The Divine Mother is All We Can Know
2012 September 28
Posted by Steve Beckow
knowledge is aimed at knowing the Unknowable, the One, the All that is.
But in fact knowledge can’t be used to know the Unknowable, as we shall
The farthest that knowledge can reach is to That which is within the
realm of the material. Not the One, but the Second that the One created.
That Second has been variously termed by ancient sages the Divine
Mother, the Holy Spirit, Shakti, Prakriti/Procreatrix, Aum/Amen, the
Word of God, the Logos, the primal energy, the universal creative
vibration – the list of names goes on. (2)
The Divine Mother is not a female. “She” is beyond gender. There
being a Divine Mother, posited by the sages, they also created the One
being the “Holy Father.”
The Father is also not a male. The distinction between the two is
between movement (Mother) and rest (Father), (3) stillness and silence
(Father) and activity and sound (Mother). Here is Sri Ramakrishna making
“That which is Brahman [what I call the
Father] is also Kali, the Mother, the primal Energy. When inactive It is
called Brahman. Again, when creating, preserving, and destroying, It is
called Sakti [the Mother]. Still water is an illustration of Brahman.
The same water, moving in waves, may be compared to Sakti, Kali. What is
the meaning of Kali? … She is formless and, again, She has forms.” (4)
When God moves, it is called the Mother; when God is still, is is called the Father. But moving or still, God is only one.
Everything that one can see, touch, feel, smell, and in any other way
experience is the Mother. We cannot see, touch, or feel the Father. The
Mother then is all that can be known; the Father can’t be known.
The Father lies outside the world of form. The world of form is a
dream the Father’s having, a make-believe world, a world of illusion,
something the One has thought and can change by thought.
However the actual activity that sees change materialize into forms
is that of the Mother. She’s the glove and he’s the hand that operates
the glove, unseen.
All the while we’re talking to the Mother, it’s the Father who
actually responds. She’s the “voice of one crying in the wilderness” of
the Father. She is the “voice in the silence.” But all along he’s the
To say that the Mother is knowable is actually a somewhat glib way of
speaking. To know the Mother absolutely is to penetrate through to the
Father and That is unknowable. So I’m being a little loose in my
speaking simply to make a point.
In fact the only way we know the Mother is by her effects – by what
she produces, which is itself the known world, the world of matter, mater,
Mother. And when I say “the world of matter,” I don’t mean only this
Third Dimension or Physical Plane. I mean all the worlds, everything
short of the Transcendental Absolute because all of these worlds are
“material” or Mother-made. The material they are made of is simply more
and more refined the higher in dimensionality we go.
As our enlightenment deepens and we move from knowledge of the Self
to knowledge of the Mother and then knowledge of the Father, our sense
of individuality, our sense of “knowing” lessens and then leaves when
the time comes to know the Father.
Here’s the first enlightenment – the sight of the Child, Self, Christ or Atman, as described by Jan Ruusbroec:
“In the abyss of this darkness in which
the loving spirit has died to itself, God’s revelation and eternal life
have their origin, for in this darkness an incomprehensible light is
born and shines forth; this is the Son of God, in whom a person becomes
able (2) to see and to contemplate eternal life.” (5)
“It is Christ, the light of truth, who
says, ‘See,’ and it is through him [eventually] that we are able to see,
for he is the light of the Father, without which there is no light in
heaven or on earth.” (6)
In the next level of enlightenment, we see the Mother. She appears to
the devotee in whatever form we worship her. We may see her as the
Light that informs all of creation. Here’s that experience described by
the poet William Wordsworth. This experience probably led to the birth
of his best poetry in him:
“Such was the Boy — but for the growing Youth
What soul was his, when, from the naked top
Of some bold headland, he beheld the sun
Rise up, and bathe the world in light! He looked –
Ocean and earth, the solid frame of earth
And ocean’s liquid mass, in gladness lay
Beneath him:– Far and wide the clouds were touched,
And in their silent faces could he read
Unutterable love. Sound needed none,
Nor any voice of joy; his spirit drank
The spectacle: sensation, soul, and form,
All melted into him; they swallowed up
His animal being; in them did he live,
And by them did he live; they were his life.” (7)
Or we may know the Mother in the form of our chosen ideal (Ishta) –
say, Krishna or Jesus or the guru – whom we see and then who enters into
us and becomes one with us. Here is Da Free John seeing the Mother as
the Virgin Mary – a form that Linda Dillon also prefers.
“Standing in the garden, with an
obviously discernible form, made of subtle energy but without any kind
of visibility, was the Virgin, Mary, Mother of Christ! … Just as her
Presence was not physical, but subtle, her communication to me was
internal…. I told [Swami Nityananda] … how the Shakti appeared to have
taken over independently of … any … source. He blessed me, told me that I
belonged to Her now, and that I should leave [the ahsram] and let the
Mother guide me. …
“I took … flowers to the temple of the
Mother Shakti near the Ashram. There is a sculpture of her benign,
multi-armed, and omnipresent image there. I looked into her face and saw
that she was the same one who appeared to me in the form of the
Virgin…. As I left I felt her assure me that I was her child and she
would guide me.” (8)
Or we may know the Mother as an experience of consciousness, like waves of consciousness as Ramakrishna saw her:
“‘I felt as if my heart were being
squeezed like a wet towel. I was overpowered with a great restlessness
and a fear that it might not be my lot to realize Her in this life. I
could not bear the separation from Her any longer. Life seemed to be not
worth living. Suddenly my glance fell on the sword that was kept in the
Mother’s temple. I determined to put an end to my life. When I jumped
up like a madman and seized it, suddenly the blessed Mother revealed
Herself. The buildings with their different parts, the temple, and
everything else vanished from my sight, leaving no trace whatsoever, and
in their stead I saw a limitless, infinite, effulgent Ocean of
“’As far as the eye could see, the
shining billows were madly rushing at me from all sides with a terrific
noise, to swallow me up! I was panting for breath. I was caught in the
rush and collapsed, unconscious. What was happening in the outside world
I did not know; but within me there was a steady flow of undiluted
bliss, altogether new, and I felt the presence of the Divine Mother.’ On
his lips when he regained consciousness of the world was the word
Or as everything that is in the material world, as Ramakrishna’s Vedantic guru, Totapuri, saw her:
“Suddenly, in one dazzling moment,
[Totapuri] sees on all sides the presence of the Divine Mother. She is
in everything; She is everything. She is in the water; She is on land.
