The Anahata

I've been meaning to write about this one since a real long time, but its not something you casually talk about. I've kept this with me for quite some time sharing with a couple of close satsangis, but today I do feel like letting it out, mixing it with a lot of deviations here and there, ahem, as usual if I may add! :)

Anahata is the chakra at the level of the heart. Its also the 4th or the middle chakra among the seven, not only because its mid way when mapped onto the body, at the heart level, or middle of the count, but also because its the centre of the worldly and spiritual worlds. This is an interesting point that I haven't really come across elsewhere. Its something that occurred to me over the years and this blog is basically trying to express that.

Any kundalini practitioner knows that after the kundalini begins its rise, it needs to be guided up or held at the current level with constant practice, failing which, it will begin its downward journey back into the muladhara. Anahata is interesting because its midway to sahasrara, or from sahasrara in case of Aurobindo's downward count. I suppose in some kriyas, it is considered other way. (To my imagination, its like the calculation of electric current conventionally thought of from positive to negative poles but later on understood to be really from -ve to +ve because electrons move towards the +ve causing an electric current. However, the conventional symbol continued). Similarly, in tantra, its either thought of as the Shakti moving upwards to Shiva or in a balancing act Shiva moving towards Shakti in some explanations. The latter, I reckon, is symbolic and not actually a movement. At least in my learning I haven't come across it followed thoroughly. I'll return to this downward movement towards the end, which is truly an original contribution of Ramana Maharshi to the Kunadalini world.

Heart is the seat of emotions in the poetic, even psychological, expressions. In science, its the main organ of the body. In other expressions, anything in the centre is referred to as the heart of the system. To me, when the kundalini rises from Anahata upwards, one is crossing the bridge from the worldly pursuits to the spiritual one. Its not as easy as crossing a concrete bridge though. I think it takes a lot of commitment to actually reach the anahata, but to cross it is the true milestone what Swami Krishnananda would call the human to divine change. All the lower chakras till the anahata are so tied to bodily impact that they will, if not used well, lead to make the person baser, lowering from human to animal levels. In fact, a person who cannot handle animal instincts is best kept away from kundalini because the muladhara, surely the svadhisthana and even at times the manipura will deepen the animal instincts in human if not channelized well. There are many great souls and masters lost in this world of lower chakras. Thats also where, I imagine, tantra splits into the dark world. So its obvious that reaching the anahata itself is a great place to reach.

Now this place is so crucial that it can make or break a yogi, not necessarily into dark world, but into the emotional crisis. Opening the anahata chakra brings along a heightened perception of others' sufferings, humans or not. Great masters have an anahata that perhaps maps across many anahatas of several beings that they knowingly or unknowingly help. My Guru Sridhara says that even equating such a heart to butter that melts on applying some heat is incomplete justice. He says that a sadhu's heart doesn't even need any heat to melt. It beats to others' benefit, so to say! Now imagine such a feeling of another's pain to someone who is incapable or isn't mature enough to bear. He would surely get stuck, burdened or even lost. That is the strength of anahata. Even with the great powers that come with each chakra, anahata can bind a person down into not only one's own emotional issues but others' emotions. If the person is capable enough to handle the additional load over and above one's own, the learnings can be well used to streamline, analyze even, and march upwards for the vishuddha. But where such focus is lost into using those emotional peeks into others for personal benefit, or for neutralizing their karma, which is against their prarabdha, instead of the personal goal of yoga, the union that the person is born for, it will lead to more sanchita for the yogi. This point cannot be stressed enough that a person may get carried into living others' lives at this point. It also cannot be overstated that helping others directly curing their prarabdha affects not only the subject's karmic path but also the yogi's. Such yogis become yogabhrashtas, restarting the yogi's path from perhaps nowhere!

Anahata is special that way. Emotions make us more human, but its also an animal instinct that most people forget. You can't possibly think an animal loves its young ones any lesser than parents love their children. Humans, however, can analyze those emotions while animals can't. Thats what has the seed to take the human away from the inbuilt animal instincts into tapping the divinity within. Its a true test that anahata opens up with itself opening. Where a yogi manages to spend more time in anahata0, trying to understand its wonderful feelings, with its embedded traps, he can pass through into vishuddha. And it surely is a beautiful breakthrough. I'm not saying the path is any easier then on, but its a major hurdle crossed over. It reassures one's own commitment from not wanting to be either a bhogi, a sevak, or even an egoistic guru, but lights the hope for union with the divine, the true aim of human birth.

