(Continued from Part 3.)
She plays a central role in enlightenment
As we have seen, the Mother is portrayed as leading the Sons and Daughters of God to a final meeting with the Father, in what is the culminating event of many lives. As Jesus did, so have we all come from the Father into the world. We are all prodigal children wandering in the domain of matter (mater, Mother), until we realize our true nature. Many metaphors are used to suggest how this realization of true identity happens. The Mother is depicted as withdrawing Her veil of phenomenal reality and revealing the Father. She is portrayed as leading the Child of God to the Father.
Hindus, like Swami Sivananda, advise us to beseech the Mother’s help in our attempts to reach the Father.
“It behooves … the aspirant [to] approach the Mother first, so that She may introduce Her spiritual child to the Father for its illumination or Self-realization.” (60)
The knowledge of God as the Child, the Mother, and the Father constitutes three discrete levels of enlightenment. When we know this Trinity in full, we have completed the human leg of our journey back to God.
Let us examine the Mother as bringer of enlightenment and object of enlightenment.
There is a passage in Proverbs where the Mother (as “Wisdom”) is represented as speaking directly. Her words are consistent with what we’ve learned about Her so far:
“Doth not wisdom cry…
The Lord possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old.
I was set up from everlasting [that is, before time], from the beginning, or ever the earth was.
When there were no depths, I was brought forth; when there were no fountains abounding with water.
Now therefore hearken unto me, O ye children: for blessed are they that keep my ways.” (61)
Why are they blessed who keep Her ways? Because God the Mother will enlighten those who follow Her commands.
We see evidence of this throughout the Bible, as the Mother enlightens those who “keep Her ways.” Hebrew kings and prophets were baptized with the Holy Spirit . Here She brings enlightenment to the disciples of Jesus upon the Day of Pentecost, after his death.
“And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all of one accord in one place.
And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.
And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.
And they were filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. “(62)
Sri Yukteswar explains the significance of this event. “Being baptized in the sacred stream of Pranava (the Holy Aum vibration)” the spiritual aspirant “comprehends the “Kingdom of God.” (63)
For many years I believed that Islam recognized only Allah, the Father. But recently I have found a passage in the Koran which demonstrates that its author acknowledges the Mother or Holy Spirit as well. The passage concerns the Holy Spirit enlightening the worthy in the penultimate experience of illumination, immediately prior to God-Realization, symbolically preparing the Child of God for meeting the Father. The Koran says:
“Exalted and throned on high, [Allah] lets the Spirit descend at His behest on those of His servants whom He chooses, that He may warn them of the day when they shall meet Him.” (64)
The Divine Mother or Holy Ghost enlightened the 12th-Century German saint Hildegard of Bingen, who testified:
“When I was forty-two years and seven months old, a burning light of tremendous brightness coming from heaven poured into my entire mind. Like a flame that does not burn but enkindles, it inflamed my entire heart and my entire breast, just like the sun that warms an object with its rays.” (65)
Following this experience, Hildegard could not stop from singing the praises of the Holy Spirit or Divine Mother:
“Who is the Holy Spirit? The Holy Spirit is a Burning Spirit. It kindles the hearts of humankind. Like tympanum and lyre it plays them, gathering volumes in the temple of the soul. The Holy Spirit resurrects and awakens everything that is.” (66)
The Mother manifested to Sri Ramakrishna as clouds of consciousness and bliss:
“Suddenly I had the wonderful vision of the Mother and fell down unconscious.” (67)
“It was as if houses, doors, temples, and everything else vanished from my sight, leaving no trace whatsoever. However far and in whatever direction I looked I saw a continuous succession of effulgent waves madly rushing at me from all sides, with great speed. f was caught in the rush, and panting for breath I collapsed, unconscious.” (68)
“I did not know what happened then in the external world — how that day and the next slipped away. But in my heart of hearts there was flowing a current of intense bliss, never experienced before, and I had the immediate knowledge of the liqht that was Mother.” (69)
And She appeared to Ramakrishna’s doubting non-dualistic guru Totapuri, who until that moment refused to accept Her reality:
“Suddenly, in one dazzling moment, [Totapuri, saw] on all sides the presence of the Divine Mother. She is in everything; She is everything. She is in the water; She is on land. She is the body. She is the mind. She is pain; She is comfort. She is is life; She is death. She is everything that one sees, hears, or imagines. She turns ‘yea’ into ‘nay,’ and ‘nay’ into ‘yea.’ Without Her grace no embodied being can go beyond Her realm. Man has no free will. He is not even free to die. Yet, again, beyond the body and mind She resides in Her Transcendental, Absolute aspect. She is the Brahman that Totapuri had been worshipping all his life.” (70)
She is the kundalini energy in the body and, when that energy rises from the muladhara chakra to the sahasrara, Shakti is said to merge with Shiva. This is another way in which the Mother can lead the aspirant to the Father. Swami Sivananda says: Shakti “leads the individual from Cakra to Cakra, from plane to plane and unifies him with Lord Siva in the Sahasrara.” (71)
Sri Ramakrishna and his disciples used to sing a song whose aim was to invoke the kundalini to rise, so that Shakti would meet Shiva at the sahasrara.
“Awake, Mother! Awake! How long Thou hast been asleep
In the lotus of the Muladhara!
“Fulfil Thy secret function, Mother:
Rise to the thousand-petalled lotus within the head,
Where mighty Siva has His dwelling;
Swiftly pierce the six lotuses
And take away my grief, O Essence of Consciousness!” (72)
As each chakra awakens under the influence of our growing spirituality, the Mother is heard to “knock at the door,” in Paramahansa Yogananda’s words.
“Behold, I stand at the door, and knock (sound through Om vibration): If any man hear my voice (listen to Om), and open the door, I will come in to him. (Revelation 3:20).” (73)
Many aspirants, prominent among them Franklin Merrell-Wolff and Da Free John, were led to Brahmajnana (or God-realization attendant upon the spiritual energy reaching the seventh chakra) by the kundalini. Here is how Dr. Wolff described it:
“The Current is clearly a subtle, fluid-like substance which brings the sense of well-being already described. Along with It, a more than earthly Joy suffuses the whole nature. To myself, I called It a Nectar. Now, I recognize It under several names. It is … the ‘Soma,’ the ‘Ambrosia of the Gods,’ the ‘Elixir of Life,’ the ‘Water of Life’ of Jesus, and the ‘Baptism of the Spirit’ of St. Paul. It is more than related to Immortality; in fact it is Identical with Immortality.” (74)
Da Free John called it this “current of immortal joy.” (75) His energetic experiences with the Divine Energy or the Shakti are unusual. His process, which ended in God-realization, began one day when:
“I could feel and hear little clicking pulses in the base of my head and neck, indicating the characteristic Presence of the Mother Shakti.” (76)
The Mother knocks at the door and Da Free John hears Her and invites Her in. Meditating in a Vedanta Society temple in Hollywood, which he found to be a very powerful centre of Shakti:
“I felt the Shakti appear against my own form. She embraced me, and we grasped one another in sexual union. We clasped one another in a fire of cosmic desire, as if to give birth to the universes. Then I felt the oneness of the Divine Energy and my own Being. There was no separation at all. The one Being that was my own nature included the reality that is all manifestation as a single cosmic unity and eternal union.
“The sensations of the embrace were overwhelmingly blissful. It exceeded any kind of pleasure that a man could acquire. And soon I ceased to feel myself as a dependent child of the Shakti. I accepted her as my consort, my loved-one, and I held her forever to my heart.” (77)
This proved to be his penultimate experience before God-Realization, the “harbinger” of the Father. He returned to the temple the next day but nothing happened. He simply sat in the temple. In a moment, he became aware of his true nature.
“In an instant, I became profoundly and directly aware of what I am. It was a tacit realization, a direct knowledge in consciousness itself. It was consciousness itself without the addition of a communication from any other source. I simply sat there and knew what I am. I was being what I am. I am Reality, the Self, and Nature and Support of all things and all beings. I am the One Being, known as God, Brahman, Atman, the One Mind.” (78)
Withdrawing Her veils, moving us onward by her evolutionary coaxings, teaching us in Her school of matter, liberating us through the rising of the kundalini – there are many ways that the Mother leads the prodigal child to the Father.
(Concluded in Part 5.)
For full details on these sources, see Bibliography
(60) KYW, 25.
(61) Proverbs 8:1, 22-4, and 32.
(62) Acts 2:1-4.
(63) Swami Sri Yukteswar Giri, The Holy Science. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship, 1984, 15.
(64) N.J. Dawood, trans. The Koran. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1964; c1959, 160.
(65) Matthew Fox, Illuminations of Hildegard of Bingen. Santa Fe: Bear, 1985, 9.
(66) Loc. cit.
(67) Swami Yogeshananda, The Visions of Sri Ramakrishna. Madras: Sri Ramakrishna Math, 1980, 13.
(68) Loc. cit.
(69) Loc. cit.
(70) GSR, 31.
(71) KYW, 26.
(72) GSR, 242.
(73) Self-Realization Fellowship Lessons, Number 29, 3.
(74) Swami Yogeshananda, The Visions of Sri Ramakrishna. Madras: Sri Ramakrishna Math, 1980, 31.
(75) Da Free John,The Knee of Listening. Original Edition. Clearlake, CA; Dawn Horse Press, 1984; c1973, 157.
(76) Ibid., 132.
(77) Ibid., 134.
(78) Ibid., 134-5.