Anahata--Love, The Ever-Expanding Circle
Meditation is like a ladder: Each rung takes us a little higher until we eventually arrive at the top. First, however, we must see something above us that we want to reach. In the physical world it is easy to determine the height we want to reach and adjust the ladder accordingly. In our life, on the other hand, we are often unable to envision any height, so we naturally neglect using a ladder. The ladder is useful only after we have first come to believe that there is indeed a higher level of awareness and experience awaiting us.
If we are aware of this height and have faith in its value for us, we naturally move toward it. If, however, we don’t take it seriously or perhaps don’t even realize it is there, then we live a life in time. Time kills us. That is why wises people question why they are here on earth. They ask themselves if there is any mission in life, or if life is merely a question of existing from day to day. The answer is some thing we must search for and experience for ourselves.
People frequently come to me when they start to question life and say. “I want to see God.” I had the same quest many years ago. I would seek out various teachers telling them I was eager to see God, and they would give me lengthy explanations, which still left me, unsatisfied. Finally, when I approached my last teacher, he smiled and said simply, “Your cannot see God unless you become God. God is not an object to be seen with the eye. When you become God, you will see God within. You cannot see something outside unless it exists in you.”
What did he mean—becomes God, then you will know God? In the first place, he meant that wordy explanations cannot replace experience. Words create conflict and misunderstanding. We cannot rely on them to convey our thoughts and feelings precisely. Too often, they bring dispute and separation between people. We must, instead, trust our own inner experience.
In the second place, he meant that until now we have been searching outside ourselves for that which we will find only within. When we expect the outer world to satisfy us, our longings drive us in all directions: from one place to another, from one mission to another, from one job to another, and from one person to another. Each time, we think, “Yes, let me go there!” When we arrive there, however, we say to ourselves, “No, this is to enough. Let me go somewhere else.” The search continues. Do we really know what we are searching for? What do we hope to find in the cities, in the mountains, and in the various activities we pursue?
We are like infants who know they are crying for some thing, but do not know the name of tee thing for which they cry. Once in a while in our wanderings, in a moment of silence, we glimpse what we have been searching for and, like the infant who cannot call it by name, we may point to it. It is something innocent and natural which is unaffected by our graying hair and aging bodies—all the external changes. It is the quality of God, which dwells in each of us. Unfortunately, few of us recognize this quality in ourselves because our perception is clouded by the somber and often frightening images of God, which we have collected over the years.
Primitive man conceived of God as a father who alternately punished and rewarded his children here on earth. If you go to the Vatican today, you will see God depicted in art as such a father, rewarding some of mankind with heaven and punishing others with hell. No matter how modern we may think we are, we are not free of this ancient concept of God. We have woven the thread of out imagination around this idea. Even when we pray, the image suddenly appears before our mental eye and we discover that we pray to no one but the imagined figure.
Someone once asked me what the difference was between prayer and meditation. I told him, “Prayer is when you speak to God whether or not God is listening. Meditation is god speaking to you when you are silent.” In meditation, you are calm and receptive. You are like an open door providing kind of cross ventilation so that the air of divinity can move through you if your door is closed?
There is beautiful story about Krishna in Indian mythology, which illustrates this point very well. Krishna is a god in a particular cult. According to the story, he was especially popular among the young women of his time. He was a very romantic figure who was forever playing a flue. One of the women named Radha was so jealous of this flute, which received all of Krishna’s time and attention. That she finally snatched it away from him.
“Why do you love this flute so much that it never leaves your lips?” She demanded. “Why don’t you pay as much attention to me?”
Krishna smiled, “Because there is nothing inside this flute; it is empty. Whatever breath I breathe into it turns into music. You, on the other hand. are already filled to the brim. I prefer something which is hollow, something which has space within so that it can receive my breath and create beautiful music.”
