Anahata Chakra

Anahata Chakra, Lit. “the centre (lotus) of unstruck sound”; — the fourth of the seven primary Chakras; it is associated with Vayu, the “air” element; physically related to the heart region and associated with the cardiac plexus and the thymus glands.

Here the language of emotional needs is replaced by that of devotional needs, which is to say, "I need" has become "I love" or "I feel devotional yearnings." The soul is reaching beyond the ego's hopes for self-directed autonomy and emotional closeness and senses the fulfillments of a shared reality. Indeed, the limited and fictive sense of the separate-self ego is coming to light.

In anahata, compassion opens toward "there but for the grace of God, go I." Love shows us that the happiness of the other is our happiness and the mystery of giving is like receiving, or better. Thus, we face various contradictions among value systems in moving from the first three chakras, which oversee the physical body, to the heart, the first chakra that governs supraphysical resources and realms of erotic meaning.

When we feel love for someone attractive to us, anahata and svadhisthana can both be stirred, and we can feel pulled in two directions, one familiar and lush, the other more airy and distant feeling. To continue in tantric sublimation at such times, we must let go of the seeming certainty that the lushness of sex would be so right with this person we love. Instead, we must take the leap of uncertainty. Through such faith, ojas intensifies and the unexpected can occur, as we see with Lianne and Andy.

Lianne had been living in a yoga community, practicing brahmacharya, for five years when she met Andy. He moved into the community mainly to be near Lianne but was interested enough in yoga to take on the various practices. During the first year their friendship grew and so did Andy's understanding of brahmacharya. They saw each other only in larger group settings. Lianne was moved by Andy's dedication, and during the second year of his residency she was falling more in love with him. On one of their morning walks Andy reached out to Lianne.

The moment of awkwardness lasted about one second and they embraced. All of a sudden it was as though she had never practiced celibacy; she felt like a "teenager in love." A rapid succession of sexual images raced through her mind as she hoped both that they would surrender to this passion and that they wouldn't. Andy thought that after two years, now they were together, but he, too, was of two minds, not knowing where his sexual feelings would lead him.

As their embrace continued, first Lianne, then Andy, started to laugh. It was so funny thinking about how impossible it was to know what to do with each other. Their embrace took on the warmth of a shared, unexpected discovery. They were still laughing when they kissed each other and fell down together.

As they looked up, the sky and the air everywhere seemed pink. The trees seemed to be visibly breathing, in a kind of oceanic harmony with their breaths. It was as if their love had carried them to some hidden space where even the air was alive with love and magic. They were there together and had preserved the essence of their celibacy.

Such sublimative discoveries on the brink of desire are not unlike the feelings you get when you have approached a deeply inviting pool, seemingly too wide to jump across, but you jump anyway. Through the tantric leap of meditation, conventional images of a lush sexuality and a pejorative sense of an "airy" one no longer appear as unequivocally accurate mappings of the ways of love and erotic freedom. Instead, the images of sex-desire can seem to be metaphorical, instead of literal, suggestive of something yet unknown and quite "real."

To get to this new place, we need faith and the light of ojas. But how can we make subtle discernments between gradations of loving passion when frequent sexual activity quickly raises, then dramatically lowers, ojas levels? Thus we have the many wily tantric strategies of "half-orgasms" and occasional orgasms for both men and women or only for women. Less wily is the heart's own way through the alchemical heightening of ojas to virya.

For it is in anahata that the soul abides with its finer sensitivities and courage (from couer, "heart") that often exceed good sense and sensual familiarities. Sustained by the gutsiness of muladhara, the daring of svadhisthana, and the willingness of manipura, anahata can become inspired.

Virya, the further distillate of ojas, precipitates like sweet butter from fine cream. Felt as a sublimely rectifying forgiveness that keeps stretching and encompassing more and more, or as a courage that follows only its own star, virya sparkles with virtue. Strategies and plans to "find love" become unimportant. Heart-felt faith prevails, and one is able to take leaps of faith.

While ojas clarifies the more aesthetic subtleties of emotion with its light, virya ignites the compassion of "heart-consciousness." With virya, one tastes of the evanescently poignant and even anguished human hopefulness that lives in challenging or distressing situations. With ample virya, virtue appears hidden (perhaps in convoluted or even deranged forms) in human acts, everywhere. Beyond the din of despondent or unconvincingly optimistic demystifying opinions, virya really understands.

While ojas heals the effects of injury, physical or emotional, the empathic forgiveness of virya lives a deeper understanding of what is really needed. Instead of healing the symptom or the painful effect, virya's self-less forgiving heals the cause of the injury. It forgives other and oneself any commissions and omissions in unreasonable poignancy and mercy, as the ideal of kabama-loving forgiveness-becomes real.

As a side effect, one's own pain mysteriously transforms; bitterness and cynicism are obviated. The harshly tragic aspects of human life have met their match-compassionate love-and the soul matures the ego-personality through these difficulties. Thus, forbearance, sacrifice, anger without vengeance, courageous action, and, at times, a distracting humor ennoble us and deepen our characters with the softened gnarl of experience. Albert Schweitzer, Mother Teresa, and perhaps a certain person you know well embody the qualities of anahata chakra.


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