(The twelve vrittis, or tendencies, of the Anahata/Heart Chakra are: asha, chinta, chesta, mamata, dambha, viikalata, ahangkara, viveka, lolata, kapatata, vitarka, and anutapa. It is my intention to explore these tendencies as they relate to the practice of Love.)
Chinta is most often defined as “care, anxiety.” But when I dug deeper into the roots of the word, a more complete picture unfolded:
I may be biased as a result of the personal work I have done over the past few years, but when I stumbled across those underlying aspects of Chinta one word came to mind:
Com – to be with
Passion – suffering
Chinta is the tendency of the Heart to be with another’s suffering.
The Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta, also known as Buddha’s First Discourse, lays out the Four Noble Truths of Buddhism, the first “is the noble truth of suffering: birth is suffering, aging is suffering, illness is suffering, death is suffering; sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief and despair are suffering; union with that is displeasing is suffering; separation from what is pleasing is suffering; not to get what one wants is suffering; in brief, the five aggregates subject to clinging are suffering.”
The word Buddha used for suffering was “Dukkah” which more accurately applies to an underlying state of being; it is just the way things are. We suffer as a result of the things that are happening to us and as a result of things not happening to us, but Dukkah is different. Suffering comes and goes and comes and goes again. Dukkah remains. We are experiencing Dukkah even when we feel happy because we know the happiness will not last. It takes a great amount of mindfulness and focus to be able to enjoy even one moment of happiness. We are most often thinking of ways to recreate the feeling while we are feeling it, or we are defending against losing the feeling while we are feeling it, or we are trying to enhance the feeling even more while we are feeling it. That is Dukkah.
If you ever sit alone in a quiet room and just listen to the sounds that naturally arise, you will eventually get beneath the noise of the insects, the low murmur of appliances, and the shifting of the air and hear a steady hum. That hum is always beneath the noises you tune out and beneath the sounds you choose to give your attention. This hum is like Dukkah in that when you are with another person and are able to get past your ideas of who they are, and then get past their ideas of who they are, you can feel the hum…the suffering beneath the personality.
“Be Kind; Everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”
There are no exceptions to this suffering. Your office mate who gets on your nerves is suffering. Your barista is suffering. The postal worker who moves SO SLOWLY BEHIND THE COUNTER is suffering. The Pastor is suffering, our mothers are suffering, and our children are suffering. You and I are suffering together. And there is something inside of us, Chinta, that wants to be with one another in this vulnerable state.
Chinta reveals the Beauty of our Suffering.
When we open our hearts and practice compassion, we take on the responsibility – the privilege – of being available to the truth of the human experience on earth. Life is difficult and painful and full of struggle; no person who has ever lived has been able to escape Dukkah. By being with someone’s suffering – not their personality because that could be ugly – not their attractiveness because that fades over time – not their behavior because we may not agree with it — not their thoughts because thinking leads us away from the heart – not their philosophy, or their emotions or their thousand ways of trying to be somebody in this world– but being with their suffering reveals their beauty, and from this place we are capable of sincere love.
Chinta is a ‘tendency’ of the heart — it is built into our framework, yet is very rarely practiced. This is because our socialization tells us that we need protecting. From an early age we are taught to identify everything that is separate; keep your own and do not bother anyone else’s. If something hurts, don’t do that again. If a person mistreats you, trust a little less. Don’t feel too much. Conform. Lose yourself.
“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers you built within yourself against it.”
We cannot practice Chinta with a socialized mindset. We have to do the work to become more of ourselves and as we do that we naturally begin to see the suffering – and the Beauty – of everyone and everything around us.
I appreciate this insight.