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Saturday February 5, 2005: Kali's Destruction

        I’m not sure if other people see the similarities of Durga’s myth to the destruction myth of Sekhmet, but I see many common threads. In both cases, the male deities had become powerless to stop the threat of Chaos; there was a possibility of Divine Order being overwhelmed. In desperation, the male gods called up a female goddess, the one considered unstoppable. Durga fought very specific battles and it was Kali who sprang out of Durga to do the more extensive killing. In some versions of the Egyptian myth, Ra calls up Hathor to destroy mankind and Sekhmet arises out of her as Hathor’s fierce aspect. Only Sekhmet (never Hathor) is accused of going overboard.

        Of course, it always sounds much nicer to say a goddess ripped apart demons instead of human beings. Who would not see this as a more positive role -- destroying to protect humanity? If this is the assumption in Durga and Kali’s myth (since no actual humans were injured in the telling of the goddesses’ tale), remember that Durga’s destruction of the demons was done to protect cosmic order, not humanity. As for the Egyptian myth, it spoke of Ra giving the early priests some of his own power, believing the priests would use the gift to help the rest of humanity. Instead, you ended up with humans who had godlike powers, who turned their backs on the gods and began channeling Chaos – which sure sounds like demons to me.

        There is another part of the Indian legend that concerns Kali. Kali confronts a demon called Rakta-bija (Blood-seed). When Kali was fighting with this demon, blood from his body would fall on the ground. From every drop of blood of Blood-seed Demon, one thousand demons would spring up. That is why he was called Blood-seed.

        Some tales tell of Kali opening her mouth or spreading out her tongue to catch all the blood, drinking it up before it could hit the ground. This supposedly gave her an insatiable taste for blood, and -- drunk on blood -- she ran across the cosmos killing anyone who dared cross her path. Shiva stopped her killing rage by throwing himself under her feet. Only upon touching his divine form did she calmed down and return to her passive form. As Durga, she was then praised by the other gods and told her victory would be worshiped yearly (see Durga and Destruction).

        Kali, like Sekhmet, retains a tainted image in most circles. She remains the only major deity in today’s world to whom daily offerings of blood are made. I asked V.G. about Kali and the rumors of blood sacrifices and he admitted, "Many Hindus, including some Brahmins, will offer a hen or he-buffalo to the Goddess. To me, these rituals are a distortion of the symbology and mythology connected with Kali."

        "It is unfortunate but true that Kali has also been associated with black magic, evil spirits, the awful practices where meat-alcohol-sex are used. Thus, the left-hand-method of worship was developed. These had their own place in proper context. But now people know about them and talk about them out of context. "

        Most people in today’s world who worship Kali do not take the extreme left-handed approach. Forget the Hollywood version. Yet, I wonder if it is the nature of religion or of humanity that factions seem to continually break away from the foundation of religious worship (as originally conceived by mystics), and then initiate the most inhumane acts to justify and protect the sanctity of their beliefs.

        Obviously, V.G. and I see Kali from the mystic’s viewpoint -- as the destroyer of illusion, material attachments and the ego that stands in the way of spiritual enlightenment. Nothing I have seen or experienced with Kali –even in her more frightening and destructive mode -- hold a glimmer of negativity.

        How sad to see these higher realities distorted within today’s world. World religions speak of love and peace, yet – somewhere in history -- they all seem to develop factions that justify the unleashing of members’ inner fears, hate and distrust. Perhaps the problem of left-handed paths arise when charismatic leaders begin preaching religious myths from their own state of awareness. A charismatic leader who wants power and control knows how to redirect human weaknesses. When daily life for the masses becomes challenging and confusing, left-handed paths become a means to turn inner anxiety to outer action. Those that are activated feel once more in control of their destiny. What results is a sad distortion of religion -- the belief that deities are pleased when members prove faith by eliminating or stigmatizing all competition. "In the name of our deity we are justified to punish and destroy."

        Ken Wilber points out that in early stages of spiritual evolution, when people actually turn to some higher force, they see religion as magic: "If I do A, B (and maybe C) in just the right way, then God will be pleased and grant me my heart’s desire." It doesn’t matter if A is attending religious worship without fail and going through the rituals by rote, B is giving time or money to support the priestcraft and community, and C becomes shunning, disenfranchising, or killing non-believers. It comes back to a magical belief that deities provide to those who complete the proper actions. The best I can say about the magical approach is that most who approach religion by focusing on A and B are encouraged to adapt a more pious lifestyle. I believe there is spiritual growth, even if spiritual understanding remains illusive.

         I also believe that to really advance in spiritual development, one must quit focusing on the words and open one’s heart to what lies behind the words. The mystic looks to inspired writings for the lesson, not for ritual magic. Myths are used to understand inner obstacles to spiritual enlightenment.

To be continued....

Posted on Saturday, February 5, 2005 at 10:26AM by Registered CommenterThe Skeptical Mystic | Comments2 Comments

Reader Comments (2)

Recently I realize that we only have great morals, our society will develop into much more beautiful. I think there have some reason in it. So everyone should make effort to protect our socity. Do you think so? by <a href="http://www.airjordan.cc"> Air Jordan</a>.
July 20, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAir Jordan
It is a Hollywood-notion that Kali is for destruction and killing of humans. I think it's important that we use Kali's story and her power as a means of fighting our own inner demons. One emotionally-stable, loving person spreads powerful energies throughout the community. This has the most positive effect on society. The minute you sink into a destroy or defend mode, you create ripples of negative energy that lead to more turmoil and less of the effect you desire.
July 21, 2010 | Registered CommenterThe Skeptical Mystic

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