Heart Tree

Brains Are Not That Great [Why Hearts Are Better]

Reading Time: 8 minutes

Cover image from Pexels

by Lenna

People have gotten this idea that every question has a satisfying answer, even if we have yet to find it. We can use evidence, logic, and reason to answer all the mysteries of life, the universe, and everything.

Or not.

Ancient humans didn’t think this way. Everything was pretty mysterious. The mystery was the baseline state of affairs. Lots of mysteries were attributed to the gods.

Then people got curious and started systematically studying things, and found explanations for what they saw in the natural world. Satisfying answers that left little room for doubt.

Who insists the germ theory is a lie and opts for blood-sucking leeches instead of antibiotics? No one, as far as I know! But the idea little critters you can’t see with the naked eye cause illness was once a crazy idea in need of solid evidence. That evidence came, and an answer so satisfying, germs are a consensus opinion now.

Woohoo! What a cool milestone. With this newfound way of figuring stuff out, let’s…

Talk About God

First question: Why isn’t there a God Theory that has the same consensus as Germ Theory?

Why can’t we use the same tactics to explain philosophical questions that we use to explain the natural world? It just doesn’t seem to work all that well!

“Yeah, I see what you’re saying” people might say, and then stop endlessly trying to find the answers in a way that doesn’t work. Except that isn’t what happens. Many people continue to ask various philosophical questions and not like the answers, which are just not as definitive and satisfying to the brain as Germ Theory.

In reality, all of our tools put together actually fail to explain a lot of things about the natural world, before we even venture into what’s obviously nebulous.

The Essence Of Tangible Stuff

Consider trying to explain a fragrance. Whip out your entire toolset, and tell us all the components that make up the fragrance, with a full chemical breakdown. Tell us all the ingredients, and where they came from…a bit of this flower and that bark. Describe the resulting fragrance as warm with a hint of vanilla and an undertone of musk. Write an encyclopedia all about that one fragrance.

Now let someone pick up that fragrance and take a whiff. He or she will know something about it which no amount of words can ever explain. I know some people who have no sense of smell for one reason or another. For them, the fragrance might well not even exist.

A beautiful (or ugly) painting is more than so much paint and canvas. Color is a real thing, right? Yet if you’re colorblind and can’t see green, you just see a bunch of gray blobs on the test images. And if you’ve been blind since birth, it’s going to be a challenge to explain to you the concept of color by any means! Yet if that blind person could see color for just 5 minutes, he or she would know more about it than a thousand encyclopedias could ever explain!

Inability or limited ability to perceive something obviously doesn’t mean that something doesn’t exist. Who would disagree? And yet in practical terms, many do. All the time!

These are real-world things. They are not fully explained by words. Not by anyone. Ever. So why would people think these limited tools that really can’t capture the essence of the natural world are going to work to explain absolutely everything? Using your keen powers of reason, ask yourself if that assumption makes any sense at all!

Advice from Captain Obvious: Don’t expect things that are not reasonable, and you are less likely to be frustrated and disappointed.

Let’s all take a deep breath and agree that not every question can be definitely answered through human reason.

Seriously. Let that sink in because the idea that EVERYTHING can and should be clearly explained is a widely held belief. A faith-based belief! What a lovely paradox. 🙂

The Heart

We need another tool besides the brain. Not instead of, but in addition to. Sort of like a hammer and a screwdriver. You really need them both if your toolbox is going to be complete.

The heart knows some things the brain does not, and if you can shut your brain up for a minute, that will most likely become apparent. I have to add that “most likely” because some people are stuck in an endless thinking loop they have a really hard time escaping. It’s hard to think your way out of a thinking loop.

You know who would never even try? Zombies!

Zombies

I know the zombie metaphor is overused, but I’m going to use it anyway because I find our fascination with zombies fascinating. Zombies cannot think. They don’t talk. They are comfortable not knowing anything at all, except what they crave, which is……BRAINS!!!

It’s almost as if zombies have some vestigial inkling that a brain is where the knowledge is, and perhaps if they eat some brains, they will be restored. Except that instead of eating other people’s brains just turns them into zombies too, or kills them entirely so they are not even fellow walking dead.

I think a lot of people like these zombies because they can relate. They are constantly “eating brains” and not getting satisfaction. The products of the best minds in the world, in our time and for centuries prior, are widely available. Yet we still can’t get satisfying answers to lots of important questions. Some people respond this unfortunate scenario by flailing around, dumbfounded, shouting BRAINS!!! and trying to bite everyone who isn’t like them. I see them here all the time.:)

Here’s an idea, frustrated zombie hoards: Look to your heart for answers. Hearts, not brains, okay? And you only need your own!

