Anahata Chakra (Heart Chakra)
In Kundalini Yoga, anahata chakra has great significance because Kundalini (the awakening) stays in anahata for quite a while. After manipura, the serpent appears to like anahata and makes this chakra its abode, not wanting to leave from there. Anahata functions in all individuals and most societies seem to vacillate between the highly energetic muladhara and the emotional anahata.
However, functioning does not mean awakening: there is a huge difference! All chakras from anahata and below vibrate on their almost whimsical nature or their raw energy. They are merely responding to the stimuli present in the environment. Awakening – on the other hand – indicates a directed force, a force that is aware and purposeful. In this context, anahata is subtle and passive, so more effort is required to rouse it. This heart chakra beats with a rhythm that merely responds to environmental stimuli: sometimes slow, sometimes fast (tachycardia), and sometimes irregular (arrhythmia). In turn, it controls our breathing, so pranayama is important to control this chakra.
Anahata is associated with rhythm – perhaps the rhythm of the heartbeat but the heart does not control the chakra. This chakra controls the heart! Anahata chakra is situated at the bottom-most part of the sternum and is called the heart center but it should not be confused for the heart muscle. Since it is responsible for purification, one can imagine the organs to be lungs since the blood is purified in the lungs. Being an aesthetic chakra, anahata is quite delicate and sensitive. It is connected to the creative aspects of the brain including science, the arts, and music.
Anahata is depicted as a crimson-colored bandhuka flower (Jungle Geranium) with 12 petals. Its tattvas are wind and touch. The wind tattva is specifically related to the prana (the opposite of apana) and since touch is involved, the skin and hands become the tantric ‘organs.’ Anahata chakra manifests as emotions and the Vishnu granthi (psychic barrier) can be found at this particular chakra. It belongs to the bondage of emotional connection, the habit of living one’s life as per the vagaries of whims and fancies, and making one’s existential choices on the power of the feelings and emotions instead of rational thought. How many people live this way?!
Such people follow their hearts, are full of empathy for others, and display compassion for all creatures. Not surprisingly, many consider this the highest achievable ideal and thus Kundalini finds it difficult to move past this chakra. However, as mastery of this chakra increases, consciousness takes control of the circumstances of daily life. You still empathize with people but you don’t become a part of it. Some amount of detachment tells you that you can help someone with his/her problem without becoming a part of the problem.
Master of My Fate
Anahata’s functioning makes a person fatalistic but anahata’s awakening makes a person master of his/her fate. Kundalini may have arisen from muladhara chakra, through swadhisthana chakra, and manipura chakra but all these centers are still earthy in their nature. But all those who actively shape their very own destiny through the strength of will and channelize their emotions do so by transcending the anahata! Through anahata you become a Yogi – before that, you are only becoming human or becoming aware of being human. From anahata, your journey as a Yogi commences because you're totally developed in yogic consciousness. You rely exclusively on the potential of your consciousness instead of on something external or on faith (the blind religious variety). In anahata chakra, one is free to get rid of a preordained fate and also to choose one's individual future. Based on the Tantras, anahata chakra is a wish-fulfilling chakra because in an awakened state this chakra fulfills all wishes.
Ordinarily, we entertain numerous wishes though they hardly ever come true and thus remain in the domain of wishful thinking or daydreams. Nevertheless, in case they were to become realities, we'd rapidly begin to question whether we truly want our desires to be fulfilled. Many people would dismiss such thoughts and readily state that they are impossible but not the one who is awakened in anahata. No matter how impossible a dream may seem, an anahata-awakened person will venture forth to achieve it. One has to be alert to negative thoughts, one has to practice focused meditation, and also indulge in optimism.
“The world is as we see it,” says the Yoga Vasistha, which means: “The world is exactly the way I want to see it.”
Don't Be Yourself! Create Yourself! Re-Invent Yourself!
An example is to be in the company of recovering addicts or alcoholics if you want to stave off cravings for your substance of choice. This creates an environment of sober people wherein you are less likely to have cravings or the possibility of a relapse. Anahata gives you the freedom to create the environment you want and then to revel in it. You will be aware of your doubts and fears as “doubts” and “fears” and not as "realities." By identifying them, you will be available to deal with them. By separating irrational fears from objective information, you will take righteous action.
On the battlefield of Mahabharata, Arjuna was full of compassion for his opponents – his anahata chakra was firing (functioning) on all cylinders. But Krishna had to untangle Arjuna’s emotions to make him realize divine duty. Separation of emotions from objective information! To see his opponents not as his kinsmen and beloved teachers but as barriers to the performance of his righteous duty!
Similarly, assess your friends and foes with dispassionate objectivity. Sun Tzu said, “Keep your friends close but your enemies closer.” If you don’t have the attitude of discrimination, you will never know who your friends are. All sorts of views, opinions, half-baked ideas concerning your body, your social life monetary affairs, family issues, and the like will come to the fore as realities (symptoms) when anahata awakens. It is the controlling of these fears through meditation that will help you transcend this chakra!
In this context, you must not be alone and definitely not be with “losers” especially religious people
who disguise their fatalism as “god’s will.”
You have to practice mudras an asanas (Kali-inspired tongue asana) to dispel fears. At this stage, you must differentiate between auto-suggestion and self-will! Auto-suggestion will only work for a while, but self-will drives you to success. Note: Self-will is not about diminishing all emotions but about making willpower the domineering emotion.
Altruistic creatures will breed themselves out!
It makes absolutely no difference whether you're in the midst of poverty, conflict, disease, or emotional discord. You accept it as part of the undivided, universal consciousness. Anahata chakra awakens an expansive feeling of love for all creatures. This is different from the selfish charity of religious people and religious institutions. Even altruistic actions have a hint of selfishness in them. In the Selfish Gene, Richard Dawkins shows – through simple numbers – how altruism cannot survive in the time-span of evolution. Altruistic creatures will breed themselves out!
The altruism of Tantra does not fall into any of these categories because there is no intellectual analysis involved. The feeling of divine love is felt by the tantric and he/she does not care about selfishness, altruism, or Evolution Biology. It should be clear that this compassion is generated as a result of anahata chakra’s awakening and is not something that is learned or culturally cultivated.
Anahata Loves Ego!
The ego is said to come in the way of this chakra’s realization, so Tantra says that the ego must be destroyed. But the way the ego is destroyed has been misinterpreted down the ages. The only way to destroy individual ego is not to diminish it but to expand it endlessly. In the genuine interpretations of Tantra, ego awakens and awakens to such an extent that it fills the universe. This interpretation is supported by the fact that Tantra advocates going beyond God-consciousness into a Super God-consciousness, still further into Kali and Shiva (the Supreme Blessed One!).
Bhakti Yoga and Karma Yoga help to achieve this but Bhakti Yoga presents so many wonderful gifts that the tantrik is hesitant to venture beyond and makes this his/her final destination. Let’s not forget that anahata’s nature is such that it traps you with its love and compassion. Many feel this is nirvana or the ultimate form of a “living” Samadhi, but they are wrong. There’s no harm in enjoying this bliss if one so desires, but it is not complete Kundalini awakening nor is it the highest level of consciousness!
The kind of Love you will experience is mentioned in the Corinthians (4:8):
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails...."
This detached and truly selfless love embraces both good and bad, the beautiful and the ugly, the rich and the poor, but it still does not come close to the higher consciousnesses available to mankind. For that, we still need to awaken Vishuddhi, Bindu, Ajna, and Sahasrara!