Love universally, not specifically.

One who loves his own Self loves the whole world.
Baba Muktananda

At this time of year my thoughts turn toward Baba Muktananda as his solar and lunar birthday come around. Born May 16, 1908, he lived a yogi’s life; it was was full, rich, filled with Shakti and mystical. He served humanity until his last breath. I cherish my time with him and every encounter I had. Below is one of them. 

Ann Arbor circa 1977

In July or August of 1979 Baba sent Swamiji to Los Angeles, California to run the ashram there in preparation for his visit in 1981. Until then he had been head of the Ann Arbor ashram with Girija, his wife. It was a thriving spiritual community. Swamiji was a guru to many devotees and the ashram reflected their devotion.

This was a sudden and unexpected decision by Baba. I was devastated, as were many others. It was unfathomable that Swamiji would not return to Ann Arbor.

After a few weeks and much thinking, I got up the courage to write Baba a letter in the hope that he would give me permission to join him. I told him that I loved Swamiji, that he was my guru, and that I missed him.

Baba’s response was a short and decisive teaching, ‘you should learn to love everyone; love universally, not specifically.’

Unfortunately, I knew Baba was right and that I was too attached to Swamiji. But, the pain of separation was an agony that I did not want to live with. I accepted Baba’s directive but there was an uncomfortable angst in my heart.

My seva at the time was coordinating the Siddha Path magazine with Swamiji. It chronicled Baba’s travels around the world and helped devotees at home keep in touch with Baba. I supervised the production and made sure it met deadlines. It was a big seva and becoming bigger, as every day we had more and more subscribers. One morning in meditation I realized that it was impossible to run the magazine with Swamij, if he was in LA and I was in Ann Arbor.

I again wrote Baba and asked, ‘Baba how can I do my seva on the magazine while Swamiji is in LA?’

One day, about a week later, the ashram receptionist ran up to me, ‘Baba’s on the phone, he wants to speak to you!’

I was so excited. His attendant Noni was on the other end of the line, but I could hear Baba shouting in the background, ‘Baba says you should go immediately to Los Angeles.’ Within two days Das, my husband at the time, who also helped with the magazine, and I were on our way. We arrived before Baba had a chance to inform the devotees in LA and he was surprised when he found out we were there.

We had been in LA for some months when Baba’s tour arrived in Oakland, Northern California. The hard-working ashramites had transformed an old brothel into a beautiful urban refuge. Back then Oakland was a poor, mainly black suburb. There were homeless people, addicts and alcoholics wandering the streets. Cars were burgled regularly. This did not stop devotees from buying the neighbouring dilapidated houses. The community was buzzing with renovations.

One afternoon I was walking away from lunch when Swami Samatananda approached me. He told me Baba wanted to see me. I was excited and scared. At that moment Das appeared.

He took us to a darshan room where Baba conducted business across a small courtyard at the back of the ashram.

When we walked into the room I noticed Amma, Baba’s secretary, and some other staff who worked on ashram publications were there. We pranamed, (bowed) to Baba and when I looked up at him I went into ecstasy.

Bowing was a custom I had become used to during my time in India. While there, I had noticed that not only did the Indian devotees throw themselves at Baba’s feet with great ardour, often almost tripping him as he walked by, but also young adults bowed to their parents and grandparents as a sign of respect. There is a mysterious bliss in showing devotion by bowing.

Baba picked up a copy of the Siddha Path, which was sitting next to him and said, ‘Don’t put my picture on the cover anymore. People think we are a cult.’

We always put a picture of Baba on the cover of the magazine. Then he held up a copy of an Indian publication that Amma produced. It had a picture of the Ganeshpuri Ashram on the cover. ‘You can put a picture like this on it. No more of me’, he commanded.

‘Okay Baba’, I said. Amma giggled.

The Jim Jones murder-suicide in Guyana had just been reported. I thought that maybe he had been plagued by questions about this tragedy. He was often asked about cults, but in this climate no answer would satisfy a fearful parent. His reply to questions on cults was usually something like, ‘This is the religion of man. We worship the Self. I want you to learn to love and honour your own Self, not another person.’

‘Did you get a job? ’ Baba asked me.

‘No Baba’, I said. I was proud of my new suit that I thought seemed more ‘professional.’ I often met with people who worked on the magazine and thought my way of dressing was appropriate.

I sensed Baba’s disapproval but it wasn’t enough for him to bust me. My bliss increased.

