(Continued from Part 2.)
She is energy, movement, vibration; the Father is an inactive,
According to Swami Nikhilananda, the essence of the Divine Mother is shakti or energy; in fact, adyashaktior the primordial energy. “Maya, the mighty weaver of [the mysterious garb of name and form],” he said, “is none other than Kali, the Divine Mother, She is the primordial Divine Energy, Sakti.” (29)
What is Shakti and what is Brahman? What is the Mother and what is the Father? Sri Ramakrishna says the distinction between the two is the same as distinction between the static and the dynamic:
“When inactive He is called Brahman, the Purusha [i.e., the Supreme Person]. He is called Sakti, or Prakriti [the Primordial Energy], when engaged in creation, preservation, and destruction. These are the two aspects of Reality: Purusha and Prakriti. He who is the Purusha is also the Prakriti.” (30)
He equates the static Father with the impersonal God, Nirguna Brahman (or the Father without attributes), and the dynamic Mother with the personal God, Saguna Brahman (the Father with attributes):
“When the Godhead [the Father] is thought of as creating, preserving, and destroyinq, It is known as the Personal God, Saguna Brahman, or the Primal Energy, Adyasakti [the Mother]. Again, when It is thought of as beyond the three gunas [the three qualities of the phenomenal world – sattwa, rajas, and thamas, or balance, energy, and sloth], then It is called the Attributeless Reality, Nirguna Brahman, beyond speech and thought; this is the Supreme Brahman, Parabrahman.” (31)
Sri Ramakrishna revealed the secret meaning behind the statues of Shakti and Shiva that show Shiva lying recumbent while Shakti dances on His body.
“Kali stands on the bosom of Siva; Siva lies under Her feet like a corpse; Kali looks at Siva. All this denotes the union of Purusha and Prakriti. Purusha is inactive; therefore Siva lies on the ground like a corpse. Prakriti performs all Her activities in conjunction with Purusha. Thus She creates, preserves, and destroys.” (32)
Thus the Father is “immoveable and actionless” (33), a profound stillness in which we discover Sat-Chit-Ananda, or Being, Awareness, and Bliss Absolute. The Mother is the movement in this stillness, the voice in the silence, the primordial, active energy in the eternal tranquillity of the Father. It is this relationship between the dynamic and the static that Jesus hinted at when he called the totality of God “a movement and a rest.” (34)
Bernadette Roberts stressed the Father’s stillness when she called him “the ‘still-point’ at the center of being.” (35) Lao Tzu emphasized it when he asserted that: “The Way [the Tao or the Father] is a Void.” (36)
Empty of name and form, qualities and attributes, and quintessentially tranquil and still, the Father is in the end inconceivable. “What Brahman is cannot be described,” declared the Godman of Dakshineswar. (37) Because ego is subdued for a time upon attaining the Father, leaving no observer to observe, no thinker to think, “no one has ever been able to say what Brahman is.” (38)
The essence of the Mother is a universal creative vibration, symbolized by the sacred syllable ‘Aum,’ which calls matter into being, sustains it for a while, and then releases it back into the general dissolution of the Father
Hindus symbolize the primal power – the Mother as vibration or energy – by the sacred syllable – or rather vibration – ‘Aum.’ Sri Ramakrishna makes this connection when he equates Aum with the Divine Mother, exclaiming: “O Mother! O Embodiment of ‘Om.’” (39)
Paramahansa Yogananda identifies “Aum,” or “Amen,” with the Holy Spirit: Christians are familiar with the Amen from Revelation: “These things saith the Amen [the Mother], the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God.” (40)
“The ancients, not versed in the polished language of modern times, used ‘Holy Ghost’ and ‘Word’ for Intelligent Cosmic Vibration, which is the first materialization of God the Father in matter [i.e., the Mother]. The Hindus speak of this Holy Ghost as the ‘Aum.’” (41)
Holy Ghost, Aum of the Hindus, the Mohammedan Amin, the Christian Amen, Voice of Many Waters, Word, are the same thing. (42)
Yogananda links “Aum” and the “Holy Ghost” to the primordial energy:
“The Bible refers to Aum as the Holy Ghost or invisible life force that divinely upholds creation. ‘What? Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which we have of God, and ye are not your own?’ (I Corinthians 6:19.)” (43)
Now we know the Mother, Shakti, the Holy Ghost, as Aum. Aum creates, preserves and destroys.
“The cosmic sound of Aum creates all things as Nebulae, preserves them in the forms of the present cosmos and worlds, and ultimately will dissolve all things in the bosom-sea of God.” (44)
Nature is an objectification of Aum, the Primal Sound or Vibratory Word. (45)
Sage Vasistha made the same point in the Yoga Vasistha. The form of his teaching is similar to Sri Ramakrishna’s, that waves or vibrations arise out of the Ocean of Sathchidananda.
