“TIME TO WAKE UP!” -D.O.A., a punk rock band from the 80’s (song starts at 0:18)
“It’s very easy to wake a sleeping person. It’s very hard to wake a person pretending to be asleep.” -Amma
“Awake” -movie title, currently on Netflix on the life of Paramahamsa Yogananda, author of Autobiography of a Yogi (I don’t know for sure that the link will work. You can stream the movie.)
Happy 3rd night of Navaratri! That literally means “9 nights” and they are in honor and celebration of the Divine Mother. The first 3 nights are for Durga, the 2nd 3 to Lakshmi, and the final 3 to Saraswati.
There is great symbolism in this celebration for those of us on the spiritual Path. Durga is invoked first because she is the personification of ENERGY and is the energy of and for waking, or beginning to awaken to the Truth of the world and to a deeper understanding of the world and our Self. From the Yogic perspective, there are 3 states of consciousness that the masses of us experience: waking, dream sleep and deep sleep. There is a fourth that is spoken of, called “turiya” (literally “the fourth”), that when experienced has us realize that what we previously called “wake” was really also sleep, or as Amma has said, “a very long dream.” That’s the dream of separateness and smallness and dreaming the temporary to have ANY permanence at all, the dream that has us not being Love and willing to defend our pettiness in all it’s painful forms. Though D.O.A. maybe didn’t realize it at the time, their song (linked above, one of my top 10 songs for a long time) is a hymn to Durga (if you listen to it, don’t expect something flowery but do expect to get a dose of energy and motivation! :). One of the lines is “break out of a bad dream.” That’s exactly what I’m writing about here, though on a different level than they were singing (screaming).
So hear we all are, currently pretending to be asleep and thus being very hard to wake up. We need Durga, the energy of Grace to wake us up from our “blissful”, but really, fitful, sleep. Durga can be seen as the pain of Life that has us begin to lose our expectancy that the temporary world will give us the permanent happiness we seek. Durga can come in moments of Grace in which we realize that things are not as they seem, or people are not as they seem, or I am not as “I” seem. Durga comes as dissatisfaction with the surface life that the world presents, a gift that gives inspiration to inquire deeper into ourself. Durga comes as seeing the inadequacies of worldly things to feed our soul which gives motivation to move toward the deeper happiness that comes from seeking to GIVE and serve rather than to GET and take.
One story behind her is that it was one of those times when the demons (parts of ourselves that take us away from Truth/Love) were battling the gods (parts of ourselves that bring us a deeper connection with Truth/Love) and winning in a big way. (Ever been there?) The (male) gods all got together and focused their energies together and out of that combination emerged Durga, and they all gave her their weapons. She is greater than any of the (male) gods and sovereign in herself as the Primordial Divine Energy. A huge battle ensued in which Durga destroyed all the demons. So Durga incarnates/manifests to rid us of our selfish, baser energies and tendencies. The main demon she destroyed (any main demon in any story, including the Christian story) is, of course, the ego, the Seeming-to-be, the apparent separate self. In the “destruction” of that (since it actually doesn’t exist, in a deeper sense) lies Oneness/Unity/Yoga/Union.
She is visualized as riding a tiger, symbolic of controlling the animalistic tendencies. Durga is fierce, as Ram Dass said about his stroke, “fierce grace.” Recently in class, I quoted a movie line, “God loves you just the way you are… and too much to let you stay that way.” Durga is that Force of Love that is too great to let you stay as you are! There is a destructive element to that; something has to be destroyed to birth the New. The part of us that does not want to change, is committed to NOT changing, views this Love with terror! Though completely beneficent and loving, she can be kind of a “scary lady” since we have attachments to our likes and dislikes and some parts of ourselves DON’T want to wake up. Or at least that’s true of me, and I assume of everyone. If you don’t think that’s true, I figure, “just look deeper.” Amma says, and I agree, that if God came to our door to give us Enlightenment/Self-Realization/God-Realization right now, we would say, “Aaahhh…. I just got home from work and I just want to relax; my spouse made me a really nice meal, and my favorite TV show is about to come on…. Can you come back later.” If you want Self-Realization, or heck, even just to experience LOVE for yourself and all, if you take just a breath and notice what is NOW keeping you from experiencing it, what is your excuse of the moment to NOT be already IN Love, maybe it’s different than Amma’s story, but we all have some petty reason(s). Otherwise we’d already be there!
So we can invoke Durga (as an Energy or as an Archetype, if not as an actual Being) to help us in our waking, or even first, in our willingness to BE woken up by thinking of her, visualizing her form, chanting or listening to her mantras or hymns (or if you want, the heavy metal version by one of Amma’s devotees J Mascis of Dinosaur Jr. will give more energy, or Dave Stringer’s more rocking one, though good speakers or headphones are preferable for both of those), praying, asking, listening for her, or inviting her/her energy into our heart and mind. If we don’t want to change, we shouldn’t really be doing yoga or meditating, which will only speed and smooth the process of transformation. But really, if we are unwilling to change, we will be forced to. It’s as simple as that. However if we take the latter course, we will experience more pain in the process. If we’re satisfied with things as we are, that’s either contentment, which is something I as a spiritual seeker aspire to, or complacency and dullness. Only an individual can truly know for oneself, but we have to look deep, which will certainly induce some change. Ha! Isn’t that ironic? Not really since Durga is the Energy of Consciousness or Awareness (which is experienced as Love). Isn’t that what those of us who seek the Good of All need and want? Really, we JUST need to open to it… again and again, deeper and deeper… and keep going!