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..:: The Sri Yantra ::..


Alan Schneider


          (Please Note: A full size representation of the Sri Yantra can be found on THE SEARCHLIGHT website at: http://www.searchlightforyou.com.  Select the “Doors” link, and then the “Sacrifice – Cp5” link. The image will appear at the top of the page.) 

          The Sri Yantra is one of Hinduism’s most abiding spiritual symbols, dating far back into South Asian antiquity. Nominally dedicated to the Goddess Tripura Sundari, and considered to be a depiction of one of the many Female aspects of God in Hinduism, this complex figure is also ascribed to the Goddess Sri, or Shri in other sectarian interpretations. In all probability, the same female identity is being referred to here by the preferred titles used by one sect or another. The generally accepted consensus among the authorities is that the form of this mantra is principally that of a mandala, being largely circular (although enclosed in a square structure around its perimeter) and is considered to be more female than male in its spiritual implications and symbolism, for the reasons outlined in this article.

           Although the mandala is built around first a sixteen-petaled Lotus immediately following the square exterior, and then an eight-petaled Lotus after that (both of which are characterized as representing a total series of twenty-four God/Goddess aspects), to this author it is the complex interleaved inner structure of super-imposed triangles that is of the greatest interest, and the most profound symbolic significance, in view of his personal spiritual revelations of the Identity of the Logos. This latter term is perhaps the best possible one for use in describing the Supreme Consciousness, because it does not carry a sexually differentiated meaning, as does the term “God”, which automatically implies the counterpoised term “Goddess”.  The Logos is simply the ultimate expression of the Core of Consciousness present at the center of Jung’s sphere of the total Psyche. Jung presumed this focus to be the origin of all conscious expression, and not necessarily contained within the physical boundaries of the human body, either. When consciousness is viewed as consciousness – a field of conscious expression – we find that the Jungian model of the Psyche provides the most satisfactory explanation of human behavior and experience. In contrast, the Freudian model is far more limited, because it assumes that consciousness is confined to the brain, and the body that houses that brain. For Jung, the brain is more analogous to a local carrier node in an extended network of manifestation that expands far beyond the individual human body, although this network can only be experienced locally through the use of a body as a receiver of the networked signal, and then only in significantly altered states of heightened awareness.

            As one who has had many extended conscious experiences of various levels of “heightened awareness” of the type referred to in the previous paragraph, the question of the gendered quality of the Logos is both fascinating, and of paramount importance for the very foundation of spirituality. If the Dao of existence is more essentially female than male (as I believe it is) the implications for living are staggering. This implies that the male qualities, all of which come down to aggression, are not the critical ones at work at the most basic levels of consciousness, and therefore awareness of the world. We are confronted with the female qualities, all of which devolve to nurturance, as the basis of human nature in both men and women. How can something as abstract and expansive as the Logos demonstrate gendered nature? There are many explanations that support this contention, particularly when that gender is presumed to be female

            This consideration flatly conflicts with the Biblical assertion that the Logos is male in action and orientation. In all probability, this presumption was the result of the massively patriarchal structure of most of Western culture in antiquity. Man literally created God is his image – i.e. masculine – not the obverse.  Eastern traditions, from India onward, tend to postulate a feminine Logos at the base of the Mind. The Hindu essence of God – the Brahman – is universally held to be female in aspect and manifestation. Many other expressions of the Logos in the Orient are also female, including both the Buddhist Tara and Daoist Quan Yin. 

            A subtle logic actually underlies this mode of belief. If the ultimate Essence of the Logos is feminine, then this should be demonstrated by the qualities of liquids – flowing and accommodating – not blocking and resisting, as solid objects do.  If we assume a universal field of manifestation that is at once present in all conditions, but not solely represented by any one expression, then some kind of universal movement must be occurring throughout the cosmos, flowing through everything, but not contained in anything. Flow is the supreme female quality – hopefully gentle, but always persistent, in its effect as the molder of form. It is this ability to flow into and through manifestation that enables female nurturance as the sustaining quality of the universe. Were it not for this condition of supportive intervention, nothing would persist long enough to sustain an entity identity – the universe would be an endless explosion of chaos and disruption. On an individual human level, we all owe our very existence to maternal nurturance in childhood, however minimal it may have been in some cases. It is through the manifestation of flow and flux that all interaction is enabled – both are female qualities. 

            The universe itself is presumed to be female by Hindu tradition in this time of Kali – Her universe, not merely Her time in an otherwise neutral universe, and this beyond even the female Brahman. The very environment we live in is Kali Yuga by its essential nature! Shiva may be the origin of the primal Idea, but that Idea flows into manifestation through the action of Shakti, the female principal! So it is that the Sri Yantra is such an important spiritual symbol of the universal manifestation of form in a predominantly feminine mode. 

            This author’s personal spiritual revelations have almost all had a distinctly female aspect when considered in retrospect. Regardless of what male energies may have been present during an Ascension process, the culmination was always experienced as being qualitatively female in the final stages. In the deep symbolism of the collective unconscious, it is quite probable that the quality of of of flow augments and sustains a condition of purity in the manifestation of psychic experience, by tending to conduct or flush away other, more fragmented or discordant perceptions as one ascends “Jacob’s Ladder” of consciousness to the Logos. In the case of my most recent full Ascension experience, recounted in the Samadhi chapter of Doors In Disguise, I had the distinct impression of being enveloped in a cocoon of absolute nurturance, pure Love, and white Light, as the final expression present. Such a perception purifies the personal consciousness that attains it, healing all psychic wounds in the process. The challenge of reaching such an experience lies in the requirement that one be willing and able to release all other states of perception, including the awareness of the body, and the life-long conditioned belief that one cannot live without it – not at all an easy thing to do, but still possible with prior preparation.  This author has practiced meditation in the Buddhist Mindfulness tradition for many years, which tends to dispel the illusion of ego-awareness, simultaneously enabling the perception of the Truth of the Logos. There are many other equally effective methods of Ascension (sweat lodges, fasting, austerity, martial arts discipline, transcendental prayer), but this is the one that has worked most effectively for me... 

