The top five tattvas, or principles of existence, are Shiva, Shakti, Iccha Shakti, Jnana Shakti, and Kriya Shakti.
Shiva is pure consciousness, it is like the sun, and Shakti is the creative power of that consciousness, it is like sunlight. They are the same but different aspects of the same. In the top five tattvas there is Iccha- the will of the consciousness. It is will that comes before action- we have an idea before we can create. Jnana is the knowing of that will and Kriya is the action- a spontaneous action that has no condition or expectations- it is action for the sheer delight if it. In with all these five tattvas is a fine “trembling”. So from this pure consciousness it the trembling that causes the Iccha to wilfully pulsate from fullness to contract part of itself- it creates the screen of prismatic crystal unto which and into which all the possibilities of diversity and colour then manifest. Shiva/Shakti loses nothing of itself in the process- it stays completely unaffected in the unmanifest.
Iccha, Jnana, Kriya, then become the aspects of the wheel- the shaktichakra. The wheel starts with Kali- the Goddess of destruction. She is the consumer of time (kala being time and kali meaning the one who consumes time) she represents the blank state of your mind, no form or colour from which everything grows. She is the dark ground where the seed of the tree is planted. She represents Iccha. Saraswati represents Jnana, she is the deep order, the sequence that the growth follows- she is the tree that sprouts from the seed. Finally at the apex of the wheel, at the height of the cycle before it moves downward again is Lakshimi, she is Kriya, the final action that is the fruit or flower of the tree- that which decays and falls to the ground, into the dark and back into Kali. Kali who seems to represent chaos, and darkness and destruction then is just part of the wheel- she is the ground upon which all ideas sprout. (I know Sjanie will love that….)
The top five Tattvas, or principles of nature, as outlined by the Tantrics are:
1. Shiva – the one energy, Consciousness, stable and unchanging, the vibration of potential:
Shiva is the masculine principle of stability, stillness, and that which never changes. Out of his own freedom, Shiva, often pictured dancing, chooses to take the forms of the universe just for the fun of it – to experience and revel in the goodness of existence.
In Anusara yoga we choose to see even our limitations as opportunities to experience our own divine nature. All parts of our being, including our physical body, our thoughts, our emotions, and even the aspects of ourselves that limit us, are actually this vital, divine energy revealing itself in ever-changing form, or
2. Shakti – the infinite expressions of the oneness, in all the infinite, ever-changing forms of the universe:
Shakti is the expression of that one spirit in the multiplicitous forms of the world, the feminine principle of freedom and all that changes and is in constant motion. Shiva can only be seen in some form, the forms we see all around us in the trees and the wind: always in movement.
Why does Shiva become Shakti? Why would such vast spirit take form in such limitated ways such as a tree or our breath? Because…
it wants to experience itself it is free it is playful
The challenge of Tantric yoga is in seeing Shiva within Shakti, and Shakti in Shiva: seeing oneness in diversity, and diversity in oneness; experiencing freedom within limitation, and limitation within freedom; playing in a serious way, and finding playfulness even in serious times.
And the next three, from which come the 3 A’s, are:
3. SadaShiva – “I am this,” or Iccha Shakti: Desire (Attitude):
The One takes on the limitations of form out of a deep longing to experience its own goodness. Our deepest intentions arise from this same desire to experience our own true nature- what is often referred to as our heart. When we start a day, a practice or a project from this deep intention, we have access to immense power.
If our fullness is hidden from us, it becomes desire for fullness (raga), bringing feelings of unworthiness (anava mala). When we open to the deepest desire that beats our heart and breathes our breath, this is Attitude.
4. Isvara – “This I am,” or Jnana Shakti: Knowledge (Alignment):
We can learn how to open to and support this current of energy within us, and give it expression in our bodies and our lives. When we believe we can’t know this, we get ignorance (avidya), where we make judgments based on difference, i.e. , “that object is separate from me” (mayiya mala). Even taking steps toward opening to the flow of universal energy within is Alignment.
5. Suddha-vidya - “I am this, this I am,” or Kriya Shakti: Action (Action):
As the great epic the Baghavada Gita advises, “Perform your obligatory duty, because action is indeed better than inaction.” Yoga is about taking action. When the power to act is hidden from us, we feel impotent (kala) and anxious (karma mala).
When rediscovered, we remember the immense possibility of even our subtlest action to affect the world in a positive way, and delight in even the smallest action as an expression of the highest good within ourselves.
Thus, from the tattvas come the 3 A’s: Attitude, Alignment, and Action. In Anusara yoga, we:
1. Remember our connectedness,
2. Align with the bigger energy that flows within us, and
3. Express our inherent goodness.
When I began to follow these steps, my poses transformed like magic. Soon, I realized life is simply a series of poses, and I began to notice this magic everywhere.