“When the infinite vibrates, the worlds appear to emerge. When it does not vibrate, the worlds appear to submerge, even as when a firebrand is whirled fast a circle appears. And when it is held steady, the circle vanishes. Vibrating or not vibrating, it is the same everywhere at all times.” (46)
Theosophist Annie Besant propagated this view as well:
“The source from which a universe proceeds is a manifested Divine Being, to whom in the modern form of the Ancient Wisdom the name of Logos, or Word, has been given. The name is drawn from Greek philosophy, but perfectly expresses the ancient idea, the Word which emerges from the Silence, the Voice, the sound, by which the worlds come into being.” (47)
Have we any representations of the birth of the Mother? A recent article in What is Enlightenment? magazine relates a vision of the author, Maura O’Connor, a student of the Kabbalah. In it she was taught by a rabbi, Moses de Leon, the following:
“Emptiness, what the kabbalists call ayin, exists far beyond concepts or language. It is like a pure ether that can never be grasped by the mind. … Emptiness is the ultimate mystery, the secretof the Cause of Causes, and it brought everything into being. …
“I must tell you of the great rabbi, Isaac Luria. Luria was a visionary like none other: he lived during the fifteenth century in the holy town of Galilee…. He spent his life ceaselessly contemplating the source of the universe, the primordial emptiness we call ayin…. He recognized that in order for the latent divinity of ayin to manifest its glorious potential for life, a cataclysmic contraction had to take place. …
“Luria understood that the absolute nature of this emptiness meant that it was so pervasive, nothing else but it could exist. In order for life to become manifest, a seismic contraction of emptiness in on itselfhad to occur, creating a space in which divine emanation was possible. …
“Following this immense contraction, God’s first cosmic act was the emission of a single perfect ray of light. This beam pierced through the void and then expanded in all directions. Think of it as God’s first breath [‘spirit’ = ‘breath’] exhaling into the abyss after eons of slumber and filling it with His divinity. This is how the universe was born.” (48)
This first perfect ray of Light is the Holy Spirit or Divine Mother. Its expansion in all directions is the birth of the universe. What we may be hearing is a vision of the creation of the universe — what scientists call “the Big Bang.”
Ultimately, She is one with the Father
This Light, this vibration called “Aum,” the Divine Mother, is one with the vibrationless Father. Patanjali states: “The Word which expresses [God] is “Om“ (49) “Oh, Lord, dweller within,” says Shankara, “ “Om is your very self.” (50) Or the Upanishads: “Om is Brahman, both the conditioned [Mother] and the unconditioned [Father], the personal [Mother] and the impersonal [Father].” (51)
Krishna, speaking as God, declares:
“I am …
Om in all the Vedas,
The word that is God.” (52)
Three Hindu masters – Swami Yukestwar Giri, Swami Sivananda, and Paramahansa Ramakrishna explain the relationship between Brahman and Shakti, or Father and Mother, by using a fire metaphor.
Swami Yukteswar Giri, guru to Paramahansa Yogananda
“[The] manifestation of the Word (becoming flesh, the external material) created this visible world. So the Word, Amen, Aum [the Mother], being the manifestation of the Eternal Nature of the Almighty Father or His own Self, is inseparable from and nothing but God Himself; as the burning power is inseparable from and nothing but the fire itself.” (53)
“Just as one cannot separate heat from fire, so also one cannot separate Sakti [Mother] from Sakta [Father]. Sakti and Sakta are one. They are inseparable.” (54)
“Brahman and Sakti are identical. If you accept the one, you must accept the other. It is like fire and its power to burn. If you see the fire, you must recognize its power to burn also. … One cannot think of the Absolute without the Relative, or the Relative without the Absolute.” (55)
“Sakti is Brahman itself,” concludes Swami Sivananda. (56) Sri Ramaskrishna agrees: “Brahman is Sakti; Sakti is Brahman. They are not two.” (57) “[Brahman and Sakti] are only two aspects, male and female, of the same Reality, Existence-Knowledge-Bliss-Absolute.” (58)
When we speak to the Divine Mother, we are speaking to the Holy Father. Sri Ramakrishna teaches: “It is Brahman whom I address as Sakti or Kali.” (59)
(Continued in Part 4.)
For full details on these sources, see Bibliography
(29) GSR, 30
(30) Ibid., 321.
(31) Ibid., 218.
(32) Ibid., 271.
(33) Ibid., 104.
(34) A. Guillaumont et al. The Gospel According to Thomas. New York and Evanston: Harper and Row, 1959, 29.
(35) Berandette Roberts, The Experience of No-Self. A Contemplative Journey. Boston and London: Shamballa, 1985, 10.
(36) WOL, 56.
(37) GSR, 102.
(38) Loc. Cit.
(39) GSR, 299.
(40) Rev. 3:14.
(41) SCC, 1, 16.
(42) Ibid., 19; HS, 24.
(43) Paramahansa Yogananda, Autobiography of a Yogi. Bombay: Jaico, 1975, 363.
(44) SCC, 1, 16.
(45) AY, 155-6.
(46) Swami Venkatesananda, ed., The Concise Yoga Vasistha. Albany: State University of New York, 1984, 45.
(47) Annie Besant, The Ancient Wisdom. Adyar: Theosophical Publishing House, 1972; c1897, 44.
(48) Maura O’Connor, “A People’s Revolution of Enlightenment: Kabbalah,” WIE, Issue 27, Nov.-Feb. 2004, 86-7.
(49) Swami Prabhavananda and Christopher Isherwood, trans., How to Know God. The Yoga Aphorisms of Patanjali. New York, etc.: New American Library, 1969; c1953, 39.
(50) Swami Prabhavananda and Christopher lsherwood, Shankara’s Crest-Jewel of Discrimination. Hollywood: Vedanta Press, 1975; c1947, i. [Hereafter CJD.]
(51) UPAN, 40.
(52) BG, 71.
(53) Swami Sri Yukteswar Giri, The Holy Science. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship, 1984, 24.
(54) Swami Sivananda Radha, Kundalini Yoga for the West. Spokane: Timeless Books, 1978, 25. [Hereafter KYW.]
(55) GSR, 134.
(56) KYW, 26.
(57) GSR, 271.
(58) Loc. cit.
(59) Ibid., 734.