The Devi is twofold in her aspect as Saguna or Nirguna, with or without qualities. The Goddess, as Supreme Absolute Brahman, can be expressed with form and attributes in the manifest realm (Saguna) or without form in the unmanifest (Nirguna). Saguna Devi, we could say, is Prakriti or Lakshmi, while Kali is Nirguna Devi. Since Kali, the Dark Goddess is the formless Nirguna Devi, she is usually the most unapproachable and unfathomable of the Goddesses. Deeper jnana is through unique distinctiveness not by any consent or concurrence. As the sadhaka's thought-waves mature, the being moves into the higher Self or Atman placing the mind at rest. Enriching the inner yogic experiences one leaves behind the name and forms, searching out the void of the Dark Goddess. Lakshmi holds the most desired qualities and is outwardly beneficent in offering us all that we desire as beauty, prosperity and happiness, which is why people prefer to seek her blessings. Kali's benefic mantras cherish and fulfill all one's desires and worldly wishes, much like Lakshmi, yet also directing us beyond. Aim Hrim Shrim Klim Kalike Klim Shrim Hrim Aim| Kali and Lakshmi, the two Goddesses work together as a single energy to guide the human soul through its cycle of Mahamaya, the cosmic mirage of dream and illusion. They allow us to experience the fruits that result from our actions, which carry us through the bedlam of human incarnations to the ultimate reality. The play between dharmic goodness and sensual carnal delights, the forces of light and darkness, is revealed through the Dark Goddess, who herself is beyond all duality, allowing us the freedom of choice. Kali stands at the doorway to all dharmic values with her ever watchful eye, rendering her boons and blessings for those who choose the higher truth. The lure of her noose, trapping our negativities, unfolds our true nature at the given time of worldly experiences. Yet Kali also appears most terrifying as the face of death and destruction, using her sword when we deviate from our true path. Hers is a school of intense discipline, guiding us to integrate all dualities in achieving the non-dual state. She takes on the mantle of the Mother, who in a family guides its members, especially her children to higher values conducive to love and peace. In this regard, Kali plays the role of Rudrani, the consort Devi of Rudra, the powerful or fierce aspect of Shiva Maheshvara. Saguna Devi is Prakriti or the material nature in all her abundant potentials for the physical being, the mind and its emotions, playing out life's drama. Prakriti offers us the blessings of Lakshmi through boons of personal, devotional and family happiness. As the Shakti of the outer nature, which is ultimately inert or jada, Lakshmi's power rests upon the Nirguna Shakti of Kali beyond all duality. Nirguna Devi is the Para Prakriti or the higher nature of Brahman, which is, concentrated bliss without any deviation or diminution. Kali is the Shakti of Brahman as Chit Shakti, the power of consciousness, the secret power through which Prakriti works. She unfolds the highest potentials of Prakriti and takes us beyond their boundaries as well. The movement of all spiritual practice or sadhana begins with the blessings of the manifest, more discernible qualities of Saguna Devi, eventually taking us to the realisation of the unmanifest or Nirguna Devi. It is not merely a movement from Prakriti to Purusha or from Anatman (not-Self) to the Self or Atman. It is a conscious movement from Saguna Shakti to the Nirguna Shakti. The Rishis and sages in ancient Hindu traditions realized that saguna and nirguna are not separate identities. In saguna one has to bring the Devata into a form and in relating to their energies with devotion, one moves beyond all human notions into the void of nirguna. Rituals, murti (idol) puja allows us to move out of our self image and become receptive to the energies and grace of the Devatas. Everybody uses a form to represent one's faith. God is formless yet we have given him a personality of love, anger, wrath and peaceful benevolence. Vedic philosophies of Samkhya, Yoga and Vedanta emphasize discrimination between Purusha, the pure consciousness or spirit, and Prakriti, the great Nature or matter, or the Self and not-Self as the key to liberation. In principle, the Purusha is symbolically male and Prakriti is symbolically female. Yet liberation can only be realised through Chit-Shakti, the power of consciousness, or the power of perception, which in its reality is the higher form of the Devi or Goddess. Through discrimination between the lower and higher aspects of the Goddess herself, between Prakriti and Kali, we can understand and realise the higher truth. Kali is the non-dual Devi who carries both Brahman and Prakriti as the higher and lower sides of herself. Accessible only by the knowledge beyond the gunas and beyond duality, O Kali, You are the unity realized in the form of the