Mother Earth, Cosmic Mother & Divine Mother
This whole website is devoted to the formless Divine Mother. She is both the mirror in which Her play of Consciousness seems to be projected as the dazzling reflections themselves. She is a lap of unconditional Love in which all Her appearing manifestations move like waves of beauty and bliss in a formless ocean. Each of us appear as a separate form within Her appearing dance of duality and is such a wave of bliss… each so beautiful… it is a joy to watch Her spectacle of diversity…
She is non-dual… and formless… So can you even speak of a “Her”?
Mother Earth –> Cosmic Mother –> Divine Mother
We naturally speak of Mother Earth when we look at the planet we live on. Mother Earth is a commonly known expression because we feel that the planet is like a mother that gives us life. She is the lap in which all living beings are born and she is the lap in which we will all return. How can you not feel the balance, serenity, and sacredness of existence when you are with nature that is untouched by people? How can you not be in awe of it? We can easily feel we are a part of something that is bigger than the sum of its parts. We can feel that there is something present that is beyond the senses. We can easily feel something like “oneness”; an energy or consciousness that keeps everything in balance and motion. This can be felt no matter if we are or are not part of any religion. Everyone can feel and see this. It is not needed to believe in something outside of yourself. Seeing the planet as Mother Earth is a way to look at the world and be in awe of the sacredness of existence without the necessary need of turning Her into a God. We are just in awe of it! WOW, look at the beauty, look the diversity, look at Mother Earth!
You are Mother Earth
You may think you are living in Her, or you may think you are made of Her. But if you look from Her perspective; everything is Her. Thus, you are Mother Earth. She is like a big ball of clay. Every appearing form that is molded out of clay is still clay. The appearing form might think it is something different, but it will always be only clay. The name and form are merely superimposed on the clay. The form and name disappear as soon as the form merges back into the ball of clay. Thus, Mother Earth is One and seems to morph into or manifest different forms out of her own “material”. The amount of Mother Earth material is always the same. You, as a body, are manifested out of Mother Earth and return back to Her when the body dies.
Looking at Mother Earth in this way you could see that there is actually something bigger going on. We are not only merely manifested from Mother Earth. We are an appearing manifestation within the universe, which we can playfully call Cosmic Mother. The scientists say that we are all made out of stardust. In this universe stars frequently explode. During the build-up of the explosion intense fusion occurs in the core of the star. During this fusion the elements of the periodic table manifest themselves one by one from simple elements to denser and denser elements. When the star explodes these elements burst into the universe as stardust. The planets are made of this stardust and thus so are you. Just as with the term “Mother Earth” we can easily see that the term “Cosmic Mother” can be used without it immediately turns into a religion and we can be in awe of it without turning the universe into a God. Looking at existence in this way gives you the perspective of what your place is within the universe. It gives you the perspective of who and what you are. You are an appearing form within the universe. Yet all there is, is the elements; the label “human being” in only superimposed on the stardust!
Formless Mother or Divine Mother
You could see there is even something bigger going on when you allow your awareness to expand. There are three different states in which you seem to operate; you have the experience of being awake, you can dream and there is an experience we call deep sleep. We move between these three states every night. We are all familiar with them. These three states are three different states of Consciousness. The yogis have told us that in the same way we can see the whole universe as a “world”, that there are two more “worlds” in which we play; the dream world and the plane of deep sleep. Although this cannot be proven with scientific instruments it is proved by repeated experiences of the yogis. Looking at existence through these eyes and seeing three different planes of reality it is again not needed to believe in a “God” that is outside of you, because you experience these planes of reality yourself every day.
