Love. Inner Power. Diwali.
What don’t I know?
We are all pretty sure about one thing: our own perspective. So many conversations begin with, “Look here,” or “Listen up,” because “This is where I stand.”
The whole entire enterprise of human engagement becomes a quest to be understood.
But standing in that mentality means staying in the dark—denying that there’s another point of view.
So here’s something new: What if you start each encounter with the question, “What don’t I know?”
Example: The neighbor’s dog won’t stop barking and it’s making me crazy. What don’t I know? Or: Marty left his dirty laundry in the middle of the floor, again. What don’t I know?
I fail at it daily. But when I remember this practice, my life is just better. It’s like real world enlightenment. The light shines on another’s perspective and I find out that we weren’t standing so far apart, after all.
Today is an Indian holy day: Diwali. It is an opportunity to celebrate the light.
The light of awareness.
The light of consciousness.
The light of your inner power.
There has never been a more crucial time for the teachings of Mystic Traditions to make their way into the real world human experience,
to make life... just better.
diwali. love. marriage.
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Diwali. Lakshmi. Abundance.
Diwali is called the "Festival of Lights" because it is a celebration of illumination. It honors the light of your awakened consciousness. It invokes beauty, abundance, prosperity, and love–the archetypal attributes of the Indian Goddess, Lakshmi. This mystic tradition invites you to realize those attributes as qualities of your own mind. Rituals serve to remind you of your inner power and transform your awareness. Your most powerful expression of abundance is a grateful heart. Diwali is the party for a more meaningful life.
10 Practices for Diwali
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Holy Days. Mystery. Muertos.
“I use the word mystery, rather than magic. I love magic.
Something magic was always going to happen.
When it did, it never did anything but land me in trouble.
MYSTERY is the depth of the sacred.”
― Marion Woodman
It is palpable! ...the power of the sacred mystery.
Right here. Right now.
We are creating history...and HERstory.
Your life is profoundly meaningful. Your choices have power. ...even if that sacred purpose is yet to be revealed.
My cultural upbringing included a celebration of answers. It was always much better to be right. We wanted to know exactly what happens next, where we were going, what it all meant. Religion, politics, history, science–education was sought for concrete reality. The unknown was, frankly, dangerous. There was little room for mystery.
These days, I relish the unknown. Within it lies infinite potential. I have found that being "right" is limiting.
There is so much more.
As I revel in the light of the full moon, I honor the unseen darkness on the other side.
Today, I celebrate Dia de los Muertos with my family. This holiday was not a part of my cultural upbringing...it celebrates the unknown. As we gaze upon the photographs of our ancestors, we honor the love that brought us here. We revel in the light each soul brought to the planet. And we honor the mystery–the unseen journey on the "other side."
My yoga–mystic wisdom & ritual–empowers me to embrace the unknown with peace and wonder as I trust in the ultimate fulfillment of Love.
DEEP TRUST: We all could use a little, right about now.
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Imagine the world before electricity. I bet you'd tend your fire carefully. Make it last through the cold, dark night.
...And then comes dawn. Every morning is like a victory–the triumph of the light.
That is why Indian holy days, like Diwali. celebrate the light.
That is why Indian mantras, like Gayatri, invoke and worship the light as a divine power.
In yoga, I honor the "dawning of awareness" as the power of illumination which awakens, heals, and provides clear vision.
But the light does not always come easy. Let me explain with a story:
Once upon a time my husband and I were arguing. It was heated. Now, I can't even remember what it was about. But at the time I was quite certain–I had no doubt–that I was "RIGHT!"
He disagreed. He presented his case, but I doubled down on my point of view, again and again. I wanted him to realize (and admit) that I was "RIGHT!"
Then something happened. Mid-sentence. It hit me like a floodlight: "Oh, shit. He is right...
Daaaang! I felt just like Wile E. Cayote when he looks down from his full-throttle pace to realize that there is nothing beneath him but empty space and a long, hard fall.
We celebrate the light as if it is always welcome. As if we are in a state of perpetual curiosity, always ready to expand and embrace personal development.
