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Unpacking the View (Darsana) of NST JUNE 6, 2012 BY BEN HOSHOUR 2 COMMENTS All that exists, has ever

existed or will ever exist, is one infinite divine Being, free and blissful, whose body is the universe and whose soul is consciousness. This philosophy, then, can be called theistic monism, which means: The view that only one thing really exists – i.e., that every person and object exists as a form or aspect of one basic reality (monism) That the basic reality has an innate capacity for self-awareness and therefore it can be called a being, a being whose nature is unbounded by any form or limitation (theism). Though problematic, the only words we have in English to denote a completely unbound conscious being is “God” or “Goddess.” Thus, all sentient beings, seen and unseen, are simply different forms of one divine Consciousness, which looks out at the universe that is its own body through uncountable pairs of eyes. To make it personal: you are not separate from God/Goddess and never have been. Indeed, you are the very means by which She knows Herself. The Essential Nature of Reality NST holds that the basic principle of reality – the foundation of all that is, that to which all things are reducible and which is not itself reducible to anything else – is Conscious Awareness. This is argued for in the following manner: We cannot demonstrate the existence of any reality that is not the content of some being’s experience, and all experience by definition takes place within awareness and is permeated by awareness. Thus, everything and anything we can point to as having existence whatsoever – whether commonly held realities like what we call the external world, or your own personal reality, such as your dreams and visions – all exists within the field of awareness. To posit the existence of something no one is aware of is nonsense, for as soon as you posit it, you become aware of it. (If you say, “Well, what about things out there in the universe that scientists have proven the existence of but no one has ever seen?” then you have confused consciousness with perception. If the physicist has modeled the outer-space object mathematically, then he is necessarily aware of it.) So far the proposition is quite logical; the specifically spiritual assertion here is that all limited consciousness (e.g. you and me) are merely vantage points within one all-encompassing and unbroken field of awareness. Actually, this is quite logical too because if we were each separate islands of consciousness,

which only proves it to you and you alone. what is water? The last thing a fish would contemplate is the very medium of its existence. Though we are experiencing it (and nothing but it) all the time. then. Then we make the final error of believing that the interpretive constructs we superimpose on reality ARE reality itself. come to realize its nature. the nature of Consciousness is such that each given embodiment of it can. we perform analytic and synthetic mental operations in our contemplations of reality. because all science presupposes Consciousness. there is only one Perceiver and only one Doer. all proofs. We are like a fish. recursive movements of energy in an otherwise undifferentiated dynamic field. We don’t perceive the fullness and potency of the divine Reality in which we constantly partake because we exist in a state of contracted awareness. we would not be able to communicate with each other or even share the same reality. we pay little attention to the one thing present in every experience – Consciousness. An ordinary being notices least that which is greatest in his life. we are unaware of it.discontinuous with the rest. called the Light of Creation or the Light of Consciousness (prakasa). our brains synthesize our experience of reality through our limited senses. which we then use as filters to select and interpret what we think is significant in reality. In other words. vibrating at an incalculable number of different frequencies. precisely because this Consciousness is prior to. It is also called the Ocean of Awareness. There would not be any coherence by which we could even call reality a universe if it was perceived by more than one perceiver. Thus. From the perspective of the non-duality of Consciousness. is all that really exists. Another way of explaining this teaching would be to say that all things are part of one vast field of energy. This is essentially a “spiritual” assertion because there is no way to prove it except through your inner spiritual experience. but not the other way around. To put it briefly. As thinking beings. through empowered reflection. and the basis of. the attempt to scientifically prove or validate spirituality is absurd. Sentient beings like us are simply nodal points of selfawareness. our powers and perceptions are limited to a tiny bandwidth. becoming more or less durable and persistent mental constructs. So. thereby narrowing further our already limited spectrum of perception. instead of what they actually are – . This field of energy. each of which function as a different type of frequency analyzer directed at this fluxing field of energy all around us (and which we are not separate from). but there is no proof of its nature other than its own internal process. Some of these operations rigidify. asking skeptically.

