Practices in Parabhairavayoga – (part 2)
In the Part 1 of my long dissertation I introduced you to the universe of the practices to be performed in Parabhairavayoga. And now, in this Part 2 of my long dissertation, I will start my likewise long explanation of the three upāya-s or means/methods: Śāmbhavopāya, Śāktopāya and Āṇavopāya. The word ‘upāya’ derives from the verb ‘upe’ (to come near, approach, etc.). So, an upāya is something which makes the spiritual aspirant approach the Highest Reality, at least in theory. In practice, it only serves the purpose of keeping disciples busy with something. Besides, as I specified in the Part 1 of my dissertation about practice in Parabhairavayoga, all these abhyāsa-s or practices have a sedative effect on the disciple, which is very helpful indeed. I explained all this in the aphorisms 18 and 19 of my Parabhairavayogasaṁsthāpanapracodanam (and its short commentary):
कस्मिंश्चिच्छिष्यानां व्यापारायाभ्यासः केवलम्॥१८॥
Kasmiṁścicchiṣyānāṁ vyāpārāyābhyāsaḥ kevalam||18||
Spiritual practice(s) (abhyāsaḥ) only (kevalam) serve the purpose of keeping the disciples busy (śiṣyānāṁ vyāpārāya) with something (kasmin-cid).
Spiritual practices only serve the purpose of keeping the disciples busy with something.
कस्मिंश्चित्कस्मिनपि कार्ये शिष्यानां छात्राणां व्यापाराय व्यग्रत्वायाभ्यासो ध्यानप्राणायामासनादिरूपं केवलम्। शिष्यस्य दिनं स्वगुरुप्रचोदिताभ्याससङ्कुलं तस्याधिकदुःखावहसापेक्षक्रियापूर्वनिरर्थकविकल्पाविक्षितदशार्थे॥१८॥
Kasmiṁścitkasminapi kārye śiṣyānāṁ chātrāṇāṁ vyāpārāya vyagratvāyābhyāso dhyānaprāṇāyāmāsanādirūpaṁ kevalam| Śiṣyasya dinaṁ svagurupracoditābhyāsasaṅkulaṁ tasyādhikaduḥkhāvahasāpekṣakriyāpūrvanirarthakavikalpāvikṣitadaśārthe||18||
Spiritual practice(s) (abhyāsaḥ) such as meditation, control of the breath, postures, etc. (dhyāna-prāṇāyāma-āsana-ādi-rūpam) only (kevalam) serve the purpose of keeping the disciples busy (śiṣyānām chātrāṇām vyāpārāya vyagratvāya) with something (kasmin-cid), i.e. with some activity (kasmin-api kārye). The day (dinam) of the disciple (śiṣyasya) is full of (saṅkulam) spiritual practices (abhyāsa) prescribed (pracodita) by his (sva) Guru (guru) in order for him not to be distracted (tasya… avikṣita-daśā-arthe) by useless (nirarthaka) thoughts (vikalpa) accompanied by (pūrva) their respective (sāpekṣa) activities (kriyā) leading to (āvaha) additional (adhika) pain (duḥkha)||18||
Spiritual practice(s) such as meditation, control of the breath, postures, etc. only serve the purpose of keeping the disciples busy with something, i.e. with some activity. The day of the disciple is full of spiritual practices prescribed by his Guru in order for him not to be distracted by useless thoughts accompanied by their respective activities leading to additional pain.
स्वस्थानप्रत्यावृत्त्यभिधेयस्य तीव्रप्रसरस्य सहनाय शान्तिकरवदप्यभ्यासः॥१९॥
Svasthānapratyāvṛttyabhidheyasya tīvraprasarasya sahanāya śāntikaravadapyabhyāsaḥ||19||
Spiritual practice(s) (abhyāsaḥ) also (api) act as sedatives (śāntikara-vat) to tolerate (sahanāya) the intense process (tīvra-prasarasya) of ‘returning Home’ –i.e. realization of one’s identity– (svasthāna-pratyāvṛtti-abhidheyasya).
Spiritual practices also act as sedatives to tolerate the intense process of ‘returning Home’ (i.e. realization of one’s identity).
