The Eye and the Heart Doctrine

From a student

[The magazine Vidya, , edited by associates of the United Lodge of Theosophists in Santa Barbara, USA, published in its summer 2013 issue the following article].

Saith the pupil: O Teacher, what shall I do to reach Wisdom?

O Wise one, what, to gain perfection?

Search for the Paths. But, O Lanoo, be of clean heart before thou startest on thy journey. Before thou takest thy first step, learn to discern the real from the false, the ever-fleeting from the everlasting. Learn above all to separate Head-learning from Soul-wisdom, the "Eye" from the "Heart" doctrine

from The Voice of the Silence

To a pupil seeking knowledge of the path to wisdom and perfection, the teacher responds with a distinction between Head-learning and Soul-wisdom and emphasizes the importance of cleansing or purifying the "heart". This distinction, central to the teaching in the sacred text, The Voice of the Silence, is expressed in the metaphorical terms of "the eye doctrine" and "the heart doctrine". Explanations of the two terms can be made at several levels of human development ranging from the highest choices of an enlightened being to the ordinary approaches to learning and the duties of human life.

For those seeking understanding of the material world, Head-learning is what we call worldly knowledge gained via the senses, the brain and the intellect. This knowledge of factual information and material reality is organized initially by what Theosophy calls the lower mind or lower manas. The predilections and emotions buried in the lower mind may distort the perceptions of worldly learning and envelop them in a very personal consciousness. However, with discipline, the intellect may use methods of reasoning, logic or scientific methods to develop more objective and universally valid knowledge.

It is necessary to use the intellect in a search for wisdom, but the effort must open up and use the higher mind that can think through archetypal concepts, principles and correspondences that help explain the interdependence of life and the workings of karma both within human beings and throughout manifest existence. Eventually, the "eye" of the intellect or "head" can develop a fairly comprehensive understanding of the metaphysical planes of reality.

Ultimately this path of "Head-learning" can lead to a state of consciousness liberated from all the attachments, limitations and turmoil that circumscribe the perspectives and actions of personal consciousness. This task typically requires life-times of study, listening to instruction and countless experiments in practice. To attain this freedom from worldly ties, called nirvana , the seeker must also have mastered both the principles and practice of ethical choice. All personal karma must be settled. The challenges and magnificence of attaining nirvana should never be underestimated. The "eye" of discernment is necessary and would include a general study of human nature and the sources of suffering. lanes of reality.

Awareness of suffering presents the nirvanee with a critical choice: should he pass into his earned reward of liberation from conditioned existence for many cycles of evolution, or should he renounce this prize and stay in contact with the trials and tribulations of human beings and with all that exists? Doing the latter is referred to as the Path of Renunciation or what is called "the path of woe". This is the path that the great teachers of mankind, including the Masters of Wisdom spoken of in Theosophical teachings, have chosen. Using the knowledge they have attained, these Teachers strive to help and teach, so that all that lives may be guided towards the attainment of nirvana. Their bliss is postponed for cycles without number.

Making this choice expresses soul-wisdom and evokes compassion, the magnificent and comprehensive capacity for boundless and unconditioned devotion to the welfare of others. This pure, self-sacrificing motivation is what is referred. to as the "heart" quality. This inner quality reflects the potency of buddhi, a universal source of divine illumination and ethical discernment. Those who have fully awakened buddhi walk among us as inspiring exemplars of human potential. They live in unity and harmony with all of life. But how did they develop the "heart" quality that motivates their renunciation of rewards earned and bliss deserved? How did they become fully sensitive to feelings of human suffering in a world of turmoil and confusion? The answer is both mysterious and practical. Cultivation of "heart" qualities begins early in life as children are encouraged to feel love and yet accept discipline. Lessons of helpful service are mixed with experiences of happiness. Thereafter, ample messages of cooperation, brotherhood, service, karma and recognition of a common good help the child or young adult develop "heart" qualities in healthy relationships. In time, "heart" qualities can become natural and spontaneous. If learned deeply enough, these qualities can carry over to future lives where the process of education begins again.

