The Heart—associated with Nature’s element of Fire—is the king of all the other organs. A king is generally understood to be a leader—one who possesses the highest power and control. Back in the early Han dynasty (206 BCE-220 CE) when the bible of traditional Chinese medicine, the Huangdi Nei Jing, or The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Medicine, was thought to have been written, people were living in very different environments with different cultural norms than exist today. They were free from the unique pressures, problems and distractions of life in the twenty-first century. However, in deciphering the imbedded messages in this text, we can say it explains the Heart’s role as the king of the organs very well. It says simply the king’s responsibility is to follow Natural Law. Its ultimate function is to be happy!
The entire culture of the Han dynasty understood the king was the leader of their kingdom. They also understood he was born to this position and his ultimate mission was to take care of his people. This leader had to show his wisdom, compassion, care and love. He had to be an example; his mission was not just to conquer others. While the king was ultimately in charge of the well-being of his kingdom and his subjects, he was trained to follow the Tao. His responsibility was to show, by example, how he is like the Tao itself—able to go with the flow, not worry, enjoy life and literally “do” nothing. His primary action was non-action. The king was expected to let others manage the day-to-day duties of his realm.
In the Five Element energetic framework, this same concept applies to the Heart. Its duty is to remain peaceful so the individual can be like and connect to the limitless Tao. A peaceful Heart allows us to go with the flow. The Heart’s responsibility is to remain tranquil and sit peacefully above turmoil or chaos. Imagine what our world would be like if everyone’s Heart functioned this way!
TCM regards the Heart as a gathering place where consciousness, mind, Qi or all the vital energy, feelings and emotions of the body must be processed. While the Heart knows everything, it should not be attached to emotions like worry and it should not invest its time trying to figure things out. It has “people,” or rather other organs, to do that! The Heart is at its healthiest when it is peaceful and practicing unconditional love.
The Western view of heart health includes eating certain foods (and avoiding others) and doing cardio activities. But, if we look at the Heart through our multidimensional energetic framework, we see that we cannot do anything physical to prevent its health issues. If this were so, professional athletes wouldn’t have heart disease. The Heart is such an incredible organ that addressing it from the physical perspective only does not forestall problems. If running can impact the multidimensional functions of the Heart, then all the Eastern spiritual and religious practices would have abandoned their meditations and taken up running!
The Heart is the part of the human species that allows us to communicate with Universal Qi and its messages of unconditional acceptance and love. Our very existence allows the Universe to appreciate its immense creativity and continually expand its love—for itself and its creations. Many people find it difficult to accept this concept: the Heart is beyond the mind. While it lives in this physical reality, this aspect of our being is connected to and part of oneness. While we can think about God, the Universe, or another higher power, the Heart is connected to the mystery of life. Remember, real enlightenment never comes from the mind. You can only talk with God from your Heart. This is not just a concept that comes from the East. Western religions practice this way as well. Eastern or Western, true religions and spiritual practices recognize you can never use the mind to talk to God. Eastern spiritual practices—Taoist, Buddhist, Hindu—have time-honored ways to open the Heart through special energy exercises like Zen, Qigong, meditation, yoga and the like. These practices are not focused on connecting to the physical heart, but to its limitless spirit. Christian religions use prayer as the path to connect with God. Through the act of praying, individuals can drop their mind. Real prayer has to come from the Heart.
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