स्वस्थानप्रत्यावृत्त्यभिधेयस्य स्वात्मानं प्रत्यागमनाख्यस्य तीव्रप्रसरस्य तिग्मप्रयाणस्य सहनाय मर्षणाय शान्तिकरवच्छान्तिदनिर्विशेषमप्यभ्यासः। अभ्यासं कुर्वाणः शिष्योऽन्तरदर्शनतत्तद्लोकगमननादादीञ्च्छ्रद्धाविरहग्लानि-सर्वव्यञ्जनोच्छेतॄन्बहुविधान्तर्विकारसञ्जातक्लमापहानेवानुभवति॥१९॥
Svasthānapratyāvṛttyabhidheyasya svātmānaṁ pratyāgamanākhyasya tīvraprasarasya tigmaprayāṇasya sahanāya marṣaṇāya śāntikaravacchāntidanirviśeṣamapyabhyāsaḥ| Abhyāsaṁ kurvāṇaḥ śiṣyo’ntaradarśanatattadlokagamananādādīñcchraddhāvirahaglāni-sarvavyañjanocchetṝnbahuvidhāntarvikārasañjātaklamāpahānevānubhavati||19||
Spiritual practice(s) (abhyāsaḥ) also (api) act as sedatives (śāntikara-vat śāntida-nirviśeṣam) to tolerate or forbear (sahanāya marṣaṇāya) the intense process (tīvra-prasarasya) —the impetuous process (tigma-prayāṇasya)— of ‘returning Home’ (svasthāna-pratyāvṛtti-abhidheyasya), i.e. of ‘coming back to one’s own Self’ (sva-ātmānam pratyāgamana-ākhyasya). While performing (kurvāṇaḥ) spiritual practice(s) (abhyāsam), a disciple (śiṣyaḥ) experiences (anubhavati) inner visions (antara-darśana), journeys (gamana) to various (tad-tad) worlds (loka), divine sounds (nāda), etc. (ādīn), which extirpate (ucchetṝn) all (sarva) the symptoms (vyañjana) of depression (glāni) (and) lack of (viraha) faith (śraddhā), (and) certainly remove (apahān eva) the fatigue (klama) produced by (sañjāta) the manifold (bahuvidha) internal (antar) changes (vikāra)||19||
Spiritual practice(s) also act as sedatives to tolerate or forbear the intense process —the impetuous process— of ‘returning Home’, i.e. of ‘coming back to one’s own Self’. While performing spiritual practice(s), a disciple experiences inner visions, journeys to various worlds, divine sounds, etc., which extirpate all the symptoms of depression (and) lack of faith, (and) certainly remove the fatigue produced by the manifold internal changes.
Anyway, if I were forced to consider one ‘upāya’ to be a real means for a spiritual aspirant to come close to the Great Lord who is his own Self, then I would choose Śāmbhavopāya as the only valid means accomplishing that. But it is so difficult to perform for most aspirants that it hardly exists in the Yoga universe due to to the extremely low quality of discipleship. In fact, no other system contains Śāmbhavopāya, i.e. it is an exclusive Trika Shaivism’s feature. The other two remaining upāya-s are just inferior and therefore ‘crowded’, specially Āṇavopāya. Nonetheless, you can say that it is better something than nothing, right? It is because I am following this way of thinking about Śāktopāya and Āṇavopāya that I am willing to describe them at length later on.
All in all, in my Parabhairavayoga, I will include the three traditional Trika’s upāya-s or means as the backbone of the recommended practices. Anyway, I will add some extra practices as I mentioned at the beginning of my long study about practice in Parabhairavayoga. Also, I will recommend special methods within each of the upāya-s so that your journey to Yourself will feel more entertained. Because, as a matter of fact, there is no journey to Yourself as there is no distance between you and You, since both are one and the same Reality.
