The following article by Yogini Shambhavi was first published in Tathaastu Magazine.
Outer phenomena spell dissatisfaction as well as momentary happiness in today’s world wind encounter with life. Anguish is an integral part of our existence as an inner discontent is the cause of our individual and collective unwholesome striving that never seems to end. To move beyond this restless turmoil, one should embrace a sacred outlook and accept a universal responsibility for the well-being of every creature. The right attitude to life creates a sacred space for a happy dwelling place, where the spirit of love, compassion and tolerance are cherished. Lighting the lamp of our ‘Higher Consciousness’ must begin individually, where each one’s lamp lights up another’s flame illumining our greater existence together.
In Tantra, a simplicity of being profoundly in touch with the vast universe and the pure self gradually distills and dispels all mental commotion, emotional instability and physical discomfort. Wealth, abundance, desire and happiness need not be merely the illusorymaya of our worldly dispositions if we can learn to experience their deeper essence with harmony and grace. A clearer focus on our inner self awakens us out of our worldly fixations and generates an awareness and insight that allows us to deal with the real needs of life.
In our social contacts, we exert a covert violence against ourselves and others through our like and dislikes, opinions, dogmas, faith and even spiritual practices. Today’s mind psychoanalyses everything, drawing an inevitable link of emotional obsession into our personal becoming. Our psychology convinces us of the finality of our roles played out as the mother, the lover, the guru or even the healer. We cling to our self-image, concealing our true identity as pure consciousness that has no form.
Being alone and still creates fear in our hearts. The space of silence is too empty and profound for us to cope with very long. Our psyches are addicted to perpetual stimulation. The illusory world limits the ability of our awareness to enter into the realm of inner purity. Dependence upon the external is upheld by our society, ostracizing us through its religion, cults, rigid views and institutions, bringing about the death of unfettered Divine Consciousness in the heart. Psychologists and New Age healers often cause yet more internal disruptions and disturbances, stirring the intrigues of not only the recent past but of previous lifetimes. We can barely learn to cope with this life, leave alone open the corridors to the ghostly remains of past incarnations.
Our spiritual well being must guide us to experience the original pure and blissful nature of consciousness itself. Rediscovering this simple truth within ourselves we ignite the hidden flame of the spiritual heart, nurturing compassion, joy and peace for all. Atman is the self or soul, the deeper essence of our being as pure consciousness, uniting us with all beings. The Atman is a Divine principle and our ‘true self’ is the Divine power behind the manifestation of all time and space. Tantra reveres the Divine presence within us, honoring our deeper nature as sacred and immortal. The Goddess Shakti leads us in our journey through the outer world to the sanctity of the spiritual heart, the Atman’s silent abode.
The mystery of Tantra rests in the beneficence of Nature and her all-pervasive energies. Tantra’s enigmatic mysticism reveals Nature’s potent powers through its sacred knowledge or Tantric Jnana. The Tantrika’s life is a great awakening to the reality of pure consciousness, where every moment a lotus blossoms in the gentle prayer of sweet divinity without feeling misplaced in the muddy waters. Our consciousness has a gentle way of filtering the truth in our lives. Pure consciousness takes us back to the source of divinity without any worldly trappings.
Surely my life witnessed its own metamorphoses over the years, enriching my being and enhancing my experiences. One would drift into the silence of sadhana, using yogic practices to re-enforce one’s harmony or restructure old thought patterns, at times withdrawing into my own world of magic and wonder.
With the Mother Goddess’s grace, my entire being sought reformation, turning the mind and body into a flower of delight, exuding its own inner fragrance. Through my experimental modes of sadhana, the Goddess integrated me back into the source of her own joyousness. My life became an offering at her lotus feet, unfolding her mystical flowering of grace and abundance.
Samarasya is the ‘harmonious concordance’ of Shiva and Shakti, in which each becomes the other, unfolding an indistinguishable state in which all differentiation vanishes. The mutual divinity of the two powers resides in the pureness of their complementary presence, where no thought or action distracts their interchange. Shakti is the unity of opposites, where life and death, pleasure and grief, attraction and repulsion, beauty and dread, unite to purify the ego and transform the mind. Through the grace of Shakti, all limitations are broken down to free the soul for its flight back to the highest Self residing in the heart.
