I was talking last week with an American who spent many years living in Latin America. While in Bolivia he met a woman who told him that although her husband and other family members lived in the United States, she would never live there. “Why?”, he asked.
“Because there you live with your heads, but here [i.e. in Bolivia] we live with our hearts.”
How do you live? What approach do you use to interpret and connect with the world around you? Even my use of the phrase “the world” in the previous sentence, instead of simply asking how you connect with those around you belies my bias toward intellectual constructs and paradigms over a worldview fundamentally oriented around people. Is the world a place to be identified, categorized, and organized in such a way as to optimize access to the things that will make life comfortable, or is it a place for me to grow rich through introduction to and interaction with other people? Is it a place for me to grow rich through introduction to and interaction with God and his angels?
We worship intellect. From the age of 5 through 18 we enroll our children in school with the hope that by the time they are done they will have become very intelligent. Once someone secures a high ACT score we tend to stop worrying about them; they should be able to make their way in the world just fine. We classify “people skills” as those traits which allow somebody to interact persuasively with others (i.e. to get what you want from them). We think you can learn anything necessary for success in this world by reading the right book and employing the right formula. We think in words and logic, dollars and cents, facts and data points. We are quite proud of our advanced, sophisticated culture.
What if none of that matters. What if it doesn’t bring happiness? What if it is a great distraction or even illusion? What if following your heart is the real path to happiness? What if I keep hitting my head against the proverbial wall of personal revelation because I’m confused by the chatter in my brain? I don’t think I hear lots of voices in my brain, but I do hear lots of words. My brain consistently produces a stream of words, concepts, and ideas. If I try to figure out if a communication is coming from the Lord, from my own brain, or from Satan, and I use only my brainpower to try and distinguish between those three sources, it gets very confusing to know which messages are trustworthy.
Try something for a second. Try to turn off your brain. And then open your heart. Open it to God. Without any distortion of preconception seek to feel the message He sends to you. Can you persist long in this state without feeling His love for you? And when pure intelligence is communicated during such a “meditation,” does it make it any easier to know it came from God, since your brain was not invited to the event? I don’t know what the truth is in this regard, and I am certainly not saying this is the only way to know God. But I do think it’s worth considering as a possibility. What are the chances that the totality of communication can be encapsulated in words alone?
“And it came to pass that he went again a little way off and prayed unto the Father; And tongue cannot speak the words which he prayed, neither can be written by man the words which he prayed. And the multitude did hear and do bear record; and their hearts were open and they did understand in their hearts the words which he prayed.” (3 Nephi 19:31-33)