Lead with the Heart

The following is an excerpt from “The Space Within” a four dvd set available from Aleph recorded at Elat Chayyim in 2004. Please respond with any comments.

Gabbai Seth Fishman (BLOG Editor)

Reb Zalman says:

“So the question now is, sometimes one hears it said that you need to lead with the mind, that the mind creates the emotions, and sometimes one hears that you need to lead with the heart, that the emotions create the awareness for the mind.

“And while, for instance in Chabad there has been the idea, ha-midos hen toldos chabad / the emotions descend from the mind, i.e. that you begin always with the mind first and then proceed into the feelings, that was from a time when the dream world of the hasidim was so rich. For example, one reads of those hasidim, ‘I dreamt it was pesach already.’ And, ‘I dreamt that on purim I dressed myself into such and such a costume,’ and the like.

“If you were to read some of the dreams that were recorded by Reb Nachman or by the grandson of the baal shem tov or by the komarner rebbe, you’d get a sense they had wonderful, wonderful dreams, because their dream world was alive.

“So if you had such a good dream world as they, such a good affect world, all you would need to do is to get started with the mind and then the rest of it follows. And that’s the context of ha-midos hen toldos chabad / the emotions descend from the mind. That’s the place from which to understand what they are saying with that phrase.

“However, we are not in that same situation. We have to do a lot of repair in our affect place.

“So for us it is better to go with Reb Avraham Yehoshua Heschel, the Apter Rebbe, who was teaching us, ‘v’hair lev v’sum sechel‘ / awaken the heart and then put your mind to it.

“And here’s how you can see that this is the better way to go. There is something buzzing in this area and it’s spilling over into all kinds of places.

“There is now a group in Boulder Creek, California called The Institute of HeartMath and they’re pointing out that if you have good memories, good images, that you can, at the moment when you have been upset, do ‘freeze-frame,’ (that is what they call it), and go into the heart place, and from there instead of coming up with a defensive notion, you will come up with something that is inclusive, that will work things out. It is so amazing.

“So today, it seems that what we need is to get into the feeling place and not rush from one level of feeling to another level of reactivity, that’s to say from pain to anger.

“And if you can imagine what it would be if we were to have a core of grandparents going to the West Bank, to Gaza and to Israel and sit with people who have lost grandchildren. And own the pain. And own the grief that’s going on.

“By not owning that, by not bringing it into the light, all the road maps to peace won’t work, because they are starting out in the cortex, they are starting out in the conceptual world, and they come onto a world that has been so activated not to own the grief, but to go into anger; on both sides.

“Can you understand why it’s going to be impossible to do it leading with the mind? The healing has to come by healing that feeling world. And the feeling world will also heal the physical body and it will also heal the politics.”

Reb Zalman, 2004, elat Chayyim

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