Many a time must we all have marveled at the miracle of the unceasing motion of the heart from birth to far-off death, absorbing the shocks, the joys and jolts of life, invincible and undismayed. But the fact that it is sustained and energized by one of the bright gods, destined to manifest for the period of a human incarnation, that alone perhaps brings such a marvel within our understanding.
Now then, Dr. de Purucker goes on to make plain how it is that the heart leads, and the head follows. The two centers connected with the brain, the pineal gland and the pituitary body, are the seats of the spiritual intuitions and of the will, respectively, and their connection with the heart is of the closest, for the pineal gland is the heart's organ of spiritual-intellectual activity in the head, and its impulse to activity comes from the heart. The pituitary body is in its turn actuated by the pineal gland, and when high and noble impulses come from the heart, the whole being of the man becomes "a harmony of higher energies — relatively godlike." (5)
These higher energies, which we might call in a general way the faculties of sensitive perception and of instant intuition, are actually the sixth and seventh senses represented by these centers in the head, which the human race is destined to develop, but which are "not yet existent and working in us and through us as manifested activities " Yet even now the first faint stirrings of these faculties can be felt. But they can never be developed safely unless all selfish motive is eradicated. Dr de Purucker tells us how to go about the conquest of these higher powers:
The first rule is live as a true man. It is as simple as that. Do everything you have to do, and do it in accordance with your best. Your ideas of what is best will grow and improve, but begin. The next thing is to cultivate specifically as units the higher qualities in you which will make you superiorly human as contrasted with inferiorly human. Be just, be gentle, be forgiving, be compassionate and pitiful. Learn the wondrous beauty of self-sacrifice for others, there is something grandly heroic about it. Keep these things in your heart. Believe that you have intuition. Live in your higher being. Then when this can be kept up continuously so that it becomes your life, habitual to you then the time approaches when you will become a man made perfect, a glorious Buddha.
Scientific discoveries of recent years in regard to sunspots and the magnetic influence of solar radiation support the statement of Theosophy that the Sun is in actual fact the pulsing heart of the Solar System. Theosophy goes still further, and says that the Sun is the heart and mind of the Solar System. In The Secret Doctrine H. P. Blavatsky quotes an ancient Commentary as saying:
The Sun is the heart of the Solar World [System] and its brain is hidden behind the [visible] Sun. Thence, sensation is radiated into every nerve-cell of the great body, and the waves of the life essence flow into each artery and vein. The planets are its limbs and pulses.
And Dr. de Purucker refers familiarly to the same fact in his Studies in Occult Philosophy:
the Sun, being as it is not only the heart but the mind of the solar system as long as this solar system remains a coherent unity, is therefore the governor of all the forces in that solar system — governor and controller, as well as source and final focus.
Here we have heart and mind (or brain) seated in the same celestial organ: a suggestive and significant fact, more closely related to our human heart and brain than will be understood soon or generally.
A final word — again highly suggestive: The doctrine of "singular points" (Sir James Jeans), or "laya-centers," as named in Theosophy, through which the matters or substances of one world or "dimension" stream through into the world next below, is really one of wide application. Dr. Jeans applied it to nebulae: Dr. de Purucker remarks (Questions We All Ask, Series II, p. 219):
Let me tell you something more: every globe that you see in space has as its center, its heart, just such a "singular point," . . . and through this center of each such globe come into that globe the streams of entities, the river of living things, by which that globe is inhabited, all of them on their evolutionary pathway. They then enter into the atmosphere of any such globe, such as our earth, and find . . . their habitats. . . .
— Considering the human heart as the gateway for the life-giving elements which sustain the circulations of the body, could not the heart in its higher function be the laya-center through which stream into our consciousness spiritually creative life-atoms from the higher worlds?
1. From Remarks on Professions in Medicine, by Dr. Alfred E. Cohn, Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research, New York. January 24, 1940, address before the Alpha Omega Alpha. (return to text)
2. H P B, The Secret Doctrine, I, p. 2. (return to text)
3. H P B, The Secret Doctrine, I, p. 2. (return to text)
4. Preserved in Dr. de Purucker's books, Man in Evolution and Studies in Occult Philosophy. (return to text)
5. The process of the heart's influence upon the pineal and pituitary centers can only be mentioned suggestively here the whole subject, embracing also the other centers, or "chakras," should be studied in the two books by Dr de Purucker already cited in this article. (return to text)