A scientific understanding of our universe
Within what people refer to as Hinduism there is a fundamental desire to know or understand the nature of reality and our place in the universe, and to be free of all suffering.
Within the subcontinent of India and its surrounds, people became seekers of knowledge and not believers and any particular thing. For something to be true, it must be verifiable and over the past thousands of years this knowledge has been accumulated within the books referred to as Vedanta.
Today the majority of the worlds population is being driven by beliefs and many of these beliefs cannot be verified and in fact many popular beliefs that have been entertained over the past couple of thousand years have been undone by modern science which in some ways has become the new God.
However, thousands of years ago the Hindus discovered a great deal about our planet, our solar system and the universe itself, not by using expensive modern instruments, but by exercising our human capacity to expand perception.
We could say that yoga is the science of expanding perception which is embodied within Hindu devotional and spiritual practices. All of these spiritual practices have nothing to do with any belief system, their goal is to enable the practitioner to realise the nature of existence.
The nature of existence includes what we perceive as one's self and the totality of the universe that we live in. Much of this knowledge is now being validated through modern scientific methods but ironically when the scientists get stuck, they turn to Hinduism to help resolve their problem.
The Shiva Lingam
Weston indoligists and believers have translated the word lingam as a male phallic symbol. This is understandable as in one of the creation stories there is an idea that there was a physical mating and a divine seed (ejaculate) impregnated the feminine principle and gave birth to the universe. This idea however is not the experience of the great sages but is easy to see how the image of a stone standing erect could be misconstrued as a phallic symbol by people who have a fixation on sex and survival.
In the image above, modern science has produced this bell shaped conception of the universe which is similar to the Hindu understanding of the birth and expansion of the universe. It is from this understanding of the universe that the Shiva Lingam was created. Therefore when one worships, praise or meditates, the lingam represents the universe and not some God even though the form of the lingam is defined as Shiva who is the divine principle within creation.
Therefore the Shiva lingam is a representation of the universe and the idea of worship is a mix of appreciation and desire to know. But there is a great deal more technology involved than can be explained in this brief article. But just bring one's palms together with an attitude of appreciation for the gift of life and gratitude for the creation is sufficient to help transform one's mind and slowly opened the doors of perception.
In a simple way the Shiva lingam is no more than what it is made from, but because different materials have different properties as science of manufacturing these lingam have evolved. When construction technology is combined with the wisdom energy of the sages, the lingam can become repositories of energy that inspire a deeper appreciation of life.