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Lesson 228 - Heart Opening and Service  (Audio)

From: Yogani
Date: Sat Aug 21, 2004 5:25pm

New Visitors: It is recommended you read from the beginning of the web archive, as previous lessons are prerequisite to this one. The first lesson is, "Why This Discussion?"

Q: On the heart chakra matter, as my understanding is (I am a pranic healer, and in our school the first meditation we are taught addresses the heart chakra...), heart chakra difficulties stem from one of man's most primary tendencies -- that of receiving and not giving, be it of love, money, emotion, time, what have you.

We are comfortable taking things, but not so much in giving. The best way to open up the heart, our guru tells us, is to serve other sentient beings, be they human, animal or even subtle beings. 

We do this by healing, in western countries I am sure there must be many opportunities of community service. It does not matter whether the receiver is appreciative of our gesture, so long as we are "giving from the heart", so to say.

Of course, the flip side -- all giving and no receiving -- is not good either... there needs to be a healthy balance.

Aside from that, from my understanding of chakras, it would not be just the heart chakra which needs a bit of cleansing, but also the accompanying solar plexus chakra, which is where we tend to store our emotions. And bastrika pranayama and nauli are excellent to get the solar going.

In my experience, it is also a good idea to invoke the divine for protection before embarking on the day's practises. A small point, but one that seems to be omitted astonishingly often.

A: Thank you for your feedback on opening the heart chakra. 

It is a chicken and egg thing - service and heart opening. Which comes first, service or heart opening? Service is both cause and effect of heart opening. Heart opening is both cause and effect of service. I lean toward beginning with the latter, using advanced yoga practices to purify and open the heart (and the entire nervous system), and service comes up naturally with the resulting inner silence and ecstatic conductivity. Service then plays an important role in marrying silence with ecstasy into an endless fountain of divine love pouring out and merging with everything everywhere, and that is enlightenment. Service is encouraged in the lessons to promote this process, i.e., meditate, and then go out and help someone in need. Under "Service" in the topic paths on the web site, there are links to a few of the lessons where it is discussed. 

What I am reluctant to do is beat people over the head with codes of conduct, including the "service imperative." I think everyone will find their service tendency naturally. All it takes is some good yoga and an occasional reminder. Service lives within us all. It is called karma yoga, and comes up naturally through the connectedness of yoga that we have discussed previously in the lessons. 

Going inward first is the approach to yama and niyama (codes of conduct) in the lessons - purify and open first, and then let's go share our bubbling bliss with the world. That kind of service never burns out. Enforced service behavior does burn out, because it has a limited spiritual foundation underneath. 

That is why the practices come first in the lessons - first build a foundation of inner silence, and then build the house of living generously with our energy in the world. Practices and service go together. One without the other leads to stagnation. A foundation without a house is pretty boring, and a house without a foundation can't last (and can lead to heart problems). So both are needed at the same time, and it really doesn't matter much which one we start with, as long as we end up with both. This is how the heart can be opened with great effectiveness. It is a formula for good health all the way around -- spiritual and physical. 

I agree that starting our practices and daily activity with remembrance of our chosen ideal is very good. In fact, a continuing hunger for our chosen ideal (ishta) is a blessing. This is bhakti. Cultivating our desire for the divine to a fever pitch is the greatest yoga practice of them all. With that, all of yoga and its fruits come quickly. 

The guru is in you.

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Note: For detailed discussion on the role of service on our path, see the AYP Bhakti and Karma Yoga book, and AYP Plus.

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