I will follow the rule given by the greatest Trika Master, Abhinavagupta, in that one always should start to teach the highest first and next gradually advance to the lowest. For example, in this context, one should begin teaching Śāmbhavopāya and next one has to move to the other two inferior upāya-s (Śāktopāya and Āṇavopāya) in sequence. Why? Because maybe some disciples could start directly from the highest means (Śāmbhavopāya) or maybe from Śāktopāya, and in this way they would be saved from the hassle of having to practice the many techniques described in Āṇavopāya. Obviously, this rule was very useful at the time of Abhinavagupta, when a few disciples had at least the caliber of Yogarāja (the commentator of Abhinavagupta’s Paramārthasāra), but now, when most disciples cannot even understand the meaning of the first aphorism in Śivasūtra-s, the rule recommended by Abhinavagupta in order to teach Trika is no more valid, in my opinion. In fact, since the only person I know ‘so far’ who is able to effectively practice Śāmbhavopāya is ‘myself’, and since I have at most seen one or two people practicing Śāktopāya in the past, I can conclude that even if I were to teach the upāya-s in reverse order, from Āṇavopāya to Śāmbhavopāya, it would make any difference at all. Such is the shameful state of discipleship nowadays!
Anyway, for showing respect to the traditional teachings and recommendations, I will undertake this detailed explanation about upāya-s in the way specified by Abhinavagupta. OK, let us start with the first and main upāya then:
Śāmbhavopāya: Brief Introduction
This extremely difficult method to be only practiced by probably one among thousands of aspirants who populate the Yoga universe is really the ‘prelude to Liberation’. I have to describe it in detail because it is part of the process of evolution of the human soul. All the disciples, sooner or later, will arrive at Śāmbhavopāya. Hence it is important for a disciple to know what God has in store for him during the above-mentioned process of evolution from the condition of a miserable limited being up to the State of the Supreme Śiva.
In each of the upāya-s, one of the three powers of the Lord predominates: Icchā (Will), Jñāna (Knowledge) or Kriyā (Action). While Śāktopāya and Āṇavopāya are based on Knowledge and Action, Śāmbhavopāya is permeated by Lord’s Will only. So:
In Śāmbhavopāya Icchā (Will) predominates
In Śāktopāya Jñāna (Knowledge) predominates
In Āṇavopāya Kriyā (Action) predominates
And what is this Will like in practice? It is the Will of the great disciple to stay thoughtless for so much time as he decides. And why is it necessary to empty one’s mind to attain the Highest Reality? Because vikalpa or thought is relational, i.e. there is a relation of subject-object in all the thoughts you can have. But Paramaśiva is non-relational, in other words, you cannot distinguish subject and object in Him. Subjects and objects appeared after the ‘playful trick’ by the Supreme Power (Śakti). It is this Śakti of the Lord who brings about the duality of ‘aham-idam’ (I-this, viz. subject-object). But in Paramaśiva, who is ‘before’, as it were, the trick of Śakti, this duality of subject-object just does not exist. Besides, Paramaśiva is ‘immediate’, i.e. you can experience Him at any moment and immediately. There is no ‘krama’ or sequence when it comes to experiencing Him. But in the kingdom of vikalpa (thought), ‘krama or sequence’ is king. For all these reasons, it is impossible to understand the Highest Reality in the kingdom of vikalpa. For an aspirant to fully realize Paramaśiva, his vikalpa-s or thoughts must be removed first. Nevertheless, after that full realization by him, even if the vikalpa-s return, he will never lose sight of his own essential nature that is Paramaśiva. So, removal of vikalpa-s is only important ‘for realizing Paramaśiva’. Once this process is finished and the person has become totally conscious of his unity with the Great Lord, the presence or absence of vikalpa-s in his mind is not important.
This kind of advanced disciple treading the path of Śāmbhavopāya is extremely rare in this world where inferior Āṇavopāya is the king of all means/methods to attain Liberation. This Śāmbhavopāya moves in pure non-duality or ‘abheda’. There is no place in it for even ‘bhedābheda’ (mixture of non-duality and duality), let alone just ‘bheda’ (duality). During the ‘practice’ of this upāya, the awesome disciple, when sitting for meditation, decides to remain without any thoughts at all. He just decides so, i.e. he uses his power of will, but this will is not just human will but His Will. Hence his effectiveness when it comes to completely emptying his mind by merely desiring so. In Śāmbhavopāya, the Guru is more important than the disciple, because the latter just stays thoughtless, viz. passively awaiting for the Grace of his Master, while the former is fully active. Active in what? Active in proceeding to carry out what is necessary to secure the Liberation of his disciple. By ‘Guru’ here I do not necessarily mean that the human Guru will be active, for example, by touching the disciple’s space between eyebrows and the like. No, I mean that the Guru principle, the fifth aspect of the Great Lord, will be active in conferring His Grace on the fortunate disciple who is now an empty cup ready to be filled with the Nectar of Self-realization.
