In the late sixties and early seventies the winds of change blew across America, deeply affecting my generation. The women’s movement with it’s focus upon equality, the anti-war movement with its focus on peace and harmony, and the psychedelic movement with its mind expanding concepts and openness to Eastern philosophy all had their impact upon my spirit. As a young modern dancer, choreographer and spiritual seeker I was drawn to the ancient disciple of Hatha Yoga as expressed through the teachings of B.K.S. Iyengar. For not only was this form a wonderful system of training for the physical body, but included powerful techniques for working with the mind as well.
My spirit enlivened by this work, I began to look deeper into the mystic teachings of the Hindu and Tibetan traditions. As a young woman who was deeply affected by the goals of the feminist movement and the desire for understanding of my true feminine nature, I was particularly fascinated by the Tantric tradition in which women and their enlightened role models the Goddesses were respected and revered.
|In pursuit of this knowledge, under the auspices of a number of professional fellowships I had the privilege of traveling to India to live with my guruji, Sitara Devi, an extraordinary North Indian Kathak dancer and Tantric adept. It was at this time that I was directly introduced to the fundamental teachings of the feminine-based Yoga of Light as they had been handed down through her ancient lineage. During this fertile period, I also began my studies with Tibetan master Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche. I was thrilled to discover that essential yogic teachings on this ancient path of illumination and integration formed the foundation of the Tibetan Tantric and Dzogchen traditions as well. Based upon my knowledge and experience of these Eastern traditions, in the ensuing years I have consistently sought out other remnants of these powerful teachings on the way of light that exist within the mystic traditions of ancient Egypt, Kabbalah and Gnosticism.|
What you may ask is the Yoga of Light? The Yoga of Light is an ancient science and spiritual practice of physical and spiritual purification and transformation. It teaches us how to perceive and regulate the radiant light and energy of divinity through our physical and luminous energy bodies. Its ultimate goal is the reunion with our divine essence and the transmutation of the very substance of our being back into its true nature as light. The alchemists of ancient Egypt and Medieval Europe and the yogis and yoginis of India and Tibet spent their lives in pursuit of this sacred endeavor. The Egyptians even believed that through this practice, it was possible for a human being to realize their immortal body of light and become a star in the heavens. The Zohar, a primary text of the Hebrew Kabbalistic tradition speaks of this very same transformative process. " The enlightened shall shine like the radiance (zohar) of the sky, and those who lead multitudes to righteousness, like the stars forever".
Evidence of the attainment of this light body can also be found in the Dzogchen and Tantric traditions of Tibet. Throughout Tibetan lore, we find stories of the manifestation of what is referred to as the luminous rainbow body by highly developed adepts and practitioners. Through the vehicle of their devotion and practice, they are able to totally purify and exhaust their karma, enter into the essence of the five elements, which is light, transform their body into radiant energy, and vanish like a rainbow in the sky.
According to Tibetan master Namkai Norbu Rinpoche, once this transformation has taken place, the cycle of reincarnation is complete and one can choose to reappear in a luminous form in order to help and teach sentient beings. The great Tibetan master Padmasambhava, his female consorts Princesses Mandarava and Yeshe Tsogyel along with numerous Tibetan yogis and yoginis are believed to have realized this enlightened state. In fact, there have been eyewitness accounts of the miraculous achievement of the rainbow body as recently as ten years ago by a simple, unassuming Rinpoche named Acho Rinpoche in Tibet.
Throughout European lore there are legends from the alchemical tradition that tell us of men and women who have also achieved this extraordinary transformation that was once the ultimate goal for all human beings. In the Christian tradition, the magical transmutation of Christ into a shining body of glory may very well be a manifestation of this very same process. Further evidence of this extraordinary achievement can be seen in the religious art of cultures the world over. Flying on golden wings of light, their heads encircled by glistening halos, sitting amidst shining spheres or standing in a glowing cocoon of light, the images of Gods, Goddesses, Saints, Boddhisattvas, Kachinas and Star people offer us symbolic visions of the fully illuminated being.
At the secret heart of the Tantric tradition, encoded in the arts of temple dance, music and ritual, hidden within the alchemical and mystic teachings of Kabbalah, one can discover the essence of this great tradition of light body yoga. Essential to the understanding of this yogic form is awareness of the Divine Feminine as the primordial creative light and energy of divinity. As Shakti of the Tantric tradition she is described as "the animating and nourishing force of life itself," the "voice, light and energy of divinity that exists in every thing and every being." And as Shekhinah of the Hebrew Kabbalistic tradition, she is described as "the principle light and essence of this world", "the woman of light in whose mystery are rooted all females of the earth".
