Watchtower 1971 March 1 pp.133-9 How Is Your Heart?
How Is Your Heart?
LOOKING DEEPLY INTO THE HEART
5 Where and what is your heart? You may say, What heart are you talking about? You know you have a heart in your chest, one that is pumping blood throughout your entire body, serving every single cell with that stream of life. But do you have another "heart" in your head, a "figurative heart"? Is it part of your brain or is it that abstract capacity of the brain that we call the "mind"? No! The brain, in which the mind resides, is one thing and the heart in our thorax, with its power of motivation, is another thing.
6 With but few exceptions, the use of the word "heart" in the Bible is limited to the operations of the heart of man as the powerhouse of one's desires, emotions and affections, the place that comes to include the capacities for motivation. The Bible does not speak of a symbolic or spiritual heart in contradistinction to the fleshly or literal heart, just as it does not speak of a symbolic mind, and thus we do not want to make the mistake of viewing the literal heart as merely a fleshly pump as does orthodox physiology today. Most psychiatrists and psychologists tend to overcategorize the mind and allow for little if any influence from the fleshly heart, looking upon the word "heart" merely as a figure of speech apart from its use in identifying the organ that pumps our blood.
7 The heart, nevertheless, is intricately connected with the brain by the nervous system and is well supplied with sensory nerve endings. The sensations of the heart are recorded on the brain. It is here that the heart brings to bear on the mind its desires and its affections in arriving at conclusions having to do with motivations. In reverse flow, the mind feeds the heart with interpretations of the impulses from the senses and with conclusions reached that are based on the knowledge it has received, either at the moment or from the memory. There is a close interrelationship between the heart and the mind, but they are two different faculties, centering in different locations. The heart is a marvelously designed muscular pump, but, more significantly, our emotional and motivating capacities are built within it. Love, hate, desire (good and bad), preference for one thing over another, ambition, fear—in effect, all that serves to motivate us in relationship to our affections and desires springs from the heart.
8 The Bible makes a definite distinction between the heart and the mind. Jesus did so when saying we must love Jehovah with our "whole heart" as well as with our "whole mind." (Matt. 22:37) What we are at heart determines in large measure what we are as to personality. In this regard the apostle Peter speaks of "the secret person of the heart in the incorruptible apparel of the quiet and mild spirit, which is of great value in the eyes of God."—1 Pet. 3:4.
9 Let us consider some significant points about the fleshly organ in your chest, the heart, called in Hebrew lev and le·vav' and in Greek kar·di'a (from which we get the word "cardiac"). Some medical scientists and psychiatrists believe that the heart does considerably more than pump blood. For instance, Dr. D. E. Schneider, a neurologist and psychiatrist of New York, points out that, when the human embryo is forming, the heart and the brain develop from the same area, that the heart is in part nerve tissue and, additionally, has the capacity for manufacturing and storing certain highly potent chemicals that exercise a regulatory effect on the body, including, according to this research, the brain. His conclusion is that there is "evidence for a two-way relationship between mind and heart," and that, even as the mind has its effect on the heart, "the heart [yes, the fleshly one in your chest] in turn may influence the mind intensely." Certain other researchers have arrived at rather similar conclusions.
10 It is significant that heart-transplant patients, where the nerves connecting the heart and brain are severed, have serious emotional problems after the operation. The new heart is still able to operate as a pump, it having its own power supply and timing mechanism independent of the general nervous system for giving impulse to the heart muscle, but just as it now responds only sluggishly to outside influences, the new heart in turn registers few, if any, clear factors of motivation on the brain. To what extent the nerve endings of the body and the new heart are able to make some connections in time is not clear, but this cannot be ruled out as one of the several factors causing the serious mental aberrations and disorientation that doctors report are observed in heart-transplant patients. These patients have donor-supplied pumps for their blood, but do they now have all the factors needed to say they have a "heart"? One thing is sure, in losing their own hearts, they have had taken away from them the capacities of "heart" built up in them over the years and which contributed to making them who they were as to personality.
11 Medical World News (May 23, 1969), in an article entitled "What Does a New Heart Do to the Mind?" reported the following: "At Stanford University Medical Center last year, a 45-year-old man received a new heart from a 20-year-old donor and soon announced to all his friends that he was celebrating his twentieth birthday. Another recipient resolved to live up to the sterling reputation of the prominent local citizen who was the donor. And a third man expressed great fear of feminization upon receiving a woman's heart, though he was somewhat mollified when he learned that women live longer than men. According to psychiatrist Donald T. Lunde, a consultant to surgeon Norman Shumway's transplant team at Stanford, these patients represent some of the less severe mental aberrations [italics ours] observed in the Shumway series of 13 transplants over the last 16 months." The article continues: "Though five patients in the series had survived as of early this month, and four of them were home leading fairly normal lives, three of the nonsurvivors became psychotic before they died last year. And two others have become psychotic this year."
