In My Meditation Today. I noticed that when I checked in to see how I was feeling, there was hesitation; a sense that I was not sure how I felt. There is the task I had to finish at work; I had not been in the best mood when my husband was here last weekend; I was not sure if I was as kind as I could be to my dog and was not satisfied with my last conversation with my son! In other words, each and every interaction I had ever had with everyone had to be just absolutely right before I could allow myself the luxury of feeling okay about myself.
Learning to let go of this perfectionism so I can live my life in the now. Letting myself be okay, and yes, even lovable just exactly as I am in this moment.
The Grand Story of the Divine Mother is told in three parts. Each section describes a battle between good and evil and most often the story is interpreted as the forces of good and evil external to us. A more useful interpretation for me, however, is that it represents the battle between my basest instincts and my highest potential. The battles are bloody and gory because the fight to live from your highest potential is hard and ugly, and metaphorically bloody and gory. It is easy to settle into the space of being okay with our sense of lack, of not being enough and the self-hate and anger that an unfulfilled life generates. The inertia of that settling is represented for me by Mahakali in this story. When we let go of this inerta or work with her to let it go, magic is created.
Sumedhas ( Good Knowledge/insight) continues the story of the Divine Mother. The story occurs at a time when the extant universe has dissolved back into potentiality. The Hindu creation story sees the creation and dissolution of the universe as a continually recurring cycle. The cycles are long when compared to a human life. Before a world comes into existence, all that exists is energy that has the potential of assuming form. For reasons that are inexplicable :), this all pervasive energy decides that she wants to experience the limitations of form, and the endless, absolute energy takes form. Thus, everything from a pebble to a mountain, an amoeba to a human, is an expression of this Absolute. The form of the absolute that creates is Brahma; the form that maintains creation is Vishnu, and the form that dissolves it back into the Absolute is Shiva. In the Great Story of the Divine Mother, the Absolute is considered to be the energy of the Divine Mother. According to Hindu Myths, each cycle of manifest existence lasts 3 trillion human years.
This story starts when the universe has dissolved back into the unmanifest, Vishnu is in a deep sleep on the coils of a gigantic serpent that represents time and Brahma, seated on a lotus that emanates from Vishnu’s naval is in deep meditation. Two demons Madhu and Kaitabha, who have arisen from Vishnu’s ear, play around in the waters of the primordial ocean that surrounds Vishnu for a long time and eventually have questions about their existence. Seeking answers, they are led to pray and meditate upon the Divine Mother. She finally appears to them after years of penance and meditation and grants them the power of “Icchamrutyu”, i.e., the power to chose how and when to die. Thrilled Madhu & Kaitabha decide to take on Brahma and destroy him. Awakened out of his meditative state, Brahma, who is not a warrior, realizes that he will need Vishnu to help him defeat Madhu and Kaitabha. But Vishnu is asleep. He is in a state of inertia induced by Mahakali. Brahma begins to sing the praises of the Mother. Responding to Brahma’s entreaties, the Divine Mother in the form of Maha-Kali emerges from Vishnu’s sleeping body and wakes him up. Vishnu, aware of the runaway ambition in Madhu and Kaitabha engages them in battle. He fights them for 5000 years. Finally, the demons intoxicated by their power, offer Vishnu a boon. “All I want is to kill you,” Vishnu says, “ What other boon could I ask for?” Looking at the ocean covering the entire Universe, Madhu & Kaitabha say, “ We grant you the ability to kill us in a space where there is no water.” Vishnu stands up, holds both Madhu and Kaitabha on his thighs way above the ocean and slays them.
The interpretation of the meaning of Madhu and Kaitabha varies depending on which reference one chooses. Madhu means “honey”, and Kaitabha can be translated to mean “like a bee.” Thus, the two together are thought to represent desire, unrelenting focused desire, much like bees in search of honey. Another interpretation is that the demons represent Kama = desire/lust; Krodha = anger which often accompanies frustrated desire; and Lobha = greed, which can be thought of as the worst type of desire because it results in a complete loss of empathy. The battle here then represents one between Vishnu – infinite energy and the ability of the darker aspects of desire and anger to take over our consciousness. Vishnu is asleep when Madhu & Kaitabha gain power; sleep represents a state of ignorance or a lack of awareness. Thanks to the presence of Brahma, the creative force within us, Vishnu is awakened and knowledge triumphs over unmitigated greed, anger and lust.
One of the problems with the interpretation of these myths is that we begin to label, entirely human emotions such as desire, anger and greed as “bad” and by extension, we label ourselves “imperfect” every time we are aware of these emotions within us. So instead of acknowledging the emotions, we find one more way to find fault with ourselves and keep us small. That is what my meditation today revealed. There is a sense that we are supposed to be perfect, that we should not feel any “bad” emotions.
Does the slaying of Madhu and Kaitabha mean that we never feel, desire, anger or greed again? No! Remember, the fight took 5000 years. In other words, this is a battle that we face again and again over time. It means that your creative force and your higher self, work together to make you self-aware and self-compassionate. It means you acknowledge and embrace all of you and that you overcome feelings of inadequacy again and again.
The entire myth represents a journey towards enlightenment. What is enlightenment? It is the knowledge that you are a representation of the divine. That there is nothing about you that is not okay. That you are not here by accident. That you have a purpose – which is that you live a life you love, not one prescribed by others.