Shiva is not god. Shiva is not a deity. Shiva is the very basis of existence. The consciousness itself. Beyond the dualities and the form arising from the motion of conscious energy, there is basic primordial one-ness or better still the nothingness. That is what Shiva represents.
When Sage Vasistha (Yoga Vasistha) asks Shiva himself at Kailash as to who he is. He says this:
Do you know who ‘god’ is? God is not Visnu, Siva or Brahma; not the wind, the sun or the moon; not the brahmana or the king; not I nor you; not Lakshmi nor the mind (intellect). God is without form and undivided (not in the objects); that splendour (devanam) which is not made and which has neither beginning nor end is known as god (deva)or Lord Shiva which is pure consciousness. That alone is to be worshipped; and that alone is all.
If one is unable to worship this Shiva then he is encouraged to worship the form. The latter yields finite results but the former bestows infinite bliss. He who ignores the infinite and is devoted to the finite abandons a pleasure-garden and seeks the thorny bush. However, sages sometimes worship a form playfully.
Shiva is known as Mahadeva or the “Great God” itself. He is being referred to as the pure consciousness which he says can also be called the “father of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva”. Pure undivided consciousness without any linkages to the ignorance of duality or mind is where everything arises.
Whatever we may call Shiva or the other sentient and non-sentient beings, are mere words. They may suggest a diversity or difference between them, but such articulation is just semantic. It is known to the enlightened beings that what is being referred to in all these words and references is one undivided pure consciousness. And, that is Shiva.
That which IS after all the senses have ceased to function and all notions of pleasure and pain have vanished is the self or Shiva which is also indicated by expressions like ‘that’, ‘truth’, or ‘reality’. However, that which IS when these cease to be exists even when all these are present, like the limitless space. Out of their compassion for the ignorant deluded ones, in an effort to awaken them spiritually and to awaken in them a thirst for liberation, redeemers of the universe (known as Brahma, Indra, Rudra and others) have composed scriptures like the Vedas and Puranas. In these scriptures, they have used words like “consciousness”, Brahman, Shiva, self Lord, supreme self etc. These words may imply a diversity, but in truth there is no such diversity.
When Mahashivratri comes this year, it is time to wake up to the truth of the pure consciousness. It is time to align yourself with Shiva, the pure consciousness.
The Lord is not to be worshipped by material substances but by one’s own consciousness. Not by waving lamps nor lighting incense, nor by offering flowers nor even by offering food or sandal paste. He is attained without th eleast effort; he is worshipped by self-realization alone. This is the supreme meditation, this is the supreme worship; the continuous unbroken awareness of the indwelling presence, inner light or consciousness.
The way to do that is via deep inner meditation. Or better still being meditative.
Times like Mahashivaratri are not considered important because some day is better than another on the calendar. But because there are times of the year when the placement of Earth, Sun and the Moon render themselves in ways when the human body can lend itself to raising the level of conscious energy. In these times, one can – if the effort is made – raise the consciousness to a level of meditative state where one connects with the pure inner self.
Mahashivaratri, in that sense, is an opportunity. Not an occassion. An opportunity when the option to connect with your primal self is available via the cosmic energies around. Sadhguru puts it thus:
Mahashivaratri is one of the biggest and most significant among the sacred festival nights of India. This – the darkest night of the year – celebrates the Grace of Shiva, who is considered the Adi guru or the First guru, from whom the yogic tradition originates. The planetary positions on this night are such that there is a powerful natural upsurge of energy in the human system. It is enormously beneficial for one’s physical and spiritual wellbeing to stay awake and aware in a vertical position throughout the night.
This Mahashivaratri, keeping your spine erect, engage in deep meditation, where the self only remains. Shiva will happen.