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How to make a Shiva Lingam - and why

A Shiva Lingam should be made out of an object which has not been shaped by or touched or even influenced by your human or artificial effort, whether directly or indirectly. Of course, such an object does not exist: and learning this is part of the process of making a Shiva Lingam. Understand that you are very much a part of your world - the way you sustain your life, the people you meet, the clothing you wear, the foods you eat, the water you drink, the way these are acquired (through Artha) shape the world. There is a connection between all people, and the world they share: even the rainfall is subtly shaped by our efforts. Known in modern parlance as "the butterfly effect," understanding this helps you understand that you are indeed as much a part of nature as any animal, or natural phenomenon. Such unity is essential to what will be performed through the Shiva Lingam: it is when we are connected in such unity that we achieve Samadhi, and eventually Moksha; it is when we separate from this unity that we are able to serve. To have power over your ability to merge in freedom and separate in service is a great achievement, and one of the purposes for which Shiva Lingams are obtained.

Naturally, one would cut this search short to look for an object which fits the objective "well enough" (Yoga is not about perfection, after all - but the success of the sufficient and efficient). This is another important lesson to be learned, which is required for the power of freedom and service.

Find a solid object, which is hard (such as rock, especially hard rocks, like granite), which is newly made (such as an icicle), or which is known to be shaped by nature (like a river rock, whether freshly eroded from its banks, or smoothed over thousands of years), or whatever object is nearby and at hand when the understanding is obtained.

Study the object: know that the surface, or skin, of it is the image, or abstraction, or conceptualization of Brahma; the interior which remains unseen (even when opened up, even when pounded into smaller and smaller dust) is the conceptualization of Vishnu; the object itself, interior and exterior bound together, is the conceptualization of Shiva. Adorn with honor Brahma, the surface. Draw upon the object three lines, symbolizing the sound, the name, the accomplishment of the purpose of the Vedas, the mantra Om (A-U-M), the three gunas or components of form. This pigmentation is now beyond Brahma, and merged with it too: it is not quite part of the object, nor is it not quite separate from it. That which is left unadorned, unhonored, is not dishonored, but now helps cultivate this understanding, and represents the Shakti - that energy, that native form, which was present but unseen, until form was taken: only when form was taken was what was without form able to be seen. White, black or red pigment is typically used for this adornment, symbolizing Sattva, Tamas or Rajas, respectively. From the sacrificial fire, the ash, the charcol, the sparking ember itself. In this sense, the lingam itself becomes a symbol of the fire, and permits the understanding of its purpose and accomplishment.

The icicle will melt, but in its place another will form in the next freeze, shaped by the same force, into subtly different form. As will any Shiva Lingam continue to be shaped by the forces which act upon it - the forces we bring to act upon it. So do forces, that combination of energy and form, act upon us - in all our lives. The necessity to gain power to shape this destiny, through the self-determination of Karma Yoga, is possible through the knowledge obtained in the making of a Shiva Lingam. Understanding the components of form and energy, understanding the interconnectedness of all things, understanding our vulnerability to force, and our ability to exert force, gives power to utilize this knowledge and obtain whatever is desired. Do not pray for what is needed or wanted - understanding the causes that give rise to the conditions of success (or failure), confidently act to condition success and decondition failure: do not pray for protection, or refuge, but act promptly to bring an end to what is threatening you.

The name of Parvati connotes a rock, or stone - as the daughter of the mountains or even the Shiva Lingam; it connotes what is beyond (para-), what fulfills and fills and is suitable (parv-), what was asked for or begged (vati-). Thus, since you know better than to pray, since you know that all Lingas will eventually be destroyed, like an icicle in the spring, the Linga is by extended practice made to appear formless: grasp sand with two hands and clasp it between those hands. Let it go: and it falls to the ground, formless, even dispersed on the wind. This is the Shiva Lingam. Grasp mud with two hands and clasp it between those hands. Let it go: it forms a small formless pillar that through time is observed to disperse. This is the Shiva Lingam. So is a rock, unshaped except by the gradual processes of water, wind, ice, and other natural phenomenon, grasped in the hands: this is also the Shiva Lingam. Curl in despair, and cower, holding your legs and back with your hands, in a fetal position weep and cry like Shiva in His grief at the death of Sati: this, your body, is also the Shiva Lingam. Your sorrow will eventually pass, and you will stand up straight, like a pillar. This is also the Shiva Lingam.

The three gunas are present in all things, present in the Shiva Linga. Grasping this, as you would grasp one of your hands with the other to make a Shiva Lingam, as you grasp the subtle nature of reality - and your own nature as well - say "Om Namah Shivaya!" It is by Yoga that Shiva is realized.