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This book offers 112 dharanas -- 112 meditations or techniques -- for experiencing the extraordinary and paradoxical reality of unbounded consciousness called Bhairava. In her initial question to Bhairava, the Goddess asks him to reveal his own essential nature to her. Bhairava praises her question as pertaining to the very essence of the Tantra, and he praises the transcendent aspect of the Supreme. The Goddess then beseeches Bhairava to teach her the method by which she may gain an understanding of this blissful, nondual reality. The methods offered here hint at a profound secret: only a subtle shift of attention is required in order to bring this astonishing reality into view. The shift will open a chink in the apparently impregnable smoothness of the ordinary world. Here are 112 secret gestures of attention that will reveal infinity.

True to its tantric provenance, the Vijnana-bhairava discovers Supreme Reality in unexpected and bizarre places. As one scans the great variety of methods it offers, one is struck by the contrast in tone between this text and the classical expositions of Yoga. While equally serious, the Vijnana-bhairava has a playful approach anchored in the confidence that one can really never stray from the reality of Shiva. Because it is grounded in the tantric realization, the text has a freedom to explore meditational domains puritanically disdained by classical Yoga. All things, all experiences, all moments are bathed in the unassailable purity of the absolute consciousness. Only a shift of attention, a subtle refocusing, is required for that extraordinary reality to come into view

The Vijnana-bhairava contains no sustained philosophical position. Rather, it is an instructional guide that continuously invites the practitioner to look more deeply and more subtly at her own experience. The blissful and shattering realizations that she will undergo as a result of its method serves as the only form of proof or justification. This is an initiatory manual that instructs in the intricacies of the advanced sport of Shiva.
Spanda is the vibratory dynamism of the absolute consciousness. In the first section of his commentary, Ksja presents spanda as identical with the essential self of each person. The second section presents a methodology that allows access to the world of spanda yoga. The third section describes the spiritual powers attained by the realization of spanda.

Through modern physics, we have grown accustomed to thinking of physical reality as waves of energy--as the matter-energy continuum. Tantric Shaivism presents the full matrix of energy pulsation of which physical reality is only a part. From the relatively superficial perceptions of the senses to the progressively subtle forms of inner awareness, a unified spectrum of spanda leads inward until the most delicate and powerful tendrils of individuality merge with the infinitely rapid vibration of the ultimate consciousness.

The text prescribes a continuous refinement of perception in order for that aspect of spanda which continuously subsides into infinity to be discovered in the awareness of the practitioner. Through prescribed use of mantra, the yogi develops a continuous attentiveness to the presence of the spanda--the spanda that reveals itself to her as an ecstatic flashing forth within her own awareness.

The Guru enlivened mantra leads the yogi through the vibratory spectrum of awareness to the ever subtler domains within. As this occurs, the surface word-form of the mantra falls away and only the original lively pulsation of enlightenment is left. At a certain definite point, the individual awareness is permanently caught up in this subtle pulsation of the ultimate. It then transcends all of the relative spatial distinctions of inner and outer, higher and lower, above and below. The nondimensional, global encompassing of the individuality by the absolute consciousness is the state of jivanmukti, the goal of the tantric practice prescribed by the Spanda Karikas.
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