Of . it is called Siva. or more commonly. This wrong identification causes us suffering.” But the non-dualist scriptures usually prefer other names for it. is the only cause of suffering. Some of these follow: The Heart (hrdaya) The Essence (sara) Vibration (spanda) Absolute Potential (Visarga) The Bliss of Awareness (cidananda) The All-Pervasive (vibhava) The Totality (kula) Intimate Fusion (sanghatta) Vision (drk) Potency (samarthya) Experience (bhoga) The Fierce One (candi) The Supreme Power (para sakti) The Devourer of Time (kalakarsini) The Word (vak) The Wave (urmi) The Eternal (nitya) The Nameless (anakhya) We are told that the Absolute has many names so that at least one of them will spontaneously penetrate the inner awareness of the practitioner. When talking about God. Paramesvara.imperfect representations that served a particular need at a particular time. The Essential Nature of the Divine The divine Consciousness is called by various names in the texts of the tradition. and indeed. the “Highest Divinity. because this is a principle that far transcends (even as it includes) any notion of a personal God.

and we have established what the Divine us – a completely autonomous blissful awareness. Some embodiments of that Light.” it is important to define exactly what that means in this context. Each subject (any knower. and Action. endowed with the Powers of Will. Because we are not separate from that. NST’s preferred name for the supreme principle of reality is the Heart (hrdaya). Knowledge. The Activity of the Divine We have established that the fundamental nature of all beings is divine. These . but is further a reflexive movement of self-awareness. really? It is nothing but the projection. We said above that everything that exists is a manifestation of the one Light. and that activity is of course the creation and dissolution of the manifest universe. what does it actually do? Its activity is also fundamental to its identity. though we are not aware of it. since the tantric masters do frequently use the word “God. for it is something quite different from what the word means in the mind of many Westerners. also have the capacity to infold awareness and reflect on themselves or on other aspects of the Light in relation to themselves. That is. a specifically defined mode of the One’s self-reflection (vimarasa). and in its self aware mode. The process of spiritual practice (sadhana) is simply about removing the impediments to your ability to see yourself as you really are and accessing the blissful freedom that is always already your real being. God in actuality is only the unbounded Light of Consciousness reposing in innate bliss. Essence of the Tantras. – Abhinava Gupta. That is to say. is spontaneously blissful (ananda). The infinite all pervading Divine Consciousness is absolutely free and independent (svatantra). But what is creation.these. So. the flowing forth within the infinite field of Consciousness. Abhinava Gupta offers us a non-dual definition of “God” in the Tantrasara. Let’s define this subject-object pole. each object is an embodiment of some facet of the One’s infinite being. our true nature is also free and blissful. you (and every sentient being) incarnates in a unique way for the One to reflect on its Self. Each object (something that can be known) is an actualization of a timeless potentiality inherent in the Light of Consciousness (prakasa). this basic twoness that the One appears as. then. a sentient being like you) also embodies that Light of Consciousness. of a vast multiplicity of apparently differentiated subjects and objects. Reflection (Vimarsa) and Recognition (Pratyabhijna) A few more words about this crucial principle. However.

” Your perception of yourself as somehow separate from the whole is nothing but ignorance. but rather condenses itself into form. and all things in yourself – the unbounded state of absolute fullness (purnata) that is oneness with God and final realization. and the process is not complete.” for it is the process by which Consciousness re-presents itself to itself in various forms. This revelation was held by a physicist studying the fundamental particles of quantum physics when he noticed that he was composed of the same particles. To recap. thus initiating a vast dance of self-exploration. Thus. and that all reflection are of the one Self. and this realization is simultaneously an opportunity for the expansion of your sense of identity. this infinite Consciousness chooses not to remain static homogenous formless nothingness. until that portion turns its capacity for self-reflection upon itself. because the Universe is one continuous whole. those nodal points of energy that can fold back light onto itself in an act of self-reflection. Now this act of creation is called a divine play or game (krida) in the sense that this activity is a fundamentally free and joyous act of self-expression. but rather as the pattern of the whole universe currently playing that role and no more identified with it than the actor on stage believes he is really Hamlet. self-reflection (vimarsa) can be translated as “representation. That is. For this reason. The process of expansion continues until you experience yourself in all things. collapsing subject and object. done entirely for its own sake. Then. even as he plays his part passionately. his study of physics is nothing other than the universe contemplating itself. the universe must temporarily alienate part of itself from the whole in order to turn and look at itself. you no longer perceive yourself as a mother or an American or a doctor or a yogi. and thus reintegrating itself with the Whole. he saw. and the other being in yourself. manifesting itself (within its own field of awareness) as a vast multiplicity of apparently differentiated subjects and objects. Recognizing yourself in the other being. He saw that. for a sentient being. as part of its overarching play of selfawareness and self-love. what is really happening is that the universe is contemplating itself “as a stone. which it actually never left.are what we call sentient beings. This perspective brings a sense of meaning and presence to even the simplest acts: For when you sit and contemplate a stone. it entails a realization that you have artificially limited yourself to a set of mental constructs (such as any set of “I am” statements). The word “play” is simply used . necessarily involves an expansion of your sense of identity. then. We can understand the term figuratively and literally for the self aware being realizes that all other being are reflections of himself. as he is a reflection of them. every encounter with any other being is an opportunity for reflection on their own total nature. Yet to accomplish this act.

