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Demystifying Kali !!

De-mystifying Kali

By Nithin Sridhar

Published in Living Wise Project

The name Kali which is actually pronounced as “kaali” is taken from the root word “kaala” which can either mean time or darkness. Time denotes motion as time is always in motion. Time has no beginning. It is always changing. In fact, the whole universe and all its objects are always in motion, driven by time. The objects take birth, grow in size, decay and finally die. This whole process is driven by time. And Kali is one who is the essence of time, who is time herself.

Therefore, it is Kali who creates, controls and destroys the universe. She is called as “Adya-the oldest or the first” who is the source of all changes, all manifestations. The other meaning of the term i.e. “darkness” or “black”, also denotes the same meaning.

Just as the colour black denotes an absorption of all colours in science, Kali represents a state wherein the whole universe lies absorbed in an unmanifested seed state (also called as Mula-prakriti). Therefore, as the embodiment of time, she is the creator and sustainer of the universe, and as an embodiment of darkness, she denotes the dissolution of the universe.

She can be considered as equivalent to Samkhyan Prakriti and Vedantic Maya. Therefore, her name or her colour which is black, does not denote that she is a “monster” as many Western interpretations imply.

Now coming to her iconographic details, she is shown as having her tongue lolling out with blood dripping from her mouth. She is usually depicted as having four hands, with one holding a sword, another a severed head, the other two hands are in the mudras of granting blessings and grant fearlessness, or sometimes hold objects like lotus or a bowl. She is naked with dishevelled hair and is usually shown in the backdrop of a samshan (cremation ground). She wears a garland of skulls around her neck and a skirt made of severed hands.

Now, let us look at what these means. A garment is a covering draped on the body. The whole cosmos can be understood as the cosmic body of Kali. There is nothing outside it. Therefore she is without a garment, without a covering. Hence, she is naked. A garment can also represent the limitation of “rupa/form”. The manifestation of various objects is nothing but a manifestation of nama (name) and rupa (form). But, Kali being the unmanifested source has no rupa and hence is naked. The garment may also denote the three gunas i.e. Sattva, Rajas and Tamas, that is worn by Atman (Self) to become manifest as universe. Kali who is non-different from Atman in its absolute state, is without the gunas and hence naked. Therefore, there is no sexuality involved in her depiction as being naked; this is but another common misinterpretation.

The blood dripping from her mouth and her apparent blood-lust depicts a very specific spiritual process of “rakta-shuddi”, the purification of the blood. Blood is the most important carrier of the prana (vital force) in the physical body. The purification of the prana and hence of the blood is very important in Kundalini yoga. Goddess Kali is the one who purifies the prana. Her drinking of blood denotes this purification of blood and vital force. This drinking of blood can also mean the absorption of the individual vital forces into herself. That is, she liberates a person from bondage to physical body and helps him to merge his subtle body into hers thereby attaining spiritual union with her.

The severed head indicates the ego of the individuals that is afflicted with lust, anger, delusion and other passions of the mind. The sword is used to cut this unpurified ego. Goddess Kali is the one who grants purification of the mind by cutting off the limited ego that is afflicted with mental passions called “arishdvarga”. The hands showing the granting of boons and a sign of fearlessness needs no further explanation.

The severed hands represents karmas or actions. Hands are one of the organs of actions and hence is used as a symbol for karmas. She wears a skirt of severed hands, because it is she alone who is able to severe our karmas, and make us free of their bondage. She helps the spiritual practitioners to move towards moksha (liberation), by cutting of their karmas one by one.

The severed heads are sometimes depicted as being 51 in number that depict the 51 letters of Sanskrit and hence the whole domain of speech and knowledge. The garland of skulls may also denote that a person has to undergo hundreds of lives in various bodies before he could attain moksha. The dishevelled hair denote that she is not bound by the rules of human society.

