HEART-LOTUS

In the immaculate water, both the lotus and the slimy scum (pellicle like stuff that grows in the water)
are found. (Although) the lotus flower is with the slimy scum and the water, but, in their association,
it remains untouched (i.e., ਉਸ ਨੂੰ ਕੋਈ ਦਾਗ ਨਹੀਂ ਲੱਗਦੇ). ||1|| (sggs 990). (If) Through the Gur-Shabad
(Shabad-Vichaar, Aatam-Giaan or Spiritual Wisdom of the Gurbani...), Heart-Lotus blossoms forth;
(only then) the Treasure of Bhagti is obtained (sggs 950).
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In the Eastern scriptures, the inner awareness, the Inner (or Spiritual) Heart is depicted as the lotus flower (Kamal). The feet of the Lord (or the Gur, Satgur...) are also portrayed as such. Obviously, there must be something very special about the lotus flower to earn this honor and recognition! For example, the Gurbani says:

  • ਚਰਨ ਕਮਲ ਗੁਰ ਰਿਦੈ ਬਸਾਇਆ ॥੧॥: Charan kamal Gur ridai basaaiaa ||1||: The Lotus Feet of the Gur (Giaan...) are enshrined within the Heart ||1|| (sggs 202).
Yes, there is something very special about the lotus flower by which it has earned such unparalleled recognition in the scriptures. In fact, the Gurbani affirms that until we mend our ways to be like a lotus flower, we would be unfit for linking with the Mool within (Source, origin, Jot...).

A bird flies in the sky without leaving any mark, a fish swims in the water without making any footprints, and the swan swims across the stream without getting wet. Similarly, although the lotus flower lives in the water of slimy scum, but it remains untouched. In the same way, the scriptural texts urge us to live amidst the so called impurities of the material world without being affected. In this context, this Gurbani Reflection will attempt to reflect on the followings:

  • Uniqueness Of The Lotus Flower
  • The "Lotus Of  The Heart"
  • The "Lotus Feet"
  • Anhata And The Heart-Lotus
  • Inverted Heart-Lotus
  • Upright Heart-Lotus
Uniqueness Of The Lotus Flower

The lotus flower is very unique indeed. As discussed before, the consciousness — one's Effulgent Being or atomic power — can be depicted as a lotus flower. In other words, if our consciousness can be visualized, then it would be through a lotus flower. Similar to an individual consciousness, the lotus flower also goes through many experiences before it blossoms forth into a beautiful flower, untouched by the mud or water.

  • ਜਿਉ ਜਲ ਮਹਿ ਕਮਲੁ ਅਲਿਪਤੁ ਹੈ ਐਸੀ ਬਣਤ ਬਣਾਇ ॥ Jiou jal mahi kamaul alipatu hai aisee banat banaai: The make of beings (who remain lovingly attached to the Lord's Feet) is like that of a lotus who remains untouched (ਅਛੋਹ) in the water (i.e., they remain untouched by Maya in the world). (sggs 1281).
Everything exists in the Absolute Consciousness, rises from It, and finally merges back into It. Just as all the pictures thrown on the screen are visible by the light projected from a spot; similarly, the body and other objects are all visible in the reflected Absolute Consciousness. Analogy of the lotus flower helps us better understand this Reality.

Below the surface, down in the darkness, the consciousness of lotus flower lives in a seed form. Connected with its dynamic central source of energy, then it breaks out of its hard shell, and takes root in the slimy scum. Surrounded by water, its stem grows upward toward the light and air. With conscious of water all around it, finally the stem emerges above the water surface into fresh air and sunshine. Its consciousness now has a small bud and green leaves. At this time the consciousness is still limited because it has not grown into its fullness. Fed by the energy of the sun, its consciousness expands until a delicate lotus blossoms open into a beautiful flower. It then creates more seeds for more flower.

The Man's consciousness also goes through similar experiences. However, in the case of a man, the mud can be looked at as the instincts, the hard shell of the seed as the instinctive mind, the water as the intelligence, the stem as the ego and the body, the air as the Absolute Consciousness, the darkness as the spiritual ignorance, and the sun as the Intuitive Wisdom (Aatam Giaan, Divine Knowledge or Spiritual Wisdom).

