Our spiritual practice becomes particularly powerful the night of Shiva Ratri as on the day or days leading up to it. Why not approach this holy occasion with some clarity and purpose? Here are three practices for you, drawn from three myths and symbolic notions.
1: Shivaratri is a special night that commemorates Lord Shiva saving the world from the disastrous effects of a poison that emerged as a by-product of the churning of the ocean by celestial forces. It is how Shiva gets his blue throat, the reason why he is known as “nīlakanṭha.”
While some might dismiss this as a myth, our mentor Bede Griffiths would say that myths are symbolic stories that mediate truths that are difficult for our rational mind to grasp. My sense, therefore, is that myths are not untrue: they are simply a different way of bringing truths, usually eternal and profound truths, to our awareness. Should not some part of divinity be processing the toxicity in our universe? If so, would it not be held someplace till it were transformed?
Practice: Each of us has to come into contact with toxicity in our lives through environments and relationships. Make a shortlist of settings and people who contribute to the accumulation of toxicity in your life. Integrate this into your practice. Ask for guidance on how to move forward with these situations and people.
In the Hindu tradition, there is the recognition that even divinity engages in spiritual practice. Where do we get it from, otherwise? Jesus, too, was known to pray many times.
2. Shivaratri also celebrates the night when Lord Shiva performed the ‘Tandava,’ the cosmic dance of creation. Of course, this is a dance that continues in every nanosecond. The Shiva Nataraja (dancing Shiva) symbolically represents harmony within the eternal cycle of creation, sustenance, and dissolution.
Practice: When we chant mantras on the day and, even better, the night of Shiva Ratri, we connect in a profound way to this cosmic dance of life, energy, and consciousness, for we celebrate the fact that the divine is dancing dances in all of consciousness. Any easy mantra to chant is the pañakṣara mantra, the five-syllabled na-ma-śi-vā-ya preceded by the holy OM. Advanced students, like the senior students in our Yogic Mystery School, chant the Rudram. Here is the chant we use when we do pradakshina in the ancient Shiva temples of India.
PLEASE USE A GOOD HEAD SET FOR BEST EFFECT
Each year, I travel to Holland at the invitation of the Center For Tantra. In 2020, I will teach a workshop on Tantric mantras in addition to several other events. This exceptional Tantric school has a proven, 28-year record of healing and therapeutic applications from a deep understanding of Tantra. It is an honor to be a teacher in their faculty.
3. Most importantly, this night is dedicated to the union Shiva and Parvati, a night of sacred marriage, which is the union of the human soul with its divine source. Through this holy union, we might celebrate many unions.
Practice: Are you in a relationship with a significant other? If so, consider how you treat this person. Do not think of how this person treats you. Only think of how you handle this person. At least for the time around this Shiva Ratri, practice treating this person with the utmost respect.
My wife, Asha, and I have been married for 30 years. The question is how we have treated each other. At the end of the day, how did we make each other feel? Our significant other is the form and medium through who we experience the sacred other. This relationship between sacred other and significant other is what I teach in my private coaching programs. It is also what I practice. Am I perfect at it? Absolutely not. Do I practice getting better at it every day? Absolutely, yes!
Don’t have a significant other? On this sacred night, you might meditate upon the union of spirit and matter, the marriage of East and West, the equality of male and female. The divine is also both male and female, a combination of the two. You could meditate upon Ardhaneshwara, Shiva, as half-man, half-woman. Could you see both aspects within yourself? Could you discover the relationship of all relationships within yourself?