She is usually depicted as having one of her legs on the chest of Lord Shiva who lies on the ground in a static state. This represents the Purusha–Prakriti aspect of Samkhya. Shiva is static absolute Brahman, Kali is the power of this Brahman to have motion. Therefore, Shiva is lying without movement and Kali is standing or dancing on him.

In some depictions, especially with respect to forms like Chinnamasta, the Shakti is shown as being in a sexual union with Shiva who is lying static on the ground. The imagery is a direct depiction of the cosmic union of Purusha and Prakriti. The fact that Brahman and his power are non-different is being depicted in this imagery. The sexual union being the physical imitation of the cosmic union, the imagery aims to highlight the cosmic and spiritual union through sexual union. Further, in certain tantrika sadhanas (tantrika practices), the sexual energy is used to attain a spiritual union.

But, these nuances are either missed or deliberately ignored in the western commentary on Hinduism. Their understanding and interpretation of Goddess Kali is completely alien to Hindu world-view. This freedom of expression without concepts like blasphemy is being misused by certain quarters of western academia, media, and entertainment industry. The tantrika philosophy and spirituality is dismissed as superstition and in their place, perverse, incorrect, and non-existent meanings are being attached to Goddess Kali and other Hindu deities and symbols. But, all is not lost.

Read more:

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Image:

The Goddess Kali

By Richard B. Godfrey (England, born 1728)

India, West Bengal, Kolkata (Calcutta) (?), 1770

Credit: Museum Associates, dba Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Looking & Seeing !

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN LOOKING AND SEEING?

THERE IS a great difference. Looking means you are looking for something; you have already some idea to look for. You come here and you say, “I am looking for Teertha” — then you have an idea. Then you look all around for where Teertha is. The idea is there already. Looking is already prejudiced. If you are looking for God, you will never find Him — because looking means you have a certain idea already of who God is. And your idea is bound to be either Christian or Judaic or Hindu or Mohammedan. Your idea is going to be your concept — and your concept can never be higher than you. And your concept is bound to be your concept. Your concept is bound to be rooted in ignorance, borrowed. At the most, it is just belief; you have been conditioned for it. Then you go on looking. A person who is looking for truth will never find it, because his eyes are already corrupted, he already has a fixed concept. He is not open. If you have come to me to look for something, then you already have an idea — you will miss me. Then whatsoever I say you will interpret according to your idea and it will not be my meaning, it will be your meaning. You may find yourself agreeing with me, you may find yourself not agreeing with me — but agreeing or not agreeing is not the question at all, it is not the point at all. You have missed me. You can agree, but you are agreeing with your own idea. You say: “Yes, this man is right,” because this man fits with your idea. Your idea is right so that’s why this man is right. Or, you don’t agree because it doesn’t fit with your idea. But in both the cases your idea is more important. You will miss me. A man who is looking for something will always be missing it. Seeing is just clarity — open eyes, open mind, open heart. Not looking for something in particular; just ready and receptive. Whatsoever happens, you will remain alert, receptive, understanding. Conclusion is not there! Conclusion has to come: by your own eyes you will see — and there will be a conclusion. The conclusion is in the future. When you are seeing, the conclusion is not already there. When you are looking, the conclusion is already there. And we go on interpreting according to our ideas. Just the other night I was reading a joke: A small child is reading a pictorial book on wild life, and he becomes very intrigued with the pictures of ferocious lions. He reads whatsoever is there, but one question is not answered there so he asks his mother. He asks his mother: “Mom, what type of love-life do lions have?” The mother said, “Son, I don’t know much about Lions because all your father’s friends are Rotarians.” If you have some idea in the mind, you corrupt. Then you are not listening to what is being said — then you are listening according to yourself. Then your mind is playing an active role. When you are looking, mind is active. When you are seeing, mind is passive. That is the difference. When you are looking, mind is trying to manipulate. When you are seeing, mind is silent — just watching, available, open, with no idea in particular to enforce on reality. Seeing is nude. And you can come to truth only when you are absolutely nude; when you have discarded all clothes, all philosophies, all theologies, all religions; when you have dropped all that has been given to you; when you come empty-handed, not knowing in any way. When you come with knowledge you come already corrupted. When you come in innocence, knowing that you don’t know, then the doors are open — then you will be able to know. Only that person who has no knowledge is capable of knowing.

