In My Meditation Today: I prayed and expressed gratitude this morning for all of the success my daughter has had in moving towards a career in music. As I did, I was transported to the time I stood in the practice room with her as she was preparing to audition for admission into the Alabama school of Fine Arts & thinking ” It is a crime for the world not to hear this voice.” As I acknowledged all that we have been through to get to this point, another little voice piped up, and it said, “You, Sree, have known since childhood that you have something significant to share. It is the same for you. It is a crime for you not to be fully visible in the world sharing your gifts.”
The Grand Story of the Divine Mother is told in three parts. Each part 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 a battle to live from your highest potential is hard and ugly and metaphorically bloody and gory.
The fourth chapter is entirely composed of a hymn in which the Gods are expressing gratitude for Devi’s help in slaying Mahishasura. The ecstatic Devas begin by describing everything we see in the world as an expression of Devi. She is good fortune in the homes of the virtuous and misfortune in the homes of the wicked; she is intelligence in the learned, faith in the hearts of the devout and modesty in the hearts of the high-born. She is the cause of the worlds, the resort of all, the sound of the scriptures, the cause of liberation as well as the destroyer of evil.
The Devas then describe her battle with Mahisha. They sing about her ruthless focus as she kills him & the members of his army, and her inexhaustible compassion because the ultimate goal of union with her spirit is never forgotten. As she kills them on the battlefront, she also leads the frenzied hostile throngs to heaven and dispels the Deva’s fear of the enemies. The hymn ends with a petition for protection. ” Protect us with your spear, your sword, the clangor of your bell and your bowstring – Ohh Devi,” they say. Pleased by their devotion and gratitude, the Divine Mother appears before them and offers them an opportunity to ask for a wish. Acutely aware that they will seek her intervention again, the Devas say that all they want is for her to be responsive to them the next time they are in distress.
What does this hymn do for me? To be quite honest, it is not the most moving part of the myth for me. In fact, I have been struggling with this post for some time. I want so much to believe that the sages that wrote these myths were great poets and wise beyond their years, but this hymn makes me question that. I have a lot of resistance to admitting that out in the open because after all, everything in Scripture should be perfect. I have felt that the verses are not logical; I have trouble with some of the ideas which talk about the “high-born.” In fact, I am so uncomfortable about that reference to the caste system that I initially replaced the words” high-born” with wealthy. It is also important to admit that the Grand Story of The Divine mother is not the only piece of Scripture in Hinduism that has these references to caste, insufferable patriarchy and other reflections of Indian society that one would rather not face.
So I started this post with a lot of resistance and confusion about what this hymn meant to me. As I sit here today, with some sense of resolution about it, three messages from my experience with this hymn speak to me.
First, it is ok that I do not like parts of this amazingly complex and profound myth. It is ok to admit that some of the messages in it reflect society and the time in which they were written. It is also ok that I do not agree with those ideas. That is not a rejection of the entire myth. I can reject parts of Scripture that I do not like and yet find incredible inspiration from other aspects of it.
The second message is that everything in the world is an expression of the divine. Virtue & vice, peace & trauma, unbounded joy & soul -destroying sadness, good-fortune & misfortune – all of it.
Third is that since everything is an expression of divinity – nothing about us is worthy of rejection. The totality of our experience here is an expression of her divinity.
When we recognize that all the battles depicted here are allegories for the constant battle in our hearts and minds between our best impulses and our worst, we know that the journey to liberation is one in which we learn to have our heart open to every experience, emotion, and impulse. We can then stop thinking of the divine as something outside of us that we pray to or petition for help. The power is not outside us – it is within us. Our task in life is to recognize that, learn ways to communicate with that highest self in us and express it in the world. When we reject our divinity and play small, we experience the absence of God in the world because we refuse to face it in ourselves. Hence the message in my meditation above telling me to acknowledge that I have a voice and that it is a crime to hide it from the world.
This blog was my first response to that message. As I begin to understand the message of the Grand Story of the Divine Mother and the importance of opening our hearts to all our impulses, emotions, and experience, the teaching of Radical Self-Acceptance that I am being guided to develop now, feels like the next step in my evolution and the evolution of my message.
My unrelenting prayer is to be open to the form of expression that flows through me. My interpretation and expression of it may often be imperfect, but as long as I am willing to listen, learn, allow imperfection and to be seen in that imperfection I believe that I am on the path to the full expression of my divinity.
What about you? Are you ready to stop hiding from your power and step up into everything that you are? You just need to say “Yes”. The Divine Mother in you is waiting for you to invite her into your life. What are you waiting for?