Who doesn’t seek shelter from the storms of life. Refuge, a place of rest from agitation of every sort. I use to think of refuge as a blocking out, a walling off, something to separate me from all that chaos. Now, I realize what I truly seek is a reprieve not separation; rest not complacency; rejuvenation; I seek home. The light is always on at home.
Home. The refuge that permits settledness, the opportunity to gather, digest and renew. Not to separate but to melt in the fire of hearth and release, refine and reemerge ready to dance hard.
Shiva as Nataraja, the Lord of the Dance. He dances the five divine acts, the panca krityas: creation, maintenance, dissolution, concealment and revelation.
We approach these statues [murtis] not as anthropomorphic beings but with the understanding that they are the esoteric stand-in for the value of consciousness we wish to bring forward. Consciousness is one, whole and as such total, yet encompasses many and in its freedom, [svantantrya] shows itself in many guises.
The symbolism of the Indian tradition in general, and the Saivite-Tantric specifically, is rich in meaning and expression. In particular it is focused on Shiva, not as a conventional deity but as the most potent esoteric source of consciousness. We seek to experience consciousness in the deepest being of our body-mind. We steep individual awareness in cosmic consciousness and experience unboundedness, wholeness and infinite creative potential. In the process we bring something back out with us.
The dance of Nataraja symbolizes the process of the movement of Consciousness through the these 5 stages of creation, maintenance, dissolution, concealment and revelation. The key understanding is recognition that each of these phases, or stages, occurs simultaneously and that they represent not only the movement of Consciousness at the absolute level, but are also reflected at the relative or gross level of existence. This is often conveyed in the phrase ‘As Above So Below’ or the concepts of macro and microcosm.
We see the qualities of Consciousness reflected all around us and we mirror these qualities. What do I mirror? A reflection requires the original. To reflect fully, clearly with nuance and power, the original must be truly known, experienced, close at hand. The reflective surface must be calm and smooth, able to echo what is true. The original, the source, pulses in the heart of home and meditation permits the ever growing circumstance of serene expression. Like the full moon on a calm lake the overflowing light reveals what was hidden by darkness and agitation and we are able to dance with skill and freedom.
It’s the same dance at the level of reality as it is at the absolute. The dance of manifestation of the cosmos is dynamic and orderly, filled with highly intelligent overlapping sequences of relationships in time and space; including the creation of time/space itself. In aligning with this dance of orderliness, of sequences of the highest intelligence, we put our individual self in the right place at the right time to the degree possible. Naturally we move to the music of life, graceful, able to fill in all the notes.
When we speak of Shiva we speak of the unbounded absolute, not as a deity to be worshipped but the core of our very essence to be known, experienced and in knowing, to live life from this stance not as a wish, or beautiful cloak put on during certain circumstances, but as the core reality of our existence. We are made, in the words of Carl Sagan, ‘from the stuff of stars’ - the very same hydrogen, carbon and atoms. How we access this place and bring the sweetness, the potent creative possibility of this knowing out into life such that life is transformed, uplifted, elevated made stronger and naturally in alignment with our deepest heart’s value is the journey and reason d’être of authentic meditation.
Meditate not for any one day, not only for the natural by-products of health and emotional freedom, but for life. Know your light. Rest in the heart that is home we carry and refuge eternally available. The light is always on at home. Go there. Bring the light to every circumstance and dance with precise abandon no matter the music played.