The heart knows what the mind does not grasp. Too often, those with strong development of their mental capacities become fixated on a specific line of approach or development and limit their understanding to the framework so defined. As the proverb goes, they then “cannot see the forest for the trees”. A high mental development, focused on spiritual attainment can indeed bring about an opening to the Reality in the form of a vast impersonal Absolute; yet it often leads to abandonment of interest in or active participation in the life of the world. Additionally not every one is suited to the arduous path of knowledge.
Another approach to the Divine takes place by harnessing the heart’s emotional capacity, which brings with it a deep devotional force and a potential for the ecstatic joy of union with the personal form of the Divine. The devotee loses himself in the love for the Divine and can experience states of bliss and union. Not for the devotee is the dry, isolated and abstract seeking of those following the path of knowledge. The devotee revels in the love, the joy, the ecstasy, the feeling of Oneness with a Personality that meets the devotee where he is, as a mother, a father, a friend, a child, a lover.
This path too has its limitations and does not bring about the complete transformation of all parts of the being and the relationship to the outer world. Frequently the mind is disregarded, or the vital force is channeled into purely devotional pastimes and the outer world is left to its own devices without significant opportunity to evolve.
Sri Aurobindo observes in The Life Divine: “A second approach made by the soul to the direct contact is through the heart: this is its own more close and rapid way because its occult seat is there, just behind in the heart-centre, in close contact with the emotional being in us; it is consequently through the emotions that it can act best at the beginning with its native power, with its living force of concrete experience. It is through a love and adoration of the All-beautiful and All-blissful, the All-Good, the True, the spiritual Reality of love, that the approach is made; the aesthetic and emotional parts join together to offer the soul, the life, the whole nature to that which they worship. This approach through adoration can get its full power and impetus only when the mind goes beyond impersonality to the awareness of a supreme Personal Being: then all becomes intensive, vivid, concrete; the heart’s emotion, feeling, spiritualised sense reach their absolute; an entire self-giving becomes possible, imperative. The nascent spiritual man makes his appearance in the emotional nature as the devotee, the bhakta; if, in addition, he becomes directly aware of his soul and its dictates, unites his emotional with his psychic personality and changes his life and vital parts by purity, God-ecstasy, the love of God and men and all creatures into a thing of spiritual beauty, full of divine light and good, he develops into the saint and reaches the highest inner experience and most considerable change of nature proper to this way of approach to the Divine Being. But for the purpose of an integral transformation this too is not enough; there must be a transmutation of the thinking mind and all the vital and physical parts of consciousness in their own character.”