The day that Siva stood still…

Something wonderful about the yogic tradition is its plethora of celebrations. It seems that every week there is a party for any one of the avatars. One of the most important of these is Maha Sivaratri. Celebrated annually, Maha Sivaratri is – according to tradition – when the northern hemisphere of the planet is positioned in such a way that there is a natural upsurge of energy in human beings. It’s a really good time to push toward one’s spiritual peak. To ensure success, the celebration includes chanting the names of Siva and staying awake all night long.

After many millennia in meditation, Siva, in his stillness, became one with Mount Kailash. In the practices of yoga, including asana and meditation, stillness is a crucial component to cultivate. It permits the practitioner to experience oneness not only with his or her own body and mind but also with all of the cosmos.

Sivaratri occurs on the darkest day of the month. We usually correlate darkness with evil, yet it was out of darkness that the entire cosmos was born. The word Siva literally means “that which is not”. Shakti, “that which is” – existence and creation – is all around us. Yet if you take a closer look at the world, we can observe that the majority of existence is emptiness — an unbounded emptiness rife with the potential for creation and out of which creation arises. This is the all-pervading divinity that all religious cultures describe.

Light, then, is not primal. Darkness is. And that is wonderful! Because we are natural manifestations of the divine. We are the light that is born from the potent darkness. And when we can connect to that pervading emptiness, that “dark energy” of the cosmos, we not only connect to the true source of our being, but we connect to all beings everywhere.

May all beings everywhere be happy and free, and each contribute to that happiness and freedom for all. Lokah samastah sukhino bhavantu.

Image credit: @jimmynataraj

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