CAVE OF THE HEART

ਪ੍ਰੀਤਮ ਬਸਤ ਰਿਦ ਮਹਿ ਖੋਰ ॥: Pritam basat rid mahi khor:
My Beloved dwells in the cave of my Heart. (sggs 1121).
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Physiological heart of a man has four chambers which propels blood. If we ask the surgeons or the wizards of biology who daily open up physical hearts with their scissors and scalpels, they will tell us that there are no holes or caves in the heart!

However, the Divine Factor is described by the Gurbani (sggs), as well as other scriptures, as having its abode in the "cave of the Heart". How can this be reconciled? What do scriptures really mean by the term "cave of the Heart"?

  • ਪ੍ਰੀਤਮ ਬਸਤ ਰਿਦ ਮਹਿ ਖੋਰ ॥: Pritam basat rid mahi khor: My Beloved lives in the cave of my heart (sggs 1121).
  • ਇਸੁ ਗੁਫਾ ਮਹਿ ਇਕੁ ਥਾਨੁ ਸੁਹਾਇਆ ॥: Is gufaa mahi ik thaan suhaaiaa: There is a beautiful place Within this cave of the Heart (sggs 126).
  • Yo veda nihitam guhaayaam parame vyoman. So-ashnute sarvaan kaamaan saha. Brahmanaa vipashciteti: He who knows It as existing the cave of the Heart in the transcendental Aakaashaa, realizes all his desires along with the Omniscient Self (Veda, Taittriya Upnishad).
The Gurbani does not indulge in contradictions or confusion. The reason we may see contradictions is our undigested understanding, because in Reality there are no contradictions. Contradictions only exist only in the limitations of our psycho-physical personality. Therefore, wherever there is a seeming contradiction, it is for us to find the true meaning and understand the statement, because the scriptures cover a greater field than the words themselves suggest in their superficial dictionary meaning.

Heart is called Hridaya in Indian languages. It is derived from the Sanskrit word Hridayam (hrit + ayam), which simply means "this is the center". Thus, the Heart of the Gurbani is not physical; it is Spiritual. It is the Divine or Spiritual Center, which is essentially synonymous to various other terms such as Aatmaan, the cavity of Intellect, the cave of Intuitive Wisdom, the cave of Intuitive Poise, the faculty of Intuition, the cave of Celestial Bliss, the Celestial Home, the inner Home, the cave of Silence, the cave of deep Samaadhi, the cave of the body, deep or Sunn Samaadhi, Sukh-Aasan, profound or seedless trance, absolute void, Sahaj or natural state of inner Being, Tenth Gate, Chauthaa Pad or fourth state, Turiyaa Avasthaa, Tenth Gate (Dasam Duaar), Conscious Principle, Eternal Essence, the city of Baygumpuraa or Brahmpuraa, Sachkhand, Truth, Light, the Kingdom of God, the Ultimate Resort of the Self of all, and so on.