‘I have had a lot of complaints about you’, said Baba. ‘People are writing me about you’, he added, holding up a sheaf of letters. Swamiji had told me that Baba hated hearing complaints about others, unless he wanted to know something. I was reassured by that thought.

‘You should welcome others with love’, said Baba.

Welcome others with love.

I was uncertain how to reply. I understood that Baba was trying to teach me something. Even though his manner was gruff, I did not feel anger, only love. Baba was speaking directly to a chronic fear of strangers, my shyness, my inability to talk to people I did not know, and what I thought was a social ineptness.

‘Baba’, I said, ‘I don’t know how.’

He thought for a moment. And then he gave me a profound teaching.

‘You should be like me. Do what I do. Every night I greet people. I ask, “What is your name? Where do you come from? What do you do?” You should be just like me and do just what I do.’

I was overjoyed. ‘Okay Baba’, I said as I basked in his love and attention.

‘Here,’ he said, ‘they are just jealous, but you should welcome everyone’ and he threw the letters at me.

Ever since that moment I have used Baba’s welcome formula. Now I am comfortable in social situations when I meet new people. And, when we returned to LA I made an effort to welcome others, including the women who wrote the letters to Baba.

At the ashram I was a ‘busy ashramite’, and did not think of myself as part of the ‘welcome committee.’ It did not occur to me that others needed to be put at ease in Baba’s ashram. I always felt so comfortable, so natural in Baba’s ashrams, even though I shied away from people. His welcome formula was a spiritual and personal breakthrough. And, I also learned that a smile is the most welcoming greeting.

For the second time Baba encouraged me to ‘love everyone.’ This was becoming a theme in my spiritual growth. Baba’s adage, ‘See God in everyone’ epitomised the way he was. His gift of welcome was the capacity to greet each person he met as if they were the only one in a crowded hall of thousands.

I am neither a beggar nor a king.

I am neither a beggar nor a king.

Every Saturday evening in Satsang Swamiji gives teachings from his favourite great beings.  These great beings have much in common even though their paths vary. Some focus on the wisdom aspect of yoga, some on devotion, some on meditation, some on service and some on intense practice. But, they all have one thing in common. They emphasise knowing the Self and loving and accepting ourselves.

During these programs the devotees come up to greet both of us. Traditionally this is called darshan. I think of it as saying hello and if blessings or shakti is transmitted it is by the miracle of Guru’s grace. I receive something too–lots of love and joy. No small thing in a world beset by desires that cannot be assuaged by love.

Often I meet people who haven’t come to Satsang in a while and I ask, ‘where have you been’. Very often they answer ‘I have been in a bad space. I have been hating myself. I have felt unworthy.’

Surprising answers and ones that give me pause and tear at my heart. I encourage them to come when they feel that way knowing that Satsang will put them in touch with the Shakti which will ease their suffering.

Darshan is always uplifting.

Self-hatred is a poison, it is our worst enemy spiritually and personally. It is the most debilitating thinking the mind creates.

The other day an ashramite came to see me and said, ‘I hate myself, I never feel good enough.’ I immediately thought of Swamiji’s story about an answer to a question he asked Baba during his time in Ganeshpuri in the seventies. His ego was troubling him. He was having thoughts that depleted his shakti and hurt him. Baba said, ‘Do not think you are a king or a beggar. Think, “I am Shiva; I am the Self.”

Swamiji’s demand is that we hold to the space of the Self. As he says, ‘the clear space of good feeling.’ Or, as Bhagavan says, bhavano rakho, maintain the good feeling. Swamiji encourages us to forgive every slight, every hurt, every pain, in every moment. Inwardly we let go of the temptation to blame and attack others for what they didn’t say to us, or give us, didn’t treat us well enough or honour us enough. When we cannot let go of this thinking love turns to poison within. And, in this state the mind creates good reasons to escalate enmity.

To watch someone in the grip of hatred, whether of themselves or another is painful, hurtful and frustrating. When people turn away from the Guru, from the Self, from Satsang it is as painful for the ones who are left as it is for the one leaving.

The heartbreak is especially poignant when that person has been a loving and close companion for many years. How is it that a mind can turn negative so quickly and without warning? How is it that someone who said they love you suddenly becomes an enemy? How is it that love suddenly turns to judgment? This is a great mystery.

