These two “domains” (head and heart) get a lot of attention in general, but they are especially ripe for consideration in a metaphysical context. The connotations run much further than simply thinking and feeling. Unfortunately, there is often some misconception about the nature of each, inclusive of their metaphoric spectrum, and some descriptions can even paint the picture of each being competitively at odds with the other, with one being inherently “better” or “worse.” That simply is not so. Both faculties must develop towards a synchronized integration of one another as well as their own essential “FULL-fillment.”
How many times has it been heard in the “New Age” community that we need to “get out of our heads”? While there is some truth to this (in part), the blanket declaration often makes it seem as though the “head” is somehow antithetical to spiritual development or attainment. Nothing could be further from the truth. However, the discrepancy can only be clearly understood when we examine the differences between the mental and emotional “realms,” both of which are comprised of a “higher” and “lower” order, which really only represents two poles along a spectrum, as in from “hot” to “cold” or “light” to “dark.” As such, “higher” and “lower” may not seem ideal to describe the difference, but the terms can generally suffice. (If those terms are problematic, perhaps consider the difference as being that of energy more or less “condensed” into form and PARTicularization.)
The emotional plane of activity is rather synonymously labeled the “astral plane” as well. It is inherently magnetic in nature, being both coagulative and metabolic. (However, it fluctuates between operating attractively and repulsively as inclined.) It is concerned with sympathetic sensitivity to impressions that synthesizes and brings like resonance into expression. It can also be physically equated with the bloodflow. To contrast, the mental plane of activity is inherently electric in nature, being both separative and catabolic. (However, it fluctuates between operating creatively and destructively as inclined, while both those terms should be understood sterilely without “good” or “bad” connotation.) It is concerned with the discriminative discernment of inspiration that analyzes in pursuit of knowing Truth. It can also be physically equated with the nerves. (Just for fun, the entire body, with focus on the skin and bones, is akin to the purely physical level, and the spiritual analogy within the physical realm is likened to the in and out breath which is paramount to animating the “vehicle/vessel.”) The emotional realm can also be generalized to be more passive and correlative to the esoteric path of the mystic, while the mental realm is more active and correlative to the path of the occultist. Still, while configurations may sometimes “lean” in one direction more so than the other, both are always at play in everything to some extent, and they eventually “meet in the middle” to work WITH one another for advancing progress.
The “lower” and “higher” level to the emotional/astral plane can also be astrologically analogized to the functions of Venus and Neptune, both of which are “suited” to express emotional metaphors, albeit in different respects. (The exaltation of Venus in Pisces also points at a clue hidden within this relationship.) In general, the emotions are empowered through desire--the desire to move closer to some experience or the desire to move further away. This is also setup to be aligned with our pleasure and pain response, as “feeling good” is the carrot on the stick. It is the emotional realm that “has a hold” on the majority of people. It’s quite “sticky.”
The “lower” level of the emotional/astral realm is “inhabited” by all the various desires cast around and about by ourselves and others. These emotional/astral forms “sway” forms towards or away from experiences with an appeal towards the desire nature. At this lower level of existence, these desires are particularly selfish in nature, which isn’t “bad” of its own accord exactly. The entire “purpose” to these astral forms is driven by the intent of “clothing” or “sheathing” themselves in form—giving them physical experience. As such, the emotional/astral web of desires is what eventually moves us into whatever action we pursue. The physical world is the “condensed” plane where these more subtle energies “step down” into actual, objective expression. The problem only arises when someone is perpetually moving through life simply satisfying one desire after another, as there is a more or less infinite supply of emotional/astral forms vying for satiation in physical expression. Also, when the discerning/discriminating thinking of the mental plane is not in effect, these desires push and pull us around in pursuit without much reservation, and the life purpose/focus/direction can be lost as one is “tossed about” in the tides of the emotional/astral waters.
The “higher” level of the emotional/astral plane is still more or less mechanically the same, but the nature of desire is transcended beyond the myriad personalizations sought to be effected at the “lower” level. Slowly, as development accrues, and the experience of satiating self-desires (through “bonding” with an emotional/astral form to physical enact it) is eventually “burned out” (as enacting only selfish desires precipitates the karma of revealing the ultimate undesireability of such sole/soul pursuit), the desire nature begins to “cool down.” At this stage akin to desirelessness, all personal desires transmute to a selflessly unconditional love and compassion, which is the sole/soul emotional impetus that truly drives ALL desire, even when the particularization of expression obscures the form of such Truth. (Those lower emotional/astral experiences are done in love too though—the love that allows the personal experience of satisfaction and the love that allows the dissatisfaction from such personal experiences to propel one beyond such limitation.) It is the Love element that ultimately rends the emotional/astral realm its coagulatively uniting properties. At this higher level, any existent emotional/astral forms are aligned with such aspiration, and it is only in resonating with THOSE forms that true spiritual demonstration of devotion ensues.
Let’s switch gears to now consider the mental plane of activity. The “lower” and “higher” level to the mental plane can also be astrologically analogized to the functions of Mercury and Uranus, both which align with the mental aspects in different respects. The key motivation behind the mental plane is the aspiration to “know.” This is distinct from the emotional plane’s motivation towards experiencing and fulfilling desire. Only once the waters of desire are calm can steps be made to clearly understand a phenomenon without personally subjective attachment eschewing the perception. However, for each step forward in knowledge attained, there is sometimes an eventual “collapse” where all frameworks for understanding must be deconstructed and “destroyed” to allow for new information and data. Hence, the mental work progresses.
As a side note, ironically, the emotional level “builds up” to an inclusive immersion that dissolves all within it together as one, while the mental level “breaks down” in exclusive organization that constructs something greater through the reconfigured sum of its parts. “Polar currents” continually seem to run in both directions if considered to the fullest. Astrologically, we can interpret this phenomenon symbolically as Venus, at the “lower” emotional level, attracts and accumulates the pleasing experiences that are “loved.” (Venus’s urge towards what is pleasing and “beautiful” is also a part of its nature though, which “saves” the planet from any purely “lower” connotation.) Neptune, representative of the “higher” emotional level, dissolves separatively distinct boundaries between emotional layers through an innate reconciliation of them as all fundamentally springing from Love. (Of course, a “lower” level to Neptune is suggestive of the illusion and confusion that ensues when its ideal is not intact.) Mentally, on the “lower” level, Mercury (traditionally ascribed to duality) is responsible for all division, separation, classification, analysis, etc. whereby concrete knowledge is obtained. (Mercury also “builds up” as this knowledge can be put into practical application and the creation of “tools” and “techniques” that lead to greater progress.) On the “higher” mental level, Uranus will often seem to “disrupt” or “reverse” some established parameters of knowledge, while its ultimate motivation is subsequentially seen to be the innovative influx of new information that elevates and uplifts the whole through revolutionary reconstruction. (Of course, Uranus can also act “lower” anytime it acts to rebel against established order without intent purpose actualized for greater collaboration of the parts.)
The “lower” level of the mental plane would be ascribed to the “concrete mind.” This is analogous to the “monkey mind” which deduces its knowledge through observation, experimentation, and logic. This is the part of the mind which works to “figure things out” according to the data that’s been provided and how it can be arranged and perceived. It is inherently through the mental plane that we “build” thoughts (into “thoughtforms”), and those created from the “lower” level are usually conglomerates of other forms we’ve come to know, which are then “engineered” together by our mental deduction and construction. This is the level that concerns itself with “technique,” and it can become an endless “rabbit hole” of mechanical processing and application that produces an never-ending supply of thought along a looping “assembly line” when not corralled by other discipline. Hence, when we’re told to “get out of our head,” this is usually what is being referenced. However, even this lower mental level utilizes discrimination and discernment, which aids in the proper aligning of self to forms from the emotional/astral realm.
The “higher” level of the mental plane indicates the “abstract mind.” This is the domain of inspiration and the intuition. Here, sudden knowings that may not initially be traceable along the lines of logic and deduction are to be found, as the information and understanding arrived at is through INduction. Whereas the “lower” concrete mind is personally “hosted” within each individual’s apparatus, with its own inherent “equipment” tuned as it is, the “higher” abstract mind is collectively present as a sort of “cloud” from which Truth and clarity can be instantly accessed. (However, one must have first developed the “lower” mind so as to have refined the “tools” to properly interpret the “higher” knowledge. Similarly, one must have demonstrated the ability to actualize personal desires with success along the “lower” level of the emotional/astral plane before being suitably versed to actualize and demonstrate the “higher” ultimate desire of life [Love/Unity] that is most quintessential.) The “higher” mind often “speaks” in symbols that the “lower” mind must have acquired the capacity to interpret, just as the “higher” emotions attract with a tranquility, which the “lower” emotions are eventually found (through experience) to be lacking, which is best discriminated/discerned by the mind. It’s essentially a “waterfall” of layers pouring down.
It should now begin to be more obvious what the relationship between the emotions (and those layers) and the mind (and those layers) is. Basically, we all are in the process of refining our “instrumentation” from the BOTTOM UP in order to be most receptive to the inflow of energy coming from the TOP DOWN. This requires the continual purification of the body/personality, the emotions, and the mind, suggesting the importance behind right thought, right action, and right being/living.
Anytime someone in a metaphysical group (or anyone anywhere really) is encouraging you to “stop thinking,” be very wary… The thinking level is actually “higher” than the emotions and contains the discrimination and discernment necessary in order to avoid falling into deception and illusion. Of course, the emotional body can be, and is, built up in such a way so as to ultimately only “stick” to the highest ideals, and some amount of divine Grace does serve to protect those with right motive/desire that’s been refined in the emotional/astral “waters” in the meantime of ongoing development, but to progress beyond such a point to one that is better able to make choices that requires less suffering as the result of thoughtless action requires attention to the mental plane.