in which the Divine freely embodies itself forth as the universe. for it can only be asked by a mind that does not include “hard” as an aspect of divine light that is as beneficial and blessed in its own way as “easy” or “happy. The doctrine of play shows us that the Tantric View is NOT evolutionary. The natural question that most people have at this point is something like. the three that denote what Shiva-Shakti does. These. free and autonomous. then. this play of manifest creation. (For God so loved Herself.” the tantrikas could have used the word “art” to express this understanding – for the word has connotations of creativity and beauty that are central to their vision of reality – except that art is often thought of as representing something else. naturally unfold in precisely that sequence.to indicate an activity that has no purpose outside of itself. inevitably achieving its consummation. it is Siva. This process unfolds in each instant on all scales. are the primary powers (saktis) of God. “art” implies artifice. Siva Consciousness rejoices equally in pain or pleasure. The whole of divine reality is expressed fully and in each moment. surging up from the core of Being. while “play” or perhaps “artful play” better expresses the organic. Our discussions here are neatly summarized by the verse that concludes chapter 1 of the Essence of the Tantras by Abhinavagupta. The three powers of Will. dynamic quality with which the universe unfolds and. Knowledge. God loves the whole of the . alludes to the childlike wonder experienced by those who see it as it really is. is the result of an impulse. as opposed to the even more basic triad that denotes what Shiva-Shakti is (Consciousness. a natural creative urge (iccha) within the Divine to express the totality of its self-knowledge (jnana) in action (kriya). as well as pointing towards the notion that joy and love underlie and motivate the whole process.” To put it another way. and the universe stands for nothing but itself. and Freedom). Rather than “play. why is life so hard?” This question demonstrates a lack of understanding concerning non-duality. and then it can engage in empowered activity (kriya). as well. that She gave form to every aspect of Her being). that it does not hold that reality will be intrinsically better or more beautiful at some future point (although your capacity to appreciate is constantly evolving). and Action. in happiness or sorrow. “If this whole world is nothing but the free and voluntary expression of the divine Light. with information about how energy flows most effectively in embodied forms). This Self is an embodiment of the Light of Consciousness. (i. spontaneous. As an independent play of intense joy. and then it must equip itself with understanding (jnana). the Divine conceal its own true nature (by manifesting plurality) and may also choose to reveal its fullness once again at any time. for the precognitive creative impulse toward joyful self-expression (iccha) must come first. we could say.e. for both poles equally expresses its divine Being. Bliss. Further. Thus.

“this sucks. for the scriptures tell us it is entirely a product of ignorance. This misidentification is a kind of forgetting. and beautiful when it shows us our aliveness. you have the capacity to love the whole of Reality as well. of course. For example. our human nature of forgetting our Divine nature. let’s explore a little more on the perspective of suffering in NST. Suffering. but a dancing pattern of energy. when God incarnates as you. you are not a static entity. of all that is. is imprinted on the deepest level of your being. to fully manifest the particular aspect of Herself that is you. And furthermore. and it cannot be resolved through intellectual understanding (which is rooted in duality). Natural in that it is a feedback mechanism by which nature protects us. but only through a state of nondual experience brought about by dedicated spiritual practice. an unfolding process – a perfect and integral instantiation of the divine process by which God reflects on Herself and expresses Herself.’” Let’s break that statement down. This. they experience what they call ‘suffering. There’s nothing wrong with pain. So here you are: What you see of yourself. and all that you can see is what shows above the water. but mind-created suffering. The primary form of this ignorance is the misidentification of ourselves. You are not only a part of the whole. is simply the tip of a massive iceberg (to use one analogy). In other words. The View states. it becomes a thing of sharp beauty. It is simply saying that suffering is the result of the ignorance of your own true nature. of not seeing things as they truly are. instead of identifying with the trans-individual overarching pulsation of pure Awareness that is their nature. This brings joyous freedom because you perceive that. however. . And we can be free of this suffering. what you know of yourself. Yet.” Most of what is unpleasant about human existence is not pain. you are the Whole. the pattern of the whole universe. with the infinite options available to it. You look around. This is the self-concealment mentioned in the earlier verse by Abhinavagupta. the sages tell us.” “I hate this.” or “I wish this wasn’t happening. so you imagine that’s all there is. and since you are not separate from God. and here we must distinguish suffering from pain. “When that divine Consciousness contracts into finite embodied loci of awareness. Hence. out of its own free will. it is both natural and beautiful. She has to forget the rest of Her vast all-encompassing Being. Consciousness chose to become you. the intensity of the pain you feel when a loved one passes is another form of your love for them – experienced in that way. She has to temporarily let go of all other aspects of Herself.creation that is himself. is the “tough nut” of non-dual philosophy. and those finite subjects then identity with the limited and circumscribed cognitions that make up this phase of their existence. With this in mind. is the mental state we could represent with statements like.