~ OSHO – A Sudden Clash of Thunder

Interesting facts about AUM !!

5 Facts You May Not Know About ‘OM’
You’ve chanted OM, hundreds maybe thousands of times, and the symbol is, well, everywhere. But have you ever wondered, what it is about OM, that makes yogi’s wholeheartedly chant its glory and live in its symbolic presence?

Here are 5 facts you may not know, to help deepen your knowledge and connect your heart to this ancient sacred syllable. 

1. The sound of OM encompasses all words, all sounds in human language 

OM is a matrix of all sounds, when in its diversified form gives rise to all words used in language. 

Linguistically, all audible sounds are produced in the space within the mouth beginning at the root of the tongue and ending at the lips. The throat sound is A, and M is the lip sound; and the sound U represents the rolling forward of speech articulation which starts at the root of the tongue, continuing until it ends in the lips.

To pronounce OM correctly, remember, the sound vibration is pronounced “oom” as in home.

2. AUM and OM

In Sanskrit, the sound “O” is a diphthong spelled “AU”. A diphthong is the blending of two vowel sounds where both are normally heard and make a gliding sound. As a result, the difference between OM and AUM is simply one of transliteration. 

3. AUM represents the 3 Fold Division of Time

            A – is the waking state

            U – is the dream state

            M – is the state of deep sleep

At the end of AUM is a pause, a silence. This represents the state known as Turiya, or Infinite Consciousness

4. The visual symbol represents the meaning of AUM

The symbol OM visually consists of three curves, one semicircle, and a dot.
The large bottom curve symbolizes the waking state, A.
The middle curve signifies the dream state, U.

The upper curve denotes the state of deep sleep, M.

The dot signifies the fourth state of consciousness, Turiya.
 The semi circle at the top represents Maya and separates the dot from the other three curves. It signals to us that it is the illusion of Maya that is an obstacle to realization of the Highest.

 5. OM is associated with Ganesha

 The physical form of Lord Ganesha is said to be that of OM. The upper curve, of OM, is identified with the head or the face of Ganesh. The Lower curve his belly. The twisted curve, on the right side of OM is the trunk.

 Once you know the meaning, “Om” becomes the name of the Lord for you. Now you can call him, invoke him, pray to him. This is why many of the prayers, chants or mantras begin with “Om”. 

OM Shanti Shanti Shanti

Nad-Brahma meditation 

“So in Nadabrahma, remember this: let the body and mind be totally together, but remember that you have to become a witness. Get out of them, easily, slowly, from the back door, with no fight, with no struggle. Mm? they are drinking — you get out, and watch from the outside….” 
“ It is a mantra meditation, and mantra is one of the most potential ways. It is very simple yet tremendously effective, because when you chant a mantra or you chant a sound your body starts vibrating; your brain cells particularly start vibrating.

