Many religious traditions see the heart as the fount of loving, feeling and doing.
The heart is seen as a universal symbol of love — crossing confines of class, creed, culture or country. Christianity, specifically, has the “Heart of Jesus” as the central symbol of God’s love — a feast celebrated today. Tomorrow’s the feast of the “Immaculate Heart of Mary”.
Christian art depicts Jesus’ heart on fire, bleeding, crowned with thorns and capped with a cross. Jesus’ life was marked by deep sensitivity towards everyone around him. His heart had eyes to see and ears to hear, so to say. The love that flowed from it was boundless — unto being crowned and crucified. He preached: “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”
Mary’s “immaculate heart” signifies the fullness of human love for God. Mary isn’t a devi as many mistakenly think. She’s an ordinary woman who responded extraordinarily to God — and those around her — with limitless love. “Mary pondered all things in her heart,” says the Bible, portraying Mary as the compassionate mother whose love overflowed from deep union with God.
Many religious traditions see the heart as the fount of loving, feeling and doing. Sufi mystic Hazrat Inayat Khan told his followers, “If anybody asks, ‘what is Sufism?’ tell them: ‘Sufism is the religion of the heart!’” The symbol of Sufism is a winged-heart signifying the earthly and heavenly.
When celebrating heart-fests, it’s good to view our own loving. Sadly, “heart” and “love” are widely used, and abused, symbols — often due to Hollywood, Bollywood and Tollywood. Heroes and heroines “fall in love” with songs and dances galore, and heartache and heartbreak pitched in, for melodramatic effect. But do we “rise in love” — purer, gentler, nobler persons?
Chotu madly loved Charu; but was so short that he needed a stool to reach up and kiss her. Once, when Charu visited Chotu, he asked her, “May I kiss you?” She said, “Yes!” Climbing the stool, he kissed her. When she was leaving, Chotu insisted on reaching her home and carried a stool with him. At Charu’s house, he asked, “May I kiss you again?” She said, “No!” Infuriated, Chotu complained, “Then, why did I carry my stool to your house?” She replied, “I didn’t ask you to!”
Have some friendships become a “crutch” we cannot do with? Enslaving? Or, do we require some “stool” to reach unfulfillable desires? Deceiving? True love gives, and seeks naught in return. There’s a poster that says: I asked Jesus how much He loved me, and He stretched out his arms and said, “this much” and died on the cross.
The hearts of Jesus and Mary challenge us to purify our love till they somewhat resemble God’s love for us: boundless, bountiful, beautiful!