Reversals on the Journey & Shiva Sutra 3.41- The Final Return
The third section of the Shiva Sutras teaches us that the aspirant will experience reversals. The old adage for the spiritual seeker is ‘one step forward, two steps back’ and the Shiva Sutras explain this in precise detail. We learn that we may expect these reversals back into differentiated perception and delusion on our journey Home even at the higher levels of consciousness.
In sutra 3.19 we are told that even after experiencing the pure Knowledge of the Self, when the yogi allows this knowledge of his real being to subside then the sense organs once again will overwhelm him and make his consciousness ‘just like beasts.’
The sense organs are the five senses, the mind, the intellect (buddhi), and the limited ego, meaning the small personality identity-self we wrongly identify with. These sense organs respond to the sounds of letters, the matrix, matrika, and is called ‘the mothers of beasts’ – beasts are the ignorant human beings.
In Kashmir Shaivism ignorance relegates human beings to the equivalent of beasts. The world is entirely made up of consciousness and only a higher elevated consciousness will lift you above the compulsions and robotic reactive impulses that characterize the herd mentality.
These ‘mothers of beasts’ are said to rob the yogi of the “reality of consciousness” and “take charge of holding them.” [SLJ] The yogi again attaches his consciousness to the sound of letters that are words, and the words that make up sentences, and these sounds influence his consciousness pulling him back into differentiated consciousness and delusion (moha).
Sutra 3.24 explains that when the yogi comes out of Samadhi, bliss consciousness, he must learn to maintain awareness of God consciousness in the external objective world. At this point the energies of Maya’s power of illusion may divert the yogi’s attention to worldly pleasures and away from God consciousness. The yogi must insert his own experiences of God consciousness into the external objective world, which is in fact nothing but God consciousness, the Oneness, Parabhirava.
Sutra 3.35 reveals that the yogi who does not maintain awareness of God consciousness is shrunk by illusion and becomes the ‘plaything’ of pleasure and pain. When his “God consciousness has been destroyed by the illusion of duality” [SLJ], his own past, present, and future actions, his karmas, will make him their ‘plaything.’ He becomes “an absolutely unfortunate being.”
And finally in 3.40 we are told that the yogi who falls from God consciousness, experiences the five-sense realm as only pain. At this stage of the journey, when the yogi loses his awareness and reverts to the external manifested world to fill up feelings of imagined emptiness – he will find only pain. Nothing in the temporal five-sense world can again bring him pleasure.
Kalikakrama Shastra: “When by means of differentiated thought (vikalpa), that self is covered by ignorance, then he is unable to perceive this whole universe…as one with God consciousness…he becomes the object of the two states, good and bad, and this causes him to experience only pain in his own nature. Thus even pleasure is experienced as that pain…they experience only pain and sadness.”
Why do these reversals take place?
An essential aspect of God consciousness is described by the Sanskrit word VIMARSHA. In his book ‘The Triadic Heart of Shiva,’ Paul Muller-Ortega’s explanation of vimarsha is thus:
“Vimarsha can be understood as a doubling back of consciousness on itself…consciousness is always self-referential.” Consciousness expands itself by being “self-referential, it is turned back on itself.” It literally doubles back on itself in order to assimilate, blend, and merge its existent waveforms.
Paul Muller-Ortega: “Vimarsha can be understood as a doubling back of consciousness on itself in which the internal wave motion (spanda) inherent in consciousness is in synchrony with itself…imagine that one particular ‘current’ within the ocean of consciousness surges onto another current of consciousness, the two currents, or more precisely, the movement of the various Shaktis (forces-powers), blend in synchronized fashion. This process results in an evenness, a perfectly synchronized blending and merging of these currents in a balanced way…”
Consciousness doubles back on itself - and so we might imagine that as we approach the final Liberation, our path is not direct straight Home; but rather doubles back to assure an ‘evenness’ pervades as our journey is woven into the ultimate immersion in the Ocean of God consciousness.
What happens to the fallen yogi?
The above sutras describe the reversals the aspiring yogi may encounter on the path Home. In the Bhagavad Gita VI.37-45, Arjuna asks Krishna what happens to the lost yogi who has fallen away from Union with God consciousness.