  • ਅਨਹਦੁ ਵਾਜੈ ਸਹਜਿ ਸੁਹੇਲਾ ॥ ਸਬਦਿ ਅਨੰਦ ਕਰੇ ਸਦ ਕੇਲਾ ॥ ਸਹਜ ਗੁਫਾ ਮਹਿ ਤਾੜੀ ਲਾਈ ਆਸਣੁ ਊਚ ਸਵਾਰਿਆ ਜੀਉ ॥੧॥: Anahad vaajai sahaj suhelaa. sabad anand kare sadh kelaa. sahaj gufaa mahi taarree laaee aasan ooch savaariaa jeeou ||1||: The Unstruck Melody resounds and resonates in Sahaj (Natural State of Being, ਆਤਮਕ ਅਡੋਲਤਾ, etc.). I rejoice in the Eternal Bliss by engaging in the (Guru's) Shabad. (Because of this) I sit in Samadhi in the cave of Sahaj (ਆਤਮਕ ਅਡੋਲਤਾ-ਰੂਪ ਗੁਫਾ), absorbed or established (in the feet of) the Highest (Greatest, etc.) Lord. ||1|| (sggs 97).
  • ਸਹਜ ਗੁਫਾ ਮਹਿ ਆਸਣੁ ਬਾਧਿਆ ॥ ਜੋਤਿ ਸਰੂਪ ਅਨਾਹਦੁ ਵਾਜਿਆ ॥ ਮਹਾ ਅਨੰਦੁ ਗੁਰ ਸਬਦੁ ਵੀਚਾਰਿ ॥ ਪ੍ਰਿਅ ਸਿਉ ਰਾਤੀ ਧਨ ਸੋਹਾਗਣਿ ਨਾਰਿ ॥੩॥: Sahaj guphaa mahi aasan baadhiaa. Joti saroop anaahad vaajiaa. Mahaa anand Gur Sabad veechaar. Priya siou raatee dhann suaagan naar ||3||: (With the Guru's Grace, when I Realized the Lord) I became established in the cave of the Sahaj Avasthaa (Natural State of Being, ਆਤਮਕ ਅਡੋਲਤਾ, etc.). (Now) Within me, plays the unstruck melody of the Lord, the embodiment of Light. By contemplating / Reflecting on the Gur-Shabad, I am in Great Bliss (ਆਤਮਕ ਅਨੰਦ). They are blessed soul-brides who are imbued in the Love of the Beloved (Lord) ||3|| (sggs 370).
  • ਸਤਿਗੁਰ ਤੇ ਪਾਏ ਵੀਚਾਰਾ ॥ ਸੁੰਨ ਸਮਾਧਿ ਸਚੇ ਘਰ ਬਾਰਾ ॥ ਨਾਨਕ ਨਿਰਮਲ ਨਾਦੁ ਸਬਦ ਧੁਨਿ ਸਚੁ ਰਾਮੈ ਨਾਮਿ ਸਮਾਇਦਾ ॥੧੭॥੫॥੧੭॥: Satgur te paae veechaaraa. Sunn samaadhi sache ghar baaraa. Nanak niramal naad sabad dhun sach raamai naam samaaidaa ||17||5||17||: From the True Guru, (the person who) obtains (the Lord's) contemplative meditation (Reflection, Vichaar, ਸਚ ਦਾ ਗਿਆਨ, etc.), he dwells in Truth in His Celestial Home, the Primal State of Absorption in Deepest Samaadhi (ਆਤਮਕ ਅਡੋਲਤਾ, the State devoid of Mayaic thoughts, etc.). O Nanak, (that person ever remains absorbed in) the immaculate sound current of the Naad and the Transcendental vibratory sound current of the Shabad. (he ever remains absorbed in) the True Name of the Lord (Aatam-Giaan, Divine Knowledge...). ||17||5||17|| (sggs 1038).
  • ਆਪੁ ਪਛਾਣੈ ਘਰਿ ਵਸੈ ਹਉਮੈ ਤ੍ਰਿਸਨਾ ਜਾਇ ॥: Aap pachhaanai ghari vasai haumai trisnaa jaai: By recognizing his own Self, man abides in his own Home Within, and his ego and desire depart (sggs 57).
  • Evam Biditvaa parmaatam roopam guhaashayam nishphalamadviteeyam ...: Thus realizing the nature of the Parmaatam, the one who is in the cavity of the Heart, who is without parts (or body), without a second, the witness of all, beyond both existence and non-existence, one attains the very nature of the Parmaatam (Kaivalya Upnishad).
