That is what I first took away from my Mother’s funeral, condensed, that became my understanding. I couldn’t deny that my thoughts had made me feel: unbearably, overwhelmingly, wholly beyond my control. As simplistic as it may seem I’m used to thinking of a whole class of feelings as being the reaction to a sensory experience, but what struck me, almost struck me dumb for weeks, precisely because my sensory perception was so heightened, was how much of it was composed in my mind.
That is her rocking chair – bought for her to relax in by my father, that had creaked on long after he had died. This is her kitchen where I cooked her Spaghetti with garlic and oil – that is the jigsaw puzzle that she will never finish, illuminated by the standard lamp which seems to have always been standing somewhere in the corner of whichever living room we have laughed and fought and talked in. None of these things – the smell of her bedroom, the creak of her chair, the crisp matte feel of her ironed linen dishclothes, none of it could mean anything without my thoughts. I could not believe that my heart was unaccompanied as I walked through the home that was no longer hers.
Ah yes, the heart: the repository of all our feelings, where they go to congregate and combine. My heart had broken at her funeral and it had felt like balm: it had felt like a gift from her and soothed me in a way and to a depth I was not prepared for – I had thought my heart was full of bile, and I was wrong. The heart though is also an idea, a suggestion to the mind through the flesh, “keep these feelings safe”. I’m quite sure that even if I had no language – no words at all – no picture of the two chambers meeting at a point, that I would wimper when my heart was bruised and clutch my chest, hug myself for comfort. Still it is, without question, an idea. Richly embroidered in song and verse and every form of culture, made to speak platitudes sometimes of course, to justify foul deeds. Identified as the source of passions, wholly bereft of any sense or thought: dangerous to the cool clarity of the rational self.
But I think not only that – and not, in the world we live in, most importantly that. I think most importantly we must see the Heart as the root of experience and see that it is connected as inseperably as the roots of any tree to the branches of the mind. To say that the mind is the sixth sense is not to decry the senses, it is to dethrone the mind. Those were my thoughts at the time, but they lay fallow for many years, scary ideas that surely breached some barrier?