14th October 2012
Devotees and seekers of truth continually search for higher applicable philosophical principles in an effort to establish deeper spiritual values which in turn enrich our lives. If one were to ask a spiritually alert seeker what is most precious in our lives, the prompt answer might be time itself. Spiritual philosophy teaches us to live every moment fully. For a meditator, each moment is momentous. In deep meditation, our sense of time is lost and there is the mending of the mind. Relief comes in as a flood of peace overcoming the internal chatter. The awareness regains its unbounded freedom. A natural pure state of mind is reclaimed and calmness prevails. Therefore, seekers who have had experiences of tranquility always affirm the preciousness of time in daily life and wish not to fritter away the power of mindfulness.
A materialistic perspective might urge one to live each moment with passion and express the dream through passionate engagement with the world. Whereas a seeker of truth strives to become compassionate by transcending passion. Therefore, the twin virtues of dispassion and spiritual practice are brought about in daily life. This is of course based on an understanding of how cultivating dispassion and persistent spiritual practices reinforce each other and the bondage of time is overcome to bring about consistent subtle feelings of freedom. The eyes show the deep peace and alert presence so apparent in one who is mindful. Herein passion is not negated but rather is transcended into compassion through the dispassion. Thus a seeker’s service becomes an offering for the greater cause. And sevā heals the world every which way due to mindful participation.
Though every moment is momentous for a spiritual seeker, special time periods are recognized within our daily calendar to be especially conducive to our practices and participation. As our biorhythms and diurnal cycles are in synergy with and related to the Vedic soli-lunar calendar (Jyotisha calculations), so are the relationships manifested between us and higher worlds during specific time periods. The Sanskrit literature elucidates on how these relationships are more meaningful at certain specific time periods.
To this effect, the fortnight leading into this New Moon in October has been dedicated for the familial lineages and forefathers (pitru-paxa). During this two-week period, the families get a chance to correct any deficiencies in previous last rites and redeem themselves through spiritual observances and charities. This facilitates the ascension of previous generations who bore us unto this earth (vasumati). The Sanskrit tradition urges us to follow the Vedic wisdom of bringing a closure to the unfinished ceremonies aimed at appeasement of departed souls resting and ascending in peace into the subtle worlds.
Under normal circumstances, the higher quarters of air and space (vāyu-mandala and vyoma-mandala) above the earth cannot be easily penetrated by the subtle bodies of departed souls who might like to revisit their grieving families or any graves. Our sagely meditation lineages reveal to us that during this dedicated fortnightly time period, which comes once a year, the higher realms become porous to the subtle bodies. Thus the departed souls can take a closer peek at their progeny as if descending to the lives on earth! Therefore, this time period has been deemed important for remembrance of the departed elders and rounding up any unfulfilled last rites meant for peaceful ascension.
Thereafter the current New Moon ushers in a special celebration of motherhood wherein inspired seekers get to honour the divinity in motherhood for nine consecutive nights of Sharadiya-Navarātri followed by the tenth day heralding the oncoming of victory, the overcoming of virtues over vices. According to the Vedic soli-lunar calendar, the Navarātri start time is calculated based on the overlap of lunar and solar coordinates in a particular latitude and longitude. Thus the Navarātri count would begin on 16th October in India but can be celebrated from Monday, 15th October in North America. Even though there are 40 such nine night periods in an average soli-lunar year of 360 days (a lunar year is shorter by about ten days than a solar year), this particular nine night period is deemed especially significant due to it succeeding the fortnight dedicated to honouring the family lineages.
The ability of departed souls in their subtle bodies to partially descend through the perforated subtle layers on earth reveals the secrets of a higher dimension of our earth and environment. This New Moon then allows a crossover to a period when we utilize this subtler perspective in honouring our mother earth during Navarātri by way of Divine Mother worship. This celebration encompasses all aspects of our thoughts, actions and learning (see footnote). An alert seeker also nurtures the body by honouring the environment, by fully understanding the interrelationship between the dharma of the body and living in harmony with the environment. Thus our meditation and spiritual practices during this auspicious nine night period are more meaningful when we tread the path of environmental empathy utilizing the impetus of rites and remembrances for our departed lineages.
