I Entered the Heart a Stranger: By Dr. Harsh K. Luthar
For many years, I have been sharing the following quote on Facebook.
“I entered the Heart a stranger and saw that I myself am the Heart.”
The quote is within the context of Bhagavan Ramana’s teachings on the Heart and my experience of the Heart. I will break down the sentence and explain the meaning as best as I can. I follow this up with a story in which you are a central character as a reader to elaborate on it further.
First the sentence. “I entered the Heart a stranger and saw that I myself am the Heart.”
“I” refers to the individual identity. Individual identity is the ego or the sense of a separate existence.
“Entered” refers to the mental or yogic process experienced by the individual identity or the ego in its dissolution.
“The Heart” refers to the Self or the Universal Self or Brahman.
“a Stranger” means one who is unfamiliar with where he or she is, or is going, or is unfamiliar with the surroundings.
So, what does it mean to say that “I entered the Heart a stranger?” It means that when “I” the individual identity was about to enter the Heart, and in the process of entering the Heart, “I” had no notion of what the unknown would consist of and what “I” would find.
Now the second part of the sentence is “And saw that I myself am the Heart”
“And saw” refers to the immediacy of Self-Recognition once the “I” enters the Heart and is absorbed into the Self.
“That I Myself” refers to the paradox that the individual “I” or the Jiva (individual soul) recognizes It Self to be the Self or Brahman when ignorance evaporates.
“Am The Heart” refers to the Universal Identity behind the individual identity. The Universal “I” is unbroken awareness, blissful existence, whole and complete. The Ancients referred to this as Sat-Chit-Ananda-Nityam-Poornum (Existence-Consciousness-Bliss-Eternal-Whole)
The Self-Recognition or Self-Awareness is the natural state of the Self, hence no separate “I” is needed to see It. Self It Self is the Infinite Eye and Infinite Being.
Bhagavan Ramana often spoke of the Heart. Conceptually it is not easy to explain the Heart. One has to experience it and become the Heart. That is the only way to truly know the Heart. Bhagavan used to say that in the Heart, or in Self-Realization, there is nothing to see. “Seeing is only Being.” Meaning the only way to see the Heart is to Be the Heart.
However, I will attempt to convey the feeling of entering the Heart and becoming the Heart by telling you this story in which you can imagine yourself as the central character.
Imagine that you are a beggar and have nothing.
Imagine going as a beggar to the palace of a great king that you have heard about your whole life as being a most generous and compassionate king who grants everyone’s wishes.
Your whole life has been a walk to get to this palace and see this great king and get some relief from all your miseries.
You barely have any clothes on, just some rags. You are suffering mentally and physically. You are hungry, thirsty, weary, lonely, tired, and have been walking in the desert sun for so long you can hardly take another step.
You no longer have any hopes or expectations and are ready to fall down and die.
With the last bit of energy remaining you silently enter the palace doors and surrender your fate in the hands of the Almighty. Whatever will be will be is your last thought.
Your eyes close and you fall down as you have no more life left. Someone catches you.
You open your eyes briefly. It is an old man. He saved you from falling on the marble floor. He carries you inside the palace.
You feel a fresh cool breeze and open your eyes. Everything looks very familiar.
Many people are walking around now and their faces seem known to you.
Strangely, everyone is bowing to you with great respect. You are being offered food and drinks. Preparations are going on to wash your feet.
The old man is still carrying you. Somehow you feel he must be your guide, teacher, or Guru.
The old man places you on a very comfortable sofa chair and gives you a drink of cold water.
You drink the water and look at the old man. Where do you know him from, you wonder.
The old man looks in your eyes and smiles and greets you and says, “Welcome Maharaj”!
Suddenly you realize that the palace is your home.
You, Your Self are the King and have always been That!