Updated: Apr 25, 2020
In Chinese medicine philosophy the Heart is the same as the mind. Dreams can be a gateway into the state of affairs of the mind. If your dreams are frequent and make you feel restless, this may be a reflection of your subconscious. As we progress in our practice, the mind becomes more still and dreams become less and less. If you do have dreams, they mainly signify a warning or some sort of advice.
Furthermore, as we progress in our practice thoughts occur less. The progression towards the Palace of the Heart starts out like the base of the triangle and moves to the tip. The base of the triangle is the lowest level of this progression, you have uncontrollable thoughts, anger depression, anxiety and so on. Once you reach the tip, it disappears and you reach the Palace of the heart, a peaceful place and setting.
How it works is to follow warning signs and inner voices of the heart. Those voices of good conscious lead you down the right path. They are very simple, such as am I doing the right job or study? Should I have been harsh to this person? Am I treating my body the right way? These warnings of the subconscious become less and less as you listen to them. And you go further up the triangle to the tip. Eventually you receive no more or very little warnings or advice. Smiling from the heart is a good exercise of course, but listening to the heart's true intent is the tough part. Meditating on emptiness can get you to your goal faster. Reaching the tip of the triangle is climbing the psychological ladder of a clean subconscious. It is a lifetime's work but one that ends in feeling happiness and attaining a state of mental well being and health.
Listening to the Heart
Most people wonder why they have uncontrollable thoughts of anger and sadness. How you program the mind is relatively similar to the output you will experience, a mind that is filled up with negative thoughts is no different from a person who often has a negative attitude, this is a widely known issue. The programming of the mind happens at the level of the subconscious, and it is very easy to hack into it. Most people without realising it, don't actually think for themselves. They are coded with stimuli and written lines of gunk. In our time, this happens mainly through written language, but of course can also occur orally. The Buddha in the Lankavatara Sutra, stated that any argument made can be refuted; furthermore, the Buddha mentions that words in this sense are empty and can only describe true realisation, but cannot make you experience it. However, in order to experience a realisation or find some sort of peace, you need to understand its description first, and after undertake the practice. This is why the Buddha always advocated for purity of Speech. As an impure speech, would make people deviate away from ending their own suffering.
In my studies of Stylistics, which is a branch of linguistics, I enjoy exploring the various stimulating aspects of written language and their effect on the subconscious. There are many examples to illustrate this. The most easy way to understand how the subconscious is affected, is the example of some train stations in the Netherlands playing classical music to foster an environment free of violence. The idea is that it would be harder to commit an act of violence when classical music is playing.
One of the biggest issues I find nowadays is media and the internet, although these platforms are extremely useful, people are often subconsciously affected by them without truly knowing it.
I will take some news titles from The Guardian, in order to demonstrate how the subconscious is negatively affected by even sentences as small as news titles.
News titles have to hook a reader, and often times these news titles are over exaggerated, incite panic and induce negative states of emotion. These are known as click baits and they work very easily, for example during the coronavirus crisis The Guardian published this article: "'This is like a war': view from Italy's coronavirus frontline". To begin a news title with "This is like a war", which is an extracted quote from one Italian doctor, incites a mass panic in people. War is obviously an association made with survival, it contains an associative pool of other themes, such as displacement, starvation, dying, suffering and so on. Your subconscious connects all of these themes when hearing the phrase: "This is like a war". If a Doctor who is a status symbol in society and plays a very important role in our well being mentions that it is like war we will take the matter more gravely.
Moreover, The Guardian does not often choose titles that are neutral, but rather, titles that are questions or statements directed towards their readership. In this case, someone is directly telling the reader, that the entire situation of the Coronavirus is a war. Therefore, all associative terms coupled with war stimulate the subconscious into thinking it is under attack.
While on the one hand, such writing can help warn people against becoming infected with the Coronavirus, and making sure they act accordingly and take the proper safety measures, it also creates the survival response in humans, that is I must do everything to secure my body and property. People buy out the entire grocery store, leaving no food for the elderly and sick so that they may quarantine themselves and feel secure. This is stupidity and lack of concentration in its purist form. The subconscious is so affected that people act radically without even being able to stop themselves; in doing this they betray the Heart and it's desire for clarity.
The Yellow Emperor's Classic of Medicine in Chapter 8: "The Sacred Teachings", discusses the importance and functions of each organ in the body. Qi Bo mentions to Huang di: "The heart is the sovereign of all organs and represents the consciousness of one's being. It is responsible for intelligence wisdom, and spiritual transformation. The lung is the advisor. It helps the heart in regulating the body's qi. The liver is like the general, courageous and smart. The gallbladder is like a judge for its power of discernment. The pericardium is like the court jester who makes the king laugh, bringing fourth joy. The stomach and spleen are like warehouses where one stores all the food and essences. They digest, absorb, and extract the food and nutrients. The large intestine is responsible for transportation of all turbidity. All waste products go through this organ. The small intestine receives the food that has been digested by the spleen and stomach and further extracts, absorbs and distributes it throughout the body, all the while separating the pure form the turbid. The kidneys store the vitality and mobilise the four extremities. They also aid the memory, willpower, and coordination..." "So these 12 Zang and fu organs must work together harmoniously, just like a kingdom." (Chapter 8).
Qi Bo later mentions that the heart is the most important organ as it is called the King: "However, the decision-making is the king's job If the spirit is clear, all the functions of the other organs will be normal. It is in this way that one's life is preserved and perpetuated, just as a country becomes prosperous when all its people are fulfilling their duties. If the spirit is disturbed and unclear, the other organs will not function properly. This creates damage. The pathways and roads along which the qi flows will become blocked and health will suffer. The citizens of the kingdom will also suffer. These are the relationships of a kingdom".
The spirit in western terms is simply your consciousness, if the mind is perturbed the bodily functions will also suffer, causing various diseases including incurable diseases. However, if our Heart is clear the body will not suffer from illness. An easy example is people who are stressed typically have elevated blood pressure, which can therefore lead to other health problems, if the heart is clear the blood pressure is normalised and the bodily functions run smoothly. People often do not realised that they are stressed, precisely because it lies within the subconscious and subsequently the stress reaches the internal organs.
Smiling from the heart before any practice is an easy solution for clearing the spirit, however to further intensify the process of smiling from the heart, we can first smile and then have a gentle thought that "The Heart is as Clear as Crystal", not only does this cleanse both the conscious and subconscious states, it cleanses the physical heart and organs. All thoughts begin to disappear, the organs relax and the mind is cleansed much like pure crystalline water.
This is the road to arrive at the great hall of the palace of the heart.