How do we reconcile benevolence with horror? The problem of equating an all-good, all-loving God with a world that can be harsh and cruel is one that has taxed theologians for many years.
Of course, we understand from our perspective, which is esoteric, we are not aligning with any deity or form of God as traditionally understood, but rather with the essence of what that figure represents: the creative potent source of all; the dynamic silence from which everything arises and to which everything returns.
Rudra is perhaps the most ancient name for Śiva. As Rudra he howls and is depicted as the “roaring raw essence” – what is he roaring at? Ignorance, stupidity? If so, we can hear him quite loudly now. He is the one slinging his arrows and yet, he is also the one who we entreat for protection. The dual representation of Rudra for me, more accurately reflects the nature of the world in which we live, which is both benign and beautiful as well as harsh and destructive.
To my mind, this reflects both the divine unconditional love we long for, as well as the harshness of the world we experience. Rudra is the divine representation in the early tradition as the “god for all.” He howls for the criminals and the saints; the high and low born and everything in between as opposed to the Brahmanical stance of strict purity and those who are entitled ‘to know.” Rudra guards and protects the animals and humans as well as nature, both large and small-- all are worthy of his attention. Perhaps this is because he sees his reflection everywhere.
The wrath of Śiva then as Rudra, is directed primarily against ignorance and the evil that pervades the human consciousness, and the true nature of the deity is inherently loving and benign. This we come to know, via meditative absorption, is our true nature though clearly, we have evidence of its opposite on full view in the world. What do I howl at? What is causing a roar to rise in my throat?
The name Rudra itself is interpreted in different ways, but the most commonly suggested meaning is as the one who makes a roaring sound, which again connects Rudra with the violence and destructive nature of the world, its storms. He roars and we roar too in our pain; and also, we roar in our delight.
I sign my messages with the word courage. I have done so for years and each time I write it, the truth of the word comes into fuller view. Courage, vīrya in Sanskrit.
Vīrya may be translated as: strength, vitality, power, potency, bravery, courage. We have vīrasana: hero’s pose in yogasana. There are many references to vīrya in the Indian and yoga tradition. Importantly for us in non-dual Śaiva Tantra tradition there is the mantra vīrya; the potency of the heart seed mantra -the hṛdaya-bījā-mantra- that is installed, pratiśta, mantra-pratiśta, the installation of the mantra at the time of initiation. It is whispered from the mouth of the acharya to the ear of the recipient.
It travels, from where to where? The mantra, composed of letters or phonemes, is but a vessel, an empty cup, until it is filled with power, vīrya. This vīrya is drawn forth from the very Heart of Consciousness itself; vīrya, the power of all creation, rests in the heart of the absolute. It is daily practice that renders the pathway to this ‘resting’ space, the portal of the parā, the transcendent, at the junction of the paśyanti, the subtle visioning word, ever clearer. This space of the parā, is both silent and dynamically potent. It is this very same source that our individual awareness moves to in deep meditation. And it is subsequent study applied, that assists the mind in grasping these esoteric teachings, thereby rendering them signposts for what is naturally taking place. The four levels of the word: vaikhari, gross/spoken; madhya, intermediary/thought; paśyanti, visioning/taking shape; parā, transcendent/formless from which all form arises, is a hallmark of the non-dual Śaiva Tantra tradition.
The closer we get to source, the more power inherent in what is received. It is the resting in this source that then renders, individual awareness its increased potency, increased expansion and upon emergence the practitioner is more and more able to draw from this source.
It’s a beautiful picture. I close my eyes and traverse as though on a super highway; what my teacher calls an ‘access ramp’ opens. We move on this inward path to home. Home, source of all creative power, and it is not surprising then, that we begin to understand and experience this vīrya in ever new and potent ways. It is an indication of the ever-burgeoning knowledge that all is indeed consciousness. We get glimpses. Our practice is first and foremost very practical. Aid our capacity to live a full good life, then enlightenment; not the other way around.
It takes great courage to be a fully realized human. To dare to look at all the spaces, both contracted and full. We seek to expand the light, our light into all the contracted dark spaces of self so that we may more authentically know and live from the light of our truest, whole nature. In doing so, we are then able, rendered more capable, to share that light with the world.
Meditate. The world needs you.