Gabriel Pradīpaka, once again. We are about to start our studies in Meditation according to Non-dual Shaivism of Kashmir. This is the first document on meditation I am publishing. You will have a first glance of meditation and several techniques to practice. I advise to study this document along with Non-dual Shaivism of Kashmir (go to Trika section on this website) to be able to understand correctly the teaching.
What is to meditate? According to the sage Patañjali, there are two terms: Dhāraṇā (Concentration) and Dhyāna (Meditation). Oh, good, but: What is to concentrate? Patañjali says:
Concentration (dhāraṇā) is the mind's (cittasya) fixation (bandhaḥ) on one point (deśa).
(Yogasūtra-s of Patañjali, 1st aphorism, Book III)
So, when you can to fix your mind on a particular point, just for an instant, you are concentrating. OK. But, how is Concentration related to Meditation? Patañjali states in a second aphorism that:
तत्र प्रत्ययैकतानता ध्यानम्॥२॥
Tatra pratyayaikatānatā dhyānam||2||
In that --in Dhāraṇā-- (tatra), the continuous flow of similar (ekatānatā) mental modifications (pratyaya) is Meditation (dhyānam).
(Yogasūtra-s of Patañjali, 2nd aphorism, Book III)
Good, but what does it mean really? In short, Concentration is to fix one's mind for a moment, while Meditation is to fix mind for a longer time. Simple! Imagine a necklace: each bead is Concentration, while the entire aggregate of beads is Meditation.
OK, so we are already meditating. True! When I study a difficult book I have to concentrate my mind for a long time. In a word, I am meditating on the subject dealt with in that book. When I am driving my car, I have to meditate on the road. Therefore, I am not about to teach you how to meditate, because you already know this, but how to meditate on your real essential nature. Call this "real essential nature" as you wish: God, Spirit, Supremo Being, Soul, etc.
And the only difference between meditating on something (roads, books, music, etc.) and meditating on your innermost essential nature is the change of the meditation object (from roads, books, music, etc. to your real essential nature). However, the process remains the same: "you will have to concentrate your mind for a certain period of time". It is that simple!
Later on, I will teach you various techniques. Please, do not be confused about them. The meditation techniques are helpful but they are not the goal of your meditation. They must be used wisely. Sometimes, you will enter spontaneously in meditation and no techniques will be necessary. The beginners often feel attachment toward a particular technique. Thus, they feel their technique is indispensable to access meditation, but this is not the case really. You should behave in a wise manner.
Imagine you want to cross the Atlantic Ocean. Of course, you will have to prepare yourself and be wise while sailing. For example: if you know that a hurricane is approaching, you will attempt to evade it. And if you can not evade it, you will haul sails down or something. And so on. Therefore, use a different meditation technique in every situation. Do not feel attachment toward any technique. It is possible you experience now and then spontaneous and natural meditation. When this happens, do not use techniques, just enjoy that spontaneous meditation. Remember that meditation has Joy as its ultimate goal. So, be happy when Joy arises and please do not use techniques at that time. Use techniques only when you cannot meditate spontaneously.
Well, I hope you have understand.
Non-dual Shaivism of Kashmir is a philosophical system coming from Northern India. As a matter of fact, it comes from God, but it is also true that the first teachers were born and taught Trika (a short name for Non-dual Shaivism of Kashmir) in Kashmir.
This system teaches four means or methods (upāya-s) for you to come near your essential nature. The word "upāya" is derived from the verbal root "upe = upa + i" (to come near, to approach). So, "upāya" is a means or method by which you come near God. Romantic, really!
Their names are as follows:
1. ANUPĀYA (AN + UPĀYA): Lit. "without any means or methods".
2. ŚĀMBHAVOPĀYA (ŚĀMBHAVA + UPĀYA): The means or method of Śambhu (Śiva or God).
3. ŚĀKTOPĀYA (ŚĀKTA + UPĀYA): The means or method of Śakti (dynamic power of Śiva or God).
4. ĀṆAVOPĀYA (ĀṆAVA + UPĀYA):The means or method pertaining to the aṇu (the limited being).
Each of these upāya-s (means or methods) utilizes a particular aspect of yours. I will explain all this later, in "First glance".
And now I have to teach you Tattva-s (categories in the Process of Creation). Of course, it will be a concise explanation. Please, go to Trika section for further information.
