Shiva Sutras 2.4 & 2.5 – Powers & the Guru
Shiva Sutra 2.4 - Limited yogic powers are barriers
Garbhe cittavikaso’visista vidyasvapnah
The Sanskrit word GARBHE here means primal ignorance [JDS] and refers to “that expansive body of the energy of illusion…MAHAMAYA” [SLJ]. This energy of illusion produces limited yogic powers, which however extraordinary, exist in the realm of illusion (MAYA).
We have all heard stories of masters who can perform dazzling paranormal acts, such as producing gifts in their hands for their disciples, flying, etc. This sutra makes it clear that such powers are limited and in fact barriers to spiritual progress. As Swami Lakshmanjoo says, “All these powers are existing in the sphere of MAYA (illusion).”
On the path Home our sincere concentrated efforts will produce these limited powers. However some aspirants get stuck in these powers and thinking themselves great, do not find the strength to get beyond the need to impress others and the inevitable consequences of spiritual ego. They need attention and adulation. Attachment to these carnival-like displays of limited powers holds them in the temporal illusory hologram and repeated cycles of death and birth.
Born in 1945, I began to meditate in my 20s. Visionary experiences always came easily to me. I saw dancing animated lights in what I call the ‘eye of my mind’ and even as a child I was able to turn everything I saw into pulsating vibrating golden light. Out of boredom, I was especially fond of amusing myself with this trick in the church I was forced to attend every Sunday.
For years I meditated in front of an altar with candles and some form of visual focus. The altar would turn into lights of lovely golden, silvery, blue, purple, and rose colors. I wrongly assumed that these cascading light shows meant I was making some progress, getting closer toward my goal. However a few years ago it hit me that time was flying by and I was in no way any nearer to enlightenment in spite of all my entertaining seductive visions.
My own personal behavior patterns had not changed. I was still attracting familiar repeating tiresome scenes into my life. I had not yet read the above verse from the Shiva Sutras, but I was convinced that something was absolutely wrong with my spiritual practice.
Even though I knew I would miss my comfort-zone visions, I blew out the candles. I stopped turning the room into pulsating light and began to meditate without relying on these external dead-end experiences. It worked!
What I was ‘seeing’ were merely the endlessly varying forms of the ‘astral’ plane light, which are as ephemeral and temporal as our five-sense solid-appearance world.
The sage Patanjali in his Yoga Sutra 3.37 expresses the same idea: “Those lights in the center of the eyebrows and divine sounds in the center of the heart are obstacles for Samadhi.”
The Oneness is not experienced with the five senses, and It is obviously beyond and greater than any astral vision. These visions were not signs of anything - except my own ego deluding me once again in yet another, if more subtle manner.
In the late 1960s I was in an ashram of an Indian guru whose name I will not expose. I saw golden lights emanating around this man and so did about half the disciples. We were very naïve westerners, and the golden light was taken as proof to us that he was a great-enlightened master.
This great-enlightened one also had a taste for intimate dalliances with his female disciples. When I discovered this fact, I was heart broken – a painful hard lesson for me. But I learned that all that glitters is not gold! Pretty lights, like proverbial bells and whistles, did not mean the real thing.
The world and the worldly will always see these displays of limited powers as evidence of a real master [SLJ]. Just as we in the ashram, as hapless aspirants of the 1960s era, accepted the golden light around our guru as a sign of his greatness.
“These are all just a disturbance in the state of real being and are to be avoided by those yogis who wish to become fortunate.” [Spanda Karika 3.10]
Shiva Sutra 2.5 - Flying in the Holographic Universe
Vidyasamutthane svabhavike khecari sivavasta
When the yogi realizes that these limited powers of seeing lights and hearing sounds are nothing more than useless obstacles on the path Home, then these distracting toys disappear and the real state of God consciousness emerges. “…effortlessly…then this yogi flies into the ether of supreme knowledge [SLJ].”
This state is termed KHECARI (pronounced ka-char-ee) and literally means, “that which moves in the sky or empty space [Jaideva Singh].” However, here moving in space indicates the idea of the universe as a hologram and ‘movement’ implies the existence of the whole within every part. When you are in one location, you are in all.
“When you are treading the way of totality, you must see the totality in a piece of the totality. Take one part of the universe and see the whole universe existing there [SLJ].”
The idea of the holographic universe was accepted metaphysical truth by these Kashmir Shaivite seers, such as Vasugupta who found the Shiva Sutras beneath a rock at the foot of Mahadeva Mountain and lived around 800 AD. In my view, these metaphysical truths have always been known even if only by a few down through the cycles of time.
In the west Michael Talbot and physicist David Bohm have contributed to our understanding of the universe as a hologram. Talbot explains Bohm’s theories saying, “…objective reality does not exist…despite its apparent solidity the universe is at heart a phantasm, a gigantic and splendidly detailed hologram.”
Again Talbot: “Bohm believes the reason subatomic particles are able to remain in contact with one another regardless of the distance separating them is not because they are sending some sort of mysterious signal back and forth, but because their separateness is an illusion. He argues that at some deeper level of reality such particles are not individual entities, but are actually extensions of the same fundamental something.”
Could this ‘fundamental something’ be the Oneness, God consciousness, Paramatman, Parabhairava, that sages and seers have seen since the beginning of time?
Talbot: “In a holographic universe, even time and space could no longer be viewed as fundamentals. Because concepts such as location break down in a universe in which nothing is truly separate from anything else, time and three-dimensional space…would also have to be viewed as projections of this deeper order. At its deeper level reality is a sort of superhologram in which the past, present, and future all exist simultaneously.”
Even time and space break down, dissolving when the aspirant reaches a level of consciousness in which apparent multiplicity and the “agitation of that differentiated illusion… fades into nothingness [SLJ].”
When you become aware that limited yogic powers are obstacles to your progress, you shed them and thus your consciousness is free to fly in the state that Knows everything is everything. All is the One - and you are that Oneness.
The Universe as a Hologram
by Michael Talbot
Does Objective Reality Exist, or is the Universe a Phantasm?