Early Chinese philosophers saw the Heart as the place where people thought and felt. It was the center that contained Logos and Eros, thinking and feeling. The concept of Heart-Mind, or Hsin, contained the concepts of consciousness and conscience, and it was the focus for cultivating and perfecting the Self or achieving moral perfection. Hsin also means “disposition.” The best-known Confucian writer to explore this in depth was Mencius, a man considered to be the “Second Sage” after Confucius.
Mencius’ notion of the Heart contained four elements. Which heart element do you need to develop?
To Mencius, the importance of the Heart lay in its ability to think. Its thinking was a special kind of thinking–an ethical thinking which established priorities, assigned values, discerned duties, and recognized obligations, “all with a sense of purpose in life–that destiny that is the Mandate of Heaven. . . Cultivating the heart is therefore the highest duty because it has the greatest moral value.” The heart is free from desire and emotions.
Mencius’ notion of the Heart contained four elements: compassion for the suffering of others; shame at the realization that one’s actions do not measure up to one’s ideals; courtesy and modesty which reflect the balance between self-interest and self-seeking; and the ability to differentiate between right and wrong.
Adapted from The Heart of the Matter, by Christina Becker (Chiron Publications, 2004). Copyright (c) 2004 by Christina Becker. Reprinted by permission of Chiron Publications.
Adapted from The Heart of the Matter, by Christina Becker (Chiron Publications, 2004).