Just as music is created in physical space, so does meditation require psychological space. If we are to experience this breath of divinity, we must remove all the old projections and prejudices which clog our minds and prevent us from recognizing our innate beauty. Our preconceived biases from a mental set of scales by which we continually measure ourselves and the people around us. We are never free of these scales, which inevitably weigh us down and block our happiness.
You may have noticed children who are always smiling and giggling because they are not loaded down with years of accumulated prejudices. They are filled with love and have no idea how to suppress their joy. We also must open ourselves and make room for the fresh air to pass through. That is why we do not address anyone in meditation; we simply resound with the vibrations of our inner music. Becoming God, we experience God.
Throughout history, all the great teachers have told us, “The kingdom of heaven is within you. Do not search outside. That kingdom is waiting for you within. Come and be here.” We are now learning to climb the ladder of awareness so we can reside in that pure state of consciousness which is the kingdom of heaven within.
As we climb higher and higher, we remain in tune with nature, with the consumes. That is why we first focus on the earth center, building a foundation f security. We realize that fear has no independent reality; it is a product of the mind and the emotions, which tend to magnify things out of proportion.
With the mantra shivam shanti we replace fear with feelings of peace andbenediction. Each meditation reminds us that life itself is a blessing. It is enough just to awaken in the morning and see the sun shining and know you are alive. The joy of living should not depend on having expensive car or many acres of land or someone to live with. If these outer things come to you, enjoy them; but do not feel rejected and depressed without them, Life is simply being alive and waking up to a new day. It is looking forward to saying hello to a friend, someone out of so many millions of people to whom you can talk freely. It is being able to love with an undemanding heart.
Once I watched a little girl tenderly taking care of her small doll. First she prepared a bed for it and laid it gently on the bed. Then she carefully covered it because it was winter. Finally, when her doll was asleep, she slept. She did all these things with such care and tenderness, not because she expected some appreciation from the doll, but simply because she was happy to care for it.
Have you ever thought about this kind of love? Have you ever loved somebody without expectations just because you wanted to love? What would you do if it were your birthday and your loved one forgot to brig you a gift? Would you be patient and understanding. Knowing that the spirit of the day is in your own heart, not in satisfying your expectations of how others should act? Or, would you berate your lover, saying. “Why don’t you appreciate me? Why haven’t you brought me a gift? What kind of lover are you?”
I do not mean to imply that one should neglect expected it. This is a small example of the way our expectations spoil our days. If someone has forgotten to note your birthday or some other special occasion, you may remind him or her gently. Let him realize that it is all right that he forgot. You may say, “whether or not you bring me a gift is not important between us. It is we ourselves who are important.” Next time, your friend will remember and will return your love and consideration twofold.
Love flows freely when people sense that there is no demand on them. You must be like the little girl with her doll. Allow your love to flow unconditionally toward someone close to you. That person may be young or old, your child, your parent, or your friend. It makes no difference. Your love is the natural expression of feeling alive.
Let us start each day with this vibrant, loving feeling. At present, life is a burden to many of us because we are dependent on external things for our satisfaction. We struggle for wealth and success and when they are not forth. Coming, we ask, “What is the meaning of life? Why do I live?” We exist, but we do not really experience life. There external achievements are nothing next to knowing what life is. Once we realize this fact, we will stop fabricating our own misery. We will no longer be the slaves of an unruly imagination, which grasps after ephemeral things. Instead, we will be secure in the certain knowledge that we are happy and will remain so.
Why are we living? If we thrill with life, that is reason enough. People spend thousands of dollars to prolong their lives. Even in their final days, they are striving to live one hour longer. Yet how many days have already passed by them unnoticed? Hundreds of days have come and gone so, it is time we begin paying attention to each day and reminding ourselves of the miracle that we are alive and breathing. The whole world is lying before us, and we are free to do what we want with our lives.
Wise people, who have educated their minds and become inwardly independent, are able to inspire others to live fully as they do. When you become truly alive, you will not have to find friends; they will seek you out no matter where you are. I hear from people I haven’t seen for ten years or more. They write me from all over the world, including Russia, where people assume that there is no religion. I am amazed that these people have not forgotten our moments together after so much time.
