..we are tempted to give up when we find no simple remedy for the degenerative forces sweeping across our planet. Yet in moments when we can reach out and celebrate life's beauty, in spite of its pain or sorrow, we discover something sweet indeed--our own wild and beautiful heart.
According to sacred tradition, the heart is not something emotional or sentimental; Hinduism and Buddhism regard it as the path essence; while Sufism understands it as a divine subtlety that reveals the deepest truths. It is a doorway leading into the core of our being-- the living presence of spirit and soul. When our heart breaks open, breaks through to this deeper core, we waken from this paralysis into a greater depth of soul, and along with that, a deeper love for this world.
For if our heart gives rise to universal compassion, it is in our soul that we love particulars--this face, this grove of trees, this neighborhood, this world. And it is our soul that suffers when, for instance, we see a beautiful, wild piece of the earth fall prey to yet another condo development or shopping mall. Our heart might feel compassion for this injury, our spirit might recognize it as a part of the larger life and death of the cosmos, but in our soul, which so loves the particulars, we grieve or rage for this assault on earth's beauty. It is important to let ourselves feel this kind of passionate response. Otherwise, our soul too grows numb, just like the paved-over patch of earth.
To avoid going numb when encountering the pain of the world, we need access to the warrior within, the one who can ask: "What deeper resource is this adversity calling on me to bring forth?" In learning to make use of suffering to cultivate our capacities for strength, vision, love, faith, or humor, we forge the vessel of soul and begin to free ourselves from resentments or depression about the state of the world. And we may find that the earth in her plight is calling us to waken like this, and that as we do so, she awakens as well, through us. In this way, the broken-hearted warrior is able to keep on loving, in spite of everything.
When the heart breaks open, it marks the beginning of a real love affair with this world. It is a broken-hearted love affair, rather than the conventional kind based on hope and expectation. Only in this fearless love that can respond to life's pain as well as its beauty can we be of real help to ourselves or anyone else in this difficult age. The broken-hearted warrior is an essential architype for our time.