The Epiphanic Mood and the Power of the Heart

Picture by Matthew Fang

I’m in an epiphanic mood today – matter of fact, whenever I truly appreciate you being you, a flower being a flower and the house being the house, I’m in such a mood… only I didn’t know until today.

Becoming conscious of anything means, “There is something ‘out there’, independent of me, that alights in my consciousness as a particular form.” For instance: the flower on my desk exists out there, and when I become conscious of it – and by no means am I conscious of it all the time – its existence becomes apparent to me. But all the time it is out there, and it remains out there, whether I’m conscious of it or not. Therefor my being conscious of the flower does not really matter, neither to the flower nor to anything else out there (outside of my consciousness). This is the normal conscious state we’re all in.  And given our belief in physics and the relative permanence of things this is a very convincing way to be.

In the epiphanic mood (from the ancient Greek “ἐπιφάνεια”, epiphaneia, “manifestation, striking appearance”) on the other hand this way of being is turned back on its feet, or so it feels to me, saying, “Because I shine the light of my heart on whatever is anywhere – out there, in here, in between – it moves from existence into being; unless, of course, the ‘whatever is anywhere’ itself is epiphanic. Then in a very true sense two hearts resonate theophanically (from the ancient Greek  ‘ἡεοφάνεια’, theophaneia“appearance of God”).”

This presupposes that everything exists, but not in the usual physical sense where it doesn’t matter whether anyone is conscious of it or not. Rather it presupposes that everything exists in the Grand Potential and that, by the Power of the Heart, it is moved  from existence into being.

Being a radical I apply this epiphany to myself immediately. And then i see: my heart often slumbers, and when it slumbers, whatever there is, just is – I do become conscious of others and things, they do really and clearly exist but their epiphanic being is not awake. When, on the other hand, my heart is awake, like it is now, whatever exists in my surrounding truly comes into being.

The awakening of the heart’s power is, akin to our own awakening in the morning, a gradual process. And then, when awake, there are many graduations and degrees of wakefulness. Just today, when I’ve come to understand this (and remembering the many ways I experienced this before, understanding it differently or – often – not at all), I’ve been experiencing different degrees of its gentle power.

Directing this power at ‘me’ there is an all-pervading sense of wellness connected with it. And an intuition, that the Power of the Heart itself is an epiphany of a most divine kind, so really a theophany in the true sense of the word, a manifestation, incarnation of the Gods. A very first contemplation reveals the Epiphanic Mood to be compassionate by nature and a blessing for body, soul and spirit of the person.

What this does in contact with other beings, and most of all with others whose heart is awake, this only time will tell.

Enlightening the Passions – Day 21 (Splash)

Any kind of expectation creates a problem. We should accept, but not expect. Whatever comes, accept it. Whatever goes, accept it. The immediate benefit is that your mind is always peaceful. — Sri Swami Satchidananda

I’ve started to have a quote with these posts every day for some time now, and previously I selected them because they somehow fitted with what went on that day. But I chose this one today because it so beautifully illustrates the way I used to avoid the more challenging feelings in my breast, belly and guts.

Whatever comes, accept it.” What a nice statement, you’d say, wouldn’t you? But what, if a lot of life is about what we cannot, and maybe even should not accept? For instance, violence against ourselves and others, should we accept that?
What this injunction leads to is a superficial acceptance. Especially in the should and shouldn’t context it entices one  to produce what could be called “strategic acceptance”, an acceptance that feels like ‘real thing’ – doing what we should be doing according to wise men – but we didn’t, because in the ‘real thing’ you accept whatever, period. And the quote also suggests, that by mere acceptance the things we don’t like go away faster.
But have you ever experienced being in a difficult space, like feeling deep sadness maybe or even desperation, and someone tried to console you with the fact that this also is just passing by, “Whatever comes, accept it. Whatever goes, accept it.” Has anybody ever gained a peaceful heart by such admonishment?
If so, I’ve never met him or her.

Peaceful mind, yes, no problem – when I was still so mental that I still believed that I could control what I felt by means of my mind, gaining ‘peace of mind’ was easily possible; I meditatively fade the difficulties out by re-loading the understanding that they are impermanent, following that I’m reaching out for and then owning the “great spaciousness” that is ever-present inside; by really going into and believing that everything is impermanent, that it is intrinsically empty and void of substantial meaning… by remembering the “Buddha Space” and “dropping everything”, I certainly and reliably arrive at: a peaceful mind.

Yet, that is not a peace I value anymore – it’s mental peace; a tricky peace because it has no real base in life.
Because there is a peace of the heart that rests within the dynamics of life, which self-manifests seemingly spontaneously at times. I guess peace of heart is also a state of consciousness, which means it can be experienced on every level of development. I hope that there is a developmental level of which this wholesome peace that I’ve now had a few close encounters with is an intrinsic part. Thinking that this level might actually exist inspires me right now, when I’m in sore need of an inspiration like that.

These last 48 hours have been increasingly difficult for me, starting out very much in anguish about my relationship’s situation, passing through an hour or two of incredible, miraculous peace – a peace of heart and of intersubjective flowing. Only to end in a leaden time, a feeling atmosphere that makes cold autumn-rain a nice experience in comparison.
It’s the uncertainty, coupled with the impossibility to do or say anything that helps – a stew of utter powerlessness with a sniff of self-loathing that increased some over the day. Aaarrrgh! Self-loathing is about as awful as it can get; remembering when there were similar pain-filled situations in my life I am reminded of suicidal thoughts that have indeed been present in my life at periods of great despair.
Self-loathing is a tightening ring of iron around my belly just below the navel. And it is a great companion of my “I’m-not-good-(enough)” feeling, that I know so incredibly well. I’m pretty perfect when it comes to pulling myself down. That’s one game I’m hard to beat 🙂

Maybe all of this needs to be experienced and acknowledged to come to places where peace of heart is part of the landscape. From a deep valley in one jump to the top – one moment you’re pretty desperate, there is nothing left to do or not do to bend reality to your wishes, you’ve surrendered: There’s been two kinds of hell offered to you and you chose the apparently less hellish one and accepted it. Out of the blue sky the situation changes; the whole outlooks turns from bleak black & white into full color as life/hope returns.
This truly is amazing: After a long time trying to accept a situation you finally decide, “My soul as a whole does not want to bear this any longer, I go willingly into this other potential hell, and either the situation bends or I break – and now truly I’m willing to break, if life so decides.”
To come to this place is an alchemical journey and excruciating: refining and transmuting lead into gold has always been very, very risky business… and it is an ongoing process, but the first nuggets will always be the most beautiful ones, because, after all, they come as a complete surprise.

So the quote I started this day with is both true and superficial, true in that acceptance is beautiful – if you can do it with your whole heart. Wether we should or shouldn’t expect anything, is not very relevant to real life, as its processes by their very nature will strip you again and again of all hope and with that of expectation. And what comes then, from a space that is bigger than us, encompassing our space, is unexpectated, maybe even unwanted… but possibly something that will enlarge our heart, gut, mind, and spirit.


Starting up the experiment
Day 2
Day 3
Day 4 (Powerlessness)
Day 5
Day 6 (Jealousy)
Day 7 (Guilt & Jealousy)
Day 8
Day 9 (Shame)
Day 10 (Interlude)
Day 11 (Under Pressure)
Day 12
Day 13 (Clear Delight)

Day 14
Day 15 & 16
Day 17
Day 18
Day 19 (Dark Waves)
Day 20 (Time Out)
Day 21 (Splash)
Day 22 (Understanding)
Day 23 (Fear & Imagination)
Day 24 (Vulnerable)
Day 25
Day 26 (The Presence of The Past)
Ending the Experiment – Day 27 (Intentional Vulnerability)

Enlightening the Passions – Day 14

(Tomorrow some editing – now I’m too tired to do so…)

Sometimes I go about pitying myself, and all the time I am being carried on great winds across the sky. — Chippewa, translated by Robert Bly