Such a great disciple does not use any means to concentrate his mind on something. He just stays in thoughtlessness for so much time as he wishes. Therefore, there is no support as there is no concentration at all. As we will see later, in Śāktopāya there is one point of support (the center) for concentration, while in Āṇavopāya, despite the aspirant struggles to concentrate on the center, he does so by resorting to two points of support. So, in Āṇavopāya the disciple advances ‘on two legs’ as if walking, as it were, but in Śāktopāya he advances by jumping on one leg only. However, in Śāmbhavopāya, he flies as there is no point of support.
Authorship of the five-fold act
But if the disciple is not so great and needs a push to fully develop Śāmbhavopāya, then it is recommended for him to practice the method of authorship of the five-fold act. This method is described in detail by the sage Kṣemarāja in the aphorism 11 of his celebrated Pratyabhijñāhṛdayam. First, you surely know that the Great Śiva (the Macrocosmic Self) performs the celebrated five acts. As a matter of fact, the first three acts are not directly performed by Himself but by the Rudra-s. What are the Rudra-s? The Rudra-s are eternally free Beings, i.e. they never attained Liberation but they were created that free from the start. Anyway, the last two acts are performed by Himself in person, which colossally affect the lives of all the limited beings who are manifested, maintained and reabsorbed by the aforesaid Rudra-s. Here you have a simple list where the Cosmic Pañcakṛtya (the Five Acts) is shown:
- Sṛṣṭi (manifestation of the universe) – Performed by the Rudra-s
- Sthiti (maintenance of the universe) – Performed by the Rudra-s
- Saṁhāra (reabsorption of the universe) – Performed by the Rudra-s
- Vilaya (obscuration or concealment of His essential nature) – Performed by Paramaśiva
- Anugraha (Divine Grace which draws the veil of Māyā or Delusion) – Performed by Paramaśiva
Sṛṣṭi or manifestation of the universe means manifestation of all that can be perceived by the Highest Subject (Paramaśiva), i.e. subjects and objects. All these ‘subjects’ are limited by nature and despite they look like ‘subjects’ with regard to the rest of ‘objects’, they also look like ‘objects’ to the Supreme Subject. This conditioned individuality seems to be a subject when it emerges in buddhi (intellect), but it is actually another object to the Great Lord of all. Why? Because it can be perceived by Him! The Ultimate Subject cannot be perceived by anybody, and because He is like this, He is the Real Subject. All the other ‘subjects’, though remaining as subjects to objects like blue, a stone, etc., are not the Ultimate Subject. In a nutshell, even these subjects are considered to be objects by Him.
Sthiti or maintenance of the universe means maintenance of all that can be perceived by Paramaśiva, viz. subjects and objects. Trillions of beings have appeared and all of them have already disappeared. But they lived for some time. This is His maintenance of the universe. Innumerable objects appeared and all of them already disappeared. While they were perceived, they actually existed. And now we have this vast universe consisting of billions, trillions… (exhausted!) of beings and objects. All this is kept for some time and next all of them will be reabsorbed into His essential nature. This is the act of maintenance by the Cosmic Self.
Saṁhāra or reabsorption of the universe means reabsorption of all that had been maintained by Paramaśiva, i.e. of all that the Lord had kept in a state of manifestation. Billions, trillions of beings and objects were maintained in the past, but now all of them are gone. They all were reabsorbed into His Being again. And all the beings and objects you can currently see manifest will be reabsorbed or withdrawn in the future. Nothing which has been created can last forever. Even great personalities who can live for eons will die some day in the future. Only the Great Lord is really Eternal. But the mystery is that despite the countless number of disappearances, nothing has really disappeared at all. This mystery of the Supreme Self can only be fully understood after having realized one’s own unity with Him, viz. after Liberation. So, for example, billions of people have died in the past, but as a matter of fact, nobody has died ever. And in the same way, nobody has ever been born. In this manner, to the Great Lord there is no meaning in crying a lot for people who die, because nobody has never died really. People attached to their bodies are not qualified to understand this truth. Only the pure beings who have escaped from the clutches of this massive bodily ignorance can start to have glimpses of the meaning hidden in this teaching.
