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Goddess and Spiritual Experience.
During my recent readings and research on the Goddess, I have found some very interesting things that I would like to share with you. For example, there is the connection between the Goddess and the spiritual experience. Not the concept or definition of a spiritual experience (trust me, I have enough of these in academia) but the actual, deeply personal experience of spiritual awakening. Can we describe a spiritual experience without falling into clichés? Probably not, but that does not mean we should not try!
A spiritual experience is the cracking of our being, the finding of an opening in our being that allows us to see our soul and our own truth, separate from being a human animal with a mind capable of reasoning.
This is the realising for the first time, experientially rather than intellectually, that there is truth, that there is a reality beyond our mind and emotions, and that this truth connects us to everything.
That there is no separation between us and others, between us and animals, between us and the trees, oceans, or any other forms of existence. During a profound spiritual experience this becomes apparent, even if only for a brief time.
It is a life-shattering experience, and it is called “Awakening”. Awakening is also called “Grace” (Sophia aka the Holy Spirit or Shakti).
My first full-on spiritual experience did not happen within the western tradition but through a form of esoteric Hinduism, through the awakening of kundalini energy.
So nowadays it is pointless for me to argue whether kundalini, this spiritual elan vital, exists or not – since I experienced it rushing through my body with immense power, giving me the vision of the oneness of all life while continuously transforming me.
It is as if a great mysterious power runs through your body and shows you that, yes, you do have a soul and, yes, you are much greater than the body that carries you. Only after that experience did I finally understand what was meant by the saying “the body lives in the soul and not the soul lives in the body”.
I had an experience of what I call the “curving of consciousness”, when our perception of what time and space is becomes completely changed and expanded, when I actually experienced space stretching around me and I could perceive myself in that expanded, stretched, curved space, as both in it and out of it.
During this process I also felt the kundalini energy rushing through my body and felt it knocking at my navel area and my throat. My emotions were also affected. At first I had a short cry, and then suddenly I began laughing and could not stop laughing for some while as I observed the cosmic dance in which we are all caught!
It was a life-changing experience and I have spent years trying to understand it and share this with others without sounding like a flake. A difficult task for someone who has been a writer and academic all her life. So here I am…
There are some explanations in esoteric Hinduism. Awakening is the encounter with the sweet and all-powerful principle which is the doorway to our deepest being and symbolised by Shiva, which is another a name for Consciousness at large.
Shakti/Grace/Sophia is our access to that Consciousness. She is the all-powerful principle, who chooses to open the door of Great Consciousness or Awareness to us.
Shakti is the grace that allows the unfolding of kundalini, or our spiritual energy, our spiritual potential. Shakti is also the first manifestation of Consciousness (also called Shiva).
If Shiva stands for pure consciousness, Shakti is all manifestation, all life, all creation. In esoteric Hinduism you focus on Shiva to get in touch with your inner self, you say mantras to Shakti to manifest.
Since that experience I have been looking for a similar explanation in western traditions. One of the most recognised goddesses in Western tradition is the Virgin Mary – and please do not go away, as I am not going to preach!
On the contrary, I have always been convinced that this archetype does not tell the whole truth and was constructed entirely by institionalised religion.
The entire concept of virgin birth in a biological sense and the insistence that it indeed was so did not work for me, to put it delicately! (And I really went after it in my Jerusalem Diary – too strongly perhaps.)
However, in my recent readings of Joseph Campbell I found a mystical symbolism for virgin birth. It is not about biology and it is not about avoiding sexuality. It is something completely different that leads us to a better understanding of spiritual experience.
Campbell says that the virgin birth – which is known in many traditions – is a metaphor for spiritual possibility in our present physical lives. To be born not physically but spiritually. It is a symbol that there is a part of us not dependent upon the physical and material in our lives. It is nothing else but a metaphor for awakening.
In this way, Campbell believes, Mary is an equal to all the Bodhisattvas, who show us that it is possible to reach the spirit while in human form. (Or she was a perfect Yogini who, while human, managed to transcend her humanness and became one with the Spirit).
However, Mary is allowed (and I want to stress the element of permission here) to be venerated as a type of goddess, but only in the form of a mother. She is still a construct of an institutionalised belief and limited by it.
That is why I prefer to relate to Sophia and Mary Magdalene, who stand on their own. Indeed, they are both considered often a troublesome archetype which has been side-tracked by institutionalised belief. Sophia as Grace or Divine Wisdom is very similar to the Shakti of esoteric Hinduism.
Awakening is seldom a one-off experience. It is an ongoing process. It is the difficult, sometimes mind-wrecking and heart-breaking process of living a life after the first awakening happens.
Only very few who experienced it once manage to stay in this state of oneness. In modern times we know of Ramana Mararshi, who self-realised in 30 minutes (after experiencing a fear of death), and I dare also include Eckhart Tolle, who one morning had a similar experience of extreme fear and came out of it permanently transformed.
The rest of us have to find the middle way, living in a world of material concerns while also having fleeting experiences of the other world.
And here we come back to the Goddess again. Whether she is called Shakti, Sophia, Grace or the Virgin, she is the force that pulls us up from mundane concerns to the space where the heart and mind meet.
This encounter is more than the sum of its parts. It creates a mystical understanding that there is something ineffable in the midst of everything we encounter. Like the centre of a mandala around which all revolves.
This is an awareness that pierces the centre of our being. A bridge between different levels of being.
Practical application or Workbook for the Goddess News Spiritual Blog:
- What is your vision of oneness in your life?
- What skills or even desire to have a gift do you possess that could help to manifest the vision into the world? (Here we often say: “Oh, I do not have any skills like that,” but this is not true and is just an easy way out. That gift is there and it is yours – your goddess, your bridge between the two worlds.
- What blocks your grace?
- My vision of oneness of life is the one I have received during my Shaktipat (kundalini awakening) and since then it is clear in my awareness that all creation – and by that I mean not only other people but also all animals, trees, waters, Oceans -everything is one with one – the that deepest level of Grace.
- Everything I write about and publish and talk hopefully reflects this vision – and especially this blog for which I am so grateful that allows me to express this vision with soul- minded people like you without worry about publishing guidelines or editors’ preferences.
- In some ways, it is my ambition and self-doubt that occasionally block the flow of Grace for me – e.g. when I start looking at myself and others through the eyes of the ego. world rather than through the eyes of the soul. For example, judging myself: am I successful enough, am I slim enough, etc. rather than seeing myself and others as souls travelling through time each on its own unique journey.
As always, I love connecting with you and love your comments :). And if you like what you read, please share it with others xxx
Sending Love, Joanna
Dr Joanna Kujawa