First, the individual consciousness, the projected Light from the Absolute Consciousness, is in a seed form. In the mud of latent tendencies, memories or impressions, this seed swells and then breaks out of the hard shell of the instinctive elements and sprouts. In the darkness of the ignorance, the consciousness grows as false ego, mind and the body.

Thus, the consciousness comes through the mud of the instinctive mind (Bikaar, Mayaic Budhi...): lust, anger, greed, attachment, false pride, enviousness and stubborn mindedness (and their numerous variations). After that it comes into the intellectual mind where it becomes aware of culture, people, opinions, history, politics, future, all sorts of systems, organizations, institutions, society, world, etc. Then it creates more mayaic efforts or worldly entanglements.

After passing through the evolutionary process, when the Budhi (intellect) becomes purified then it instructs the instinctive mind, which then comes into its delicate and beautiful bud state. This bud then expands and begins the process of Spiritual Enlightenment (Aatam Giaan...). It unfolds and helps those who are still caught in the mud (Maya's illusion). Upon becoming a full flower (the Gurmukh), it remains untouched by the so called impurities of the material world (Maya, body-consciousness...), just as the lotus flower remains untouched (unattached, uncontaminated, unaffected, etc., by Maya or body-consciousness) by the slimy scum and the water.

  • ਜਿਉ ਜਲ ਮਹਿ ਕਮਲੁ ਅਲਿਪਤੋ ਵਰਤੈ ਤਿਉ ਵਿਚੇ ਗਿਰਹ ਉਦਾਸੁ ॥: Jiou jal mahi kamalu alipte vartai tiou viche girah oudaasu: As the lotus flower floats unaffected in the water, so does (one) remains detached in his own household (sggs 949).
The "Lotus Of  The Heart"

The Heart-Lotus is the seat of the Infinite Consciousness. This is the Spiritual-Center, the Support or the Adhaar of life (Praana) and everything else. Juts as the waves rise from the ocean, subsist in the ocean and then merge back into the ocean; similarly, the thoughts (mind) rise from this Substratum, on which they exist and where they are dissolved. Thus, this Heart-Lotus is the Center of all centers.

  • ਚਾਰੇ ਅਗਨਿ ਨਿਵਾਰਿ ਮਰੁ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਹਰਿ ਜਲੁ ਪਾਇ ॥ ਅੰਤਰਿ ਕਮਲੁ ਪ੍ਰਗਾਸਿਆ ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤੁ ਭਰਿਆ ਅਘਾਇ ॥: Chaare agani nivaari maru gurmukhi hari jalu paai. Antari kamalu pargaasiaa amritu bhariaa aghaai: Becoming the Gurmukh, through the Hari's Naam-Water, quench the four fires. (Thus) the Lotus blossoms within, and (your Heart) gets filled with the Amrit-Naam (sggs 22).
After reading the foregoing verse, one may ask as to how a lotus plant can grow deep within the Heart or the mind! Or, how the feet of Guru-God can exist in one's mind or Heart? Here, neither the Heart is physical, nor the Lotus and nor the Feet. They are Spiritual; without any feature or form (i.e., Niraakaar). Thus the "Lotus of the Heart" mentioned in the Gurbani represents the Subtle-Center and not the physical center.
  • ਸਰੀਰ ਸਰੋਵਰ ਭੀਤਰੇ ਆਛੈ ਕਮਲ ਅਨੂਪ ॥ ਪਰਮ ਜੋਤਿ ਪੁਰਖੋਤਮੋ ਜਾ ਕੈ ਰੇਖ ਨ ਰੂਪ ॥੧॥: Sareer sarovar bheetre aashai kamal anoop. Param joti purkhotamo jakai rekh na roop ||1||: Within the Srovar (Pool) of the body, there is an incomparably beautiful Lotus Flower. (Within it) is the Lord's Formless Supreme Light ||1|| (sggs 857).
Man's language is limited. But the Absolute Truth the Gur-Shabad is trying to explain using this limited human language is unlimited and infinite. When a truth that has not been personally experienced is expounded by the Men of Light or the sacred texts, one can not grasp it directly. However, with the help of illustrations, it becomes relatively easier to grasp. Consequently, once the significance of such illustrations is grasped, one comes to understand the real nature of one's Mool (Source, Jot...) and this material world (Maya).

