“When I speak of love I am not speaking of some sentimental and weak response. I am not speaking of that force which is just emotional bosh. I am speaking of that force which all of the great religions have seen as the supreme unifying principle of life. Love is somehow the key that unlocks the door which leads to ultimate reality.”—Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
In the middle of it all, beyond the explanations and processes, the concepts and possibilities, Heartspace is ultimately about love. It is about loving the world we all live in and share. It is about loving each other in powerful, positive ways. It is about loving ourselves.
Great revolutionaries, teachers, and leaders like Dr. King understand this, because they live it.
Che Guevara understood it: “At the risk of seeming ridiculous, let me say that the true revolutionary is guided by a great feeling of love. It is impossible to think of a genuine revolutionary lacking this quality.”
Maya Angelou understands it: “The sadness of the women’s movement is that they don’t allow the necessity of love. See, I don’t personally trust any revolution where love is not allowed.”
Tennessee Williams wrote, “You said, ‘They’re harmless dreamers and they’re loved by the people.’ ‘What,’ I asked you, ‘is harmless about a dreamer, and what,’ I asked you, ‘is harmless about the love of the people? Revolution only needs good dreamers who remember their dreams.”
José Martí said, “But love, like the sun that it is, sets afire and melts everything. What greed and privilege to build up over whole centuries the indignation of a pious spirit, with its natural following of oppressed souls, will cast down with a single shove.” (The single shove of love?)
All these dreamers, they understood.
Near-saintly activist Dorthy Day said, “The greatest challenge of the day is how to bring about a revolution of the heart.” That is what Heartspace is: A revolution of the heart.
After spending a lot of time working to change macro-level systems, micro-level practice, and interpersonal attitudes and foster cultures of engagement, I have come to understand that the single most important key to creating a revolution of the heart is for each person seeking that to become deeply engaged within themselves. By deeply I mean that there becomes a seamless fjord of self-love that comes before all other things in this world, defined and strengthened and driven by each of us, individually. Without that fjord, all attempts to engage others within themselves or throughout the world around them are bound to fail, if not with urgent immediacy, then within a short period of a person’s lifetime.
Far be it from me to condemn another for doing the work of their heart and insisting that they must do unto others. However, too many teachers throughout too much history, ancient and recent, have taught this: Heartspace must begin within each of us, individually. In my own instance, I worked throughout two decades in order to change others. It was only when life slowed down and my engines stopped racing that I discovered that all my attempts to engage others were irrelevant until I became engaged myself. But I’d always been engaged in my favorite topics, in things I cared about! I was still off-base. I came to understand that it’s not simply about engaging with things outside myself, but with what is inside me.
I am teaching this now, in addition to my work through The Freechild Project, SoundOut, and CommonAction. I’ve traveled a meandering road through bounding mountains as I have come to understand things that path is determined by each of us, individually.
There are some key practices that can draw each of into Heartspace, as we are capable and desiring of going there. The other day I wrote about the inscrutable power of silence as an avenue to Heartspace. On the same continuum is dialogue, which Paulo Freire explained the effect of when he wrote, “True solidarity is found only in the plenitude of this act of love, and in its existentiality, in its praxis.” As was his style, he alerted us to the challenge here, too, when he explained, “Dialogue cannot exist, however, in the absence of a profound love for the world and its people.” So in the way that true dialogue can lead us to Heartspace, true dialogue cannot exist if we aren’t already in our Heartspace. There are countless other avenues to Heartspace, too. The only criteria is that they reciprocally build the fjord of self-love within you while strengthening your ability to connect to the world outside you.
Ultimately, this is why I believe engagement is the purpose of living. Without engaging within ourselves we will never get to wherever it is each of us is seeking to go. It simply will not happen. Where each of us is going is so completely individualized and intangible that it is nigh impossible to name that realization, that goal as it were. Seeking to make the implausible teachable, I suggest the journey *is* the destination, and in that, engagement is the purpose.