The heart chakra allows us to have interconnectedness and affiliation with others, a great mystery at the center of our being. Our feelings for (and our cooperative connections with) other humans and the rest of the entities in the world originate here.
Note that we can differentiate the idea of feelings for one another from the interactions through the other chakras. For example, the mind chakra contains our thoughts about one another, but thoughts are not the same as feelings. We see in the other chakras that the interactions they control are also different from the feeling interactions of the heart chakra. I believe this heart chakra is responsible for both platonic love for your fellow being (agape) and romantic love (eros). (Sexual feelings, on the other hand, are part of the desire chakra.)
The Tantric tradition says there are two chakras in this region: anahata and hrit.
Anahata, in Tantric thinking, seems to be responsible for some of the negative things that can go wrong with affiliation like lustfulness and longing. Hope and repentance are found here, too. Jealousy appears in the will chakra, I believe, because it is an emotion that is related more to power than to love.
I think the Tantric tradition (at least the versions I have read) may be missing something here. We experience a great connectedness to one another. It ranges from intensely positive to intensely negative. We may cling so closely that we use the expression “two hearts beating as one.” Nothing hurts more than the betrayal of a loved one. We may die for many reasons, but we usually kill ourselves because of something related to love.
I think affiliation works better when it connects us to other people in positive ways. We keep the idea that we are two separate beings, but we share an understanding of one another that goes beyond words. Love is one of the great positive forces in the universe. It is there for all of us to access through this chakra and to use when we are helping one another through life. All the great healers I have known send their healing energy through this chakra.
The other chakra in the heart region contains aspects in some ways even more amazing than love. Here is how Susan Shumsky describes the superpowers that are supposed to be controlled here (from Exploring Chakras: Awaken Your Untapped Energy:
- The ability to transform your body size to that of an atom.
- The power to decrease your physical weight or levitate.
- The power to increase your bodily size or stature or become mighty.
- The capacity to fulfill desires and go anywhere at will, described by the ancients as “touching the moon with your fingertips.”
- The ability to pass through earth, walk through solid walls, or not be immersed in water, and to assume any desired form.
- The greatest power and dominion over the five elements…: earth, water, fire, air, and ether, and the subtle sense objects… of which these elements are made, odor, flavor, form, touch, sound. This is also the power to attract and enslave others by enchantment.
- Mastery over the appearance, disappearance, and aggregation of the five elements and objects in the material world. With this siddhi [accomplishment] you can transcend all human limits.
- Resolution — the ability to determine the five elements and their nature and to transform them at will. It is also the power to conquer or subordinate others.