Excerpt from “reflections” by Arife Ellen Hammerle, Ph.D


Excerpt from reflections[1]

By Arife Ellen Hammerle, Ph.D.

The Physical Heart

The heart if an organ in the human body that represents life. It takes approximately forty days to develop. Throughout life, the heart needs only to be maintained and kept healthy in order to maintain function. In an average lifetime, the heart beats more than two and a half billion times without ever pausing to rest. Like a pumping machine, the heart provides the power needed for life. It has its own independent nervous system, referred to as “the brain of the heart.” “There are at least forty thousand neurons in the heart, as many as are found in various subcortical centers of the brain.”[2]

“This life-sustaining power has, throughout time, caused an air of mystery to surround the heart. Modern technology has removed much of the mystery, but we are still fascinated and curious. Neurocardiology is a new field of study that explores the connection between the heart, brain, and nervous system.”[3] The human being learns that proper nutrition and purification of the blood help the heart remain healthy throughout life. The liver helps the blood and heart by receiving impurity and turning it into purity by cleansing the blood and heart system through oxygenation of the blood cells. Breathing facilitates purification of the organs and stabilizes health.

The heart is the first organ to form, and it gives us life. When it stops, it takes life away. The heart contains the primordial cell, a seed that becomes the human being, a seed from which genetic instructions for growth and development provide guidance. It contains a blueprint for the development of the human being. Additionally, Sufism teaches that the heart affords the human being with the opportunity to discover the essence of our spiritual meaning contained within the heart.

The Spiritual Heart – Heartfulness

In Sufism, seeing with the eye of the heart is the ability to see beyond the surface. We surrender and look deep within the heart to experience wisdom and knowledge. The heart is like an ever-flowing spring of knowledge. We need to become the spring and share in the generosity, grace, and compassion of this blessing. Just as the physical heart sustains a stable beat once we are adults, it also becomes the inner means for stability and balance. Isn’t it ironic that once the heartbeat stabilizes, many of us never even hear the beat. When we pause to listen, the melody can magnify the inner blessing of spiritual wisdom. The heart, once cultivated, has the capacity to touch the magnetic energy in the teacher’s heart, which is capable of reflecting the divine light of universal unity. This ability begins the process of opening to the purification and experience of light within the heart.

Profound awareness of the light within our heart center serves as the center point for witnessing the inner connection to the Divine. This is grounded in a deep inner longing, a quest of the heart to discover divine light, wisdom, and knowledge. “The divine vision is the observer of the shadows of life, and shines like a bright star in your heart, all fearless and all adamantine. Concentrate your thought at the center of life in your heart and be still. If it remains steady and sure, you will discover your true living identity.”[4]

The heart’s energy is the source of life. The heart is a powerful manager. It is written in the Qur’an (22:46): “Have they not traveled in the land so that they should have hearts with which to understand or ears with which to hear? For surely it is not the eyes that are blind, but blind are the hearts which are in the chests.”[5] Amir al Momenin Ali (7th century Arabia), the first imam of the Shia’at sect, to whom most schools of Sufism are related, has said: “Do not think of yourself as a small body as there is a greater universe wrapped within you.”[6]

In Sufism, concentration is performed at the source of life within a single point within the heart. Balance and inner harmony are fundamental aspects of practice. Establishing balance in the moment necessitates finding the inner point of stability within the center of the heart in which there is no longer I/you duality. Once you settle in your heart, all directions in unity reveal the path toward the Divine, and every moment is the commencement of your journey. “In the journey of the heart, the goal for a Sufi is to attain the knowledge of self, as a doorway towards understanding the Divine.”[7]

Sufism echoes within the beating rhythm of the heart the divine melody of love, la illaha illa Allah (there is nothing but one), the unity (tawhid) of peace in presence of heart. When we open the gate to the unseen world where there is no limitation, we become free so that we can embrace the light of the Divine and discover knowledge, love, and wisdom.

The practitioner begins by gathering energy into the heart from the scattered dimensions of life. This begins to cultivate the practice of remaining present within the heart, which takes great concentration and focus. The journey of the heart begins once practice stabilizes. Balance and stability are qualities the individual cultivates in order to witness stages of light and understanding. In Sufism, every human being has the capacity to discover her connection to the universe. The human being has the potential to ascend based on her own qualifications and abilities. The line of communication from you to the Divine is yours to discover by concentrating energy within the heart.

Cultivating presence based within intention guides each of us to discover the essence of the heart as the source of wisdom. Dr. Nahid Angha guides us to understand that meditation is an active engagement of divine inspiration that ascends to the heart of those who purify themselves from whatever is not the true self. Deepening awareness and connection to the Divine is the goal of meditation. The goal of self-discovery and knowledge guides the individual to become a witness within her heart in order to receive divine inspiration and transformation.

It seems that every human being could be inspired by this meditation practice, because then we can discover the spiritual meaning of our lives. Following the principles of Sufi meditation, the individual qualifies herself for divine connection and awareness. The Divine is the center of devotion and provides the beauty of wisdom with love. This s and inspiration to discover within the spiritual heart.

[1] Excerpt from: Dr. Arife Ellen Hammele, reflections, CA: IAS publications, 2018, p. 16-19.

[2] Childre & Martin, The HeartMath Solution, CA: Harper San Francisco, 1999, p. 23.

[3] Dr. Rollin McCraty of The HeartMath Institute, interviewed by Dr. Elizabth Miller, presentation at Alchmey of Tranquility 40 Days Retreat, 2016. See, Sufism Journal: An Inquiry, Vol. XVI, No. 2 for related articles.

[4] Moulana Shah Maghsoud, Payem-e-del, A Meditation, trans. Nahid Angha, CA: IAS publications, 1991, p. 9.

[5] Qur’an 22:46.

[6] Amir al Momenin ibn Ali Talib, 7th Century Arabia.

[7] Dr. Nahid Angha, The Journey of the Lovers, CA: IAS publications, 1998, p. 10.

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