In contrast to our dualistic thinking here in the West — thinking that separates light from dark, life from death, and chaos from order –there are a number of Eastern philosophies and religions that have retained a more holistic approach to reality. One religion that has done a good job of preserving the awesomeness of its deities by representing them through the full spectrum of life, death and rebirth is the Hindu culture in India. Remarkably, most of the major Hindu gods and goddesses represent divinity as forms of “coincidence of opposites.” In other words, the great deities like Shiva, Vishnu and Devi (the Goddess), simultaneously encompass life and death, good and evil, darkness and light, creation and destruction. For Westerners who live in a society which easily polarizes such distinctions, looking at the living mythology of one of these divine figures might offer us some ideas of how we can create a more unified mythology for ourselves.
It is no surprise to me that in India people acknowledge death as an inevitable part of life, just as they see darkness as half the daily round. When I visited India 35 years ago, I found it to be an overwhelming experience. The streets were filled to overflowing with people, oxcarts, cars with horns blaring, trucks inching along between the pedestrians, camel carts, bicycles and more people, food stalls, markets with vegetables and spices I had never seen before and people on top of people. As a Westerner I found all this lively interaction disconcerting, especially since it was very difficult to find a time and place to be alone. Life — even human life — was abundant to the point of excess. Continue reading “Kali Ma, The Dark Creator and Destroyer by Nancy Vedder-Shults”