Tuesday, April 5, 2011


I found this on the web at http://www.sacred-texts.com/jud/wott/wott10.htm

The rabbis were impressed with the profoundly important role that emotions play in life. The heart, which they looked upon as the seat of emotion, was regarded by them the principal source of control over all human actions. "All of man's bodily organs are dependent on the heart," was a Talmudic dictum. It is the heart therefore which may be said to carry responsibility for whatever we do in life. Thus one rabbinic comment offers us the sweeping generalization: "The heart sees, hears, speaks, walks, falls, stands, rejoices, hardens, softens, grieves, fears, is broken, is haughty … persuades, errs, fears, loves, hates, envies, searches, reflects. …"

The rabbis prized highly the ability of some people to control their emotions. To control one's emotions and to bring life under the directing voice of reason was regarded by the rabbis as the mark of true heroism. "Who is a hero?" one rabbi asked in the ethical treatise Abot. His reply was: "He who controls his passion."

I thought it was somewhat contradictory. Loving, hating, envying, and controlling one's passion. I asked my neighbor who has a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering (but never took a course in the field) about the heart. He said something about the organ that pumps blood.

Is the controlling of passion what the Buddhists call "equanimity?" I hoped to ask the Rabbi tonight, but he didn't come to a meeting (about the environment) at the temple that I went to tonight.

1 comment:

dstopher said...

Hi Kim. I find that there are certain traditions of ancient reverence that deeply console. The rabbinical study of the Talmud is one. Anyway about the sovereignty of the heart...it seems to me that what we call emotions of the heart involve some sense of wholeness and connection to a larger life (big mind). I agree with you that the notion of controlling passion and being passionate at the same time is confusing. But how about having deeply heartfelt sentiments coupled with clarity...the aliveness of feeling there is deeper meaning in things and glimpsing that deeper meaning without deception. That is the buddhist notion of wakefulness isn't it?