The word linga means “the form.” We are calling it “the form” because when the un-manifest began to manifest itself, or in other words when creation began to happen, the first form that it took was that of an ellipsoid. A perfect ellipsoid is what we call as a linga. Creation always started as an ellipsoid or a linga, and then became many things. And we know from our experience that if you go into deep states of meditativeness, before a point of absolute dissolution comes, once again the energy takes the form of an ellipsoid or a linga. So, the first form is linga and the final form is linga. The in-between space is creation and what is beyond is Shiva.
The word “Shiva” literally means “that which is not.” That means nothing. Nothing is a very negative word. You would understand it better if you put a hyphen in between: no-thing. That which is, is physical manifestation. “That which is not” is that which is beyond the physical. In India, there are thousands of temples which are built for “that which is not.” Most of these Shiva temples don’t have a particular deity of any form. They just have a representative form and generally it is a linga. The form of a linga is a hole in the fabric of creation. So, the temple is a hole through which you enter into a space which is not. It is a hole through which you can fall beyond.