From the book The Art of Everyday Ecstasy
by Margot Anand
"Touching each part of your body, I also touch my body and I realize we are One."
-From the Sri Chakra Yantra Ceremony
Several years ago, in the midst of a successful and dynamic career, I separated from my beloved Tantric partner of many years. To my dismay, I suddenly felt I had lost the ground under my feet and my sense of self-worth. Almost as if I had lost myself. I had studied enough psychology to know that I was projecting my inner man onto my outer partner and seeking my own projected masculine self in my lover's persona. Yet knowing this did not help. I felt as if I needed to have him in my life to be validated as a woman.
It was especially disturbing and frustrating because I had thought my many years of spiritual study and inner work had taken me beyond this place. Many times, in deep meditation, I had experienced profoundly my innate wholeness, the truth that I was complete as I was: I did not need a father, a lover, a husband, a guru, or any outer male figure to be whole as a woman. Yet in this relationship, I seemed to have forgotten what I knew.
I had lost my inner balance, the harmonious interplay between my inner male and female. I seemed to act either from one or the other, yet in a chaotic and confusing fashion. First, I would throw myself into a career in the marketplace driven by the longing for success and accomplishments. Eventually, fed up with performing and producing, I would flee to the world of meditation, to India, where I could sit, receptive, in the simple enjoyment of being. But I could not remain at peace for long in either state, and I found myself running back and forth between them, dissatisfied with each. On retreat I would berate myself for not being responsible, active, and productive; for not serving and contributing to the world. And in the world I felt that the busy hustle and bustle of professional accomplishments were empty dreams. And I would long for a simple life of silence and meditation.
Even more upsetting, my connection to the Goddess archetype within my own psyche was very vague. I was not truly at peace with my own feminine nature. I was looking outside for a solution I could only find within. I knew that for my own healing, I must bring into balance my inner male and female independently from an outer partner. But first I must find and realize the living Goddess within myself.
AN INVITATION FROM THE GODDESS
In that moment of aching realization, as I was yearning to reconnect with the Goddess, I received an invitation from a student in my training to visit her Tantric master, Guruji, at his ashram in south India.
Guruji is a most unusual man, a remarkable combination of scientist and mystic. His chosen name is made up of three syllables: Gu means "ignorance"; ru means "removal"; and ji is a title of respect. Guruji thus means "respected one who removes ignorance." A physicist, Guruji worked for the Indian government for many years. But when his work turned toward defense and armament, he felt uncomfortable. He wanted to work toward world peace, not serve the cause of war. One day as he was praying in the temple, a powerful apparition of the Goddess Devi showed herself to him. She told him she would protect him and take care of him if he would start a new life in service to Her. The presence of the Goddess is potent in India, where the feminine aspect of the divine is deeply revered. Guruji took his vision seriously.
He prepared himself for years and at last returned to the village where he was born. There, by the grace of the Goddess, people stepped forward with money. He was given four acres of land. There he built a temple to the Goddess. Devipuram, "abode of the Devi," is an amazing three-story temple based on the form of the chakras, our subtle energy centers, and filled with 108 statues of the Devi in her manifestations as different goddesses. But it is more than a temple filled with statues. It is a place of education at many levels, where women are worshipped as embodiments of the Goddess. Devipuram is devoted not only to the exploration of the sacred but also to programs of social activism, such as opening banks specifically for women and training teachers to go out and educate the community.
Guruji's words cut to the heart of the anti-ecstatic conspiracy. He says, very simply and clearly:
"The world is full of richness and variety. The old religion is in fact the oldest religion there is. It is the religion of love. When separation entered religion, it caused alienation among nations. Alienation creates boundaries. Cooperation is the real key-two heads are better than one, ten sticks together are stronger than one stick. Cooperation. Resonance with nature and environment. Harmony. Peace. These are human values approaching divinity. Competition, struggle for success, fear of failure, loss of face, frustration, anger, violence- these are neurotic subhuman values. They disrupt peace, stability, harmony, environment."
THE GIFT OF THE DEVI
I arrived on February 14, which has always been an auspicious day for me. It is the day of my initiation into Tantra in 1977, when I received my name Ma Anand Margot, "the path to bliss ' from Osho in India. It is also Valentine's Day, a day celebrating the love between man and woman and the day of the New Moon of the Goddess, according to the Indian lunar calendar. On this day, Indians hold the SriYantra ceremony, a profound adoration of the Goddess that is based on one of the most ancient yantras (symbols) in the Tantric tradition.
The SriYantra mandala is a design made up of nine interlocking triangles-four pointing upward and five pointing downward. This potent image, at least five thousand years old, symbolizes the entire universe, all of creation: from microcosm to macrocosm, from the smallest atom to the largest galaxy. It also represents the body, the emotions, the natural world, the five senses, the love between man and woman, all powers and forces, life, death, and nature.
The eight triangles pointing downward symbolize the energy of the feminine. The eight triangles pointing upward represent the energy of the masculine. The center where they intersect is the Bindhu point of creation, symbolizing the joyous union of Shiva and Shakti, Spirit and matter, consciousness and energy, and the infinite possibilities of creation through the ecstatic union of male and female polarities within each human being.
THE SRI YANTRA CEREMONY
Hundreds of people came from all over India on this day to participate in the SriYantra ceremony. To prepare the temple, devotees went to a sacred lake several miles from the ashram and brought back one thousand fresh lotus flowers, in fragrant, billowing armfuls, and arranged them around the Goddess.
Then they undressed the statue of the Devi on the top floor of the temple. Carved of gleaming black granite, she sits in the half-lotus position, one leg folded, one leg hanging down, relaxed yet powerful. I watched as they began washing her with milk, honey, and ghee (melted and clarified butter), symbols of fundamental nourishment. As they washed the Devi, they made many invocations and mudras (sacred hand gestures) to her: to her crown, to her breast, to her Yoni, praising all her qualities and asking for her protection and blessing.
As I watched this ancient, sacred ceremony, I imagined that it was my own Goddess self being worshipped in this way. I felt empowered as a woman, embraced in my feminine nature. As I joined the chant of the Devi mantra, praising the transcendent integration of male and female energies, an all-encompassing dear consciousness rose in my being. I felt the presence of the Goddess growing within me.
-From "The Art of Everyday Ecstasy" by Margot Anand