In the Tantric tradition this sacred spiritual current of the Divine Feminine is also known as the Kundalini Shakti, and is symbolized by a serpent that sits at the base of the human spine. Through meditation, visualization, mudra, mantra and other yogic exercises this mystic Kundalini energy of the Goddess is aroused and directed upwards through the body, permeating and opening our seven subtle chakras, the energy centers that lie along our spinal cords. Through this powerful process, the practitioner is aligned with her/his divine essence, the inner fire is ignited, the mystic eye is opened and she or he begins to see the flowing currents of light and energy that create, envelop and connect all living things.
Since possessing a clear perception of the luminous energy field is a fundamental starting point for this yogic form, let us take a look at the physics of the female and male energy fields.
The female energy field can be pictured as a river of luminous light flowing up from mother earth, from the heart of Mother Nature herself, through the central channel and chakras of her body. When it reaches the top of her head or crown chakra depicted in Tantric iconography as a thousand-petaled lotus, it rises up and cascades downwards, showering around her body with streams of liquid light to begin its upward ascent.
In men this vital and radiant energy flows in the opposite direction. The light flows down from the heavenly realms through the top of his head, suffusing his spinal column and chakras, exiting from the base of his spine to rise and expand upward and encircle the body until it reaches the top of his head and begins its descent again.
This flow of luminous energy creates a donut or egg-shaped pattern around the body known to physicists as the hyper dimensional torus. This toroidal pattern can clearly be seen in many paintings of Christ and the Virgin Mary, as well as those of the Hindu and Tibetan deities.
Since the natural flow of the woman’s subtle energy is upward towards spirit, in this ancient yogic tradition of light, many rituals existed in which women were spiritual guides assuming the role of teacher and initiatrix into sexual and spiritual mysteries.
After years of rigorous physical, artistic, intellectual and spiritual training in this powerful yogic form, designed to align women with the enlightened qualities and energies of the Goddess, they would perform this vital initiatory role. Opening themselves to their divine feminine essence, they would transform into the Goddess and assist male devotees in awakening to higher consciousness. Through the vehicle of their sacred union, which mirrored the union of Shiva and Shakti, men would gain a direct visceral experience of the upward flow of their Kundalini Shakti.
There exists in the literature numerous legends and stories of the lives of renowned male sages and yogis who were sent specifically to the temples or sacred caves to receive the powerful inner and secret initiations from female gurus. These legends speak of the testing period, which the male had to go through in order to prove his sincerity and devotion. In many instances he was requested to perform and accomplish tasks, which would convince her of his enthusiasm, determination and suitability to receive her teachings. He was told that .his mind must never sway from the burning desire to achieve liberation and he must one-pointedly purify his body and mind to prepare himself for and then request initiation into the secret experientially based knowledge. Only then, after an initial period of testing would he be accepted into her inner sanctum and receive the sublime teachings unique to the path of the Kundalini Shakti.
In the mystic teachings of the Kabbalistic tradition we can see this same principle at work. In this tradition, it is the wife as the living representative of the Shekhinah who carries the power to shape the spiritual foundation of the home from a place of profound vision. Therefore, it is said that she is the one who enlightens the eyes of her husband. Every Friday night, as she lights the Shabbat candles, the woman calls on the spirit of the Shekhina or divine feminine principle to come and dwell within their home. During the course of this magical night, the woman and man are required to perform the sacred act of sexual union, thus replicating in human form the ultimate goal of their spiritual practice — the mystic union of the Blessed Holy One and his Shekhinah.
So many of us caught up in the stresses and strains of our contemporary society long for a path in which we can more fully experience the beauty and richness of life — a path of love, harmony, balance and union. Pouring forth from the sacred heart of mystic traditions the world over, the teachings and techniques of the Yoga of Light offer us a powerful experientially based method to achieve these heartfelt goals.
Sharron Rose, MA. Ed. is an internationally acclaimed teacher, writer, choreographer and performer in the fields of World Mythology, Religion and the Traditional Arts of Dance, Theatre and Music. She is the creator of the DVD, Yoga of Light; Meditations, Mudras and Expressions of the Divine Feminine and the author of The Path of the Priestess; A Guidebook for Awakening the Divine Feminine, winner of the COVR "Visionary Award" for best Biographical /Self-Help book of 2003. Together with her husband, filmmaker Jay Weidner, she has produced documentary films featuring visionary artist Alex Grey, shaman /healer Dr. Alberto Villoldo, sound healer Jonathan Goldman, and more for their DVD company, Sacred Mysteries Productions. Her knowledge of the mystic teachings of ancient traditions comes from her years of first-hand experience in the arts of Tantra, Dzogchen, Indian and Egyptian temple dance and healing, as well as her research into the feminine principle in Gnosticism and Kabbalah.