I know, I know...it's toooo esoteric. There's a mind walking a heart that has a mind sleeping inside it...you're thinking, how many minds does this Infinity guy think I have?
Well, the news is, we all have many minds. We like to think of ourselves as single-celled protozoans unicycling through life, when in truth we're all bustling metropolises of many, many neighborhoods, businesses, associations, organized crime, street gangs and, yes, politicians—each party competing for its voice to be heard.
Your doctor might explain to you the "hormone wars" taking place between your hypothalamus, pituitary, thyroid and adrenal glands. Neurologists discuss the dynamics going on between your right brain, your left brain, your reptilian brain and your limbic stuff in the middle of it all. Freud talked about the ego, the id and the superego. The Zohar talks about three rulers of the human body: the brain, the heart and the liver. However, it works, there are many voices in there, all clamoring for attention.
Nevertheless, the two major parties in this race are the brain and the heart. Those are the only two that feel they gotta have it all—each one vying for complete and exclusive dominion over the entire body. And they've got the wiring for it too: One holds dominion over the vast network of the nervous system, the other over the vital cardiovascular system. You could say that human life is about making war or peace between these two.
I can already hear you protest, "How on earth can a heart have a mind? It's just a meat-muscle pumping blood!"
But then, is it any less wondrous that the slab of grey matter in your skull is the seat of consciousness and imagination? Even more: that hunk of skull-marrow has the amazing capacity to rewire itself according to new choices and habits made in adult life; i.e. it has free will to direct its own design.
That's why many contemporary scientists are revisiting the idea of something that oversees the brain, even though it doesn't turn up in fMRI scans. They call it the mind, and many are convinced it's not just something the brain does, but something that does things with the brain. (You can read both sides of the story in David Chalmers' anthology entitled, Philosophy of Mind.)
This is the Kabbalistic explanation as well: The brain is just a device manipulated by something called "the thinking soul" to bring thoughts into physical reality. (The thinking soul in turn acts as an interface for the G_dly soul, but we'll have to get to that another time.) It seems the hyper-complexity of the brain together with the electro-conductive tissues of which it is made grant it the special place of middle-man between the ethereal soul and the gutsy body.
Same thing with the heart—it's also made of similarly electro-conductive tissues. It's the only organ of your body that will keep running even if it were removed and placed in a saline solution (don't try this except under clinical conditions). It too serves as a kind of receiver/transmitter for another kind of soul—titled "the animal soul."
Naa--I'm getting oversimplificated. You see, the thinking soul also has some very important offices holed up within the heart. Problem is, the staff there are usually asleep; and even when awake, they have great difficulty getting their messages out due to all the racket coming from the animal soul guys in the next office. The animal soul, too, is continually using the heart to pump messages to the brain in a kind of guerilla warfare, often clogging up the entire system to the point of declaring a coup d'état. Many of us are walking around much of the time with the brain occupied by the forces of the heart and the mind in political exile.
Now, each of these souls is a full person, with a mind and emotions. The mind of the thinking soul is like a parent that gives birth to its emotions, nurses them, feeds them and dresses them up snug and warm before sending them off to work. The mind of the animal soul, on the other hand, is more like one of those parents who is scared to death that his children may throw a tantrum, constantly running after them and giving in to their every demand. So too, the animal mind is a servant to its emotions, constantly on the lookout for things to fear and things to desire, relaying the information to the emotions and then finding ways to flee, fight or grab. Along its way, it tries to wrest control of the brain from the mind, like we said before, to enlist more forces in its maneuvers.
(Sometimes I wonder if perhaps the mind of the heart might reside in the limbic system. We'll leave that up to the neuro-kabbalists.)
Look, if you're an animal, that's great. That's what being an animal is all about, and its beautiful. Problem is, you're a human being. And a human being that doesn't get control over that big beast beneath the brain-blood barrier can get darn mean and ugly. No animal can be more destructive than a human being that thinks its an animal.