the fact that the divine powers of Consciousness. maintain. The purpose of walking the spiritual path from the non-dual tantric perspective. within the immediacy of your awareness. you simply need to see the truth of your own Being: that infinite potential exists within you. Let’s unpack that. When the power of all-encompassing insight arises. and action. the Whole in every part. it is completely uprooted. the primary purpose of spiritual practice is to destabilize deepseated. The process of undermining false views through practice continues until they are seen for what they are and begin to fall apart. Yet you are not currently experiencing reality that way. is simply to undermine your misidentification and directly reveal. Bliss. When you see yourself clearly. playing with powers of intent. is to be honored as what you and you alone can add to the ever-expanding process of God’s grand self-exploration. skewed mental constructs about yourself – constructs that you also project onto others in your life. there comes a flash of recognition: you are a microcosmic expression of precisely the same divine powers that create.” but which you can certainly learn to “feel. Knowing. due to your misperception of yourself. When your obscuring mental constructs fall away. Those who gain an intimation of the fact that they are not seeing the full picture of reality will at some point feel an inner urge (iccha) to take up the path of cultivation of spiritual wisdom (jnana) and practice (kriya). and whatever manifests through you in this life. Willing. The purpose of spiritual practice cannot be to obtain union with God. and dissolve this whole universe. Neither is its purpose to make you more beautiful or more perfect than you already are.To attain all the fulfillment you’ve ever dreamed of and more. as well as the whole of your divine being. These visions of reality are not in alignment with the Truth and therefore debilitate you. When you experientially realize . though not infinite. Suffering will automatically fall away when you are able to simultaneously honor what is currently manifesting through your limited embodied being. there is liberation.” Abhinava gives this teaching in the summary verse of the introduction to the Tantrasara: Tradition teaches us that ignorance is the sole cause of bondage: it is taught under the name “impurity” in scripture. for you are already one with the divine reality. understanding. So. a fullness you may not be able to “see. and Acting comprise the totality of your individual experience as well – thereby triggering a recognition that your true identity is that of the highest Divinity. by which all impurity is destroyed. for you are an expression of the Divine. With the arising of the full consciousness of the Self. you automatically see yourself as you really are: a free being of blissful consciousness.

What is important about this state form the tantric perspective is not so much how good it feels. Christopher. until this vision of reality becomes the non-conceptual ground of every moment of your experience. Recognize it as the state in which you are fully present with yourself and your surroundings. immersed in your divine nature. The Woodlands. with occasional revelations of the unity of being. Your fear and pettiness drop away as you fall into the dance of life and energy. even permanently reversed because unity is in fact the more fundamental reality. in an endless flow of such moments. is called samavesa. History. You have touched this state. your contracted sense of self and separation from the whole is finally annihilated in an incandescent radiance of complete expansion into all-embracing perfect wholeness. and has become a vibrating reality at the foundation of your being. or are the uppermost reaches of human potential impossible to sustain? The answer given by the Tantra is that it is. This does not imply that it is a static condition that does not need refreshing. expansive and free yet grounded in your real situation – embracing the reality of what is in the now. many times in your life. This is why you took birth. TX. beyond the level of words and thought. nothing to achieve. An explosion of joy accompanies the realization that there is nothing to do. realizing that you are the only one who has ever limited your potential. Anusara Press. Tantra Illuminated: The Philosophy. So we may say that the spiritual practice serves to repeat and reinforce experiential knowing of the truth through various means. relaxed yet focused. For more information on non-dual Saiva Tantra. indeed. This state of awareness in which you are completely in tune with reality. creating you even as you create with them. please visit Christopher . that situation can become reversed. When this happens. but what you learn from it and how you grow from integrating it. your perception fully encompasses the reality of a universe dancing ecstatically in the animation of its completely perfect divinity.that the same beautiful and awesome powers that orchestrate the intricate and wondrous display of the entire creation are flowering within you. however fleetingly or incompletely. just as your default perception of reality is currently one of subject/object duality. Nevertheless. there is a profound shift. It is really possible to be in such a state – that we may call Presence – all the time. SOURCE: Wallis. This is awakening to the truth. This means it has passed beyond the level of philosophy and religion. other than to fully embrace the divine powers that seeks to fully manifest through you by expressing the entirety of your authentic being in the fullness of each moment. 2012. spontaneously illuminating all that you experience. Then. providing the very foundation of your whole experience of reality. possible for Presence to become your default state. and Practice of a Timeless Tradition. This is liberation.

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