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Article: "Universe as Divine Play"

abhinavagupta moksha universe Jan 05, 2024

From an article from the Speaking Tree by John Hughes (revised)…

Universe as Divine Play of Diversity and Duality.

Abhinavagupta tells us in his Tantraloka that “Moksha only exists when your being becomes absolutely independent. According to him, a yogi can only be said to be liberated when he possesses this absolute independence; nothing must limit him or overshadow his universal consciousness.  This process begins when the yogi is experiencing the state of internal mystical awareness, relishing the fullness of his internal God consciousness..  At that moment he is pulled out of the internal world into the world of external experience. His eyes open.

The yogi may experience a chair or a tree, but the experience 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 is the process known as krama mudra

This yogi experiences the fusing of his inner and outer worlds; his universal I-consciousness, is diluted in consciousness of the external world.  Here, the fullness of I-consciousness absorbs “this-ness,” external objectivity, and produces the oneness of samadhi or internal mystical trance and vyutthana or external experience.  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 absolute oneness, 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 or universal bliss.

To explain the state of jagadananda, Abhinavagupta says, “My master Sambhunatha described jagadananda as the state that is completely unencumbered, where ananda, bliss, 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.”

The one whose being has become absolutely independent and who possesses the state of jagadananda, is said to be a jivan mukta, one 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 Shiva, that is final liberation.  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 Shiva.

That does not mean, however, that it is a trick that creates an unreal world.  For the Shaiva, this objective world, being Shiva’s creation, is just as real as Shiva.  The trick lies in the fact that, by Siva’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. He knows that the world of differentiation is not actually different from Shiva, the Supreme Reality.

The cycles of bondage and liberation are both one with Lord Siva.  It is only is trick that we think that some souls are bound in ignorance while others are elevated.  It is only Shiva’s play that we think that this covering of diversity actually exists as a separate reality.  There is not a second being or reality.  His trick, therefore, is our trick, because we are Shiva.  We have concealed ourselves in order to find ourselves.  This is his play; also our play. (Vijnana Bhairava).

Source: Article “Universe as Divine Play of Diversity and Duality”, www.SpeakingTree.In, May 26, 2015.

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