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Understanding the Heart as a Symbol of Generosity

Experience submitted by Julian Kingman
Experience submitted by Julian Kingman

I’ve found that the heart is a sacred organ with a meaning and function that extends into higher dimensions. I fail to find words that can adequately describe how doing something so simple as concentrating upon it can produce such incredible, and varied, spiritual results.

On one occasion, I was attending one of Belsebuub’s courses, and we were exploring the practice of concentrating on the heart. Before the practice got started, it was mentioned that it was important to visualize the heart, not to visualize it perfectly, and that even a very simple image would suffice. I got comfortable, and began my practice…

I began concentrating on the heart, but soon noticed how the blood flowed in and out of it, and began to follow it around the body with my imagination. I suddenly became aware of something extraordinary, an extraordinary symbol present within us every moment of the day, showing us an important lesson, if we are receptive.

Photo by Stokpic via pexels.com
Photo by Stokpic via pexels.com

I noticed that the heart is in a perpetual state of trying to give everything it has, trying give up every bit of blood to the body to nourish it, constantly pushing and keeping none for itself. The heart, I saw, was a perfect symbol of generosity.

Not only that, but also as it gave everything away, the body had no choice but to fill it, completing the analogy and showing how in giving we can receive, and by giving to others we are not depleted but filled.

In everyday living, I’ve found giving and receiving to work in a similar way: the more you give, the more you receive. Nevertheless, it’s much more complicated in life, as so many factors are at play, so it was beautiful and inspirational to see a perfect example of giving and receiving, and so close to home!

It was also a lesson that a seemingly simple exercise (visualizing an organ) can have surprising and instructive results, and to not underestimate or ‘write-off’ an exercise just because I haven’t tried it.

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13 comments
  • Nice analogy you described Julian. It makes sense to me heart to work like that and it sounds inspiring indeed.

    For me, meditation, in general, is giving insights but when I’m doing heart practices they have a different kind of flavor. Difficult to describe and I’m not really sure but is like there is a source there with a certain type of “water” when focusing on the mind (on a koan for example) it feels like a different type.

    Thank you!

  • I have had a similar experience during a heart concentration practice in Belsebuub’s courses. I also remember being amazed at how the heart never stops its work until the very end, at its generosity and hard work. It was also inspiring for me to see although your way of explaining the heart as a generous symbol makes me see it in a new light.

    It also gives credence to expressions such as giving from the heart, and that heart is a symbol of generosity. I wonder if it has a tangible relationship to those qualities in reality.

    “… true blessings and impersonal love are beyond the concept of measurement” Lao Tzu, Hua Hu Ching by Hua-Ching Ni

  • That’s a beautiful realization! Thank you for sharing, Julian. Made me think of the phrase ‘give all for all’.

  • Hi Julian. I was reading the Path of the Spiritual Sun book in anticipation of the spring equinox and found this piece of text quoted. I think it relates nicely to your own direct experience, although I can’t say I understand all of its lines fully yet.

    “In this world people are fettered by action, unless it is performed as a sacrifice. Therefore,
    O Arjuna, let thy acts be done without attachment, as sacrifice only.

    In the beginning, when God created all beings by the sacrifice of Himself, He said unto
    them: `Through sacrifice you can procreate, and it shall satisfy all your desires.

    Worship the Powers of Nature thereby, and let them nourish you in return; thus
    supporting each other, you shall attain your highest welfare.

    For, fed, on sacrifice, nature will give you all the enjoyment you can desire. But he who
    enjoys what she gives without returning is, indeed, a robber.’

    The sages who enjoy the food that remains after the sacrifice is made are freed from all sin;
    but the selfish who spread their feast only for themselves feed on sin only.

    All creatures are the product of food, food is the product of rain, rain comes by sacrifice,
    and sacrifice is the noblest form of action.

    All action originates in the Supreme Spirit, which is Imperishable, and in sacrificial action
    the all-pervading Spirit is consciously present.

    Thus he who does not help the revolving wheel of sacrifice, but instead leads a sinful life,
    rejoicing in the gratification of his senses, O Arjuna, he breathes in vain.”

    By Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita, translated by Shri Purohit Swami.

  • Very cool insights, Julian. Your interpretation of the heart’s symbolism really resonated with me! Thank you for sharing.

  • That’s wonderful Julian – somehow I missed that observation, I say ‘somehow’ as it makes perfect sense now you say it!

    I’ve also found heart based practises to be some of the most powerful – just perceiving the beats and emanations of the heart can bring such spiritual feelings – and the visualisation-based practises can be incredibly alive and magical.

    Thanks for sharing your insight – it really reminds me that very little, if nothing, is arbitrary in the great design of life.

  • Thank you, Julian. This is such a beautiful teaching about giving and receiving, and the fact that we are not depleted when we give, but filled up! It can be hard to fully trust this.

  • So beautiful Julian. It’s inspiring we can get symbolic lessons even from just focusing on our own body like this. I feel a yearning to understand more about the different spiritual meanings and functions of the heart.

