Wednesday, 12 September 2007

In the heart is life, and you must live there

We're starting our kirtans again on Sunday (16 September) after a little summer's break. I hope you'll be able to join us!

Chanting is done in a variety of ways and spiritual traditions. I want to share with you an insight from an Orthodox monk and scholar, Theophan the Recluse (1815-94) about prayer, which I find inspirational:

"... when you descend into the heart there will be no strain at all. The head will become empty and there will be an end of thoughts. They are always in the head, chasing one another, and it is not possible to control them. But if you enter the heart, and are able to remain in it, then every time thoughts begin to confuse you, you have only to descend into the heart and the thoughts will flee. It will be a comforting and safe haven. Do not be lazy about descending. In the heart is life, and you must live there. Do not think that this is something to be attempted only by the perfect. No. It is for everyone who has begun to seek the Lord." The art of Prayer: an Orthodox Anthology, (1966) p.184.

I particularly like the sentence: "In the heart is life, and you must live there." Considering the amounts of thoughts we have everyday, it's not surprising that we get caught up, or identify ourselves, with them. But by descending to the heart, as Theophan urges the reader of his letter, we come closer to our true self, to life. We can do this by prayer, or meditation, or even by connecting to our breath. But loud chanting is even easier, particularly in kirtans where we chant melodiously in a group, and with music. It just pulls us out, and the mind with us, to a deep place of inner stillness. And this is where we 'must live', to find satisfaction, for there 'is life'.

If you come to our kirtan, you can bring this thought with you, and give yourself to the chanting while entering your heart. If you feel your heart region, and chant, it'll be sublime.

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