Let's finish this up, shall we? Last week I promised to offer my own interpretation of rolling to the right upon rising from Savasana, which I'm sure has been eagerly anticipated by at least two extremely interested people who are undoubtedly hanging from the edge of their seats. I was slightly delayed trying to work out some annoying glitchy stuff with my host site, so I hope you two weren't holding your breath, or anything.
Before I forget, though, I wanted to thank the folks who left super-duper smart comments about those posts on my Facebook page last week. Mucho appreciado. Listen, if you're going to comment, and I hope that you will, it would be great if you do it directly on this site. That way your insights, which add so much to the conversation, will be organized all in one place, and preserved for future readers. I know it's an extra step because you have to sign it but it would make me oh so happy. Not to sound bossy, or anything. I'm plenty bossy but, for decorum's sake, I try not to sound that way.
Okay, so it's not exactly worthy of a drum roll but this is why I almost always roll to the right. It's not meant to be any kind of definitive answer; it's just my answer.
This little series of posts was sparked by a conversation about pradakshina,which is the reason the Anusara tradition gives for rolling to the right, as opposed to the left, at the conclusion of a yoga class. My personal motivation has little to do with traditional pradakshina, although it has much to do with aligning myself with and within the currents of particular traditions that are dear to me.
It's a Sri thing.
Do you remember when we had that little talk about not necessarily having to take the deities too literally? Remember how they can be engaged as images to be held before us as mirrors? Remember how they reflect back and call our attention to some aspect of ourselves and of the world?
Well this is like that.
See, there are Kali goddesses and Sri (pronounced Shree) goddesses.
There are a bajillion different ways to group goddesses, so don't get rigid about it, but in this particular way, Kali types hang out with Kali types, and Sri types hang out with Sri types. We call those groups of goddesses Kali Kula and Sri Kula. Kula is a sanskrit word that means something along the lines of posse.
Kali types are primal and ferocious forces of nature. Kali is undomesticated and uncivilized. She comes at you head on: weapons raised, teeth bared, tongue lolling, with all the wild and raw power of a hurricane. She's said to be drunk on blood.
Kali's skin is black like the night sky because she symbolizes the darkness of what is unknown. Like my teacher says, "when you stand before a dark room, there's no way of knowing what waits in the shadows for you. It could be your friends crouched down waiting to jump up and yell, 'surprise" or maybe it's a monster in that dark corner." You just don't know. You can't.
Further, Kali is every possibility rushing at you all at once. Anyone who's ever read Chapter 11 of The Bhagavad Gita knows that infinity rushing at you all at once is too much. It's like looking directly into the sun, which is the thing you should never do; it's not just too much; it's much too much. Too much of anything all at once, even sunlight, resolves to darkness.
Kali herself is much too much. She is blindingly bright, or the dark stuff of your nightmares. You can't negotiate with her. She doesn't cut deals; she cuts heads, which is why she's depicted brandishing a bloody, freshly hewed head in one hand.
Kali loves indiscriminately. Nothing is too
disgusting for her. Nothing. I was taught that Kali looks so gruesome
because you can offer anything to her. You can bring her even the
things you don't like about yourself, and she will take them. There's nothing about your nature that's so dark or so frightening, so shameful or so ugly that you'll be turned away. Those aspects of yourself that you think are so awful that you don't want anyone to see them? You'll never rid yourself of them, nor should you want to. For better or for worse this is how you're made. Learn how to claim those dark parts of yourself and and make them powerful tools for your own betterment. This is Kali's teaching.
She symbolizes your very nature. Your nature is akin to 24 karat gold. It's inviolate. There's nothing wrong with it, and there's nothing wrong with you, and there never has been.
By nature, we are primal beings. Deny that, and all the culture in the world will be but sawdust. Try and sublimate Kali at your own peril. When Kali rendezvous with Shiva, I'll give you three guesses who's on top, but if you need more than one then there might be more important educational websites for you.
Remember, without the darkness of the night sky you'd never gaze upon the moon. You'd never see by starlight. You'd never glimpse our milky way. Kali is that darkness of possibility that allows the light that's ever shining to be visible. Without the darkness for a backdrop, you could never bring forth whatever hidden light shines within you.
Kali is the biggest and the baddest of the bunch (and by baddest I mean she's a badass. I hope it's sufficiently clear by this point that she's not actually 'bad'.) There's a group of these ferocious goddesses and they sit on the left side.
We place the Sri goddesses on the right.
If Kali represents your nature, raw and uncooked, then Sri is culture's ambassador.
Sri is as lovely, gracious and elegant as Kali is primal and terrifying. Sri is also adorned in red but unlike Kali it's not because she's smeared in blood she's spilled by her own hand, but rather because she's woven herself a red sari to wear. Sri takes what's natural and, from it, creates art.
If Kali is the dark fertile ground from which the vegetables grow then it is Sri who plucks those vegetables and transforms them into dinner. Not just any dinner, either. Sri is a gourmet cook. She represents the highest of what culture and civilization have to offer. She doesn't deny her nature; she hones it into something exquisite.
If Kali is 24 karat gold then Sri forges that gold into a thing of beauty, perhaps a coin or a piece of jewelry. In fact, an endless supply of golden coins spill from her open palms, and she gives them freely away. She'll never run out. Her supply is infinite, as is her nature, as is yours. This is her teaching.
Forge your nature into an ornament then both lightly wear it and give it away.
My tradition is known as the wisdom of sri, or Sri Vidya.
Every time I turn to the right it's an affirmation of everything I am and also an opening to the certainty that there must surely be more, although I don't know what that looks like. To turn to the right isn't to turn my back on my nature, or to deny it. Far from it, I let those ferocious goddesses on my left watch my back as I turn, consciously and intentionally to the right, and set upon the path of choosing that which is valuable, abundant and beneficent, and creating myself of myself, with ever greater artistry.
Anyway, that's why I do it.