Live the cosmic energies, Pious Maha Shivaratri from Mauritius

6f1aa0bf42f560b3b633a8aebb0bd0ec

Maha Shivaratri, the night of the worship of Lord Shiva, occurs on the 14th night of the new moon during the dark half of the month of ‘Phalguna’. It falls on a moonless February night, where people all over the world offer special prayer to the lord of destruction. Shivratri (Sanskrit ‘ratri’ = night) is the night when he is said to have performed the Tandava Nrityaor the dance of primordial creation, preservation and destruction.

Among all the twelve Shivarathris that occur in a calendar year, Maha Shivarathri, is of the most spiritual significance.
On this night, the northern hemisphere of the planet is positioned in such a way that there is a natural upsurge of energy in a human being. This is a day when nature is pushing one towards one’s spiritual peak. It is to make use of this, that in this tradition, we establish a certain festival which is night-long. One of the fundamentals of this night-long festival is to ensure that – to allow this natural upsurge of energies to find their way – you remain with your spine vertical – you stay awake.

Legends apart, why this day and night are held in such importance in the yogic traditions is because of the possibilities it presents to a spiritual seeker. Modern science has gone through many phases and arrived at a point today where they are out to prove to you that everything that you know as life, everything that you know as matter and existence, everything that you know as the cosmos and galaxies, is just one energy which manifests itself in millions of ways.

This scientific fact is an experiential reality in every yogi. The word “yogi” means one who has realized the oneness of the Existence. When I say “yoga,” I am not referring to any one particular practice or system. All longing to know the unbounded, all longing to know the oneness in the Existence is yoga. The night of Mahashivratri offers a person an opportunity to experience this.

Shivarathri, is the darkest day of the month. Celebrating Shivarathri on a monthly basis, and the particular day, Mahashivratri, almost seems like celebration of darkness. Any logical mind would resist darkness and naturally opt for light. But the word “Shiva” literally means “that which is not.” “That which is,” is existence and creation. “That which is not” is Shiva. “That which is not” means, if you open your eyes and look around, if your vision is for small things, you will see lots of creation. If your vision is really looking for big things, you will see the biggest presence in the existence is a vast emptiness. A few spots which we call galaxies are generally much noticed, but the vast emptiness that holds them does not come into everybody’s notice. This vastness, this unbounded emptiness, is what is referred to as Shiva. Today, modern science also proves that everything comes from nothing and goes back to nothing. It is in this context that Shiva, the vast emptiness or nothingness, is referred to as the great lord, or Mahadeva.

Every religion, every culture on this planet has always been talking about the omnipresent, all-pervading nature of the divine. If we look at it, the only thing that can be truly all-pervading, the only thing that can be everywhere is darkness, nothingness, or emptiness. Generally, when people are seeking wellbeing, we talk of the divine as light. When people are no longer seeking wellbeing, when they are looking beyond their life in terms of dissolving, if the object of their worship and their sadhana is dissolution, then we always refer to the divine as darkness.

Light is a brief happening in your mind. Light is not eternal, it is always a limited possibility because it happens and it ends. The greatest source of light that we know on this planet is the sun. Even the sun’s light, you could stop it with your hand and leave a shadow of darkness behind.

But darkness is all-enveloping, everywhere. The immature minds in the world have always described darkness as the devil. But when you describe the divine as all-pervading, you are obviously referring to the divine as darkness, because only darkness is all-pervading. It is everywhere. It does not need any support from anything. Light always comes from a source that is burning itself out. It has a beginning and an end. It is always from a limited source. Darkness has no source. It is a source unto itself. It is all-pervading, everywhere, omnipresent. So when we say Shiva, it is this vast emptiness of existence. It is in the lap of this vast emptiness that all creation has happened. It is that lap of emptiness that we refer to as the Shiva.

In Indian culture, all the ancient prayers were not about saving yourself, protecting yourself or doing better in life. All the ancient prayers have always been “Oh lord, destroy me so that I can become like yourself.”

So when we say Shivarathri, which is the darkest night of the month, it is an opportunity for one to dissolve their limitedness, to experience the unboundedness of the source of creation which is the seed in every human being. Mahashivarathri is an opportunity and a possibility to bring yourself to that experience of the vast emptiness within every human being, which is the source of all creation.

