Friday, May 22, 2020

The Divine Feminine as Wisdom in the Bible

Despite the devotion expressed towards Her in the Bible, the Feminine aspect of God has been neglected in the Christian churches (particularly the Protestant churches), some would say, to their detriment. This is no doubt due to the bias of an all male priesthood.

She is personified as Wisdom in The Book of Proverbs, in the Old Testament, and invoked in The Book of Wisdom, which is considered canonical, and part of the Old Testament, by the Catholic and Orthodox churches, though not by all Protestants.

She is described as having existed before the Creation (perhaps always) and as the agent through which it was achieved. She is considered to be the Breath of God, and the manifestation of His power. Like the Holy Spirit (who some believe is the same being, and therefore a feminine, motherly aspect of the Holy Trinity) She is present in those who have the pure desire for God.

For She is the breath of the power of God,
and a pure influence flowing from the glory of the Almighty:
therefore no defiled thing can fall into Her.
For She is the brightness of the everlasting light,
the unspotted mirror of the power of God,
and the image of His goodness.
And being but one, She can do all things:
and remaining in Herself, She makes all things new:
and in all ages entering into holy souls,
She makes them friends of God, and prophets.

-The Book of Wisdom 7:25-27

Luca Giordano, Allegory of Divine Wisdom, National Gallery, London (detail)

Friday, April 10, 2020


NASA image of Jupiter's clouds

In the ancient Hindu philosophical system of correlates, the planet Jupiter represents the aspect of the Divine as Guru - spiritual teacher and upholder of Dharma. When we awaken this principle within us, we develop wisdom, discipline, and self mastery.
Brihaspati was a sage mentioned in the Vedas. He was the teacher or guru of all the gods. In time he became associated with the planet Jupiter. It is sometimes said that Jupiter is the Earth's protector. Its immense gravity field absorbing comets that could have wiped out life. The guru principle gives a person gravitas and dignity. Brihaspati is often depicted riding an elephant, the animal which best embodies this quality.

Shri Mataji has explained that Jupiter is the planet for the area of the subtle system known as the Void - bhava sagara in Sanskrit. Bhava sagara can be translated as 'Ocean of Worldly Existence' or 'Ocean of Illusion'. If we become lost in attachments to aspects of life, we fall into confusion. The inner master is the navigator who takes us across this ocean. In the subtle body this Void is located around the navel chakra at the centre of the body.
Jupiter takes approximately 12 years to complete a circuit of the Sun. A "Jupiter return", is a time when the planet is at the same position as it was at the time of birth. It therefore happens at the age of 12, 24, 36, 48 and so on. These are times in which there is an expansion of life's opportunities and sense of self-mastery.

To Pass into It

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Remember You Are This Universe

Remember the sky that you were born under,
know each of the star’s stories.
Remember the moon, know who she is.
Remember the sun’s birth at dawn, that is the
strongest point of time. Remember sundown
and the giving away to night.
Remember your birth, how your mother struggled
to give you form and breath. You are evidence of
her life, and her mother’s, and hers.
Remember your father. He is your life, also.
Remember the earth whose skin you are:
red earth, black earth, yellow earth, white earth
brown earth, we are earth.
Remember the plants, trees, animal life who all have their
tribes, their families, their histories, too. Talk to them,
listen to them. They are alive poems.
Remember the wind. Remember her voice. She knows the
origin of this universe.
Remember you are all people and all people
are you.
Remember you are this universe and this
universe is you.
Remember all is in motion, is growing, is you.
Remember language comes from this.
Remember the dance language is, that life is.

Widayat, Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden

Joy Harjo 
Joy Harjo was appointed the new United States poet laureate in 2019. Born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in 1951, Harjo is a member of the Mvskoke/Creek Nation. She is the author of several books of poetry, including An American Sunrise, which is forthcoming from W. W. Norton in 2019, and Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings (W. W. Norton, 2015). She is a current Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets and lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma. 

Monday, December 23, 2019

Who Was The Buddha?

Who am I? What is the Self? This is the most fundamental of questions.

Buddhism has the concept of anatta (no self) which is usually interpreted to mean that souls and selves do not exist. However, The Buddha may have meant that individual, discrete selves are an illusion, but there is a singular, undivided Self that can be realised by one who has awakened from the dream of separateness (ego). This interpretation makes The Buddha's teaching compatible with the Indian philosophy of Advaita (non-duality).

Buddhists believe in reincarnation, which suggests the existence of souls. It may be that The Buddha saw souls as merely subtler forms of the gross body, and not something one should identify with. Perhaps this is the intention of the anatta doctrine. Centuries later, the sage Shri Shankaracharya wrote his Tad Niskala, which states that who you are is not the body, or the sheaths of the subtle body (soul), but Shiva (the Self of all that exists). Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi has said that Shri Shankaracharya was a reincarnation of The Buddha. Shankara encouraged devotion for the Adi Shakti, the feminine aspect of Shiva, the Universal Self, who manifests in each of us as the Kundalini. This is because, without Kundalini awakening, Self-realisation is not possible.

One might ask why The Buddha bothered to try to liberate people if he did not believe in souls, or selves. What would be the point of mere matter trying to enlighten mere matter? It's a good question. According to tradition, The Buddha did initially consider that perhaps teaching people about enlightenment would be a futile task. The answer may be that the Self, like the sun, must shine, no matter that there are clouds of ignorance and illusion. Suffering is due to the illusion of separateness, and this illusion should be dispelled, even if there are ultimately no 'others' who suffer.

The Buddhist scholar Alexander Wynne considers this issue, and also questions the emphasis on therapy in the contemporary offshoot of Buddhism, Mindfulness Meditation, in contrast to the Buddha's emphasis on Self-realisation as the main aim. In his article Who Was The Buddha?, he also tries to separate the mythical and historical figure of Gotama Buddha.

