It’s Mother’s Day! And what better way to honour the mamas in our lives than by celebrating the creative divine feminine force. Listen to Where Am I, singer, songwriter and yogini Tara MacLean’s loving tribute to motherhood and read “The Four Powers of Divine Mother” by Swami Radhananda. Then call your mother and tell her why you’re grateful for her.
Divine Mother is sometimes thought of as a being outside of ourselves or as an image to worship. But she is really the power within us. Her many aspects, that are given 108 names in India, represent different powers. Four of her main powers are wisdom, strength, harmony and perfection. What would it mean to manifest those four powers in our own lives?
How does wisdom manifest? Wisdom is a goddess within us and arrives as a thought form. We cannot demand her presence but rather must wait as she takes her time percolating from the unseen to the seen, from the unconscious to the conscious levels of our minds. Divine Mother, as wisdom, resides as an intelligence in the heart. Connecting with wisdom means connecting to the heart.
This divine intelligence emerges when we care enough to put aside our own petty desires. If we do not, then our hearts close down. When we are heartless, it becomes acceptable to take advantage of people, and so we see crimes in our own families, in our workplaces, on our city streets. We see unsafe schools and countries at war. Because so many people lack heart, we live in a world full of conflict, violence and war. If we return to the heart, to the feminine within ourselves, we can hear Divine Mother’s voice. It is in this reflective place, an amorphous, chaotic place, where our ideals are incubated and our dreams arise. We have to be courageous enough to enter in and to allow what emerges from chaos. When we enter Her spaciousness, magical things begin to happen, shimmering within us. Gradually, she comes into sharper focus.
Her voice, which is the voice of intuition, has a different vibration than what we have been conditioned to hear. If we can open our hearts to Divine Mother, she will reveal what we need to know, but not always in the way we expect. Rarely does she come as linear thought. Something is constantly birthing through her, birthing through our minds as insights, and birthing through our daily lives as lessons and experience.
How do we manifest wisdom? We open our hearts and leave space in our minds for wisdom to enter. We recognize that life is transition and it is not in Her plan that we remain stagnant. We let the wisdom of each situation bring itself forward and carry us to the next step.
What is the power of strength? There is a story of a man who was in prison for murder. Everyone was afraid of him because he was so strong, so loud, so unpredictably violent. His father prayed for him constantly, hoping that he would at some time see the Light. One day a guard noticed an unusual stillness and silence from his cell and went closer to check. The prisoner looked dazed and then suddenly reached out to embrace him. The guard quickly withdrew, but then saw the amazing light of love shining from the prisoner’s eyes. When asked what had happened, he said that Jesus Christ had come to him and asked, “What have you done with all the strength I have given you? If you would use it for my benefit, you could be of great help.” From that day onward, there was a dramatic turnaround in the prisoner’s attitude as he turned his strength to new purpose.
We can ask the same question of ourselves: what have I done with the strength I have been given? What will I do with that strength? What is it that brings my strengths forward? The strength needed to face life’s challenges has to be exercised in the same way that a muscle needs to be exercised. Divine Mother provides us with the potential, but can we make the commitment to develop that strength? Can we live our lives fully, following through on what has been given? Often we get caught in self-will and do not even recognize that the challenges are her ways to help us grow and develop our strengths.
We each come into life with certain strengths: perhaps strength of character, or certain talents and skills. Have you ever wondered why some people are strong in one particular area? Could it be that through many incarnations we have been developing our specific strengths? Think how Mary would have needed to build spiritual strength over many incarnations in order to give birth to Jesus Christ, to give birth to Cosmic Consciousness. Creation of any kind requires strength. Look at the pain and effort it takes to bring something to life. We can ask ourselves: Do I have the strength to destroy the obstacles that stand in my way? What is the irresistible passion that calls on all my strength? What strength is needed to create a new world for myself? Do I want something passionately enough to break away from the crowd and to do what is best for myself, for my family, for my community? Do I have the strength to uphold my ideals?
The third power of Divine Mother is harmony. We can recognize harmony in our bodies when everything is working as it should: breathing, eating, running, working, singing, praying – the body, mind and spirit uniting in harmony. We also know that when we are feeling ill or distressed, things are out of balance and we have to do something to re-establish that balance. Sometimes it requires medicine for the body, calmness for the mind, and inspiration or joy for the soul.
Divine Mother needs a sacred space to be within us. Like our Temple of Light at the Ashram, the inner temple cannot be built unless there is harmony. A temple of harmony can contain the company of the wise. If there is no harmony, but only resentments and power struggles, there is no peaceful place for her to reside. Too often we see how people do not know how to live together, side by side. There is a desire to eradicate or kill that which is different. What gives anyone the right to kill a life, a reputation, a relationship? We can ask ourselves: How do I learn to open my mind and heart to new ways of being? Is there space within my heart for a new idea, a new concept, a new person, or do I shut down and dismiss each new form of Divine Mother?
Accepting and celebrating our differences within our families and our communities brings a sense that we are constantly meeting ourselves. I often hear the hum of Divine Mother at work when I am in a group dedicated to the purpose of cooperating with an evolving ideal. The work is lighter and there is a place for everyone. Everyone is treated as if they were Divine Mother herself. We need to entice Divine Mother into our lives through living in harmony.
What is perfection? Our daily ordinariness becomes precious when we become aware of how perfectly a situation emerges, benefiting all involved. Think of a perfect moment. What makes a moment perfect? Details, sincere effort, right attitude, openness, gratitude, awareness, beauty.
Divine Mother will do anything to make us realize our lessons, the steps we need to take to break our concepts and to stretch our boundaries, to uncover our unconscious knowing. This is Divine Mother’s job, to make us understand. She can open us to the experience of seeing the bigger picture. We are part of all that is around us. This is perfection. She uses whatever means, joyful or painful, to teach. Pain and suffering are the realities of our world. Unhappiness, pain, loneliness, death – everything we try so desperately to avoid are exactly the gifts she is giving us so that we can learn and evolve. Through reflection we can see how the details of our lives perfect our understanding of ourselves. This is Divine Mother in action, leading us to a more fluid, changing mind.
Divine Mother has many names and forms, and each of us has many qualities to help us with our unique mission. Because Divine Mother is part of us, there is always a guarantee that she will be there to answer any sincere call. She has given us this life and these powers. How are we going to use them? We need to consciously bring wisdom, strength, harmony and perfection forward in our lives. Then, when our lives are over, we will have no regrets and no resentments. We will have learned what we came to learn.
Excerpted with permission from Living the Practice: Collected Writings on the Transformative Potential of Yoga by Swami Radhananda (Timeless Books, 2012).