Insight, Being, and the Heart (Part One)

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“…then it becomes apparent how the minds insights arise out of the heart’s adventures, how insight comes from going through the situations of life and emerging from them.” (John S. Dunne, The Reasons of the Heart, 98)

These words from the theologian John S. Dunne have been resonating quite strongly of late. I last posted to this blog in October of last year, whilst still a resident of Bonnevaux – the international retreat centre for The WCCM. The plan was to be at Bonnevaux for at least twelve months and to do some writing from there. However, for family reasons, I returned to Australia towards the end of 2019.

The plan. Yes, there was a plan to stay at Bonnevaux. One thing that life can do, however, is show us that plans are best held lightly. Things can happen which we have no control over. Plans then have to change.

If a plan is held lightly enough, then this can give space for a ‘bigger picture’ to have an effect. Often this picture has in it movements of grace, of Spirit. The experience of this movement can make it easier to let go of a plan that was not, ultimately, a part of the ongoing direction of grace at that time.

The good news is that all of this, our plans and the direction of the Spirit, are all a part of “the heart’s adventures”. The heart is what John Main called the centre of consciousness. Here, experiences that are not thought up or imagined can happen, whether they be a movement of the divine life within or perhaps a reaction to people and circumstance. All of this, and much more, are a part of the adventures of the heart.

The heart is like a window into the depths of the psyche, our soul, our mind. Insight emerges in the heart. Perhaps we can’t see (or discern) this insight because we are too distracted; perhaps we can’t because we have never really learnt how; perhaps there is too much reaction to see clearly enough. Whatever the reason, it can be a challenge to see this insight.

In the meantime, we keep on living through “the situations of life”. These situations can be opportunities, not only for insight to been seen, but also for us to learn how to see these insights as they emerge. This learning can be challenging, particularly if our plans have not really been influenced by the heart’s insight, or perhaps if these plans are attempts to live out this insight on our own, somewhat egoic, terms (whether we be aware of this or not).

Insight is consistent with how to live as we are with the Spirit and within the circumstances we ‘find ourselves’ in. The challenge is to be faithful, that is, to live the situations of life in a way consistent with insight. As we do this, any plans become more and more harmonious with the heart’s insight, who we are, and the divine life.

So much of this is what the spiritual and human life is: being able to see with the heart, to discern insight, and then be faithful to this insight. In other places and times this could be called being obedient or doing God’s will. These terms still have their place, however for many they are coloured too much with control and imposition, as well as images of God not consistent with compassion and wisdom.

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