In The Key to Theosophy, H.P. Blavatsky offers several methods of education that promote both head-learning and heart qualities. True Theosophical education must treat each child as an intelligent individual. Each child must be taught how to think and reason for himself. He must also be taught mutual charity, love for fellow man, and above all, unselfishness. That is the heart doctrine. The purely mechanical workings of the memory should be reduced to a minimum. Efforts should be made to awaken the inner senses and the latent capacities of the child. Although some schools of modern education have adopted some of these goals, their methods are nevertheless missing one central key: the knowledge of the soul. The typical methods of education for centuries focus on cultivating the mind rather than the soul. Theosophy points out that the mind is merely the vehicle, the instrument of the soul. Therefore, head-learning without the development of soul-wisdom, breeds selfishness, pride and arrogance.

True education and the use of the heart doctrine requires a recognition of the immortal, reincarnating soul in each one of us. This recognition should bring about fundamental changes in our thinking and actions. A one-life view gives no logical aim and goal to life, other than "survival of the fittest" in the "struggle for existence" or simply promotes an exaggerated image of an admired personality. Orthodox religious ideas can distort the possibilities for human development. The idea that in each baby born, there is a new soul created for the first time blocks understanding of the tremendous wisdom that each baby brings to its pilgrimage in life. Theosophy, however, posits the idea that we are timeless, evolving beings, and that each incarnation brings exactly the right opportunities to learn and practise both head-learning and soul-wisdom.

Wisdom is not mere high learning, or bright intellectual training. It is profound knowledge that arises out of the depths of the "heart". It integrates vision and intuitive insight. It expresses soul learning. It provides an inner illumination that is the result of meditation and reflection on universal concepts and principles-from day to day, and life to life. Wisdom reflects the inner experience of the eternal pilgrim and its contacts with various facets of life and with the cosmos as a whole. This is an entirely different kind of knowledge. To manifest this kind of knowledge, one must pass through incredible self-purification and self-discipline. The heart doctrine or soul-wisdom teaches self-realization that includes realizing one's unity with the whole of life and nature and with one's divine immortality.

The Wisdom Religion, in its practical bearing, is purely divine ethics based in metaphysics that offer rational explanations for the practice of ethics in life. Metaphysics and ethics are inseparable, as are two wings of a bird. These two wings are necessary for the soul to take flight and to engage in the true pilgrimage of life. The heart doctrine nurtures the moral virtues; the eye doctrine encourages clear and coherent knowledge. Knowledge and moral virtues must be practised together along parallel lines. The mere acceptance of teachings will not take us far. The mind and the heart must both be activated.

There is one fundamental principle, found in both The Voice of the Silence and in the Bhagavad Gita, guiding both head learning and soul wisdom. In The Voice, it says, "Be humble, if thou would'st attain to Wisdom. Be humbler still, when Wisdom thou hast mastered." This means that humility is what shines in a wise man. It is the wise man who has the attitude of "Thus have I heard." The person with head learning, worldly knowledge of the worldly intellect of the transitory life, will say, "Behold, I know." The same point is also mentioned by Krishna in Chapter IV of the Gita where Krishna points out to Arjuna that to gain wisdom one must practise, service, strong search, questions and humility. Then the wise will communicate this truth to the disciple so that he will not fall into error. Pride will create obstacles in the path to wisdom and will mar the work.

It is important, then, that we purify our lower nature.

Purification of our lower mind will allow the divine intuitions of our higher minds, our true self, to manifest in a gentle, harmonious mind, which cannot be distorted by values that are tainted by partial philosophies or prejudices. The aim of both the eye and heart doctrines should be to transform the animal man into human man and the human man into a divine beacon of light. Man is a potential god on a pilgrimage to become an active divine potency in life. This is what all the Great Teachers of humanity have taught and embodied. These encouraging exemplars have followed the path of renunciation. They live to help mankind that is now struggling through the valley of sin and sorrow. The seeker of Wisdom should remember that commitment and engagement in service to others is the first step in the pilgrimage. The instruction in The Voice of the Silence is clear:

If thou art taught that sin is born of action and bliss of absolute inaction, then tell them that they err.

Non-permanence of human action; deliverance of mind from thraldom by the cessation of sin and faults, are not for "Deva Egos." Thus saith the "Doctrine of the Heart."


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