To maintain good feeling sounds simple, but after all these years of sadhana I see that it is always possible to fall prey to a sense of unworthiness. Just because we have been meditating and doing practices for years we can still be vulnerable to destructive behaviour and negative thinking.

Bhagavan Nityananda once said, ‘it’s all dust!’ In time the material world, including our bodies become dust. I think he is reminding us that nothing is worth fighting about. To focus on that which is peaceful and loving and not on dissatisfaction requires a commitment to our own loving heart. Instead of venting anger we hold to a higher value like compassion and wisdom. I have always held the Guru as a beacon of love that never fades, never withdraws, and never wavers.

We will confront events that seem unforgivable, or that do not bring peace. These events  destabilise our life and relationships. If we succumb to the pain and do not dissolve it into Consciousness then we get stuck in the moment the pain happened, forever frozen in a memory of suffering.

The great beings forgive the unforgivable. It is their power of unconditional love that attracts weary and broken hearted seekers. They hold to that which is eternal, loving and wise. Their interests are not of this world but the world of Consciousness. They are not concerned whether a person is high born or not, whether a person is rich or poor, whether a person is sick or well, whether a person is the ‘right type.’ They are only interested in the spiritual well-being of each individual that comes before them. To see, hear and watch how the great beings love, teaches us to love the same way.

Swami Muktananda writes poetically on love:

Just as the earth remains the same no matter who comes and goes on it, so true love remains unchanging and independent. Love penetrates your entire being. Love is Consciousness.


Self-inquiry: the Personal and the Impersonal

Self-inquiry: the Personal and the Impersonal

What follows is an excerpt from Part I: Personal Inquiry in Swami Shankarananda’s book “Self-inquiry: Using your awareness to unblock your life. His method of Self-inquiry bridges the gap between the inner and outer worlds. Swamiji teaches that when our lives are blocked or confusing we can investigate, recognise and uplift the tension and stress that shows up in four chakras. If practiced with the intention to become free of negative emotion, there will be a return to peace and harmony. 

All paths end in inquiry. Why not pursue inquiry from the beginning?
Sri Ramana Maharshi

Real inquiry marries the head and heart. Thought, which has been wandering in its own bloodless world, feeding on itself, is connected to feeling. And like two wires touched together, a spark of energy occurs. Inquiry is also the conjunction of the personal and impersonal. The ancient yogic paths emphasised the impersonal. They insisted that this world does not exist and you are not a separate person.

Swamiji speaking at a program.

In Indian culture, you are expected to fit into your particular role in life, your caste, your stage of life. You are to do your duty and any deviation is tantamount to insanity. The single social option to the non-conformist is the possibility of renouncing the world and heading off to the Himalayas to be a wandering monk.

In the West, on the contrary, we hear everywhere the cry, ‘What about me?’ We are obsessed with our individuality and our individual expression. The West is totally focused on the person. In India, the yoga is impersonal, connected to the highest truth, caring little for the person. One must maintain an appropriate silence about personal problems and simply do sadhana and one’s duty.

Yoga says that within each person, in the subtle body, are seven yogic centres, seven chakras, which have to do with different aspects of life. The three lower chakras govern the physical life; the heart chakra is the locus of emotional life; the fifth chakra, in the throat,has to do with communication; the third eye, the sixth chakra, is the place of intellect and higher wisdom. Here we have insights and visions but we are still within the personal realm. When you go beyond the sixth chakra to the seventh, at the crown of the head, you contact a different aspect of yourself. It is transpersonal; the dimension of the impersonal Self.

Western psychology was traditionally unaware of this dimension. In the past 30 years, however, a ‘transpersonal psychology’ has developed, acknowledging that divine, impersonal aspect. Jung knew of it but Freud did not. It exists within all of us, represented by the seventh chakra. What should we make of this knowledge of a higher reality? The first impulse is to try to override the person with the impersonal. A noble goal, but significantly difficult to attain. I tried to achieve it: I threw myself on the altar of impersonality again and again. Each time, the person returned. That the higher power does exist is beyond doubt, but the mystical play between the personal and impersonal has to be discovered.

My Guru seemed to me to be a man who was in cosmic awareness. He was always connected to the Self, and never unconnected. Yet, he was also very much a person. He wasn’t like some of the mind-borne ‘holy men’: ‘Hello my son, at last you have come . . .’ He wasn’t like that at all. He was completely vibrant and immediate and totally himself—to an alarming degree, in fact. He was a unique combination of the personal and the impersonal. He was a force of nature, all right. Like a stone rolling down a hill, and loving it.

