For one who is fearful, darkness is evil. For one who is not fearful, darkness is the all-absorbing nature of existence. That which can absorb everything is also that which creates everything. So, Devi is seen as the basis of all Creation. Earth is called “Mother” because it is all-creating and all-absorbing. It throws us out and absorbs us too, one day.
Why do some associate darkness with evil? Only because your visual senses are such that you cannot see in darkness, it instills fear in you. For all nocturnal animals, darkness is beautiful. There was no light in your mother’s womb. The fear of darkness came only after you were born.
For those trapped in the limitations of sensory perception, darkness is a problem. For those who have transcended the limitations of the senses, darkness is a blessing. The fundamental principle of Bhairavi is darkness. One meaning of ‘bhai’ is fear. Another meaning is ‘beyond’. She is fearful for those who are trapped in limitations – but for those who have the eyes to see it, she is the nature of the beyond. Fear appears because there is no vairag, no dispassion. For those who are trapped in limitations, dispassion is a fearful thing. For those who consciously go into it, dispassion is ultimate freedom.
Either you are in ‘bhai’ or vairag – there is no other way to be. Passion and fear are connected. The word ‘passion’ is used in many ways: we are using it for intensity but passion essentially means you are clinging to something. Being passionate about something or somebody is the only way for you right now to generate certain experiences within you.
If the object of your passion is threatened, there is fear. Dispassion does not mean non-involvement. Right now, you are kicking up your involvement with passion. If you can kick up your involvement with dispassion, then there is no question of fear.
When Devi is depicted in fearful ways, it is not that she really is fearful. It is just that people see her like that; it is their perception. Those who love her think she is compassionate, but those who look at her bound by limitations think she is fearsome. You might see pictures where Devi has taken off her own head, carrying it in her hand; this aspect of the Devi is called Chinnamasta.
This is to show that she has taken off her own limitations. If Devi nurtures your limitations, would you call that compassion? Or would you think so if she takes away your limitations? Removing your limitations is ultimate compassion - to a point where she is willing to be unpopular.
Devi’s compassion is like the purifying and life-giving fire. A mind that is full of fear looks upon fire fearfully. But fire is the basis of all life. May the fiery Grace of Bhairavi be upon you.