What is it about listening that is so amazingly difficult?
Listening to my heart – that place where many feelings reside – can be amazingly difficult, especially if it’s sound is not to my liking. Exploring what I feel today I notice that often time it feels like there is a restriction around my heart, something that tightens it up and makes my breathing a bit more shallow as if not to feel it.
But that doesn’t help.
It reminded me of the thorns around the heart that you see so often in Christian icons. You wouldn’t want that heart to expand into the thorns, would you?
But exactly that is needed. As sordid as I find a religion who’s main character is depicted as dying on a cross in its temples of worship (especially since the message is that “He is risen”and not “He has suffered and is dead”), the truth I find when giving in to the pain and difficulties – feeling whatever it is that comes up in this situation now – can lead into a greater flow of life; a feeling of being saved and held by some greater Grace that I cannot understand.

Actually when I’m not in this incredible flow that was so prominent yesterday, and still somewhat touches this day, especially during sharing what’s truly on my heart and mind… when I’m not in that expansive flow then very often there is this more or less subtle constriction in my heart area, or the more or less tight knot in the stomach and all the other phenomena that I’ve dived into these last two weeks.

Clearly, as I stated yesterday, I find that there is no unconditional this, that or the other. So what about the basic premise of this experiment that I want to be with my feelings unconditionally? Am I willing to admit that I failed? Have I failed?
I can’t say, certainly, because the experiment isn’t over yet – I promised myself to keep it up at least 3 weeks (creating new habits, it is said, takes 3 weeks to take a hold). But I found something that is a bit closer to what feels true: Unrestricted feeling (not in the expression but in the feeling of) is a necessary basis of all truly human connection.

To know about my connectedness with you I need to feel you in the field, and I also need to feel my e-motions, those motions inside of me – I need to be with the feeling-field as much as with the knowing-field, and probably even more so.
Wilhelm Reich, the ‘father of bioenergetics‘, and one of the deemed infamous students of Freud, coined the term “Charakterpanzer”, character-armor, which, according to him was bodyparts hardening and storing the traumas that we experience in life. I’m not a fan of bioenergetics, but I feel now much more what is meant by Charakterpanzer (pronounce kuructarpuntsur – “u” as in understand). And I actually feel it as pain, constriction, suffocation, separation, denial and all its many subtle and complex modifications.

What I want, no, what I absolutely need in relationship is an unrestricted feeling-flow. In relationship with myself, with my partner, with the people that are dear to me, and actually with everybody.
The Western imagery of pointing out the heart as the center of our feelings seems to be very fitting, although the body-feeling-field is much larger and would, in my experience take in everything in between my guts and up to my throat (my sexual organs being a ‘special case’ in that is is much more a sense-organ than an area of what I’ve called feeling in these communications about the experiment). In speaking about the feeling-center I don’t mean the heart-chakra; I’ve felt it shine and feel it sometimes still, but that’s of a different dimension or level, not as closely connected to the affairs of life as what I’m working with and working through these days. When the flow is there it seems that my heart is at the very center of this flow…

So today I’ve been with the restrictions or constrictions of the heart when they appeared. And I found what is my basic practise: I would call it “unrestricting myself” so that I can be with the feeings, my own and those of the people I’m with. Not stop or restrict them; not even by going with “O, I know what you mean” because really, I don’t – often. If I give myself time instead of restriction, if I give the other time… flow is a natural consequence.
So unrestricting myself again and again and again, or being with the feeling dimension of every and any occasion, has come up to be the most wonderful practise – something you might want to try…


Starting up the experiment
Day 2
Day 3
Day 4 (Powerlessness)
Day 5
Day 6 (Jealousy)
Day 7 (Guilt & Jealousy)
Day 8
Day 9 (Shame)
Day 10 (Interlude)
Day 11 (Under Pressure)
Day 12
Day 13 (Clear Delight)


Day 14
Day 15 & 16
Day 17
Day 18
Day 19 (Dark Waves)
Day 20 (Time Out)
Day 21 (Splash)
Day 22 (Understanding)
Day 23 (Fear & Imagination)
Day 24 (Vulnerable)
Day 25
Day 26 (The Presence of The Past)
Ending the Experiment – Day 27 (Intentional Vulnerability)

