Can We Hear The Small Bird In Our Heart Singing?
By Bruce Davis, Ph.D.
The heart has many faces, many moods. But there is one heart that is time-tested and true. It is the monastic heart and it is in each of us. The monastic heart is not hard or frozen, separated from the world by stone walls of old fashion rules and needless obedience. The monastic heart is soft, gentle, full of a peace that spreads and continues spreading in an inner realm of no borders, simple wonder. While others may or may not notice the smile in the monastic heart, the monastic is falling into a seemingly endless smile within.
In this age of judgment about many things religious we can lose sight of the spiritual which brings us to the seat of the soul, our heart. The monastic heart is the bridge between our daily self and eternal self, personal intelligence and universal mind. It is the monastic heart which returns our mental search to a place where the search is over. The separated self is pulled back, dissolving softly in the center of being. The heart is where the action is, where the real drama unfolds, as the monastic enters the luminous playground of 101 ways of silence, simple peace, quiet, heartfulness meditation.
This is not to say that those who journey the monastic heart do not land in naked truths. There is so much self that is excess in all of us. To lose our extra baggage, the mental games, and emotional upheaval for the simple heart is to step into the monastic heart again and again. Inside our story is another very different story. Within our heart is another very different heart. The human and Divine live very near one another. Simple, pure, more present then present, the monastic heart washes us. Every moment in the heart inside our heart we are washed again. Instead of everything we are carrying, there is innocence, freedom.
It is our mental life separated from joy which make the pilgrimage an uphill battle. The monastic inside all of us finds its home in beauty, fun, in the quiet little corners and meadows of life. The path is not so complicated. Its not about rules, what we should or should not be doing. Its not about what we should believe or how we should think. The way is about holding our heart as we hold our children. Holding our heart, we discover how much we are held. The path is about receiving a love within and receiving some more until we have a glimpse of love, a real love beyond anything most of us can remember.
The monastic heart is our original heart, open and spontaneous. It is the liberation of the new-born inside of us including the sweetness of her breath.This liberation is present every time we remember our heart, nurture our heart and are with the heart of others. The inner world where the monastic lives is alive and available, waiting for our attention. We all have moments, if not hours and days, reaching into our heart and the heart of others. Here we enjoy the oasis of life itself. The silence of the heart makes for less stress and more beauty in every part of life. There is a presence underneath the busyness of our day, under the noise of our thoughts. Meditation brings us underneath the matters on our mind to a great vastness, an empty space that is primal, that is our own secret garden.
Instead of trying to tell ourselves what to feel or not to feel, instead of trying to tame the animal, the thinker, or trying to loosen up seriousness or self importance, there is a journey of childlike wandering into the silence of the heart. It is a pilgrimage of listening, undoing, receiving with no goal in mind. It is a time of heart, about heart, only for the heart. The pilgrimage is down hill and direct this way.
The gravity of everyday life is pulling our attention outward always. Inside there is another gravity, a calling. Can we open the hands of our awareness, let go, and be? Can we go someplace with no subject, no destination? Can we receive the intimacy, the abundant grace? Only the words intimacy and grace can describe an experience that is so much, so close, so totally unexpected, waiting just inside our heart.
The journey is not in denial of our mind and normal world. It is just we are out of balance. How many smart people do we know suffering from unhappiness? How many successful people are there with little or no success in their personal lives? There are so many who have everything and yet have little of themselves. The monastic heart is an anchoring, a returning, a coming home. Instead of day after day of just drifting or being blown around by the winds of this world, the monastic heart settles in a profound sanctuary that embodies love’s body, sacredness. It is this anchoring that speaks wordlessly of eternity. We receive. We absorb. The further we travel in our own heart essence, we discover a sky full of stars and galaxies of light.
The monastic heart is as close to a near death experience one can have without the mind totally shutting off in a major accident or illness. Sitting in the pure heart has taken monks, mystics, and many ordinary folks to a blinding light that they can not only look into but join and become. They just don’t talk about it. They prefer to live in mostly silence where everything is oneness and there is no dissent. The quiet inside unties the knots accumulated through the years. The vastness of the heart inside the heart spreads the stones gathered in this life and gives another perspective. The monastic heart knows life continues when the body does not.
The monastic heart is naturally more forgiving. Compassion, humor, gracefulness are the inward and outward breath. The challenge in life is not in how much we have or how much we produce, but in embracing a big inner world. It is a big inner life that gives our outer life meaning. It is a grand adventure for one small human heart to embrace so much love. This is the game of life, heart seekers of all types are playing. The monastic is challenged in the daily getting lost in the reverie of self, no self, the world of form, no form, only infinite substance. While everyone seems busy accumulating things to be happy, the monastic heart is letting go constantly to accumulate something else, something very fine, something more brilliant than brilliant. In the depths of the heart is a connectedness to the heart in all including the rocks and the trees. There is precious time, no time, endless time. The monastic heart begins every time we stop. Can we hear the small bird in our heart singing?