Formless Consciousness in Waking, Dreaming and Deep Sleep
When you are able to see existence like this you can ask yourself: “what is that consciousness that is present in all these three states?” Because… It is easy to see that there is consciousness in the Waking State. But, there is also consciousness when you dream; you can be awake in the Dreaming State. Some can even “control” their dreams. You can remember your dreams when you wake up. These examples show that there is something awake, something conscious, something is alert when you dream; thus there is consciousness. Even in the Deep Sleep State there is consciousness. When you wake up out of deep sleep and someone asks you; “how did you sleep?” You can reply. Sometimes you have had a nice deep sleep and sometimes you look back and say something like: “I did not have a nice deep sleep”. This implies that something was still awake even in this state of Consciousness. How else can you have an opinion or memory of the state of deep sleep? Thus, there still is something awake when “you” are in deep sleep. If you add it all up; there is something conscious in the Waking State, there is something conscious in the Dreaming State and there is something conscious in the Deep Sleep State. What is this “something”? There must be something beyond these three. This fourth aspect has been called Pure Consciousness and lies beyond the experience of Waking, Dreaming and Deep Sleep. This Pure Consciousness is formless, eternal, and not subject to change. It plays in the Waking, Dreaming, and Deep Sleep States. It is the one thing that the three states have in common. It is the substratum in which all appearing experiences of being awake, of dreaming and of sleeping deep seem to occur. Seeing reality as such is seeing it as a Non-dual Reality. There is only one Pure Consciousness playing as waking, dreaming, and deep sleep. When you embrace this non-dual philosophy, or you intuit that there is only one, no second, you can hold this formlessness, this pure consciousness as Formless Mother or as Divine Mother. Again this does not have to be seen as a “God” that is outside of you. Just like you are manifested out of the earth and are manifested out of stardust, so are you manifested out of this formless ground. The name “human being” is superimposed on this appearing form within formlessness.
Being in awe of Formless is not immediately a religion
I used this example of Mother Earth to expand your awareness to show you that being in awe of something we call Divine Mother is not at all related to a religion. Would you feel that you are part of a religion if you are in awe of Mother Earth? Not necessarily, right? Thus in the same way you can be in awe of the formless calling it a Mother. You can hold the sacredness of existence inside your heart as a Formless Mother in which all appearing manifestation seems to occur. She is not a “being” outside of us; we are an appearing form within formlessness. This is not a religion, it is an awareness of the reality of existence around us. This is why in tantra the formless is called Tripura Sundari. She is the most beautiful One (sundari) that dwells in the three (tri) cities (pura) of Waking, Dreaming, and Deep Sleep. She is not a “being” but that formless Consciousness that seems to play as the three states of Consciousness.
Non-dualism and Dualism
To have the world view of non-dualism you have to be able to explain the appearing dualism around you. In the direct experience of formlessness, which we call Self-realization, all appearing forms disappear. Then how do you explain the appearing of forms when you are not in total formlessness? Several ways have been offered. One says; two things are eternally dancing as separate; the form and the formless. This is actually a dual philosophy as two things exist simultaneous. Another says; since the form is not real, only apparently real, it should not be pursuit in some way. Here all practice is done to set “the form” aside. The last way is to hold form is that it is only apparently real, yet it is a magnificent playground to play in if you know the formless to be the real home.
In our Tradition the appearing dualism is not seen as merely an illusion, unreal, that needs to be set aside as if this appearing illusion is “bad” and we should not waste our time with it. It is seen as a magnificent dance or play of Consciousness. Yes, it needs to be set aside to directly experience the formless. In total surrender all appearing duality is temporary set aside. To be able to do so the apparent duality must first be trained, then it can be set aside, and then form and formless can dance together in total awakeness! Thus, although this manifestation is merely relatively real, an illusion, doesn’t mean it’s not beautiful. It doesn’t mean it cannot by enjoyed. Swami Rama said that his whole life was about knowing both this shore and the other shore. With this shore he meant the appearing duality and with the other shore the formless. We first need to go from this shore to the other shore to know existence as it truly is. But then the journey is not finished. Then also this shore can be mastered. One can be in both at the same time, experiencing the formless as home and being in the apparent form as playtime!