Before closing on this topic, I'd like to touch upon another thing that happens at the level of anahata, which is not the anahata though. Its also possible for one to confuse that particular feel with anahata or vice versa. Its what Bhagavan Ramana calls the right heart or the spiritual heart. This is where, He said, the kundalini has to be brought down to, from after opening the sahasrara. Kundalini, as a practice, is taught and written about to end on the opening of sahasrara, the thousand petaled lotus. But the Maharshi says that it may be the most blissful feeling not necessarily leading to moksha. One may get stuck into the sahasrara forever, not knowing anything about. There are yogis that have voiced that the body will drop off in keeping the sahasrara open for twenty days. When, however, the kundalini is brought down from sahasrara, it has the potency to break open the hridaya granthi that binds the human into his karmic bandhana, the root of endless cyclical births and deaths. I understand that the effort of actually trying to run the kundalini by unfocused means into this granthi, not unlike trickle charging a battery, will have a painful effect. It will likely cause immense bodily pain at the anahata level and the kundalini will feel stuck, burning, not being able to move either way. At this moment, one must either struggle and commit to the path regardless of the pain and confusion, thereby pumping in more kundalini energy with immense focus or give up for a while and restart when comfortable. Its not a complete failure, nothing is. Its a learning that nothing happens in a day in matters of the world; in this case, nothing happens in a life time!

om tat sat

Food habits

Some people have a standard time of food, no. of meals to have and what to eat. Others eat on the go, unplanned, depending on the time available and around their schedule, but still with a look at the clock. But as I understand, there are very few who eat on need basis. Here when I say need basis, its based on two factors: hunger and bodily needs. Being trained of eating at specific times due to bringing up or work schedules or circumstantial, we can hardly think on our need of food intake.

I switched to the first factor of need some 5-6 years back or maybe more, some time when I hit my spiritual depths. With that, I used to eat when hungry and skip when not. So that meant no particular timing during waking hours, but my body made a timing on its own. My body found its own slot to express hunger not the way I was trained to eat. Breakfast was always an important meal for me. I don't remember having been any productive without a breakfast. I do know though that without a breakfast, I have not only had a bad work day, but also bad health through the day even with decent lunch fills. What I used to do though is that delay the breakfast some midway through to lunch, calling it brunch the way they all do. This helped me beat the breakfast and lunch crowd at the messy restaurants. Did I say that I hate crowds too? :) But this was a side effect. What I was doing, indeed, is feeding myself only when hungry.

I was also avoiding the dinner crowd by eating an early dinner between lunch and dinner, calling it linner like no one else I know of calls it. This helped me a lot to be on the run when needed, twist schedules of sleeping and waking around my spiritual reading. It also helped me stay active most part of the day and night, sleep less and in small sets of naps, instead of a long continuous stretch. Either way, the entire experience helped me understand how my body reacts and why it does. It led me to the 2nd factor of the need based eating, which meant eating what the body needs. I started thinking if I'm not burning much in physical activity, I need to eat less. That helped me on my sabbatical when I was hardly doing any physical or mental work. I was mostly in reading, silence or on my own, not even expending energy talking. During those times, I used to have regular breakfast and lunch but no dinner. I'd some great personalities forcing me food at dinner time and I used to politely refuse and when they didn't understand what "eating what you need" meant, I used to hurtfully refuse. It faded away in a while and I started feeling how good my sleep was. Whenever I had a dinner, I used stay awake most of the night without a wink of sleep.

The funny thing is that from that sabbatical I returned to a job that made 16-18 hrs of my workday. This meant some physical strain, but a lot of mental work. I had to switch to 4 or even 5 meals a day, all full sized. I have eaten breakfast, lunch, evening snack, dinner, and middle of the night 2nd dinner on returning home and heading for work next day. That was necessity feed and I managed to stay healthy albeit putting on some weight. I wouldn't have been able to survive the stress and deliver work without that. I also used to eat a lot during couple of treks I took. So its always good, I feel, to eat based on need than by the clock.

So I think its safe to say that my discipline, therefore, is to not have a normal discipline in food, but to switch based on circumstances. :)

Indian Passport Office

Since a year there has been lot of news about India catching up to speed with passport issue. From the earlier 45-60 days for a fresh passport, they said most offices had upgraded themselves to computer-assisted passport offices and so, the lag had come down to 14 days. Now if you read the fine print, or no print in this case, it is clear that there are at most a few Indian cities that follow this so-called fast process. On top of that, Indian passport office website carries  tatkaal option, albeit available at select offices. Having seen Thane under that select list made me happy some time March end. Under that scheme, a reissue of a passport would be done in 3 days! I couldn't believe my eyes. It was too good to be true.

