Shiva Sutra 2.7 – Matrikacakra
The Theory of Letters that Expand the Universe & Quantum Reality
It is said that enlightenment will dawn on those who understand the mechanics of the Matrikacakra. Therefore we may be motivated to study elemental powers and their correlations to the Sanskrit letters, which produce the splendid sacred waveforms that create our universe.
Matrikacakra theory precisely explains how the Sanskrit alphabet as root-vibration brings about the expansion of the entire universe, the temporal illusory hologram. Matrika is the hidden mother - the creative energy that generates the external world from subtle to gross. She is ‘hidden’ because she remains unknown to us when we are lost in our desires, forgetting who we are.
“Matrika Shakti is the power of sound that is the matrix of the cosmos, and manifests as the letters of the alphabet. Matrika is the subtle force behind thought and speech. [Chetanananda].”
Swami Lakshmanjoo says that this knowledge can only be attained by the grace of the master. I agree, as the Matrikacakra theory is profoundly elaborate, encompassing the entire process of manifestation - and in reverse, the dissolution of the external holographic universe. A trusted teacher who has mastered this knowledge would be infinitely valuable. For those who wish to pursue this knowledge with more diligence, beyond the explanation in the Shiva Sutras, I list three key books below.
Abhinavagupta also assures us that the process of learning the theory of Matrikacakra will bring enlightenment and liberation from our self-deluded state of repeating births & deaths. In the introduction to his superlative treatise, the Para-Trishika-Vivarana, Abhinavagupta says:
“The aim or purpose of the Shastra (teaching) is liberation of all experients…who have become entitled for the unsurpassable (anuttara)…and unification with perfect I-consciousness [the Oneness], which is the delightful flash of one’s own essential Self and is the achievement of one who by realization of his essential nature regards the entire multitude of categories of existence, supposed to be bondage, as mere different aspects of his sportfulness which is the expression of the abundance of his delight.”
I will not go through the entire theory, but here is a short introduction with some beginning thoughts. The existence of the entire universe is encoded within the 50 letters of the Sanskrit alphabet. There is a similar theory using Hebrew letters [see link below].
The universe is made up of 36 elements known as TATTVAS in Sanskrit. The universe begins with the Shiva tattva. The fact that Shiva is here identified as an element/tattva, in my view, points to Shiva - who is often personified for the purpose of communicating timeless wisdom - as a metaphysical principle, the element/tattva that contains all the other elements. The 50 (Devanagari) letters in Sanskrit represent these 36 elements.
Swami Lakshmanjoo cites two of Abhinavagupta’s works, the Tantraloka and Paratrisika, to elucidate the Shiva tattva: “The first movement of supreme I-consciousness is unparalleled undifferentiated totality. And when it moves forward with the intention of creating His glory in the external world, it takes the formation of Bliss (ananda).”
Tattva means ‘thatness’ or principle, reality; it is the very being of a thing. Shiva represents the Oneness, the element (tattva) that contains all the other elements within it. There is only the One.
Within the Shiva tattva are said to be five energies, which are encoded within the vowels of the Sanskrit alphabet. The first energy of the highest (anuttara) consciousness is represented by the vowel equivalent of ‘a’ in English. The long ‘â’ represents the second energy, which is the blissful state (ananda).
In the third energy the subtle state of will (iccha) is represented by the letter ‘i’ – emphasis on the word subtle; while the gross state of will (iccha) is represented by the long ‘î’. The letter ‘u’ is the energy of knowledge (jnana); and the long ‘û’ refers to the appearance of a lessening. As Shiva expands and moves out into manifestation, it is said that there is “the apprehension of the lessening of that supreme consciousness and supreme bliss that is His own nature [SLJ].”
This apprehension of a lessening is only ‘apparent’ as the state of Shiva, the Oneness, is in fact never altered, diminished, or lessened. The totality of God consciousness remains eternal, imperishable, and immutable. “This whole universe…is no universe at all…it is the expansion of your own nature, nothing else. In reality nothing is created at all [SLJ].”
The fifth energy of the Shiva tattva is the energy of action and is represented by the four letters: e, ai, o, and au. They indicate degrees of vividness – beyond the realms of the subtle. Lord Shiva exists vividly in the external manifestations of this universe. “If you want to see Lord Shiva, see him in blades of grass, he is there existing vividly…if you want to perceive the state of Shiva as it ought to be perceived…you must enjoy this universe [SLJ].”
In Kashmir Shaivism, Shiva is always moving, in motion; he is the embodiment of movement [SLJ]. This movement is described by the word SPANDA for which there is no English equivalent.
In Spanda, we again confront the idea of ‘apparent’ states, in this case apparent movement. For “the Supreme transcends all notions of space and time…Spanda, therefore…is the throb of ecstasy of the Divine I-consciousness,” which even though it appears to be moving, does not change at all and therefore is “spiritual dynamism without any movement in itself” but serves as the ultimate cause of all movements [Jaideva Singh/Spanda Karikas].
Abhinavagupta defines Spanda thus: “…Spanda is only a throb, a heaving of spiritual rapture in the essential nature of the Divine which excludes all succession [JDS/SK].” Interesting that Spanda is described as dynamic rapture, which reflects the idea of the ecstatic creative potency of God’s Being. This rapturous fullness must find expression in expansion, just as we seek to express our own experiences of overflowing love and joy.
Spanda’s non-movement/movement is said to expand and then contract. It is centrifugal as it moves out from the center, and then centripetal as it once again seeks that center. These alternating currents of rhythmical expansion and contraction, openings and closings are the metaphysical creative vibration-pulsations of the universe. The matrix emits the throb of pulsating waveforms, endless fractals, manifesting innumerable apparent multiplicities - as you and me and the entire universe.