Self-inquiry connects the personal with the impersonal. It respects the person. It doesn’t try to kill the person, but it also acknowledges the transpersonal. It seeks connectedness so that the person flowers within the impersonal and discovers the impersonal within. A life without the impersonal is dry and empty. You want the universe to flow towards your personal advantage, but, alas, the universe is indifferent. What chance does the poor little person have? The whole universe is arranged to frustrate or be indifferent to your desires. There is no joy in being merely a person.

You are so blinded by what is personal,
that you do not see the 
The blindness will not end by itself—
it must be 
undone skillfully and deliberately.
Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj

Sometimes we feel a part of something bigger than ourselves. It might be a political movement, or even a crowd cheering for a team at a football game. It is a rewarding and liberating feeling. Our individuality dissolves in the group, and, at the same time, participates actively. But when the event is over or we leave the group for some reason, we feel a kind of loss—we’ve returned to the merely personal. Such an experience is only temporary, but it is a taste of something real and intrinsic to our true Self. We are actually part of something greater, and when we live in harmony with it, our stress and fear fade away.

Through the process of inquiry, we recognise the dynamism running through us. We become liberated from doubt and concern when we no longer try to hold the universe at bay, but surrender to it, and welcome it. Our actions become effective and powerful, because they are aligned with this great impersonal process. And we have the delightful experience of playing our part in a larger drama.

Self-inquiry seeks to unblock all areas of life: health, career, relationship and spirituality.

Some more thoughts on Self-inquiry:

  • Blocks are tensions in our inner world.
  • Desire and fear create blocks.
  • There is one subject and many objects.
  • First force initiates, second force resists, third force enables.
  • Second force as blocked inner feeling is the main focus of inquiry.
  • Right method increases third force.
  • Self-inquiry harmonises our thinking, feeling and doing.
  • Wisdom power is where thought and feeling merge.
  • Everything undergoes five processes: creation, sustainment, dissolution, concealment and grace.
  • Concealment is the universal principle of separation.
  • Grace is the universal principle of oneness.
  • Our encounters in life are marked by emotion.
  • Our negative reactions are stored inside and may reappear later.
  • A yogi burns negative reactions to sameness with Consciousness.
  • Truth has a feeling of harmony and peace.
  • Self-inquiry is the main instrument in the wisdom path, yet it includes devotion.
  • Shiva Process Self-inquiry focuses on the higher Self.
  • Emotions are starting points for inquiry.

Books By Swamiji

Happy For No Good Reason


A best selling guide to meditation, this book explores the practice and philosophy of meditation including traditional techniques of mantra (the repetition of the phrase) and witness-consciousness (watching the thoughts). You will see how to apply these teachings in every day situations, by developing a moment to moment awareness of the love, joy and peace that unfolds from the center of your being.

The book comes with a CD that, after you read the first two chapters, will have you meditating for the first time within 30 minutes.


Buy online at Ashram Bookstore

Consciousness Is Everything

Conciousness-200x300Consciousness is the most intimate experience of life, the essence of life itself. Among the many spiritual traditions born and developed in India, one ancient philosophy–Kashmir Shaivism–has explored it completely. Until now, Kashmir Shaivism was an esoteric filed accessible only to a few scholars and other specialists.

Here, for the first time, Swami Shankarananda, a Self-realised spiritual master, presents the wisdom of this powerful tradition in a form that will delight and inspire all spiritual seekers. He explores the teachings in rich detail, elucidating ideas and meditative practices while drawing upon a vast canvas of many great beings, wisdom traditions and personal experience. This is a book that will transform you.

Consciousness Is Everything is a book that will transform you. It is a resource and guide towards investigating and deepening your experience of your own Consciousness.

Buy online at Ashram Bookstore

Self-inquiry: Using your Awareness to unblock your life.


In this groundbreaking book, meditation master Swami Shankarananda adapts the ancient path of Self-inquiry to contemporary life.

The Shiva Process method of Self-inquiry engages your awareness to effectively remove blocks and enliven the Shakti in the areas of career, relationship, health and spirituality. Building on the teachings of Kashmir Shaivism and Sri Ramana Maharshi, Swamiji provides the tools to reveal  your true nature.

The accompanying CD guides you step by step though a series of inquiries to help you connect with your inner wisdom. You will be transformed and empowered in every aspect of your life.

