Shiva and Shakti-Jnaneshwar

I offer obeisance to the God and Goddess,
The limitless primal parents of the universe.

They are not entirely the same,
Nor are they not the same.
We cannot say exactly what they are.

Luthar.com

Here are some selected verses from Jnaneshwar, a 13th century Indian mystic.

Amritanubhav (The Nectar of Mystical Experience)

Siva Shakti

Chapter One: The Union of Shiva and Shakti

I offer obeisance to the God and Goddess,
The limitless primal parents of the universe.

They are not entirely the same,
Nor are they not the same.
We cannot say exactly what they are.

How sweet is their union!
The whole world is too small to contain them,
Yet they live happily in the smallest particle.

When He awakes, the whole house disappears,
And nothing at all is left.

Two lutes: one note.
Two flowers: one fragrance.
Two lamps: one light.

Two lips: one word.
Two eyes: one sight.
These two: one universe.

In unity there is little to behold;
So She, the mother of abundance,
Brought forth the world as play.

He takes the role of Witness
Out of love of watching Her.

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Meeting Shiva Shakti Ma at Arunachala: By Helene Averous

I met Shiva Shakti Ma 2 weeks ago in Tiruvanamalai.

When she silently entered the room,
I started crying immediately
I couldn’t stop hearing those words in my mind
“She is so beautiful
She is SO beautiful
Just Grace
Grace
Grace”

When I came into her room
I just fell in tears before even being able to look into her eyes
Bowing down at her feet

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Conscious Yoga Dance: Meeting of Two Sacred Expressions

Conscious Yoga Dance is for me a Dream come true.  By joining Yoga and a creative inner expression, Dance, I have reached another level, finding freedom in the discipline.

I designed Conscious Yoga Dance as a connection between Yoga and Dance to tune our mind to our inner flow.

Conscious Yoga dance allows your body to come fully alive and express itself, building an energy field and breaking inner boundaries. It allows us to become more and more in tune with ourselves, expressing the body connection to the universal flow of life through music and movement.

After practicing Yoga for several years I have experienced a deep inner peace, harmony and flexibility in mind and body. The inter-connection of mind-body-spirit has become a reality for me feeling oneness. Learning how to spread this feeling of Unity is what brings me to study, practice and teach yoga. It has leaded me to find the way in which I can fulfill others and myself in a magnificent way. Continue reading

Mahasivaratri with Arunachala: By Richard Clarke

The night of March 6 – when there was no moon – was Mahasivaratri this year. This night honors Siva, seen in nonduality as Being-Consciousness absolute. It is the association with Siva that makes Arunachala such a holy mountain.

Instead of going into town to a temple, or doing pradakshina – walking around Arunachala – we decided to hold a Siva Puja at our house. Here are some photos.

The Altar set up near sun down

Mahasivaratri altar

The altar has a picture of Siva, a lingam, a photo of Nome, and various puja materials.

Arunachala is is the background.

Puja Materials

Puja materials

Fruit and a coconut are common offering.

For Sivaratri it is important to have Bilva leaves as an offering.

Camphor is there for later use.

Puja at midnight

Richard at Mahasivaratri Puja

Richard is offering Puja to the Sivalingam.

Coconut milk, cows milk, ghee, bilva leaves and flower petal are offered in turn.

Richard at Puja

Lingam after Puja

lingam after Puja

After the Puja here is the broken coconut.

The lingam is covered with bliva leaves and flowers.

Dawn over Arunachala after Mahasivaratri night

Arunachala Sunrise after Mahasivaratri night

Richard and Carol were up most of the night, listening to recordings of chants, and spiritual discourses from their teacher, Nome.

In quiet times we meditated. For us this is a most holy night.

Altar at dawn

Mahasivaratri altar after Pjua at dawn

Here is the altar at dawn. The lingam has been put back in its usual place, and wrapped with a flower mala.

Now we will go downstairs and go to sleep. This is along night, but spiritually fulfilling.

Self, Shakti, Heart, and Enlightenment in Advaita: By Dr. Harsh K. Luthar

Often on the spiritual path, the topics of best postures, best techniques of meditation, best behaviors conducive to spiritual growth, best gurus, etc., come up. All of these questions are appropriate to their time and circumstances.  Such questions were frequently put to Bhagavan Ramana.