What do you think it is that makes us remember someone and want to communicate with him again? We respond to the good feeling, which flows naturally from that person who is emotionally self-sufficient. Meditating on the first energy center with the mantra shivam shanti will help you to establish this sense of self-sufficiency and vitality.
When you have absorbed this peaceful benediction, turn your attention to the second center. Here, indecision gives way to certainty. What you determine to do, you do. The doubt, which drains your energy and prevents you from accomplish your chosen task is merely a weakness of the mind which can be overcome. Everyone possesses a hidden creative potentiality, which is activated by belief in oneself. All it needs is the right moment to call it forth.
I’ll give you a good example: There was a man in Bombay who became gravely ill. One day his son came to me and persuaded me a to visit his father. When I saw the old man, he was too weak to move. It took two nurses to help him from his bed. Several days later. I read in the newspaper that a fire had broken out in the building in which he lived. This man was living on the seventh floor and there were no elevators, so I assumed that it would not have been possible to save him. Then, to my surprise, someone told me that this old man had been the first person to escape. While all the other tenants were gathering their belongings, be rushed ahead of them down the stairs.
After a few days, I visited him especially to verify the story. Again I found him lying in bed with two nurses at tending him. “How could you climb down seven flights of stairs in your condition?” I asked him.
“I don’t know.” He said. “God sent me the energy.”
Then I told him, “No, God did not send the energy; the crisis did. We always have that energy, but we are generally unaware of it. At the right moment, the energy bursts forth.”
Each of us possesses infinite energy, which surges out at the right moment like the force of an atom when it I split. We learn how to tap that energy in its different aspects by meditating on these seven centers. With the first three centers, we have been focusing specifically on the connection between the microcosm and the macrocosm. We have been strengthening our sense of security and creativity and burning the limiting, negative habits of thought which prevent us from experiencing our innate vitality.
Now, at the fourth center, the heart, we experience love. Love is a beautiful, divine element in the universe, which bring people together and initiates communications. When you begin to feel real love, you will discover that the world is a wonderful place in which to dwell. You will feel love for everyone regardless of color, background, or form. One’s life is such a short journey, why spoil the precious experience of love with demands and criticism? Conditional love cannot last long.
Instinctively you know you cannot change anyone with criticism and conditions. You must learn instead to accept each individual as he or she is, just as you expect to be accepted as you are. If someone attempts to change you, chances are you will be the first to object. Why not demand the same standard of acceptance from yourself? If you cannot remain happily in someone’s company, simply allow that person to leave without trying to mould or manipulate him. That which you don’t like about this person may be a lesson for his growth.
For example, one man who often came to see me I India was a chain smoker. He was also in very poor health. I felt such compassion for him, I urged him to give up smoking. “It is impossible!” he said. “The craving for cigarettes it too deeply ingrained in me. I am miserable without them.”
I told him, in that case, to go ahead and smoke and not be embarrassed about it. He should not force himself to give them up on my account. He was concerned that my feelings would be hurt? I accept you just as you are whether you smoke or not.” I answered. “Smoking is not my problem; it is yours. I only thought that it might be the cause of your present weak condition. That’s all!”
Recently, I met this man again and noticed he was not smoking. Out of curiosity, I asked him about it and h e said he had dropped the habit two years before. I was astonished! “You once told me that you could live without your wife, but not without your cigarettes. What happened to you?” I asked.
Then he answered, “The doctor told me my cigarettes were leading to cancer and I already had the symptoms. When I left the Bombay Hospital, I took my cigarettes and my lighter out of my pocket and threw them into the garbage. From that moment, I gave up smoking.” Then, as an afterthought, he asked me why I had not been more forceful with him. Why had I not demanded that he stop smoking?
“If,” I said, “I had ordered you to stop smoking, you may have followed my advice, but the desire would have remained. You would always have believed that I had compelled you not to smoke and eventually you would have resented me. Now you have given it up freely of your own will because of your personal experience.”
