An interesting śāktopāya practice from the Vijnana Bhairava – How to make your mind rest in-between.
वह्नेर्विषस्य मध्ये तु
चित्तं सुखमयं क्षिपेत् ।
केवलं वायुपूर्णं वा
स्मरानन्देन युज्यते ॥६८॥
vahnerviṣasya madhye tu
cittaṁ sukhamayaṁ kṣipet /
kevalaṁ vāyupūrṇaṁ vā
smarānandena yujyate // 68 //
Now He puts another process. It is śāktopāya.*
Make your mind rest between the energy of will and knowledge. Give your mind rest between the energy of will and knowledge (icchā and jñāna; vahni is will, viṣa is knowledge).
Or, between the rise of sex excitement and the appeased state of that act; when the rise of sex excitement takes place and when that excitement is appeased. When the rise of sex excitement takes place, that is vahni, that is the state of vahni. And when the sex excitement is appeased, that is viṣa.
JOHN: “Appeased” means “fulfilled” or just “taken away”?
SWAMIJI: No, when it is śāntā.229
DEVOTEE: This is vyāpti kale?
SWAMIJI: Vyāpti kale.230
DEVOTEE: This is kāma in viṣa tattva?
SWAMIJI: Viṣa tattva, yes.231
Make your mind rest between these two states: between the energy of will and knowledge, or between the rise of sex excitement and its appeased state.
Smarānandena yujyate, [the yogi] is united in smarānanda (smarānanda means the saṁghaṭṭa232 of Śiva and Śakti) and attains the state of supreme ānanda. That is smarānanda.
Smarānanda here does not mean the ānanda of the sexual act. Smarānanda [literally] means, it is kāmānanda, it is the bliss of, the joy of, the sexual act. But, in fact, here you must not take it that way. You must see “smarānanda” is the ānanda risen in the union of Śiva and Śakti.
SWAMIJI: [Yes], Rudrayāmala.233 This is śāktopāya also.
DEVOTEE: But this ānanda is the highest ānanda. It leads eventually to jagadānanda through krama mudrā.
SWAMIJI: It is not jagadānanda. It is cidānanda.234
SWAMIJI: Yes, it is nimīlanā.235
When you are not married, you [can] put your mind rested between will and knowledge. When you are married, you can put your mind in [between] the beginning of sex excitement and in the end when it is appeased.
DEVOTEE: Only if you are married?
Kevalaṁ vāyu pūrṇaṁ vā, and don’t let your breath move out. There, you must not let your breath move out. If you let your breath move out–after this act or after this state–if you leave your breath out and in, you are gone, you have not achieved anything. You have to maintain the breath inside. You won’t die. There, you won’t die.
DEVOTEE: But this is not kumbhakā?236
SWAMIJI: This is not kumbhakā. It is automatic kumbhakā–automatic.
DEVOTEE: Then how will it work in will and knowledge?
SWAMIJI: Will means icchā, knowledge means jñāna. For instance, this is a handkerchief [Swamiji demonstrates]. “What is this?”–this is will. “This is a handkerchief”–this is jñāna. Between these two movements, you must make your mind rest. Your mind must remain there.
DEVOTEE: That is, soon after will, it must stop.
SWAMIJI: Soon after will, it must stop; and, before knowledge, it must stop.
DEVOTEE: So it should not move to knowledge, rather?
SWAMIJI: Yes, it should not move to knowledge [but] it should come out from will. This is between.
DEVOTEE: The point between nirvikalpa and savikalpa?237
DEVOTEE: When we see firstly and say, “What is this?” this is will.
SWAMIJI: This is will. When you see, “This is a handkerchief,” that is knowledge, that is jñāna. Don’t come to that. Move out from that, “What is this?” Move out from that state. You have to move out from that. Which? That perceiving state that, “What is it?” You have to come out from that state [of will] and not to reach that state [of knowledge]. There you have to put your mind [to] rest.238
DEVOTEE: It means, almost the first impression?
SWAMIJI: First ālocana, prathamābhāsa. It is just prathamābhāsa239. But it is not actually prathamābhāsa. If it were actually prathamābhāsa . . . when actual pratham-ābhāsa takes place, it is without support. [Here], you have to take support also. So I have put this [dhāraṇā] as śāktopāya. You have to take support of these two first. Before resting your mind in śāmbhavopāya, you have to take support of these two movements first–the support of will and the support of knowledge, where you see the gap in-between for resting. That is śāmbhava; where you rest, that is the śāmbhava state. As [long as] that resting place takes place by these two supports, it is śāktopāya, it won’t be śāmbhava.
