Welcome to Perfect Paradise everyone! I’m so thrilled to have you all with me today. Please make yourselves comfortable on a mat, or if you’d prefer not to do yoga let me know and I can rezz a cushion for you.
On Sunday, Nov 3 millions of people all over the world celebrated Diwali, an annual five day festival in honour of the good in the world.
“Diwali, the festival of lights, celebrates the victory of good over evil, light over darkness, and knowledge over ignorance. Lamps are lit on this day not just to decorate homes, but also to communicate a profound truth about life — when the darkness within is dispelled through the light of wisdom; the good in us wins over the evil.”
Diwali (pron. divali) is a short word for “deepavali” which literally means, “row of lamps.”
During this festival the goddess Lakshmi is worshiped. Lakshmi is the goddess of wealth and prosperity. This festival marks the end of the harvest in most of India. Throughout history, farming was one of the only ways to make a living, and to feed those you care about. Because of this, wealth took on more meaning than what it means today.
It is said that on this day, many years ago, Vishnu returned home, where Lakshmi, his wife, was waiting. Those who worship her receive the benefit of her benevolent mood and are therefore blessed with mental, physical, and material well-being.
Spiritually, this is the day Lakshmi-panchayatan entered the Universe. Panchayatan means a group of five. This group was composed of five elements:
-Vishnu: happiness and satisfaction
-Kubera: wealth and generosity
-Gajendra: carries the wealth
Lakshmi provides the Divine Energy (Shakti) which provides the environment necessary for these activities.
Lighting the candles during this festival is a kind of metaphor for shedding light on parts of our life that we typically don’t notice.
“Life has many facets and stages to it. It is important that we throw light on all of them, for if one aspect of our life is in darkness, we cannot express life in its totality.”
In Hindu philosophy, which is where this festival comes from, it is believed that there is “something beyond the physical body and mind which is pure, infinite, and eternal, called the Atman.” Diwali, celebrating good over evil, refers to the “light of higher knowledge dispelling all ignorance, the ignorance that masks one’s true nature, not as the body, but as the unchanging, infinite, immanent and transcendent reality. With this awakening comes compassion and the awareness of the oneness of all things.”
The following is an excellent article from the Huffington Post on Diwali, if you are interested in learning more about the festival: http://goo.gl/QWSvCf
Let us explore the aspect of ourselves related to beauty and prosperity.
The wealth mentioned when speaking of Lakshmi is a wealth of both material and spiritual prosperity. She is also known as the embodiment of beauty, grace, and charm. Other sources have referred to her as the goddess of light, wisdom, fortune, fertility, generosity, and courage. She is often represented as a “beautiful woman of golden complexion, with four hands, sitting or standing on a full-bloomed lotus and holding a lotus bud, which stands for beauty, purity and fertility. Her four hands represent the four ends of human life: dharma or righteousness, “kama” or desires, “artha” or wealth, and “moksha” or liberation from the cycle of birth and death.”
What does wealth mean to you?
It seems to me that through wisdom, generosity, and courage one cultivates wealth of all kinds. If one has these three things then they have a great sense of spiritual wealth – the sense of selflessness. If one has the courage to step out of their ego’s, letting their heart, wisdom and generosity lead the way (compassion), then they have achieved a level of spirituality that most cannot say they have. To me, this is the greatest wealth one can accumulate – a wealth of love.
Lakshmi is the counterpart to Vishnu. Vishnu is the masculine energy (shiva) while Lakshmi is the feminine energy (shakti). The Vishnu Sahasranama describes “Vishnu as the all-pervading essence of all beings, the master of—and beyond—the past, present and future, the creator and destroyer of all existences, one who supports, preserves, sustains and governs the universe and originates and develops all elements within.”
This relationship of Shiva and Shakti exists in all things, in every one of us. It is like the interplay of yin and yang, or inyo in Japanese. Most often we sit with the part of ourselves that is most similar to Vishnu, also known as the supreme soul or God. It is the part of us that creates the idea of ego, of individuality and separateness. Through moving to the other side of the room, shall we say, and sitting with Lakshmi every so often, we have the ability to tap into the compassion and one-ness that exists within all of us.
What does oneness mean to you, and why do you think it is important?
It is important to have both energies within us – the creating and destroying, as well as the balancing. To create something but leave it out of harmony with itself and everything else, we are only asking for chaos. Only through balance is it possible to exist in peace and wealth with everyone and everything. What is wealth if it cannot be shared? If there is no one to share it with?
To the ancients, the balance is found through the feminine aspect, the Lakshmi or Shakti power that exists in all of us and in all of the universe. The keeper of the home and the mother to all beings is who is always there for others, and themselves, when they fall, and always keeps things in order. What are some ways we can embody this in our own lives?