Questions and Answers
** Devotion **

What is devotion?
Nora's :
To say why not just Shakti or Shiva only we are not being practical. If we look all around us : there also the two polarities : the negative and the positive, the yin and the yang and so on. We work within these two forces internally and externally to maintain a state of equilibrium. In one of my articles on Ritual Transvestism, my interview with a psychologist who remarked : even within our Gender identity we have the male and the female aspect in us. The Gender identity if the inner feelings of maleness and femaleness. It is the gender of the inner self.

Member 1:
The point is that there is no equilibrium in the external world as to these forces due to the subjugation of women in patriarchy, and the external is a reflection of the internal. That is why I feel that insisting on revering one over the other, or calling god He as a matter of course, denies the fullness of being. And I think Shakta can help right the balance by calling god She, but that it's important not to just swing the pendulum the other way to create imbalance, which may be why there was a patriarchal takeover to begin with (because it upset men that She was god and not them, and they didn't feel included in it--this is my thinking about why the matriarchy "fell")

Member 2:
'What is devotion?' Its like a passion, but devotion runs deep right into our heart and mind."

member 1 :
Yes, sexuality can include that depth of heart and mind if people begin to (re)establish equilibrium between female and male within and without.

Member 3:
Devotion is more than just a passion. It's a connection one have with the divine which goes deeper into the heart and mind.

Member 2 :
A member asked an interesting question : "Does a woman usually imagine her husband or boyfriend to be Shakti when she makes love to him? Does a man usually imagine he is making love with Shiva when he makes love to his wife or girlfriend?" She is using lovemaking to denote worship because she think it helps to put this issue in perspective.

Member 4 :
That sounds like meditation of tantric sex. It is a powerful energy and one needs a guidance of a qualified guru to proceed or one will have a good chance of going mad.

Member 5:
Nora is right when she says : we do not imagine ourselves making love to Shakti nor to Shiva . There are different mode of bhakti/devotion : Shanta ( peaceful contemplater of god/dess), Dasya ( servant of the goddess), Child of goddess ( the mother-child approach), Vatsalya ( parent of Goddess) and Madhurya ( lover of goddess). Sri Swami Sivananda called the last one : Madhurya as the "highest form of Bhakti".

Nora :
Generally or personally I would approach the divine mother as a child, because it is a kind of devotion that we are familiar with : the mother and child relationship. "The innocence of the child."

Member 1:
I feel that as far as female sexuality, all cultures are stuck in the virgin/whore complex, and that's why we are only familiar with the mother and child relationship as a model to base devotion on.

Member 6 :
It depends on the sadhaka; he chooses the mode that suits him best .

"The best way to treat Shakti is as a Mother. It can save you from so many karmas also. If you look at all women as your mother would you ever think of raping or cheating or deceiving one? And if you see the Divine Mother in all beings can you ever intentionally injure anyone? No, and this automatically draws you away from the cycle of action and reaction. ". Aghore : at the left hand of God. Robert E. Svoboda.

Member 3 :
"Sri Swami Sivananda called the last one : Madhurya as the"highest form of Bhakti".
If Madhurya is the higest form of Bhakti shouldn't we follow it.Why go for second best?

Member 1:
Good question. I think there needs to be fluidity in being, and fluidity in practicing. I understand that we all are familiar with the Mother/Child relationship, and also, that depending on individual temperament, people may be drawn to a particular practice. However, if we look at integrating our full range of being into our lives in the world so that inner and outer are one, staying in Mother/Child only and permanently would not allow full expression, experience, or integration. The same tenderness and vulnerability and protectiveness, etc. that is experienced in a Mother and in a Child must be known in each individual, and to have that level of emotional presence with erotic passion shared between equals is a worthy endeavor.

Good point. But not every one can go into that erotic passion or devotion unless of course you have the knowledge and experience. Like I said mother/child mode is the simpliest because of our own personal experience, and its easier for us to relate to. I would say [ my own personal opinion], the first step to any devotion. And then over a period of time we change this mode of devotion according to our spiritual advancement or our connection with the Divine one, but I don't think so that erotic devotion will actually give a full expression, experience or integration with the Divine.

Via the chatlines

you agree when I say the mother and child it the simpliest and perhaps the first step into any devotion towards DEVI. And we change this mode accordingly to our spiritual progress ?

P1 : Yes, thats why we call her MAA. As you advance she becomes the child and you the father/mother (Bala); then she becomes lover (panchadashi) and then she becomes the eternal maiden (Shodashi). It is only at the panchadashi mode sex has any role

So only when you have spiritually advance, she becomes the lover but more symbolic in nature. You approach her sexually ?

Of course symbolic. Actually at that stage for some sadhaks there is sexual approach.

Nora :
So how does this becomes a lover fits in.

P1: Because when you really love, both are one

Now the whole thing make sense to me. Sometime back in the group, I saw a picture of Ramakrishna and Sarada Devi holding Kali as a Baby and is sitting on Sarada Devi's lap.

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