    It is refreshing and life giving to help others, not just spiritually but in any way possible. I grew up with the principle of you hold onto everything you have, and if you have to spare, you can give it away. If you have time and money to spare, it’s appropriate to help. But I’ve wondered how they say that it means more to give from the little you have than to give only if you have something to spare. So sometimes I’ve made experiments, where I would give away something I really liked. In the moment it was a little painful, but very freeing afterwards. I saw then how that thing and my attachment to it had been weighing me down. Makes me want to give everything away, like the heart does, but of course it isn’t good to do it recklessly and without the correct understanding.

    I lived in a relatively poor country for some years, and saw how much those people gave to others. Not grudgingly, like I was used to seeing growing up, but with generosity, kindness and sincerity, even if they didn’t have much. That was a big lesson for me and those people seemed much happier than the people in my rich country.

    It’s amazing to see the help arriving when I help others in a spiritual way. Sometimes I’ve been stuck in a place internally for a really long time, and it seems impossible to get it right. But then I do something to help others spiritually and not really even expecting any help, like maybe I’m just talking to someone and sharing an experience or understanding, and then suddenly sometime afterwards I get the insights I need to get over the obstacle and am shown how to do it right. It’s like a fresh breath of air internally. I try again with something and suddenly it works, suddenly I understand how to do it. It’s amazing.

    Thanks for sharing!

    • Thanks for sharing this Laura. It’s strange isn’t it, how people in rich countries often seem more unhappy than those of poorer countries and are less willing to share.

      It also made me reflect just now, about giving and receiving. I wonder if it’s easier to give if I’m also open to receiving, and trust that I’m always looked after. I guess a lack of giving has some fear behind it, at least for me. And receiving can also be very difficult. Again, there’s fear.

    • I think you made some good points about giving and receiving there Laura. The drive to cling onto material possessions can be very crippling and in my experience is one that can never be satisfied once we give into it. I noticed this in myself when I used to collect particular things – my thoughts and actions would often be directed towards those things and whenever I had spare money, I would waste it on buying more to add to my collection. However, over the years and with a more spiritual focus, I managed to break quite a lot of those attachments to my possessions and actually found it quite liberating.

      Interestingly enough, I also found that when I gave things away, financial help came back to me when I needed it, often unexpectedly. For example, I had quite an extensive music collection at one point, but began to feel that it was starting to “own me”, rather than me owing it, as I didn’t have the space to keep everything and had things that I didn’t really enjoy listening to anymore. I started to sell some things when I didn’t have much money, but once I had regular work, I decided to donate a lot of items that I no longer needed or wanted to charity shops.

      I noticed some niggling thoughts of wanting to hang onto certain things, as you mentioned, but in general I found it was actually quite freeing to clear out the clutter in my living environment. Letting go of things in bulk was a lot quicker than when I’d spent time organising things to sell and it was nice to immediately have more space and less distractions in a more orderly living environment.

      Some years after that, I had some challenging financial difficulties while out of work and had accumulated quite a lot of debt during my studies. I learnt to be very strict in budgeting, but felt stuck financially. However, financial help came along just when I needed it. I noticed a similar thing on other occasions too, where I was in a difficult situation, but help came along unexpectedly.

      I think there is a truth in what you said about people from poorer countries often developing a more sharing outlook than those in wealthier countries. I found this to generally be the case among my friends and work colleagues from Zimbabwe. The economy of their home country had been collapsing for some years and they often worked long hours to help relatives back home, but I generally noticed a much more sharing attitude and a willingness to help.

      The example of some of the Greek islanders over recent years is also admirable, where despite the financial crisis, people were still willing to assist the many refugees fleeing war. There is also a more socially-oriented attitude among the nomadic people of Mongolia, where there is a common understanding that if someone is travelling between places, they can call at any yurt to ask for a bed for the night.

      Of course, it’s not always the case that those in poverty are willing to help others and I can think of an example where people in South Africa were attacking those from Zimbabwe who came to seek work, due to the unwanted competition. It seems that adverse conditions can bring out both the best and worst in people, such as in the floods in Louisiana, where some people went to great lengths to help others, while some focussed on looting and crime. A similar contrast occurred during World War 2, where some people made great personal sacrifices to help others, where others saw it as an opportunity for personal gain, such as those in Britain who looted shops after the bombing raids.

      Without self-knowledge, we may think that we wouldn’t do certain things, but when we are put under pressure or given the right opportunity, we may be shocked at what is actually within our psyche. I can recall reading about a young woman who was involved in looting during the riots in Britain a few years back. She came from a fairly privileged background and had good career prospects, but somehow gave into the temptation to steal a TV, which she didn’t need. In hindsight, she couldn’t understand why she had done it.

      I think those examples show how important it is to work on ourselves psychologically, in order to develop the qualities of consciousness within ourselves and to sacrifice the selfish animal drives. It’s something that not only benefits us as individuals, but also society as a whole, if enough people are willing and able to change.

  • How lovely and inspiring Julian! What you experienced and wrote really touched me deeply. Thank you so much for sharing!

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Mark Pritchard (Belsebuub) is a British-born spiritual teacher and author who explains that every person has their own unique spiritual aspect... Read more here.

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