Introduction To The Energy Path
We’re all Shiva. Shiva is not a person as is often depicted in Hindu mythological texts. That is a mere representation that shows Shiva in form, symbolizing different aspects of life, such as life and death.
Shiva is formless, dimensionless, omniscient, omnipotent, and all-pervading. It permeates all that is known through the five senses and the mind. This perceived life is the play (Leela) of this divine consciousness we call Shiva. Shiva is the consciousness at rest (potential energy).
Shiva has a power (Shakti) which is the consciousness in movement. However, please note that the two are not separate. Shiva and Shakti are one, just as the fire and its heat are the same.
The universe (both physical and mental) is a manifestation of Shakti. The psychological universe is much bigger than the physical universe, as the imagination is without bounds.
In Hindu scriptures, Shiva is often referred to as Ardhanareeshvara (“Ardha” means half, “Nari” means women, and “Ishvara” means lord); however, this is again symbolism. It is a mistake to see Shiva as the male and Shakti as the female. It’s all consciousness; therefore, it has no gender.
Shiva is the one absolute reality. There’s no reality other than it. Everything else is relative to Shiva and a manifestation of Shakti, which is nothing other than Shiva.
Shakti, also known as Maya, is the cause of the entire creation. Now when I use the Maya, many people see it negatively. Maya is not evil. People mistakingly think that way because of the common usage of the word.
Shakti is the basis of life and inter-human interaction. Without Maya, life as we know is not possible. It has two powers: the veiling power and the projecting power.
It projects the world of name and form onto the divine consciousness, creating limited minds and bodies. In other words, the finite mind-body complexes are projections onto the screen of supreme consciousness. This is the projecting power of Shakti.
Shakti also obscures the Shiva using its veiling power. This power is the reason for all the conflicts in the world. To illustrate this, let’s take the classic example of waves in an ocean. A wave arises in the ocean, plays with the other waves, and subsides back in the ocean.
All the while it’s active, it thinks of itself as this limited entity because of the veiling power of shakti. Similarly, we also experience ourselves as waves in the ocean of consciousness.
The illusion of separation or individuality gives rise to conflicts and differences. We fight with others thinking they are different from us. But in essence, we’re all the same.
We perceive ourselves as the mind-body complex with limited existence in time and space. Through divine hypnosis, the Shiva forgets itself as the supreme being and manifests as the finite minds in multiplicity. It uses its veiling power to obscure its true nature from itself.
Why does it do that? And the answer is a counter-question, who wants to know? It’s like asking, why do you forget yourself in dreams?
Though limited in mind and body, we can realize ourselves as the infinite Shiva, which is the freedom from the cycle of birth and death or what the Buddha called Nirvana.
The Shakti or the cosmic energy manifests in us as the potential known as Kundalini. It is located at the base of the spine in a coiled-up position.
Incidentally, it is also the location of the base energy point, known as the Muladhara. The movement of this energy is associated with abiding wisdom, bliss, and higher knowledge.
When practitioners undertake kundalini yoga, the movement occurs. With its serpent-like move, Kundalini ascends through the primary energy channel, the Sushumna Nadi.
It is the reason why Kundalini is depicted as a serpent symbolically. As it moves, it stimulates various energy points (that we will shortly discuss), known as the chakras.
The chakras are associated with psychosomatic and psychospiritual wellness. The word chakra means ‘spinning wheel.’ A chakra regulates a particular set of psychosomatic attributes in an individual by managing the flow of prana or the life-force energy.
Different traditions have varying counts and representations of chakras, but for the sake of simplicity, I’ll stick to the traditional seven chakra system. But before talking about chakras, let’s explore a few concepts to build a clear understanding of this complex energy system.