The human heart. Who can understand it? It is the most mysterious part of all of us. It makes us distinctly human. It is the part which we know intimately yet can't describe it. It is the part that both frightens, and enlightens us. It is the part which makes us great or depraved. It is the part which can bring us to tears, while tearing us to anger. It is summit of all our experiences, yet can only be captured in a few brief, illuminating moments."The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately corrupt who can understand it?" Jer:17
So what is the heart?
Simply put the heart is the innermost part of us. It is the center of all of our emotions, passions, and feelings. It is not the soul, but feels very much like the soul. I like to think of the heart as the mind of the soul; making visible those invisible realities which we aren't always aware of. It isn't the mind, but is perceived by the mind. So what is the difference between the mind and the heart?
The mind I believe is the great organizer of thought. It doesn't originate thought, but perceives the thought and digests it so to speak. It is center of logic, building relationships between objects The heart on the other hand isn't organized, it is a wild and forbidden landscape, dangerous, and untamed. It is like a thoroughbred without the breeding. Sigmund Freud believed that the heart was the subconscious while the mind was the conscious. Aristotle believed that the heart was the center of sensation and movement. Jesus taught that the heart was the center of evil in a person. In short the heart is the sensual core of a person; it is the part that is activated by sensual experience.
So how can we harness the heart for good?
I don't believe that there is any one way to accomplish this. I believe that it takes a lifetime to understand one individual, much less the heart. I believe that one can best harness the heart through developing reason and free will through the acquisition of good habits. One will always have passions, but what separates the animal from the human is that the human can choose to ignore or to channel those passions. The greater the development of reason within the person the greater capacity for good. In this sense the heart can be looked upon as a neutral signal receiver; receiving thousands of signals. The mind can be looked upon us the selector of those signals, while the habits are the activators of those signals.
Ultimately the human heart is a mystery which will never be totally understood in this lifetime. Russian writer Fyodor Dostoyevsky appropriately reflects on this as he writes,
“Man is a mystery. It needs to be unraveled, and if you spend your whole life unraveling it, don't say that you've wasted time. I am studying that mystery because I want to be a human being.” ― Fyodor Dostoyevsky