Ooh how magnificent is this appearing play of duality that it actually formless…
Not a religion
Before I start to dive further in this whole Father and Mother thing. Let me again clearly state that this all might sound as a religion, but that it is not. It may sound as if you have to believe in something, either a Her or Him, but there is no blind believing required to either a “Her” or “Him”. Since communication is mostly done through words we are stuck with them as the main tool to explain things. How to explain the formless non-dual Reality to someone who lives in form? How to lead someone, who has the intuition of the formless, from form to formless? Words are used to describe the indescribable. Holding reality as non-dual is a way to view reality. Having a world view is not immediately a religion. Looking at the world in and around us and having a philosophy to explain it, doesn’t mean you believe in something outside of you that has power over you. You merely says this is how I hold and view existence. In our tradition and within all our practices no religion is needed, yet if you have one you do not have to leave it. Our practices lead you through body, breath and mind to go beyond to that formless Consciousness. That is all. So this article is just to explain to you how I hold “Pure Consciousness beyond the mind” as if it is like a Mother, because it helps me to increase the awe.
Both Mother and Father
Why Mother? And not Father? Actually, both are used. Swami Rama speaks often of the Lord of Life. These two are one and same.
If you have the intuition that the is only one, no second. You will have to find a way to explain the apparent dualism within non-dualism. Because the apparent dualism seems so obvious! Above three ways were described:
1) Two things are eternally dancing as separate; the form and the formless. (Yoga philosophy: Purusha and Prakriti)
2) Since the form is not real, only apparently real, it should not be pursuit in some way. Here all practice are done to set the illusion of forms aside. (Vedanta philosphy: Brahman and Maya)
3) Form is only apparently real, yet it is a magnificent playground to play in if you know the formless to be the real home. This way of looking at non-dualism means that there is an inseparable commingled dance of two appearing aspects of Pure Consciousness that are always one and the same. (Tantra: Shiva and Shakti)
What are these two aspects dancing together? The first one is the formless that never appears as manifestation, that is always unmmanifested. The second one is an appearing power within the formless through which the appearing forms seem to emerge. Both are formless because they are both within formless pure Consciousness. These two aspects are symbolized as male and female. Why? It is not hard to imagine that these two appearing aspects are symbolized by male an female because life around us depends on the dance between these two. When male and female forms dance together life keeps expressing itself in new forms, generation after generation. The appearing power to manifest within formlessness is ascribed to the female force; which makes sense, since it is she who gives birth. The formless unmanifest aspect of Consciousness has been given the name Shiva and the appearing manifesting power of Consciousness has been given the name Shakti. Shiva is symbolized as masculine and Shakti as feminine. One is the Lord of Life and the other is Divine Mother. But know that actually there is neither female, nor male, nor both, nor neither, all there is is the formless Consciousness playing as form.
The highest insight of tantra is that Shiva and Shakti are one and the same. So, if you would see one as more important than the other would make no sense!
Three streams are working together
In our tradition these three are not seen as three different options, but as three streams working together. Actually you could say that you do not even have to separate them as three different philosophies or streams. There is one Reality and looking at it in these three ways just shows the magnificence of the dance of One Pure Consciousness.
How you prefer to hold the formless non-dual Consciousness depends on your predisposition. We like to hold it as Mother, but this doesn’t mean we exclude Father. Holding it as Mother is for me a way to increase the awe; not only for the formless Reality but also as a way to be able to be in awe with the appearing dualism that seems to exit within it. But if you think I hold it as a female deity you are not understanding my words well… The Absolute Reality is formless and calling the formless Her is merely because we are stuck with words!
Divine Mother is the union of Shiva and Shakti
Divine Mother has been used by Swami Rama to hold Shakti as the manifesting power of Pure Consciousness, but also as being Shiva and Shakti both. In Choosing a Path, Swami Rama writes: “The union of Shiva and Shakti is called Mother Divine”.
