In the East, love is perceived as an eternal force that burns and doesn’t fade, and therefore, the heart chakra, through which this force is manifesting, received the name “Anahata” which means “unstruck” or “unbeaten.”

The heart chakra is situated in the center of the chest and is in charge of managing our emotional life. It enables us to love. When this chakra is intensely activated, it gives us an unstoppable power of love that is not just directed to the people close to us but to everything around. But when this chakra is blocked — and this is the more common case — love turns into pain.

Feelings of affection and human warmth nourish and develop this chakra whereas hate, indifference, and sarcasm close and weaken it. True happiness starts at the level of this chakra. A man with an open and strong heart chakra is full of self confidence; he’s at peace with himself and doesn’t search for external approval of his identity.

Gangaji Heart At this level, the pride and shame which characterize the first three chakras disappear and they are replaced by a profound and unshakeable humility which is not interested anymore in the social hierarchy. The presence of such a man is heart-capturing. He or she lives in spontaneity, in a state of continuous love, which reminds again and again to the people around him the sweetness of this state. The people around such a person become nostalgic. His eyes are soft and capturing. An irresistible power is hidden in them. Due to the profound empathy that he feels for the environment, he quickly sees what’s hidden in the heart of every man, and he or she can, with a few simple words, awaken in people around him, the hidden areas of their soul. An example of such a person is the spiritual teacher Gangaji. During a conversation she had with people in jail, the big and tough prisoners broke down and cried when she reminded them of the beauty of their souls.

True Happiness Resides in Making Others Happy

Meher Baba HeartAnd, indeed, the meaningful change that happens at this level of the heart chakra is the shift from the ego to the soul. Up until this level, the center of the world was the ego that identified himself with survival in the first chakra, with sexuality in the second chakra, and with honor on the third chakra.

The ego had the tendency in all these levels to arrange the world around him and see the environment as a tool with which he can fulfill his selfish goals. On these three levels, what doesn’t have a selfish use, does not exist. This blindness is stopped at the heart chakra. Once this chakra is open, the mystery of life begins to unfold. The search for selfish happiness, which up until now was so frustrating and unrewarding, is now receiving a new direction. At this level we begin to act without searching for a selfish reward. Here the action takes place from spontaneous love, from natural care for the environment. Paradoxically, from all places, there, we find happiness. When we see the needs of others equally important to our needs, there appears the intoxicating happiness that we search for our entire life, and it is not by chance that the spiritual teacher Meher Baba declares “True happiness resides in making others happy.” 

Love and self sacrificeSpontaneous Self Sacrifice

The alchemical element related to the heart chakra is the element of air “vayu tattva.” Even it’s the lightest from all elements, his movements still shape mountains and his winds break rocks. The air, like love, is everywhere in our world, and love, like air, is invisible but it feeds with every breath everything that is alive. Whereas the water of the second chakra moves downwards and the fire of the third chakra always aspires to rise, the air moves freely in all directions. The symbolic color of the air element is sky blue which is also the dominant color of the heart chakra and of pure forms of love.

When the air doesn’t move, it creates a state of suffocation, in the same way a person who doesn’t let his emotions loose, creates around him a suffocating and reserved environment. When the air moves in very big differences of pressure, it creates devastating storms, so a person who has a big emotional imbalance, as in the case of bipolar disorder, breaks as a storm and hurts his environment. In the same way that the air element is balanced and creating wonderful spring breezes, so a man can balance his emotions and find good temperament in all seasons of the year.

Love is self sacrifice

Art by Ines Honfi

When both lovers are at the level of consciousness at the heart chakra, we can say there is true love between them, a love which is totally different from the love which appears at the level of the sexual chakra, where both lovers express all sorts of dreamy love declarations but are not willing to come out of their ego and sacrifice for the other. The love from the sexual chakra is low. Love from the sexual chakra is always petty, consumeristic, calculative; it’s a love that only wants to take many emotional food and resources from the other and give the minimum back, a greedy and manipulative love.

