I acknowledge this electron microscope picture of the carbon atom from the Net.

Shiva in the ninth dharana says:

Picturesque circles on a peacock feather

Meditate on their five voids

Follow to the VOID at the heart

A peacock’s feather has beautiful and picturesque circles. One can look at and admire the form of these circles. Many artists have and have  created images of splendor. While they see the circles and form, Shiva sees the voids underlying the circles.

Everything in nature, whether an atom, a cell or land or space is a void. Electron microscopes show that almost 90% of the atomic structure of any material, the cellular structure of any living organism, or anything anywhere in nature that combines these to form whatever we experience as reality, is a void. There is emptiness everywhere; only emptiness.

What we see is the form. Today Quantum Science explains it to be the result of the vibration of the molecules.  90% of these molecules in nothing. What we see as ‘real’ is the vibration of this emptiness. All form is truly formless.

In our Consciousness, our thoughts arise from the void of our karena sarira, or causal body. We shall discuss this later under another dharana. Bubbles of thoughts, our vasanas and samskaras, the essence of our thoughts surface in deep sleep in the causal body. As they move through the sub conscious to the conscious kind, we perceive these as thoughts and act on them. These thoughts create us. The voids of our causal body create the thoughts. 

Shiva’s reference to five circles and five voids are to the five tanmatras, also known as the soonya panchakam. These are the five formless abstract attributes that create the tangible tatvas, or energy elements of all matter.

The five tatvas are: Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Space. The tanmatras underlying these material elements are their formless energy, through which the elements are experienced. The tanmatra of earth is smell, of water is taste, of fire is form, of air is touch and of space is sound. Our senses, the indriyas help us experience the elements in their form.

So, we see fire as a form through our sight, as we do many other forms. We interpret them through the four attributes of buddhi, intelligence; memory, chitta; manas, sensory mind; and buddhi, higher intelligence.  These four attributes are governed by the energy, Prakriti that operates us. Prakriti evolves out of Shakti, and Shakti complements Purusha, the reflection of Shiva, pure consciousness. 

Everything that we sense as forms of sight, hearing, touch, smell and taste have an underlying energy.  Mind as a whole maps the form and interprets it for us. This over time becomes our experience repository and builds our personality and behavior. These are the circles Shiva refers to, the experiential , conditioned baggage we carry. Each of sees the circles differently. There is no one truth. It’s relative. hence, the maya or illusion that Shankara talks about.

How do we get out of the maya? 

Shiva says to look beyond the circles at the voids and then the VOID. 

Moving beyond the form to the formless helps us move from ignorance to enlightenment. Enlightenment is never about the form. It’s about the formless, Shiva calls soonya.

In the Vedic tradition, this sunya, the pure consciousness of Shiva reflected within us, rests in our heart. Bhagawan Ramana talks about the thumb sized cave on the right side of the heart. Wherever it may be located for you, sinking deep into the heart energy center helps to reach the void.

In this void, you discover Shiva.

So, in anything that you sense, seek the formless. Go beyond what you see with your eyes. Go to a meditative state and relook. What is the energy, the tanmatra, behind what you see? Focus on your heart chakra and contemplate what you see. What you see there is rarely what you see with your eyes.

More you practice this, more you become aware.