The Tattva-s start from Śiva ("I", a Witness to all) and end in Pṛthivī (the earth element, the "solidity" in all). They are rather stable and form autonomous universes. For example: "mind" is the tattva 16, the "ego" is also a tattva (number 15) and so on. There are 36 tattva-s according to Non-dual Shaivism of Kashmir. Let us start:
Power of Consciousness
Power of Bliss
|Anāśritaśiva (Unmanifested Universe)|
Power of Will
I AM THIS
(and THIS is an indistinct --foggy-- universe)
Power of Knowledge
THIS IS ME
(and THIS is a distinct --sharp--universe)
Power of Action
I AM I AND THIS IS THIS
(the result of the quick alternation between
I AM THIS and THIS IS ME)
|Rise of Āṇavamala (primordial limiting condition) --which is a contraction of the Power of Will-- . It gives rise to the erroneous notion "I am imperfect". In this stage I am a Vijñānākala because I have conscious perception (vijñāna) but I have no Power of Action (akala). I perceive all as a Witness, but I cannot participate in the world's activities.|
|6.MĀYĀ (that which apparently turns the Infinite Self or "I" into a finite reality)||Rise of Kārmamala (a contraction of the Power of Action). It gives rise to the erroneous notion "I am a doer". Rise of Māyīyamala (a contraction of the Power of Knowledge). It gives rise to the erroneous notion "I am different from those objects and they are different from each other". This two mala-s (limiting conditions) are just seeds here. They will act with full impact from tattva 12 downward. This is the level of the deep dream, the profound void of ignorance, wherein the objects are unmanifested as it were. Those mala-s remain as causal seeds, ready for bringing about the creeper of the various mental and physical worlds.|
Kriyāśakti -Power of Action- having undergone contraction
(It infuses or inoculates the erroneous notion "I have limits regarding action, I cannot do this, I cannot do that, etc.")
|THE FIVE KAÑCUKA-S or SHEATHS OF IGNORANCE (Ignorance is Māyā. Sometimes, it is even considered to be a sixth Kañcuka or Sheath)|
Jñānaśakti -Power of Knowledge- having undergone contraction
(It infuses or inoculates the erroneous notion "I have limits regarding knowledge, I do not know this, I do not know that, etc.")
Icchāśakti -Power of Will- having undergone contraction
(It infuses or inoculates the erroneous notion "I lack something, I feel attachment toward this or that, etc.")
Ānandaśakti -Power of Bliss- having undergone contraction
(It infuses or inoculates the erroneous notion "I am not eternal, I am young, I am old, etc." In consequence, the seed of Time has been sown.)
Cicchakti (Cit-śakti) -Power of Consciousness- having undergone contraction
(It infuses or inoculates the erroneous notion "I am not all-pervasive, I am here and that is over there, etc." In consequence, the seed of Space has been sown.)
The all-pervasive "I-consciousness (Śiva-Śakti)" being experienced only on one point. Strange indeed!
(In consequence, the seed of the future attachment toward the physical body -I am this physical body- has been sown)
|I feel that I (Śiva) am living on one point of the space-time manifested by Niyati -tattva 11- and Kāla -tattva 10-, respectively. Afterward, when the physical body is manifested, I will feel that "I am this physical body". Complete ignorance, no doubt about it.The three Guṇa-s or qualities appear at this level. Their names: Sattva, Rajas and Tamas. They are really the previous Jñānaśakti, Icchāśakti and Kriyāśakti respectively, having undergone contraction once again.|
The aggregate of three Guṇa-s (qualities) in a perfect equilibrium. The Guṇa-s are the following:
SATTVÁ, RÁJAS and TÁMAS
(In consequence, the seed of the Matter has been sown)
|14.BUDDHI||Intellect or discriminative faculty||
This aggregate of three tattva-s is the Inner (Psychical) Organ or Antaḥkaraṇa
The three tattva-s work together in order to give me a structured psychical life, which ordinarily is turned to the senses
|15.AHAṄKĀRA||Ego or limited "I"|
|16.MANAS||Mind or net of thoughts|
|17.ŚROTRA||Power of hearing||
-POWERS OF PERCEPTION-
(The various energies circulating usually through the organs of perception: ears, skin, eyes, tongue and nose respectively)
|18.TVAK||Power of touching|
|19.CAKṢUS||Power of seeing|
|20.JIHVĀ||Power of tasting|
|21.GHRĀṆA||Power of smelling|
|22.VĀK||Power of speaking||
-POWERS OF ACTION-
(The various energies circulating usually through the organs of action: mouth, hands, feet, anus and genitals respectively)
|23.PĀṆI||Power of handling|
|24.PĀDA||Power of locomotion|
|25.PĀYU||Power of excreting|
|26.UPASTHA||Power of sexual action and restfulness|
(They are a kind of "pattern". Hence "as-such" is added. For example: Sound-as-such is a pattern sound which is behind all sounds. However, this pattern sound cannot be said to be an ordinary sound perceived by the ears. It is just a pattern or model and by means of it one can hear various sounds. This example can also be applied to the rest of Tanmātra-s)
|32.ĀKĀŚA||Ether or Space||
(They form all one's physical world. Everything at this level of reality is made of these five Gross Elements. They are derived from Tanmātra-s.)
