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The Scarlet Letter
Volume VII, Number 1 | March 2002
The Path of the Heart
By Sr. Aisha Qadisha

The Sanskrit word for heart is hridayam, meaning “that which receives, gives and circulates.” Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche said, “The way to rule the universe is to expose your heart.” When the energetic circulation of our heart is diminished, we feel separate from the world around us and everything around us seems separate rather than unified. To survive in this world we engage our discrimination and judgement which serve to separate the many things in the world into many more things: words, categories, hierarchies. To divide and conquer is the Western way. But as scientists attempted to divide the world into its smallest units of definition, the world decided to wiggle out from under the lens of acute discrimination. Particles became waves. Unknowable. Uncertain. Mystery of Mystery.

Beneath the surface is a very different world, a world in which everything breathes, pulsates, expands, contracts, and hums in concert. This undulant pulsation is something that one may apprehend and ultimately become by feeling it, not by reasoning how to unite with it. Ancient spiritual paths such as yoga and Buddhism, and more modern ones such as Thelema, provide a map showing the journey back to the heart of the universe, the vibrating source of all. As Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche suggested, the heart of the universe is always within our own hearts. These aren’t just inane poetic words. This is true at a fundamentally pervasive and physical level that words cannot begin to illustrate. Sages of old have always known that our hearts hold the key to opening to the unknown, to greater mystery. Perhaps this is why the Egyptian embalmers threw the brain away while the heart was enshrined as the gateway to the afterlife...is it light as a feather or heavy as a stone? Set the controls for the heart of the sun...

The Nostrils of Hridayam: A Meditation

Breathe long and slow with the mouth closed. Breathe through the nose and use the lower abdominal muscles as a bellows. As you inhale, the abdominal wall presses out, as you exhale, the abdominal wall presses inward. Just do this for a few moments to prime the pump, slowing the breath. Now as you continue to breathe long, slow, deliberate breaths, with your focus on the breath, imagine that you are breathing in the subtle, sparkling energy of the universe, the shakti of the universe, the scintillating, sentient energy that informs all manifestation. In the cold Siberian regions when a person exhales, the moisture in their breath freezes immediately into a cloud of fine, silver crystals. It is called the Whisper of the Stars. Imagine that you are breathing this flashing substrate of the stars, in and out, in and out. Do this until you can maintain a rhythm and keep the visualization.

Now send that subtle, sparkling life force energy through your breath into your heart, allow this sweet nectar to nourish your heart, like the honey feeds the bee and the breast feeds the babe. Do this for a few breaths and then go deeper. As you breathe, imagine that your heart has nostrils. Yes, your heart has nostrils and your heart is doing the breathing, your heart is inhaling and exhaling, gathering and gently releasing amrita. As your heart breathes the dynamic energy of the universe through it’s own nostrils, you feel your heart changing, perhaps becoming stronger, increasing its ability to feel deeply into the moment, connecting you with all of existence, manifest and unmanifest, and opening like a lotus to the sun, in love. The breath of your heart allows you to feel unconditional love, transcendental love, compassionate love, powerful love, love that is not attached to a person or a thing or a doctrine or a desire...the only love that can make you free.

That which is intended through the imagination becomes real in the world of manifestation. So breathe.

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