Chesta – The Dance of Effort

(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.)


That is the question that came to mind as I began working on “Chesta” the third vritti of the Anahata Chakra. Just for kicks and giggles I posted that question on Twitter, normally no one ever responds to such things, but today was my lucky day because I actually received a reply:

“@davidlpatrick: Everything in 1 Corinthians 13:1-8 RT @KenJos: If Love is a verb then what does it DO?”

We’re all familiar with good ol’ 1 Corinthians chapter 13. You are bound to run into it at a wedding or during a children’s play at church or something or another, but here it is if you would like to see for yourself.

I was initially struck by all of the actions that are NOT love in this verse: speaking in tongues and the gift of prophecy (great spiritual power), faith that moves mountains, giving all I have to the poor, giving my body to hardship, does not envy, does not boast, is not proud, does not dishonor, not self-seeking, not easily angered, keeps no records of wrongs, does not delight in evil.

Phew, that’s a whole lot of nots.

But if Love is a verb then what does it DO?



Rejoices with the truth



Always Hopes

Always Perseveres / Never Fails

This list excites me and let me tell you why. I see Hope and Trust on this list – Asha. I see Rejoices with the truth on this list – Chinta. Then I see Always Perseveres on this list, and I’ll be damned if that aint Chesta – the third vritti of the Heart Chakra.

Chesta translates to “endeavor” but someone more accurately described it as:

“try…..try….and try…..”

Chesta is the inexhaustible effort of Love.

When we are in tune with the love in our hearts, no distance is too far, no hole too deep, no obstacle too hard, and we cannot be stopped. Have you ever witnessed or experienced being a teenager in love? This is a time before they know anything about heartache or betrayal or the loss that inevitably comes with human attachment. This is before the cuts and bruises of being alive; before we start putting up walls to protect ourselves from getting hurt again. It is a special, and short, period of time in our life where we only know the beautiful side of the Love coin. When we experience this love we act as if we cannot give enough; like we must be built wrong because giving it all we have doesn’t come close to expressing what we are feeling inside.

Maybe, if we are lucky, we get to feel that way again when we meet the right person at the right time who makes us feel safe enough to drop our barriers and love openly again.

But that’s just romantic love. I only use it as an example because I think it is easy to relate to. The love of the Anahata chakra, and the love spoken about in 1 Corinthians, goes beyond human relationships. It is more about the love we experience for Ourselves, for God, and for Life – and since there is no separation, we know that these three are the same thing.

Our practice and our path is one of coming back to ourselves. We deliberately drop the Ego/Personality and identify with our Divinity. Achieving this realization is the hardest thing we would ever do in this life, indeed it is almost impossible. When Arjuna expressed his doubts about whether this could be fulfilled by us mere mortals Krisha responds:

“Undoubtedly the mind is difficult to control and restless; but, by practice…it may be restrained!”

It takes continual effort, constant striving, trying and trying and trying again, to experience ourselves as We Are.

Luckily we have this space within us – Chesta – that is inexhaustible. We always have the energy to pick up our practice again, and it is the picking up of the practice that demonstrates our Love. The goodness in our intention, even if we fall down, the intention to pick it up again is Love.  Even though I can be more skillful, Love brings me back to the practice every time. It does not matter if your practice is as simple as a daily meditation schedule or as involved as taking the precepts or as complicated as adhering to Sharia laws. Buddha instructed us to “reflect on the beautiful quality of holding to the straining.” It’s not about whether you fall down; the Love is in your holding to the training of your practice. It is sacred. Our practice creates holy ground and that becomes the conditions in which we see ourselves as beautiful. And when we see ourselves as beautiful we fall in love with ourselves. We see our humanity is precious, and a miracle, and worthy of bowing down to.

Our practice is made up of going toward and falling down and getting up and going again and falling down and crawling forward and falling down and getting up and running after and falling down and getting up and try…try…and try.  

Chesta is the Dance of Effort.