If rightly done your whole brain becomes tremendously vibrant, and the whole body also. Once the body starts vibrating and your mind is already chanting, they both fall in a tune. A harmony — which is ordinarily never there — between the two. Your mind goes on its way, your body continues on its own. The body goes on eating, the mind goes on thinking. The body goes on walking on the road the mind is moving far away in the stars. They never meet — they both go on separate pathways, and that creates a split.
The basic schizophrenia is created because the body goes in one direction, the mind goes in another direction. And you are the third element — you are neither the body nor the mind, so you are pulled apart by these two. Half of your being is pulled by the body and half of your being is pulled by your mind. So there is great anguish — one feels torn apart.
In a mantra meditation — nadabrahma or any chanting — this is how the mechanism works: when you start chanting a sound — and any sound will do; even abracadabra — if you start resounding inside, the body starts responding. Sooner or later a moment comes when the body and the mind are both together in one direction for the first time. When body and mind are both together, you are free from the body and the mind — you are not tom apart. Then the third element which you are in reality — call it soul, spirit,’atma’, anything — that third element is at ease because it is not being pulled in different directions.
The body and the mind are so much engrossed in chanting that the soul can slip out of them very easily, unobserved, and can become a witness — can stand out and look at the whole game that is going on between the mind and the body. It is such a beautiful rhythm that the mind and body never become aware that the soul has slipped out… because they don’t allow so easily, mm? they keep their possession. Nobody wants to lose his possession. The body wants to dominate the soul, the mind wants to dominate the soul.
This is a very sly way to get out of their hold. They become drunk with the chanting, and you slip out.
So in nadabrahma, remember this: let the body and mind be totally together, but remember that you have to become a witness. Get out of them, easily, slowly, from the back door, with no fight, with no struggle. Mm? they are drinking — you get out, and watch from the outside….
This is the meaning of the English word ‘ecstasy’ — to stand out. Stand out and watch from there… and it is tremendously peaceful. It is silence, it is bliss, it is benediction.
This is the whole secret of chanting — that’s why chanting has prevailed down the centuries. There has never been a religion that has not used chanting and mantra. But there is a danger also! If you don’t get out, if you don’t become a witness, there is a danger — then you have missed the whole point. If you become drunk with the body and the mind and your soul also becomes drunk, then chanting is an intoxicant. Then it is like a tranquiliser — it will give you a good sleep, that’s all. It is a lullaby. Good — nothing wrong in it — but not of any real value either.
So this is the pitfall to be remembered: chanting is so beautiful that one wants to get lost. If you are lost, then good, you enjoyed a rhythm, an inner rhythm, and it was beautiful and you liked it, but it was like a drug — it is an acid trip. By chanting, by the sound, you created certain drugs in your body.
Chanting creates chemical changes in the body, and those changes are no different than marijuana or LSD. Some day, when research goes deeper into meditation, they are going to find that chanting creates chemical changes — just as fasting also creates chemical changes.
After the seventh or eighth day of fasting, one feels tremendously jubilant, weightless, very glad for no reason, delighted — as if all burden has disappeared. Your body is creating a certain chemical change.
I am as much against LSD as I am against fasting. And if chanting is used as a drug, I am against it. So the point to be remembered is that you have to use the sound, the chanting, the mantra, not as an intoxicant for your being. Let it be an intoxicant for the body and the mind but you slip out of it before you become intoxicated; you stand out and you watch. You see the body swaying and you see the mind feeling very very peaceful and calm and quiet. Watch from the outside and be alert like a flame.
If this is not done you will have a good sleep but nothing more. Then it is a good thing for health but nothing for the ultimate growth.
Good — pay attention to nadabrahma, mm? And sometimes sitting silently, start chanting anything, ‘aum’, will do, or choose anything, any word, and get in tune with it. Meaning is not important: it can be meaningless — it can be meaningful. ‘Aum’ has no meaning. Or you can create your own mantra and chant it. But remember to slip out of it.
Let the body get drunk, let the mind get drunk, let them fall into a deep love-affair with each other, and you slip out of it. Don’t stay there longer — otherwise you will fall asleep. And if one falls asleep, it is not meditation. Meditation means awareness. So remember it!”
~ OSHO
The Buddha Disease

Chapter 31 – Theology becomes alive only when a person is alive who knows God by existential experience (31 January 1977 pm in Chuang Tzu Auditorium)

Unconsciousness 

BELOVED MASTER,
WHAT IS UNCONSCIOUSNESS?