When the Shiva principle of cosmic light initiates transformation, his electrifying strength comes from Shakti. When Lord Brahma creates, his source of knowledge flows through his musical consort Sarasvati Devi. When Lord Vishnu sustains the universe, Goddess Lakshmi pours forth all abundance as his generosity. Adi Shankara conveyed his deeper thoughts through his poetic expression inSaundarya Lahari, “Only united with Shakti is Shiva endowed with the power to create; otherwise he is incapable of even stirring.”
There is an interesting vibrancy and apprehension in the play between Shiva and Shakti, the ‘Cosmic Light and its Lightning power’, spirit and matter, the flesh and the soul, creating a certain momentum in the churning wheel of life. What enhances the wheel’s motion is the rasa of life, the Divine nectar of adoration and worship. It is the cosmic play of synchronicity between the two opposites that allows their Lila or celestial play to unfold in heavenly transcendence. In worshipping Shiva, we awaken the Somanectar through his peaceful and calming nature. Shiva’s pure transparent light, the underlying force behind every form of light pervading the universe, creates the flow of Soma through the universe.
As Shiva transcends all worldly existence, Shakti is the expression of creation and destruction. While Lakshmi affords us all the attributes of Maya through beauty, wealth and prosperity, her consort Vishnu practices detachment and objectivity. Despite Brahma’s creation moving beyond all understanding, Saraswati personifies wisdom and intellect through all the arts and sciences. Women have an innate ingenuity to seek out jnana or Divine wisdom. This jnana allows her the power to explore and unfold herShakti energies of all three great Goddesses. A deeper introspection unleashes the power within, expanding our horizons of knowledge and experience.
Only when we consciously embrace all experiences and allow an assimilation of all our sensory capacities into the supreme energy of consciousness, will we feel the reality of Nature’s cosmic play. The divine feminine power is Vasumati Devi, the ultimate Goddess who presides over the realms of prana, the life force of our individual existence. The life force is the cosmic mother and all that exists in the three heavens is within her influence and her power. And as a mother to her children, the Goddess protects us, granting us the splendors of her innate wisdom, insight and higher perception.
Nature blesses us with the flow of Divine rasa. Rasayana or rejuvenation in yogic thought literally indicates ‘the path of the Divine sap or juice’ signifying the rejuvenating power of yogic practices. This rasa of yoga replenishes both the quality and quantity of one’s body fluids, countering the aging process in which these get depleted. Rasayana enhances the productivity of bodily tissues and augments one’s intelligence, flexibility and outer glow.
To enable the inner rasa to flow through the nadis of the physical being, one must first allow for its cleansing and clearing, opening up its channels through yogic practices, Ayurveda, Bhakti, Asana and Vedantic meditation. Our sacred practices help us flush out thenadis of their impurities allowing the abundant flow of the sweet soma, the golden nectar. This is all part of the inner flow of Shiva and Shakti an the deeper art and science of Tantra.
Sadhana creates an understanding and clarity of what it is to feel deeply in all that one experiences. To appreciate our higher Self, we must delve into the obscure caverns of our inner and outer experiences, being one with all that we perceive, moving both through what one is able and what one is unable to discern. Through the cosmic play of Shiva and Shakti, its surging waters took in the flow of the material reality of my earthly existence, personifying the spiritual nuances of one’s sadhana.
The joyfulness of life’s experiences emerges whenever we feel things deeply through the fullness of our heart. The Goddess as the inner thread of life weaves the currents that carry all facets of our Shiva-Shakti experiences, electrifying all aspects of existence through her supreme beauty. As the ‘Great Mother’, celestial maestro of universal tidings, Her gentle benevolence opens the heart as we learn to embrace the beatitude inherent in all life.
For a peaceful existence, both individually and socially, we must set the mind and heart completely free, allowing the being to experience the joyousness of a Divine flow of grace. We must move beyond our conventional mindset, assertions and limitations, even beyond apparent virtues born of conformity to social norms of achievement and fame. Reaching into the spiritual heart one must maintain purity, innocence, depth and beauty of emotion. These attributes create the Soma rasa, which holds a childlike quality, yet eternally radiant and ageless. Few people know how to hold this inspiration and therefore there is no stimulation to reach these higher, beautiful ideals of love and freedom.
Love and freedom are one in the way that all happiness is one with its surrounding space and the true Self. Yet this is not a freedom from something or someone, but a freedom that pervades and ennobles our thoughts, actions and ideals. Similarly, love must not constrict or restrict, but elevate and inspire the soul of every being. Polarity is not just the essence of a relationship, but a magnetism that creates the electrical force of transformation. This force not only bonds people in sacred relationships but also manifests a creative and spiritual power within and around their existence.
