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Eye of the Tiger

- Musings by Veronica Yacco

You hear my voice, you hear that sound

Like thunder, gonna shake the ground...

In the yogic stories whenever the world is being overcome by confusion and darkness, a champion appears to bring back the light. Sometimes it is Vishnu, the Preserver, in His many incarnations. He touches our Earthly lives and experience and can inspire us to live in the world in more skillful and enlightened ways. He teaches us how to walk our dharmic path, to remember we are a Soul flowing through a human existence. He is often referred to as a Savior. But when even Vishnu is not able to bring resolution, who is called? The Divine Mother- Durga. The Gods, as powerful as they are, are limited in their roles and their abilities. Durga, as Shakti itself, is not bound by form. She does not need an incarnation to act, nor is She limited in what action She can take. She is the Cosmic principle of manifestation and change. All forms belong to Her. When She steps into manifestation She steps in fundamentally change how the world is structured. She is not concerned with what we do and correcting our actions. She is purely focused on what we ARE. If our own shakti has become twisted and we are spinning confusion into the world She will destroy the forms of whatever obstructs our view of the Truth of the Soul. She reminds us of who we are and sets our natural, innate Self free to express itself through this embodiment.

I see it all, I see it now

I got the eye of the tiger, a fighter Dancing through the fire 'Cause I am a champion, and you're gonna hear me roar Louder, louder than a lion 'Cause I am the champion, and you're gonna hear me roar

-Lyrics by Katy Perry

Durga appears riding on either a lion or a tiger (depending on whose vision you agree with). Her vehicle represents the animalistic tendencies that exist in us. The emotions that rage within us that drive us to act and react, the senses that drive us to seek comfort and avoid discomfort, and the mental patterns that are formed from all of that input from the outside world create our confused perspective of the world and of ourselves. By sitting on the lion, Durga demonstrates that She is a master of those tendencies and is not influenced by them. Her smile is serene and Her demeanor composed- until it isn't.

When Durga begins to battle the demons and Her many forms appear from within Her, there are many that are lovely to look at (think Lakshmi). There are equally those forms that are fierce and terrifying (think Kali). And there is Durga, Herself, roaring like her lion, beautiful and terrifying in her intensity. We forget that to be a master of what exists inside of us does not mean anything we find is negated. We can be masters of our minds, but we still think. We can be masters of our senses, but we still experience sensation. We can be masters of our emotions but we still feel. To be a master of our inner energies means that all of that potential energy, regardless of what form it happens to appear as, is able to be directed by us. The part of us that is directly reflected of our highest consciousness can harness all of these energies and turn their actions in the direction of the greatest benefit. Everything within us is a form of Shakti, the same radiant energy that is Durga, Herself. When She battles the demons, She is resonating pure potential. Her forms appear to perfectly balance the nature of the whatever demon She is confronting. She mirrors back the perfected form of what has become confused and ultimately when the demon's vibration gives way to Hers they are "defeated", absorbed back into the pure Shakti that they began and able to be manifested as a more evolved form of Creation- something beneficial. The Cosmic form of Beauty holds the full awareness of both the twisted, confused forms of existence alongside the refined and enlightened. Seeing them both together and knowing that they exist within each other inextricably is to see things clearly. To see them both together and feel what it is to move from one to the other is what we call Realization. The intense pain and ecstasy of transformation is in Durga's roar. Can you hear your own pain and listen for where it is driving you to awaken?

In the burning heart

Just about to burst

There's a quest for answers

An unquenchable thirst

In the darkest night

Rising like a spire

In the burning heart

The unmistakable fire

-Lyrics by Survivor

Durga is intense. Sometimes referred to as a fortress, sometimes as so beautiful you cannot look away. Her intensity stems from the deep knowing that She carries about who She is and what She is here to accomplish. She has no consort. She has no agenda. She is called to champion the world and revert chaotic energy back to its purified form. And She invites us to harness our own energies to do the same. She arrives with whatever intensity is needed to meet the challenge before Her. As those that call on Her, She will also appear in whatever form and intensity that best serves where we are in believing in ourselves. If we need loving support from a quiet smile She will be that. But if we are raging and in need of direction She will meet us that fire and help us carve a path of purpose. And if we are afraid and in need of protection we may feel Her presence at our backs helping us to stand tall. Or we may hear her in our minds when we think, "I can't", asking with a piercingly direct gaze, "Really?" When we call on Durga we are asking for our own illusions to be shone to us, as painful as that might be. And we are asking for our own strength to be revealed to us, as terrifying as that might seem. And we are asking to know how to use the energy that is inside us to its greatest possible potential, in the unique ways that emerge directly from our deep inner selves, directly from our Souls. Durga grants liberation to those that ask for it and guides the transformation from confusion to clarity. To see the Beauty of yourself is to embrace both where you are and where you may be going, the imperfect and the perfect, to see it all and to not shy away from the intensity of that vision. Our truest act of courage is to be in the world, as it is, fully awake.

Durga, when She is called, is called to be a champion. She acts always for the protection of the world and those beings that inhabit it. She wields all the powers of the Gods as Her own. She rides upon the raw strength and power of emotion and the energy of Creation and Destruction. She holds within Her all the possibilities of transformation and is not afraid to embody any of them. She is One, but She is Everything. She is the force of Love that overcomes everything. And She invites us to be the same. Your Shakti is Her Shakti. The form may be different, but the Source is the same. You have Her tools at your disposal. There is no darkness that can be bigger than Her, no darkness that can be bigger than You. Navaratri is the celebration of this reality. However dark, however confused the world may be and however lost you may feel in it, the ability to harness the strength of you, in all of its forms, to confront that darkness is never out of reach. It may be that your way is quiet, calm. It may be that your way is to roar. Both are needed. All of You is needed. It is through You, and Me, and Us that the world transforms. We are the voice of Love and the power of transformation. We are Durga embodied, if we are willing to know ourselves as that, if we are willing to stand in our lives as champions for what our hearts hold dear. And if we aren't ready yet, we can keep asking Durga to show us how to move forward, to find the courage buried inside of us, and to uncover the Love that will conquer our fear. We can start learning to harness the great power that exists in us. Start small, but with great intensity. There is no better time. Happy Navaratri!

We are the champions, my friends

And we'll keep on fighting till the end

We are the champions

We are the champions

No time for losers

'Cause we are the champions of the World

-lyrics by Queen

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