The Spiritual Center which presides over the body-assemblage in every living being at microcosmic level and the entire universe at the macrocosmic level is described by the scriptures and the Men of Light as full of Bliss (Anand). The reason this Blissful Divine Center is not realized now by us is because of its identification with the body-assemblage constituted of the body-mind-intellect personality. When seemingly the Spiritual Center thus becomes contaminated and conditioned by the delusory material envelopments, it is called the ego-center. The Realization of the Mool within (Source, Origin, Jot...) is nothing but physical ego's rediscovery that it is the Mool without any material contamination. On this recognition, the Mool in us realizes Its oneness with the Supreme Reality of the universe.
  • ਤਤੁ ਨਿਰੰਜਨੁ ਜੋਤਿ ਸਬਾਈ ਸੋਹੰ ਭੇਦੁ ਨ ਕੋਈ ਜੀਉ ॥ ਅਪਰੰਪਰ ਪਾਰਬ੍ਰਹਮੁ ਪਰਮੇਸਰੁ ਨਾਨਕ ਗੁਰੁ ਮਿਲਿਆ ਸੋਈ ਜੀਉ ॥੫॥੧੧॥: Tat niranjan joti sabaaee soham bhed na koee jeeou. Aprampar Parbrahm permesar Nanak Gur miliyaa soyee jeeou ||5||11||: The essence, the immaculate Lord, the Light of all - I am He and He is me - there is no difference. Nanak has met with his Guru who is Infinite Transcendent and Supreme Lord ||5||11|| (sggs 599).
The "cave of the Heart" is but the Unborn and Immortal Mool within (Source, Origin, Jot...). We are always in It. It is the state where the Heart is totally being bent toward the Parameshar with all Inner Perfection. To put it otherwise, it is the state of Heart-Lotus turned upright — the realized state of Spiritual Consciousness within.
  • 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).
  • ਚਿਤਿ ਚਿਤਵਉ ਚਰਣਾਰਬਿੰਦ ਊਧ ਕਵਲ ਬਿਗਸਾਂਤ ॥: Chiti chittvaou charnaarbind oodh kaval bigsaant (sggs 254).
  • Do good, O Lord, to those who are good, to those who are upright in heart (Bible, Psalm 125).
Since the "cave of the Heart" is not the physiological cavity or hole in the heart, here it means only the core of the personality in the very seeker. It is the condition of the evolved Soul (the Gurmukh) which stands for Divine Virtues such as selflessness, egolessness, desirelessness, obedience, compassion, devotion, love, kindness, sympathy, selfless Sevaa, charity, bliss, peace, joy, tranquility, knowledge, Shabad-Surti or Naam consciousness, humility, contentment, forgiveness, nonviolence, unshakable faith, equanimity, self-discipline, righteousness, discriminating intellect, endurance, poise, patience, detachment, physical-control, truthfulness, mental control, purity, highest standard of moral and character, God-centered Karma or activities, seeing of One God in everything, living by God's Hukam (Will), and so on. Thus the "cave of the Heart" is that arena in human mind from where these noble urges flow out.