            The core of the Sri Yantra mandala is composed of nine interleaved triangles, representing the Hindu Trinity of Brahma (not to be confused with the Brahman). Vishnu, and Shiva in each case. Four of the triangles point upward, and represent the male energy of Shiva, while the remaining five triangles point downward and represent the female energy of Shakti. At the very center of the structure is a point, a simple dot, that represents the female essence of the entire mandala, Tripura Sundari. Another instance of the use of a dot to represent a fundamental expression is seen in the Supreme Mantra – OM – where the dot at the top of the structure represents the action of Brahma, the Creator of Forms. Presumably, the action of creation emerges from a pre-perceived state that is unmanifest, in the form of a dimensionless, but still conceivable (and conception equals perception), point of expression, and then expands from there into full manifestation as experienced in the senses. A dimensionless, but still conceivable, point is about as basic as perception gets, yet in the case of OM, this is represented as a male quality of Brahma, and in the case of the Sri Yantra as the female quality of Tripura Sundari. Perhaps the Soul vibration of sound – OM is customarily chanted as a means of attaining enlightenment – is in some sense less refined than that of visualization of a mandala. The Sri Yantra, like all mandalas, is designed to be visualized as a means of attaining enlightenment. As was previously noted, there are many possible paths to the Truth of the Logos. 

            This author has personally used the Sri Yantra mandala to great effect in visualization meditation. The network of triangles created by the interleaved structure is indicated in Hindu theory as representing in each small triangular or diamond shaped facet another aspect of the Logos, all named and designated by their powers and supernatural influence, comprising the “Heavenly Host” surrounding the Logos. I have repeatedly effortlessly envisioned this entire structure radiating forth from spiritually significant forms apparent to the senses, including the hump on the backs of Brahma bulls! Apparently, there must be some perceptual rational for the Hindu belief in the Sacred Cow and Bull beyond mere superstition. As has been mentioned in previous editions of of THE SEARCHLIGHT, the cow and bull were the first recorded instances in prehistoric times of supernatural belief systems. 

            Of greater significance from the viewpoint of consciousness development is the significance of the triangle in geometry. Apart from the circle, This is the simplest linear geometric form that encloses a given space, and the most durable from the perspective of construction techniques. It is no surprise that the Pyramids have lasted for all the ages of humanity – they are composed of triangular faces resistant to the passage of time and the action of the elements. In my spiritual visions, the triangular facets of the Sri Yantra radiated forth in a three-dimensional expression of the manifestation of primordial form – the energy of manifestation that eventually assumes concrete expression in the human sensory perception of the world of physical objects and processes. I have come to the conclusion that the Triangle is one of the Primary Archetypal symbols acting in the collective unconscious as a fundamental building block of perception. Even the lines composing the facets of the Sri Yantra are numinous (Jung’s term for something that stands out in subconscious experience) in character, representing levels of meaning beyond their simple linear manifestation. I believe that the simple “stick figures” (admittedly an oversimplification) portrayed in prehistoric art represent the beginning of all conscious perception, as do the very simplest ancient alphabets – Sumerian cuneiform in the West, and pre-Aryan Runic characters in the East. We are seeing the mind and awareness emerge from instinct when we look at these ciphers from ancient history. 

            Obviously, the human agencies responsible for the construction of the Sri Yantra went to great lengths to portray the female Logos Aspect in as much detail, and with the greatest extent of thoroughness, possible.  It is very probable that this expression of consciousness passed through several stages of development, as do most profoundly spiritual processes. The ancients clearly attached great significance to this structure. What might be the implications for modern human beings present in this mandala from antiquity? What can it teach us? 

            These questions come down to the meaning of the Female Logos. If “God” is more manifest as “Goddess”, there are certain basic implications for our human conduct here on the Physical Plane. The first is that aggression and aggressive behavior and posturing will tend to result in spiritual devolution, on, not evolution. Yes, we can use technology, weaponry, and intimidation to take what we find desirable on the Physical Plane of expression, but we will pay the price in terms of an increasingly wounded and dysfunctional world, as the downward spiral of violence destroys us in the name of preserving us.  All aggression is masculine in character, and the hate and fear that psychologically prompt violence must be recognized and restrained to avoid the global catastrophe that stands before us. 

            The partner of aggression is neglect – neglect of the need for conservation of resources, neglect of each others vital needs and emotional well-being, neglect of spiritual growth at the expense of material distraction and amusement.  We must become mindful of the consequences of our thoughts, feelings, and actions in a world typified by a sensitive causal net of interaction that extends far into the future, and to every point of the globe in the present. No matter how insignificant our involvement may appear to be, it is necessary to perceive that it is still conceivably very important, and can have extremely unpredictable consequences for the world around us. And the likelihood of those consequences having a positive outcome is enhanced by ego-free involvement and action, as opposed to selfish, petty personal motivation. Nurturance must become the focus of human motivation, not greed. Somehow, we must transcend our instinctual nature and practice compassion and higher involvement in the world as our consistent modes of expression. I personally strive at all times to teach these qualities by personal example, and encourage my fellow human beings to do the same. I have learned at this stage of my spiritual development that I am not alone, but rather am surrounded by the Souls of the living, the dead, and the unborn, and must live accordingly for the benefit of us all!


                                                                                  - With Love, Alan -

                                                                          (CR2007, Alan Schneider)


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