Last week I had a sudden desires to read a book I’d seen in a bookstore some months before: Inner Tantric Yoga: Working with the Universal Shakti: Secrets of Mantras, Deities and Meditation by David Frawley.
David Frawley has written thirty books over the last thirty years on Yoga, Ayurveda, Vedic astrology, Vedanta and the Vedas. I find him to be very intelligent, balanced and extremely knowledgeable. I take seriously what he says.
He has a strong affinity for the teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi (on the left below) and his main disciple Ganapati Muni (on the right below). Ganapati Muni was a renowned Sanskrit poet and scholar and a Tantric.
This book is about Shakti – the feminine cosmic force – who complements Shiva – the cosmic masculine principle. In other words, Shiva is the silence of the pure consciousness and Shakti is the energy of pure consciousness. They are not separate, but are different aspects of the One.
To study Shakti is to worship the Goddess. In Her realm everything is personal, personified and intimate. This is in contrast to the detached, indifferent, silent witnessing of Shiva. So to engage with Shakti is to enter the world of gods and goddesses who maintain this world that we live in.
One thing should be made clear: deities are not a matter of belief, but of perception. Inner Tantric Yoga is about refining your perception so that you can perceive the reality – so that you see that the Goddess is everywhere and everything is Her.
Hindu deities, such as Lord Shiva, Lord Krishna, Mahalakshmi, Kali, Durga are in fact cosmic forces – laws of nature – that may appear in physical form, but exist eternally in this moment as holographic aspects of this One reality. They are not like angels or other beings that are still evolving.
Deities are the power of all powers, the intelligence of all intelligences. They personify infinite power, bliss, and love. In my own tiny experience, they have so much power that anything but the faintest experience of them puts tremendous stress on the nervous system. Their power is overwhelming. After all they embody the power of the whole universe.
The goal is to awaken the Goddess and Her powers within us to reveal the truth about ourselves and the world around us. Since She is already the power that animates us and moves us towards liberation and beyond, our task is learning to cooperate with Her.
The book explains a number of methods that specifically cultivate Shakti within us – mainly the worship of deities with mantras, but also simply by where you put your attention. This book is a must-read for anyone interested in traditional Yoga.
I know that some people don’t believe in deities and dismiss them as mythical or conceptual. This is what I call Papaji’s Mistake. Sri Ramana was asked if deities are real and he said that they are as real as you and me – a clever Vedantic answer indeed.
(The Goddess Durga is pictured above)