Advaita Vision

Advaita for the 21st Century

The Knot of the Heart

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In Sanskrit there is a phrase, hRRidaya-granthi, it means ‘knot of the heart.’ The ‘knot of the heart’ needs to be broken in order for Self-knowledge to take place. I have often wondered what the ‘knot of the heart’ is.

Right now in class we are studying tattvabodha, a text, which maps out the creation and Brahman. In the text particular types of thoughts which the mind has, are described.

One of these thoughts is called the ahaMkAra, the ‘I’ thought, or some call it the ‘ego.’

The ‘I’ thought is considered a true thought. ‘I am.’ This is true. ‘I am. I exist.’ This thought labels your Self, although you exist without that thought. You don’t need to go around saying "I, I, I" in order to be.

The mind takes the ‘I am’ thought and lassoes onto it another thought, such as ‘I am this body, I am a woman, I am tall, thin, educated, etc.’ This is the ahaMkAra.

For a j~nAni, one who has Self-knowledge, the ‘I am’ thought resolves in the Self. For an aj~nAni the identity is with the ‘I am a woman,’ thought, the ahaMkAra.

Breaking the knot of the heart is breaking the ahaMkAra, separating the ‘I am’ from that which the mind lassoes onto it as one’s identity. ‘ I am’ resolves in the Self, which it labels.

As a child I went to summer camp. In boating class we learned to tie many knots. One of them, which I still remember, is the square (or reef) knot. The square knot is very strong. It is also beautiful.

You can tie just about anything together with a square knot. Tug as you might, you cannot break a square knot. But without tugging at it, you can separate the rope if you know how. It is very easy to do, and the rope easily slips apart. It is easy to break the back of a square knot. But while it is tied together it is the strongest knot there is.

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Page last updated: 10-Jul-2012