The Heart Yoga Sutra, by Mark Whitwell
The hrid is where left merges with right, above with below, front with back, inhale with exhale, outer with inner, female with male, strength with receptivity, where heaven meets earth and spirit takes form. It has a specific location as source of body and mind, but is felt only in and as the body’s Life-given relatedness and natural state. This sutra is a ‘thread’ that weaves together these considerations of the Heart.
1 The assumption that truth is somehow absent and needs to be found is culturally ingrained whether we are religious or not.
2 Our uninspected cultural behaviors of proposing and seeking ‘higher realities,’ known as God or enlightenment, have been spread as doctrine through societies as instruments of political power. They inherently deny the wonder of this present reality and its power, particularly as it manifests as male-female mutuality.
3 Seeking denies individuals of their own force and intelligence that is Life, just as the cultural model of the perfect person (the enlightened one) inherently denies the perfection that is life already established in each person. The body and all that is experienced is the absolute condition, not the absolute of culture, which is conjecture that moves attention from reality.
4 Understanding alone results in peace and does not require experiential affirmation or proof. So simply understand. In the pain of birth and death and the social aberration of our time it is not possible to gain experiential peace that has lasting implication, so stop trying. Peace is not in any perception or experience. It is in what you are.
5 This understanding alone allows a person to relax from the stressful automatisms of a culturally prescribed search, into the natural state and wonder of life already given. Authentic yoga begins as life’s means to restore itself. This happens when the mind folds up from the habits of seeking for what we are not, and from the denial of life.
6 The intelligence and force of life appear as mutuality, polar opposites in union. By natural participation in these unions, any remnants of the mind’s assumed separation from reality dissolve. Mind becomes clear as it links to the whole body and is informed by the native intelligence of life. Male and female qualities are restored. In the natural state, male and female character are distinctly differentiated within and without, and felt to be in ecstatic and continuous union as the basic process of life, individually expressed.
7 Language especially in the form of scripture is the standardization of the mind’s seeking that denies the natural state. Although containing charm and gems of wisdom it inherently implies that truth is absent and needs to be found. Having been forced into the social mind with male authority as “God’s” word and the like, it becomes fixed assumption that is impossible to remove except by understanding its non-necessity.
8 Thankfully, ancient wisdom cultures identified these polarities and expressed them in concepts such as Yin Yang or Shiva Shakti. Without the means to experience them as the actual conditions of a life (which yoga can provide) such language tends to create abstractions and a search for their realization, as if they were absent.
9 Sensitivity to the body’s polarities, that is left to right, front to back and especially above to below, coordinated with the movement of breath, develops sensitivity to the fundamental polarity of female and male. Due to social restrictions of male female mutuality, polarity between man and woman usually does not develop without the support of these prior sensitivities. Developing the mutuality within the system develops mutuality without and vice versa, one is a catalyst to the other. Intimacy with self and other is restored.
10 Yoga is an easy technology of the strength of life receiving the nurturing force of life. When applied correctly without struggle or obsession yoga produces clarity, more peace and more power, the natural form of life. In life and yoga, the feminine, the ability to receive and receive each other, is slightly more relevant than strength. Receptivity strengthens strength and results in intelligent durable male force.
11 The right side, the base and the back of the body carry the male principle; the left side, the crown and the front carry the female principle. The exhalation carries the male force and the inhalation receives the female. The base and spine supports the receptive front and great crown above. In life, strength receives. Giving and receiving are restored as the natural state of life. When practicing the union of the system’s polarities each principle strengthens the other. Asana, pranayama, meditation and life are a seamless process by which the natural polarities of life are acknowledged and absorbed. The intelligence of the male female mutuality is present in every cell and in the social wisdom of a free life.
