Hridaya-Parikrama: The Spiritual Pilgrimage Within One’s Own Heart – Part 1

By Sajjana, see also Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6.

First ‘Pada’ — The Invitation to Rising in Love

All of us without exception have been invited by our eternal Beloveds—Sri Sri Guru-Gauranga-Radha-Govindasundara in all of Their wondrous and glorious infinite forms—to very gently let go of all of our ‘pre-existing conditions’ of biases and prejudices and our longstanding, deeply-rooted identifications with sociocultural conditionings, and to join together with a fresh, new, innocent curiosity for courageous, openhearted explorations into the nature of the immaculate Everpresence-Consciousness-Causeless Contentment (sat-chid-ananda) which we always already are before doing anything or going anywhere. Not surprisingly, this occurs most easily and delightfully when it also proceeds in accordance with the timeless universal truth transmitted down through the ages by those sages and sagesses whose direct experiential realisation of that truth has been presented and thus confirmed in the revealed scriptures of Eastern wisdom.

Before commencing this sacred pilgrimage which is completely individual and unique within each of our own hearts, perhaps it might be nice to attentively and sensitively review some practical preparations for the adventure that we are conjointly embarking upon, just as we would naturally be inclined to do if we were preparing for a pilgrimage to the holy dhamas of Vrindavan, or Nabadwipa, or Jagannath Puri.

Firstly, what is meant by ‘letting go of all of our “pre-existing conditions” of biases and prejudices and our longstanding, deeply-rooted identifications with sociocultural conditionings’? Quite simply (simplicity being one of the most vital factors), it means setting aside, even if only temporarily, any concretely-fixed self-images of being the physical body, the fourfold subtle body of manas, buddhi, chitta, and ahamkara (the mind, intellect, emotional feeling-heart, and egoic sense of being a separate, independently-functioning entity), including even the most beautiful or ugly self-images such as ‘I am an admirably staunch Gaudiya Vaishnava’ or ‘I am an astonishingly unredeemable fallen soul’.

Next, what is meant by ‘joining together with a fresh, new, innocent curiosity in courageous, openhearted explorations into the nature of the immaculate Everpresence-Consciousness-Causeless Contentment which we always already are’? It is an invitation to prioritise—again, even if only temporarily as an experiment—the higher type of shraddha or faith which is based upon trust in that which we have directly experienced to be true over and above, yet not in any way to the exclusion of, the secondary type of shraddha which is based upon believing in what we have heard and read from others. The reason for this is because in the second type of shraddha, all that we actually have is a fervent hope that what we have heard or read is true, yet we may remain completely devoid, sometimes for many years, of even the faintest trace of our own direct experience of what we have been believing in. Therefore a bit of extra courage and discernment in our self-introspection will be additionally helpful for clearly recognising what we genuinely know experientially and what we actually do not know, which is not only something that we never need to feel ashamed about, but it demonstrates an extremely laudable degree of integrity.

At the same time, it is also important to understand that simply because we have not directly experienced something does not mean that it does not exist. For example, one who has never come across a dragon fruit could assume that it does not exist, yet it is a statistically-documented fact that every dragon keeps at least a half-dozen of them in their pantry at any given time for offering to guests. But seriously, there is incalculable value in keeping our hearts and minds open at all times like open hands, so to speak, and not tightly holding onto any extreme one-sided viewpoints in the fists of a policy-oriented mind. Policies can have great value and utility if they are supportive of one’s inner transformation, perspectival evolution, and spiritual revelation, but not if a policy instead hinders and impedes the progressive movement and naturally dynamic flow of those things within Consciousness. So on this particular pilgrimage, this hridaya-parikrama, we have the opportunity to consciously choose discovery over policy when, after careful and sensitive consideration, it is felt to be imperative to do so for the vivifying and nurturing of our truest heart-centre (which includes yet also transcends the physical organ in the chest).  

Then, what is meant by ‘in accordance with the timeless universal truth transmitted down through the ages by those sages and sagesses whose direct experiential realisation of that truth has been presented and thus confirmed in the revealed scriptures of Eastern wisdom’? This refers to what has been presented in the Upanishads, in the Bhagavad-Gita, and in the Srimad Bhagavatam, perhaps for us with a primary emphasis upon, but not limited to, our beloved Sri Krishna’s deeply enlightening transmissions to Arjuna and Uddhava in those texts.  

Next, it may be quite practical to check and make sure that we are surrounded by our  four protective ‘bodyguards’, poetically speaking, just as a king or queen might do with one of their guards positioned in front, one in back, and one on each side. Those four extremely powerful and reliable companions have been discovered to be ‘the four ‘C’s’—Clarity (or transparency, meaning a natural predominance of the sattva-guna in the body/mind/heart instrument in contrast to a predominance of rajas [distortion] or tamas [obscuration]); Calmness (or equanimity); Conscious attention (alert awareness); and Compassion (or just plain old ordinary, run-of-the-mill, garden-variety love).

Then, taking some ‘directional pointings’, so to speak, from the titles of four of Srila Sridhara Maharaja’s books, perhaps we may lightly and playfully set an intention of arriving at the direct and unmistakable experiences of Home Comfort, Inner Fulfilment, and Absolute Harmony, all of which can undoubtedly be indications of encountering some aspects of Reality the Beautiful—yet again, with a bit of extra attention given to releasing any preconceived fixed ideas or learned concepts about what those experiences should look or feel like, since we shall be cheerfully moving through a ‘should-free’ zone.

And lastly, the final aspect of our preliminary preparation for embarking on the sacred inner journey to the centre of our own Being is the sincere offering of prayers for the comprehensive well-being of the ever-interconnected totality of all Life: ‘May all sentient beings in all of the infinite forms everywhere be truly happy and completely free from all of the various types of sufferings along with their causes; and may all beings receive all help and healing, rescue and relief, protection and guidance whenever and wherever there is the arising and experiencing of any of the various types of sufferings or their causes (which have fundamentally been ascertained to be greed, anger, and delusion).

‘Further, may all sentient beings be divinely blessed with full, stable, conscious awakeness to, alignment with, and expression of the one true nature of all existence—Your true nature, beloved Lordships Sri Sri Radha-Govindasundara: that of unconditional and unconditioned divine light, divine love, divine peace, and divine joy. And thank you, beloved masters and affectionate guardians all, for all of the causeless grace which You have already so graciously bestowed upon us right up to this very moment. For one whose spiritual eyes are truly open, Your “Vaikuntha-like” Kingdom of Paradise is right here now and not someplace else to be attained later after the relative body/mind instrument has ceased functioning. Therefore, may our every breath, our every utterance, and our every activity be an ongoing celebration in gratitude for Your inconceivable lovingkindness! Hari Om Tat Sat!’      

In this way, it may be considered that we have now most favourably commenced our rising (rather than the typical falling) in love, and Goddess Willing, perhaps on the next ‘leg’ of our journey we can continue conjointly exploring the nature of stark, raw Consciousness with the intriguing yet seldom-investigated question: ‘What is my actual relationship with my thoughts?’ Until then, have a ‘beadiful’ day (referring to japa beads, of course), and any Harmonist readers wishing to contact me with questions or comments are most welcome to do so at alandi108 at gmail.com.    


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