The Dance of Shiva & Shakti: The Play between the Point & the Zero
My teacher, Shri Brahmananda Sarasvati spoke often in his yogic lectures about what he called ‘the play between the point and the zero.’ He would draw a circle on the large chalk board to represent the zero and then he’d place in the very center of the circle, a point. In those early years, I struggled to understand what he was talking about. What this concept of point and zero really was and how understanding it would translate to a happier life.
What’s the point?
The point is the center of any statement that we make. In the context of Yoga, the point signifies the center of existence. The point is consciousness itself. And it is represented by the god, Lord Shiva. Shiva is the point, the center, the stable core upon which all things manifest expand out and eventually resolve back to. Moreover, it’s important to be aware that Lord Shiva is the force which underlies all of manifestation. The Sanskrit definition for Shiva is ‘śayanam śivah’, which means that in which all things take rest. So, Shiva, or the point, is that place in which all things take rest and remain still.
What is the zero?
The zero is nothing. But not quite the nothing we generally understand in the West. The zero is not nuttin’. The zero signifies no thing. It is energy itself. And is represented by Shakti Ma (the consort of Lord Shiva), she is the goddess of manifestation and energy. While the point is the stable core, the zero is the energy that surrounds it. The zero signifies the capacity of manifestation that emanates from the core.
What is the relationship between the point and the zero?
The point and the zero, Shiva and Shakti, dance together. They are two parts of a whole. Shiva is the point or the stable core, while Shakti is the manifestation of that center. You may be saying, wait a minute, I thought Lord Shiva was a god? Yes, he is. Lord Shiva has many meanings, as does Shakti Ma, but your next step is to look at the context in which the god or goddess is being spoken about. The context will enable you to discover a new facet of the god. In the context of ‘the play between the point and the zero,’ Shiva and Shakti remain integral parts of one reality, Brahman. As Shiva, the reality is consolidation and as Shakti, it is expansion.
The whole universe, as we experience it, is the play between the point and the zero, between Shiva and Shakti, between consciousness and energy. The way to integrate this concept is to look at the point and the zero in your own life.
My teacher, Shri Brahmananda Sarasvati, used to say, “Energy that is in a wire is frenetic, it has no point, no consciousness. And consciousness without energy is dormant.” Then he would say, “We are all God in baby form, but we don’t know it yet.” What he was communicating is that it is our job, as yogis-in-training, to bring energy and consciousness together, to unify the Shiva and Shakti within to realize the luminous life that we are.
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