Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Equinox

Today is the Spring Equinox, the mid-point of day and night, caused by the wobble in the axis of the Earth's spin. The sun is overhead at the equator at midday travelling further North to give us a summer.

Tantra as a spiritual practice is always ultimately about Oneness and the skillful use of polarities like Shiva and Shakti  - or consciousness and energy. It is tempting to put the two together and think in terms of a harmonious balance of Shiva and Shakti. This can be misleading. Putting together two different types of qualities can  cause more problems than doing so may solve. The familiar yin yang symbol of a black and white sector whirling together has limitations but it is better than mixing black and white together and getting grey! Another duality common in the New Age world is to contrast mind and body, or thinking and feeling, to redress a notional in-balance.  So we are often exhorted to "get into our body" or "in to our feelings", as if this will itself solve issues. This false dichotomy overlooks the fact that there is something deeper and different in quality to either; presence, or consciousness which is not a third term but underlies both.

If we make this mistake then we are likely to be promoting one sort of drama or another. In the mind; the endless thinking is usually about the future or ruminating on the past. We can dream of the future or fear it; we can make plans, we can regret the past or live in it with nostalgia. It is all just a game for the mind taking us away from here and now where Reality is. In the feelings and sensations of the body there are also dramas which can takes us away from presence and the here and now, into whatever trauma is being re-stimulated, or condition of the body is operating (which could be an emotional or a physical state). Both can be addictive; addictive, obsessive thinking or addiction to intensity and dramas. Putting attention on the body is quite likely to produce pain rather than pleasure - forcing us to run away from how we are if we are only interested in pleasure. The state of being embodied is a little more real and present time than solely identifying with the mind; but it is still not taking us to the place of Presence which underlies both thinking and feeling or sensation.

Presence is hard to define; it is universal as the Absolute and it also  has a personal dimension; it is what animates us and has the qualities of feeling like fine silk, smooth, pervasive or of a fine vibration more like a shimmering. In Kashmir Shaivism called spanda.  If the mind becomes the servant of Presence it then becomes open and spacious and a seat of discrimination and consciousness rather than distracted, obsessive thinking

So  beware of easy dichotomies.This is true even with the Equinox as a balance of light and darkness. They are not exact opposites - one candle will dispel the darkness, but one bit of darkness doesn't remove all light.... On a planetary level from the perspective of space there isn't day and night just a beautiful blue-green planet spinning in space.

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Tonight is Maha ShivaRatri

It's probably not very often that Mother's Day in the UK falls on the same day as the start of the great puja to Shiva in India. Maha Shivaratri, the spiritual night of Lord Shiva, is considered to be the most sacred night of the year. There is fasting during the day and the puja goes on all night with mantras to Shiva whilst anointing the shivalingam with water, milk, honey, and flowers.

It happens the night before the new moon and is a chance to honour Shiva and the masculine principle of consciousness and awareness. For everything is consciousness and it is on this foundation principle that the world is danced into being through the awesome creative power of Shakti.  

There has probably never been a time in history when the principle of the Divine Masculine needs to be honoured and affirmed as it does now, for it is precisely the qualities of the Divine Masculine that can create the space and the safety for good mothers and mothering to happen. Far too often, in many cultures across the world women are trying to hold both poles of masculine and feminine at the same time and be mother and father to their own inner child and to their "outer children". Men are physically absent for many reasons or emotionally absent from their own lack of connection to the Divine Masculine and their historic lack of good enough mothering. They then end up as wounded, disconnected and dangerous; perpetual teenagers fuelling the cycles violence that are destroying life.  So today, honour mothers and tonight, honour the masculine principle; though you might want to ask before pouring milk and honey on his lingam!