Light, Dark and Alchemy

BY Parvati

A recurring dream-like scene has haunted me for years. It has come in flashes through meditation sits and stirred in me restlessly during feverish illnesses or at times of distress. In it, I sit shivering and alone on a cold, stone, murky floor in the dank of a moldy prison cell below the ground. Above me, I can see a speck of a window that frames the occasional glimpse of passing feet as they hurry by along the sidewalk. In what seems like a past life memory of being held captive, I am usually filled with a range of emotions from grief to rage and despair.
This past week, as I have been healing from a respiratory infection, I went to see my beloved bio-dynamic osteopath for a session. I have often been one who learns rich soul lessons through illness, and find profound spiritual food there when willing to become very still. The osteopathic treatments are an essential part of this integration process for me.
Through my inner intuitive process during the session, I was unexpectedly brought back to that same black cell. This time as I sat alone in the lightless and lifeless jail, I gave up resisting where I was and the discomfort and pain I was feeling. In that moment, the once impenetrable and desperate prison was suddenly filled with incomparable light. Radiant effulgence flooded the scene and everything was full of divine grace. I was within and a part of an unending luminous fabric, where minute dark particles were effortlessly suspended and benign. In a state of full-body bliss, I knew that everything – the light and the dark – was one interconnected whole. Everything, even that which appeared hopeless, was inundated with perfect, eternal freedom. Light always and infinitely is.
This week, there are some major events taking place that can remind us of this profound alchemical transformation, the grace that always is, and how interconnected we are in a dancing cosmos of the seeming polarity between light and dark.
On Monday, March 7, Hindus around the world celebrate Maha Sivaratri, an annual festival celebrating the marriage of the god Siva to the goddess Parvati (after whom I am named), for the divine convergence of Siva (pure consciousness) with Shakti (divine energy). It marks the time when Lord Siva saved the world by drinking poison that had been separated out when the gods churned the sea of consciousness. Through his yogic powers and with the help of his wife Parvati, who placed her hands around his neck, he was able to keep the poison from going down his throat. It remained there, turning his neck blue and giving him the name “Neelakantha” or “blue-throated”. Siva, drowsy from the effects of the poison, was kept awake by the gods and all of creation who sang and chanted through the night.
To me, the symbolism in this celebration points to the compassion of the Divine. Through inspired action, poison transforms into the benign. Only one who is without ego, who is beyond night and day, who is one with consciousness can safely ingest toxins without death. In the infinite space of egoless love and compassion, poisons are transformed.
We are reminded by astrologers that the planets are aligned at Maha Sivaratri in a way that greatly supports spiritual practice and amplifies the power of mantras such as “Om Namah Shivaya” or the Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra. People fast and go without sleep to worship and chant to Shiva on this holy night with the intention to remember that we are the eternal light of consciousness beyond form, habits, day and night – beyond even time itself.
Right after Maha Sivaratri, this Tuesday marks the annual celebration of International Women’s day. Though to me every day is a day to celebrate womanhood, International Women’s Day help us take pause from our routine and remember the value of the women in our lives and give thanks. In so doing, hopefully, we become more aware of the important role women play in society through our understanding of health, nature, spirituality and culture as a whole.
We have come a long way in a short period of time towards equality between men and women in societies around the world. But there still remains a lot of work to be done in our minds and hearts so we can see each other as true equals – different, yes, but equally important in the roles we play.
No one is untouched by the love of a woman. All of human life emerges from her body. Whether or not our relationship with our biological mother was close or deep, we can be grateful to our mothers at least for carrying us for nine months and going through the physical pain to bring us into this life.
Being able to learn to give in gratitude in each moment for the miracle of life itself would help to bring greater equality between the sexes. It is when we feel hard done by, attached to the idea that someone owes us something, that resentments, power struggles and bullying set in. These only serve to polish our egos, keep us feeling separate and distort the true reality that we are all interconnected and created equal as a human family.
Through the power of compassion – seeing our self (the good, the bad and the ugly) in others – we liberate ourselves from the inner tyranny of blame and rage to find the freedom of forgiveness. We realize in essence, that we are a lot more the same than different – though our choices vary. The one who creates acts of violence does so because he or she is in tremendous pain. The one who suffers from acts of violence is also in pain.
The Divine Feminine is, in part, about liberation by moving through the dark. We must go to the places that we judge as ugly, the parts that feel painful, the aspects that frighten us in the deeper corners of our psyche – because therein lies hidden power trapped in delusion. When we open the proverbial closet doors we spend so much energy keeping shut, we realize that there was nothing to fear after all. Then, all the energy it took to keep things buried can be freed up for more creative and enjoyable uses.
As I say in my book Confessions of a Former Yoga Junkie, “As we embrace the dance of our unique life within the perfect cosmos, we come to understand that the compassionate sword of the warrior goddess Kali exists within our spine like the sacred tree of life. As energy rises through our being in flashes of illumination, we experience her dharmic sword that cuts through the darker recesses of our psyche and sets us free.”
