This Chapter is taken From The Book ”Guru Ramana – Memories and Notes” by S.S.Cohen

Heart, in Vedantic parlance, is synonymous with the Self, Chit, or pure Mind. Being absolute, it is ever changeless, formless, single and inactive. But as the word connotes Centre, it seems to imply a connection with a phenomenon, of which it is the source, or point of contact. It is the point at which the formless Spirit appears to take a form, i.e. to manifest itself in, and as, the world of forms.

Although the world with its myriads of forms, colours sounds and qualities does not in reality exist, or exists to the Self-realised man as identical with his own Self, as waves, or thoughts, in his own consciousness, to the man who is struggling to release himself from the grip of the senses, it appears too true to be lightly rejected as mere thoughts. Such a man needs guidance on his own level and from his own standpoint. Hence the Scriptures use various names for the one and the same Reality – Self, Spirit, Mind, Heart, Soul, God, Pure Consciousness, Supreme Brahman, Great Void, Silent Witness, Knower of the field, and many more – denoting the various facets it presents to the seeker in the phenomenal world and the various attempts at explaining them.

Heart implies, therefore, the point of union between the Self and the world (or body), the switch-board of the fusion of light and darkness. It is thus the seat of the granthi, the knot of ignorance which creates the illusion that the world is other than Mind, that is, as a projection in an objective space independently of the perceiving mind.

The illusion arises out of the fact of life, which flows from Heart to the body, and which creates in it the impression that it is a body, an entity (jiva) entirely separate and different from all other entities. The consciousness which fills the body as life, being pure existence (sat) by nature, instinctively knows itself as ‘I’, but seeing nothing with the senses (through which it is accustomed to know the world) on which it can confer the title of ‘I’ but the body, it fails to apprehend itself as the unperceivable consciousness and falls victim to the primal illusion that the body is itself. Having thus lost sight of its true nature by false identification, it gets entangled deeper and deeper in the tamasic and rajasic needs and craving of the material body and thus sets turning for itself the grinding wheel of life and death, birth and rebirth, pleasure and pain, knowledge and ignorance, etc., till the bitter end, when the longing for home and rest stirs it to carry out a search for them through tapas and sadhana and the guiding grace of the Divine Master.

This fall of the individual consciousness from its sublime State is described in Srimad Bhagavata as “the Atman, fascinated by the sports of Its maya in the body, thinks ‘I’ and ‘mine’.”

Sri Bhagavan shows the way Home in the simplest words: “Enquire into the nature of that consciousness which knows itself as ‘I’ and it will inevitably lead you to its source, the Heart, where you will unmistakably perceive the distinction between the insentient body and the mind. The latter will then appear in its utter purity as the ever-present, self- supporting intelligence, which creates, pervades its creation, as well as remains beyond it, unaffected and uncontaminated. Also, finding the Heart will be experienced as being the Heart. When this experience becomes permanent through constant practice, the much-desired Self-Realisation or Mukti is said at long last to have been achieved – the ‘I-am-the-body’ illusion has broken for ever.”

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25th April, 1937

1. Sri B. V. Narasimha Swami is in the Ashram to prepare the third edition of his English translation of Sri Bhagavan’s Upadesa Saram with his own commentary. He requests the Master to give him some more details about Heart and its movements. Sri Bhagavan said:

Bh. Heart is the seat of Jnanam as well as of the granthi (the knot of ignorance). It is represented in the physical body by a hole smaller than the smallest pin-point, which is always shut. When the mind drops down in Kevala Nirvikalpa, it opens but shuts again after it. When sahaja is attained it opens for good.

The granthi is the knot which ties the insentient body to the consciousness which functions in it; that is why when it is loosened temporarily in Kevala Nirvikalpa there is no body consciousness.

I used to feel the vibrations of the Heart, which resemble those of a dynamo, even in school. When I developed rigor mortis many years ago in Tiruvannamalai, every object and sensation disappeared, except these vibrations. It was as if a dark screen was drawn before my eyes and shut the world completely from me, but of course I was all along conscious of the Self, with a vague feeling that someone was crying near me. This state continued till just before I regained physical consciousness, when I felt something rush from the Heart to the left chest and re-established life in the body. A sudden fear, sudden joy, or a shock makes the Heart vibrate very forcefully, so that it can be felt by anyone who pays attention to it. Otherwise it is felt only in Samadhi.

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23rd October, 1936

2. A student who is preparing his thesis for the Ph.D. degree asked:

S. God is said to be immanent, how do you justify your confining Him to the heart?

Bh. God is said to reside in the Heart in the same way as you are said to reside in your body. Yet Heart is not a place. Some place must be named as the dwelling of God for those who take their bodies for themselves and who comprehend only relative knowledge. The fact is neither God nor we occupy any space. We are bodiless and spaceless in deep sleep, yet in the waking state we appear to be the opposite. Atman or Paramatman is that from which the body is born, in which it lives, and into which it finally resolves.