12 While the giving of the drug prednisone and the mind-wearying effects of a serious operation and a long confinement under intensive care are given by Dr. Lunde as the chief causes of these strange personality disorders, it is interesting to observe that Dr. Schneider, "a New York psychiatrist-neurologist and a student of heart-brain interaction, sees other factors modifying Dr. Lunde's explanations for the psychoses encountered in the Shumway heart transplant series. Dr. Schneider . . . maintains that 'the heart is more than a plumber's pump—it is a neuroendocrine battery. It has a little brain all its own, the S-A and A-V nodes and the conduction bundle, and the little waves from this bundle can be discerned along with each heart wave on an ECG [electrocardiogram]. Beyond this, the heart's extensive manufacture and storage of catecholamines may affect the levels of these neurohormones in the hypothalamus.'" (Ibid., page 18) Dr. Schneider observed that many non-heart-transplant patients who were given prednisone or confined for long periods did not get psychoses.
13 Whatever medical science may yet learn about the human heart, the Bible definitely makes a distinction between mind and heart, separating them. And, with the heart playing such a vital role, how important it is to safeguard it, not just by dietary self-control and other physical means, but by watching what sinks down into our hearts as impressions come to it from the senses and as the result of interactions of heart and mind! If the heart stops and the body does not get lifegiving blood, we perish, including our heart and mental faculties; but even though we are living, if there is not a steady flow of proper motives, desires and affections from our heart, we cannot expect to please the Life-giver, Jehovah. "The one that goes in for sensual gratification is dead though she is living." (1 Tim. 5:6) In this light, "out of it are the sources of life" takes on greater significance. It is from the heart that we are motivated to worship. "With the heart one exercises faith for righteousness." (Rom. 10:10) We must love Jehovah with the whole heart and worship him "with spirit and truth." (John 4:24) In creating man, Jehovah made a special place in the heart of man for himself, which, of course, needs to be cultivated and nurtured by each one. It is the fool or senseless one who "has said in his heart: 'There is no Jehovah."' God can be replaced in the heart by other persons, objects, or concepts, if one chooses to have this done, but human creatures are made naturally at heart to worship their Creator.—Ps. 14:1; Prov. 3:1-7.
14 It is interesting to observe, too, that the heart is one of the first organs of the body to be affected by emotional circumstances. Our hearts leap with joy; sudden danger brings a violent racing of the heart. Fear causes trepidation of the heart. Grief and sorrow bring it pain. From the heights of joy and pleasure to the depths of despair and pain, the sensations of the heart are felt throughout the body. Appropriately we have many words and phrases that incorporate the word "heart." To name a few: Take to heart, fainthearted, tenderhearted, hardhearted, with all your heart, heartrending, set your heart on, heartening, change of heart, and so forth.
Watchtower 1986 June 1 p.15 Determined to Serve Jehovah With a Complete Heart
Determined to Serve Jehovah With a Complete Heart
"Serve him with a complete heart and with a delightful soul; for all hearts Jehovah is searching, and every inclination of the thoughts he is discerning."—1 CHRONICLES 28:9.
THE scripture quoted above raises some questions about the heart. If it is referring to the physical heart, how could a person live with anything less than a complete heart? Could anyone live, for example, with half a heart? Does Jehovah, like a modern-day heart specialist, search the physical heart for flaws? As for the inclination of the thoughts, do thoughts reside in our heart? Some Bible references seem to say so, speaking of 'the inclination of the thoughts of the heart.' (Genesis 6:5; 1 Chronicles 29:18) Does Jehovah scan our physical hearts to discern our thoughts? What really is meant by 'serving him with a complete heart'?
2 The ancient Egyptians believed that the physical heart was the seat of intelligence and the emotions. They also thought that it had a will of its own. The Babylonians said that the heart housed the intellect as well as love. The Greek philosopher Aristotle taught that it was the seat of the senses and the domain of the soul. But as time passed and knowledge increased, these views were discarded. Finally the heart became known for what it is, a pump to circulate the blood throughout the body.
4 God's Word speaks of the heart nearly a thousand times. A few of those occurrences refer to the literal heart. A few others refer to the center or midst of a thing, such as "in the heart of the open sea" and "in the heart of the earth." (Ezekiel 27:25-27; Matthew 12:40) In nearly a thousand other references, however, heart is used in a figurative sense. Kittel's Theological Dictionary of the New Testament lists many scriptures under "heart" for each of the following headings: "In the heart dwell feelings and emotions, desires and passions." "The heart is the seat of understanding, the source of thought and reflection." "The heart is the seat of the will, the source of resolves." "Thus the heart is supremely the one centre in man to which God turns, in which the religious life is rooted, which determines moral conduct."
5 Emotions and motivations dwell in this figurative heart. According to many scriptures, the heart can be cheerful, gloomy, darkened, enlightened, desperate, trusting, faint, hard. It can be hot with anger or melt in fear, proud and haughty or mild and humble, intensely loving or filled with hate, pure and clean or guilty of adultery. It is inclined to evil, but it can impel us to do good.