sakti: energy manifest

taking responsibility for how we handle our power

photo courtesy of the yasodhara ashram society

All practice in Kundalini Yoga must be understood as an approach to the Devi. Sakti is the origin of all. Sakti is the source. Whatever one worships and admires, it is Sakti. She is the form, the ideal, the Power – the goddess of the spoken word. It is for this reason that Sakti is also life, breath – existence itself. Sakti is one Power becoming many. All that is manifest has an innate power that is from the same source. There is one sun having many rays. All rays emanate from the source.

Sakti’s Power is the manifestation of the microcosmos as well as the macrocosmos. Sakti is all the Power there is to be experienced. She is called the Devi of Speech, the whisper that is in every illusion. She is also the thunder of the Cosmic voice.

The two extreme gifts that one can obtain from Divine Mother are Her maya (continuous illusion) and Liberation from the bondage of all illusion. Each human experience is at some point on the sweep between these extremes of maya and Liberation. The movement of every human life shows the intermingling of countless possibilities. Only by a decisive act of will can we stop running all over the place. Remember, by the manifestation of Her Power is this whole universe set in motion – revolving, moving constantly.

Femininity and masculinity exist wherever there is creation. The ancient texts call the male Divine Force the Deva and the female the Devi, in accordance with the male and female principle in all fathers and mothers in the world. Energy per se is symbolized in the male aspect. Energy manifest is symbolized in the female aspect.

How can Energy be known? Its presence is recognized in its manifestations. The old yogis stated that Energy and its manifestations are inseparable. Some texts refer to that Energy as Light, some use the Mother as symbol – She gives birth to the child. Energy gives birth to various creations. She is the Great Mother. As the Mother of all, She is Sakti. This is a simple way to explain what cannot be said in the words that are used in daily communication. This is poetic expression, and poetry is the language of inspiration.

In order to understand Sakti Power it is necessary that one recognize power in its most simple manifestations. Electricity is a familiar energy. It is easy for the mind to understand its physical forms, such as a light, a heater or a running motor. The light and the heater can be seen as concrete symbols of electricity. But the mind needs a particular training to understand beyond the symbols. The difficulties become apparent when we practise thinking of ourselves without the body or face – we are familiar with ourselves and often even quite emphatic about what we know of ourselves, but can we conceptualize ourselves beyond the physical?

We can use these illustrations and carry them a step further. To understand terms like “God,” the “Absolute” and “Cosmic Energy,” special training and new experiences are necessary. How can we otherwise overcome the old familiar process of creating and recreating the Absolute or God in our own image and even adding human characteristics to it, however perfect these may be?

In Eastern thought, God is understood as Energy manifesting in many aspects. The mind and its many possible manifestations are an expression of that one Power.

One of the greatest powers we have, although it is often not recognized, is the power of choice. With our mental power, we can choose to be kind, understanding and helpful, or jealous, envious and destructive. We can choose to give or to steal. The polarity is within us, and we first have to recognize it and then take responsibility for both the positive and negative ways we handle our power.

We evolve spiritually through our own personal efforts to understand the power that keeps us alive, the power that makes our minds work. As we grow in awareness, we start to understand more of that Cosmic Power. In India the name given to that Power is Kundalini. In Greece it is called the “soul.” Nobody has seen either. We can’t always see everything, but just as in physics, we can see the traces. By starting to get to know ourselves and tracing the events of our lives, we will begin to see ourselves on a different scale than we are used to.

So ask yourself: What power am I engaging? What power am I loosening? If you have no control over it, what good is it? You have to go through life with awareness, thinking things through. Self-discipline and foresight are needed. If you want the Power of Kundalini, of the Devi, you have to think it through. How do you use the powers you already have? Only you are responsible for your actions.

Excerpted from Swami Sivananda Radha, The Devi of Speech: The Goddess in Kundalini Yoga (Spokane, WA: timeless books, 2005).
A pioneer in bringing yoga to the West, Swami Sivananda Radha is the author of 10 classic books on yoga, including Kundalini Yoga for the West and Hatha Yoga: The Hidden Language. Her teachings focus on developing awareness and quality in life.

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