Arjuna expresses his concern that even when one has faith, but has no control over his mind and thus cannot attain perfection, is he not destroyed like the vaporous cloud that vanishes. Fallen, confused, and having no solid ground to stand upon – what will happen to him?
Krishna answers him thus: No one who is virtuous is ever destroyed – ‘neither on earth or above.’ Such a yogi attains the auspicious worlds of ‘merit’ and there he dwells for ‘endless’ years. After this merit-based period, the yogi is born into a family that is happy and illustrious. Or he may be born into a family of wise yogins. However Krishna says that such a birth is more difficult to attain, perhaps, even more so in the Kali Yuga in my view.
The wisdom and knowledge he had acquired in previous births will eventually come back to him. Even if he shows no tendency to pursue a spiritual path, his own previous practices will emerge, indeed even against his will. Thus the fallen yogi will return and through his preserving effort, controlling the mind, cleansed and perfected through many births, he will move into total immersion with God consciousness.
Shiva Sutra 3.41
Tadarudhapramites tatksayajjiva samksayah
The fortunate yogi has here reached the end of the Journey Home. The enlightened understand that there never was a path or a journey because the ‘appearance’ of any distance of separation from God consciousness never existed. We have always been the Oneness, God consciousness, Parabhairava – the creation, dissolution, and sustaining principles that hold the temporal illusory holographic universe.
Kashmir Shaivism and Abhinavagupta emphasize this idea that in reality no separation ever existed. Paul Muller-Ortega explains that the tradition asserts - “nothing ever really emerges from Shiva (the Oneness).” What we have been experiencing and taking as ‘real’ are in fact only ‘appearances’ of solidity in a hologram projected by the matrix, matrika, the goddess Shakti power.
“Here knowable objects are in essence nothing more than the absolute consciousness, but with the difference that objects which appear to be solid and separate are in reality discrete areas of patterning set up by the internal (waveform) interferences of the Shaktis (matrix-power-forces).” [P.M-O]
These ‘appearances’ are only waveform patterns crossing, emerging in the Ocean of Consciousness - which is never altered by any temporal illusory perturbation. We have never left God consciousness. We are always That. There never was anything to realize, no journey, no Path, no distance between us and our real nature God consciousness.
Therefore we understand that “it is not that we must travel far beyond the manifested world in order to locate the interior universe of the Ocean within the Heart. To speak of distance of return, of a path, may be useful aids for the spiritual practitioner; in reality, however, all objects, all beings, all possible experiences are continuously and eternally bathed in that Ocean.” [P.M-O] There is nowhere to ascend to! We are already Home. Entry into God consciousness is everywhere.
At this point all desire vanishes and “the state of being a limited individual has ended.” [SLJ] The feelings of emptiness that led to desire have now been overcome and the yogi is firmly established in his own real nature, God consciousness.
Immersed in our true state we no longer identify ourselves as the physical and psychic bodies, the sense organs, and the mind-intellect-ego. Thus the state of individuality comes to an end.
The idea of an end of the individuality is an obstacle especially for most westerners who have been brought up on the fantasy of the rugged individual. It is said that the enlightened become totally immersed in the Oneness and lose all sense of their unique individuality. However one might consider the trade off from being one small portion of the Oneness to the Universal All a good deal!
Swami Lakshmanjoo: “Here, for this yogi, this imagination has become true. If you, with continuous awareness, imagine this universe is nothing but your own self, your own nature, then by continuing to meditate in this way, a time will come when you will become one with God consciousness.”
By fixing our consciousness on ‘the timeless’ point we may destroy the sphere of time. Time does not exist in God consciousness. Time is only a function of the ‘appearance’ of separation and differentiated perception. And yet the enlightened do not immediately leave the body.
Bhagavad Gita, In the Light of Kashmir Shaivism, Chapters 1-6, revealed by Swami Lakshmanjoo, edited by John Hughes; Universal Shaiva Fellowship, 2008.
The Bhagavad Gita, translated by Winthrop Sargeant; State University of New York Press, 1994.
The Bhagavadgita in the Mahabharata, A Bilingual Edition, Translated & Edited by J.A.B. van Buitenen; The University of Chicago Press, 1981
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.