12 Life’s union of polarities occurs as the male surrender to the female principle. Its simple expression is the ability to receive via inhalation in yoga asana. Strength (male) must receive (female) and be received. This is the form of Life. Strength (sun) is in the base and spine and receives (moon) from above, through the crown and front. Strength is served by exhalation, and receptivity is served by inhalation. Female strengthens male and vice versa. Male female union serves the polarity of heaven and earth as the means by which spirit takes form. Its ultimate expression is the willingness to receive another, including the mother and all her off spring in the nurturing force, which is life. This is all that is required for God realization and a happy life.
13 Restoring the natural polarities of body, breath and relationship (in that order) allows for healing in every way. Yoga correctly applied to the individual serves the mutuality of intimate relationship, which is the most powerful means of healing. A person’s body type, age, health and cultural background must be taken into account. This sensitivity can be learned and practiced with the help of a teacher.
14 Human contentment, wellness, wisdom and realization are in the power of mutuality between the polar opposites, man and woman. It is in the acknowledgement, participation and surrender to the fact that one pole does not exist without the other. This is the realization of the heart or whole. In the pain that is felt around sexual relationship, this is a hard pill to swallow amidst the predominant social influence that suggests wisdom is in the transcendence of sex. However, it is a challenge within our possibility. Negative personal and social traits are replaced in time by positive patterns, the natural responses to intimacy. The freedom of polarised union with our tangible realities (left to right, above to below, front to back, female to male, outer to inner) is natural, already established and within the human grasp whereas the religious proposal of transcendence is not.
15 The subtle energies valued by spiritual practitioners in the vertical or ascending field of the body are awakened by, and made useful, in the related condition or horizontal field of the body; in life as life. Without the horizontal, awareness in the vertical is minimized and fixation of attention in the subtle energies is dangerous and a common mistake. Robust relatedness in life allows for strength and free awareness of energy in and above the crown.
16 The ultimate locus of yogic awareness while alive is the heart, not the head. The heart is revealed only through participation in life’s inherent polarities, especially base to crown and inner to outer. The openness of the whole body reveals the open heart.
17 Enlightenment does not look like anything or conform to any cultural model of perfect behavior or beatitude. It is simply an understanding and enjoyment of the obvious perfection which is Life. What appears to be social limitation may continue. How can you have a perfect relationship when you have 2500 years denial of sex and woman on your hands? Knowing that the male female polarity serves the union of spirit and form, the unseen and the seen, heaven and earth will help clear it up for your self and society.
18 Freedom is in utter autonomy, the realization that life as it is already given is full and sufficient, requiring nothing but the support that is already provided by nature. This autonomy does not and can not exclude mutuality, life’s natural movement to life, one pole to its opposite.
19 Yoga practice replaces negative patterns with positive patterns. However, positive patterns are also addictive and are an imposition on the natural life. These patterns cause the mind’s assumption of better and worse, well or not well, separate or not separate. They deny life’s extreme intelligence, which is always functioning in the body. Life is functioning perfectly and handles everything. Yoga is about finally unqualifying life from the mind’s imposition, not qualifying it with further patterns. Therefore, the means of establishing positive patterns, or the tools to realization, are eventually given up so that there is no mental qualification of life whatsoever.
20 We cannot give up positive patterns as a willful intention like a method. This is a further imposition of the assumption that life is a problem to be solved. Also, certain healing through intentional practices may be required. Patterns cannot be superficially given up. However, we may practice in the context of understanding that our life is an extreme intelligence. Behavior patterns fall away naturally when felt to be irrelevant or known to be unnecessary. We stand in life as life in its pristine unqualified nature, extreme intelligence, peace and power, which is already established. Here, authentic yoga begins as the natural energy of life. We relax. Life’s natural movement and responses to relatedness continue, not requiring a willful intention that disturbs the system. The yoga of body, breath and relationship takes on a natural, non-obsessive form.
