Today into tomorrow, many in India and around the world honor the Goddess as Shakti, as the Supreme Force behind all of nature and all of life. Navaratri (festival of nine nights) honors nine forms of the Shakti. In this blog, you can tap this experience somewhat simply and informally, but with deep devotion.
Over the past 33 years, ever since I started my spiritual journey as a monk and yogi in India, the Shakti has been an important aspect of my spiritual experience. Here are some of the ways I express my love for the divine feminine, through mantra and puja (ritual). The picture is of a goddess ritual conducted recently in Holland for Center for Tantra. My wife Asha and I do it every Friday without fail. And there are students in our School of Mantra who also do it.
Here are some expressions of mantra and practices so you can tap the experience:
In so many spiritual cultures, the male aspect dominates. We find this in language, in theology, terminology, imagery, and so forth. To honor the feminine, not only as sacred, but as as the highest form of divinity helps bring balance into our lives and into our world. Here is one way that I do it …
In some ways, the divine is “beyond” gender; or “deeper” than gender. While this is true, the divine also expresses itself “through” gender. Thus male as well as female are viable channels of divine expression and revelation. Here is a dynamic meditation that you can do now, bringing your body into the prayer, offering your devotion to Lakshmi, embodiment of beauty and abundance:
Shakti is the raw energy that gushes out of spanda, coursing excitedly through all vibrations and endowing them with life and vitality. She is the blood of the universe, rushing in and out of its deep center, purifying and renewing all that has become contaminated. Shakti is like the human heart, receiving impure blood through the veins and sending purified blood to every part of the body through the arteries. (From The Yoga of Sound: Tapping the Hidden Power of Music and Chant — Russill Paul/ New World Library)
Join me live to honor Shakti
Mantra, Mysticism and Modern Life
Sep 22 – 24: Grosse Pointe, Michigan
Power of Mantra at Kripalu Yoga Center
Sep 29 – Oct 1: Lennox, Massachusetts
FROM THE YOGA OF SOUND
The Chapter on “Shakti Yoga”
In the Tantric view, the feminine energy of Shakti is considered to be the agent of all Divine action. With beautiful philosophical balance, every male deity in the Hindu tradition has a corresponding shakti — a female counterpart. In Hinduism, the feminine shakti is perceived as the active principle, which is a reversal of the Western view.
Shakti, for the Hindu, is a dynamic energy without which nothing can be accomplished. Shiva, the pervasive male principle, is thus complemented by Shakti, the pervasive female principle. Similarly, Brahma the Creator is complemented by Saraswati, the goddess of art and knowledge, and Vishnu the preserver is balanced with Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and abundance.
All goddesses are forms of the one shakti. The absolute sound, Shabda Brahman, is complemented by the absolute energy, Para Shakti. It should be noted, however, that at the level of Brahman, or supreme reality, gender is subsumed and transcended.
Here reality is viewed through the single eye — the eye of wisdom between the eyebrows — while all other views of reality are through the eyes of duality. Tantrics see the play of opposites in all aspects of creation as contributing to dualistic modes of perception, which must be unified, embodied, and transformed through the process of Tantric Yoga.
Russill Paul. The Yoga of Sound: Tapping the Hidden Power of Music and Chant (Kindle Locations 1778-1779). New World Library.