The "cave of the Heart" is the Seat Divine, where the All-pervading Omnipresent Mool within (Source, Origin, Jot...) can be contacted, in the very Heart of the seeker. It is not an object, or a self-evident truth placarded before our eyes, or an immediate datum given to us within the range of our common experiences. As the scriptures tell us, It cannot be reached by mere instructions, material intelligence, learning, reading or scholarships. The Aatmaan must be realized and its ultimate identity with Prmaatam discovered — the Unity of Aatmaan and Parmaatam as Unconditioned Consciousness.

  • ਧਨਾਸਰੀ ਮਹਲਾ ੯ ॥ ਕਾਹੇ ਰੇ ਬਨ ਖੋਜਨ ਜਾਈ ॥ ਸਰਬ ਨਿਵਾਸੀ ਸਦਾ ਅਲੇਪਾ ਤੋਹੀ ਸੰਗਿ ਸਮਾਈ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥ ਪੁਹਪ ਮਧਿ ਜਿਉ ਬਾਸੁ ਬਸਤੁ ਹੈ ਮੁਕਰ ਮਾਹਿ ਜੈਸੇ ਛਾਈ ॥ ਤੈਸੇ ਹੀ ਹਰਿ ਬਸੇ ਨਿਰੰਤਰਿ ਘਟ ਹੀ ਖੋਜਹੁ ਭਾਈ ॥੧॥ ਬਾਹਰਿ ਭੀਤਰਿ ਏਕੋ ਜਾਨਹੁ ਇਹੁ ਗੁਰ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਬਤਾਈ ॥ ਜਨ ਨਾਨਕ ਬਿਨੁ ਆਪਾ ਚੀਨੈ ਮਿਟੈ ਨ ਭ੍ਰਮ ਕੀ ਕਾਈ ॥੨॥੧॥: Kaahe re ban khojan jaaee ...: Dhanaasaree Mahalaa 9. Why do you go looking (for God) in the forest? Although he is ever detached, he dwells everywhere. He even abides with you. ||1||Pause|| Like the fragrance which remains in the flower, and like the reflection in the mirror, the Lord dwells deep within (all). (Therefore) search for Him within your own heart, O brother. ||1|| the Guru has imparted this wisdom: outside (the body) and inside (the body), know that there is only the One Lord (pervading everywhere). O Daas Nanak! Without Realizing one’s own self (Original, Essential, or True Nature, etc. – ਆਪਣਾ ਆਤਮਕ ਜੀਵਨ ਪਰਖਣ ਤੋਂ ਬਿਨਾ, etc.), the moss of doubt (ignorance of one’s True Nature, etc.) is not eradicated (from the mind) ||2||1|| (sggs 684). 
  • ਆਤਮ ਦੇਉ ਦੇਉ ਹੈ ਆਤਮੁ ਰਸਿ ਲਾਗੈ ਪੂਜ ਕਰੀਜੈ ॥੧॥: Atam deou deou hai aatam ras laagai pooj kareejai: The soul is divine; divine is the soul. Worship Him with love (sggs 1325).
The Gurbani indicates that the one who thinks he is one thing and the Parmaatam another, does not know! Everything, including the physiological heart, is in Parmaatam, the Substratum (Adhaar) for the pluralistic phenomenal world of objects.The waves, the ripples, the foam, the lather — all of them are the ocean. The bracelet, the necklace, the chain, the earrings, the nose-rings — all of them are nothing but gold. Similarly, the one Spirit is within everything as oil is hidden in seeds, or as butter is hidden in milk, or as water is hidden beneath the earth, or as the fire is hidden in woods. This Reality is grasped in one's own Mool within (Source, Origin, Jot...), when one searches it in Truth, free from all urges. This is the Truth indicated in the Gurbani.

In the "cave of the Heart" transcending all modes of material, is the plane of Divine-consciousness into which the Gurmukh (Spiritual Being) readily enters. The man established in this Spiritual Center is the man of Love and Goodness, who has successfully completed his Internal Journey. We are urged by the Gurbani to meditate in the Heart-cave upon the Eternal Factor, the Pure Knowledge, the Infinite Consciousness.