On the one hand, Shiva is known as the destroyer. On the other, he is known as the most compassionate. He is also known to be the greatest of the givers. The yogic lore is rife with many stories about Shiva’s compassion. The ways of expression of his compassion have been incredible and astonishing at the same time. So Mahashivratri is a special night for receiving too.

It is my wish and blessing that you must not pass this night without knowing at least a moment of the vastness of this emptiness that we call as Shiva. Let this night not just be a night of wakefulness, let this night be a night of awakening for you.

Previous post on Maha Shivratri:https://anshikasawaram.wordpress.com/2014/02/27/pious-maha-shivaratri-from-mauritius/

The sixth planet, Welcome to the Plasticene

10341659_10153040320659589_3553694186714191232_n

The ultimate fate of waste plastic is hazy – but we know future geologists will find traces of a fleeting era written in the stones. Welcome to the Plasticene

ONE million years from now, geologists exploring our planet’s concrete-coated crust will uncover strange signs of civilisations past. “Look at this,” one will exclaim, cracking open a rock to reveal a thin black disc covered in tiny ridges. “It’s a fossil from the Plasticene age.”

Our addiction to plastics, combined with a reticence to recycle, means the stuff is already leaving its mark on our planet’s geology. Of the 300 million tonnes of plastics produced annually, about a third is chucked away soon after use. Much is buried in landfill where it will probably remain, but a huge amount ends up in the oceans.

More than five trillion pieces of plastic, collectively weighing nearly 269,000 tonnes, are floating in the world’s oceans, causing damage throughout the food chain, new research has found.

The ocean isn’t large enough to avoid marine life encounters with debris.Here is what we all end up doing;
Plastic’s devastating effect on marine mammals was first observed in the late 1970s, when scientists from the National Marine Mammal Laboratory concluded that plastic entanglement was killing up to 40,000 seals a year. Annually, this amounted to a four to six percent drop in seal population beginning in 1976. In 30 years, a 50% decline in Northern Fur Seals has been reported.

These curious, playful seals would often play with fragments of plastic netting or packing straps, catching their necks in the webbing. The plastic harness can constrict the seal’s movements, killing the seal through starvation, exhaustion, or infection from deep wounds caused by the tightening material. While diving for food, both seals and whales can get caught in translucent nets and drown. In the fall of 1982, a humpback whale tangled in 50 to 100 feet of net washed up on a Cape Cod beach. It was starving and its ribs were showing. It died within a couple of hours.

Along Florida’s coasts, brown pelicans diving for fish sometimes dive for the bait on a fisherman’s line. Cutting the bird loose only makes the problem worse, as the pelican gets its wings and feet tangled in the line, or gets snagged onto a tree.

Plastic soda rings, “baggies,” styrofoam particles and plastic pellets are often mistaken by sea turtles as authentic food. Clogging their intestines, and missing out on vital nutrients, the turtles starve to death. Seabirds undergo a similar ordeal, mistaking the pellets for fish eggs, small crab and other prey, sometimes even feeding the pellets to their young. Despite the fact that only 0.05% of plastic pieces from surface waters are pellets, they comprise about 70% of the plastic eaten by seabirds. These small plastic particles have been found in the stomachs of 63 of the world’s approximately 250 species of seabirds.

What You Can Do

Marine plastic pollution shows us that we cannot really throw anything “away.” Reducing, reusing, and recycling is the best way to stem the tide of plastics into our oceans. Here are some specific steps you can take to cut down on your use and protect our oceans.

1. Cut disposable plastics out of your routine. Simple alternatives include bringing your own bag to the store, choosing reusable items wherever possible, and purchasing plastic with recycled content.

2. Recycle. When you need to use plastic, be sure that you recycle it after you’ve reused it. Each piece of plastic recycled is one less piece of waste that could end up in our oceans.

3. Take Responsibility. Whether you represent yourself, a business, or a government, know how much you are contributing to the problem of plastic pollution.

4. Stop throwing your wastes everywhere.