We all crave the feeling of love and safety that we will only find when we rest eternally in the lap of the Divine. We each will experience that kind of eternal love in moments of grace, from time to time, until someday we reach final enlightenment. For now, we open ourselves up to the possibility that it exists within ourselves, like a precious jewel in the dark cave of our wounds and fears.
As if Maha Sivaratri and International Women’s Day were not enough for one week, a total solar eclipse, the only one in 2016, takes place on Tuesday-Wednesday. The total eclipse will be seen over parts of Indonesia and the Pacific Ocean. It will also be seen partially over many other parts of Asia, including cities I visit on my “I Am Light” tour this spring such as Davao, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore and Bangkok.
A solar eclipse happens when our Moon passes between the Sun and the Earth. The Moon fully or partially eclipses our view of the Sun. The effect of an eclipse can be felt a few days on either side of the eclipse time, so this entire week will be affected to some extent.
From a worldly perspective, the sun is the center of our universe. In this way, our ego and will is the center of our own personal universe, driven by our likes and dislikes. When we go through a solar eclipse, we lose sight of our common vantage point, the energy of the sun, which influences our personality, ego and individual will.
For a spiritual aspirant, an eclipse provides an optimal time for spiritual progress and work that is done in the light of selfless service. The darkening of the worldly tendencies dulls our attachment to our ego and will. In the dark of the eclipse we can access, with much greater ease, the light of pure consciousness that is animating the entire universe. Most of the time, the access point to that infinite light is overshadowed by our attachments to the temporal light of the sun, our physical universe, our limited perceptions and ego. In the darkness of the eclipse, we can see the spiritual light more clearly. The veil of illusion is thinner so that we may peer through it and gain insight into our true nature. In this way, an eclipse is a powerful time for profound and lasting release of our attachments to our ego and limited sense perceptions and open to that infinite light of pure consciousness.
If you have a guru, mantra or spiritual practice, it is an ideal time to dive much deeper. These are the days to “step it up”, meditate longer, surrender more, open wider and then wider still. The progress made during the eclipsing of the ego drive, when one roots one’s actions in selfless service, will then fuel the connection to that infinite source of light when the tempting attraction to the temporal light of the sun returns and that window into the mysteries of pure consciousness is harder to find.
If you don’t have a mantra, guru or active meditation practice, how can you take advantage of this cosmic window into pure consciousness? Find a quiet time this week. Allow yourself to sit quietly. Then consider the thought that you are in the dark. Consider that from the physical points of view. An eclipse is affecting the Earth. You are now in shadow more than ever. Your body casts a shadow. Your mind is full of shadows, shadows of dissatisfactions, unfulfilled desires, the nagging feeling of lack, and lingering, painful emotions. Consider that much of your life is driven by the desire to escape those feelings, a painful void within. Consider that much of what you think you want would not in fact bring you happiness, because there still would be shadow. There is shadow as long as life is driven by the ego and limited will. There will be suffering until we release our attachments to our perception that we are disconnected from Source.
Then consider the notion that you are part of a much greater picture. Consider this in relation to your place with those around you, then your place on the planet as a whole, then your place within the universe. See if you can open to the possibility that beyond the life you think you live, the likes and dislikes you believe you have, the things in your life that you feel define you, there is an infinite expanse of pure possibility. Allow yourself to expand and go beyond limiting self-perceptions. Surrender them to the light. Let them go into the darkness of the eclipse, like a cosmic recycling bin. Allow yourself to expand. Imagine, sense or feel that you are in fact an infinite ray of that infinite field of light. You always have been, but you have not seen it because of your attachments to your ego and limited perceptions. Allow yourself to expand more and then even more. If you are a visual person, sense yourself becoming that light. Stay in your body. Feel your body. This is not about leaving to find some other place. Allow this light of pure consciousness to fill you up. This is who you are. There is no need to try to go “out there” and find it. There is no “making” it happen. You are not the doer. The infinite field of light is. All you have to do is allow this expansion to unfold.
Whether or not you feel lighter, allow yourself to feel the possibility of something beyond, much bigger than your daily life, something so vast it is beyond reason, something so infinitely full of love and possibility, you are eternally loved and received. In this quiet place, allow your soul to flower and your mind to be. In beingness, there is expansion.
There is tremendous grace this week for us to experience love and compassion if we are willing to become truly still. This is a time of possibility. We can allow pure consciousness to become the driver of our lives rather living in the shadow of a longer lasting eclipse than the one we are temporarily experiencing: the bondage to our attachments to that which obstructs our view of who we truly are. Let each of us swiftly awaken to the Reality that we are infinite beings of love and light.
Until next time,
Love yourself.
Love others.
Love our world.
We are one Earth family.