Buy online at Ashram Bookstore

I Can’t Hear You I Have A Carrot In My Ear


Swamiji responds to questions from seekers about life, spiritual practice and philosophy. It is a guidebook to the inner experience, offering insights and techniques to dissolve ignorance and live with energy and awareness.

Topics include: the Self and Consciousness, meditation, Self-inquiry, mantra, the Guru, Kundalini, Shakti, the mind, relationships, work and career, money, communicating with truth and compassion.


Buy online at Ashram Bookstore.

Using your Awareness to unblock your life

Excerpt from Self-inquiry: Using your Awareness to unblock your life by Swami Shankarananda

AS A SPIRITUAL teacher, I meet many people. I hear sad stories. I’ve come to the conclusion that the task of being a human being is a difficult one.

When the soul takes on a body, it becomes confused. The physical plane is indeed hard to master. People don’t know how to conduct their relationships. They don’t know what to say and when to say it. They don’t know how to earn a living nor how to save their money. They don’t know how to deal with their desires and fears nor how to discipline the energies of their body.

When we are born, we are not given a how-to manual, and the advice we get from our family and culture may be remarkably wrongheaded. Nonetheless, there is an appropriate art of living. The great masters have called this art many things: living in the Tao, Zen, yoga, Tantra, the natural state (sahaja samadhi). These names given by different traditions refer to the same thing: a life lived from the centre outward, a life in contact with the Self. Because we are blocked in career and relationship, in the areas of health and wellbeing, we need a method to cut away the misinformation under which we struggle, and get to the truth. Self-inquiry is that method. Self-inquiry gives us a way to deconstruct the false co9780975099537nstructions of the mind, and reveal the true Self.

Self-inquiry is the mother of all spiritual methods and all forms of meditation. It is direct, sleek and effective. It requires no religious belief, nor any dogma to practise it. It is very much in the modern spirit because, like science, it is a quest to discover what is. The need for inquiry becomes critical when we understand that we are broadcasting stations for our feelings. We live life passionately and we always speak and act out of one feeling or another. If we have a negative feeling, like tension, anger, fear or depression, we express that feeling through negative thoughts, negative actions and negative speech. We blame others. Our thoughts, words and deeds express our negativity.

This has a profound impact on our life. If we are broadcasting negativity, other people feel it. We don’t get the job we have interviewed for. People move away from us. They avoid our company. Even our pets run away. We may blame circumstances and other people, but the source is in the thoughts and feelings that we are broadcasting through our speech and our actions. As intelligent yogis, we become aware of our negativity, whether by direct instruction or the feedback we are getting from others. Instead of projecting the feeling, we take it inside through Self-inquiry and seek to purify it. We investigate the feeling, release it, relax it and take responsibility for it. After successful inquiry, our feeling is now positive. We radiate joy, love, peace and confidence, which translate into positive thoughts, positive actions and positive speech. Now we get the job we seek and people want to be around us. Our life is positively transformed by means of Self-inquiry.
(Try listening to the below meditation Speaking to your mind.)

Sri Ramana Maharshi

Sri Ramana Maharshi


The name most linked to Self-inquiry in the history of spirituality is that of the great 20th-century Indian sage, Sri Ramana Maharshi. Ramana said that all methods must necessarily end in inquiry. His reasoning was something like this: you meditate on an image of the deity or the Guru, or you contemplate a spiritual principle, or even look at a yantra (sacred diagram). In the end, the question will arise, ‘Who is it that is seeing, hearing or experiencing whatever you are meditating on?’ And with that question, inquiry begins. The attention moves from the object to the witnessing subject; from the periphery to the centre. Self-inquiry is an inner investigation that moves to the core of reality—ever more inward, more real, more true, more present, more vibrant, more central is its direction and thrust.

I met my Guru, Swami Muktananda (Baba), in Delhi early in 1971. There was a big tent on a sprawling lawn and hundreds of people were attending satsang, a spiritual gathering in the company of a great being. In the corner, a young man was sitting in meditation but he was also vibrating, hyperventilating and flopping about like a fish. I’d already heard that Swami Muktananda had a legendary power to awaken the kundalini energy, the inner divine power of seekers, and this caused kriyas, yogic movements, that were sometimes quite physical or even violent. This was the first one I’d ever seen and I looked at it with a sceptical eye. But it passed the test: I knew it was genuine. Some force other than his own will was moving in that young man. At the same time, an inner knowing arose in me: ‘That will not happen to me!’