Enlightening the Passions – Day 12

“Thanks to the human heart by which we live; thanks to its tenderness, its joys, and fears.” – William Wordsworth

Last night, brushing my teeth I looked in the mirror, and what I saw made my inner critic come out. The feeling that goes with that is very similar to distrust which is the negative of curiosity; curiosity being in this case “taking a look at myself, trusting that there will be something here that can cause delight, new understanding, an interesting game… etc.”
So I was looking at myself distrusting, and then noticed the feeling. Upping the volume a bit it then became possible to switch back and forth between distrust and curiosity. (If you look at the picture, what do you see?)

And then I realized that actually every evening, when I see myself there, there is also feeling… “I’ve never really noticed before,” I thought, “that the heart is always at work – it’s never silent.” Well, that’s a conclusion, of course, because my heart could well be silent when I’m not listening. But as soon as I take notice I can hear it feel…

What does the heart sound like? I don’t think I can ever hear it’s pure song, at least I don’t think I ever did. Being conscious will always color it with aspects of consciousness which are in turn resonating with the particular circumstances the heart is noisy about. If, as I did in front of the mirror, I intentionally change the headline of the melody from a skeptic to a curious one, from “He doesn’t look too good” to “I wonder what a change in the lighting would do to the looks of this face”, then the the tune my heart sings doesn’t necessarily change, but it feels different.

Hmmm, maybe not too clear.
Listening a while to my heart during my morning experimental focusing time, during my “meandering in the feeling space” time, I saw that consciousness always has intention; I’m always focusing / defocusing in some way (I’m dubious if the Buddhist ’empty mirror’ consciousness, the pure witness, exists as a reality – I know it does exist as metaphor for making sense of a particular kind of experience; I have used it myself to understand certain states I’ve visited).
Consciousness is always alighting on something, some content, some concept, some intuition, some revelation. It’s like the light – there is no light in empty space; at least you cannot know if there is or isn’t; so you need to hold something in light’s path that it can bounce off from to know if it is there.
So whatever I’m feeling in it’s purity, consciousness will also color it one way or another. And what is happening within me since I started this experiment is a kind of meshing up, a disentanglement and purification – alchemy comes to mind again.

What is important about this? When I look at you or anybody my heart sounds with that, and my consciousness (in which there are streams from the past, present and even the future) colors it – and in turn is conditioned by the hearts melody in a, most likely highly complex, kind of free jazz, to use a musical metaphor. So again, what are all these thoughts good for when exploring being with feelings unconditionally?
Well, for one I discover that there actually doesn’t seem to be an “unconditionally.” That’s an imagination that seems to come from overrating the power of consciousness.  But more importantly it helps me when I look at you, when I enter the feeling-field with an other person.
I might see you as looking skeptically at me, whereas you just feel curious.
Being super-social animals we do have an amazing capacity to accurately feel the persons we are with. But even if – and I actually believe we do – we feel exactly as our friend, even if our mutual hearts are in unison, we still can and do sound often quite different. It takes time to tune in to each other to get wonderfully polyphonic… (and I’m not talking about the make-believe symphoney here that so often is the suffering that we sell to each other as “I’m feeling fine.”)

So today was dedicated to entering into the feeling-field with these considerations in the background (I only formulated them now, though). And I feel that my body is very much relaxing when I listen to my heart in a more consistent way…


Starting up the experiment
Day 2
Day 3
Day 4 (Powerlessness)
Day 5
Day 6 (Jealousy)
Day 7 (Guilt & Jealousy)
Day 8
Day 9 (Shame)
Day 10 (Interlude)
Day 11 (Under Pressure)
Day 12
Day 13 (Clear Delight)

Day 14
Day 15 & 16
Day 17
Day 18
Day 19 (Dark Waves)
Day 20 (Time Out)
Day 21 (Splash)
Day 22 (Understanding)
Day 23 (Fear & Imagination)
Day 24 (Vulnerable)
Day 25
Day 26 (The Presence of The Past)
Ending the Experiment – Day 27 (Intentional Vulnerability)