American Institute of Vedic Studies

Shiva Ratri: Waking Up to your Immortal Self

Look to your true Self beyond body and mind that are but your instruments of expression in the manifest worlds. Whatever you see is but a reflection of the power of Shiva!

Lord Shiva is the supreme deity of ever-wakeful awareness, the veritable consciousness of immortality. Connecting to his energy is essential for our optimal well-being and deepest understanding of life.

Shiva is the deity of cosmic dissolution, who returns the manifest universe back to its unmanifest origin beyond name and form. This is not an act of destruction but one of transformation. Yet Shiva also represents the Absolute or Supreme Brahman that inherently transcends all time, space and karma.

Shiva is Mahayogi, the great Yogi, who is the master of life and death, existence and non-existence. The Shiva consciousness within us never dies and never feels any sorrow. He is Mrityunjaya or the one who takes us beyond our own death and suffering.

 


Are We Awake to our True Reality?

 

If we examine our lives, we observe that much of our time is spent asleep or only half aware. Our sleep state dominates a third of our daily activity. Even during our waking hours we have periods of half-sleep, daydreaming, dullness and distraction.

 

Our lives are shadowed in a spiritual ignorance, not knowing why we were born or what our true Self is, but caught in a dream of the physical body and creaturely mind. Our waking state is a prolonged or collective dream, not an enduring reality.

 

Our behavior is karmic and repetitive and rarely self-aware. Our consciousness is enmeshed with subconscious energies and motivations that we do not comprehend. Our minds are conditioned reaction mechanisms not instruments of clear perception. We may strive to gather more information about our world, but we may only be expanding the boundaries of illusion.

 

Our lives are shadowed in a spiritual ignorance, not knowing why we were born or what our true Self is, but caught in a dream of the physical body and creaturely mind. Our waking state is a prolonged or collective dream, not an enduring reality.


Shiva Ratri: The Night of Eternal Wakefulness

 

Shiva Ratri is the sacred night of the year when we are meant to wake up to our inner reality and connections with the whole of life. Lord Shiva’s ever wakeful presence is most accessible at this time.

 

True awareness is not merely keeping up with current affairs or the latest developments in science. It is Self-awareness beyond waking, dream and deep sleep, birth and death. But to reach that state of enduring insight, we must cultivate it continually through regular introspection and meditation.

 

Lord Shiva as the ever-wakeful state of pure Consciousness is our guide to waking up from the human dream to our greater reality in the Self-aware universe. Shiva is the supreme deity of the cosmos that modern science is looking for to explain our magical universe in which time and space have no ultimate reality. Shiva is also the supreme deity of eternal life that modern medicine only faintly suspects, who can guide us to total peace and Ananda beyond any dependency upon the external world.

 

On Shiva Ratri, the night of Shiva, please make the effort to remain awake, searching for the ever-discerning light of immortal consciousness within you. You will be astonished how much of the inner universe is waiting inside you for your personal discovery. Shiva Ratri is the night of Yoga Nidra or yogic sleep, when we put our mind and body to rest, and return to the yogic state of unity consciousness beyond the fluctuations of Maya.

 

You can meditate on Lord Shiva in your heart or in the region of the third eye, the eye of Shiva. Or you can simply be aware of him as the presence of Being that pervades all.

 

As Lord Shiva rules over cosmic sound and mantra, you can chant OM Namah Shivaya, the Rudram, the Mrityunjaya Mantra, or his bija mantras OM Haum Joom Sah! You can worship or do abhishek of the Shiva Linga, his cosmic symbol. There are many practices that you can follow, including visiting Shiva temples.

 

Yet you need not restrict these practices to Shiva Ratri alone. You can follow them whenever you aspire to awaken to deathless Eternity and boundless Light!

 

Look to your true Self beyond body and mind that are but your instruments of expression in the manifest worlds. Whatever you see is but a reflection of the power of Shiva. The bliss of Shiva is there for all to experience and remove all darkness!

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