The heart becomes illuminated – A journey through the five chambers of the heart

The heart becomes illuminated – A journey through the five chambers of the heart

The Path of the Sufi Mystics through the Mysteries of the Inner Being.

The divine “mind“ is the soul of God, and it is capable of doing anything it wants, so says Hermes Trismegistos in the 13th Hermetic Book.[1]

All human bodies are moved by the divine mind. The “mind“ is the divine core radiation that works from the centre of the microcosm. This core radiation turns to the heart of the human being and causes agitation there. The radiation of this nucleus animates the heart at a given moment. The heart, and the human being will then react to this animation.

However, the central question is: Does the heart possess an openness for the core radiation of the “mind“? Or is it petrified, barren, closed? Whether we let this light radiation into our hearts, whether we are ready to let ourselves be fundamentally transformed by it, we can see this as a path, as a journey, as a process of an increasing opening of the heart.

In this article we will follow the Sufi mystics on what they call their journey through the five chambers of the heart, for here are described stages of a universal path that goes beyond anything religiously limited.

At every moment the call of love
pervades us from all sides.
Will you come with us?
This is not the time to stay at home,
but to go out and give yourself to the garden.[2]

Thus begins one of Rumi’s greatest songs. It all begins with listening, the traveller’s listening to the call of love. His soul awakens to the wonder of his truly perfect nature, responds to the call of love that flows towards him from all directions of the cosmos …

Now begins a journey within, a journey within the heart. It reveals the secret of all secrets. For the heart is the seat of our divine nature and contains all our creative potential.The paradox is that our divine essence, our inner oneness with God, is hidden from us. As the Sufis say, 70,000 veils have come between the human soul and its divine beloved.

The path to inner truth leads , as the Sufi teachings explain ,through the five chambers of the heart. Each of these chambers has a special spiritual quality.

The first, outermost chamber is called QALB.

It is described as active and is associated with love and longing. Its colour is yellow. Rumi writes:

The burning of the heart is what I want.
This burning, which is everything.
More valuable than a worldly kingdom
for it calls God in secrecy in the night.[3]

So the journey home begins with the longing in the heart to return to God. It can create a strange feeling of dissatisfaction with our lives. We do not achieve what we want. Nothing seems to be coherent, nothing fulfils us.

The awakening of love and longing is a dynamic, even turbulent experience. This love burns and purifies. It destroys and at the same time brings an infinite sweetness with it. The heart is purified of the aspects of the ego, the desires, the distorted perceptions, the shadows.

When we have lived with our longing and bled, and enough of our impurities have been burnt away,

 The second chamber of the heart opens within us, it is called “spirit”, RUH.

Its colour is red. In contrast to the active quality of the first chamber, the second chamber has a quality of serenity, of peace and quiet. This light in the heart belongs to God. The longing of the heart in its essential nature also belongs to God.

“It is His longing for Himself that burns within us.” [4]

In the second chamber of the heart the birth of the divine begins, and it happens unexpectedly and comes in silence and stillness. The mystic Kabir writes:

I have found something so rare, something so wonderful
that no one can measure its value.
It is colourless and one;
it is eternal and indivisible;
the waves of change never wash over it;
it fills every vessel.
It has no weight; it has no price;
no one can ever measure it;
no one can count it,
it cannot be discerned by speech or discussion.
It is not heavy and it is not light […].
I live in it, it lives in me,
and we are one, like water mixed with water.
He who knows it
can never die. –
He who does not know it, dies again and again.[5]

The spirit now begins to work on us from within. Whatever happens to us in our lives, this light and its silence remain. Perhaps it is hidden beneath the surface, but it is always present, for it belongs to the divine.

The Spirit opens us to the third chamber of the heart, for SIRR.

Its colour is white. SIRR also means: the “secret”, because in this chamber of the heart we experience the greatest mystery of creation, that we are one with God. There is nothing but God. The duality of lover and beloved has dissolved:

‘Whose beloved are you?’ I asked,
‘You who are so unbearably beautiful?’
‘My own,’ He answered,
‘for I am One and Alone,
Love, Lover and Beloved,
Mirror, Beauty and Eye.’ [6]

Our beloved, whom we have so longed for, is very intimate in our heart. He is our companion, our friend. He is always with us. Even when we are left alone, He is with us. For this experience of becoming one, however, a price must be paid: the dissolution of the ego. For our ego-self is responsible for the fact that we experience ourselves as separate. The price of love is our small self, our ego.

And we sometimes pay this price with pain, with suffering. Until one day the pain subsides and is replaced by the secret encounter with the beloved, SIRR, the great secret. The Sufis say that as long as one is not yet immersed in this ocean of oneness, one is not yet a true Sufi. One is then only a traveller on the road of intention. But when this mystery has been awakened, the true transformation begins. Not the transformation of the ego, but the transformation of the soul, which is filled with the deep realisation of the oneness of God. And this mystery is a gift, it is not to be attained by any effort, striving and resolution.

