Spiritual Heart and Self-Realization: By Dr. Harsh K. Luthar
Arthur Osborne, a close devotee of Bhagavan Ramana said that while doing self-inquiry, he tried to focus on the spiritual Heart-center to the right of the chest. However, I have heard some scholars on Ramana’s teaching say that the Bhagavan did not recommend meditating on a specific location and that Arthur Osborne may have misunderstood the essential method and Bhagavan’s teaching. Is it necessary to meditate on the Spiritual Heart center in order to become Self-Realized? Some well known people like Nisaragadatta Maharaj and Krishnamurthi never mention the Heart in the same way that Bhagavan Ramana does. What is the explanation for this?
Sincere Seekers (composite question)
Dear Sincere Seekers:
Scholars of Bhagavan Ramana’s teaching are not necessarily Self-Realized or have experience of the Heart. Without direct Realization, it is not possible to speak about the Heart in a meaningful way. To understand fully Bhagavan’s teaching we only need to look at Bhagavan’s own words and those of the devotees around him who imbibed Bhagavan’s teaching and made it their own.
As far as Nisargadatta Maharaj and Krishnamurti go, they have their own ways of explaining things which resonate with many people. Nisargadatta Maharaj’s essential teaching is to focus on the “I AM” and that is not different than Bhagavan Ramana’s teaching. The reason Nisargadatta Maharaj does not mention the Heart in a physical sense is that he did not have that experience. Similarly, Krishnmurthy talks about Enlightenment as “Choiceless Awareness.” Essentially, spontaneous and choiceless awareness is the nature of the Heart as explained in Bhagavan Ramana’s teaching.
Sages emphasize the path that they walked and what worked for them. The experiences of sages differ due to differences in their mental and physical structures and the social/historical context they are embedded in. They use the vocabulary that is available to them due to their personal and cultural conditioning which fits their needs and those of their students. It is not something we need to worry about. Our focus is on understanding Bhagavan Ramana’s teachings. The Heart is very central to one aspect of Bhagavan Ramana’s teaching.
Sri Ramana did not ever say that it was “necessary” to meditate on the “Heart-center” for Self-Realization. The key word here is “necessary”. It is not “necessary” to do Japa either! But Bhagavan told Kunju Swami to do Japa as part of his spiritual routine after Kunju Swami had served him for twelve years and knew Bhagavan’s teachings inside and out. Kunju Swami had even by then glimpsed the Self in Kevala Nirvikalpa Samadhi!
It is clear that whatever the mode of someone’s spiritual practice (Japa, Prayer, Nada, Kundalini, Devotion to a deity, various meditations, etc.), Bhagavan encouraged it in the context of Self Inquiry and was keen to make the devotees aware of the Heart.
To think that Self-Inquiry is somehow inconsistent with another spiritual practice like focusing on the Spiritual Heart is a mistake. To suggest that Arthur Osborne did not understand Self-Inquiry because he was focusing on the Heart-center is certainly quite a leap! The fact is that Bhagavan Ramana spoke of the Heart in both physical terms and at the same time explained how it transcends the physical upon Realization!
Bhagavan Ramana did explain many times that the Spiritual Heart he spoke of was not the major psychic center (Heart Center) of Kundalini Yoga which is experienced in the middle of the chest. The Spiritual Heart is the final center after Shakti has already ascended to the Sahasarara (the brain center). The Spiritual Heart is experienced slightly to the right and slightly below the Heart Center of Kundalini Yoga.
With reference to the location of the Spiritual Heart center on the right hand side of the human body, Sri Bhagavan said and I quote below:
“I had been saying all along that the Heart center was on the right, notwithstanding the refutation by some learned men that physiology taught them otherwise. I speak from experience. I knew it even in my home during my trances. Again during the incident related in the book “Self-Realization” I had a very clear vision and experience. All of a sudden a light came from one side erasing the world vision in its course until it spread all around when the vision of the world was completely cut out. I felt that the muscular organ on the left had stopped working; I could understand that the body was like a corpse, that the circulation of the blood had stopped and the body became blue and motionless. Vasudev Sastri embraced the body, wept over my death, but I could not speak. All the time I was feeling that the Heart center on the right was working as well as ever. This state continued for 15-20 minutes. Then suddenly something shot out from the right to the left resembling a rocket bursting in air. The blood circulation was resumed and normal condition restored. I then asked Vasudev Sastri to move along with me and we reached our residence.”
“The Upanishads say that 101 nadis terminate in the Heart and 72,000 originate from them and traverse the body. The Heart is thus the center of the body. It can be a center because we have been accustomed to think that we remain in the body. In fact the body and all else are in that center only.”
From “Talks with Ramana Maharshi”, Ninth Edition (1994), page 383.