Heart and Culture: the New Force

In other articles in this blog, I have been proposing a view of NATION that includes three parts: the people, government, and culture. Under this scenario, CULTURE plays the role of HEART; the people play the role of stomach; and the government plays the role of brain. In this article I will consider further the topic of “culture,” equating it both with “heart” and with the “Tao” (in Taoism). 

Culture is Not the Brain: How Culture Is Best Understood as the Tao

What is it about the book Tao-te Ching that keeps people going back to it again and again? Take, for example, Part II, Chapter 38, Item No. 1 and No. 2:

No. 1: Those who possessed in highest degree the attributes of the Tao did not seek to show them, and therefore they possessed them in fullest measure. Those who possessed in a lower degree those attributes sought how not to lose them, and therefore they did not possess them in fullest measure.
No. 2: Those who possessed in the highest degree those attributes did nothing with a purpose, and had no need to do anything. Those who possessed them in a lower degree were always doing, and had a need to be doing.
Lao-tzu. ‘The Tao-te Ching.’ Translated by James Legge. Web.

Thus, the power of the Tao is mysterious. It is so also the power of the heart. In this sense, it is useful to equate the Tao with what we call “heart.”

In the nation, “heart” is equated with the judiciary power. Consider, for example, the power that one judge may have with regard to a law that is deemed unconstitutional. How come a judge can have that kind of power? It is because the judiciary power is the heart of the nation. Thus, it has the power of the heart.

Corporate Culture

Right after finishing my BA from the University of San Francisco, I worked for a time for J.C. Penney Company. It was temporary work–no more than one month–while I waited for a job as Portuguese instructor at the Defense Language Institute of Monterey, California. But while I worked at J.C. Penney, I understood something about a company’s culture. It became clear to me that they had pride in their work; they had a certain “way” of doing things that reflected the “heart” or the organization. Perhaps it is not defined or definable, but it is a guiding power. It binds the employees with a vision, an enthusiams. Even today, when I shop at JC Penney, I look at the employees and feel a certain kinship with them. Somehow I feel their heart. This is what the heart is all about.

The 21st Century–the Age of the Heart

Having enjoyed “the Age of Reason” in the 19th Century; having seen the failure of reason in the ravages of war of the 20th Century; is humanity now ready to enter the Age of the Heart? Obviously no one advocates giving up or leaving behind our reason. It is a marvelous power in its own right. Reason can DISTINGUISH, to ANALYZE, to SEPARATE. In contrast, the force of the heart can BIND, UNITE.

Shall we take one and leave the other? Not at all. The Back-to-the-Body Perspective sees the world as a BALANCE of forces–where the stomach, the brain, and the heart are equal partners in a dynamic relationship of sovereign powers. But it seems to me that the heart has not yet been given its full position. The heart has not yet reached its full stature. Perhaps the 21st Century is going to be a century in which the heart finally reaches parity with the brain and the stomach.

Culture: an Expression of the Heart

This is, then, what I have been referring to as CULTURE. What is it to be an European? What is it to be a German? What are Brazilians like? What do people mean when they say, “I am an American”? The answers to these questions are elusive, rather undefinable, somewhat mysterious. And yet, they are real. I believe the answers have to do more with the heart rather than the brain. They relate to this rather undefinable concept of CULTURE. It is something we feel rather than express in words.

Culture, then, are an expression of the heart of a person or a group or a society or a nation. A century has its own culture. An area of the world has its own culture. A social organization has its own culture. A child born into a family will change that family: there will be a new expression of heart. A pet adopted into a household will change that household. Here, too, a new expression of heart will surface. If you plant a tree or a bush of flowers or vegetables–all that will have an impact on how you feel. Such things have an impact on the expression of the heart. Culture, then, is an expression of the heart. It is the hope of the 21st Century.

I conclude with a quote:

Oh the poets are right: there is nothing so small and meager that men could not be inspired by it.
Excerpt From: Friedrich Hölderlin. ‘Hyperion.’ iBooks.

Paulo-Juarez Pereira
Ypsilanti, Michigan, USA
October 15, 2014

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