(color and heat)
Yes, I know, I know: You did not understand fully. Do not worry, I will keep teaching Tattva-s through the various documents on Non-dual Shaivism of Kashmir. Go to Trika section then.
You may wonder: "When am I going to meditate?" Wait a minute. Just as when you want to learn music you have to learn some theory before playing, so you must learn some meditation theory before practicing. Most people will agree with you if you tell them that they will have to study for several years before working as physicians or lawyers, and so on. But, when you tell them that they will have to study just a little to be able to meditate properly, they will protest. They want all at once and effortless. They are not still spiritually mature. I had to study for almost seventeen years to be able to start publishing the simple documents you can read on this Sanskrit site. So, you will have to study a few minutes at least to be able to start meditating by using the means and methods postulated by Non-dual Shaivism of Kashmir.
People often do not understand that the human machine is very complex. When you meditate, lots of changes are taking place both in your mind and your physical body. Even though the whole process is almost entirely controlled by the wise spiritual energy, you should have some knowledge about it. Thus, you will be able to advance more quickly and no time will be wasted in useless confusions. Besides, to study meditation theory is a good chance to develop our lazy intellects. These dull intellects are in fact a hindrance if they do not work properly. Do not listen to your intellect when it says: "Oh, I am so tired. I will study meditation theory tomorrow" or "I do not feel like concentrating my mind" or any other thing like that. Be strong and keep studying. If not now, you will realize the relevance of this knowledge later on. The knowledge itself when accumulated in you, it works as a ballast which stills your restless mind. One person with plenty of spiritual knowledge would not need any meditation techniques, since the knowledge itself would be enough to keep his mind still.
Trika states four Upāya-s (means or methods). Let us analyze them one by one:
Anupāya (lit. "without a means or method")
This is not really a means or methods but rather "the culmination of Śāmbhavopāya" (next means or method). Anupāya is the direct perception that I AM ŚIVA, that I AM THE SUPREME BEING. You do not have to resort to any practice or method. That is why, this is not really a upāya as I said before.
When you realize that YOU ARE THE LORD, that is Anupāya. Nothing else can be said about it.
Śāmbhavopāya (lit. "the means or method pertaining to Śambhu or Śiva")
The great master Abhinavagupta says:
मा किञ्चित्त्याज मा गृहाण।
विरम स्वस्थो यथावस्थितः॥
Mā kiñcittyāja mā gṛhāṇa|
Virama svastho yathāvasthitaḥ||
Do not (mā) abandon (tyāja) anything (kiñcid), do not (mā) accept (gṛhāṇa) anything (kiñcid); stop (virama), thus (yathā) abiding (avasthitaḥ) in your own Self (svasthaḥ).
Abhinavagupta has stated the core of Śāmbhavopāya. Only a sublime master like him can do that by just using a few simple words. An ordinary teacher (like me) has to write an entire book to explain those simple words. Abhinavagupta, Vasugupta, Kallaṭa, Somānanda, Utpaladeva, Kṣemarāja, Bhāskara, Rāmakaṇṭha and the rest, are the founders of Non-dual Shaivism of Kashmir. I pay my respects to them. Their compassion, by taking on the form of Trika, has been poured upon this suffering mankind, no doubt about it.