Vilaya or obscuration/concealment of His essential nature means the following: All these billions, trillions of beings have emerged from the extremely pellucid Lord, but most of them have no idea about this simple truth. What is this mysterious ignorance? It is His act of concealing the eternal truth about the constant unity between Him and all those beings. Why? For the Play known as the universe to continue appearing. When one of those beings can understand his inherent unity with the Great Lord, the Play is over to him. In other words, the Delight of the Lord as a Player in that being ceases to exist and is replaced with pure Bliss. But this frisky Paramaśiva does not intend to stop playing and delighting in all the beings. Because if He did so, the three previous processes of manifestation, maintenance and reabsorption would stop. Anyway, in a few beings at a time, the supremely compassionate Lord will reveal His full Glory. These beings are known as ‘the liberated beings, the holy beings’ and the like. They are a different kind of beings then, each of them occupying a different position in the ascending stairway from the lowest creature up to the Supreme Lord.
Anugraha or divine Grace which draws the veil of Māyā or Delusion means the constant Favor conferred by the Absolute on the limited beings, which pushes all these creatures to higher and higher levels of consciousness. Without this incessant push, no conditioned being could advance to realization of his unity with the Highest Self. In the last straight of this long process of evolution, Paramaśiva, mysteriously pleased with the fortunate limited being, reveals to him that he is no other than the glorious Lord of all. This act of divine Mercy is matchless in this world, nor the state of Liberation such a limited creature attains can be compared to anything else existing in the universe of bondage.
All in all, the cosmic five-fold act carried out by the Lord is well-known already. But Paramaśiva in the limited individual also performs the five-fold act within the realm of limitation, as it were. In the aphorism 11 of his sublime Pratyabhijñāhṛdayam, Kṣemarāja succinctly explains this mysterious topic:
Those (five functions) (tāni) (can also be explained) through (taḥ) (these five terms): Ābhāsana –i.e. "the act of manifesting"– (ābhāsana), Rakti –i.e. "enjoyment"– (rakti), Vimarśana –i.e. "the act of experiencing oneself as the Self"– (vimarśana), Bījāvasthāpana –i.e. "the act of sowing the seed"– (bīja-avasthāpana) (and) Vilāpana –i.e. "dissolution"– (vilāpana)||11||
In other words, Ābhāsana would be tantamount to Sṛṣṭi (universal manifestation), Rakti to Sthiti (universal maintenance), Vimarśana to Saṁhāra (universal reabsorption), Bījāvasthāpana to Vilaya (universal obscuration or concealment) and Vilāpana to Anugraha (universal Divine Grace). But let us analyze these five acts in detail:
- Ābhāsana (the act of manifesting) – Performed by Paramaśiva in the limited individual
- Rakti (enjoyment) – Performed by Paramaśiva in the limited individual
- Vimarśana (the act of experiencing oneself as the Self) – Performed by Paramaśiva in the limited individual
- Bījāvasthāpana (the act of sowing the seed) – Performed by Paramaśiva in the limited individual
- Vilāpana (dissolution) – Performed by Paramaśiva in the limited individual
Ābhāsana or the act of manifesting means the constant appearance of objects and subjects around the limited individual, which are revealed by the Karaṇeśvarī-s (goddesses of the senses) who always serve the glorious
Paramaśiva. How? They constantly offer the Nectar of the Highest Delight which is generated by squeezing the sense objects, as it were. These goddesses are not the gross organs (eyes, ears, etc.), because these organs are made of matter created in the kingdom of Māyā
or Delusion. On the contrary, the Karaṇeśvarī-s
are divine and consequently not material. Anyway, the limited being, due to the constant pressure of his own impurities in the form of the three mala-s (Āṇava, Māyīya and Kārma), is more interested in enjoying a pleasure which is absolutely miserable as it is just a tiny portion of the full Nectar. His own incapacity to contact the goddesses of the senses at the moment of every perception is the cause for this disgrace. But in the Great Yogī, due to the abundance of divine Grace present in him, this process is completely different. His state of Bliss cannot be attained by any efforts or means/methods. It is only attained through His Dispensation. When the Great Lord decides to bless an aspirant with this extraordinary capacity to enjoy the goddesses of the senses, that is enough for him to acquire such a holy status. And there is no doubt about it.