But sometimes we're not.
Sometimes we think we already have the answer. We already know. We are "RIGHT!"...and nothing will change our minds. Then the light of awareness "dawns" on us illuminating our flaws. It isn't comfortable. Sometimes, truth be told, we wish we could stay in the dark.
Our practice often determines what happens next.
Yoga provides the courage and compassion to face, and embrace, the light.
So back to that one time, when I was wrong:
I took a deep breath, mustered up the humility and said, "Wait. I'm just realizing that you are right. I am wrong. I am sorry."
My husband looked at me, first with surprise, then tenderness. "Yeah," he said. "I love you."
I had braced myself for impact, but it turned out to be a super soft landing. Blissful in fact.
Because in that moment, I realized that being wrong gives me the opportunity to experience his unconditional Love. If I were always "RIGHT," I would never feel the sweet sensation of forgiveness.
When I embrace my imperfection it becomes a radiant gift.
I am human, and growing. I wouldn't want it any other way.
Inspired by the words of Leonard Cohen: The cracks are where the light gets in.
That realization has been, for me, like the break of a glorious new day.
At this time of year, the United States of America celebrates its sovereignty as a country independent from other world entities. But how independent are we really?
The truth of our interdependence has become more and more apparent...and important.
We must acknowledge our reliance upon each other for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Countries depend on both global and inter-personal connection for economic stability, ecological hope, and the general maintenance of world peace.
Humanity is interconnected with Nature. We rely on her resources for our survival. Inversely, the survival of Earth’s resources depends upon the wise choices of humanity. Each person’s identity and experience is deeply intertwined with the people that surround her and the entire world at large.
This month, in the Eleven Moons Online God/dess Odyssey, we celebrate the moon as a vision of interconnectedness. Lunar forces influence the rhythm of the tides. Similarly, we are intimately affected by the energies around us. Just as we cannot see the moon except for the sun’s light shining upon it, our lives are each a reflection of the one, Infinite Source.
Every encounter is an opportunity to reflect that divine light to one another, reminding each other of our true nature as Love. We need each “other.”
Years ago, disappointed in the failed commitments of my nation, I was inspired to draft a new declaration–a Declaration of INTERDEPENDENCE. It serves to remind me of my personal responsibility, as an American yogini, to celebrate a world of beautifully interconnected diversity.
Each year, at this time, I bring the following declaration into my meditation practice, updating it as I re-evaluate what it actually means to me.
We hold the truth of Self-Realization:
That all beings are divinely unified;
That we are empowered by Universal Source with certain infinite potential; awakened by prana, moksha, and surrender to Love.
Keys for a better relationship from R.R. Shakti, PhD.
MJ and I have been together for fifteen years. Most of that time has been pretty easy, but there have been moments (or months) that were down right HARD! We struggled to communicate, failed to see each other's point of view, and generally lost our way.
Through fits and starts, we have made it to the sweetest, juiciest, most connected time of our Love...so far.
If you are trying to find Love but your wheel is spinning, get yourself back to your center. That's where the Love originates.
Breathe, meditate, practice you...then ask your lover the following three questions. They will completely transform your relationship for the (oh so much!) better.
1. WHAT CAN I DO FOR YOU, TODAY?
It's easy to get caught up in the feeling of lack–"not enough" time, money...energy.
We unconsciously turn to our partners to fill the perceived void with a "what can you give me?" approach to relationships. And before too long we feel that we are just not getting our needs met.
But when you embrace the reality that you are a uniquely embodied expression of the Infinite, you come to know your Self as whole–complete just as you are.
You recognize that your partner, too, is a uniquely embodied expression of the Infinite.
You see every person as a uniquely embodied way for Infinite Consciousness to witness itself, that is, to experience "with-ness."
With-ness requires a subject/object relationship, after all. There must be a semblance of "otherness" in order to experience "togetherness."
Creation stories worldwide explain that the playful and sacred dance of relationship requires a singular Infinite Consciousness to become two (and then myriad more created things) so that Self-knowledge, aka Source-knowledge, aka LOVE can actually happen.
When we Love each "other" we are fulfilling the universal destiny of reunion with Source.
When you wake up each morning, look your partner in the eye, and inquire:
"What can I do for you, today?"
you are REALLY asking:
"What can I do in the service of Infinite Love, today?"
"What can I do for my Self, today?"
(That is "Self" with a capital "S"–the YOU that is way bigger than your ego.)
When we serve each "other," we serve the One Love that abides within–beyond all opposites.
2. WHAT AM I NOT SEEING?
Because we are each uniquely embodied expressions of Infinite Love, we each witness the human experience from a distinctly unique point of view. Friends, lovers, co-workers, even so-called "enemies" can be our greatest mirrors, revealing our blind spots.
From his vantage point, my partner sees things that I sometimes overlook.
Once a week, or so, I will ask him: "What am I missing?"
It gives him an opportunity to air his grievances in a loving way...before they get bottled up and shaken. It gives us both permission to be human. We grow together as we help each other broaden our scope and clarify our vision.
But it takes practice.
I have to let go of my ego's attachment to being "right."
I have to listen without defense, which can be a colossal challenge sometimes.
But it's always worth it.
There is nothing more delicious than feeling Loved in my wholeness–feeling Loved in my complete and vulnerable humanity. When I let myself be wrong, it allows someone to Love me anyway–unconditionally.
Some of the deepest bonding happens when I let my lover clean my lenses and receive the valuable insight of his heart's unique perspective.
3. WHAT IS YOUR SOUL'S DREAM?
According to teachings of non-dual Tantra, every person shares a common Soul's purpose: to live our lives as uniquely embodied expressions of One Love.
Your unique expression of Love may take various forms throughout your human experience, as you awaken more and more to the reality of your infinite potential.
Your intentions, visions, hopes, and ideas are the stuff of your Soul's dream. You get to decide how you want to express your particular embodiment of the Infinite...to the world.
It may look quiet or rowdy. It may be earthy, watery, fiery, airy...or outer-spacey. It might include flowers, computers, baked-goods, and/or jokes. This is your story. And you are a Soul Artist.
The full moon is a sacred time for connecting to an "other." Allow your light to illumine each other's hearts. It can be a powerful time to ask your friend, sister, father, or lover: "What is your Soul's Dream, in this moment...right now?"
Listen intently for the real answer. The one that shines bright beyond "should"s or "if only"s–
the dream that comes unabashedly, ecstatically, and giddily from the Soul.
When we honor and celebrate our Souls' Dreams together, we remember that we are each fulfilled in our own individual wholeness. We are reminded that those two "whole"s fit perfectly together...
in One Love.
R.R. Shakti, PhD
* PS: If you feel that you may be caught in an abusive relationship, please seek support.
Diwali. Love. Tantra.
My daughter was three years old when I took her to see Kung Fu Panda 3.
Enrapt from start to finish, she was particularly attentive during the great battle scenes between the adorable ninja Panda and his scary nemesis.
As we left the theater, she turned to me and said,
"Mom, I've noticed something...the good always defeats the bad."
Happy New Moon and Diwali!
This has been an auspicious day throughout India—a festival of lights celebrating the radiant triumph of divinity over the darkness of confusion--a sort-of "Good Defeats Bad" Day.
Various Indian mythologies exemplify the power of righteousness over demonic forces like the return of exiled Rāmā and Sīta, the victory of the Goddess Durga over the wicked demon, Mahishasura, and the sacred marriage of Vishnu and Lakshmī.
It's an age-old story: the universe is animated by dueling forces, and we all hope desperately for the virtuous to prevail. The question is who decides who is virtuous? History has made this grand narrative into an "us vs. them" story. When taken literally, it becomes the foundation for division and alienation: whomever is on "our side" is virtuous. On the "other" side is evil.
In his work, Creation of Consciousness, Edward Edinger explains that consciousness is only possible in the presence of an "other." Therefore, all human awareness is dependent upon this dichotomy: self and other, me and you, us and them. But when we project our own shadows onto an outside "other" we set up a never ending war zone.
The teachings of non-dual Tantra assert that all things are individualized aspects of a single, dynamic pulsation of universal LOVE. ...A LOVE that has no need for warfare. ...A LOVE so pervasive, perfect, and powerful that it encompasses everything.
So, I explain to my daughter: "Sometimes it doesn't look like it will, but the good always wins in the end...because LOVE is the biggest, most powerful thing. In fact, LOVE is all there is. When people do bad things it's only because they have forgotten LOVE.
When you remember that you are LOVE, you become as powerful as a superhero ninja."
The new moon is a time of introspection and self-examination.
Tonight provides a sweet opportunity to turn inward and get real with your Self.
Who is your scary nemesis?
Do you project all evil onto an outside "other?"
Can you embrace the dark qualities of fear, anger, and confusion as aspects of your own psyche?
Can you envision a LOVE so vast it extends beyond all opposition?
Mystic LOVE is so pervasive it can actually include your fears, sorrows, and confusion without losing a single iota of its infinite brilliance.
According to Mystic teachings: YOU ARE THAT LOVE...you superhero ninja, you!
Invoking the principles of Courage, Compassion, and Creative Clarity with R.R. Shakti, PhD.
Maha Navaratri is one of the most celebrated Indian holidays, occurring every year on the new moon in the Vedic month of Ashwin, near the autumnal equinox.
Nine nights are dedicated to the feminine principle.
The archetype of Durga is honored during the first three nights of Navaratri. She is the “invincible” one, who slays the demons of ego delusions, ignorance, and self doubt. Like Kali, who is actually an incarnation of her, Durga is a great destroyer. She rides a lion into victory and symbolically guides all spiritual warriors into the first phase of the alchemical journey to help establish courage and compassion in the face of fear and confusion.
For the next three nights, the Lakshmi archetype is honored. Lakshmi means “goal” in Sanskrit and she symbolizes abundance, beauty, and the enjoyment of worldly delights. She guides you along the spiritual path to awaken santosha (deep fulfillment). Her image invokes gratitude, creativity, and an unconditional love for life.
The final three nights of Navaratri are dedicated to Saraswati, whose name, when translated from Sanskrit, means “essence of Self” or "truth of Self." Saraswati carries a book, mala and a musical instrument. She is the archetype of the arts—learning, knowledge, and wisdom. She provides the creative clarity to realize your true nature as an expression of Infinite Consciousness.
These feminine principles are honored in this particular order because only after you have passed through the first two initiations of courage and compassion can you be ready to access your heart’s full awakening into creative clarity—the realization of who you really are!
This celebration is an opportunity to recognize the divine feminine principles within YOU!
1. Read a written copy or listen to an audio recording of the Devī-Māhātmya
The Devī-Māhātmya is a celebrated Indian text. It provides a Goddess revolution that emboldens the non-dual traditions of Hindu Tantra. It forms the foundation of the Navaratri Celebration. The story is recited during the nine nights of celebration and each of the nine goddess images hail from the mythic vision of Devī.
2. Decorate your altar with the three images of Durga, Lakshmi, and Saraswati.
The first three nights will provide an invocation to the fierce warrior goddess, Durga.
Nights four through six will honor Lakshmi, and the final three nights will celebrate Saraswati.
You will want to change the images and offerings on your altar to reflect the particular invocations of each day.
3. Light a candle or small, safe fire.
A fire burns continuously for the entire Navaratri celebration. If you can secure a flame to burn SAFELY for all nine nights, this will serve as a beautiful reminder of your awakened consciousness. It also signifies your commitment to tend the fire of your heart with nourishing food, self-care practices, and continued learning.
4. Prepare soups and teas.
It is traditional to fast during the nine nights of Navaratri. Fasting does not have to mean going completely without food, though. Especially during vata season, it is recommended that you keep your body nourished to stay balanced and grounded. Navaratri is a perfect time, however, to enjoy a cleanse from sugar, alcohol, caffeine, and meat. See how amazing—detoxified and hydrated—you feel after nine days of warm vegetable soups and herbal tea.
5. Listen to mantras and chants to the God/dess
Here are a few of my favorite tracks that honor the feminine principle:
Navaratri Mantras & a prayer for you.
Om Dum Durgayei Namaha
Om Shrīm Mahalakshmiyei Namaha
Om Shrī Saraswatiya Namaha
Om Shanti, Shanti, Shanti.
Salutations to the God/dess archetypes of Durga, Lakshmi, and Saraswati.
May you face all your shadows with the courage and compassion of a love warrior.
May you realize the sacred beauty of the human experience, delighting in each moment with creative freedom.
May you awaken to the divine wisdom within you, realize balanced wholeness as a sacred marriage of all opposites in your life, and remember your Self as a radiant expression of Infinite Consciousness.
And may you know peace.
R.R. Shakti, PhD
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A new declaration written by R.R. Shakti, PhD.
I hold the truth of Self-Realization:
That all beings are divinely unified;
That we are empowered by Universal Source with certain infinite potential; awakened by prana, moksha, and surrender to Love.
As American as John (Cougar) Mellencamp, I too was raised in a small Indiana town. “...taught the fear of Jesus in a small town; used to daydream in that small town. Another boring romantic—that’s me.”
As I have traveled far and wide from that little mid-western community, I have seen what it means to be an American in the light of its beauty and its paradox. It has brought me to the question of what it means. to me, to be an American yogini living in the world today.
Just as the richness of our national culture is cultivated by its multiformity; so too, my personal yoga "blissipline" is enriched by many teachers and approaches to the practice. It is a celebration of diversity and of the interconnected rivers that run beneath the surface of it all.
Yoga is an opportunity to initiate my own rites of passage and sacraments of meaning as they honor and edify my inner guru. It presents both an exotic adventure and a stable hOMe.
I was inspired to write my “Declaration of Interdependence” based on the American Declaration of Independence which almost, but not quite, represents my personal view.
"We hold these truths to be self-evident..."
Satya is a sanskrit word for truth. It comes from the root word, Sat, which means is-ness. In other words, Sat is something so profoundly true that it needs no further definition than simply to say, “it IS.”
As an American yogini, I am a Sat Seeker: seeking the truth of my own dharma; my true nature; the truth of my relationship to the world around me; the truth in politics, religion, and sciences; the truth of my mind. When I seek tis truth, what I find is Self-Realization–a balanced wholeness within and a Love beyond opposition. The power of Love becomes experientially evident. Therefore, I hold the truth of Self-Realization.
"...that all men are created equal..."
As an American yogini, it is apparent that all beings are divinely unified on a dynamic and living planet...
I bear witness to the pulsation of Universal Consciousness conjoining us all. I see a holy person in a homeless person; angels in the outcast; beauty in all the races’ faces–a reflection of divinity in each, unique one. All beings are not only equal in our reflection of divinity. We are unwaveringly united in that Love.
...that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights...
As an American yogini, I am empowered with the awareness of my own infinite potential and the potency of my choices.
May my life be an expression of the infinite power of Love. May all others remember that, they too, are an expression of infinite potential.
...that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
As an American yogini, I’ve learned how to stoke the life force of prana within me and that moksha (liberation) is available within the next breath. I realize that so much suffering can be avoided when I stop pursuing only the ego's gain, surrendering instead to the bliss of my true nature as Love.
As an American yogini, I appreciate a community that reminds me daily of my true nature and inner power. I am gratefully honored and inspired by our interdependence.
Namaste to you and Happy Interdependence Day!
About The Author
R.R. Shakti, PhD
Founding teacher of Inner Power Yoga®, Shakti is a Contemplative Mythologist, ritual facilitator, and writer who presents a Tantrik approach to personal empowerment and social action. Through contemplative story-telling and mind/body practices, she offers a vision of deep peace and radical freedom.
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