Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Kalibhakta Sutra, Part Three

Verse 3:
Her play begets star-play begets neuron-play begets All.

Vimala-lila tara-lila manisha-lila nitya-lila.

We begin to evolve beyond our individual and cultural limitations when we appreciate that play [lila] is the source of existence and that flux, not stability or hierarchy, is "the way things are." Vide the quantum world, vide the rise and fall of civilizations and of the universe itself. As Kalibhakta puts it in a marginal note to the MS: when we expect the universe to conform to our wishes, "We are like a bandit extorting a penny from a queen who sits astride a hill of rubies." [Note menstrual imagery.]

Some have called this the "fractal zoom verse" after the way it zips from the ultimate macro-level of being to the micro level and back again. Note that the words for "star" and "neuron" [mind] are also names of goddesses, thus emphasizing the all-pervading, all-encompassing nature of Godhead. The verse also refers to the fact that stars and neurons arrange themselves into similar, fractal structures. Manisha has the connotation of desire, an allusion to our arching upward to Her even as She bends downward to us: the interlocked triangles of Tantric iconography, as seen in symbols such as the Sri Yantra and the Masonic compass and square.

The epithet Vimala ("pure") for the Divine Mother calls to mind the book of Titus: "To the pure, all things are pure." The reader is thus recommended to keep the mind pure via devotion to God, since an impure (i.e., self-centered) mind creates suffering. Vimala also evokes Bollywood, and a certain controversial guru.

On the topic of externally-created suffering, implied by the verse's consideration of the individual's place within the cosmos, Shaktism unravels the perennial and overblown “problem of evil” with the advice to “Stop wishing things were some other way. This is what you have been waiting for” (Sayings of Kalibhakta, vol. 1). [The latter phrase has been traced to the poem "The Gate," by Marie Howe.]

Though our perceptions do not literally create the universe, they are all we have of it, directly or indirectly, and they provide the only "order" in an infinite sea of chaos. The verse portrays matter, mind, and Divinity as a feedback loop, creating one another in an embrace that never ends. Its depiction of creative chaos can be seen as a synthesis of verses 1 and 2.

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