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 Knowledge 1 - Non-dual Shaivism of Kashmir

Śāktopāya (Shaktopaya): Compendium of techniques - Part 1


Gabriel Pradīpaka --wrongly-written Pradipaka--, once again. I have decided to group all techniques of Śāktopāya --wrongly-written Shaktopaya-- on a series of documents (this is the first one), so that you may find them easily when necessary during your practice. Those which were included in Meditation 1 and Meditation 3 are also included here. All techniques were directly extracted from Vijñānabhairava, a celebrated Tantra in Non-dual Shaivism of Kashmir. As usual, you will also find that I have written a detailed translation and explanation of every technique. Enjoy!

Important: All that is in brackets and italicized within the translation has been added by me in order to complete the sense of a particular phrase or sentence. In turn, all that is between double hyphens (--...--) constitutes clarifying further information also added by me.


 Technique 1

कपालान्तर्मनो न्यस्य तिष्ठन्मीलितलोचनः।
क्रमेण मनसो दार्ढ्याल्लक्षयेल्लक्ष्यमुत्तमम्॥३३॥
Kapālāntarmano nyasya tiṣṭhanmīlitalocanaḥ|
Krameṇa manaso dārḍhyāllakṣayellakṣyamuttamam||33||

Fixing (nyasya) (one's) mind (manaḥ) on the interior (antar) 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).

Vijñānabhairava, 33

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!


 Technique 2

निजदेहे सर्वदिक्कं युगपद्भावयेद्वियत्।
निर्विकल्पमनास्तस्य वियत्सर्वं प्रवर्तते॥४३॥
Nijadehe sarvadikkaṁ yugapadbhāvayedviyat|
Nirvikalpamanāstasya viyatsarvaṁ pravartate||43||

(If) in one's (nija) body (dehe), one contemplates (bhāvayet) over the spatial vacuity (viyat) in all directions (sarvadikkam) simultaneously (yugapad) with a mind (manāḥ) free from thoughts (nirvikalpa), the Complete (sarvam) Vacuity (viyat) comes about (pravartate) to him (tasya).

Vijñānabhairava, 43

"In all directions simultaneously" means "without succession". You should feel the spatial vacuity in all directions and without succession. That is, you experience it instantaneously, not gradually, step by step. And the phrase "the Complete Vacuity comes about to him" means "he experiences Absolute Void all around". And this Absolute Void is really the unlimited space of Supreme Consciousness.

There are two conditions to succeed in this practice:

1) yugapat (simultaneously). Remember: It is all at the same time, not stage after stage. You feel the void without succession.

2) nirvikalpamanāḥ (with a mind free from thoughts). To succeed in the technique your mind should be still enough before. A good method to achieve this is to concentrate on the breath. Every time you are sitting for meditation, begin your practice by concentrating on your breath. This concentration stills the mind. Afterward, you may do the aforesaid practice or any other one.

Although the unlimited space of Supreme Consciousness is known as an Absolute or Complete Vacuity, is full of Consciousness. It is not nothingness. It is devoid of knowable objects but filled with the Subject or Śiva.


 Technique 3

तनूदेशे शून्यतेव क्षणमात्रं विभावयेत्।
निर्विकल्पं निर्विकल्पो निर्विकल्पस्वरूपभाक्॥४६॥
Tanūdeśe śūnyateva kṣaṇamātraṁ vibhāvayet|
Nirvikalpaṁ nirvikalpo nirvikalpasvarūpabhāk||46||

(If) with a mind free from thoughts (nirvikalpam), one contemplates (vibhāvayet) over a part (deśe) of his body (tanū) as (iva) void (śūnyatā) just for a little while (kṣaṇamātram), he would become liberated from thoughts (nirvikalpaḥ) and dwell (bhāk) in the very nature (sva-rūpa) of Nirvikalpa --the thought-free state-- (nirvikalpa).

Vijñānabhairava, 46

You contemplate over a part or region of your own body as void now. At the beginning, you practice this technique just for a little while. As you practice it more and more, you become liberated from thoughts and attain to the Śiva's state, which is free from any thoughts. The real "You" or Śiva is beyond mental processes. No thought can contain Him because He is the original source of mind. He is the root of all thought and not a mere mental object. He is indescribable because of His thought-free state. And He is You. When you realize this, you experience immense peace and bliss. It is that simple.


 Technique 4

एवमेव जगत्सर्वं दग्धं ध्यात्वा विकल्पतः।
अनन्यचेतसः पुंसः पुम्भावः परमो भवेत्॥५३॥
Evameva jagatsarvaṁ dagdhaṁ dhyātvā vikalpataḥ|
Ananyacetasaḥ puṁsaḥ pumbhāvaḥ paramo bhavet||53||

Thus (evam eva), when someone meditates (dhyātvā) --with an onepointed (ananya) mind (cetasā)-- by imagining (vikalpataḥ) that the entire (sarvam) world (jagat) is being burnt (dagdham); in such a person (puṁsaḥ), the highest (paramaḥ) state (bhāvaḥ) of man (pum) appears (bhavet).

Vijñānabhairava, 53

The image of the world being completely burnt makes your mind thought-free. The disappearance of the world is symbolic of the absence of knowable objects. When there is nothing to know, mind becomes introverted. And at that moment of absortion, you attain to the Śiva's state which is called here "the highest state of man". Even though it seems that a person attains to Śiva, you should not forget that he is always Śiva. In fact, everyone is Śiva.

When mind frees itself from thoughts just Śiva is left. So, try to make your mind devoid of thoughts. When you succeed in doing this, you will attain to Him who was always You, though. A paradox.

to be continued


 Further Information

Gabriel Pradīpaka

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.

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