When I awoke from the materialist atheistic delusion that dominated my adolescent and early adult outlook on life at the age of 30, awoke to the sacred flow of Creation and humanity’s integral part in it, I searched for explanations of the Great Mystery of our existence in all the world’s major religions. Ultimately I found truth in all of them, but from Hindu spiritual philosophy I gained insights and language that deeply resonated within me. Unlike under most lands conquered by the monotheistic Abrahamic religions, the Indian subcontinent retained its links to original ancient wisdom tradition – it continued to honour both the female and male aspects of the Divine, and it tells us straight up that we are the manifestation of divine love and consciousness, not ever separate from it, and certainly not suffering from the after shocks of original sin, destined forever to suffer shame and guilt about the natural habits and desires of our own flesh.
The Divine in Hinduism is known both as an impersonal Absolute and as personified deities. As the absolute it is known as SAT-CHIT-ANANDA, which is Existence-Consciousness-Bliss, and the teaching is THOU ART THAT.
When personified, the Divine is equally feminine and masculine – so fundamentally so that the most powerful and beloved of the Hindu deities, SHIVA, is often depicted as half female, half male. Shiva, known as the Destroyer, is also the perfect embodiment of love. What he destroys are our illusions of suffering and separation, and all the fantasy stories we tell ourselves.
The last dark moon of the winter season, during the astrological month of Pisces, is the great annual festival of Shiva, Maha Shivaratri. This is one of the quieter, more contemplative Hindu holy occasions which honours the unmanifest reality of Pure Consciousness underlying all creation, and people might keep vigil all night simply with the intention of self-reflection aimed at growth and release of all things that hold them back.
AMMA, the Mother of Immortal Bliss, on Shivaratri:
“May my children see themselves in everything and everything in themselves, this is the real message of Shivaratri.”
“Shivaratri is a celebration of sacrifice, dispassion and renunciation. Shivaratri teaches us to abandon all other thoughts in contemplation of God and to realize the ultimate purpose of human life…
“May Divine Grace take us beyond all sense of duality and make us one with the Supreme.The real consecration of God should take place in our heart. It is not enough if it is done outside. Our mind should become pure. It should become filled with love and devotion. It should become one-pointed and filled with awareness. Our mind should become a fertile soil in which all virtues can grow. If this happens, God will automatically shine within. May the light of knowledge dispel the darkness of ignorance in everyone. May all my children gain awareness of unity and become beneficial to the world. Instead of thinking what we have gained, let us think what we can give. Only when we give to society, do we really gain. The one who removes thorns from others path spreads flowers in his own path. Let the flowers of selflessness bloom in my children. May Grace protect us all.”
The Hindustani Times says: “In Hindu culture, this is a solemn festival that marks the remembrance of ‘overcoming darkness and ignorance in life’. Different legends, throughout history, describe the significance of Maha Shivratri and according to one of them, it is on this night that Lord Shiva performs his cosmic dance of ‘creation, preservation and destruction’. Another legend dictates that on this night, offerings of Lord Shiva’s icons can help one overcome and let go of their sins and start on the path of righteousness, allowing the individual to reach Mount Kailash and achieve ‘moksha’. “Unlike a lot of Hindu festivals, Maha Shivratri is not an overtly joyous festival. This is a night reserved for self-reflection and introspection for the purpose of growing and leaving behind all things that hinder our success.”
moksha – is translated as ‘liberation’. It is the liberation that results from giving up on the drama of the ego, from completely putting oneself in the loving arms of the divine in complete trust, freeing oneself of any attachment or giving any meaning to life’s trials and temptations. It is also recognised as a childlike state, in which the liberated individual is likely at times to behave in unusual and risky ways, for in order to ground the intense excitement of that liberation further work will follow, built on deep compassion for the world.
Shivratri celebrates the convergence of Shiva and Shakti, the masculine and feminine energies to bring balance to the world, just as European cultures celebrate balance at the upcoming Spring Equinox. The spirit of Pisces at this dark-new moon takes us into the dreamtime. American Trans Shaman Raven Kaldera calls this new moon the Dreamer’s Moon:
“On the Dreamer’s Moon, we dream. It’s a good time for reading and writing fantasy or for utopian politics. Spend all the time you can afford daydreaming. It’s not a time for practical planning. Instead, write down what you wish was in the world without regard to pessimism or practicality. Picture the outcome in your head and mediate on it. Then wish hard, or clap your hands, or click your heels together three times, or whatever else comes to mind. Don’t let the rational side of your mind get in the way. Whatever you do have faith; the Pisces strength is believing.”