Vedanta philosophy proclaims that the immortal essence or the consciousness cannot be mindfully introspected by those who are physically weakened (Nāyāmātmā Balahinena Labhya). The mindful seeker then considers the gift of a healthy body as a venerable support for introspection and thereby offers sevā for the healing of the earth by recognizing that the body is like wet earth (or soil) in subtle balance with the oxygen and prāna of the higher quarters above earth. The breath of life and vibrant nonviolent food is very much dependent on a clean environment and sustainable living. This Navarātri is then an ideal time to participate in healing the earth through the meditative and ritualistic worship of the Divine Mother. A Vedic fire ceremony or Homa as an offering by devotees and aspirants beholds an immense promise of reciprocation. Meditation mass and congregational services invoking the Divine Mother with her attributes (see footnote) are a good addition to our personal meditation routine. Many seekers consider affirmations related to targeted community service, such as planting trees or working with farmers as meaningful service to honour the mother.
An ardent seeker is not focused on personal gains from giving charity and spiritual offerings at temple altars but is more inclined to share resources through mindful practices and meditation that is a compassionate healing to the earth (bhudevi). Such a seeker is after all alerted by the revealing signs from the higher quarters of space about the fortnight of forefathers that precedes this honouring of mother nature. It is no longer possible to take our lives on earth for granted. Our environment has become impacted due to inflicted pollution and mindless experimentation motivated by power and greed. Seekers are beginning to feel concern about their own family units or hesitating about planning parenthood. The thriving prāna of micro-hydrated water and oxygenated breath is verily rare. Any mindful prayer or meditative reflection rests upon able bodied application of intellectual force which in turn is sustained by clean water and fresh air alongside sustainable natural food. Now the prāna or energy resources required for prānāyāma techniques (consisting of various breathing exercises) need replenishment!
It is time to extend our goodwill for the sake of future generations of seekers. The children will lose their innocence with a rude awakening if we do not extend our alertness to mindfully repair our surroundings that are our very seats of meditation. The worship of the Divine Mother includes venerable nurturing of mother earth, without which our bodies cannot sustain the spiritual practices. Those who sacrifice for the greater cause have truly understood the core principles and spiritual values that guide our service or sevā. It is not enough to seek benevolence for oneself by breaking coconuts and offering jewellery to the Divine Mother, but better still to undertake genuine spiritual practices of honouring and serving that elevate our minds and fulfil our hearts without wanting anything in return. After all, a mother wants hardly anything from the child!
This Navarātri will again fructify results of many offerings and spiritual practices by the virtue of its auspiciousness and through the blessings of the Divine Mother. However, a genuine seeker of truth will contemplate on the greater realms and reach out to the core of motherhood and mother earth, and mindfully recognize the grace of this life and plenitude. Such a seeker will recognize that life cannot go on without invoking wisely proactive practices for greater service to the world through mindful resolution and meditative repose.
Those practising a daily routine of meditative penance, sublime recitations or community sevā, can structure their time equally into ten days of steady participation. One tenth of all spiritual practices are deemed as a correction! Therefore nine days of practices must be followed by the tenth portion of correction in addition to any corrective measures taken to avoid distraction from mindfulness during any individual session. While evening time or even midnight time meditation is acceptable for the nine nights, the tenth concluding session should ideally be finished before dark on the tenth day (Vijayā dashami). May you all have conquest and valour on the auspicious victory day following these ten days of meditation or spiritual practices and sevā. Let us invoke the blessings and protection of the Divine Mother throughout these times.
Wishing for abounding motherly grace upon all,
Three branches of Veda are related to worship of the Divine Mother in the following way – Rukveda with MahaKali for the first three days, YajurVeda with MahaLaxmi for the fourth, fifth and sixth days, and SamaVeda with MahaSaraswati for the seventh, eighth and last day.