Moksha मोक्ष is a Sanskrit word meaning “free, release, liberate“. This word is related to the Sanskrit word mukti मुक्ति meaning “liberation”.The root word of both is muc मुच्meaning “to be free”*.
In his commentary on the Upanishads, 8th century CE philosopher and theologian Adi Shankara speaks of Moksha.Shankara tells us that the Upanishads, the Gita, and the scriptures establish a path to Moksha. Sankara says:
“The Upanishads exhaust themselves simply by determining the true nature of the Self, and the Gita and the scriptures dealing with moksha have only this end in view” [Intro to the Isa Upanishad].
The Upanishads ‘liberate’ the soul through the removal of spiritual ignorance. Shankara explains:
It’s a strange day
No colors or shapes
No sound in my head
I forget who I am
When I’m with you
There’s no reason
There’s no sense
I’m not supposed to feel
I forget who I am
(Goldfrapp – Utopia)
There are moments in life when we lose ourselves completely. These moments occur spontaneously in states of love and joy, as well as pain and hardship. When we fall in love we forget ourselves: there’s no reason. And at the loss of love, we again forget ourselves: there’s no sense. These movements of love and loss are at the ends of the spectrum, the outer circumference of being human, marking an aspect of the Self that the mind simply cannot grasp.
The image above is of the Purushkara Yantra. This is a cosmic man figure from the 18th Century. The cosmic body contains the different levels of being.
Yantras such as this one offer a means of Self-realization in the Hindu tradition. They are used in meditation along with a mantra for Self-realization. The yantra represents the relation between the macrocosm and the microcosm. Through meditation on the yantra, one turns within to discover he cosmos within. The Mundaka Upanishad (8:1) speaks of the cosmic man:
Carl Jung speaks of the “negative side of the mother archetype”. This aspect of the mother “may connote anything secret, hidden, dark, the abyss.” (Carl Jung, CW 9i, para. 158) In the image above, we see Kali, the ‘dark goddess’. David Kinsley says, that “Kali plays the role of Parvati’s dark, negative, violent nature in embodied form”.
A common first reaction to such images is aversion. We wish to avoid that which is dark, hidden, secret. We turn our gaze from the abyss. In Tantric philosophy, on the other hand, we do not flee from such images; instead, we recognize them as essential to enlightenment.