Śāmbhavopāya uses Icchāśakti or Power (śakti) of Will (icchā). Tattva 3 or Sadāśiva is Icchāśakti Itself (look at the table above). Since on Sadāśiva level the experience is indistinct (foggy), the techniques pertaining to this Upāya have also to do with the indistinct or foggy universe (Go to Trika section Part 3 right now and read the Introduction and Sadāśiva).
As Abhinavagupta said previously, in this Upāya you neither abandon nor accept anything. Mind continues to think of this and that, but you do not attempt to control it and simultaneously you do not accept those thoughts either. You only abide like a Witness to all of them. The same process can be applied to the external world. You probably think that you will look like a zombie. Not at all. Despite this neutral attitude may be used when you sit for meditation, it may also be used all the time. To abide like a Witness does not keep you from doing actions, thinking of your beloved, etc. No, no, but you do not feel attachment toward anything because you are in your own Self. Another names for "Self": "true essential nature", "spirit", "I", "God", "Supreme Being", "Absolute", etc. And when you experience dettachment, only then you may feel true love of everyone. A "hard to accept" teaching indeed. When you are a slave to your mind, when you constantly accept or reject thoughts, you are not able to feel true love, because a part of your mind "loves" and the other "does not love". Experience by yourself. On the contrary, when you do not accept or reject thoughts, you abide beyond the mental scope and you are free to feel real "Love".
We will continue to talk about Śāmbhavopāya in the next document (Meditation 2: Śāmbhavopāya). And now let us study the next Upāya: Śāktopāya.
Śāktopāya (lit. "the means or method pertaining to Śakti")
Śakti is the power of Śiva. Through Śakti, Śiva (You) can be conscious of His existence. Śakti is the "am" in the phrase: I AM. This very Śakti also appears to be everything around You (the Witness or Śiva). And She is also the mind, which makes you move about. Therefore, when you practice Śāktopāya, you are using the mind to search your own essential nature. The main tool to be used is the Mantra. So, you will learn here what a Mantra is, how to repeat it and so on. The entire Mantrayoga dwells in Śāktopāya. Besides, you will also learn how to contemplate the mental processes.
Śāktopāya uses Jñānaśakti or Power (śakti) of Knowledge (jñāna). Tattva 4 or Īśvara is Jñānaśakti Itself (look at the table above). Go to Trika section Part 3 right now and read Īśvara.
By means of the utterance of a Mantra, you will be able to realize this Reality remaining beyond the utterance. Mantra is a "Śuddhavikalpa" (a pure thought). Any Śuddhavikalpa has two functions: positive and negative. In turn, the positive one may be divided into three parts: Mantraśakti (Power of Mantra), Sattarka (true reasoning) and Śuddhavidyā (Pure Knowledge). In short, you receive a Mantra and by repeating it you become conscious of its Power (Mantraśakti). You re-inforce your practice with ideas and reasonings (Sattarka) arising from the knowledge you have learnt from your teacher. While repeating the Mantra you remember that you are neither the physical body nor the mind, and so on. Thus, the practice gets deeper. And as time passes by, Śuddhavidyā (Pure Knowledge) arises in you. When this Knowledge appears, you have attained to the goal of Mantra practice, you have attained your own Self.
The negative function of a Śuddhavikalpa (a pure thought) is as follows: a Śuddhavikalpa removes the sense of duality. You feel now different from the others and the entire universe indeed. Again, you feel different from God. All this ignorance is removed by Śuddhavikalpa
I will give full explaination of this subject when I publish Meditation 3. And now the last Upāya: Āṇavopāya.
Āṇavopāya (lit. "the means or method pertaining to the aṇu --the limited being--")
In this Upāya (means or method of approach), you will be using the intellect, vital energy (prāṇa), physical body and external objects to become conscious of your essential nature. This is so because the aṇu (conditioned being or self) consider himself to be his intellect, vital energy, physical body, etc. And he also feels attachment toward external objects and people.
Āṇavopāya uses Kriyāśakti or Power (śakti) of Action (kriyā). Tattva 5 or Sadvidyā is Kriyāśakti Itself (look at the table above). Go to Trika section Part 3 right now and read Sadvidyā.
