TRIKA HRIDAYAM: THE HEART OF THE TEACHING
OF KASHMIR SHAIVISM
OR SHAIVISM IN THE VERNACULAR
Excerpt from the book ‘Consciousness is Everything‘ by Swami Shankarananda.
This book is designed for seekers who are well-established in their practice. It is also for those who have a special interest in Kashmir Shaivism and are curious as to how the discipline would be treated from a yogic perspective.
I recognise that I have included a daunting amount of Sanskrit words and technical ideas. Had I not written Happy [Swamiji’s guide to meditation Happy For No Good Reason], I would feel guilty about this. On the other hand, I am sure that seekers in the two categories I have mentioned will have no trouble with the text.Now, what if a beginning meditator wandered in here by mistake? Well,he can’t leave without at least reading Chapter Five, You Are Your Awareness. The essence is there. Also, I would refer him to Happy, which has sizeable discussions of Kashmir Shaivism. If he is willing to work through this text, however, I am providing here a short, nontechnical overview of Shaivism. It is the heart of Shaivism as I see it: Shaivism is known as ‘the three’ because it discusses these three subjects:
♦ The nature of the Absolute
♦ The nature of the human being and contraction
♦ The method by which contraction is overcome
Shaivism holds that pure awareness and not matter is the basic stuff of the universe. This can be compared to the situation in a dream, in which the awareness of the dreamer is the fundamental substratum of everything that appears in the dream. The one Consciousness that underlies the universe can also be called God. Here we are referring to God as the Absolute, beyond any specific form.
For reasons known only to Him, God decides to create a universe and become many. By means of His Power, which can be personified as His feminine aspect, He creates the universe in His own being, Himself becoming the individual soul by a process of contraction. Though it appears in Consciousness, the created world is real. The universe is actually Consciousness vibrating at different frequencies, becoming more material and gross as it unfolds.
The human individual is nothing but God in a contracted form. When the individual looks at himself, he notices that he has the same qualities as the Absolute, though they are shrunken and vitiated. God has perfect will, perfect knowledge and perfect ability to do, while the human individual has all of these powers in limitation. They show up in him as three basic knots within his being.
The first knot is limitation of will. The human individual experiences it in his heart as a painful sense of separation, weakness and grief. This is the fundamental birth trauma in which God becomes the individual. The limitation of knowledge is experienced in the mind. The human mind experiences darkness and confusion and strains to understand the truth. The third knot is experienced in the navel area and is felt as a sense of frustration and lack of fulfilment.
Shaivism asks us to recognise our similarity with God and ultimately our oneness with Him. It minutely examines the human condition as a contraction that moves us from the divine status to that of a human being. It recognises a power of contraction and delusion that brings this about. The power is real but is actually an aspect of God. One of the ways it shows up is in language. The language that God uses in His true state expresses His ecstatic song of oneness, while human language tends to perpetuate separation and weakness.
Having looked at the human situation, Shaivism now turns to the solution, a methodology for overcoming the woes and limitations of the human being. Shaivism proposes a comprehensive inner technology designed to restore the human being to his inherent oneness with God. For this, he has to loosen the knots in his heart, mind and navel by means of three methods.
To heal the contraction in his navel, he tries to act well in all situations and come into harmony with the higher power. To heal the contraction in his mind, having discovered its cause in the misuse of language, he tries to bring his thinking into alignment with his highest good. To heal the existential angst in his heart, he tries to transcend thinking altogether and merge himself in the oneness of pure Consciousness.
Having profoundly practised these spiritual methods, the Shaivite seeker recognises the divinity within his own Self and also outside himself in the world and in other people. His main insight is that the subject, or Consciousness, is not separate from the object, or matter. In fact, he experiences directly that the object is contained within his subjectivity,that is, within Consciousness. He has now reached the culmination and the goal of the practice of Shaivism and he stands as a liberated being, fully free within himself, shining with divine wisdom and radiant with love.