Underlying all such questions is the fundamental theme or inquiry as to what constitutes superior spiritual practice that will lead to improvement in one’s mental and physical conditions and finally to Self-Realization or Enlightenment. From this perspective, Self-Realization is viewed as an attainment. It is something that is achieved by an individual by making the right effort. This approach in its methodology is not too different than that of a talented world class athlete, who after having trained rigorously, wins a gold medal at the Olympics.

This point of view emphasizes the need to focus the mind in order for it to expand and evolve to higher levels. Spiritual practices based on this foundation, involve meditating in a particular posture, concentrating on chakras, raising the kundalini shakti, practicing mantras, deep breathing, and doing pranayama exercises.

The Yoga paths explicitly incorporate the idea of controlling and developing the mind to gain entry into Samadhi and Super-conscious states. Most religions have this philosophy at their core; that without hard work one does not succeed either in life or in knowing God.

The General Spiritual Path Model

Buddha is supposed to have said to his disciples as he was dying, “Work out your salvation with diligence.” He meant that you have to personally work it out and attain Nirvana by right conduct, right practice, right meditation, etc.

The same principle is present in Jainism and most of the schools of thought in Hinduism. In Jainism, one attains to Moksha through one’s own individual efforts. In Hinduism, one achieves Moksha by God’s Grace. However, in most schools of Hinduism, one only benefits fully from God’s Grace, when one has made the right effort on the spiritual path by following one’s Dharma and by meditating on the nature of the Self.

Although it is a complex topic, the general spiritual model that we have before us is this: There is a spiritual path, there is the goal of Enlightenment or Self-Realization, and you have to expend much effort, and walk on the path for a long time in order to reach the destination. While you are walking, you may even have to go through the “dark night of the soul” a few times, because there are so many temptations along the way and things can sometimes appear hopeless and quite depressing.

So not only is there the possibility of tripping and falling due to worldly obstacles, but one also may give up on the whole idea of Liberation, Salvation, Enlightenment, Nirvana, Moksha, and/or getting to Heaven. Indeed many on the spiritual path do end up concluding that there is no meaning in life or the spiritual aspiration at all and kick themselves for missing out on the pleasures of their youth by having rejected the philosophy of “Eat, Drink, and be Merry” prematurely.

However, experienced sages know that what practices or behaviors will be helpful to the seeker on the spiritual path seems to depend on one’s conditioning, physiology, culture, background, etc. Although there is a general framework on how to pursue one’s aspiration for Enlightenment or Self-Realization, the truth is that one has to make the path as one walks on it because each individual is unique. Therefore, the view of “Eat, Drink, and be Merry”, within reason and in moderation, may be fully compatible with the spiritual life. It is the overall context that has to be understood.

The Self-Knowledge of a Sage

For the one abiding spontaneously and inherently in the Self-Truth of Reality, questions of methods, techniques, and practices, and the path become moot. When clarity of Self arises, any technique may be practiced and any path may be walked or one may give up all techniques and paths. For such a person, the Self-Attention itself absorbs attention regardless of where it is focused outwardly. The essential element in this understanding is the Recognition by Awareness of its Innate Wakefulness. Awareness is always self-aware by its very nature.

When awareness remains pure and spontaneously self-focused (perpetually in communion with itself), the subtle duality between awareness/attention (as Pure I AM) and its Source is seen to be illusory.

Then even the witness disappears, there being nothing to witness. The “I AM” disappears having nothing to point to. Spontaneously with the I AM Awareness/Shakti merging in its Source, the Self is Recognized. The Self Recognizes It Self by It Self and Through It Self as its own Source. It Sees and Recognizes that It has Always Been the Source. That It Is the Eternal Source, the causeless cause.

This is the Supreme Beauty of the Heart. It absorbs the Shakti, and along with it the Mind, thus swallowing time and space.

How can one speak of this Silence? The Silence that transcends all understanding and knowledge can only be indicated indirectly.

Great sages like Sri Ramana Maharshi never tire of pointing out that, —That Which is Real and Absolute Always Exists and is not absent even now—. How can Reality, whether one calls it God, Consciousness, Absolute, Nirvana, Moksha, Kingdom of Heaven, or by some other name be present at one time and absent at another? Perfection, by its nature, cannot be more perfect sometimes but not others. The approach and method of Advaita is based on this implicit axiom.