In any case, I read up all that there was to be to read about such reissue process and also what need be done for tatkaal process. I even wrote to the Thane passport office and heard back from them asking me to apply online. The website also says that applying online for the passport will give you a date and time of appointment due to which you'll be saved of the time to wait in long queues waiting for token. So what I did is apply online, take a print out of application, get all documents ready, old passport, its copies and the tatkaal documents: Annexure I [standard affidavit that cost me 400 bucks thanks to notarized crooks here :) ] and more than the 3 required proofs, 1000 bucks for fees and 1500 more for tatkaal. I thought its still worth it if I don't have to wait for 45-60 days.

I expected to come back home for lunch on the said day having been given an *appointment* at 1000hrs at Thane passport office, which was also printed on my online application. To my utter shock, I was told in their enquiry counter to stand in a queue, take a token and wait for the number to submit my application. There were tons of people doing just that, some with online application, some with manual application and yet some more who were buying the application forms there and filling it. All were in the same freaking queue! So much for "apply online, avoid queues" crap by our govt offices. Much past noon, I hit the scrutiny counter. The moron who was to scrutinize my application told me that I can't get a tatkaal reissue. On asking why not if I had the affidavit and more than all the required proofs as per the website FAQ, he told me "passport valid tar pahije" (your passport should be valid)! If my passport had been valid (not expired), why would I apply for reissue??? Is that so difficult to understand? Moreover, he asked me if I wanted the affidavit back. When I told him its no use elsewhere, he gave me the affidavit back saying "you can use it somewhere else". Where can you use an affidavit that says "Standard affidavit for passport"? :)  I suppose thats what you get in hiring people under reservation schemes.

I returned home thinking how I wasted 500 bucks for paperwork for tatkaal, but then calmed down thinking I saved 1500 bucks. Now I wait in eternity for police to call for verification, pay their "fees" and someday get my passport. I realized if its too good to be true, perhaps it is.

The defence

I don't quite know what this blog is about taking off from the title. I've a lot of things on my mind on this topic and having not blogged for long, I don't know how this one's gonna read. I tweeted an hour back so: Watching Never Back Down and kinda love it. Am not a fan of violence, but a huge fan of defence. I can't even point out what in the movie triggers this blog, there's so much of a tangential disconnect! The tagline of the movie went Everyone has their fight. Now thats true, be it with the actual, real life, physical, fight or what the fight stands for. It may be chess, your beliefs or your life. A lot many people have called me defensive, even in matters that didn't need defence; thats who I am. There are only two ways to deal with an attack: to fight back in defence or just pass. Passing is not giving up, its not losing. Its a gentleman's way out. Some beliefs are so strong that you can't pass. Then you ought to fight till the death or till you think you have reached a stage to pass it; that is, if you're not in the wrong.

I don't follow the adage attack is the best form of defence. In chess, I've lost most games in attack because when I go all out, I lose the home ground defence. Thats one place where my multitasking skills have failed me. In life, I have my own set of beliefs. I defend them, regardless of who attacks them. I've gone against the most respected on these grounds. I've tried passing there, but its not always possible and nor is it always a good thing. A few months back, I was chatting with an old friend whom I caught up with after many years. He was surprised to know what I do or don't do now. Then I went a bit on a defensive, being me. He was very understanding, but he asked me why I was defending. I said because I felt too strongly about the path. To this, he had a mature thing to say: the path doesn't need a defence. He was right, but then not all understand that.

At times where I knew its a muck to get in, I don't defend. I pass. These times are tough for people in the game; they think of you as a team. I don't. I go solo. I don't like to depend on others for my defence. If I don't understand the subject to fight alone, then its not worth the defence. Any help is welcome and I would use it, not being thankless, but I wouldn't base my entire premise on expected team support. As for when I pass even when I feel strongly for the issue, its surely something where I'd be breaking my head on a wall otherwise; its quicksand. Here I remember a quote I read somewhere: never wrestle with a pig, you both get dirty and the pig likes it. Such debates are a strict no to me. A couple of years back, I backed out of a debate on a topic close to my heart, after which someone called me a coward. I applied the pig rule there and kept mum. Those are the times when I learn that patience is a virtue.

This brings me back full circle to the movie. As much as in physical encounters we forget to breathe and lose, in verbal confrontations too, we forget to breathe and lose. In the latter, the breath stands for thinking. The flow of prANa in breathing causes thoughts to be at the forefront. They help you build patience, grow wise by the breath. Breathing is very essential in the worldly as much as in the spiritual, both cases, slower the better. In the worldly we ought to focus on the thoughts that ride the breath, while in the spiritual we are to focus between breaths, the thoughtless state. In the end, we all have our focuses, we all have our fights. Some fight to make ends meet for the daily bread, others do it to make it to the top of the success ladder. Some defend their lives, others go out for an all out war to win the world. Some fight the outward projection calling it a battle of life & death, while some few defend within of whats left of their spiritual goal.

PS: I may have come off as a wuss here, but I'll pass the debate. :)