  • ਸੁੰਨ ਨਿਰੰਤਰਿ ਦੀਜੈ ਬੰਧੁ ॥ ਉਡੈ ਨ ਹੰਸਾ ਪੜੈ ਨ ਕੰਧੁ ॥ ਸਹਜ ਗੁਫਾ ਘਰੁ ਜਾਣੈ ਸਾਚਾ ॥ ਨਾਨਕ ਸਾਚੇ ਭਾਵੈ ਸਾਚਾ ॥੧੬॥: Sunn nirantar deejai bandh ...: When focused deep within, in perfect absorption, the soul-swan does not fly away, and the body-wall does not collapse (due to Maya's attack). That person who makese Gufaa (cave) of Sahaj (Avasthaa) (Intuitive Poise, ਆਤਮਕ ਅਡੋਲਤਾ, etc.) his Home within, then, by becoming like God - Truth - he becomes dear to Him (for the True Lord loves the truthful) ||16|| (sggs 939).
  • ਸੁੰਨ ਸਮਾਧਿ ਗੁਫਾ ਤਹ ਆਸਨੁ ॥ ਕੇਵਲ ਬ੍ਰਹਮ ਪੂਰਨ ਤਹ ਬਾਸਨੁ ॥ ਭਗਤ ਸੰਗਿ ਪ੍ਰਭੁ ਗੋਸਟਿ ਕਰਤ ॥: Sunn samaadhi guphaa tah aasan. Keval brahm pooran tah baasan. Bhagat sang prabh gost karat: One (who has the Divine Treasure of the Naam) sits in the cave of Sunn Samaadhi (the state of complete Stillness, spiritual Silenece; the state devoid of Mayaic thoughts or wanderings, etc.); there the unique, perfect God dwells (in that Heart-Cave or Heart-Home). (The heart in which this Divine Treasure is awakened) God holds conversations with (those) devotees (i.e., those devotees Realize God) (sggs 894).
He who realizes the Mool within (Source, Origin, Jot...)as the Spiritual Center becomes the very Truth. On being established in the Spiritual Center within ourselves, we can attain the sense of Transcendental Perfection that the Spiritual Center everywhere, and in all things and beings is one and the same. There are no two Truths such as one within our heart and one without us. The Divine Essence is one and the same within us as well as everywhere in the Cosmos. In that sense, It cannot be said to be either in or out.
  • ਬ੍ਰਹਮੁ ਦੀਸੈ ਬ੍ਰਹਮੁ ਸੁਣੀਐ ਏਕੁ ਏਕੁ ਵਖਾਣੀਐ ॥ ਆਤਮ ਪਸਾਰਾ ਕਰਣਹਾਰਾ ਪ੍ਰਭ ਬਿਨਾ ਨਹੀ ਜਾਣੀਐ ॥: Brahm deesai Brahm suneeyai ek ek vakhaaneeyai. Aatam pasaaraa karan haaraa parabh binaa nahee jaaneeyai: The One Unique Reality is seen everywhere, the Unstruck Celestial Music is heard everywhere, the One Creator is present in all creation; there is none else than He Himself everywhere (sggs 846).
  • ਤੋਹੀ ਮੋਹੀ ਮੋਹੀ ਤੋਹੀ ਅੰਤਰੁ ਕੈਸਾ ॥ ਕਨਕ ਕਟਿਕ ਜਲ ਤਰੰਗ ਜੈਸਾ ॥੧॥: Tohee mohee mohee tohee antar kaisaa. Kanak katik jal trang jaisaa ||1||: You are me, and I am You—what is the difference between us? We are like gold and the bracelet, or water and the waves ||1|| (sggs 93).
  • ਸਗਲ ਬਨਸਪਤਿ ਮਹਿ ਬੈਸੰਤਰੁ ਸਗਲ ਦੂਧ ਮਹਿ ਘੀਆ ॥ ਊਚ ਨੀਚ ਮਹਿ ਜੋਤਿ ਸਮਾਣੀ ਘਟਿ ਘਟਿ ਮਾਧਉ ਜੀਆ ॥: Sagal Banaspati mahi baisantar sagal doodh mai gheeyaa. Ooch neech mahi joti samaanee ghat ghat maadhayu jeeyaa: Just as the fire is contained in all firewood and butter is contained in all milk; so too is God’s Light contained in the high and the low; God is in the hearts of all beings (sggs 617).

The "cave of the Heart", the Spiritual Center, is the seat of Realization or the Realization itself. Experiencing oneness with It is to transcend the psychological ego. It is the source from which thoughts (mind) arise, on which they subsist, and where they subside. Thus the Heart-center is the nucleus of all.

