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Sally Kempton: Awakening Shakti

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The Goddess as Everything

The yogic sages—especially in the branch of yoga called Tantra, which we’ll discuss more in chapter 2—anticipated quantum physics by pointing out that a subtle vibratory energy is the substratum of everything we know. Unlike physicists, however, yogic seers experienced this energy not simply as an abstract vibration but as the expression of the divine feminine power, called Shakti. The word shakti means “power.” Shakti, the innate power in reality, has five “faces.” It manifests as the power to be conscious, the power to feel ecstasy, the power of will or desire, the power to know, and the power to act. The tantras say that all of these powers come into play in the act of cosmic creativity, when divine intelligence spins a universe out of itself, much the way a human mind creates a dream or a fantasy on its own inner screen. The cosmic creation explodes in a big bang and then evolves over millions of years as suns, planets, increasingly sophisticated life forms, and, of course, human beings. All of reality, this tradition says, is Shakti’s dance. Shakti takes form as the biological processes of our body. She acts through our thoughts and the play of our emotions. She becomes every atom and dust mote in the physical world. We are, in our essence, made of Shakti. Her powers of consciousness, ecstasy, will, knowing, and acting are constantly at play both in ourselves and the world. She is also the force that inescapably nudges us toward the evolution of our consciousness, with which we must align when we seek conscious transformation.

But the Tantric sages weren’t content with a generalized vision of energy-as-Shakti. They personalized it in mythic language and in an additional leap of insight, created a science for transforming human energy—by working with the goddess figures of the Hindu pantheon.


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