I was correct in that while I had many spiritual experiences, I never did flop about like a fish. But shaktipat, awakening of the kundalini energy by the Guru, can manifest in a wide variety of ways. Because of my scepticism, when the energy started coursing through my body forcefully, my first thought was that I might have malaria! Finally I noticed that my ‘malaria’ was strangely responsive to the evening Arati program. I realised I was experiencing an awakening.

In my case, the most significant effect of shaktipat was that it drove my mind inward and gave birth to the process of inquiry that has become the Shiva Process. My mind had been exceedingly external; only divine grace could reorient it inwardly. Feeling frustrated with my efforts to know the Self, I asked Baba for advice. He told me that rather than straining to know the Self conceived of as far away, I should know that the Self is always complete and perfect within me. He said I should contemplate ‘I am the Self. I am Shiva’. By Shiva, he was not referring to the Hindu deity of that name, but to universal Consciousness, the substance of the Self. His answer transformed my sadhana by 180 degrees. I no longer felt I was striving for some attainment, but rather that the attainment was already present and I had to rediscover it.

According to one yogi, there are two significant obstructions to knowing the Self. One is ignorance of its existence and of the possibility of making contact with it. The other is a tight, cramped state of inner tension. Baba’s answer had solved the first, though the latter remained a problem.

On another occasion, I was meditating in the company of my teacher. Feeling on that day the contraction of my being, and frustrated by how far away the goal seemed, I strained to go deeper and have a more profound experience. I felt blocked and discouraged. Suddenly, the understanding arose in me, ‘You may not be having the meditation you want, but you can always have the meditation you’re having’. With it came an intuitive grasp of a completely different spiritual orientation. I would no longer seek something I felt I needed or wanted, but I would now investigate what actually existed. Combining this with Baba’s instruction that I should contemplate ‘I am the Self’, I had the beginnings of a complete method. Following it, I focus on my inner world, arming myself with his instruction that the Self is already here, already present, though perhaps hidden. I decide to investigate my experience in the very moment. Exploring inwardly, I discover a rich variety of phenomena: movements of energy, subtle feelings and sensations.

With my inner eye, I see a number of lights. Most interestingly, I discover blocks and areas of tension in my subtle world. These attract my attention. I can see directly that they affect my wellbeing and my emotional state. The energy of my inner world does not flow properly and harmoniously as long as these tensions remain. I intuit that these blocks, which are more subtle than physical, can eventually manifest as disease. Acknowledging that these tensions have a profound effect on me as well as on my spiritual state, I feel I’ve come face to face with my spiritual dilemma as it shows up in the moment. I begin to investigate these perceived blocks. What are they made of? What causes them? I try to get as close to them experientially as I can. I inquire into them and they yield information. My inner voice tells me, ‘This is anger. This is fear’. I inquire further. A knowing arises that these tensions are connected to a circumstance that happened today, or a week ago, or even years before. I am starting to unravel the mystery of my inner being.

Sometimes a solution to a block arises in my awareness spontaneously, and when that happens, the block dissolves and I feel a release of tension. My inner being is more harmoniously poised. I leave this meditation in a far more uplifted state than I began it.

I had hit on a method that seemed a universal way of dealing with spiritual obstacles. Where Ramana’s inquiry focused only on Self-knowledge,the inquiry I was doing was applicable to all areas of life. I discovered that the problems I encountered with other people, issues of work in the ashram, doubts that arose in my sadhana, all showed up within me as tensions and blocks. I could work within myself to release these blocks by finding intuitive means. Having worked on them within, I noticed that obstacles were simultaneously removed from my outer life. My inquiry took wings in the presence of my Guru, and I felt certain that his spiritual energy, his Shakti, brought my inquiry to a boil.

The philosophy of Kashmir Shaivism says that this whole universe is an unfoldment of Consciousness. At the very interior of the universe is divinity, pure light, pure energy and pure love. As Consciousness unfolds externally, things become more gross and material. When we investigate anything, we go in the opposite direction—from the outer to the inner, from the husk to the kernel, from the external to the essence. In a world of Consciousness, everything is subject to inquiry. When we have a conversation, there are the words that we speak and their meaning, and then deeper down, a more real conversation occurs at the emotional level. The universe is a detective story and becomes, as we move from the periphery to the centre, always more real.