Paul Eduardo Ortega-Muller describes the movements and effects of Spanda beautifully in his classic book, The Triadic Heart of Shiva: “The Ultimate is Spanda: it vibrates, it expands and contracts; it manifests and reabsorbs; it is full of waves and waveless; it is full of bliss and yet suffering occurs; it plays a game of hide-and-seek with itself in which ignorance alternates with knowledge, and in which enjoyment and liberation can coincide.”
The metaphysical concepts expressed long ago in Kashmir Shaivism have correlations in quantum physics. Nick Herbert’s 1985 bestseller, Quantum Reality clearly explains quantum theorems. For example Niels Bohr’s Copenhagen interpretation states, “There is no deep reality…The world we see around us is real enough…but floats on a world that is not as real.” In Kashmir Shaivism, the vivid world lies upon the subtle one.
Physicist David Bohm who is well known for his interest in consciousness and his theories of the Implicate Order says, “Reality is an undivided wholeness…a new notion of unbroken wholeness which denies the classical analyzability of the world into separately and independently existing parts…The inseparable quantum interconnectedness of the whole universe is the fundamental reality.” There is only the One.
The particle-wave concept also has metaphysical implications. When an electron is observed it looks like a particle - but in “between observations, the same electron spreads out like a wave over large regions of space. This alternation of identities is typical of all quantum entities…[N. Herbert].”
The frequency-level of our consciousness alters our perception of the external in every moment of time. Our consciousness changes the data transmitted through the five-senses as electrical impulses to our brain. The way we observe/see anything is filtered through our consciousness and therefore affects what we experience as our holographic reality. On a deeper level, we are what we believe. Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita XVII.3 says, “Man is made of faith (shraddhas). Whatever faith he has, thus he is.”
Another quantum reality is: Consciousness creates reality. This theorem was supported by the famous world-class mathematician John von Neumann, whose mathematical genius was behind “the concept of the stored-program computer; today’s computer scientists refer to all computers from pocket calculators to giant IBMs as von Neumann machines.”
The quantum reality that ‘consciousness creates reality’ is implied in the ancient teachings of the SAMKHYA: “The universe is made up of two fundamental elements, consciousness and energy…Matter is merely organized energy…The Samkhya envisages 84,000 degrees of the manifestation of consciousness in matter, starting with infinitesimal particles, then atoms…[A. Danielou].”
Kashmir Shaivism: Our hologram is entirely based on our consciousness, what we believe, think, including our subconscious and the words (sounds) we speak. "Consciousness shines in various external and internal forms. There is no existence of objects apart from consciousness. Therefore the world is simply a form of consciousness." [Kalikakrama, as quoted in the Shiva Sutras translated by Jaideva Singh]
Quantum physicist Weiner Heisenberg asserted, “there is no deep reality” and that (subtle) unmeasured world “forms a world of potentialities or possibilities…These tendencies are continually on the move, growing, merging, and dying according to exact laws of motion…But despite all this activity nothing ever actually happens there.”
In these quantum theorems, western science approaches the soul of the seers of Kashmir Shaivism and eternal metaphysics. The non-moving movements of the Shiva tattva as Spanda are continually expanding and contracting, coming into being and dissolving back into non-existence. While in truth, nothing was ever created.
The state of Shiva, the Oneness, is in fact never altered, diminished, or lessened. The totality of God consciousness remains eternal, imperishable, and immutable. “This whole universe…is no universe at all…it is the expansion of your own nature, nothing else. In reality nothing is created at all [SLJ].”
For those who wish to pursue, beyond the excellent Shiva Sutras, the study of the Theory of Matrikacakra with greater diligence:
Abhinavagupta PARA-TRISIKA-VIVARANA, The Secret of Tantric Mysticism, English translation with notes and running exposition by Jaideva Singh; Sanskrit text corrected, notes on technical points and charts dictated by Swami Lakshmanjoo; edited by Bettina Baumer; Motilal Banarsidass Publishers, Delhi, 1988/2000.
Abhinavagupta, A Trident of Wisdom, Translation of the PARATRISIKA VIVARANA, by Jaideva Singh, with a forward by Paul Eduardo Muller-Ortega; Edited by Bettina Baumer; State University of New York Press, 1988.
Abhinavagupta’s Hermeneutics of the Absolute Anuttaraprakriya, An Interpretation of his Paratrisika Vivarana, by Bettina Baumer; Dedicated the Swami Lakshmanjoo, the last Master of Anuttara Trika; Forward by Andre Padoux; Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla; D.K. Printworld Ltd., New Delhi, 2011.
The Triadic Heart of Shiva, Kaula Tantricism of Abhinavagupta in the Non-Dual Shaivism of Kashmir, by Paul Eduardo Muller-Ortega; State University of New York Press, Albany NY, 1989.
SPANDA-KARIKAS, The Divine Creative Pulsation, translated into English by Jaideva Singh; Motilal Banarsidass Publishers, Delhi, 1980. 2005.
Quantum Reality, Beyond the New Physics, by Nick Herbert; Anchor Books, A Division of Random House, Inc., New York, 1985.
The Bhagavad Gita, translated by Winthrop Sargeant; State University of New York Press, 1994.
While the Gods Play, Shaiva Oracles and Predictions on the Cycles of History and the Destiny of Mankind, by Alain Danielou; Inner Traditions International, Vermont, 1987.
The Symphony of Life (1991) by SWAMI CHETANANANDA, The Ancient Science of Sound
A MATRIX OF MEANING: PORTRAITS OF THE HEBREW LETTERS, IN PICTURES AND WORDS, by Stan Tenen