Read the article. here

Tuesday, October 29, 2019


“National identity is the last bastion of the dispossessed. But the meaning of identity is now based on hatred, on hatred for those who are not the same.”

― Umberto Eco

Coping With Resurgent Nationalism

by Pranabh Bardhan

Einstein had called nationalism ‘an infantile disease, the measles of mankind’. Many contemporary cosmopolitan liberals are similarly skeptical, contemptuous or dismissive, as its current epidemic rages all around the world particularly in the form of right-wing extremist or populist movements. While I understand the liberal attitude, I think it’ll be irresponsible of us to let the illiberals meanwhile hijack the idea of nationalism for their nefarious purpose. Nationalism is too passionate and historically explosive an issue to be left to their tender mercies. It is important to fight the virulent forms of the disease with an appropriate antidote and try to vaccinate as many as possible particularly in the younger generations.

read more

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Shri Durga

Goddess Durga, 19th century lithograph from Bengal.

The Hindu goddess, Shri Durga, is worshipped at this time of year, especially in Bengal, to celebrate Her victory over evil forces.

The ancient Persian goddess, Anahita, has many similarities to Shri Durga: both were originally warrior goddesses (although in the case of Anahita, later becoming more associated with water and the fertility of the earth), both are virgin goddesses, and both have a lion vehicle.

The Egyptian lion-headed warrior goddess Sekhmet is also similar. She was seen as a fierce protector of the Pharaohs. Her name means 'power' or 'might', and one of her epithets was "One before whom evil trembles".

Depiction of a lion-riding Iranic Goddess from the Kama River Valley in what is now Russia

Four-armed goddess, seated on a lion, from ancient Chorasmia, an Iranian civilisation in western Central Asia

Sunday, September 22, 2019

William Blake at the Tate

The Ancient of Days

From 11 September 2019 – 2 February 2020 the Tate Britain gallery in London, is showing over 300 works by William Blake; perhaps a once in a lifetime opportunity to appreciate his visionary genius on such a scale.

According to his biographer, Alexander Gilchrist, Blake's design The Ancient of Days was "a singular favourite". He made many versions of it, including one completed shortly before his death.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

The Poet God

In Hindu ceremonies, Shri Ganesha is worshipped first. His father Shri Shiva is worshipped last. As the deity who dissolves the universe at the end of each cosmic cycle, allowing it to be renewed, Shri Shiva is the god of endings.

The Shiva moon is the final crescent phase, resembling the sickle used to cut the ripened harvest. This period is a good time for bringing projects to completion, such as the final subtle finishing touches of a painting. It is a time for letting things go, as Shiva is also the god of renunciation, especially in His form of Lord Bhairava. 

One of the epithets of the deity Lord Shiva is Kavi, the poet. Poets are known to place special importance the endings of their poems. A great final line can bring a new and unexpected meaning to the lines that have gone before, producing a deep emotional realisation in the reader.

In Japanese haiku poems, the third and final line is often a 'cutting line' (kiru), which breaks from the image evoked by the first two lines, jolting readers out of their mental complacency, and opening the possibility for a moment of awakening.

Wednesday, July 03, 2019

Inner Balance

Centredness is essential for spiritual ascent. Being in a state of balance: neither in the future nor the past, neither planning nor regretting, neither overactive nor lethargic.

According to fluid dynamics, at the centre of the stream the current is greatest. It is there that we are free of the snags and friction of the river banks, and we are carried along effortlessly.

Shri Mahalakshmi is the aspect of the Divine who gives us balance and gives us our ascent through the central channel of the inner subtle system. She resides at the centre of this subtle system, in the Nabhi (navel) Chakra, the colour of which is green, a balance of yellow and blue, the colours of the right and left channels respectively.

Friday, May 03, 2019

Written in Sand

Many have wondered what it was that Christ wrote in the sand/dust when the woman was brought by the Pharisees to be stoned for adultery. The passage from St John, telling of this event, is the only one in the Bible where there is mention of Christ ever having written anything. Knowing the human tendency to make idols out of words and sacred books, Christ probably decided not to personally write any scriptures (neither did Muhammad nor the Buddha). 

The Bible doesn't say what Christ wrote, and so there has been a lot of theological conjecture about it. The most interesting explanation is that He was writing down the sins of those who had gathered to carry out the stoning. In Jewish tradition, when an adulterer was brought to the Temple for punishment, their sin was written in the dust of the court floor and then brushed away (perhaps because the sin was considered too unmentionable to say aloud in such a holy place), but the Pharisees seem to have neglected to do this. They were also supposed to have brought for punishment the man caught in adultery, not just the woman. So, though they were presenting themselves as upholders of the law, they didn't even follow the letter of the law, let alone the spirit of the law, which is no doubt what Christ was trying to show them.

By writing down their hidden sins (as tradition stated the adulterer's sin should be written) Christ showed the Pharisees that He thoroughly knew the law. And when they saw their sins written on the earth, they were too shocked to carry out the stoning. John says they walked away one by one, leaving the woman with Jesus, who told her that no one will condemn her, including Himself. 

Appealing to their consciences, by just telling the Pharisees they were hypocrites ("he who is without sin may cast the first stone") would not have been enough for such people. They had to see their sins written for all to read.

Knowing He preached forgiveness, the Pharisees had tried to trick Christ into publicly going against the Old Testament laws, so they could accuse Him of blasphemy. Only a divine personality could have resolved the situation so perfectly.

Jesus and the woman taken in adultery, by Julius Schnorr von Karolsfeld, 1860.