Dr. Pearsall was the author of over 200 professional articles and eighteen international best-selling books.

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The Thinking Heart:
An Interview with Paul Pearsall
by Hal Bennett and Susan Sparrow

Essay Excerpt:
For centuries, scientists, philosophers, physicians, and poets have argued about the function of the heart. Is its sole purpose to move blood throughout our bodies? Or does it do something more? Theologians and doctors of ancient times saw the heart as the "thinking organ" of the body and the dwelling place of the soul. In recent years, particularly since the success of heart transplants, evidence has surfaced that perhaps these early inklings were more accurate than we thought.

Paul Pearsall is one of many researchers who has observed that transplant patients who receive an organ from another person's body may also receive much more -- what he calls their "cellular memories." Recipients have reported inheriting everything from the donor's food cravings to knowledge about his murderer -- information that in one case led to the killer's arrest. As a result of these and other researchers' findings, Pearsall is now convinced that the heart has its own form of intelligence, that we are only rarely aware of in modern life. In his view, the heart processes information about the body and the outside world through an "info-energetic code" -- a profuse network of blood vessels and cells that serves not only as our circulatory system but as an energy information gathering and distribution system, much like a complex telephone network. What's more, he believes that the soul, at least in part, is a set of cellular memories that is carried largely by our hearts. Predictably, such views have met with opposition in the medical world. But in his view, the implications of his theories -- that the heart "thinks," cells remember, and communication can therefore transcend the boundaries of time and space -- are too important for him to dismiss.

"I see myself as a bridge," Pearsall explains. "We need the brain, and we need these brilliant scientists who are bringing their brain power to the world. But we want them to have heart, and that's what drives me."

Bennett/Sparrow: This is a controversial subject in scientific circles, as you surely know. I suspect that you've had to confront a lot of criticism from your peers for carrying this banner.

Pearsall: The Heart's Code is not my theory, of course. I've drawn most of what's in the book from scientists who've been researching it. But the heart as a sentient organ has always interested me. It's a crucial hypothesis!

Bennett/Sparrow: I think we may be the first civilization in history that hasn't believed that the heart has an important role in our mental, emotional, and spiritual processes. Why do you think we've taken this position?

Pearsall: The short answer is that we're a brain culture as distinct from a heart culture. We want to quantify everything. If we can't weigh it and measure it objectively, it simply doesn't exist for us. The Hawaiians have always believed that it is through the heart that we know the truth. For them, the heart is as sentient as the brain. We find this same belief with the Hopi Indians in New Mexico, and with the Chinese; within many cultures the heart chakra, is the key to healing. My kahuna friends here in Hawaii say to me, "What took you so long? We've known this for centuries!"


Hal Zina Bennett and Susan J. Sparrow are a husband-wife team who collaborate both as authors and as creative writing teachers and coaches. Together they have over 30 successful books, both fiction and non-fiction. Hal's The Well Body Book is legendary, since it helped to launch the holistic health movement. Susan and Hal live with two small dogs in a remote village on a lake in Northern California. Their books together include Follow Your Bliss, Spirit Guides, and Write From the Heart. Hal's newest book, Spirit Animals and the Wheel of Life, explores Nature-based spirituality as a way of healing our relationships with our planet, ourselves and each other. Susan is presently working on a new book about women and their perspectives on marriage. Susan and Hal are co-founders of Tenacity Press, an independent book publisher, and Write From the Heart Seminars.