Rakti or enjoyment means the temporary enjoyment of objects and subjects that were manifested by the the goddesses of the Great Lord in the case of a limited individual. As this individual is unable to fully enjoy the Nectar of perception offered by those goddesses, he can get only a tiny fraction of the whole Delight. Owing to his unfathomable ignorance, he feels satisfied with this absurd minimal quantity of Joy and he even recommends it to other similarly conditioned beings. Just as the Supreme Lord of all is infinite in Glory, so this limited being is infinite in misery. Such is the mysterious Play of Paramaśiva. Nonetheless, if all these foolish limited individuals could understand all that they are missing out for embracing ignorance as their greatest lover, they would be horrified at it! Fortunately… or unfortunately… depending on the viewpoint (i.e. ‘fortunately’, if the person wants to stay in ignorance forever, and ‘unfortunately’, if the person wants to wake up to the realities of bondage in order to get Liberation from misery), His aspect of ‘vilaya’ (the fourth act) overwhelms all the ignorant beings and they cannot realize the magnitude of their loss.
Vimarśana or the act of experiencing oneself as the Self means the return to oneself when the subjects and objects that were manifested by the goddesses of senses and maintained by the goddess of maintenance just disappearance Though this reabsorption which puts an end to multiplicity is difficult to accomplish even by means of vigorous samādhi, it is at every moment easily and automatically accomplished by the Supreme Power (Vimarśa or Śakti). If the spiritual aspirant is endowed with the right knowledge about this process and if his intellect is up to the task, then he can realize this natural process carried out by the Great Goddess at every step and in this way get Liberation very fast. Why? Because he knows that the Great Lord is constantly delighting in Himself at the moment the manifestation of subjects and objects is withdrawn into Himself. This Delight is known as Camatkāra. And because this aspirant is wise enough and devoid of distraction, he quickly jumps on the wave of Joy that spontaneously appears when the subjects and objects return to the Core of Consciousness. What other means could such a great aspirant need to realize his unity with Paramaśiva? This is very obvious.
However, if he is without the right knowledge derived from the teachings of a true Guru, and if his intellect is prone to wrong reasoning, then, instead of Liberation he will get more bondage. Why? Because instead of being attentive to the point where all the subjects and objects go when the Goddess literally devours them, he will develop different feelings toward them. For example: ‘I need that’, ‘This is beautiful’, ‘I will miss that’, etc. And by means of the subsequent confusion emerging of those ignorant feelings, he finally generate impressions (saṁskāra-s), which are seeds of ignorance about his own essential nature. In this way, the fourth act called Bījāvasthāpana (the act of sowing the seed) is performed by Paramaśiva in the limited individual. This conditioned being just superimposes his ignorance on the natural experience of Delight and thus he condemn himself to an existence in misery. These seeds of ignorance will then tie him tight to the experience of saṁsāra or transmigration from one body to another body, from one thought to another though and so on. This is the process of bondage from which is impossible to escape without His Favor.
But when such an ignorant person is awakened by the teachings of a true Guru, he stops harboring useless feelings toward all that has been withdrawn into himself at the moment of reabsorption of subjects and objects (during the usual process of perception) and he just considers all those subjects and objects to be one with the Supreme Lord in himself (in the person himself). And even if he could harbor a few feelings toward those objects and subjects being withdrawn by the Great Goddess, he brings them all (subjects, objects and feelings toward them) to sameness with his own Self who is Paramaśiva. This process is known as the device of alaṅgrāsa or the act of bringing all to unity with the Lord. And this alaṅgrāsa is not gradual but haṭhapāka or persistent. The great spiritual aspirant does not desist from his attitude of considering all to be one with the Great Lord. And this is the fifth act of Vilāpana or dissolution. Dissolution of what? Dissolution of manifoldness and the subsequent ignorance derived from it. It is therefore the solution to saṁsāra or transmigration. The solution is simply to jump on the wave of Delight at the moment of every reabsorption of subjects and objects in one’s own perception and next to bring them all to sameness with the Core of Consciousness which is no other than one’s own Self. But this attitude of unity will never emerge by itself. It must be triggered by His Grace only, which usually appears in the form of instructions coming from the mouth of a true Guru who is proficient in teaching about the Truth.
