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SAGAR MANTHAN: CHURNING OF THE PRIMEVAL OCEAN

Welcome to our journey together. As we do each month, let us begin by taking a refreshing clearing breath, by exhaling and by light. Center and ground ourselves by visualization, sit back, relax, and journey gently over the words below. This helps us what we read to become an experience .

As always, there is nothing new, only connections being established among the things we already know and feel and yearn for.

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Awesome and alone, the primeval ocean covered vast portions of earth. Thence awoke life, to finally make its way onto the land lapped by the ocean waves.

At the time of this early dawn of life on earth, the gods and demons, in their search for the nectar of immortality, turned to the vast primeval ocean. They churned the ocean, releasing many forces and beings, till at last the elusive nectar, or amrit, was gained.

As with all enduring ancient tales, the story of sagar manthan – the churning of the ocean- has metaphorical meanings, uncovering the ongoing struggle within each of us, of good and evil, warp and weft, growth and decay. The struggle that ultimately yields truth, the nectar of immortality.

The ocean contains all opposites in a harmonious whole: it is not less an ocean for having poison; nor is it more, for having nectar. The churning is not enhanced by the gods nor denigrated by the demons. We learn as much from one as we do from the other. There is life and decay, evolution and extinction. All make up life as we know it today.

And these are three dimensions of the beginning of life on earth. The physical, the supernatural, the inner dimensions. Three ideas, three manifestations, three perspectives.

One truth.

And that is: “As without, so within.”

Oceans have a deep significance in our lives. It is no news to us that physically they cover almost 70% of the Earth’s surface, and hold 97% of the Earth’s water supply. No other planet in our solar system has the kind of water that Earth has [Mars shows signs of having had water in the past]. In truth, though we use the word in the plural; all oceans are linked to each other; so actually we live surrounded by a vast body of water. Even the movement of the ocean, in the form of tides, shapes the land touched by the ocean. And let us not forget that all rivers flow into the ocean.

Our bodies, too, are two-thirds water. Human beings can’t survive a week without water- food deprivation is not so dangerous. Yogis, of course, through various kriyas, have control over this time period. Tides agitate not only the surface of watery oceans, but also the surface of our mind, in the form of thoughts and emotions. So it is no wonder, that the churning of the ocean finds its mirror in our churning lives, thoughts and emotions.

To think of the ocean is to find oneself lost in the beginning of life- for that is where life began on earth and where it still teems with countless species.

Oceans are life.

The outer ocean keeps our environment livable. We influence it by our environmental consciousness: recycling, keeping things flowing, rivers clean.

The inner ocean keeps us alive. We control it by the things we eat and don’t eat, drink and don’t drink.

The ocean of the mind connects it all together. How do we handle our thoughts, attitudes, feelings, emotions? Our struggles and triumphs, hopes, fears, dreams?

This month’s offering from me to you:

If possible, choose your favorite music and record the following in your voice with some classical or new age music onto a tape. You can make your own meditation tape! You could ask someone whose voice you like, to record this for you. Your gift to yourself.

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Let us visualize the ocean. As an observer, become aware of the thoughts and feelings that arise. Allow them to wash over you like the gentle waves of the ocean. If they are turbulent, think of them as the turbulent waves of a stormy ocean. Be aware and let them flow.

Outfitted as divers, we gently dive deeper into the ocean. There is little sound from the turbulent waves above. The tides slow to a gentle flowing, we become aware of life forms, and there is a slowing down of movement. Light from above illumines these depths. There is softness, a lulling effect. The cares of daily life recede as we move away from them.

It is our choice- we decide how much deeper we want to go, and how long we want to stay there; whether we want to look above or around us or below. We choose our perspective, and our focus. Past present and future, all co-existing at the same moment of time.

The now.

Defined by the choices we make. Free choice inter-twining with destiny. Everything seems possible, everything seems to be foretold, there is an endlessness here and a nothingness; all paradoxes coexisting in beautiful primeval reality.

When you decide to come back to the surface, know that you will always remember the gentle dip you took into the ocean. Into life. Into yourself.

Take a gentle deep breath and take the ocean around with you as you go through your journey in this beautiful ocean called life.

A beautiful picture of sagar manthan can be found at http://www.sanatansociety.com/free_stuff/free_backgrounds_hindu_art_epics.Htm

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©2003 Meenakshi Suri

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