We can look at it from an another perspective. The worldly truth is based on relativity, however, the Absolute Truth is self-existence. Majority of us can only appreciate relative knowledge. Why? Because we have confounded the Mool (Source, Origin, Jot...) with the physical body-frame. As a result, we think we are the physical senses, mind, intellect, heart, and so on; which gives rise to relativity. Accordingly, as most of us can only grasp the relative knowledge, some place as Heart-Lotus is mentioned by the Gurbani as the place of All-pervading Consciousness. Hence, this type of instruction using variety of methods (analogies, similes, allegories, metaphors and figurative or mystic representations, etc.) are meant for most of us who can only appreciate the relative knowledge. However, being Infinite as well as both Transcendental and Immanent, there is no particular place for the Lotd (i.e., the Lord is not limited to certain place). Hence, in reality, the "Lotus of Heart" is not a physical place. It is the Spiritual-Center connecting the whole Universe.

  • ਪ੍ਰਭ ਚਰਨ ਕਮਲ ਅਪਾਰ ॥: Prabh charan kamal apaar: The Lotus Feet of the Prabh are Infinite (sggs 837).
The Gurbani tells us to intuitively see the Infinite Consciousness as the lotus flower within. To put it otherwise, the Heart-Lotus is none other than the Divine Light within everyone. We are That Light (Joti Svaroop); which is the substratum of all Jeeva, the individual consciousness. In order to feel the subtlety within, we are asked by the Gurbani to visualize the lotus flower centered right within the Center of the Heart, the place of the True Being (Moll). Thus, the Heart-Lotus is the seat of  Divine Essence or the Divine Essence Itself.

The "Lotus-Feet"

As stated earlier, the "Lotus-Feet" of Guru-Lord-Mool are not physiological feet. They are Spiritual, therefore realized upon being thoroughly awakened to the Pure Consciousness (untainted Aatam Giaan, Spiritual Wisdom) of the indwelling Reality. They are none other than the Naam-Conciousness, the Shabad-Consciousness, Hukam, etc. In other words, the "Lotus Feet" are the Shabad-Giaan (Spiritual Wisdom). In order to find or experience these "Lotus Feet", the Gurbani directs us to "look within".