21 This change from ‘negative’ to ‘positive’ patterns, to unqualified wonder of life, may seem like a progressive process, but is not. Believing in the necessity of any pattern (negative or positive) is addiction that obstructs the natural state of life. Generally, positive patterns are more difficult to release due to their glamorous and stimulating effect. We have swapped our steel chains for golden chains and are now enamoured by the gold. Understanding and release into the natural state can occur at any time and requires no progressive process. Change is unpredictable and cannot be prefigured. It occurs at any time suddenly or gradually. By profoundly understanding restricting patterns and the courage to stand in our own ground as life, as it is already given, changes occur in a spontaneous natural way.
22 Physical practices are essentially about free participation in the breath. To be with the breath is to be with that which is breathing us. The body remains soft and structured around the breath movement and the moving anatomy serves the breath process. The body movement is the breath movement and vice versa. The mind naturally participates in this process and becomes clear as it links to the whole body, the intelligence of Life. This may be a challenge, but not a struggle. The challenge is within the breath limits, not in the musculature. Practices are designed for the individual and the real yoga is within everyone’s capability. It is not an attempt to impose the mind’s predetermined structuring of the anatomy or any cultural proposal. The breath, too, should not be overly controlled, but flow organically and smoothly within comfortably managed breath ratios. The goal of Yoga is to unqualify the organism of mind, not qualify it. This occurs through intimacy with body, breath and mind as one process. Finally this goal itself is seen to be an obstruction and unnecessary because the living organism already stands in its intelligence; the natural state. There are no steps to be taken.
23 Religious tools can be used to acknowledge intimacy but free of any limiting belief system or delusion of their necessity. Then, they are powerful.
24 By participating in life as the whole body, the profundity of life’s energy and intelligence is realized. This includes the base of the body as much as everything that is above. The culminating point of this fullness, the place of unqualified depth of feeling is the heart, hrid, the ‘seat’ of mind and body. It is the point where the complete union of male and female occurred as the first cell of life in our physical form. From here the spine and the whole physical/energetic body developed and presently function.
25 The mind and all experience seem to arise from this profundity of feeling at the heart. It is a depth and location that cannot be intentionally or willfully discovered but naturally felt when the whole body is relaxed and participating in its life and relationships.
26 The form of an effective teaching relationship is natural and mutual friendship. Anything else will transmit only cultural concept and limitation, not the understanding of heart. Charming and even accurate cultural wisdom concepts are used by individuals and institutions to create social power dynamics that bind participants to imagined dichotomies of knowing and not knowing, special and not special. Only in actual friendship that transcends conventional social structure can the heart of yoga be transmitted.
27 In heart felt friendship the teacher helps individuals find their own unique way and expression. Merely following the teacher’s destination is another way to lose oneself. In the context of this vital mutuality, the teacher’s role is to coach a person in the practice of their relevant polarities in body, breath and intimate relationship. The teacher can also help a person develop clarity of intention and their directions in life. The teacher provides a supportive context in the midst of positive and sometimes difficult changes that result from practice. To trust the teaching relationship and by understanding the logic of yoga, faith in yoga develops. Clarity depends finally on a person’s own clear intention to be well and to practice.
28 There is a paradox in any helpful teaching. It is, you do not need any help. The extreme intelligence and infinity of life is fully established in you, as you. Any genuine friend [teacher] will help you understand this and make the teaching function redundant. Spiritual transmission occurs only in sincere friendship. The teacher is an equal friend, nothing more and nothing less. Without this quality the concept of a Teacher is an obstruction and the problem itself. In the mode of Respect for each individual the teacher impeccably deconstructs the persuasive and pervasive social model of inequality. This is the spiritual process. It leaves each person in his or her Ground as Life, in free unobstructed relationship with everything.
29 We all suffer in birth through to death. Kindness to your self and others is, therefore, the appropriate response. There is no way out of life’s fundamental difficulty. We are taught, however, that we are supposed to be happy or at least find happiness. Consequently we add to our suffering, shame and low self-esteem when pain becomes obvious as it does. Accepting the fact of suffering rather than struggling against it does much to ease pain and motivates common sense helpful practices. Suffering increases until we can acknowledge it, the sooner, the better. Acknowledging suffering ends pretension and allows us to feel the reality of Life, its peace and power.