Supreme Brahman. ~Sudhadhara Kali Stotra~ The most important worship of Kali is in her Nirguna or formless aspect, particularly through meditating upon her as infinite space and eternal time. She is Prakata-kriti Devi, ‘the one who makes known', whose formless energy manifests in the shape of the entire universe. Kali provides the inner knowledge to exist in all time (Kaal) and in every form (Kalaa). Once we realise this essential truth we are able to evolve into higher fields of consciousness. We discover the wonder of our being in the form of an ever new light. To worship Kali we must unfold the nakedness of our true selves before the Absolute truth. One must learn to dance in Kali's steps of sheer abandonment, allowing our heart its expression of sacred delight and abounding peace. We must fill the boundless space of Kali's void with our spirit of joy and happiness. In the empty space where there is no face or form, we must discover the dance of Kali. We touch the faceless expansion of her joyousness in relaxing our hold on all that we would wish to control or possess. We realise the beauty of Kali in forgetting all that we presume to know and understand. We feel and experience the magic of Kali in detaching ourselves from all emotional reactions of love and hate, pleasure and pain. This state of clarity, balance and grace of Nirguna Kali unfold in the form of Shambhavi, which holds the blessings of the Absolute. || Kali as the Yuga Shakti || As the great power of time, Kali's Shakti creates the different Yugas or world ages that humanity passes through during the long cycles of cosmic evolution. Kali is the Goddess of eternity watching over all our temporal changes and facilitating those which promote our inner growth. More specifically, Kali is the Yuga Shakti or the power of time that takes humanity from one world age to another. She works to sustain the spiritual energy of the planet through both the ages of light and darkness. The Dark Goddess is not simply a Hindu Goddess but the universal form of the Mother, who is the real ruler of the world. The awakening to the Goddess that is occurring today at a global level is, yogically speaking, an awakening to the energy of Kali. The Mother Goddess as the dark, mysterious and transcendent Devi holds the key to the real power and presence of the universe in all her manifestations. Kali is once more entering into humanity and into the sphere of the Earth to work her magic and her awe. The Devi brings about all planetary transformations, arousing the planetary Shakti and stimulating not only individual awareness but the greater planetary consciousness. The current natural and human catastrophes that are happening throughout the world today are an indication of this transformative power of Kali pushing humanity to change, to break through our divisive beliefs and end our destructive behavior that has now come to threaten all life on the planet. Until we make the decisive inner change and give up our destructive attitudes and actions, we face the universal wrath of Kali at a global level, with the danger of global catastrophes gradually increasing over time, until we are faced with the choice of either radically changing how we live or perishing as a species. To meet the challenge of Ma Kali, we must turn within and let go of our efforts to control the outer world, seeking to understand ourselves first. Today our civilization does not honor the Devatas, the cosmic forces of the Gods and Goddesses that embody the sacred powers of nature on which we depend for our well-being. Intellectuals and academics reduce the living Deities, by whose grace we function, to aberrations of psychology, politics or anthropology, mere reflections of ordinary human behavior that bears nothing sacred about it. Religions, in the name of God, practice politics and seek to dominate the world with their beliefs, rather than spreading a message of love, unity, the grace of the Mother, and Self-realization. Meanwhile, even those who try to practice Tantra have generally reduced it to little more than black magic, using the spirit world to promote material gains for themselves and their paid clientele. The essence of the Yoga tradition seems to have been waylaid for commercial exploitation and personal self-aggrandizement on all fronts. There is little real Dharma, or natural and universal principles, even among those trying to save the planet. We have many disgruntled ‘angry' activists seeking to lay the blame for the world problems on someone else, shouting and cursing others, rather than becoming truly peace-loving helpers who aim to unite us for the greater benefit of all. Sarvam santih santir eva santih May All Things Be Peaceful, the Peace of Peace! We continue to divide up humanity in the name of religion and politics, fighting among ourselves, while overall we continue to devastate the planet, plundering her resources and making toxic her lands, water and air.