It is totally inadequate to call Shiva male and Shakti female, since these terms limit God, who cannot be limited. Our minds are limited to seeing masculine and feminine as polar opposites, but Shiva and Shakti have been married since before the dawn of creation.
They are a divine whole that chooses to express itself by taking on the appearance of being masculine and feminine.
You and I do the same thing. Although my body may be male, my inner self identifies with spirit as a whole, and therefore my soul must include both Shiva and Shakti: Shiva is silence, Shakti is power. Shiva is creativity, Shakti is creation. Shiva is love, Shakti is loving.
These qualities aren’t opposites but complements, which is a perfect description of a sacred marriage. Mature love consists of being able to see yourself in your beloved and your beloved in yourself.
To remain stuck in gender stereotypes, to defend one’s maleness or femaleness, to aim criticism at the other sex for causing problems – these are all betrayals of marriage’s sacred foundation.
A sacred marriage draws its passion from inclusiveness. Passion for another person has to fade, but passion for life itself is eternal.
When two cosmic energies, Shiva and Shakti, are connected, the flow of passion brings unlimited creative potential. The poles of silence and power set up a tension between them, like the yearning felt between a man and a woman that can only be satisfied by the exchange of love.
The current that connects them is the creative force of the universe, which is concentrated nowhere more than in you. You are the ground for this current to flow, it needs no one else. Only when Shiva and Shakti are married in you will you be able to enter a sacred marriage with someone else.
Adapted from The Path to Love, by Deepak Chopra (Three Rivers Press, 1997).