Shakti is the creative energy of the Universe. She comes into being from Shiva’s own free-will to exist. Everything in this manifested universe and beyond is Shakti. She takes a variety of different forms in her great dance of creation: thought, sound, kundalini, prana, matter, etc.
She is the other half of Shiva, however she is no less, nor is she separate from him.
The God he worshiped was infinite, so how could creation be anything less?
– Giordano Bruno, burned at the stake by the Church in 1600 for the theology of an infinite God
How is the Universe Created?
So let’s talk about the process by which that vast, transcendent, waveless consciousness becomes you and I and this Universe we experience. You’ll have to imagine the perfect union of Shiva and Shakti resting in eternal bliss—a waveless ocean of Pure Awareness. And in this ocean, all of a sudden Shakti leaps up, powered by her intrinsic bliss. Shiva then looks at himself as Shakti. Shakti gets an impulse, a pure divine desire, to create something within her own vastness. Maybe she does it for fun, or maybe she just can’t help it, her creativity is so natural to her. In a flash of a second, that impulse, becomes understanding (knowledge)—creative agency becomes a creative idea (jnana Shakti). A whole universe forms inside that divine awareness of Shakti, just as an idea forms in your own imagination.
As Shakti imagines this world, she literally emits it, she squeezes it forth in her own being (still within herself). This process is called visarga (emission). She breathes out, and through her Prana-Shakti, the power of her breath, she literally exhales the universe. As she exhales the universe, she disguises herself within it, she literally hides her vastness through her veiling power (maya-shakti).
The Shakti Moves in Two Ways
As a spiritual practitioner, you must constantly be aware of your energy, understanding that when you moves in the right direction, energy increases and expands. When you move in the wrong direction, you become depleted (see Tantric Sex for an obvious example).
One of the important insights of the Tantric sages was that Shakti can appear in ways that are liberating and expansive, but she can also manifest in ways that are binding and contractive. Therefore, Shakti is the universal energy known in two ways.
- Known in the incorrect way, she is energy of illusion (Maya Shakti).
- Known in the correct way, she is the energy of free will (Svatantrya Shakti).
Maya Shakti – Incorrect Knowledge
The job of Shakti is to give birth, and as the Mother of the universe, her role is to bind us in the impure limited knowledge that generates the temporal illusory ‘appearance’ of differences (for joy, of course). We sink into ignorance, limited knowledge, and delusion. These three malas are the foundations of samsara, the run around of endless births and deaths we are bound in. We set sail over the vast ocean of consciousness on the wonderful and terrible journey. We wander through countless lives in our imagined state of separation.
When the light of the senses meet Consciousness, we burn through the self-created contraction of maya.
Svatantrya Shakti – Correct Knowledge
Form 1. Sankocha (Contraction Inwards)
However, the moment we turn our consciousness inward, meaning our total awareness becomes focused within, the Shakti will become the means of subtle blissful states, the sweet revealing of our own non-difference, omnipotence, omniscience, perfection and all-pervasiveness.
The sankocha (contraction) of Shakti means turning in towards the Self, by [withdrawing the Consciousness], which is spreading externally through the gates of the senses [towards the objects].
The power we created to delude us will become the power that liberates us. The same Shakti that served to conceal and delude, will now reveal and light our way Home.
Each night I sit with the Shakti, and reflect on how we’ve spent time together during the day. I see how she carries me deep into all the different aspects of my life. And I take a moment to be grateful for the beautiful journey she’s taken me on. Then it comes time for me to let her go; I let her go, I let her go, I let her go; I dissolve and digest her into the fire of my Heart.
The next morning, a new day begins, she’s reborn as a Phoenix, ready to soar again deep into the magic.
And the cycle continues…
– Mike Yap
The Shakti who guides you in meditation is your own higher energy—the power of your consciousness. She is the energy who out of love, is guiding you to complete your journey into the essence of who you are. By her very existence, she asks you to stretch, to expand, to grow, and to become your highest self. She wants nothing more than to reunite with her cosmic partner, Consciousness (Shiva), which is you.
The Self-Existent One pierced the openings (of the senses) outward.
Hence one looks outward, not within one’s Self.
Some wise man, wishing to taste immortality
With reverted eyes (i.e., looking within)
Beholds the immanent Self.
– Katha Upanishad
Form 2. Vikasa (Expansion Outwards)
Vikasa of Shakti is expansion. The senses are open to the outer world, but the attention is directed inward to the Self.
Intentionally throwing all the senses simultaneously and on all sides into their respective objects and remaining (unmoved) within like a gold pillar, you (O Shiva) alone appear as the foundation of the Universe.
The Beauty of Difference
Shakti can be seen in the beauty of duality, or difference. However, when we see her true nature, which is that of complete unity with God, the beauty of her energy—in their various forms—will be the path that leads us to God. This is movement back to God using our five senses is expressed beautifully in the ancient text called the Vigyan Bhairava Tantra. As we practice this recognition, we will begin to experience the feeling of complete jaw-dropping awe whenever subject (You/Shiva) meets an object (Universe/Shakti).
The revelation of this immensity, was like falling in love.
– Giordano Bruno, describing the feeling of discovering the cosmos
Even your negative thoughts and feelings are a manifestation of Shakti. Consciousness is so creative that she can transform herself in a moment from a state of contraction and rigid negativity, to a state of expansion and love.
Whether you are fiercely angry or feeling joy beyond description, when you are at an impasse, not knowing what to do, when you are in terror or running for your life, know that such intense states of mind are fully permeated with the spanda, the creative vibration of divine Shakti. Find her there.
– Spanda Karikas