30 To self-realize, to actualise life, individuals must be unconfined by models imposed by culture and do something for themselves. Even to duplicate cultural idealism is only that, and rarely, if ever occurs. In all areas including relationship, art and yoga, it is possible for a person to express perfectly their own unique life. This is usually a very simple and natural expression, free of the requirements of performance or any standard. It is also present in the body’s inherent relatedness and organic responsiveness to everything in its native intelligence as life. Truth is the condition of all individuals in all times and places. So, the deepest revelations have been expressed through all time including contemporary popular culture and creativity of individuals everywhere. They deserve as much respect and attention as the great revelations of the past. They are relevant to our time and all authentic (your own) action is significant contribution to the evolution of cultural wisdom.
31 Social models passed on by parents usually express a limit to intimacy. Behaviors are duplicated automatically. Yoga is about understanding these limiting models to find the unrestricted nature of life through the tangible links to life (body, breath and relationship). This discards the social obstructions passed through the generations but honors parents as the fundamental source of life. To express your own sexual character expresses life as it is presently given, ending painful limitation of the past for yourself and society. Compassion for parents and all of humanity diminishes the social limitations we have all suffered.
32 Male-female mutuality through which the power of life expresses itself is described by social idealism with concepts such as love and other language. In the traditions this relationship is given even divine status and very benign attributes. It is not that such expressions are not true, but without real and practical tools by which these ideas may be felt as tangible realities of life, the concepts remain abstractions. It is only language which makes people miserable by implying that something is absent. Nothing is absent from Life, and we all share the same Condition.
33 Any ideal or abstraction, from social idealism to sublime religious expression, creates a mental dissociation from life due to the dichotomy between the ideal and the perceived everyday experience.
34 The denial of the natural state of life is abusive to individuals. Having been abused, it is necessary to feel the stages of anger, pain and compassion, in that order, to heal. Remorse and repentance for painful actions that anger or confusion may have caused allows you to forgive and be forgiven for what seemed logical in the past. Feeling the necessary anger, pain, compassion, forgiveness and clear certainty of the natural state is the healing.
35 Authentic yoga is about having the personal means to actually participate in the reality of life in body, breath and relationship. These means are easily learned and applied without any struggle. It is to understand profoundly that the struggle with self and others, as if something is absent, is unnecessary. It is put into us by the social mind. Real meditation begins when the habits of mind are seen. The struggle is recognized and made redundant. The questions that have been put in us dissolve. The battle is over and also, in time, the war.
36 Love is personal and natural. It is a tangible and personal regard of a real person. It is not the unfulfilled desires that are put in us by culture. The religious or tantric activity of attempting to find God through another inherently denies the other, creating struggle and dissociation. These habits of thinking are socially ingrained and are in us even if we are not religious. The notion of a ‘higher’ love diminishes the value of human love. Where there is personal loving, one cannot tell the difference between God and the person. This is the real tantra, means of life and yoga. The bodies are enlivened throughout. The peace and power inherent to life spontaneously arise suddenly or gradually as the most fundamental siddhi, or gift of life. From here all other siddhis arise and are made useful.
37 The struggle with self and others ends when the male-female polarity, the form and process of life, is engaged as a social priority. It is the mutual accord that is valued above all else; the relationship itself is our priority and pleasure in which sexuality is a vital part. The sexual character develops and everything else is a subset of this first principle of life. Everything is then informed and ordered by male-female intimacy, intelligence and power. However, social imperatives have diminished this natural priority. Alternatives to intimacy are offered in the form of religion, career, consumerism, politics, art, etc. Without intimacy as their principle, these become aberrant social struggles which deny or even suppress sexual wisdom. Therefore to engage male-female intimacy becomes the first principle of a sane life. It is within everybody’s grasp as the natural form of life. However, there is a long social history of sex negativity. The only way to remove Life’s restriction from our systems is the regular practice of overt bodily loving, which may be supported by actual hatha yoga. The autonomous power of each individual develops as polarities merge. The pleasure and power of the feminine and the ability to receive another is permitted to flourish in man and woman.
