The Sanskrit name for the heart chakra is “Anahata,” translating as “unstruck.”
The first time I let this sink in, I could feel my world slightly shifting to take in the implications and the truth. The heart chakra designates more than a literal or even metaphorical heart, it refers to a “region” and a process of being. In one of the Upaya ZenBrain lectures I referred to yesterday, one of the scientists speaks of his struggle to make sense of the yogic system of koshas, or layers of being. The problem with the notion of “layer” is that it’s spatial, and things extended in space should be detectable & interact with other things extended in space in way recognizable with visual, or at least wave detecting, technology. The same problem comes with our language about chakras, but what resolved the conflict for this scientist was to recognize that the spatial references designate processes and ways of being that describe the spatial phenomena from different experiential perspectives.
Anahata is a way of being accessible to any person with a heart: unstruck. Unstruck by the things that strike us and occasionally knock us down. Our original nature never left and is not covered over or lost, it arises from our heart in each and every moment.
Satchidanda’s reflection on this Sutra is simple and challenging, because its often the obvious things we gloss over in pursuit of accomplishment.
“You can imagine a brilliant divine light which is beyond all anxieties, fear and worry – a supreme Light in you. Visualize a brilliant globe in your heart representing your Divine Consciousness. Or imagine your heart to contain a beautiful glowing lotus. The mind will easily get absorbed in that, and you will have a nice experience. In the beginning one has to imagine this Light, which later becomes a reality.”
Nice experiences are important. If getting on the mat or cushion was a drag every single time, you might persevere, but human history says that without any signs of progress or pleasure or effectiveness you’ll turn to something that seems more worthwhile. I would. So the experiences we have along the way are important. But the being there is the real game, and it’s what we’re learning to be, and so I would go so far as to say the Light is always a reality, but before training in being present our most subtle way of interacting with the world – our bodies, our experiences, feelings, & others – is imagination, so we start there. As you enter the space of your Anahata, or unstruckness, or original nature, through imagination or visualization, you learn new ways of interacting and recognizing the world and the light becomes more stable because you are better able to apprehend it.