However, this is NOT to say that mind is here being proclaimed to be superior than the emotions. It’s not per se. In fact, the “lower” mind, even with its helpful utilization as a tool for discernment and discrimination, can lead one astray if it is not properly controlled also. The mind, while ultimately aligned with Love at its core (as All is), can sometimes be purposed for solely selfish ends, which then only seek to actualize the desires of the “lower” emotions. Also, a glorification of the faculties of the “lower” concrete mind, even in conjunction with the “higher” emotions, can drive someone in such a way that they believe themselves to be able to, personally and individually, analyze, discern, and discriminate as to what is and isn’t the highest expression of Love, while such a personality-based and egocentric arrogance is almost certain to “miss the mark” and stumble as a result. Therefore, all components must be developed and mastered together.
While the integration of mind and emotions is the goal, there does seem to be a certain “chain of command” and “order” to which the prerequisites to development are managed. However, throughout our life (and/or lives), we may seem to “jump around” from a concentration on one part to that of another. There is nothing to be concerned about in such, as in fine-tuning the entire vehicle/vessel, more or less attention may need to be directed to different components for different occasions and times. In general though, it follows that adequate control of the emotional/astral realm is the basic prerequisite to development of the mental arena.
Many people may fancy themselves to be “thinkers,” but a lot of what is assumed to be thought is simply the lure of fulfilling some desire. With such, it often falls that, to whatever degree the “lower” concrete mind is built, tactics are enacted and resourcefulness is employed to meet some desire. It is almost instinctually habitual at this level. As such, the majority of the population still seems to be “waking up” from this condition, while “wading”/waiting through the period in which they must come to understand the underlying emotion of Love behind all experience, and the ultimate futility of satiation through fulfilling personality desires. Then does a gravity towards the “higher” emotional/astral realm begin to attract, simultaneously joined by the “lower” mental level’s employment of discrimination and discernment between the two (“lower” and “higher”) aspects.
As the mental plane begins to awaken, there is no doubt also a period of time where the “lower” concrete mind may be idolized in favor of its seeming superiority in establishing stable knowledge and Truth to such an extent that the emotions are “sacrificed” for the development of the mental faculties. However, the “lower” mental development must eventually be used to analyze and decide between schisms where two paths diverge, and the “test” is always such that the choice should ultimately be made in favor of the “higher” emotional appeal of selfless love, compassion, and devotion. Of course, as previously stated, there is some stumbling to account for as such learning takes place.
More and more, such “tests” ensue, and the limitations of the “lower” concrete mind are eventually understood to be imperfect in such decisions, and may yet seem to only be another source of error, possibly deluding one into thinking that the mind has no true answers and that to work from the level of emotions only may be better. Such is the “trap” at this stage. To the contrary, one must develop their mind further in such a way so as to be receptive to the “higher” mind and its intuition, where the knowledge is always truthful and purposed for the best good of All.
It might be a good time to examine another paradox of how the “lower” emotions are “receptive” to impressions, while the “higher” emotions then actively express and demonstrate themselves through an individual who is resonantly aligned. In contrast, the “lower” mind stays actively engaged with “working out” truth at the concrete level, while the “higher” mind quiets itself to “hear” a truth beyond what may be concretely deducted. There’s also a tiered effect to observe where the “lower” emotions are calmed and made “inert” so that the “higher” emotional flow of Love rolls through unimpeded, and this also “frees” energy for the use of the mind. Similarly, as the “lower” thoughts of the mind are then stilled, the access to elevated perspectives of intuitional understanding is then made possible. Hence, the “calming” of emotions and “clearing” of thoughts in meditation is doubly useful, but reaching such a point where this can be sustained is again only another prerequisite for even further advancement. Eventually, once the calm clarity is established, meditation is concerned with generating and contemplating “thoughtforms” to be exercised in pursuit of demonstrating the selfless Love that comprises All.
These stages of development are cyclically perpetually, according to where, when, and how the Work is being done. The ultimate goal (in the microcosm of the systematic components being now considered) is to expand one’s reach and access INto the INtuition. While the emotional/astral component can allow for one to demonstrate the BEING of God/Source, the mental component is what allows one to demonstrate the KNOWING of God/Source. Eventually, both must be simultaneously “fit” in their integrated expression, but again, individuals may lean in one direction or another from any temporal standpoint. Therefore, it is never wise to judge who may or may not be as “developed” or “advanced” as any other, as the full Truth of the matter isn’t always clear via appearances, and ultimately, it matters not.
Overall, the head and heart must work together, and neither one is better or worse than the other. There may of course be situations where the utilization of one or the other is more fit for the scenario, but the ability to optimally operate oneself and navigate experiences is implicitly tied to one’s ability to “toggle” between the approaches in integrated symphony. Only then may the dynamics encountered and facilitated truly be engaged in the best interest of All, of which one is a part…or so it seems ;)