In life, there is no need for us to be upset because others do not do what we think is best for them. We must accept them as they are; we must watch and wait and love. The time will come when they will learn directly from their own experience.
Love is acceptance, and acceptance means giving the people around us room in which to live, to ponder, to learn. Acceptance allows for the natural blossoming of understanding. We must be careful not to suffocate our partner or our friend with the bondage of a conditional love. That kind of love stifles growth, and the relationship becomes stagnant and unrewarding.
What is the nature of real love and what happens to us and to our lives when we are touched by it? First, consider breath. We cannot live without by it? First, consider breath. We cannot live out it; yet if we try to hold on to it, we die our suffocation. Love is our spiritual breath. We cannot live and thrive without it; but if we try to grasp it. It withers and so do we. As we inhale and exhale, inhale and exhale, we are receiving and giving not only air, but the breath of love from the universe. Therefore, when you meditate on the fourth center, the heart, first take time to be aware of the element of air, which is fresh, and evenmoving within and around you. As you become relaxed and light, feel your awareness expanding into the whole universe. When you cannect with the life around you through the heart, your love will flow both in reverence toward those who have realized their perfection more fully than you have and in benevolent service to your fellow beings who are in need on the path of life.
This fourth center of meditation is called anahata, which in Sanskrit, means “that which is ever-new; that which is constantly resounding without being struck; that which is self-sustaining.” As the beats continuously, renewing and sustaining the physical body, so too does real love sustain and refresh us spontaneously without outside stimulus. It is ever flowing.
The symbol for this center is a perfect circle, a zeropoint, a beautiful dot of light. you may picture this circle as a lovely transparent, blue color—sky blue. Now, slowly enlarge this small, blue dot of light until it fully embraces you, the people around you, the whole family of man, and, finally, all life in the universe. This ever-expanding circle is the inner touch of the heart called love.
Next, link the mantra sohum t the breath; inhale so and exhale hum. Connecting this mantra to the physical breath will help you to be in tune with the spiritual breath of love. So literally means “That” and hum means “I am.” What is meant by “That?” it is our other, higher self—it is that which is beautiful, that which is perfect, that pure Self within. Whatever you admire as beautiful and perfect in someone else exists in you also; otherwise, you would not be able to perceive it. Experiencing this truth, you become truly self-sufficient, no anger demanding anything from anyone. You are able to accept each person just he is when you discover in your own heart that which you admire in others, you will understand that our quest is not to see God as we might see something which is separate from us. We can find and experience in our own selves the perfection we call God; but, for this, we must expand the scope and refine the quality of our love.
Start by perceiving the whole world as your lover. Let any idea that people are against you fall away. The whole world is for you. Even those who criticize you do you a service; they are your teachers. Pain itself is your teacher it breaks you attachments and the addiction, which bind you. Each painful event brings new depth of understanding, so do not run away even from pain. Feel it, watch it, study its source and the meaning it has for you and you will come away from your pain with profound knowledge. You will touch upon the real and the permanent behind the unreal and the temporary. When you perceive you real Self, you love will be the bridge between yoou and your fellow beings.
Meditating on the fourth center will help you to begin loving yourself and experiencing the whole of life as love. You will be able to wake up each morning ad say. “I am happy simply6 because I love myself and I am fully alive!” The whole spiritual journey starts from this point because love in the foundation of all spiritual teaching.
Love is the universal cycle of perfection. It is the zero point, which leads to infinity. It is single drop of water expanded into an infinite ocean.
Muladhara-----The Seat Of Security |Swadhisthana----Source of Creative Potentia |Manipura----The Indweller, Your Hidden Power|Anahata----Love, The Ever--Expanding Circle |Vishuddha---Abundance,Experience the Limitless| Ajina----The Eye of Inner Wisdom | Sahasrara---Pure Consciousness of Self | Using the Energy Centers for Health and Healing | An Integrated Meditation on the Seven Energy Centers |Index