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The physical heart is the organ we are all aware of in the body. It ceaselessly circulates the blood, bringing oxygen and energy to all the cells. The body cannot survive for long without the working of this heart, located in the left chest. You may also be aware of the Anahata or heart chakra, the energy center located in the subtle body in the middle of the chest. For most people this is partially stuck or blocked, leading us to experience physical and emotional challenges. However, the most important heart is the spiritual heart, which is found slightly to the right of the body’s midline. This heart is only visible to dedicated spiritual seekers, whose path is to discover the True Self dwelling within.
The Spiritual Heart
Referring to the spiritual heart, the great Indian saint Sri Ramakrishna said, “This shrine of the body should not be left dark, one should illumine it with the lamp of wisdom. Lighting the lamp of knowledge in the chamber of your heart, behold the face of the Divine”
The spiritual heart has no physical form and so is limitless. It’s our connection with the Divine and is like an inner sun, that shines forth Divine Light into all areas of our lives. The spiritual heart is always awake, always ready to light our path to enlightenment. Even though we may say we are “awakening the heart”, what we are really doing is reawakening our memory of it. Through years or lifetimes of neglect, we have allowed it to become covered over and hidden from view. But, just like the sun on a cloudy day, it patiently waits for us to remove the coverings.
Vedanta says there is a fine thread made of Pure Love (Prem), which connects our heart with the Divine. This thread is the essence of the love and devotion we find in Bhakti Yoga. It’s been lying dormant in our hearts since the beginning of creation, hidden by layers of ignorance and suffering. However, no matter what we do or where we go this thread, our Divine connection, can never be broken. This is what brings us those moments of unconditional love. This is what creates the deep yearning of our Soul for Joy and Bliss. This is what motivates our spiritual journey.
As mentioned, the spiritual heart is always awake, so the process of awakening is really one of our small self-awakenings to its True Self, or awakening to Divine Love. Imagine an ice cube floating in the ocean. This is like the limited love of your small self surrounded by the infinite ocean of Pure Love. We constantly create boundaries by clinging to our rigid beliefs, doubts, and fears. Our spiritual awakening is to let go. Allowing all the boundaries to melt, so we can merge into eternal joy and bliss. How many times have you heard someone say, “When I saw the baby, my heart melted”. Don’t wait for the baby, allow your heart to melt at every opportunity. Become the ocean.
Fear contracts, love expands. Our spiritual journey is one of expansion, one of falling in love with everyone and everything. Look for the divinity in everything. Vedanta tells us that when our ultimate goal is reached, the entire universe appears like a speck of dust within our fully expanded heart of love. Here we live fully from the spiritual heart rather than the mind, the ego is harmonized, our life is guided only by love.
Steps for Awakening
The early Christian mystics spoke of “lowering the mind to the heart”. A simple practice is to begin thinking from your heart and loving from your mind. Ask your heart for guidance when making choices and when negative thoughts arise, see if you can shift your attention to something beautiful. Make love the foundation of your thoughts, words, and actions.
If you use a mala for counting the repartitions of a mantra during Japa meditation, drape the mala over the ring finger of the right hand and advance the mala with the right thumb. The thumb relates to our connection with the Divine and the ring finger contains a pure spiritual nectar, and is joined to the heart by a subtle energy channel, the Nectar Nadi. Moving the beads stimulates this nadi and a stream of Divine Energy flows to the heart and from there throughout the body.
The more Love you give to others, the more you will be filled with Love. A study some years ago at Kassel University in Germany, measured the light being emitted from a person’s chest area. They found that it increased 5000 fold when the subject intentionally meditated on sending healing love to a specific person. Become a beacon of love and light.
Sit quietly and imagine radiating the Pure Love of your spiritual heart to those you love. Your family, your friends, and those with whom you work. See them light up with Love. Remember that this love is unconditional, it never judges, so share this Pure Unconditional Love with those who may challenge you. Think of the sick, the depressed, the lonely, the houseless, those affected by war and violence, the unhappy people of the world. Radiate Pure Love to them all. Surround our beautiful Planet Earth with Pure Unconditional Love. Allow this Love to heal our planet, bringing peace, hope, and love to all beings.
Repressed emotions, doubts, and fears distort or block the flow of Pure Love. Begin to face your fears, allow whatever is repressed to rise up, and be released. Practice listening without judgment or evaluation. Spend a few minutes every day in silent meditation, stepping out of the noise and activity of the world. At the end of your meditations, bring your attention into your heart and enliven the following qualities of the heart by silently repeating them a few times, Peace, Harmony, Joy, Love.
The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali inform us that the heart will be awakened when we live a life where we are friendly towards the joyful, compassionate to those who suffer, happy for those who are successful, and impartial to those who challenge us.
The great Sri Ramakrishna advised us to, “Do your duty with one hand and with the other hand hold onto God. After the duty is over, hold onto God with both hands.” This is echoed in the Bhagavad Gita when it tells us, “Be alike to foe and friend, be free from attachment, unchanged by praise and blame, silent, content with whatever you have, and full of devotion.” Krishna, as the Divine, goes on to say, “I am seated in the hearts of all”.
Lack of forgiveness is another reason the spiritual heart is hidden and, as a result, if we don’t forgive, we are the ones who suffer. Without forgiveness, we feed the other person with our energy, whereas forgiveness frees us to love fully in the future. Separate the person from the act, perhaps we can’t always forgive what was done but we can always forgive the person who did it. Ultimately, everyone brings us an opportunity for our spiritual growth. Be grateful for the opportunities life offers. Attune yourself to Love and let it be your guide. Remember nothing happens to you, it happens for you. Everything that happens is necessary because it happened.
Glimpsing Pure Love
As we continue on our spiritual path Love grows as our heart expands. Begin to look for the Pure Love in everyday experiences:
- In a crisis, have you suddenly felt safe or felt a loving presence?
- Do you know someone who had a spontaneous remission?
- When looking at a beautiful sight, have you lost track of time?
- Have you ever felt so expanded, you were no longer in your body?
- Do you sometimes feel a deep silence within you, perhaps just before sleep?
Our highest vibration, our Essence, who we really are, is Pure Love. The Divine Reality of Existence, the present, the “I am,” resides in the Spiritual Heart. We might find temporary happiness by looking out in the world but true lasting love must first be discovered within. In the words of the spiritual teacher Anandamayi Ma, “When by the flood of your tears, the inner and outer have fused into One, you will find Her whom you sought with such anguish, nearer than the nearest, the very breath of life, the very core of every heart”.
“Only love can save the world” - Wonder Woman