She is the body; She is the mind. She is pain; She is comfort. She is
knowledge; She is ignorance. She is life; She is death. She is
everything that one sees, hears, or imagines. She turns ‘yea’ into
‘nay’; and ‘nay’ into ‘yay’. Without Her grace no embodied being can go
beyond Her realm. Man has no free will. He is not even free to die. Yet,
again, beyond the body and mind She resides in her Transcendental,
Absolute aspect. She is the Brahman that Totapuri has been worshipping
all his life.” (10)
Once we pass the experience of the Mother, we pass beyond the
experience of the knowable. When we reach the experience of the Father,
we move into the cloud of unknowing, as one sage called it. Perhaps
none has described the unknowable and unknowing better than
“I pray we could come to this darkness,
so far above light! If only we lacked sight and knowledge so as to see,
so as to know, unseeing and unknowing, that which lies beyond all vision
and knowledge. For this would be really to see and to know: to praise
the Transcendent One in a transcending way, namely through the denial of
all beings. …
“Now as we climb from the last things up
to the most primary we deny all things so that we may unhiddenly know
that unknowing which itself is hidden from all those possessed of
knowing amid all beings, so that we may see above being that darkness
concealed from all the light among beings. … As we plunge into that
darkness which is beyond intellect, we shall find ourselves not simply
running short of words but actually speechless and unknowing.” (11)
“The fact is that the more we take flight
upward, the more our words are confined to the ideas we are capable of
forming; so that now as we plunge into that darkness which is beyond
intellect, we shall find ourselves not simply running short of words but
actually speechless and unknowing. … The more [the mind] climbs, the
more language falters, and when it has passed up and beyond the ascent,
it will turn silent completely, since it will finally be at one with him
who is indescribable. (12)
So only the Mother can be known. The Father can only be known through
unknowing. But she’s the One who leads us by the hand to the Father.
The knowledge of her is more precious than rubies because it’s the
most that can be achieved and it fits us for all further knowledge. The
knowledge of the Father cannot be achieved. We cannot obtain it, earn
it, secure it, etc. The distance we can go to “obtain” it is
infinitesimal. Beyond the few steps we take, God closes the yawning
chasm that remains, as Bernadette Roberts explains: “At a certain point,
when we have done all we can [to bring about an abiding union with the
divine], the divine steps in and takes over.” (14)
All enlightenment past this point is the gift of grace and beyond all
effort. Only the Mother as the Father can bestow that unknown and
Therefore the Divine Mother, who created all we see, hear and know,
is all that can itself be known. The Father is unknowable and can only
be known by an act of unknowing, after all knowledge has been abandoned
and left behind.Footnotes
(1) “An Introduction to the Perennial Philosophy,” at http://the2012scenario.com/spiritual-essays/back-to-the-basics-2/an-introduction-to-the-perennial-philosophy/
(2) “On the Nature of the Divine Mother or Holy Spirit,” at http://the2012scenario.com/spiritual-essays/the-nature-of-the-divine-mother/on-the-nature-of-the-divine-mother-or-holy-spirit-2/
(3) The distinction that Jesus made in A. Guillaumontet al. The Gospel According to Thomas
. New York and Evanston: Harper and Row, 1959, 29.
(4) Paramahansa Ramakrishna in Nikhilananda, Swami, trans., The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna.
New York: Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center, 1978; c1942, 634. [Hereafter GSR.]
(5) John Ruusbroec in Wiseman, James A., John Ruusbroec. The Spiritual Espousals and Other Works.
New York, etc.: Paulist Press, 1985, 147.
(6) Ibid., 74.
(7) William Wordsworth in Marghanita Laski, Ecstacy in Secular and Religious Experiences
. Los Angeles: Tarcher, 1961, 399.
(8) Da Free John, The Knee of Listening.
Original Edition. Clearlake, CA; Dawn Horse Press, 1984; c1973, Original Edition, 126-30.
(9) Paramahansa Ramakrishna. GSR, 14.
(10) Nikhilananda in ibid., 31.
(11) Pseudo-Dionysius, Cohn Luibheid, trans., Pseudo-Dionysus, His Complete Works
. New York and Mahwah: Paulist Press, 1989, 138-9.
(13) “On the Nature of the Divine Mother,” ibid.
(14) Bernadette Roberts, “The Path to No-Self” in Stephan Bodian, ed. Timeless Visions, Healing Voices
. Freedom, CA: Crossing Press, 1991, 131.
Thanks to: http://the2012scenario.com