The heart is weighed on the scales against a feather. We jump past the obvious contradiction because we’re impatient for the punchline. “The heart SHOULD BE a light as a feather,” we rush to say, and then that’s it. The idea becomes like so many kids on the playground chanting a beat up rhyme scheme, both proud and jaded, seesawing our brains. But if we look deeper and “stick with the image,” as archetypalists say, what do we see? The heart is an organ whose weight is clearly heavier than any feather. The heart is heavy. The feather is light. Yet the two are shown balancing each other in mythic images. Could it be that the heart’s true mass and the feather’s lightness reveal a certain form of understanding or perception? A way to find balance despite the common appearances of imbalance or inequality?
Could it be that the heart’s way of knowing is different than the mind’s way of knowing? And yet for the Taoists the mind and the heart were the same thing. So what kind of knowledge does the mind of the heart hold? And why is the picture of Libran judgment one of an obviously uneven weight distribution yet balanced perfectly?
Let’s take the example of an oath…a promise or commitment. The heart loves its loyalty. We are kept alive by an unqualified support…a self beating, self perpetuating loyalty. Similarly, relationships or commitments we make though based upon ideas, words, and principles, are kept alive by the self perpetuating and unqualified beat at the heart of any bond. We are bonded to our hearts like each commitment is a heart bonded to itself. However, for our commitments and contracts to remain sacred they must acknowledge or carry the wisdom of things like betrayal or distrust. We hardly recognize the life support of anything until it palpitates, skips a beat, or threatens to stop or give out behind our back.
What do attacks of the heart or back stabs do for us? Not how should we avoid them, why do they come, from what ‘darkness’ do they arise and how to take said darkness to proverbial “light,” but rather, “what does it do for us?” And the answer is that this dark shadow of the heart is also the lightness of the feather. The vulture’s talismanic wisdom waiting in the shadows of our sunshine loyalty. Without the possibility of betrayal, even without the act of betrayal itself, we cannot know the unconditional nature of the heart’s commitments…we can’t recall that the heart’s commitment is unconditional before and after we make all the various commitments we make. So it’s the dark body within the heart that gives to the substance of our contracts its paradoxical lightness of being.
This is something we are dealing with right now. The feeling of obligation or betrayal, the keeping of contracts and the disappointment of commitments alike. Oaths and promises have been newly made and also broken. And yet the task is not to ferret out who did what and why, what “should” or “shouldn’t have” happened, and instead to be reconciled to the dark body of the heart…its secret lightness…a wisdom that reconciles us to the events of disappointment, disillusionment, distrust or the negation of an old commitment or focus.
If we haven’t been living with distrust, if we aren’t friends and allies with betrayal, disillusionment, and disappointment, then the heart will remain most obviously an organ of disproportionate weight to the feather of truth…and all we’ll be able to do is chant like children the worn out nursery rhymes about “lightening the heart,” and “making the unconscious conscious,” as though the heart needs an operation (performed by the separative mind). No. This won’t do. Because the heart and the mind are the same. Let’s consider that. And let’s consider that every oath is as true or superficial as our ability to recognize the unconditional heart beating within the principles we lay on it..the unconditional heart is the one who circulates the lightening potential for the failure of our commitments, not only the pride we take in their upholding or “keeping.”
When things don’t work out as we’d like, when we fail, when someone fails us, there is a secret magic presenting itself. Becoming reconciled to this failure of contract is the beginning of the wisdom that levels the scales between the seemingly heavier heart and the feather. We aren’t here to get it right or to experience truth and honor at the cost of betrayal. This would damning Judas over and over to insure the Christ of his royalty. This kind of honor is Leonic arrogance or Libran vanity. No. Again no. We are here to become reconciled in the heart to everything that crosses our path, each contract we make as well as those that break.
The word “reconcile” has an etymological history that includes the root for the word “counsel” and our modern idea of “counseling,” where counseling is seen as the ability to take seemingly disparate events…disproportionate looking phenomenon and learn to see their hidden meanings or secret equivalencies. Right now we have an opportunity to make the kind of meaning that the superficial heart wants to reject…the situation may clearly look like something the heart “should” feel heavy about. But so many shoulds become like a misfiring pace maker…an artificial life support, or an unimaginative imagination. Again. This isn’t it. We can find the secret lightness of the heart…we can do the work together to become creatively reconciled to what has happened, or what is happening..finding in the shades of the heavy heart its eternal wings.
Prayer: No bi-pass surgery is necessary when we understand the feathers of necessity blooming out from the willing heart…could it be an other way? The question, not its answer, is our lightness.