The Method of Advaita

The ever-present and eternal existence of our fundamental reality, whatever label we give it (Self-Nature, Buddha-Nature, Original Face, God, Goddess, God Consciousness, Pure Consciousness, Supreme Consciousness) must be here and now in this very moment. Otherwise, it is not Perfect!

This is the fundamental insight and conviction of the path of Advaita and the Advaitic sages. Therefore, we have to grasp the present by simply being present to it. This is the method of Advaita.

How is this done? In this way:

This present ordinary awareness, that you experience, you should notice it and then hold on to it. It is subtle and yet so ordinary. That is why we miss it. No matter how ordinary a baby looks to others, to the mother it is special. She adores her baby and to her it is the most lovely and wonderful child in the world. That is the attitude one must have towards one’s ordinary present awareness.

Like a mother holds on firmly to her child in all conditions, one should keep this ordinary self-awareness in the center of one’s consciousness knowing it to be special. The Supreme Reality It Self is hidden in it. It cannot be anywhere outside of it. If the Supreme Reality is somewhere outside of our ordinary consciousness, it is not perfect. Therefore, we can confidently look for perfection in our ordinariness, our ordinary consciousness.

Finding God in the Heart

There is a Christian saying that “Man is made in the image of God”. There is deep meaning in that. In the Bhagavad Gita, Sri Krishna says to Arjuna, “I am in the Heart of all.” We find such expressions in many of the religions of the world and in major works of different spiritual traditions.

On the path of Advaita, through our present ordinary awareness, we become, or more accurately, recognize our True and Ever-Present Image in the Heart. Advaita goes one step further and states that indeed the illusion of separation between the Individual soul and God lasts only as long as God is not recognized as the Center of our Being, sitting in the Heart as the Heart.

This is the Heart, that the ancients called Sat-Chit-Ananda. Existence, Consciousness, Bliss. The Supreme Self. It is beyond thoughts and concepts. Time and Space do not touch it.

As Sri Ramana has said, — that which is real is ever present—. We have to see what is present right now in this very moment. If we become quiet, we are able to feel our ordinary awareness, the sense of “I Am” as being present in this moment. That is the seed. If we water it and give it food, it grows and the Reality reveals it Self from within.

Editor’s Note:  The Feature Picture depicts photo art of brother Eden Kailash on his fb page.

Kundalini Shakti in the West: By Dr. Harsh K. Luthar

The notion of Kundalini Shakti is at the heart of yoga and is embedded in virtually all Eastern traditions regardless of the name or label that is given. If we carefully examine any school of yoga, tantra, or various traditions (Shakti, Shaivite, Kashmiri Shaivism), there will usually be some descriptions of Hatha Yoga, Pranayama, Kriyas, Mudras, Mantras, and different types of meditations on the Chakras (energy centers).

In the Shakti traditions, detailed descriptions are given of the various aspects of the visions of the Goddess that arise in meditation. Even in the school of Advaita Vedanta, which does not depend on the practices associated with Shakti Yoga, we see that the great scholar/saint Adi Shankracharya has written hymns to the Goddess who represents Shakti, the divine power.

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Shiva and Shakti-Jnaneshwar

Here are some selected verses from Jnaneshwar, a 13th century Indian mystic.

Amritanubhav (The Nectar of Mystical Experience)

Siva Shakti

Chapter One: The Union of Shiva and Shakti

I offer obeisance to the God and Goddess,
The limitless primal parents of the universe.

They are not entirely the same,
Nor are they not the same.
We cannot say exactly what they are.

How sweet is their union!
The whole world is too small to contain them,
Yet they live happily in the smallest particle.

When He awakes, the whole house disappears,
And nothing at all is left.

Two lutes: one note.
Two flowers: one fragrance.
Two lamps: one light.

Two lips: one word.
Two eyes: one sight.
These two: one universe.

In unity there is little to behold;
So She, the mother of abundance,
Brought forth the world as play.

He takes the role of Witness
Out of love of watching Her.
But when Her appearance is withdrawn,
The role of Witness is abandoned as well.

Through Her,
He assumes the form of the universe;
Without Her,
He is left naked.

If night and day were to approach the Sun,
Both would disappear.
In the same way, their duality would vanish
If their essential Unity were seen.

The book from which these excerpts are taken, is entitled
“Jnaneshvar: The Life and Works of the Celebrated Thirteenth Century Indian Mystic-Poet.”

The translation is by Swami Abhyayananda.