Mālinīvijayatantra (a sacred scripture to Trika) describes Āṇavopāya in this manner:
यो भवेत्स समावेशः सम्यगाणव उच्यते॥
Yo bhavetsa samāveśaḥ samyagāṇava ucyate||
The complete (saḥ... samyak) absorption into one's essential nature (samāveśaḥ) that (yaḥ) occurs (bhavet) by means of Uccāra, Karaṇa, Dhyāna, Varṇa and Sthānakalpanā (uccāra-karaṇa-dhyāna-varṇa-sthānaprakalpanaiḥ), is known as (ucyate) Āṇava (āṇavaḥ).
So, Āṇavopāya may be divided into five portions: Uccāra, Karaṇa, Dhyāna, Varṇa and Sthānakalpanā.
Uccāra is concerned with fixing the attention on the various aspects of the vital energy (prāṇa).
Karaṇa uses the physical body and Mudrā-s (sealing gestures).
Dhyāna is (in this case) a special kind of meditation which is full of active and creative visualization.
Varna is concerned with listening to the subtle anāhata (unstruck, uncaused) sound.
Sthānakalpanā is concerned with fixing the mind on external things.
I will give full explaination of these when I publish Meditation 4 & 5.
With this simple table I summarize the teachings:
|ŚĀMBHAVOPĀYA||It uses Power of Will (Icchāśakti)||You use a passive vigilance or choiceless awareness||You neither accept nor reject anything, but you remain as a Witness to all|
|ŚĀKTOPĀYA||It uses Power of Knowledge (Jñānaśakti)||You use a Śuddhavikalpa or pure thought||Positive function of Śuddhavikalpa (it may be divided into three portions)||
(Power of the Mantra)
|Sattarka (true reasoning)|
|Negative function of Śuddhavikalpa (it removes the sense of duality)|
|You contemplate and understand the mental processes||You learn that your mind is Śakti Herself having undergone contraction|
|ĀṆAVOPĀYA||It uses Power of Action (Kriyāśakti)||You have five ways of practicing this means or method||Dhyāna||An active meditation full of creative contemplation|
|Uccāra||You fix the attention on the various prāṇa-s (vital energies)|
|Varṇa||You fix the attention on the subtle anāhata sound that continues to sound "unstruck, uncaused" all the time|
|Karaṇa||You use your own physical body, as well as several Mudrā-s (seals)|
|Sthānakalpanā||You fix your attention on external things|
And now, a few meditation tecniques at last.
I am going to teach three meditation techniques. The first technique belongs to Śāmbhavopāya, the second one to Śāktopāya and the third one to Āṇavopāya. Of course, these techniques are not my own invention, but they have been stated by Vijñānabhairava (a sacred scripture).
Sit down and keep your back straight. If you can sit crosslegged (lotus pose and similar postures), that would be much better. However, if you cannot cross the legs, simply sit down and keep your back straight. Even though you can meditate lying down, I do not recommend this because you may fall asleep. Meditation is meditation, and sleep is sleep:
घटादिभाजने दृष्टिं भित्तस्त्यक्त्वा विनिक्षिपेत्।
तल्लयं तत्क्षणाद्गत्वा तल्लयात्तन्मयो भवेत्॥५९॥
Ghaṭādibhājane dṛṣṭiṁ bhittistyaktvā vinikṣipet|
Tallayaṁ tatkṣaṇādgatvā tallayāttanmayo bhavet||59||
(The yogī) should cast (vinikṣipet) his eyes (dṛṣṭim) in the empty space (bhājane) inside a jar (ghaṭa) or any other (similar) object (ādi), leaving aside (tyaktvā) the enclosing partitions (bhittiḥ). And having getting absorbed (tat-layam... gatvā), in an instant (tatkṣaṇāt), (in that empty space) he becomes (bhavet) equal (mayaḥ) to that (void) (tad) through that (tad) absortion (layāt).
In Śāmbhavopāya there is no Supporting You remain as a formless and timeless Witness to all. This is the state of your essential Self: a formless and timeless Witness. This Upāya uses some "aid" in order that you realize your true condition as a Witness. In this case, a jar or any other similar object with an empty space is being used.
The purport behind this practice is as follows: since mind takes on the form of what it perceives, if mind perceives an empty space it will also become "empty". So, you have to take a jar or a pot and cast your eyes in the empty space inside it. If you persevere, you will notice that your mind becomes gradually empty, and thus you get absorbed in the essential reality or Śiva. Very simple!