  • ਚਰਣ ਕਮਲ ਰਿਦ ਮਾਹਿ ਸਮਾਏ ਤਹ ਭਰਮੁ ਅੰਧੇਰਾ ਨਾਹੀ ॥੧॥: Charan kamal rid maahi samaae tah bharamu andheraa naahee ||1||: That Heart, within which the Lotus Feet are enshrined, suffers no darkness (ignorance) or doubt ||1|| (sggs 499).
To "look within" is to focus the attention on this Infinite Consciousness; which is the  cause of causes, and the source of the Bliss and real Amrit (Immortality). In order to realize these "Lotus-Feet", one needs to link his individual consciousness to his Mool within (Source, Jot...) through earnest Shabad-Vichaar.
  • ਚਰਣ ਕਮਲ ਹਿਰਦੇ ਮਹਿ ਜਾਪੁ ॥: Charan kamal hirdai mahi jaapu: Within your heart, understand the Lotus Feet (sggs 197).
  • ਭਵਰੁ ਤੁਮ੍ਹ੍ਹਾਰਾ ਇਹੁ ਮਨੁ ਹੋਵਉ ਹਰਿ ਚਰਣਾ ਹੋਹੁ ਕਉਲਾ ॥ ਨਾਨਕ ਦਾਸੁ ਉਨ ਸੰਗਿ ਲਪਟਾਇਓ ਜਿਉ ਬੂੰਦਹਿ ਚਾਤ੍ਰਿਕੁ ਮਉਲਾ ॥੪॥੩॥੪॥: Bhavar tumhaaraa ihu manu hovou hari charanaa hohu koulaa. Naanak daasu oun sangi lapataaiou jio boondahi chaatrik moulaa ||4||3||4||: Let this mind of yours be the bumble bee (bumble bee is known for its love for the flowers - it is the lover of flowers), and let the Hari's Feet be the Lotus Flower (for the bumble bee of your mind). Says Nanak, (the Lord's) servent remains attached to them (Hari's Lotus Feet - His Name, Giaan...), and blossom forth like the song-bird upon finding the rain-drop. ||4||3||4|| (sggs 496).
Hence, the Gur's or the Lord's Lotus-Feet are ever situated within everybody's Heart-Lotus. However, it is the veil of our ignorance that inhibits us from experiencing them. But, those who have roasted the seed of ignorance in the fire of the Divine Knowledge (Shabad-Giaan), always see them in their the Inner Consciousness — in their waking state, in their dream state, in their deep sleep state, they are simultaneously connected to them. They also see them everywhere else. Thus, the Lord, Mool, Guru, or Satgur is not apart from the seeker, and the seeker is not apart from Him. Therefore, physical proximity is of no consequences; unbroken (Akhand) mental communion alone matters. In other words, the mind must be connected to the Infinite Consciousness — one must hold on only to the Mool within (Source, Jot...). Then the seeker is guided from within, the Source of all Wisdom and the Knowledge.
  • ਸਭੇ ਸੁਖ ਭਏ ਪ੍ਰਭ ਤੁਠੇ ॥ ਗੁਰ ਪੂਰੇ ਕੇ ਚਰਣ ਮਨਿ ਵੁਠੇ ॥: Sabhe sukh bhae prabh tuthe. Gur poore ke charan mani vuthe: When Prabh is pleased, and the Feet of the Perfect Gur (Shabad-Giaan) abide in the mind, then all Sukha are obtained. (sggs 106).
  • ਚਰਣ ਕਮਲ ਉਰ ਅੰਤਰਿ ਧਾਰਹੁ ॥: Charan kamal our antari dhaarahu(sggs 1004).
Anhata And The Heart-Lotus

Anhata literally means "unstruck sound or melody". In the Gurbani (SGGS), this unstruck melody is called "Anhataa Shabad", "Anhataa Dhuni", "Anhata Baaje", "Anhata Dhunai", "Anhata Naad", "Anhata Run Jhun", "Anhata Beenaa", "Anhata Soor", and "Anhata Bain", and so on.

  • ਸਤਿਗੁਰੁ ਸੇਵਹਿ ਸਦਾ ਮਨਿ ਦਾਸਾ ॥ ਹਉਮੈ ਮਾਰਿ ਕਮਲੁ ਪਰਗਾਸਾ ॥ ਅਨਹਦੁ ਵਾਜੈ ਨਿਜ ਘਰਿ ਵਾਸਾ ॥ ਨਾਮਿ ਰਤੇ ਘਰ ਮਾਹਿ ਉਦਾਸਾ ॥੩॥: Satiguru sevahi sadaa mani daasaa. Haumai maari kamalu pargaasaa. Anhadu vaajai nij ghari vaasaa. Naami ratae ghar maahi udaasaa ||3||:  Serving the Satigur (through the Naam...), the mind becomes humble forever. (They) kill their egotism, and their heart-lotus blossoms forth. The Unstruck Melody vibrates, as they dwell within the Inner Home (their consciousness remains focussed on Naam). Attuned to the Naam, they remain detached (from Maya) in the midst of the household (life) ||3|| (sggs 161).

Inverted Heart-Lotus

Inverted Heart-Lotus is the state of ignorance (the state of the Manmukh, Saaka, Mayadhaaree...). Simply put: It is the sense of separateness between the Mool (Source, Jot...) and the Jeev (individual being). And the one who is separated from the Mool is called Manmukh in the Gurbani. He is not interested in the Naam or the Bhagti (cultivating Gurmat-Aatam Giaan...). As such, a Manmukh is the person who has forsaken or forgotten the Divine Essence. Hence he dose not understand the Naam, Shabad, purpose and way of life and his relationship with his Mool As he remains engrossed in materiality (Maya), his efforts are Mayaic, thus false. His consciousness is stubborn, and the words from his mouth are insipid. He does not engage in the Shabad-Vichaar; because within him are Bikaar, falsehood, doubts, coruppt intellect (Durmat), hunger for Maya, etc.

As revealed in the Gurbani, the symptoms of those with inverted Heart-Lotus are as follows: egoism, ignorance, duality, evil-mindedness, falsehood, violence, untruthfulness, doubts, superstitions, uncontrolled senses, identification with the feeling of "I, me, mine, your", lust, anger, greed, attachment, self pride, self-conceit; jealousy and enviousness; stubborn mindedness, hatred, fanaticism, selfishness, conflicts, lack of contentment, material hankering and lamentation, lack of mental control and inner peace, self-centered, full of quarrel and contentions, lack of faith, extrovert, ritualistic, unhappy, always interested in taking instead of giving, affinity for bad association, lack of self-discipline, mental agitation, unceasing wandering (rat race), begging material things from God, complaining, finding faults in others, unable to bear pains and sorrows of life, love for material world instead of the Naam (Aatam Giaan or Spiritual Wisdom...) or Mool within, corruption, fraud, larceny and swindling, bribery, cheating, lying, plundering, stealing, indulgence in mental speculations and material logic, attachment to world objects, deceitful nature, fearful, unceasing desire for sense objects, cynicism, hypocrisy, always wants to control the world, always wants to be appreciated, unceasing hunger for name and fame, and so on. Opposite to these are the attributes of Gurmukhs or Spiritual Beings.

  • ਮਨਮੁਖੁ ਊਧਾ ਕਉਲੁ ਹੈ ਨਾ ਤਿਸੁ ਭਗਤਿ ਨ ਨਾਉ ॥ ਸਕਤੀ ਅੰਦਰਿ ਵਰਤਦਾ ਕੂੜੁ ਤਿਸ ਕਾ ਹੈ ਉਪਾਉ ॥: Manmukh oodhaa kaoul hai na tis bhagti na naaou...: The Manmukh is lthe inverted lotus; he has neither devotional worship, nor Bhagti, nor Name. He deals in Maya; (thus) his efforts are false. (sggs 511).
  • ਲੋਚਨ ਸ੍ਰਮਹਿ ਬੁਧਿ ਬਲ ਨਾਠੀ ਤਾ ਕਾਮੁ ਪਵਸਿ ਮਾਧਾਣੀ ॥ ਤਾ ਤੇ ਬਿਖੈ ਭਈ ਮਤਿ ਪਾਵਸਿ ਕਾਇਆ ਕਮਲੁ ਕੁਮਲਾਣਾ ॥: Lochan sramahi budhi bal naathee taa kaamu pavasi maadhaanee. Taa te bikhai bhaee mati paavasi kaaiaa kamalu kumalaanaa (sggs 93).
Upright Heart-Lotus

The Opposite of Manmukh is the Gurmukh (Mool-realized being...). Therefore, the state of upright heart-lotus means to be situated in the Transcendental Knowledge (Aatam-Giaan, Spiritual Wisdom, Divine Knowledge...). And the one who is linked to his Mool within (Source, Jot...) is called Gurmukh in the Gurbani. Based on the qualities outlined in the Gurbani, a Gurmukh is a person in Shabad-Consciousness. As such, he is a Divine Being who has taken shelter in the Lotus-Feet. Internally, he has fully surrendered his falsehood to his Mool within through thee Shabad-Vichaar.