The word Mother is used in Tantra. In this philosophy the female gender is used to speak of Pure Consciousness in contrast to other philosophies that speak of Him or neutral gender. The formless Consciousness playing as the appearing duality is known as Tripura Sundari. Tripura Sundari means; the most beautiful (sundari) One who dwells in the 3 (tri) cities (pura) of Waking, Dreaming and Deep Sleep. This means She is neither one of the three cities, because She is dwelling in them. Thus, she has to be beyond. She is beyond forms, beyond the three layers of Waking, Dreaming and Deep Sleep. Tripura Sundari is also seen as Divine Mother. There are 9 other Mahavidyas besides Tripura Sundari. These 10 Mayavidya are the 10 aspects of the Divinity expressed through female forms: Kali, Tara, Tripura Sundari (Shodashi), Bhuvaneshvari, Bhairavi, Dhumavati, Bagalamukhi, Matangi, Kamala. They all are illustrated as having anthropomorphic forms. But remember there is only ONE Pure Consciousness, ONE Non-dual Reality. When one hold the non-dual Consciousness as Mother or Father, remember; it is both and neither female or male, because it is beyond characteristics, names and forms.
Live in sacredness
My hope is to be able to express the fact that you can live in the sacredness of existence without it being a religion. I see or feel (mostly in the West) a resistance to a sacredness or holiness because it has often been linked to a religion. Since dogmatic religion has been left behind in some of the places I know and visit, to start with the country I was born in; The Netherlands. It seems that the magic of existence has left too. This is throwing out the baby with the bathwater. You can live in absolute awe of pure Consciousness and the dance of the appearing duality without blindly believing in something outside of you. You do not have to give away your strength, your wisdom, your incredible capacity to wake up and directly know Pure Consciousness to something outside of you. Seeing reality as a Formless Divine Mother, seeing reality as One, means you have full responsibility! It is you who can remove the ideas of separation. You can practice to remove the false identities and wake up to your true identity; namely that you are Pure Consciousness. Formless Mother is like Mother Earth, a ball of clay. Only she is formless clay and when it appears to be molded into form we forget that it is all clay. We identify ourselves with the form instead of the clay. Separation and duality appear to be real and thus we suffer.
Those who can observe within themselves a feeling of resistance related to being in awe and sacredness it might be useful to look at this resistance in relation to your coloring around religion. Though, it might not at all relate to you….
Throughout history people have seen both Him and Her as deities, whether they may have appeared within dreams, thoughts, imagination, hallucinations, teaching-stories, meditation and contemplation. I can imagine that if somehow the non-dual Pure Consciousness seems to appear as form, either to please and serve the sincere seeker, because the seeker cannot yet hold the formless, or for whatever reason, that this form must be exquisitely beautiful, highly symbolic and overwhelming for the senses. How can a form carry the formless in a way it doesn’t lose the magnitude and limitlessness of the formless?
Tripura Sundari not as a deity
I show you this picture, because this is one of the ways in which Divine Mother as Tripura Sundari is portrayed. Isn’t she beautiful? Some may really think that this IS Divine Mother. Yet this is not the way I hold Her, I do not see her as a being. Again, I see Her like a lot of people see the earth as a mother, as I told in the beginning of this article. Seeing Her as a form could form an attachment to the form and could become the obstacle of moving to the real “Her”, the formless. But if this form helps you, then use it. Use it as a symbol. But it is not necessary to hold Divine Mother in this form or any other form. Any form can help you remember the formless. Any form, word, imagination will have to be let go of to really directly experience the formless non-dual Reality! Even the word Divine Mother!
Practices is done internally
In our tradition all practices are done internally, all worship is done internally. Meditation on form is lead to formless meditation. The object of meditation is Self-realization. The object is the formless pure Consciousness or Tripura. No religion, no deity, no external rituals are needed. All practices are to move through body, breath, and mind to go beyond!
You can use anything to symbolize or illustrate Divine Mother or Non-dual Reality if this helps you to remember the formless. But it is not needed. You could immediately remember the formless as formless.