If the aspirant cannot contemplate on the play of the various goddesses in the way I described above, he will continue to be a saṁsārī or someone who flows in saṁsāra or misery. Why? Because instead of enjoying the Bliss coming from the play of his own goddesses or powers, he will be enjoyed by them and consequently dragged down to an existence plagued of unspeakable misery.
Another way to accomplish the same mission of dissolving the thoughts is ‘by directly dissolving them’. This practice is known as Vikalpakṣaya (dissolution of the vikalpa-s or thoughts). Apparently, this practice and the final goal of being totally thoughtless in order to be fully established in Śāmbhavopāya are one and the same thing. But this is not so. Why? Because in fully established Śāmbhavopāya you spontaneously decide to stay without any vikalpa or thought, and such a state is immediately attained. Besides, to do this the great disciple just resorts to his Will (Icchā). On the contrary, when an aspirant practices Vikalpakṣaya, he will use Jñāna (Knowledge) and a little Kriyā (Action). Because Knowledge and Action predominate in Śāktopāya and Āṇavopāya, to practice the technique of Vikalpakṣaya does not amount to having achieved perfection in Śāmbhavopāya. All this is clear now.
When the aspirant practices Vikalpakṣaya in order to dissolve his vikalpa-s or thoughts, he firstly assumes an easy sitting posture and keeps his spinal column completely straight. Next, he gently slows down his breath (never by force). For this he has to have recourse to the power of Action (Kriyā). Vikalpakṣaya could be performed without this slowing down of the breathing process, but by means of this gentle effort it is easier to start the practice and be finally successful. The speed of breath must be reduced through awareness of the flowing in and out of air and vital energy. By simply paying attention to the movement of breath, the yogī is able to slow it down. After doing so, the mind can be much more easily knocked down as its fuel (vital energy) is not so abundant as before (when the breath moved normally). Later, when the speed of the breath has greatly decreased, the yogī begins concentrating on the Heart. By ‘Heart’ I mean the Witness to everything is happening in his mind. This Witness who is the Central Consciousness is the real Heart or Core of all, because without Him nothing can be manifested, maintained and reabsorbed, and because the remaining processes of concealment and revelation of one’s own essential nature also need this Heart in order to proceed. And when he concentrates in the above-mentioned manner, he has to use Jñāna or Knowledge. So, this technique is intended to push an aspirant so he can attain Śāmbhavopāya fast, but to do so it uses concentration and awareness of breath, which pertain to inferior upāya-s or means.
And this concentration on the Witness must be gently done. It is not by force but by a soft application of Will mixed with Knowledge and Action. But ‘soft’ does not mean that it is not persistent. Of course that it is persistent, i.e. the yogī does not desist from his grabbing hold of the witnessing Consciousness. And in the end, after practicing this method for some time, he will become used to staying without any thoughts at all. When he reaches this state, he is said to have completely entered Śāmbhavopāya and there is no doubt it.
There are other techniques to push you toward this state of Śāmbhavopāya but the ones I mentioned are more than enough for you. Now my direct experience with Śāmbhavopāya, step by step:
I will share my experience with Śāmbhavopāya for you to have a knowledge more practical about it. It is to be noted that because I am Guru, all my meditations are always full of Bliss from beginning to end in whatever upāya I may practice. In a nutshell, I immediately attain the Goal of meditation however inferior the meditation technique may be. So, my problem has been to descend and stay there like a disciple in bondage trying to ascend to superior levels of experience. It sounds like a joke but I am not joking. What is a joke is the miserable state of the disciples. That is the real joke.
In order for my state not to alter the pure experience of Śāmbhavopāya I had slow down the process of getting Bliss, so the description could be useful for the disciples. All in all, I had to be very careful in my practice and in my following description too. Besides, I am not using any additional technique such as contemplation on authorship of the five-fold act, dissolution of vikalpa-s, etc. OK, let us start then!
