Churning of the Ocean

Churning of the Ocean

At the bottom of a creamy and sour yogurt cup there are ripe and sweet fruits, which are ready to devour. When you churn it slowly with a spoon, the sweet fruits come up. It’s not sour anymore. Every time, I degust this kind of yogurt it reminds me of the mythological action of the churning of the ocean by the Devas and Asuras. In Hindu Mythology, the story speaks about Samudra Mantha, i.e the churning of the ocean.

As per the Hindu Mythology, the churning of the ocean took place between the Devas, on one side and the Asuras, on the other. Both sides wanted to get the amritam (nectar) from the process of churning, with the aim of becoming immortal. The tricky question is why the Devas also requires immortality. Are they not already immortal? It appears that the Devas are immortal only when they are in heaven. Hence, if they become immortal they will be able to dwell safely outside heaven. There is a risk that they die outside heaven. So, this amritam shall make them immortal in all three worlds.

As regards the Asuras, they are very powerful or equally powerful as the Devas in terms of strength and magical forces. But they are weak in terms of consciousness. They have lower consciousness than the Devas. So, if you are to beat evil you have to beat it at the level of consciousness. I usually said to myself that all the wrongs I did in the past and past lives can be beaten at the level of consciousness, where the evil will not be able to retaliate. This is my personal experience.

Now, when you look at any picture depicting the story of ocean churning you will see that Mount Mandara is being used as the churning rod and Vasuki, the serpent, as the churning rope. The Asuras held the neck of the serpent and the Devas held the tail in the process of the churning. Fumes emitted by serpent Vasuki poisoned the Asuras. At the end, the Devas and Asuras pull back and forth on the snake’s body alternately and caused the mountain to rotate, and it churned the ocean.

The Samudra Manthan(ocean churning) process obviously releases a number of good and bad things on the surface of the seawater. Esoterically, everyone has to go through this churning process in one’s material life. Churning the ocean is a journey of our life in this world. Sometimes, the ocean will be calm and sometimes you will face rough waves. The churning of the ocean teaches us that good and bad things happen to us when we are in search for the best, i.e on our path to spirituality. The symbolic nature of the churning of the ocean teaches the path to enlightenment. For instance, when you try to meditate, it is at this particular moment that all kind of bad thoughts would come up in your mind to disturb your concentration. Your mind is churning. These thoughts trouble you more and more. Many hurtful feelings such as anger, hatred, revenge and jealousy resurface from your mind. You witness the most difficult encounters in your life in terms of unwanted people and situations. Many would stand perplex given that the more they are getting into the path of spirituality, the more they are getting hurt and in turn, producing hurtful actions. In fact, this is the poison (sufferings), which come up during the churning of the ocean, i.e the churning of your mind and your life. You will need to know how to face it.

But, mythology teaches you not to consume the hurtful actions. How? Each and every time the hurts come up you will tend to abandon the path of spirituality and go back to materialism. This is wrong. The hurtful action is the poison coming out of the churning process; and mythology teaches us that Shiva drinks the poison (hurts, angers, jealousy etc) as soon as it comes up out of the churning of the ocean process. When He drinks the poison, he saves us. We do not die. He is doing a service for us and speed up our path to spirituality. If every time we die in short life span, we require more re-birth and karma resolve, and the more time it will take us to reach enlightenment. Instead, we have to stay alive to face it. The pure consciousness, for which we are looking, lies at the bottom of our mind – just like the amritam which lies at the bottom of the ocean. We need to keep churning to be able to reach and drink the nectar.Once we drink this nectar we become immortal. When we become immortal, sufferings and hurts will disappear. Bondage becomes meaningless. Sufferings disappear. This will happen to all of us on a timely basis on our path to enlightenment.

The churning of your mind brings a positive transformation to yourself, in spite of the hurtful actions and sufferings you consume on a daily basis. This is why the process of yoga is essential. Bhakti Yoga, Karma Yoga, Raja yoga and Jnana yoga teach oneself to acquire knowledge and hence bring this transformation to oneself to cope with sufferings.

You understand love, and love people but you still suffer, as the process of mind churning is ongoing. But you move up a step further towards enlightenment as you differentiate between love and desires or infatuation. The mind keeps on churning…until unconditional love establishes. You keep on suffering, as those to whom you give love do not understand. The mind keeps on churning! You understand that separation follows love. You suffer. The mind keeps on churning! Now you are intoxicated with Divine love. You suffer less. The mind keeps on churning! You finally discover the unity of being in love with love. Finally, the amritam is consumed.

May Lord Shiva always relieve us from the world’s sufferings…

Nanda Narrainen

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