  • ਜਿਨ੍ਹ੍ਹ ਕਉ ਆਪਿ ਲਏ ਪ੍ਰਭੁ ਮੇਲਿ ॥ ਤਿਨ ਕਉ ਕਾਲੁ ਨ ਸਾਕੈ ਪੇਲਿ ॥ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਨਿਰਮਲ ਰਹਹਿ ਪਿਆਰੇ ॥ ਜਿਉ ਜਲ ਅੰਭ ਊਪਰਿ ਕਮਲ ਨਿਰਾਰੇ ॥੨॥: Jinh kaou aapi lae prabhu meli. Tin kaou kaalu n saakai peli. Gurmukhi nirmal rahahi piaare. Jiou jal ambh ooperi kamal niraare ||2||: Those, whom God unites with Himself, cannot be crushed by (the fear of) Kaal. (Those) beloved, by becoming the Gurmukhs, remain pure (in the midst of Maya) like the lotus in the water remains untouched ||2|| (sggs 353).
Nothing can be contained in a vessel turned upside-down. Similarly, the state of inverted Heart-Lotus (the way of the Manmukh - a Mayadhaaree) is unconducive to experiencing Spiritual Realization. Therefore, to become a Gurmukh, one has to turn the inverted Heart-Lotus upright. But how can one turn the inverted Heart-Lotus upright?
  • ਹਰਿ ਚਰਣੀ ਤੂੰ ਲਾਗਿ ਰਹੁ ਗੁਰ ਸਬਦਿ ਸੋਝੀ ਹੋਈ ॥: Hari charnee tu laag rahu Gur sabadee sojhee hoee: (O Pandit!) With the Gur-Shabad, abide in the Hari's Feet (Naam, Shabad, Hukam...); you will come to Understand (Spiritual or Divine Life-Aatmik Jeevan). (sggs 492).
For the inverted Heart-Lotus to turn upright, the Gurbani asks us to cultivate Naam or Shabad-Consciousness through the earnest Shabad-Vichaar, and then live it.
  • ਉਲਟਿਓ ਕਮਲੁ ਬ੍ਰਹਮੁ ਬੀਚਾਰਿ ॥: Ultio kamalu Brahmu Vichaari: The inverted Heart-Lotus turns upright (i.e., becomes detached from Maya...) by engaging in Vichaar (Reflections on the Gurbani, Naam...) (sggs 153).
The means to attain the Divine Knowledge (Aatm-Giaan, Spiritual Wisdom) or Divine Virtues are through the true understanding of the Gur-Shabad, which requires earnest Shabad-Vichaar.
  • ਗੁਰ ਕੈ ਸਬਦਿ ਕਮਲੁ ਬਿਗਸਿਆ ਤਾ ਸਉਪਿਆ ਭਗਤਿ ਭੰਡਾਰੁ ॥: Gur kai Sabadi kamalu bigsiaa taa saoupiaa bhagti bhandaaru: (If) Through the Gur-Shabad (Shabad-Vichaar, Aatam-Giaan or Spiritual Wisdom of the Gurbani...), Heart-Lotus blossoms forth; (only then) the Treasure of Bhagti is obtained (sggs 950).
  • ਅੰਤਰਿ ਹੋਇ ਗਿਆਨ ਪਰਗਾਸੁ ॥ ਉਸੁ ਅਸਥਾਨ ਕਾ ਨਹੀ ਬਿਨਾਸੁ ॥: Antari hoi giaan pargaasu... (sggs 278).
  • ਸਾਚਿ ਨਾਮਿ ਮੇਰਾ ਮਨੁ ਲਾਗਾ ॥ ਲੋਗਨ ਸਿਉ ਮੇਰਾ ਠਾਠਾ ਬਾਗਾ ॥੧॥ ਬਾਹਰਿ ਸੂਤੁ ਸਗਲ ਸਿਉ ਮਉਲਾ ॥ ਅਲਿਪਤੁ ਰਹਉ ਜੈਸੇ ਜਲ ਮਹਿ ਕਉਲਾ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥: Saach naam meraa mann laagaa. Logan siou meraaa thaathaa baagaa. ||1|| Baahar soot sagal siyu maoulaa. Alipt rahaou jaise jal mahi kaoulaa ||1||Rahaaou||(sggs 384).

— T. Singh
www.gurbani.org