Last Updated on June 24, 2022
(originally published on www.hridayayoga.com)
Adoration of the Divine Mother
The highest form of spiritual practice is communion with the Divine, adoration of the Divine. Our most direct experience of the Divine is the Divine Feminine—the Cosmic Mother. It is from Her our entire natural world originates and returns. Not as an event from antiquity, rather here and now all the material you experience around you, as you, is naturally arising from the Mother. The very words ‘matter‘ and ‘material‘ are derived from Greek ‘mater‘ which means ‘mother‘. What we perceive as matter is the form side of the Mother. What we experience as conscious spaciousness or emptiness is the form-less side of the Mother.
Biologically the female form of Life existed on Earth for approximately 2.5 billions years before the male came into being. Life on Earth existed during this early period in a dark womb-like ocean. At this time all life-forms were sexually female, and reproduced through parthenogenesis.(“virgin birth”, solely from the female). The first phallus or lingam only appeared around 200 million years ago, among reptiles. We are reminded of this by the fact all mammalian embryos are anatomically female during the early stages of foetal development. The male gender is a modification or adaptation of the female gender, induced in the case of mammals by the release of the powerful hormone androgen. The release of this hormone is triggered by the presence of a Y-chromosome in the sperm. More intimately we are further reminded of our connection with the Mother as our source by the fact we are conceived and gestated within the womb of a female. We are born in this world from her, our mother. Simply put, and with all esoteric concepts aside, at the most basic biological level we—both males and females—owe our very existence to a primordial feminine force.
In yoga, and all other spiritual practices with Hindu roots, it is recognised we owe the awakening of our consciousness to the Great Goddess AdyaShakti—the primordial Shakti. It is Shakti that stirs as kundalini at the base of your spine. From here she ascends the 33 steps of vertebrae to awaken your primordial enlightened and pre-existant nature into form, into worldly being. For She is the Mother of your true awakened state of consciousness.
The manifest phenomenon of the masculine—biologically and sexually—is what brought about greater definition, and thus variety, to the form-side of Life. It helped to shape and diversify the feminine, exponentially accelerating the process of evolution—the unfurling or emergence of potential bound within Life. The introduction—relatively late in the evolutionary scheme of things—of the Y-chromosome and subsequently of the male penis gave rise to the manifestation of the masculine, and the means for diverse variation in the progeny of any one form of Life.
What is the relevance of these basic facts to our spiritual practice? How does this impact on yoga and the revelation of your immanent enlightened nature? Simply put, that which is immanent in you is the consciousness of The Mother. The most direct and profound approach to your enlightened nature is through the feminine, The Mother. From Her dark spacious womb you arise, and into her dark spacious womb you shall return. From another perspective, the appearance of variation you see in your form—compared to that of someone else—is masculine in nature. Your body, your psyche, your particular peculiarities are the result of a the influence of a masculine force. Yet more profound to these superficial qualities is That which is in essence the same not only among humans, but all forms of Life.
It is up to you and I to discover what this universal That actually is. What is its nature, its qualities, its attributes? It is most directly experienced by Man (male or female) as a quality of spaciousness, a stirring within emptiness. To simply meditate on emptiness—a fundamental practice in Tibetan Buddhist Tantric path (among others)—is for most not an easy task. Hṛdaya Yoga takes a different approach both to emptiness and to yoga practice. The approach of Hṛdaya yoga is to utilise the form-side of the body-mind complex as a doorway into the formless-side.
The Masculine side of yoga
Many practitioners of yoga asana are (or become) habitually infatuated and caught up in the form-side of asana, which is fundamentally a masculine perspective. This has brought about a great deal of variety in the many forms of yoga, seen most especially since yoga reached America and took on more forms than most would care to imagine (here is an article that compares just 14 of them). Too often this infatuation with the form of yoga is at the expense of the true depth of yoga. Yoga, in a sense, is in many cases being spread thin and losing its substance. Even within any given yoga style, we find a great variety of form by way of hundreds of different asana. It is not uncommon for aspiring yogis to get overly infatuated with these many forms. We get excited by the illusion that the more of these asanas we can perform—and the more complex the nature of these asanas—the more advanced we are as practitioners. Yet the actual yoga—as a state of consciousness—stirs within the formlessness, often offlooked.
From the perspective of Hṛdaya yoga you are as likely to experience your true nature through mastering just one asana, as you are from mastering hundreds of them. That’s not to imply that practising a variety of asana has no place—it most certainly does—but rather it illustrates the point that learning more and more asana of increasing complexity is not the point of yoga practice. We use the form-side of the body, through the form of one or more asana (postures, intimately linked with the flow of breath), to enter into the formless-side of the body. Your body is almost entirely empty space—a phenomenon of spaciousness. This spaciousness is the dark primordial ocean out of which your form is emerging. This is The Mother.
The life-force or vitality (prana) you utilise for your practice is granted to you from The Mother. She gives it to you for the express purpose of fulfilling your agreement with Her. Your agreement is your vocation, your divine calling, your purpose for being. To use this prana for anything else puts you in contradiction with The Mother… with Life itself. Adoration of The Mother is adoration of the source of Life, of your very being. The more time (energy) you expend in communion with your source, with the life-force moving through your being, the more profoundly you will be moved in the fulfilment of your purpose. Your purpose is fulfilled at the interface of the formless nature of your being with the form side of Life known as the manifest world. It is a relationship—a state of relatedness—arising between the spacious feminine and the defining masculine.
With your awareness held in the spacious nature of the body-mind, and with your attention on the natural flow of breath, you engage with the Mother. There is nowhere to go, nothing to do, nothing to become. You are in the simple and natural act of adoring the Mother.
Adoration — Acknowledge from the Heart
The term adoration comes from the Latin adōrātiō, meaning “to give homage or worship to someone or something“. Worship comes from Old English weorthscipe meaning ‘worthiness, acknowledgement of worth’. Adoration of the Mother, is to acknowledge her worth, her essential value in your world. Everything you experience—including yourself—is brought into being by and from Her. To acknowledge this living fact is one of the most fundamental acts a conscious human being can engage in. All traditional cultures, religions, and societies paid homage to the Mother in her many forms. Mother Earth, the Great Mother, the Cosmic Mother, the Dark Mother… and a whole host of feminine deities representing many expressions of the Mother—these were all worshipped far more commonly than our now common masculine God.
In practising yoga, dedicate your practice to the Mother. The prana moving your body is her prana. It is only appropriate and natural to acknowledge this as you move into your yoga practice. Dedicate each breath and each asana to the Mother. Acknowledge her primordial intelligence as it moves through you, and arises as you. Over 99.99% of the energy in the universe is not manifest as physical substance. Simply put, 99.99% of the Mother is non-manifest. She is primarily non-manifest, spacious intelligence and potential. What you can take from this is that 99.99% of each yoga asana is formless.
In our yoga practice we are using the 0.01% (the form aspect) of our body to dive into the other 99.99% (the spacious/form-less aspect) of our being. The breath is like a bridge between the form and the formless. As we engage with the naturally arising glow of prana the breath, it carries our attention into deeper and deeper layers of our subtle being. This is the act of adoring or acknowledging the Mother—not as an arbitrary concept, but as a living experience.