Do you like to read about inner work — about what others have done, the insights they arrived at, how certain things in our inner terrain seem to be connected, that kind of thing? If so, you are not alone 😊. Many of us find this an interesting, rewarding, engaging and inspiring thing to do, and I highly recommend it. We just need to be aware of a few things around it.
Language, words, and the head centre
When we read, in particular, and when we hear words about inner growth work, we need to remember that the faculty at work formulating insights and experiences into words is the head. More specifically, its simple, constructive function*. Maybe we read or hear about “asking questions”, or “finding answers”; about “understanding” and “knowing”. That all sounds head-y, right? That’s because it is. Words, after all, and language in general, are modalities of the head. And that’s fine — it’d get tiresome to read or speak if we were to always qualify everything by using three (at least) different ways of putting things to make sure that semantically, we included all three centres. And as for why the head terminology sometimes gets precedence, well, again, that’s who’s in charge of verbal communication.
But in actuality, we can ask those questions — and we can most definitely seek their answers — of (and in) any centre. We can understand and know from and in the heart and our instinctual reality, and we need to be aware of that. We need to extend what the head’s simple, constructive aspect is formulating so it includes the other aspects as well. When it says, “seek answers”, this is not only as in reading or talking — it also includes moving, dancing, feeling, responding, and being still (among many, many other things).
The twofold function of the head
But we need to back up a bit here. Because not only can we understand and know from the heart and gut — it’s also true that where growth is concerned, the only way the head can truly understand and know is through its higher, open function. To really get — and subsequently really know — something, we have to experience it. That’s how humans arrive at integrated, solid, actual knowing.
The concept of the head centre’s twofold function is from the book Aspects of you, where it says:
But the function of a balanced cognitive intelligence is actually, from what it seems to me, twofold: It has one simple, constructive function, related to our physical existence, and another higher, open function, related to higher awareness.
The simple function of the head centre handles putting together information, sorting, and categorising input — thoughts, feelings, impulses, and things happening in our environment — and evaluating and assessing situations, actions, chains of events, and so on. Of course, we might also use the head to memorize things, understand connections, make plans, imagine things that aren’t yet in existence, and devise and question theories. All these things are about collecting, processing, or drawing conclusions from information; constructive action when we would typically say that this intelligence was active.
The higher function of the head centre, on the other hand, is not constructive. It does not make or produce anything, and it does not involve linear processing. Compared to the constructive function and its “active” feel, the higher function seems passive. Note, seems — if you exercise this function of the head centre, you will realise that it is not passive at all, but requires a very active presence. It just does not require the actions of the simple function.
This function is about openness: being simultaneously awake and completely still, getting quiet and listening. This way solutions, ideas, truths, insights, and direct knowing can find us, instead of us searching for them. The higher function comes online when we don’t actively think, question, or draw conclusions; when we don’t do anything with the intellectual energy, but rather make it available for a higher intelligence.
Now, we might notice, reading about these two functions, that the simple, constructive function of the head can’t exactly experience things. It’s not in the business of experiencing; it’s in the business of information. It’s brilliant at memorizing, calculating, questioning, structuring, theorising, fantasizing, and sorting out information, and this is great, and useful, and necessary. Still, neither of those things are the same as actually learning anything, in the sense that we want to learn for our inner growth.
Growth is the result of experience, not information
This means that there is experiential growth work to be done in all three centres. And while most people with awareness of them in the first place might agree with that, they haven’t necessarily noticed that none of this work is done by reading, discussing, analysing, memorizing, or summarizing anything. These things do have a place. We often do them in preparation for such work, and usually in summing up our experiences once we’ve had them. But often, even people who are supposedly engaging in inner work ironically skip over the actual work — the experiential exploration of everything that they read, talk, or hear about — and instead go directly from “preparation” to “summarising conclusions”.
Enjoy yourself — and remember it’s your focus that matters 😉
When we look at it this way, this is a bit funny. Particularly online, and on social media platforms (where the heart and the gut naturally aren’t strongly represented), the sometimes hot topic of “inner work” largely plays out in the category of “simple, constructive”. Not a lot revolves about actually doing it — and, again, for obvious reasons.
This is fine, by the way. It’s not, in itself, a problem. It can be quite entertaining to talk, reflect, and intellectually dissect modalities, theories, principles, and even previous experiences. Just make sure, if you’re into the growth bit, that this is not all you do.
Unfortunately, often this “hanging out in the intellectual realm” happens unwittingly, when someone just never got introduced to actually walking the path. If this is you, start getting curious. And if it’s not, don’t waste your energy judging others who might seem to be “all talk and no exploration”. Make sure you have the balance between the two that you feel comfortable with, and, when you can, seek out like-minded people. Having a sort of tribe in that way can make a huge difference ❤️