In the third chamber of the heart we begin to discover oneness all around us. We begin to see the outer world with the intimacy of lovers and the eyes of oneness. It is not about our efforts, our dramas, our opinions. It is about seeing and experiencing things in the world, in our daily lives as they really are. We are connected with all beings, with the entire cosmos in an intimate way and are increasingly recognising our responsibility for everything and everyone.

But the journey through the heart continues. After the chamber of SIRR comes

the fourth chamber of the heart: Arcanum, KHAFI.

Its colour is black. Its properties are: negation, annihilation, extinction and nothingness. In the fourth chamber of the heart, an extinction occurs that is even deeper than that which we have already experienced in the third chamber. It is such a complete dissolution that nothing remains, no sense of self, no consciousness of oneness – nothing …It’s like being sucked into a black hole that swallows everything, even our light. Rumi says:

You are a fire without a place
in which all places burn,
a whirlpool of nowhere
drowning me deeper and deeper.[7]

In the primordial nothingness everything is lost. No trace of the pilgrim remains. In the fourth chamber of the heart, the chamber of non-being, there is a cold and brutal wind that sweeps away even the secrets of oneness. It is the true home of the mystics, of those who are “lost” in the community of those who are “lost in God”. A mystic is one who dies.

The fourth chamber of the heart has an almost inhuman quality. At first it can cause fear and abandonment. Who can endure this emptiness, this black nothingness? Many people on the spiritual path shy away from it. But in this chamber all forms die, all burdens are shed … and an unimaginable freedom remains. The reality that waits in the void can be imagined. One then returns to the world, bearing the knowledge of the nothingness that is in and around everything, like the space between the stars and the space within every atom. And one feels the power of this nothingness, knowing that it is real. There is nothing else but nothingness.

Beyond the complete extinction in the void of God, there is another mystical state.

The fifth chamber of the heart is called AKHFA.

This chamber has the quality of comprehensive synthesis. Its colour is green. It pertains to annihilation and completion. For the Sufi, green is the colour of absolute truth.

The journey home is sometimes called the ascent of Mount Qaf, on the summit of which is an emerald-green rock where the midnight sun shines. This final state of the heart is completely beyond our imagination. With our consciousness we can say nothing about it. It is the unnameable and the unknowable of God. It is the primordial reality and the final stage of the mystical journey.

These are the stages of the journey through the chambers of our heart by which we can discover our true self. Not everyone makes the whole journey to the last chamber, AKHFA. The last two chambers are particularly difficult to access, but they are present as potential in every human being. Crucial for all continuing on the journey is the power of our longing. When we long for the divine, the light of our longing attracts the light of the spirit. From within the Sun the divine core radiation emanates. Our central task is to become more and more open to “our” inner essence so that the creative potential that lies within the Sun can unfold in human beings and on planet Earth.

In this day and age, there is a clearer and clearer awareness that the inner essence within us, the inner essence of the Earth, and the divine essence of the Sun are intimately connected with each other. In the whole universe there are only two: the Lover and the Beloved. God loves His creation, and the soul loves God. Love flows through an open heart to all of creation, to the human beings, the trees, the animals and the minerals.The whole world is a lover waiting for the Beloved.

We are called upon as individuals and as a community to be present in the heart radiation of the divine mind in a simple and quite unspectacular way, in the midst of life, in the midst of everyday life. Each of our actions, no matter how mundane on the outside, is of importance. With an open heart, we can be a station of passage, a transformer of the divine light, in every moment.

[1] 13th Hermetic Book, vers 17, quoted from: J. van Rijckenborgh, The Hermetic Archgnosis, vol IV; Haarlem 1985, p. 9
[2] Mevlana Dschellaluddin Rumi; quoted from: Andrew Harvey and Eryk Hanut, Der Duft der Wüste (The Scent of the Desert); Zwickau 2003, p.27
[3] Mevlana Dschellaluddin Rumi; quoted from Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee, Fragmente einer Liebesgeschichte (Fragments of a Love Story); Bern 2012, p.41
[4] ibd., p.44
[5] Kabir, quoted by Andrew Harvey and Eryk Hanut; op.cit. p.77
[6] Fakhruddin Iraqi, Divine Flashes; quoted by Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee; op.cit. p.1
[7] Mevlana Dschellaluddin Rumi, quoted by Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee; op.cit. p.54

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Share this article

Don't Miss Out

Would you like to receive updates on our latest articles, sent no more than once a month? Sign up for our newsletter!

Our latest articles

Article info

Date: March 19, 2024
Author: Burkhard Lewe (Germany)
Photo: 5 Räume des Herzens-RA Kosnick CCO

Featured image: