Akhandamandalaakaaram vyaaptam yena charaachcharam.
Tatpadam darshitam yena tasmai shree gurave namah.
I am very honoured to be present here and tremendously grateful for this unique experience in my life. I would like to present just a few of the brilliant insights of our great master Abhinava Gupta, who lived in the eleventh century in Kashmir. He has continued to inspire the lineage in which I was initiated, Swami Lakshmanjoo Brahmachari of Srinagar.
Abhinava Gupta describes the state, the behaviour, the condition of a master as:
Svamkartavyam kimapi kalayan lokesha prayatnaanano
Parartyam pratigatayate kanchanam svah pravrittim
Yastu dwasta kila bhavamalo bhairava bhavah poornah
Krityam tasya swatamidam yadloka kartavyamaatram
The people of this world, intent as they are in some way on their own affairs, do not exert themselves to act for the benefit of others. While he in whom all the impurity of phenomenal existence has been destroyed and is identified with Lord Shiva, by virtue of which he is full and perfect, has clearly only this left to do: namely, attend to the wellbeing of the world.
It is not just a matter of being moral or being good. It is a matter of a state of consciousness, a condition of our souls, of our consciousness.
In Kashmiri Shaivism, it is taught that the one reality is Lord Shiva. There is nothing, no other, nothing else. We are all sitting here, but this is only Lord Shiva who is shining as us. We are limited, conditioned beings, some are less so, some not at all, but every one of us and everything that exists in any way is all Lord Shiva. This is the root of the teaching of our masters.
Lord Shiva has infinite power. He is completely free. He is free to do what we would think impossible. What is more impossible than to have this world of duality and contradictions with all its problems, and yet to be always Lord Shiva and to be shining and manifesting as all of us and everything! From the point of view of this conference, we understand it as the awareness, the complete knowledge and insight that Lord Shiva has of his infinite being. We share in that knowledge and insight to a limited degree. We see each other as individuals, we see the world around us, and we forget that everything is the shining of Lord Shiva.
The path is to remember this, to recognize this, never to forget it. Say, education, if we think of it in those terms, is a process of first of all understanding that within us we are our essential consciousness. We really are that infinite power through which, not only do we learn things, we recollect, we perceive, we act, we feel, but through which the whole universe is being created.
Vishwatwam prati prabhoh
Sa pratibha Devi
The independence of Lord Shiva, to be each and everything, is called his brilliance, his genius. That pratibha, that brilliance and genius, that capacity to understand is within all of us and within the whole universe. We understand education in the perspective of applying, making use of the power we have. We took one power here, but of course it has countless applications.
In this way, we discover and search within our own consciousness, within the consciousness of others, and above all within the consciousness of Lord Shiva, in our daily life, in our devotion, in our service to others, in the attention we pay to understanding more deeply who we are, the world we live in, in our seeking for the perfect master, in our relationship with our master. In that form, Lord Shiva manifests himself in two aspects: one aspect is the master, and the other aspect is a disciple.
Sometimes we hear very commonly that 'guru is God'. We hear less often, but it is also true that 'God is guru'. We ask, we enquire and He replies. It is said in the tantras that through questions and answers, the tantras, teachings and scriptures were brought into the world. In our daily lives, we are making enquiries every moment. It can even be about a trivial thing, 'What is it I am seeing? Is this a table? Is this a chair?' We may be making more complex enquiries. Irrespective, the one who responds all the time is consciousness.
In the master, whether the perfect master or the less-perfect master, there is an embodiment of that aspect of consciousness. In ourselves, as disciples, there is also the embodiment of the other aspect of consciousness. It is a unique relationship that takes place within Lord Shiva, within his own infinite being, and with the relationship he has with his finite existence.
All the troubles and limitations that Lord Shiva takes on himself: why should he do that? One answer is, because the relationship between Lord Shiva and ourselves is between the one who gives grace and the one who receives it, and Lord Shiva is always giving grace.
It is this insight that is guiding everything that we do. It may be very deep, it may be lost, very far away, buried in so many thoughts, buried in so many selfish motivations, buried in so many mistakes, but it is always somehow pressing us because we are all looking for happiness. The only happiness we can find is to live Lord Shiva's life, to live the life that is our true life, however small, however backward we are spiritually or however advanced.
Abhinava Gupta saw the whole range of means to developing our Shiva consciousness, to developing this insight. There were many mentioned in his day, countless, just as there are now. He divided them into three big categories, because Lord Shiva manifests through his energies, his power.
First, is his power of freedom, his power of self-awareness, his power of insight, his power of love manifests as his will, the power of the will. We have choices. We can decide, however restricted we may be. We might be in jail, bound hand and foot, but we can decide whether we would think of Lord Shiva, reflect on him or not; there is always some choice.
Second, he manifests in the power of knowledge. All the time we are perceiving, thinking, recollecting, and sometimes not correctly also, but it is all some form of knowledge, whether full or incomplete.
Third, he has the power to act.
For all this Lord Shiva has created tools. He has given us a body, a mind and senses. He has given our individual existence so that he may exert his will, exercise the power of knowledge and exercise the power of action.
Although there are many others, in these three domains, Lord Shiva is manifesting all the time in what we do, what we know, think and feel, and in our desires and intentions. If our desires and intentions are for ourselves, if what we know and what we do is all related to our individual self and we forget Lord Shiva, then we are inevitably doomed to all those consequences that we all know very well. If those same powers of desire and intention, of knowing, understanding, recollection, and what we do, are recognized to be energies, aspects of Lord Shiva and the awareness of his own life, we begin to be aware, however dimly, of his life. It is living our life as his life, and those who are more perfect in that, they are our masters. They set an example in what they do, in how they think, and their intentions.
For this to take place we require what is called sat-tarka. Tarka means reasoning, and sat means correctly, concerning sat, reality. That sat-tarka we call pure knowledge, shuddhavidya. What is that shuddhavidya? It is: 'I am all this.'
That understanding is like an axe; it cuts at the tree of samsara, of maya, of bondage and through that we discern: 'Oh, this is to be taken up, this is to be abandoned.' Through this, what takes place is what is called 'vikalpa samskara' and that takes place within the domain of the power of knowledge. Our vikalpa, our thoughts or conceptions of who we are, of what the world is or where we are going, where we have come from, who Lord Shiva is, are unclear, they are ashuddha. So through this sat-tarka, as the understanding develops that 'I am all this and all this am I,' they become clear, clearer, then clearest.
For the development of our understanding, all of us need assistance. We pray to Lord Shiva and to the Mother, because all this takes place only through their grace. It is not taking place through my personal effort. I can try, but it is like jumping over the shadow of your own head, trying to catch the self. Everything takes place through Lord Shiva's grace.
For receiving that grace, we worship Lord Shiva; we practise yoga in the domain of the power of action. For that, we practise sat-tarka in the domain of the power of knowledge. For that, we practise that profound intention of the self-awareness that 'I am', in the domain of the power of the will, free of all thought. Until finally, all those rivers come into the great ocean of anupaya, where there are no longer any means for oneself. The only means left are to enlighten and elevate others, for the benefit of the world.
—Address, 25 October 2013, Polo Ground, Munger