The role of the heart chakra

Concentrating prana in the heart chakra has several important implications. Patanjali says in sutra I.33, “Clarity of mind is produced by meditating on friendliness towards the happy, compassion towards the miserable, joy towards the virtuous and indifference towards the wicked.” The belief in our separate, individual, egoic existence fosters the attitude of envy towards the happy (how come that they are more fortunate than us), judgement towards the miserable (they don’t deserve any better, they have brought it upon themselves), scepticism towards the virtuous (for sure they have some skeletons in the closet, let’s find them) and hatred towards the wicked (look what those bastards have done, let’s pay them back). Patanjali does not just advise to let go of those negative sentiments but to actively propagate their opposite. He calls the effect this has ‘clarification of mind’. Why is that so? All conflicts that we have with other people are nothing but externalizations of inner conflicts. To admit this is a quite painful and humiliating process. For example if I am envious at the success of somebody else deep down I think about myself that I am not deserving of being that fortunate that’s why I don’t like to see it showered on others. When I am judgemental towards a suffering person and refuse to help them because I hold that they have brought it upon themselves, deep down I believe that I myself don’t deserve support and must be judged because I have not done enough to avert my own misfortune. If I am sceptic towards a virtuous and heroic person it is so because I don’t trust my own virtue and heroism and believe that I must be brought down. Again my hatred against the so-called low-lives is nothing but an externalization of my self-loathing and my believe that at my core I am evil and sinfull and deserve to be taken down. Any form of spite that I project outwards when I talk about others is nothing but a refusal to accept that I am worthy of God’s love.

This entire process is very confronting and met with much resistance. We all like to sit on the moral high horse and judge and look down on others. Now look how often the term ‘others’ has occurred in the last two paragraphs. Similarly to Jungian dream analyisis that tells us that all figures appearing in our dreams are nothing but projections of our own inner conflicts on external actors, so does yoga say that all conflicts that we entertain during the waking state are nothing but externalizations of inner conflicts that we have with ourselves. The moment in which I accept all of my own shortcomings and turn my self-loathing into selflove and self-acceptance, all conflict that I am projecting outwards will end.

Now this does not mean that we don’t have to stop corporations from ruining the environment, lock up murderers or stop tyrants from invading other countries. But what it means is that we are not going after them with the desire for vengeance in our hearts, we are merely correcting their behavior without passion, bloodthirst, vengeance or righteousness coming into the equation. Samadhi based on the heart chakra enables in us the view that there is no ‘other’. This does not mean that other people are an illusion but it means that we are so connected with all other beings that we are forming a huge symbiotic organism, one humanity and one family of all beings. All judgement and adversity that I produce to anybody else in the longterm will be squarely laid back at my feet. Any concept that your loss is my advantage is based on the missapprehension that I am my body. But my body is only the vehicle in which my consciousness is currently embodied, that’s all. Underneath that we all share the same atman, the same self, as there is only one self. “Do unto others as you wish it done unto yourself”, implies that we all have one common existence, being children of the Divine, and that deep down there is no separation. If I believe that I am separate, why should I treat you the same way that I would treat myself?

“We forgive our trespassers even as our tresspassing is forgiven to us”. Also here the idea that there is no other. You are producing forgiveness, you are enabling to be forgiven by forgiving others. And you cannot truly forgive others without first having forgiven yourself. Radical forgiveness comes from practising samadhi on the heart chakra. It teaches us to immediately and consciously let go of any spite, any antagonism that we feel towards anybody else. Why? Because to do so, in Patanjali’s words, clears our mind and without a clear mind no higher evolution is possible.

But even when pursuing higher evolution, such as the samadhis on the higher chakras, we must always come back down into the heart. This is because here in this axial chakra the integrated human must be centered, from here we can interact with others from a position of service, compassion and love. If we are centered in Sahasrara we cannot make much of a contribution. It is here in the heart that we develop trust in the Divine and it is here, so the scriptures say, that the sacred sound OM is heard. About this heart the Chandogya Upanishad says, “In the human chest there is a small shrine (the heart) in which there is a small flame the size of a thumb (the soul). And in this flame miraculously there is this entire vast universe with its planets, stars, continents, rivers, mountains and oceans.”

This is an excerpt from my forthcoming book Samadhi The Great Freedom.

 

About Gregor Maehle

Gregor Maehle started his yogic practices over 38 years ago. For almost two decades he yearly travelled to India where he studied with various yogic and tantric masters. Gregor spent 14 months in Mysore, India, and in 1997 was authorized to teach Ashtanga Yoga by K. Pattabhi Jois. Since then he has branched out into research of the anatomical alignment of postures and the higher limbs of Yoga. He obtained his anatomical knowledge through a Health Practitioner degree and has also studied History, Philosophy and Comparative Religion.

Gregor lived many years as a recluse, studying Sanskrit, yogic scripture and practising yogic techniques. He has published a series of textbooks on all major aspects of yoga. His mission is to re-integrate ashtanga vinyasa practice into the larger framework of Patanjali’s eight-limbed yoga in the spirit of T. Krishnamacharya. He offers trainings, retreats and workshops worldwide.

Posted in Meditation and Samadhi, Society/ civilisation, Yoga Philosophy.

2 Comments

  1. It is so wonderful to know that this work is to be shared with so many. It is so important that we remember. Thank you Gregor.

Ask a Question or Leave a Comment:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *