What is the Heart?

Dear Harsha

You seem to attach a unique meaning to the word “Heart” (e.g. “the depth of the Heart”, “the Original Face is the Heart”). Please forgive my ignorance by asking you: what does the term Heart really refer to? Thank you for your enlightening answer!


Dear A.L.S:

Your question is important as the word “Heart” is used differently depending on the context and the meaning can vary.

We can distinguish between the three hearts. There is the physical organ that pumps blood, there is the Heart Center of Kundalini Yoga – a major psychic center, and then there is the Spiritual Heart, which is beyond the Sahasarara chakra and all the centers. It is the Center beyond all centers.

In Sanskrit, the word Hridyam is used and that is translated into English as the Heart. Bhagavan Ramana used the term Heart often in his conversations. I am not a Sanskrit scholar but Hrid means Heart or Center. “Hridyam” means “Here is the Center.” It is the Same as Buddha Nature, The Original Nature, Self, Original Face, Shunya, etc.

When Upanishads mention the Hridyam or Hridya Gufa (Cave of the Heart) or Ramana Maharshi speaks of the Heart, they are speaking of this Center of Being. Pure Being, Pure Presence without edges, the Spiritual Heart. Upon seeing D.T. Suzuki’s quote that someone posted, I was actually struck by the similarity between how I would describe the Heart and the way Suzuki described the Buddhist perspective. Here is the quote:

“All-knowledge is what constitutes the essence of Buddhahood. It does not mean that the Buddha knows every individual thing, but that he has grasped the fundamental principle of existence and that he has penetrated deep down into the center of his own being.”

Again the following quote from Suzuki is stunning for its beauty and clarity:

D.T. Suzuki (1870-1966)

“Penetrating deep down into the center of one’s own being one finds a nameless transparency, an awake space filled by all the world, from one’s own thoughts and feelings and body to the stars in the heavens. This still, spacious no-thingness is the heart of everyone’s being. Thus to find this no-thingness is to see that one is fundamentally united with all beings. At root, there is only one – the One.”

Awakening to the One is primarily a matter of actual seeing, of bare attention, rather than intellectual understanding – vital as understanding is. As Suzuki said, “I see. This is it.” This seeing is not yet another state of mind that comes and goes. It is the awake No-mind, the ground of being that underlies and is the source of all states of mind, including samadhi. The contents of mind come and go in No-mind.

The quotes of Suzuki are remarkable in that I (having a totally different background and training than Suzuki and a close affinity with Kundalini Yoga) find them resonating with the Truth of Being.

The Spiritual Heart transcends time and space and all reference points in terms of location. However, the experience of Yogis and Jnanis shows that there is a particular “knot of the heart” in the heart region which some become aware of before the mind and Shakti are absorbed into the Self. That Is the Heart or the Center of Centers. We can talk about that another time. This answer is already getting long!

Harsh K. Luthar

Note: This question and its answer were published in HarshaSatsangh Magazine volume II 2002.

2 thoughts on “What is the Heart?

  1. Pingback: Is Heart the Seat of the Self? | Luthar.Com: HarshaSatsangh

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