- I sit for meditation in sukhāsana (the easy posture), but you might choose another, e.g. padmāsana, siddhāsana, etc. My eyes remain closed, my spinal column is fully straight and my hands cupped on my lap.
- My attitude is that of neither accepting anything nor rejecting anything such as taught by venerable Abhinavagupta. So, the external sounds, temperature, etc. are not a disturbance at all. On the contrary, they help me enter trance much faster.
- Sahasrāracakra is activated, which immediately heats up the top of my head. The sensation is like having a hot hand on the head pressing downwards.
- I do not force anything in order to attain thoughtlessness. I just surrender to the experience of not accepting and not rejecting. Anyway, if the thoughts are only a manifestation of the Great Goddess (which I realized during the Śāktopāya stage), what harm could it be derived from their presence? Whether they are here or not, it is the same to me. While I keep this attitude, I can watch the thoughts just abandoning me as scared wild animals running away from the lethal hunter.
- With the departure of the last thought, there is an expansion of Śakti (Power) throughout the body, together with emission of sound through the mouth, which opens up due to the development of the Center (i.e. the non-artificial ‘I’).
- External sounds are perceived as being the Great Śakti too, which increases the flow of Power in all the body. Why? Because at the end of the path of Śāktopāya I fully understood that all the sounds are a play of Mātṛkāśakti (the Goddess of the letters), which let me quickly move onto Śāmbhavopāya.
- The disciple (Gabriel) is passive like an empty cup, staying in thoughtlessness, while Guru becomes more and more active. This is obvious as the Sahasrāracakra gets hotter and hotter and also heavier and heavier.
- Afterwards, the movement of the breath changes and the nostrils becomes totally passive, i.e. the air is only inhaled and exhaled through the mouth. All the process is totally controlled by the Goddess.
- Breathing stops for a long time. This is the borderline (Āṇavamala) between the material kingdom of Māyā and the divine Kingdom of Light.
The disciple cannot force Guru here so he can cross over Āṇavamala. Why? Because he is inferior while the Guru is superior. In order to enter the Kingdom of Light, he must just await a bigger dose of Grace. Finally, if he is permitted to enter, the following experiences will come to him:
- With the arrival of the Joy of Turya (the fourth state of Consciousness, the state of the Witness), the breathing process is restarted by the Goddess.
- Sahasrāracakra becomes extremely active like a turbine. The Kingdom of Light is exclusively experienced in this cakra. The other cakra-s are completely discarded in the process due to their inferior nature. The Kingdom of Light is a Kingdom of ‘vibrating’ Joy.
- The mouth opens up because of the descent of massive Bliss as I move to higher levels of Reality. This is due to the development of the Center reaching a peak of expansion.
- Finally, I arrived at the contemplation on the Marvel, i.e. Akṛtrimāham (the non-artificial, natural ‘I’). This is the Goal of all the disciples treading the path of Śāmbhavopāya. There is no way to describe this Marvel. Anyway, if I had to do it somehow, I would use only one word: ‘Holy!’ For the ones possessing the treasure of the contemplation on this Marvel, there is no room for depression.
- When I open my eyes, I perceive the same Marvel outside in the form of all objects. Now, Bliss reaches a peak of expansion.
- After closing my eyes, the same Marvel is perceived inside. Another peak of Bliss hits me like a thunderbolt. The foolish physical body just trembles with every rising surge of Śakti. When Śakti moves like this, the disciple just needs to jump on the stream of Delight. Anyway, the process is totally automatic.
- The eyes open again and I decide to keep them like this, i.e. open, because to me there is now no difference between inside and outside, as the same Akṛtrimāham permeates it all. The constant flow of Bliss makes me intoxicated, but even when Bliss withdraws for a moment, that is Bliss too. Because Bliss and absence of Bliss are both Bliss. There is nothing else to be done here!
If someone thinks that he has attained this State but at the same time he internally feels that something else is to be done, so he actually never attained this State. When someone has done all he had to do, then he attains this State, and not before.
Enough of revealing these mysteries! I will explain Śāktopāya to you in the Part 3 of my long dissertation about the means/methods in Parabhairavayoga.