“Life is a dream but the dream is true.” The ability to see life as a simultaneous condition of reality and dream is a great contribution of this subcontinent to the world. Everyone here grows up with a nodding familiarity of what is called “Maya”. They know that the world we live in is both deeply real and unreal, true and relative, at the same time.
This perspective imbues our understanding of myth with a rare refinement. Myth in this subcontinent was never mere fiction. Nor was it sterile fact. It was neither fanciful make-believe nor hard statistical data. It was never a question of either-or; it was both. It was timeless and immediate, all at once: a rich compound of imagination and insight, embodying a deep level of truth. That made it more profound than mere history.
Lord Shiva – Myth or History?
When I speak of Shiva, the Adiyogi, as the source of yoga, I am often asked whether I am referring to him as myth or history, concept or reality, past or present. I say, “Both. He is a plume of smoke that can take any form and shape. But there is a steady fire behind that smoke. Yes, he is a myth; at the same time, he does walk the earth.”
If you are intense and focused enough, you know the fire that creates smoke. Smoke entertains us with a variety of forms. Fire can give us warmth, but if you want to really know it, you must be willing to burn to ashes.
The image of the ash-smeared Shiva is just that. He has burnt every shred of the sense of “me” and “myself”. That is why Shiva means “that which is not”. It is in burning all boundaries into ash that the boundless becomes a possibility.
Magic of Life
If you get lost in fact and non-fact, this trap of logic will deny you the magic of life. If you pay attention, you will see magic everywhere: a seed becomes a tree; a flower becomes a fruit; and well, two cells have become you. It is a world full of magic, missed by those imprisoned within narrow logical parameters.
Doubtless, logic offers us a terra firma of fact upon which to stand. But the very space in which this firm ground exists is the magical source of all creation. Planet Earth, on which we stand, floats in infinite space that is the womb of creation. To stand firmly on the ground and still reach out and touch the sky is the essence of the spiritual process.
The planet Earth is not a piece of geography, but a vibrant reverberation left behind by those who expounded the most intricate forms of logic but refused to be entangled in them. Instead, they evolved logic to a point where it became the access to the mystical and magical dimensions of existence.
Adiyogi is the highest representation of these two seemingly opposite dimensions, cohabiting with impunity. It is our choice to appreciate or be astounded by the logic or to use it as a plume to float dimensions of the beyond. You can ride the plume of logic, but everyone has to come down to fire: either the fire of cremation or the fire of living consciousness.