Swami Jnaneshvara writes: In our tradition deities are thought of only as symbols, not as realities to be worshiped. Swami Rama explains it well in his commentary on the Bhagavad Gita (3.11-3.12), where he writes:
The ignorant think that gods dwell in celestial worlds and have power to control human destiny. Such gods are merely projections of one’s internal organization, the creation of gods in the external world is a projection of the unconscious. The belief in gods was created to help those who are not aware of their internal resources and are in need of an objectification of supernatural powers. They need to believe in gods that will help them fulfill desires that they feel inadequate to fulfill through their own means. It is said that those who have seen gods are fools, for they have seen something of their own self and mistakenly believe that they have seen gods. Externalists have created gods for their own convenience, but in actuality those gods are symbols of unknown phenomena that occur within.
For those aspirants who cannot contemplate on the attributeless Eternal, symbols are recommended by spiritual teachers. In the path of meditation certain symbols are used to make the mind one-pointed. The student is then advised to go beyond the symbol to comprehend its meaning rather than remaining dependent on the symbol forever. Thus in meditation one leaves the symbol behind and goes forward.
The form that represent not only Divine Mother as formless, but also Her apparent manifestation is the Sri Yantra. This form is the “seen” that goes with the “sound” AUM. It is the Yantra of Sri. Mantra is the science of sound and Yantra is the science of form. This Yantra is not merely an image, like a nice drawing, but is the visual representation of Pure Consciousness. Like AUM is the vibration that represents the whole of existence. AUM is the designator of Non-dual Consciousness, leading you from Waking, Vaishvanara, Gross, Conscious (A of AUM Mantra) through the Dreaming, Taijasa, Subtle, Unconsciousness (U of AUM Mantra) through the Deep Sleep, Prajna, Causal, Subconscious (M of AUM Mantra) to Silence, to Brahman, to Tripura, to Divine Mother, to Pure Consciousness. Thus, just like AUM, the Sri Yantra guides you back into the formless. The door to the formless is the bindu which lies in the center of the Sri Yantra (which is the same dot as the dot of the AUM-symbol). The bindu is the point out of which the whole of existence explodes into form and it needs to be pierced to directly experience the formless.
Swami Rama; The process of manifestation emanates from the ultimate Reality and moves into expansion by dividing this original unity into two; Shiva and Shakti. These are the latent and active aspects of consciousness dwelling in eternal unity. Thus, all the energy and elements in the universe, from the most subtlest to the most gross, are held potentially within this seed of two phonemes. This perfect stillness, called Samvit, manifests into thirty-six gradations of cosmic evolution; the entire world is a continuous unfoldment of what is already in Samvit and it will all dissolve back into this origin again. This entire process of expansion and dissolution is displayed in the Sri Yantra.
All forms manifest from unity into diversity and then return again to unity. This is the eternal law of the cycles of the universe that is reflected in all things. In the philosophy of Sri Vidya, these two movements are known as dissolution (layakrama) and evolution (srstikrama), and they are depicted by the concentric squares and circles and the interlaced, inverted and upright triangles of Sri Yantra, which has the bindu point Samvit in its center. This union of Shiva and Shakti is called Mother Divine. (From Choosing a Path)
Another way to build a road map of manifestation with the Center of Consciousness or Divine Mother in the middle is to expand the circle-chart. This circle-chart is both a road map of microcosm and macrocosm, with the question mark to represent the true Self of existence. Our true Self is now unknown and also called by many names, thus is the question mark placed in the circle representing our True Self, Atman, Brahman, Divine Mother or Tripura Sundari.
The above images were inspired by the circle chart (the one below)
Conclusion: Divine Mother of Mother Divine has been symbolized and illustrated in many forms, all with one goal to lead you to directly experiencing Her as FORMLESS, INFINITE, NON-DUAL CONSCIOUSNESS… You may hold this formlessness in any way, so that it can serve you to go beyond form!
Live in sacredness. Be in awe with the Formless Mother; the lap in which everything seems to be playing as incredible waves of bliss and beauty.