Simply put: The animal soul sees itself as the beginning and end of all things. There's no future, no past, no others, no higher goals--just get what you want and get it now. The thinking soul looks out there at the world and realizes that that's stupid, saying, "I didn't make this place. There's a lot more out here than just me. There's more to life than me feeling good now." And then each one tries to convince the other that it's wrong.
So here's how the mind takes control: First, it gets inspired. That's through study, contemplation and meditation upon inspiring thoughts. Like Kabbalah. Things that really awaken this vision of a universe megazillions times greater than itself, created by the power of the Infinite Light that transcends all things and vitalizes each one. Or the thought of how this Infinite Light reaches down to each person, treating each one of us as the center of the universe, including (and especially considering) yourself, and asking, "Please can you find a way to let me into your world?" Taking that seriously can melt the coldest soul.
When the mind is absorbed 100% into these things, without distraction, in clear 20/20 focus, it gives birth to a fire of deep emotions; a sense of amazement and awe, a burning attraction and a deep thirst to become one with the Infinite Light. The lines get hot enough to wake up those sleepy-bodies in the heart department, and a wild party ensues in which the staff members of the animal soul are totally overwhelmed and caught up in all the flurry.
Classically, this is what is supposed to happen at the time of prayer and it's called spiritual ecstasy. Again, best attempted under clinical conditions. For most of us, in the privacy of our homes and synagogues, we can achieve a modest simulation. Look, as long as we get enough inspiration keep us standing on our hind legs, above the mud and muck out there. At the very least, we can imagine what it must be like to be inspired.
The hitch with this stratagem is that the animal soul plays an entirely passive part in the whole drama. Sure, it may get caught up in the excitement, but essentially, it's an alien to the experience. It figures, "Hey, what have I got to do with Infinite Light and higher visions? If it can't take mustard and ketchup, it can't be in my department." Basically, it's mind is shut down for the process, just waiting for breakfast.
So when the drama is over and it's time to sink teeth into something real, the alarm clock goes off and there goes all the lovely inspiration of the higher mind down the garburator with the tomato peels and egg shells.
There are two tricks to avoid this scenario. One is that during the time of meditation and inspiration, you engage the mind of the animal as well. Try explaining the whole Infinite Light vision in simple, down-to-earth terms. Like, "Now does it really make sense that you are actually the entire center of the universe, Mr. Animal? Come on, let's make a list of at least three things that are bigger and smarter than you..."
Or how about, "I bet you like chocolate. Chocolate is sweet. Music can be sweet, too—sweeter than chocolate. Helping someone in need can be way sweeter. Well, where does all this sweetness come from? I'll give you a hint: It starts with Infin..."
Animal souls are clever when it comes to mud, mustard and money, but not too bright with Kabbalah stuff, so you gotta go real slow and easy on them.
This ensures that the mind of the animal is engaged and actively involved in the whole inspiration process. But it still doesn't take it all the way. The real transformation takes place when you meet the animal on its own turf: in the middle of the day, when it's occupied in those things that churn its blood the most. Especially when one of those blood-churning, heart-pumping, viscerally-vibrating, real ugly and morally compromising temptations stares it seductively in the face.
That's when you need those guys down in the mind-heart department to gently remind the heart, "Hey, don't you remember the discussion we had about chocolate versus Infinite Light? You guys were really buying into the whole story, remember? We all agreed that the ultimate path was to tune into higher goals in life and stay bonded with that sweet light from Above."
"But, hey, this situation here is primed to rip you out of that connection and render you a royal sucker to the dark forces of the Other Side. This is a major test. So, how about we just keep walking calmly like nothing happened. Don't say hello, don't say goodbye, just keep walking. No one will get hurt and we'll be all the better for the experience."
That's when transformation occurs. Powerful transformation. An animal soul becomes a G_dly being, sacrificed on the altar of light and truth. It's what the Zohar is talking about when it says, "When the Other Side is put in its place, the glory of the Infinite Light rises in all the worlds."
And that is the ultimate purpose for which all things were made.