As a contrast to that, love in the heart chakra has a spontaneous self sacrifice. People at this level do not calculate what they give, they are giving. In the same way that a flower doesn’t condition giving its beauty and scent, people at this level give love to everyone around them. Due to this fact, they don’t get hurt or close if somebody rejects their love. They’re outside of the business game of love and because they don’t play, they always find in their pocket an abundance of love, even if only one of the partners lives at the level of the heart chakra, his love will win and melt the heart of the other lover which will eventually surrender to the love and the self giving. The love in this chakra has a power, a momentum, which is undefeatable.

“Thou are, I am not”

The wish for a lover originates in the heart, and even if it does spread to the sexual areas, to the social and even economical areas, the heart is what gives the search for a lover its intensity. When Anahata Chakra is weak, the search for love is very painful, full of anxiety and fear. It’s a search that is always marked by a lack, a search of a stingy emotional beggar that is asking and not willing to give.

When the Anahata Chakra is strong, the search for a lover is a search which is filled with a sense of satisfaction, of wholeness, of peace. It’s the quest of a king wishing to share his wealth with another person. In order to turn from a beggar to a king, the Tantra teachers offer a simple method for those who don’t yet know how to give love to learn how to love.

Step 1: Bring a flower home, water it, put it in the sunlight and give love.
When the heart is a bit open we move to Step 2.

Step 2: The innocence of animals makes them a safe, easy object of love, safer than humans who can be unpredictable.

Once the muscles of love have trained in the first two steps, you can direct the exercise of love to platonic friends, then to a lover, finally to the Spirit, the creator of all things, which is the most fulfilling and fundamental object of love.

Anahata Chakra Song of SongsTrue love for the creator is a clear sign that the deep levels of this chakra have awakened and that the soul is starting to ripen towards spiritual maturity. The spiritual ways which adopt the path of the heart are based exactly on this love, whether you call the object of love God, Jesus, or Shiva. The Sufi poet Rumi writes “Forget the person calling, forget who you are calling [God], lose yourself in the call.”

The essence of all spiritual paths is exactly that “thou are, I am not.” Whether the path is Yoga, Kabbala, Tantra, the path is the same path: the abandoning of oneself in front of the eternal beloved, in front of love itself. The more a person advances on this path, so he becomes smaller, his heart more broken from longing, his friends might turn their back to him, but “deep inside he becomes free like the wind” (Rumi).

Creations which Awaken Anahata & Spiritual Thirst 

Anahata Chakra Kahlil Gibran

Kamilah, Kahlil’s mother, painting by Kahlil Gibran

The art at the level of Anahata Chakra is sincere, full of inspiration and heart touching. It does something to the observer; it changes something in him. The poetry of Rumi and Khalil Gibran, the Song of Songs from the Bible, the Sermon on the Mount of Jesus Christ, some of the work of Mozart and Bach, if savored with a heart which is at least a little bit awake, moves something, opens something, gives hope, creates remorse, or even awakens spiritual thirst. These are creations which are made from the heart chakra and are destined to awaken the hearts.

A society which lives at the level of consciousness at the heart chakra is almost an ideal society in which giving to the others comes before asking. Few are the communities that have reached this level of love. We will mention here the little Christian communities of the Fathers of the Desert that lived in the deserts of Egypt and Israel in the 4th or 5th Century. These communities lived the life of austerity and self abandoning in front of God and in front of their friends. Their deep humility helped them to reach true brotherhood.

You can find another example of such communities in the Tantric tradition, especially in the Kashmirian one, in the 10th and 11th centuries. These communities were called “Kaula,” and they didn’t live in austerity but in ecstasy of love and in drunkenness of meditative spiritual awakening. They aspired to expand the love and consciousness beyond the personal limits and create the unity of love between all members.

To finalize, it’s important to note that beyond any reference we can describe here, adopting the way of thinking of Anahata Chakra is essential and it is the most important piece in the puzzle of human existence. When the heart is in its right place, that is, in the center of life, it will create/cause all the other pieces of life to spontaneously find their place.

A video on active love from the author of this article, Uriel Yariv: