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The night of death and new life

Maha Shivratri is perceived by most as an all-night celebration that is ritualistic. To the evolved, it is a night of death - quiet and peaceful.

Shiva as destroyer symbolises death. The darkness of amavasya that follows the big night creates an ambience that prompts the seeker to look for illumination. As the Adi Guru, Shiva inspires us to be awake ^ that is, aware. Hence the practice prevails of staying awake all night on this special day. Another aspect of darkness is anonymity. Mystical happenings, the occult, too are associated with darkness. So in one special night you have elements of isolation, awakening and the occult.

Maha Shivratri calls for unusual demands on the fragile body and rigid mind. Scriptures say that the body is only a mud house and the Atma is a passing tenant. Many mystical questions arise: how does the tenant select the house, how does it maintain and use the house?

Shiva is the final frontier for fulfilling all desires. You are limited only by your knowledge. The world is full of events which do not appear in your known consciousness, but then even your body is full of events which do not appear in your known consciousness, but that still does not prevent you from claiming your body as your own. You know this world exactly as you know your own body through your limited senses. It's your mind that separates the outside world from your inside world, creating fear and mistrust. Hence, offering only water to Shiva is symbolic of simplicity and spiritual grace. Flow is the message here.

Maha Shivratri is neither a night of pleasure nor of pain. The understanding is simple: you have been given a beautiful stone at the age of 21 and you're told that it is a priceless diamond. You safeguard it all through your life till you're told - at the age of say, 50 - that it's just a piece of glass. Suddenly you feel cheated; the pleasure you experienced in possessing the stone suddenly vanishes and what remains is pain. Shiva cracks the whip and wakes you up from a nightmare.

The end of pain does not lie in pleasure but in freedom from both pain and pleasure.

The search for Shiva ends in the space within. So the ritual of Maha Shivratri is asking the devotee to be a witness. Witnessing is a normal natural process. The problem is excessive interest leading to a sense of self-importance that destroys the joy of living.

The night of waking up from this dream is crucial. It can be painful if you desire to hold on to it.

Stop imagining that your dream is your own. The night of Maha Shivratri is better spent in solitude; you definitely don't want to be woken up in somebody's bed you never intended to spend the night with!

There is nothing wrong in having desires. The point is: what kind of desires do you have? Are they petty, are they narrow and selfish? If so, it's time to expand the scope of your desires so that all the energy that goes into making up your various desires gets transformed into love. Ultimately, what do you really desire? You wish all longing for love and happiness to be fulfilled, isn't it? Simply lead a life full of love and everything else will follow. After all you are not in the body. The body is in you, and you are the one who has the power to steer life the way you wish.

Lovely Thoughts for Lovely People Just Like You


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