The following technique pertains to Śāktopāya, even though it begins with Āṇavopāya.
कपालान्तर्मनो न्यस्य तिष्ठन्मीलितलोचनः।
क्रमेण मनसो दार्ढ्याल्लक्षयेल्लक्ष्यमुत्तमम्॥३३॥
Kapālāntarmano nyasya tiṣṭhanmīlitalocanaḥ|
Krameṇa manaso dārḍhyāllakṣayellakṣyamuttamam||33||
Fixing (nyasya) (one's) mind (manaḥ) on the interior (antár) of the cranium (kapāla) and remaining (tiṣṭhan) with the eyes (locanaḥ) closed (mīlita); one gradually (krameṇa) perceives or discerns (lakṣayet), by the mental (manasaḥ) stability (dārḍhyāt), that which is greatly (uttamam) perceivable or discernible (lakṣyam).
In Śāktopāya one uses his mind to search for the Ultimate Reality or I. In this case, you will use the interior of your cranium as a starting point in your search for God. Within the cranium lies a brilliant light equal to that of millions suns. However, do not imagine any light, but simply fix your attention inside the cranium or kapāla. Experience by yourself.
There is also a secret meaning for "kapāla" (cranium): "ka" would mean "Śakti" and "pāla" would mean "Śiva" (the protector). Therefore, according to this interpretation, kapāla would stand for the union of Śiva and Śakti, the union of "I" and "AM". So, you should fix your mind on the union of Śiva and Śakti, but this is very difficult to do for the time being. In consequence, practice firstly by using the ordinary meaning of "kapāla", in sum: "cranium". Fix your mind inside your cranium and you will gradually perceive your own essential nature, which is greatly perceivable or discernible. This essence is obvious indeed, and at the same time it is apparently hidden and one has to find it. A real mystery!
The following technique pertains to Āṇavopāya.
कालाग्निना कालपदादुत्थितेन स्वकं पुरम्।
प्लुष्टं विचिन्तयेदन्ते शान्ताभासस्तदा भवेत्॥५२॥
Kālāgninā kālapadādutthitena svakaṁ puram|
Pluṣṭam vicintayedante śāntābhāsastadā bhavet||52||
(The Yogī) should (thus) imagine (vicintayet): "(My) own (svakam) body (puram) has been burnt (pluṣṭam) by Kālāgni (kāla-agninā) rising (utthitena) from the (big) toe of my right foot (kālapadāt)". At last (ante), a Flash (ābhāsaḥ) of Peace (śāntá) will then (tadā) shine forth (bhavet).
"Kālāgnirudra" is the universal destroyer. He burns all the universe by means of "Kālāgni" (the fire of the end of Time). You imagine here the aforesaid fire is rising from the big toe of your right foot, and then it is spreading all over the body. The term "kālapada" means "toe of the right foot", but according to my own experience the heat is actually felt firstly in the big toe. So, visualize a fire rising from this big toe "of your right foot".
What is the meaning of fire? There are two answers:
1) From the aṇu's viewpoint (viewpoint of the limited self), the fire burns all your impurities and thus you are free.
2) From a higher viewpoint, the fire burns your identity separated from Śiva. You become conscious that you are not different from Him. You understand your own divinity.
You may choose either and everything will be fine.
All right, the document is finished. A final recommendations: remember that you must keep your back straight when meditating. Besides, it is auspicious to meditate in the early morning. But if you cannot do this, you may meditate just before going to bed. I recommend you meditate for one hour and a half or less (not more) every day. To meditate for a longer period of time, you will have to practice celibacy and be on a milky diet. Since every person is a particular case, you will need a meditation guru to do this.
What is the hurry? Start meditating for a short period and gradually increase it up to one hour and a half. Then, if you want to meditate more, you will have to go to a true meditation guru and ask for instructions. Do not understimate meditation. It generates a powerful fire which will burn all your erroneous notions. In consequence, follow my advises and everything will be fine, be sure. If you ignore my instructions, you will be getting into troubles, no doubt about it.
This document was conceived by Gabriel Pradīpaka, one of the two founders of this site, and spiritual guru conversant with Sanskrit language and Trika philosophy.
For further information about Sanskrit, Yoga and Indian Philosophy; or if you simply want to comment, ask a question or correct a mistake, feel free to contact us: This is our e-mail address.