Listening to your heart is a bit of a lost art. After all, weren’t we listening guts and hearts and grunts and such when we decided bloodsucking leeches were a good idea? Then the brain came along and so, “No guys….germs. Duh!”

Where is the evidence that the heart can tell us anything, really, beyond stuff like, “I love my cat”? Well, there is evidence. And I’ve taken the long way around the bend to tell you what it is because I couldn’t find a shorter route!

The Big Reveal!

Your heart can give you answers your head cannot.

Better, deeper, and more satisfying answers than your brain can even comprehend. We all know that on some level, I’m pretty sure. We just get confused, and oddly enough, more confused by too much thinking! For this to become clear, you have to be comfortable with a little mystery, and you have to let your heart speak for a change…and you have to listen.

Ah, but brainiacs love evidence…so here is some evidence to ponder.

Instant Love and Recognition

My heart instantly recognizes some people, and when the heart alone has been in charge, it has never been wrong. The head can intervene and mess things up, and does from time to time, as does the ego with base desires like jealousy and lust. But the heart alone is wrong exactly never. That is my experience.

The first example that comes to mind is a friend I met when we were fresh out of high school. We were at a party during the early autumn of our first college days. I was sitting on a chair with a clear view of her sitting on the couch across from me, both just sort of there, quietly watching the chaos around us. We saw and recognized one another, and we were the best of friends. Just like that.

The next day she was knocking on my apartment door. I let her in and made breakfast, and we talked during our meal as if we’d known each other our entire lives. We are still great friends, and I would say at this point, are more like sisters. We did not “get to know” one another as that was completely unnecessary. Instant love and recognition were enough.

I don’t know how surprising that is in real life. Maybe it happens to most of us? I sure hope so. 🙂

I could give you a lot more “real life” examples, but we don’t have all day. So let’s briefly delve into an even weirder trick of the heart. Amazingly, I’ve had similar experiences on social media, and on Twitter in particular.

Weirder Still…

Once I saw a couple of tweets from a person and had that same sense of instant recognition. That person also recognized me, and the person’s sibling and I recognized each other too! These siblings talked to me separately, and one did not even know about the other’s relationship with me. Mind you this was all pretty much immediate and it was on Twitter, which is merely a shadow of a shadow of who we really are.

That was nearly four years ago, and nothing since then has made me question that first look of ONLINE recognition and instant affinity! How is it even possible to project enough of one’s true self into an avatar to prompt recognition?

Logically, instant recognition of a real person through a profile on social media does not make sense. It defies explanation, but that doesn’t mean it’s not real…we’ve already been over that misconception, remember? 🙂

Though not as intense, similar has happened on Disqus. There are some people (profiles, actually) I was immediately drawn to and felt a sense of recognition, and that also has not changed. It wasn’t “getting to know” these people. My heart simply recognized them, the way it does sometimes. And I took notice.

I know that skeptics are going to say that isn’t evidence of anything. From the rationalist viewpoint, that’s a bunch of hooey. It’s based on my perception and my perception could easily be wrong. True enough, but this phenomenon has been consistent, and as real and convincing to me as just about anything else. Beyond the shallow of a doubt.

Similarly, I came to know Allah through the heart, long after my head had given up. We live in an age where the head often intervenes early, causing a lot of us to wander around in a spiritual wilderness for a while. Or forever in some cases. It’s like endlessly trying to use a hammer to drive a screw, and never noticing that it isn’t working very well, and it’s not a lot of fun.

I had chased answers to the mysteries of God from the deconstruction of Christian doctrine through a full course of philosophy of religion and landed on agnosticism. I was okay there, sort of perched in limbo, not completely satisfied but doing alright. Then just when I least expected, it was my heart that recognized Allah…my heart that hears His call. That SURPRISE!! recognition hit me like a tidal wave, and at first led mostly to lots of crying.

There is no logical explanation for why I instantly recognize and love people in a way so true it lasts for years, or even for my whole life (so far). There is no logical explanation for why I suddenly recognized Allah after denying Him for so long, hiding in that familiar fortress of reason.

Conclusion

It’s a bummer that we can’t better convey the knowledge gleaned from the heart, but if you think about it, it doesn’t really matter. Because we don’t have to! Like the wisdom of a lifetime, you glean it for yourself. And you can. It’s your birthright and a sacred blessing from Allah. 🙂

Later I hope to share a related hadith that is really on point. But this is already pretty long, so let’s wrap things up for now with a few final questions.

Can you remember times when your heart overwhelmed your brain with genuine love and recognition? Or even with unexplained hate? A person you barely know stirs your heart beyond all reason, with a feeling you simply can’t shake? I bet most of you have!

Can you shut your brain up long enough to take some answers from your heart? I hope so because that’s where you find Allah. And pretty much every other truly meaningful inspiration in life. 🙂

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