Article from “The Speaking Tree” by John Hughes…..

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Swami Lakshmanjoo, of the Kashmir Shaivism tradition, says you too can experience bliss

Are you asking whether sambhava samavesa, the mystical absorption in the state of Shiva, is equivalent to moksha, liberation? In fact, it is not. It certainly must exist if moksha is to occur, but it is not its defining characteristic. Philosopher and aesthetician Abhinavagupta tells us in his Tantraloka that “Moksha only exists when your being becomes absolutely independent, svatantratmaka. What is this ‘independence’?… As we know, the essential characteristic of Lord Shiva is his independence…. Shiva’s independence means complete unbridled freedom — freedom to will, freedom to know, freedom to do.

According to Abhinavagupta, a yogi can only be said to be liberated when he possesses this absolute independence, svatantrya. For a yogi to be independent, nothing must be able to overshadow his universal consciousness. This means that this yogi must experience the same state of universal consciousness, the same absolute independence, in the external world as he does in the mystical absorption of the sambhava state. From the Trika Shaiva point of view, until he attains this state, he cannot be said to be absolutely independent, or to have attained complete moksha….

The yogi’s internal mystical trance becomes fused with and transforms his external experience, vyutthana. This process begins when the yogi is experiencing the state of internal mystical awareness, when he is relishing the fullness of his internal God consciousness, nimilana samadhi. At that moment, he is pulled out of the internal world into the world of external experience, unmilana samadhi. His eyes open and he experiences the world. But this external experience is different; it is now filled with the oneness of universal God consciousness.… He may see a tree, and the experience of the tree is filled with universal God consciousness. Everywhere he looks, whatever he sees is filled with universal God consciousness. Then again, his eyes close and he is drawn inside. And again, after a few moments, his eyes open and he is drawn outside experiencing the world filled with the oneness of God. He cannot stop this process…. This process of going from inside to outside, back inside, and again outside is automatic and continues for some time. This is the process known as krama mudra….

The yogi experiences the fusing of his inner and outer worlds in the oneness of God consciousness…. The nature of this yogi and the external world become one, and the yogi experiences them as being completely united, one with the other. There is absolutely no difference between them.

The process of krama mudra results in the absolute oneness of universal Consciousness and the outer world, and this absolute oneness is the state of absolute independence.The yogi, in this state, experiences that the internal world of mystical trance and the external world are absolutely the same. This independence and absolute oneness gives rise to the state of jagadananda — universal bliss.

To explain the state of jagadananda, Abhinavagupta says, “My master Sambhunatha described jagadananda as the state that is completely unencumbered, where bliss, ananda, is found shining, where it is universally strengthened by the supreme I-consciousness of God, and where the six limbs of yoga — bhavana, dharana, dhyana, pratyahara, yoga, and samadhi — are no longer used or required.”

This aspirant, whose being has become absolutely independent, svatantratmaka, and who possesses the state of jagadananda, is said to be a jivan mukta, a being who is liberated while living. In his Bodhapancadasika, Abhinavagupta tells us that when the aspirant attains real knowledge of reality, which is the existent state of Lord Shiva that is final liberation. What is this real knowledge? Real knowledge exists when the aspirant comes to understand that this whole objective universe of diversity and duality is just a magic trick, the play of Lord Shiva….

The trick lies in the fact that, by Shiva’s play, he causes the limited individual to experience this world of diversity as the only reality. Real knowledge exists when the aspirant becomes one with universal God consciousness, which is the same as attaining perfect Self-knowledge. In possessing real knowledge, he knows that the world of differentiation is not actually different from Shiva, the supreme reality….

There is not a second being or reality. His trick, therefore, is our trick. Why? Because we are Lord Shiva. We have concealed ourselves in order to find ourselves. This is his play, and therefore, it is our play. Vijnana Bhairava, edited by John Hughes, Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers.

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