Through this blog post I would like to invite you to open yourself to the possibility (perhaps you’re already open to it) that there is something greater than our individual selves. Maybe you call it “God”, universe, mother nature, or something else.
Since we study the lineage of yoga here, we’re going to look at things from yogic point of view. Most Hindus believe that there is one supreme god, or “Brahman”, whose qualities and forms may be represented by a multitude of deities. According to Hinduism, Brahman is manifested as Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva.
These three make up the totality of existence: Brahma is said to be the creator, who represents the beginning of things, Vishnu is the preserver, which represents the duration of things, and Shiva the destroyer, representing the inevitable ending of things. Perhaps a nice fun fact is something I heard in India from a temple guide. He said that even the English work “god” stands for the threefold totality of existence:
- G = Generator
- O = Operator
- D = Destroyer
Apart from the three aspects of the divine, there are multitude of other deities, which portray more aspects of the divine, and also have different human characteristics and attributes. You may be asking yourself: why do we chant, pray to, and worship these deities? This is how I see it: on one hand these deities are divine and with higher levels of consciousness than us. On the other hand they go through similar experiences and life adventures like us: they fall in love and get their heart broken, they experience happiness and get angry, they are in touch with their inner truth but also sometimes forget who they are, and so on, which makes these deities relatable.
Each deity represents something else, and according to where we are in life and what our experience is we can choose to connect with the deity to give us guidance, help us remember a forgotten aspect of ourselves, empower us, and remind us of what is important.
Journaling prompts for self-reflection:
- How do you perceive something larger than your individual self? What do you call it? What is your relationship with it?
- Do you pray? If so, how? What does prayer mean to you?
- Journal about the threefold totality of existence: beginning, duration, and the ending of things. Which aspect is most present in your life right now? Which should you be embracing?