Shiva Sutras 1.5 & 1.6
In Kashmir Shaivism BHAIRAVA is the Sanskrit word for the Oneness. The Vedanta and other schools use Brahman, Paramatman, and Purushottama to name the Absolute Reality, the goal.
Bhairava is the combined three forces that constitute the universe: BHA indicates the maintenance of the world, RA the withdrawal of the world, and VA the projection of the world. [Jaideva Singh]
Concealed within each of us is the right to become the One, or rather we in fact return to Oneness, the Bhairava state, which is our origin. For some there is the wondrous possibility of instant enlightenment. Great souls who by active effort and the heroic sheer intensity of their one-pointed focus can expand their consciousness instantaneously in a ‘flashing forth’ of Universal Consciousness and become Bhairava.
The seeker must be capable of “absorbing this kind of awareness” [SLJ]. The state of consciousness required is described as the ‘penetrative inescapable state of trance, which absorbs your individual being’ [Malinivijaya Tantra].
Bhairava merges the metaphysical principles of maintenance-withdrawal-projection of this universe into one word. Immersion into the state of Bhairava will carry you to the “highest state of consciousness” and there you will find the power of absolute Free Will – the svantantrya Shakti. In this state there is “nothing to meditate on … There is no way to go, there is no traveling.” [SLJ] You are Home.
The One expands into multiplicity, the many through the feminine principle (maya, matrika), the Shakti that is identical with the One; but for the purpose of our temporal ‘play’ appears to be separate. This Shakti power to create, protect, and destroy has absolute Free Will because ultimately she is united with - and not in any way different from - the Oneness.
A charming metaphorical tale in the Skanda Purana [1.i.34-35] describes this beautifully when Shiva’s consort Parvati says, “Without me he is formless; for him there can be no separation from, or conjunction with, me. I have made him formed or formless, as the case may be, just as I have created this entire universe with all its gods. I just wanted to play with him, for fun, for the sake of the game, in order to play with the causes of his emerging into activity.” [D. Schulman]
The ‘gods’ are our sense organs, the mechanism by which we generate our temporal hologram – the world.
Kashmir Shaivism does not reject the world. Seekers of Union with God do not have to isolate themselves and deny sense experience. After all, the Oneness is the All - and this path embraces the universe, everyone and everything in it.
“The freedom from all our miseries, [Abhinavagupta] very boldly and emphatically declares, can neither be obtained through the renunciation of the world, nor by hatred towards this world, but by feeling the presence of God everywhere, who [God] is the innermost centre of each and every object.” [from Viresh Hughes’ foreword to SLJ’s Bhagavad Gita]
My feeling is that it would not have occurred to us to reject the world in the Satya Yuga. We were enjoying manifesting and expanding it.
The practice of rejecting the world may have evolved out of our human weakness in the latter cycles of time. Those ascetics and monks who could not imbue every moment of every day with God-consciousness simply rejected ‘worldly’ experience in the hope of self-mastery. But the human mind is polarity based. Whatever we reject will grow and fester in the subconscious mind and find a way to overwhelm us.
Thus we come to the sweet understanding that every aspect of the world is in fact an entry point into the highest consciousness. Union with the Oneness, Bhairava state, allows us to feel the entire universe as that Oneness. We become the One who is this world and we are no longer feel separate, empty. What is not God?
“There is no difference between a mystical trance (Samadhi) and the world of action (vyutthana) when the world of dualistic perception is completely digested in one’s own consciousness.” [SLJ]
Bhagavad Gita, In the Light of Kashmir Shaivism, Chapters 1-6, revealed by Swami Lakshmanjoo, edited by John Hughes; Universal Shaiva Fellowship, 2008.
God Inside Out, Shiva’s Game of Dice, by Don Handelman and David Shulman; Oxford University Press, 1997.