Image originally posted on the Ramana Maharshi FB Page by Cathy Ginter
In any language, the term “Heart” is unique. In Sanskrit, the “Heart” is referred to as Hridayam. Hridayam means, “Here is the Center”.
Bhagavan Sri Ramana gave a unique emphasis to the term “Heart” or “Hriydayam” in Sanskrit. He spoke about it frequently as the center of centers in which the mind must find final rest.
In ancient Eastern texts and scriptures, the Heart is talked about in the context of physical health, mental health, and also spiritual health and vitality. Even in English, we intuitively know that the word “Heart” really has multiple meanings.
If someone says to you, “You have a beautiful heart”, it does not mean that the person feels you have a very attractive physical organ beating in your chest. No, not at all! The statement about the beauty of your heart implies that you, your personality, your essential character have a warmth and glow which others find pleasant and joyful.
When we try to deeply understand a situation, a person, or resolve a dilemma, we inquire, “What is at the heart of this situation”? We say “let us go to the heart of the matter”. We might even look in someone’s eyes and ask, “What is truly in your heart.”
If we are trying to get to the truth, we never ask anyone in a conversation, “What is truly in your stomach or what is truly in your liver?”. That would make no sense. We do not even ask, “What is in your brain?”, unless we are being sarcastic. Sometimes, we might say, “What is on your mind?” But such a statement does not have the same warmth or mean the same thing as “What is in your heart”?
When We ask, “What is in your heart?”, it is an offer of direct and sympathetic communication. “Let us have a heart to heart talk”, signifies openness for a mutually respectful and even a loving exchange.
The term “Heart” literally means Truth. When we want to know the Truth, we want to go to the heart of the matter. When I say to someone, “I want to speak my heart”, it means I want to speak my truth. I want to give my true feelings.
Heart means center, or core, which provides the foundation for the structure of our perceptions. The light of the Heart as consciousness reflecting off our latent tendencies (karmas) appears to give color to our thoughts, feelings, and emotions which constitute our personality.
We know and understand and give meaning to this whole universe through our Heart. Truly, to know others is cleverness, but to know your own Heart is wisdom.
The old saying, “Know thyself” means “Know your Heart”.
Through what power do we know the world? Ancient sages have said, Know “That” by which all else is known.
How do we know anything?
When we get up in the morning and open our eyes, we see the world. By what power do we see? By what power do we hear?
By what power do we know of our own existence? No one comes and tell us every morning, “Hey, you exist. This is your lucky day”. We know we exist. This knowledge does not require external validation.
The French Philosopher Descartes said, “I think, therefore, I am”. However, the sages of Advaita stated thousand of years ago that “I Am” is prior to “thoughts”. Thinking is apriori predicated on our already being.
We know we exist and we know it with certainty. This certainty arises from the nature of the Heart.
If you have known everything but not your own Heart, you will not be fully satisfied. Something will be missing. Underlying our personality, thoughts, mental makeup, physical makeup, there is that power that allows us to be conscious of our being. Conscious of our existence. Conscious of the world of perceptions.
This power has many names in various religions. Ancients called this power simply the Heart. It is one’s own Heart, that is at the core of existence. It is one’s own Self, which shines and radiates through the medium of the mind as pure consciousness.
Knowing the Heart, one knows all hearts and minds. Everything arises from the same One Heart.