In its disturbed state, the mind sees itself diversified as the Universe. However, in its pure state, the diversity is not manifest, thereby, it remains in its True Nature, or the godly status. That is the "cave of the Heart". Entering or diving the mind into this "cave of the Heart" simply means remaining beyond Maya (without desires, fears or distractions, etc.).

  • ਖਖਾ ਇਹੈ ਖੋੜਿ ਮਨ ਆਵਾ ॥ ਖੋੜੇ ਛਾਡਿ ਨ ਦਹ ਦਿਸ ਧਾਵਾ ॥ ਖਸਮਹਿ ਜਾਣਿ ਖਿਮਾ ਕਰਿ ਰਹੈ ॥ ਤਉ ਹੋਇ ਨਿਖਿਅਉ ਅਖੈ ਪਦੁ ਲਹੈ ॥੮॥: Khakhaa ihai kherhi mann aavaa. Khorhe shaadi na dah dis dhaavaa ...:  (When) the mind (-bird upon gaining spiritual wisdom) becomes established in the cave (of his Originality, True Nature - Joti-Svaroopa - etc.), (then) it does not leave this cave to wander in the ten directions. Knowing the Lord of compassion, it remains established in Him; then, (by becoming one with the) Immortal (Lord), it attains the state of Eternal Dignity (that never perishes) ||8|| (sggs 340).
The Gurbani's call to us is to live the Spiritual Life (the Gurmukh Lifestyle, Divine Life) — so that we can reconnect with the Spiritual Center within and ever remain so. The All-pervading Unconditioned Consciousness is experienced only with the Spiritual Wisdom when it is analyzing, observing, viewing, and discriminating in the surrounding of the pure Heart, where, in the pure aroma of Love, it seems to gather a greater subtlety to meditate on the Naam (Gurmat-Aatam Giaan...) and realize the Eternal Subject, the Mool within (Source, Origin, Jot...). Upon realizing the "cave of the Heart", the knot of egotism (or Maya's veil) is cut asunder.
  • ਇਸੁ ਗੁਫਾ ਮਹਿ ਅਖੁਟ ਭੰਡਾਰਾ ॥ ਤਿਸੁ ਵਿਚਿ ਵਸੈ ਹਰਿ ਅਲਖ ਅਪਾਰਾ ॥ ਆਪੇ ਗੁਪਤੁ ਪਰਗਟੁ ਹੈ ਆਪੇ ਗੁਰ ਸਬਦੀ ਆਪੁ ਵੰਞਾਵਣਿਆ ॥੧॥: Is gufaa mahi akhut bhandaaraa. Tis vich vasai hari alakh apaaraa. Aapae gupat paragat hai aapae gur sabadee aap vannajaavaniaa ||1||: Within the cave of heart (inside the body), there is an Inexhaustible Treasure. Within this cave, the Invisible and Infinite Lord abides. He Himself is hidden, and He Himself is revealed; He is realized through the Gur-Shabad. ||1|| (sggs 124).
  • ਮਿਲਿ ਸਾਧੂ ਦੀਨਾ ਤਾ ਨਾਮੁ ਲੀਨਾ ਜਨਮ ਮਰਣ ਦੁਖ ਨਾਠੇ ॥ ਸਹਜ ਸੂਖ ਆਨੰਦ ਘਨੇਰੇ ਹਉਮੈ ਬਿਨਠੀ ਗਾਠੇ ॥: Mil saadhoo deenaa taa Naam leenaa janam maran dukh naathe. Sahaj sookh anand ghanere haumai binathee gaathe: Meeting with the Holy within, Naam is obtained, and (who meditates on the Naam, his) pains of birth and death leave him. He is blessed with Sahaj (Natural State of Being, ਆਤਮਕ ਅਡੋਲਤਾ, etc.), and abundant Joy- Bliss, and his knot of egotism (within) is untied (sggs 784).
  • Who knows that which is hidden in the Heart's secret cave, he cuts here and now, my dear, the knot of ignorance (Mundaka Upnishad).

— T. Singh
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