Shivaratri!

Mar. 2nd, 2011 10:28 am
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Tonite  is Shiva's night, an evening commeorating one of the three major gods in the Hindu Pantheon.

A long time ago, the Devas and Asuras decided they needed to get Amrit, the nectar of immortality - and the way they got it was by taking a mountain, placing it in the the back of a giant turtle (an Avatar of Vishnu) in the ocean and using the Vishnu's snake to churn the ocean.

While they are churning, the Universe sends out all sorts of obstacles to scare them off. One was a giant pool of poison that threatened to kill all the Devas and Asuras, as well as destroy the three worlds.

Shiva came out into the water, and drank the poison. His wife, Parvati, held his throat so he wouldn't actually swallow it, turning his throat blue. He is named 'Blue Throat' in Sanskrit as well.

There are other stories of Shiva in his aspect of Nataraja (lit. "Lord of dance") doing the famous Tandava, describing the stages of the Universe - creation, preservation, destruction. I found a bunch of cool stories here: http://www.hindu-blog.com/2007/02/shivaratri-myths.html

Unlike a lot of other holidays, this one doesnt have a lot of food and celebration. Most devotees fast (I wont be. blergh!) and pray all day/ night, washing their statues of Shiva with milk, honey, water, offering flowers, fruit. I'll be going to Yoga, which seems to be exactly the right thing to do. 

Its on the night of the new moon, which can symbolize a time for "evil forces" – desire, greed, illusion, arrogance, jealousy, and anger to take control. My intention tonite is to  ask for strength to see through the 'evil' and find the truth. I dont believe in 'dispelling' emotions, or that they are in themselves 'evil' - how we act on them can be seen as good or evil, but the feelings themselves are all good, all from our purest self - they are signals to us to search for the truth. 

Shiva means your very self, the purest Self, your innermost core. Shiva means good or benevolent. The word ratri in Sanskrit means that which relieves you from three types of agony – ethereal, mental and material. At night everything becomes quiet and peaceful. The body gets tired and goes to sleep. ‘Shivaratri’ literally means that night which infuses the Shiva tatva or the transcendental principle to the three instruments: the body, mind and speech. – Sri Sri Ravishankar

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thanks to my friend, princessalwayslearning for pointing out an awesome poem for National Poetry Month: I'm not sure which hits me harder, th eide that it will never be enough, pulling me into a swamp and demanding apples, coffee and cake, or how one day, it will be gone, leaving no forwarding address?



Living in the Body

by Joyce Sutphen

Body is something you need in order to stay
on this planet and you only get one.
And no matter which one you get, it will not
be satisfactory. It will not be beautiful
enough, it will not be fast enough, it will
not keep on for days at a time, but will
pull you down into a sleepy swamp and
demand apples and coffee and chocolate cake.

Body is a thing you have to carry
from one day into the next. Always the
same eyebrows over the same eyes in the same
skin when you look in the mirror, and the
same creaky knee when you get up from the
floor and the same wrist under the watchband.
The changes you can make are small and
costly—better to leave it as it is.

Body is a thing that you have to leave
eventually. You know that because you have
seen others do it, others who were once like you,
living inside their pile of bones and
flesh, smiling at you, loving you,
leaning in the doorway, talking to you
for hours and then one day they
are gone. No forwarding address.

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May 2012

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