The ideal polarity is not between individuals but the sacredness of cosmic principles where we honor Shiva and Shakti together. Then the relationship and its polarity can raise the people out of their human ego and worldly realms to a more beautiful state of divinity. Non-dualistic Tantra views the entire worldly maya as a projection of Divine energy, transforming the feminine creative principle into the flow of graciousness and bliss.
The feminine nature carries the flow of all existence in its receptivity, nurturing power, creativity and sublime grace. The waters of the womb are where life begins to stir, allowing the foetus to be energized with the breath of life. Every woman carries this deeper essence of water, with its rasas, flows and sensitivities.
I realized that the beauty and bliss of life occurs through the free flow of all its rasas, which flourish through the Devi’s (Mother Goddess) dance of lightning. Our ignorant ego functions as a break in the continuity of its smooth flow. The Goddess energy works to break up any resistance to the course of her magnetic currents. Unfortunately, the modern woman often restricts her innate gentle flow by trying to identify with male characteristics of aggression and assertion, creating a dissonance in her feminine, nurturing self. The friction of this shift or rift between the male and female realities causes restlessness deep within the psyche, which can block the natural flow of grace and soma.
During my sadhana on the banks of Ma Ganga above Rishikesh, I would offer myself into the river’s emerald waters, surrendering to the embrace of her loving grace. Flowing water carries an electrical energy which is linked to its origin. The source of all waters is Divine bliss and beatitude in the form of the Goddess’s grace. In her flow as Ganga Ma, ‘Mother Ganga’, she is the most sacred river emanating from the mighty Himalayas, carrying with her tide all cosmic forces of purity and piety. Into her gentle flow, every true seeker offers one’s samskaras of moha and maya (delusion and illusion).
I usually energize stones with mantras before immersing them in the river’s flow, allowing the vibrations of the currents to repeat my deeper aspirations. The rapidly-flowing river becomes a stream of prayer. Filling my palms with sand gathered from the river’s bank, chanting mantras over it, I would lovingly release it into the river, allowing each grain of sand to repeat the mantra with the water’s flow, extending into infinity. The river’s mystical stream catches the resonance of the sacred waters, magnifying our supplications to the supremacy of Shiva and Shakti.
The beauty of bathing in the pristine waters of the sacred Ganga has a touch of ethereal delight. I would pour all my pain and anguish into her currents, seeking an acceptance of my offerings made to her with coconuts, flowers and ghee-lit lamps. It is something quite mystical, this meeting of the fires and waters of cosmic realities in the holiest of rivers. Inwardly, I made an offering of my own fires of the body, mind and soul into Ma Ganga’s rushing torrents.
The waters carry an inner fire, lighting up their currents, especially during dark nights. I would stand for hours in the Ganga, my feet honoring the sands of the Earth, my being touched by the effervescence of its surge, while moonlit rays bathed my aura with heavenly transcendence during night time sadhana. The power of lightning is the energy of the Goddess arising from the electrical currents of her rushing streams. Rivers assume the gentle glory of the Devi forces.
Divinity is the seed within every form, rising from the womb of the heart. As universal mother, the Devi is most beneficent to those who worship her. Our devotion gives rise to deep love in the depths of our hearts, stirring the whirlpools of our own destiny. Divine Grace allows us to transcend all illusion and move to higher echelons of yogic delight, paving the way for the ultimate meeting or union, where Satya, the truth, prevails in the sama, the harmonious energies of Sadashiva, the eternal Lord of all the worlds.
Truth is not merely ever-existent or all-prevailing; it is the very cause of everything, the deeper consciousness which pervades the ocean waters. Sacred practices draw one’s consciousness out of the currents of worldly seeking. Divine forces heave the seeker into the whirling vortex of the cosmic waters of consciousness, spinning the mind through its realms of worldly Maya. Working our energies to heightened peaks of experience, Maya draws one eventually into the void of the cosmic universe’s delightful dance.
The cerulean depths of the cosmic waters are metaphorical for a vastness beyond measure, an infinity and time without end perpetuating Para Shakti, the ‘supreme transcendent energy of Shakti’, the Goddess’s primordial force. Her force paves the way for the ultimate means for a deep realization of her ultimate truths. For me the inspirational way spelt magic, searching the ultimate truth through bliss and wisdom, which can be realized by seeking and holding on to the truth. Our existence allows us to experience the truth in one’s spiritual evolution by the deep yearnings of our soul.