The Shiva Sutras – The Third Section – The Means to Enlightenment & Why Learn Kashmir Shaivism?
In Kashmir Shaivism there are three basic ‘means’ (upayas) and one more, which is quite unique in that it is not a means at all. For most, the journey to union with God moves through these three means (upayas), again and again until we are able to hold our consciousness in the final state of realization – the state of ‘Knowing’ we always have been that God consciousness which we sought.
The first section in the Shiva Sutras dealt with the first means, shambhavopaya; and is for very advanced aspirants who are able to maintain thoughtlessness in continuity. Shambhavopaya originates from the energy of Will (iccha) and thus requires an intensely focused will.
For example in shambhavopaya, the intricate mysterious mechanisms of the Matrikacakra theory of Letters that create this universe are revealed spontaneously. Here the yogi enters into “that transcendental consciousness where he finds that this whole universe has come out from sentences and sentences from words and words from letters and letters from the real ‘I’ which is Parama Shiva (the Oneness).” [SLJ – Kashmir Shaivism, The Secret Supreme]
This state of ‘thoughtlessness’ is said to be almost automatic and comes from the grace (anugraha) of an enlightened Master - or from the ‘master’ within you. Swami Lakshmanjoo, who left this world in 1991, has said that his grace will come through his recorded teachings made in Kashmir during his lifetime. I personally have experienced this ‘nectar’ in various degrees, so I know that it is true that the sounds coming from his voice have the power to vivify the teachings and alter consciousness.
The second section of the Shiva Sutras relates to the next means of achieving God consciousness – Shaktopaya, which originates from the energy of knowledge (jnana). The aspiring yogi must raise his/her consciousness to the point that the wisdom can be absorbed of the Master who is within or a living teacher.
“In shaktopaya, the yogi does not have to recite mantras or use his breath to be aware or concentrate on any particular spot. [SLJ-KS]” Here centering on the “reality between any two actions or any two thoughts” results in an “unbroken awareness” which leads you into God consciousness. [SLJ]
Swami Lakshmanjoo refers to the three sections in the Shiva Sutras as Awakenings. The third section/awakening is concerned with anavopayah, which is termed the ‘inferior’ means to enter into God consciousness and uses imagination. It is the longest section with 45 sutras that explain various techniques - such as the process of concentrating on breathing, the organs of sensation (the five senses, etc.), contemplation, and concentrating on a particular place. It also informs the aspirant of the possible consequences of these practices, how we achieve elevated states and yet often lose what we attain.
These three means of achieving God consciousness are explained in greater detail in Swami Lakshmanjoo’s book, ‘Kashmir Shaivism – The Secret Supreme.’ This book serves as a sort of reference-dictionary or shortened encyclopedia of Kashmir Shaivism. It is said to be a condensed version of Abhinavagupta’s magnum opus The Tantraloka, in which the enlightened Kashmiri genius, superb writer and poet, Abhinavagupta collected and brilliantly arranged all the wisdom of Kashmir Shaivism.
Swami Lakshmanjoo’s ‘Kashmir Shaivism – The Secret Supreme’ is the result of a series of lectures given by 1971-1972 in response to John and Denise Hughes who fortunately for us, in those days long past, asked to be taught Kashmir Shaivism.
There is one final means (upaya), which has to be everyone’s favorite because you don’t have to do anything. It is called anupaya and is actually no ‘means’ at all. In anupaya “nothing is to be done. Be as you are. If you are talking, go on talking…Do not do anything, only reside in your being. [SLJ-KS]” Fun, and of course easier said than done! Obviously this is for the very advanced yogi and one who is just on the edge of, or already in God consciousness. Still the idea of doing nothing to achieve what you already are is very appealing.
Why should we learn Kashmir Shaivsm? Why bother with all these Sanskrit terms that describe the systems by which the universe is manifested and help us to understand the mechanics of our own consciousness. After all, this is not five-sense western science.
I feel that the state of the world these days is a reflection of the effects of western science. In spite of the comforts and advances that science has contributed to our current civilization – the fact remains that we are effectively poisoning our own planet. This has happened in a very short time, within my lifetime of 65 years. We are contaminating the land, air, ocean and the waters that we depend on for our survival. You know this.
Unless we change our consciousness, it seems that the Earth herself may soon reject us as a species. It is my personal view that the most important achievement, the greatest goal for any of us is a higher consciousness. An elevated awareness in you will in turn change others by the process of contagion, a kind of psychic osmosis.
There will be those who will achieve the highest goal of total Liberation (jivan mukti). While many who aspire may not reach the final goal, they will become greater in their own understanding and awareness of our intrinsic relationship to the Oneness. Yet they will influence and alter the world around them, and what is certain is that allowing the God-within to permeate our very being and thinking does have the power to change the world.
I have seen this for myself. Yes, I want complete enlightenment, liberation from the endless cycles of birth & death (samsara). And every step I take towards that goal makes my life better not only for me, but also for those I love - and for the planet. As Krishna says, do this for the Well-Being of the world (loka-samgraha). What would this world be like if our leaders were enlightened men and women - or even partially enlightened? What if they understood and allowed the God-within them to permeate their thoughts and actions, just as Arjuna in the Bhagavad Gita relied on Krishna before the great battle.
Awareness is everything. Kashmir Shaivism is telling us that God is ubiquitous, immanent, permeating everything. God is not far away from us, not up in the clouds or seated on a golden throne high in some inaccessible heaven. God is within us. There is nowhere to ‘ascend’ to. We have no distance to cross, except in our own consciousness. God is Love. God is waiting eternally within our Hearts, waiting patiently for us to turn and embrace that which we always are.
Awareness sets us free. Consciousness has the power to be conscious of its self! As we learn these systematic understandings of the mechanics of the manifested universe, and come to understand how our own consciousness operates as if on automatic (through the gunas), this acquired awareness will expose the processes by which we have ensnared ourselves in the temporal illusory hologram. Kashmir Shaivism gives us the means to observe and thereby master our careless compulsions. We can become aware of the fact that thoughts and words as sound entrap us in our own webs of self-generated illusions.
As long as we remain oblivious of the various reckless ways we as individuals ‘imagine’ our world, the inevitable consequences will always be the same – ever repeating cycles of birth and death. Only by uniting with the God-within can we free ourselves from the illusory entanglements we create.
KASHMIR SHAIVISM, The Secret Supreme, Revealed by Swami Lakshmanjoo, edited by John Hughes; Universal Shaiva Fellowship, 1985, 2003.