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Published by: Vishnu Arya on Apr 30, 2013
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Śāktopāya - The way of knowledge
Hi, this is Gabriel Pradīpaka. Last time, we studied Śāmbhavopāya (The Way of Will).This is the highest way to attain to final liberation, but it is somewhat difficult for most people. That's why the following two upāya-s (means or methods) have been designed fothose people who failed to grasp the core of Śāmbhavopāya.The remaining two upāya-s are Śāktopāya and Ā
avopāya. The former uses the Power of Knowledge, while the latter uses the Power of Action. Both means or methods are good, nodoubt about it.In the present document, we will study Śāktopāya (the Way of Knowledge) here. There aretwo fundamental practices in it: Mantra repetition and understanding of one's mind.Let us get down to work.top
First approach
Look at this simple table:
Table 1
 ŚĀKTOPĀYAIt uses Power of Knowledge(Jñānaśakti)You use aŚuddhavikalpa or  pure thought
 Positive function of Śuddhavikalpa (it may be divided intothree portions)
Mantraśakti(Power of theMantra)Sattarka (truereasoning)Śuddhavidyā(PureKnowledge)
 Negative function of Śuddhavikalpa(it removes the sense of duality)
You contemplateand understand themental processesYou learn that your mind is ŚaktiHerself having undergone contractionThis table shows all characteristics of Śāktopāya. We are going to study them step by step.First of all: Śāktopāya uses Jñānaśakti as a means to Self-realization. Jñānaśakti is thePower of Knowledge. Knowledge of what? Knowledge of our essential nature. This is alsoknown as Knowledge of Self. One aphorism of Śivasūtra-s (the primordial scripture inTrika) states that the Knowledge of Self is Vitarka:
 िवतक  र
Vitarka ātmajñānam||17||
Firm and unwavering awareness
(that I am Śiva) is the knowledge
of Self 
The constant awareness that "I am Śiva" is the real Knowledge of Self. Knowledge is to beunderstood here in its subtlest sense. It is not knowledge of externals, but our innermostessential nature. Therefore, even though we use firstly the knowledge of mind in thisUpāya, we have our eyes on the subtle "I-consciousness" beyond the mind. This "I-consciousness" may be put into words approximately, this way:
"I am", "I am Śiva", this is Knowledge of Self. And this "I am" or "I-consciousness" isŚakti (tattva 2) or Power of Śiva. See " Non-dual Shaivism of Kashmir: Part 2". So, thismeans or method is known as "Śāktopāya" because it is based on Śakti or I-consciousness.It is also called: Jñānopāya, since it uses "Jñānaśakti" or "Power of knowledge".There are three relevant terms in this Upāya (means or method):
means "Great (mahā) Lake (hrada)". This is an epithet for "I-consciousness"or Śakti. It is called so, because it is deep, calm and transparent just like a lake. It is "I am",the generative source of all words. The inner mental voice you are listening to right nowcomes from "I am". In fact, all comes from it. Obviously, the mantra-s (sacred formulae)come from "I am" too. That's why when repeating a mantra one should be lastly consciousof "I am". But I will teach you "mantra-s" later on. Another name for the Great Lake is"Parāvāk" (Highest Speech).
means "close examination with a view to union". Examination of what?Examination of the Great Lake or "I am".
means both "the experience (anubhava) of the virility or potency(vīrya) of mantra (mantra)" and "the experience (anubhava) of the generative source (vīrya)of all mantra-s (mantra)". When you do Anusandhāna of the Great Lake, you have anexperience of your Essential Nature which is both the embodiment of mantra's potency andthe generative source of all mantra-s. It is that simple.In short, you examine closely "I am" and get a divine experience. This divine experience isknown as "Self-realization", "Liberation", "Final release", etc.In the practical aspect, you will have to use a Śuddhavikalpa in order to realize Mahāhradaor "I am". But, what is a Śuddhavikalpa?top
Śuddhavikalpa is a "pure (śuddha) thought (vikalpa)". It is a positive thought leading to theTruth. It may be a "formal mantra" but not necessarily. For example, the simple statement:"I am Śiva" is a Śuddhavikalpa, because when you repeat it all the time leads you to Self-realization sooner or later.And what is Aśuddhavikalpa? It is exactly the opposite. An Aśuddhavikalpa leads you toslavery. You may find plenty of examples of it: "I am a man", "I am shy", "I am weak", "Iam a sinner", "I belong to this country", "I am white", "I am this, I am that". In sum, "I amanything but Śiva", haha! This kind of thought is not auspicious at all. It brings about lastly bondange. But "I am the Self", "I am Śiva", this is Śuddhavikalpa. Despite Śiva is not bound by any vikalpa (pure or impure), a pure thought is helpful. Abhinavagupta, the greatTrika master, says the following regarding vikalpa:
 िवकलपबादे व 
 बमामानमिभमयते। सोऽिभमानः
 सं साितबधहेतुः।अतः
 सं साहे तु ं  िवकलपं
 दयतीयय   ु दयहेतुः॥
Vikalpabalādeva jantavo baddhamātmānamabhimanyante|So'bhimāna
pratidvandvirūpo vikalpa udita
that they
are bound
onaccount of 
(balāt eva)
is thecause
of their
being bound
in transmigratory existence
.That's why
, when an opposite
, it expels
the thought
that is the cause
of transmigratory existence
(that thought)
is the cause

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