38 To rid your self of the opposite of love it is necessary to get rid of love or the looking for love. We have inevitably been betrayed by parents, our “imperfect vehicles” of love, and continue to habitually look for love in all circumstance. When we stop looking, the natural state, which is love, seeps through. We now know parents love to be perfect. It is nature herself moving powerfully creating and sustaining us prior to their social limitations.
39 Sexual practice changes from diffidence to robust connected-ness. It is no less a spirit or emotional conversion spoken of in religious context. However, it is tangibly, energetically and bodily felt and expressed. The emptying habit of tension relief changes to relaxed absorption in life’s mutuality. The regenerative force of life, the power of male and female polarity within and without, is active. It is managed as the force behind all activity, including in a timely way, procreation and the care of children. Adult intimacy then becomes a clear social model passed to children and the basis of social life.
40 Spiritual and social elitism has been reduced in our time. The ordinary is now celebrated and valued as extraordinary, not different from the highest. Spiritual transmission does not occur through exclusive agency but only through ordinary and equal individuals, especially between man and woman where heaven surges to earth in the creation of new form. In the ordinary the unseen is known (via the seen). The union of heaven and earth is known in the natural state. Complete surrender to all ordinary conditions reveals the infinite. They are not different.
41 A yogi is gender-less, or both genders are completely present in perfect union as his or her form. Yoga lifts away the mind that restricts Life’s male-female polarity, strength that receives, within and without.
42 Individuals and humanity give their life power to authorities of all kinds (gurus, priests and scientists) as if truth is held by them and is not in your own heartbeat, breath and sex. You loose your own ground, the power of Life itself. When understanding that your ground cannot be lost, you stand in you own authority as Life itself. Then the mechanics of culture, of gurus, priests and scientists, become your own and are made powerful for you. These people may then become your equal friends in the obvious single condition that is Life, not your masters as if you are a slave. However, they usually operate their unconscious agenda to keep you enslaved. The deconstruction of these un-inspected models that societies are built upon is the liberating process. Spirit has created your form. You are the chosen one and you are the Ordinary Buddha. When at peace with authority you become an authority.
43 There is nothing to attain. The universe takes perfect care of itself, and that includes you. Constant regeneration and balance is eternal. Even the mass abuse of our time, which we can and must correct by delivering male force in the context of feminine nurturing, has no implication to the perfection which is your own state.
44 Conclusion: If God, the Absolute condition of Being is the source of our Life, it is either true or not. This is not something we can turn into a process of seeking, just as the fact the sun is the source of our solar system does not provoke us to seek for the sun. The sun is a tacit presence in our lives that we enjoy. Attempting to surrender or develop faith in a proposed social concept such as God as “other” only keeps the mind busy and stressed. Surrender (known in the traditions as Isvarapranidhana) and faith (known as sraddha) is the giving up of spiritual ideas. It is simply clear that the wonder of Life and its source is our natural condition already utterly established in us as us. This is perfect faith in and surrender to Life, whatever Life is altogether in its extreme intelligence and vast inter-relatedness. Actual yoga then arises naturally as the movement of Life in body, breath and relationship, rather than the manipulation of Life and the qualifying of the living organism with concepts and effort in mind and body.
Yoga arose in the great Upanishadic culture in a time before the concept of the holy personality or exclusive God had developed in history. It was a wisdom culture that simply acknowledged that everything is Brahman or God. Sun, moon, male, female, breath, senses, food, everything is God. There was no concept of a special person as God, implying that everyone else was not. This dichotomy was made worse when the idea of the divine person was packaged, distributed and forced into the social mind and behavior as doctrine. This is the cause of human misery, trying to be something we are not rather than enjoying the wonder and power of Life already abundantly given.