The shivalingam is the external symbol for the causal body of man. There are various, both visible and invisible bodies, which are classified into three groups: the gross, the astral and the causal. The causal body is that state of man’s existence which is very deep and far beyond the present concept of time and space. Within this causal body, there are twelve centres. These twelve centres are illuminated.
When one goes through a town, one finds illumination at every lamp in the street. In the same way, the causal body illuminates at certain points which are known as luminous symbols. The word ‘symbol’ in Sanskrit is lingam, Shiva stands for consciousness, and jyoti means luminous; therefore, jyotilingam means luminous symbol, and shivalingam means the symbol of higher consciousness in the individual.
In Hindu philosophy Shiva is the symbol of yoga. He is represented in human form, seated in padmasana, in the state of meditation, with matted locks and the Ganga flowing from the right side. The crescent moon is on the left side, cobras hang on his neck like a necklace and on his arms like bracelets. He is seated on a tiger skin with a trident and a damaru by his side, and is faced by a bull. This is how the greater, higher and homogeneous consciousness in man has been symbolized in India.
The luminous centres in the causal body represent the state of man’s consciousness. Illuminations in the causal body are symbolized by two forms: one being the human-shaped Shiva, and the other the oval shaped, luminous lingam.
In some books by earlier Indian as well as present-day Western writers, lingam was translated as phallus, the sexual organ in the male body. It was the writers of the 19th century, both Indian and Western, who wrote that the shivalingam represented Shiva by a phallus organ.
This has to be clarified, because this is no longer the nineteenth century. We are now moving into the twenty-first century and need to have a very clear interpretation of the spiritual symbology.
—11 July 1978, Munger