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..:: Liberation V / The Heart ::..


Alan Schneider


              In many ways, the Heart Chakra, Anahata – or Chakra Four – is the center of higher mind and higher consciousness for the human organism.   It is certainly at the very least the portal or gateway to the Self, and the active focus of the Soul as the Self’s most personal expression in consciousness.   The first three Chakras all represent what are, to a greater or lesser extent, ego and desire oriented modes of awareness – it is only with the advent of Anahata consciousness that we begin to transcend our selfish personal desires in favor of compassionate selfless involvement with the other sentient beings present within the field of observation – indeed, even begin to recognize the existence of many of them, including those sentient beings of the human variety.   Prior to this, we see only objects, not consciousness, both within ourselves, and externally as other people. 

            Sri Ramana Maharshi, one of the primary Indian exponents of the Self as the supreme Truth of Consciousness, placed all final expression of liberation and Ascension in the Heart Chakra, as did Rama Krishna and Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.   Although these three Hindu Masters had little or no direct contact with each other, they all clearly appreciated the meaning and importance of a truly open Heart in human affairs, an indication of the universality of this concept.  When the lotus of the Heart is fully opened in Love and Compassion, life becomes miraculous, and no feat is unattainable for the awareness focused there.   In Maharshi’s system, and, in all probability in any other Eastern system of Ascension, the requirement of reaching this level of perception is the total and complete negation of the ego and its companion, desire. 

            As has been stressed so often in these essays, without enlightenment, the mind and all of its perceptions form a prison for consciousness that most of us live in for all of our lives without ever realizing our confinement.   The body continuously bombards us with physical desires, the ego bombards us with desire action which we feel compelled to execute, and our social reinforcement cements within us the belief that all of this is right, true, and inevitable.  This is the action of Chakras One, Two, and Three in human awareness and the human condition.   Enlightenment functionally begins with the first tentative experience of the Heart and Anahata, as we look at the world beyond physical experience and wonder what might be there.    

            Often, it is the experience of personal suffering that instigates this extrapersonal inquiry into life’s deeper meaning beyond the physical condition – in this sense, pain and discomfort are hidden gifts sent from the Self to awaken us to our true nature beyond the ego’s superficial classification system of me and mine.  Of course, if we have been fortunate enough to have attained some degree of higher perception along the way, then the otherwise painful synchronicities can be delivered in substantially more comfortable dosages that are much less difficult to assimilate and understand.   In any event, if the calling to one’s spiritual service is a part of that person’s Karma, the developments will occur regardless of personal attitude, circumstances, or inclination.   In fact, our little synchronicities can be quite delightful and fascinating – it’s all a matter of attitude and appreciation. 

            Some extent of suffering is inevitable in life, and helpful in the development of compassionate understanding of the human condition, the hallmark of the open Heart and Heart Chakra – those who have had relatively easy, comfortable lives are often devoid of concern for the fate of others, and superficially happy with what is in reality their shallow existences.   On the other hand, those who have suffered extensively and for prolonged periods of time under inappropriate circumstances can become calloused and insensitive to the pain and difficulty of their fellow creatures, sentient and otherwise.  The spiritual guide’s task in the first case is to call attention to the superficiality of the other’s consciousness and mindset as constructively as possible.  In the second case, the task is more challenging – the bitter consciousness of the unjustly afflicted must be befriended somehow and healed by the compassionate Love of the guide, frequently no mean feat, to be sure.   Yet, this is the burden of the Open Heart – to respond to the suffering of others as though it was our own in an ongoing wave of Love that spans cultures and individual differences.  This is ultimately the highest human calling and spiritual attainment. 

            As the Heart Chakra is activated and opens in agape Love and selfless grace and compassion, the whole perception of the individual changes.   A sensation of Love grows in the center of the chest where Anahata is spiritually located – a wonderful, ecstatic sensation of sublime grace and bliss.   This sensation may be Astrally accompanied by the visible impression of a glowing sphere of white light radiating forth from the spiritual Heart into the universe as the consciousness of the individual is suffused with the Illumination of the Self in pure Love and Light.   It is a delightful experience that calls one back with increasing frequency, as the Self continues to supplant the ego in conscious awareness.   The eventual outcome of this process is full Self Realization as all consciousness becomes manifest under God – Satchitanada – the permanent state of experience of the Supreme Truth, Radiant Knowledge, and Ecstatic Bliss of the Divine Presence.    

            Here in the hyper-materialistic Western hemisphere, this condition is very hard to attain, and, once so, equally hard to maintain.  We are taught from birth that the possession and manipulation of material objects is the only key to happiness, and that we must love those objects and use other people to obtain advancement socially in society, and psychologically within ourselves.   Nothing could further from the truth.  In fact, the key to happiness is that we must love each other (and ourselves, and the Self above all), and use material objects and processes.   The material aspect of life is the most superficial one – all of the physical processes in the universe are fated to continuous change and dissolution as the Wheel of Karma turns endlessly – but the inner spiritual aspects are effectively much more permanent, and there is no better example of this than the Heart opened in Love and Compassion.  It is no wonder that the great Sages and Seers of history, both Western and Eastern, have been willing to sacrifice everything, even life itself, in exchange for this joyful state of being – the best the flesh has to offer! 

            Once the Heart Chakra is open and functioning, the Path of Ascension is cleared to begin working with the other, higher Chakras in succession, with the only proviso being that the Law of Karma will determine how far we can go in the process.  In a way this is not a material concern.   Is the Self resplendent in its glory?  Well, yes it is, particularly when experienced as the Divine Lotus of Light, Chakra Seven – Sahasrara.   Is the Wisdom of Insight and psychic perception attainable in Chakra Six, Ajna, most sublime and excellent? Certainly.   Is the ecstatic chanting and spiritual instruction of Chakra Five, Vishuddha, worth the effort of austerity and self-sacrifice?  Most definitely.  But, all of these additional levels of knowing and being can only really be had from the foundation of the Lotus of the Heart – Anahata – through fearlessly leaping across the abyss of self-centered awareness to risk everything in the attainment of the Truth beyond intellectual understanding.   This is why the Buddha taught that the open, loving Heart was the supreme accomplishment of human beings, beyond all other abilities, aptitudes, siddhis, and spiritual achievements, because he knew that this was the only lasting route to peace, grace, and the release from ignorance in this existence.    

            Can we live this way?  Can we live with compassion and grace in our personal Hearts?  Well, small steps count in this process – even a little tolerance shown to others when normally none would be can produce miraculous results for ourselves and the others around us.   Even slight amounts of positive regard demonstrated under stressful circumstances can generate an eventual cascade of insight and enlightenment in the future, if not right now.   We simply must decide to interrupt the often mindless course of our lives with an experiment in Love and Grace for an instant in eternity.


                                                                                   - With Love, Alan -

                                                                 (Copyright 2009, by Alan Schneider)


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