Consciousness means living with a witness; unconsciousness means living without a witness. When you are walking on the road, you can walk consciously – that’s what Buddha says one should do – you are alert, deep down you are aware that you are walking; you are conscious of each movement. You are conscious of the birds singing in the trees, the early morning sun coming through the trees, the rays touching you, the warmth, the fresh air, the fragrance of newly opening flowers. A dog starts barking, a train passes by, you are breathing… you are watching everything. You are not excluding anything out of your alertness; you are taking everything in. The breath goes in, the breath goes out… you are watching everything that is happening.
It is not concentration, because in concentration you focus on one thing and you forget everything else. When you are concentrating you will not listen to the humming of the bees or to the singing of the birds; you will only see what you are concentrating upon.
Concentration is narrowing down your consciousness to a point. It is good in archery:
you have a target and you have to see only the target and you have to forget everything else.
Consciousness has to be relaxed; it has to be equivalent to opening. You are simply open to all that is happening. I am talking to you, and the train is passing by, and the distant call of a cuckoo… and you are aware of it all. You are open to all the dimensions of your being. You are simply open and vulnerable, alert, not asleep.

This is consciousness, and its opposite is unconsciousness. You are not open at all, you are closed. You are in a kind of sleep – a metaphysical sleep. All the buddhas down the ages have been fighting the metaphysical sleep.
People are bound to do something stupid. And that’s what they have done to the statements of all the buddhas. They write commentaries, great scholarship, but what comes out is stupid. Libraries are full of it, universities are full of it. All rubbish! But people are sacrificing their whole lives for that, and they are not doing the first necessary thing.

You cannot be wise unless you become conscious, unless you break this old habit of functioning in an unconscious way. You have to de-automatize yourself.
Simple things can do the trick. For example, you always walk in a hurry. Start walking slowly. You will have to be alert; the moment you lose alertness you will start again in a hurried way. These are small devices: walk slowly – because to walk slowly you will have to remain conscious. Once you lose consciousness, immediately the old habit will grab you and you will be in a hurry.
If you smoke cigarettes, make it a very slow process, so slow that it becomes de- automatized. Otherwise, people are not smoking cigarettes – cigarettes are smoking people! They are not conscious of what they are doing. In a very unconscious way they put their hands into their pockets, take out the packet, the cigarette and the matchbox.
They are going through all these motions but they are not alert. They may be thinking a thousand and one things. In fact, when they are more unconscious they tend to smoke more. When they are more in anxiety, tension… worried, they tend to smoke more; that helps them to keep a face as if they are relaxed.
Make it a slow process. Take the cigarette packet out of your pocket as slowly as possible, as consciously as possible. Slowing down the processes is very helpful. Then hold the packet in your hand, look at it, smell it, feel its texture. Then open it very slowly, as if you have all the time in the world. Then take a cigarette out, look at the cigarette from all sides. Then put it in your mouth… wait! Then take the matchbox – again go through those same slow movements. Then start smoking so slowly… take the smoke in very slowly, let it out very slowly.
And you will be surprised: if you were smoking twenty-four cigarettes per day you will be smoking only six at the most; it will be reduced to one-fourth. And slowly slowly, only two, one, and one day suddenly you will find the whole thing so stupid! Still you can go on carrying the cigarette packet in your pocket for a few days, just in case – but it is finished, de-automatized.
This is one of Buddha’s great contributions to the psychology of man: the process of de- automatization, slowing down everything.
Buddha used to say to his disciples, “Walk as slowly as possible, eat as slowly as possible. Chew each bite forty times and go on counting inside: one, two, three, four, five – forty times. When the food is no longer solid, it is almost liquid….” He used to say, “Don’t eat, but drink.” That means make it so liquid that you don’t eat it, you have to drink it. And he helped thousands of people to become conscious.
You are unconscious, although you believe you are conscious…. That is like seeing a dream in which you think you are walking in the marketplace. You are awake in your dream, but your awakenness in a dream is only part of the dream – you are unconscious.
It hurts to accept that “I am unconscious,” but the first act of being conscious is to accept that “I am unconscious.” The very acceptance triggers a process in you
~ OSHO – Dhammapada Volume 5