Tuesday, October 9, 2007

i heart shiva

Śiva is pronounced (and often erroneously written "Shiva")

This sculture shows Śiva-Dakshina-Murti or Mahayogi, one of the best known depictions of Śiva. He is seated on the tops of the Himalayas in deep meditation. He holds the mudra of fearlessness with one of his right hands.

Śiva is the force that rips asunder our illusions. This can occur in a fiery display, in a column of light, or in the capacity for anything to switch rapidly and without warning to its opposite. This can also happen quite pleasantly, sometimes in a subtle, surreptitious percolation of new beliefs, which penetrate the old and render them irrevocably transformed. The destroyer of Maya, illusion, Śiva is the force that rips the clothing of the ego to shreds, that takes us to our knees with grief, and that wrenches us out of deeply ingrained habit. Painful as the letting go is, Śiva shines with such deep truth through the changes, that even in grief or loss of what we thought was 'self', we know the benificence of the act. For while Śiva is the force that tears asunder the separateness, Śiva is also the source of the separateness. Śiva is the formless, and Śiva's creative power, Śakti is the creatrix, who engenders the infintude of form. Form sacrifices itself, to become formless again. The manifest yields, most obviously at death, but in any loss, and is absorbed, in part and then wholly, into the undifferentiated, into the infinite. This constant movement, into form and out of form, is the pulse, the spanda, the vibration.

The practice of Yoga is a rite, in which we participate in Spanda. We attune to the expansion and contraction of energies in the body, in the breath, and even in the realm of mind (manas). While Hatha yoga is performed in the outer realm, in the realm of physical, manifest form, inevitably as we practice we also work deeply on the inner realms. The trick is to connect this rite to the rest of our lives; and to realize that all of life is part of yoga practice. This is not to say that we need to be working all the time.... Quite the contrary. Often it is the sacrifice of effort and control, a yielding, that bears most fruit. We thus allow ourselves to be burnt away by the sacrificial fires of universal consciousness, and to come to experience all of life's changes, even the loss and frustration, as having an inherently compassionate nature, in that the inner being is being transformed via this endless participation in Spanda.

"Whether outer rites are actually performed or not makes no difference... In reality, all of life's activities are part of the great sacrificial rite (mahayaga) eternally enacted by universal consciousness within itself, to itself. In this rite, the sacrificial fire is the Great Void (mahasunya), the supreme reality (paratattva) entirely devoid of all division (bheda) and beyond the emptiness of insentience. The sacrificial ladle is awareness (cetana) and the offering is the entire outer universe of diversity, including the gross elements, senses, objects, world-orders and categories of existence, together with the inner world of mind (manas) and thought. All division between subject and object is burnt away and everything made one with the fires of consciousness."

(Dyczkowski, 1987. The Doctrine of Vibration, p 142)

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