DEVOTEE: So, simply seeing the handkerchief, because the cognition goes out, that is will?
SWAMIJI: You have not to see the handkerchief. “What is it?”–that is the movement of will. “This is a handkerchief”–this is the movement of knowledge. So, you have to find out the movement in-between. Come down from that will, [but] don’t reach that knowledge. Look at this movement also [Swamiji demonstrates]. There are two movements. I want to join these two fingers. They are not yet joined. When I am about to move for joining, that is will. When it is joined, it is knowledge. But this movement must not take place. You have to come down from this movement, the first movement, [but] you have not to reach this [second] movement. That is “ālocana240”. That is śāktopāya because it is through these two supports of movements.
JOHN: So then, in any perception, the first moment of perception is nirvikalpa, and then automatically that savikalpa comes. And so that moment between, . . . ?
SWAMIJI: . . . that is nirvikalpa.
DEVOTEE: That is nirvikalpa, but when you go straight into that nirvikalpa moment, into that ālocana, . . .
SWAMIJI: That is śāmbhavopāya.
DEVOTEE: . . . that is śāmbhavopāya. Here you are trying to find the moment between these two points?
SWAMIJI: By support. [With] support, that is śāktopāya.
*In śāktopāya, centering can be practiced between any and all actions or thoughts. In centering the yogi must develop great velocity of awareness. Great velocity means firmness of awareness. Awareness must not become loose. If the yogi’s awareness becomes loose he will be forced out of śāktopāya into the lowest upāya, ānavopāya. He will lose the right to tread on the path of śāktopāya. In his practice there must be continuity in the cycle of his awareness. Only by maintaining an unbroken chain of awareness will he be able to discover the reality between any two thoughts or actions.
229 Appeased, pacified, tranquil, calm, free from passions, undisturbed.
230 The moment of pervasion.
231 “Kāma kalā is the technique of grasping the moment of union (saṁghaṭṭa) of the senses and their objects. Viṣa tattva is the state of being where you are either given to expansion or to the state of contraction. In Shaivism, the word “viṣa” is explained in two ways. The word “viṣa” means, literally, “poison.” When you are in the sexual act (viṣa tattva) and you are elevated and situated in the expansion of your nature, then at the very moment of union, you will gain entry in kuṇḍalinī. If, however, you are given to the sexual act, then this sexual act will cause you to fall. This is also viṣa tattva, but in this case you are carried away from your nature. So, in viṣa tattva, when, in that act, you do not get entry into your nature, that act is poison for you. For those who are elevated, this same poison is actually ecstasy (amṛta).” Self Realization in Kashmir Shaivism, 5.102, footnotes 13, 14.
233 “Rudrayāmala means, the copulation of Rūdra and Rudrāṇī. This is the transcendental language of love of Śiva with Pārvatī. This is the real language of love.” Parātriśikā Laghuvṛtti, with the commentary of Abhinavagupta, translation and commentary by Swami Lakshmanjoo (original audio recording, USF archives, Los Angeles, 1982).
234 See Appendix for an explanation of the seven states of ānanda.
235 “All of the states of turya from nijānanda to cidānanda comprise the various phases of nimīlanā samādhi. With the occurrence of krama mudrā, nimīlanā samādhi is transformed into unmīlanā samādhi, which then becomes predominant. And when unmīlanā samādhi becomes fixed and permanent, this is the state of jagadānanda. See Appendix for an explanation of krama mudrā, nimīlanā and unmīlanā samādhi.
236 Retention of breath.
237 The point between thought-lessness (nirvikalpa) and thought-fulness (savikalpa).
238 It is nirvikalpa, thought-lessness.
239 Ālocana and prathamābhāsa refer to the initial flow of objective perception or sensation. “Prathamābhāsa means the appearance of God consciousness in universal objectivity.” Festival of Devotion and Praise–Śhivastotrāvalī, Hymns to Shiva by Utpaladeva, Swami Lakshmanjoo, ed. John Hughes, (Universal Shaiva Fellowship, Los Angeles, 2014), . Chapter 9, verse 5.
240 Lit., seeing, perceiving.
(source: Vijnana Bhairava, by Swami Lakshmanjoo)
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