Cathryn Roberts

Return to the Source

Return to the Source

Cathryn Roberts

Anchorage, Alaska April 2006
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Cathryn Roberts

Return to the Source

Dedication This paper is dedicated to all those who suffer unknowingly. May the knowledge presented in this paper ignite the Divine Love that is your birthright. Cathryn Roberts Anchorage, Alaska April 2006

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Abstract In the ancient philosophical system known as Kashmir Shaivism, a word is more than just a communication tool. In fact, Word is the very energy that produces the entire manifested universe. Phonemes are more than just sounds that make up words. They are aspects or energies of the great creative force of all, the supreme Absolute. As the supreme Creator manifests, Word manifests. As the Creator becomes conscious, the first sound /a/ arises, and creation unfolds. Word not only creates the universe, it creates humans. Word is active on the cosmic level, as well as the personal or mundane level. Because it arises from within us, we can use it to trace back to our source of being. We can use particular sounds, with specific vibrational qualities or energies to help us do that. These special sound combinations are called mantras. By repeating these mantras, we call forth the more subtle levels of being or consciousness within ourselves. This paper investigates this ancient philosophical system further and examines its compelling aphorisms relating to Word.

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Kashmir Shaivism is a monistic philosophy that was revealed during the 9th century AD to the sage, Vasugupta, in Kashmir, India. It is a distinguished school of thought which postulates that there is only one conscious energy in the universe. This consciousness manifests or expresses itself into different forms through the energy of sound. Sound, therefore, plays a particularly important primary role in this philosophy. The term Shaivism is derived from Śiva, the name given to the ultimate reality. Its aim is the “recognition of one’s own true nature by removal of the veil of ignorance. This recognition is the awareness that one is united with God and everything in the universe (Muktananda, 1975, p. 2).” The constant experience of Śiva, of one’s true supreme Self, is the promise of Kashmir Shaivism. Kashmir Shaivism offers us a cause for the universe and a glimpse of the force behind all things, which is ultimately one and the same. The ultimate cause, known as Śiva, and his force, known as Śakti, create the entire universe through phonemes. These phonemes, which are initially extremely subtle energies, bring into being everything in the manifested universe. The manifesting process unfolds in four-stages, with each succeeding level arising from the preceding level. The phonemic force, a Śakti known as Word, generates the countless forms in the universe and it emerges from and is one with Śiva. The process of growing into the spiritual consciousness of Śiva- or Selfconsciousness is a natural part of human growth and development. Just as a baby grows and becomes conscious of its physical self and its surroundings, a child grows and becomes aware of words and language and develops an ego and a personality. Just as a teenager is naturally able to think abstractly in a way that a child is not, an adult becomes aware of his subtle, meta-empirical consciousness, his Selfconsciousness. The awareness of spiritual or Self-consciousness is the culmination of the maturation process of human consciousness. The state of Self-consciousness within a human being is the most subtle or “highest” level of consciousness or awareness and it is the origin of phonemes in the
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creative process of Word. This is a state of undifferentiated unity. Three more levels of Word will follow in the manifestation process that parallel other levels or states of human consciousness i.e. the waking state, the dream state, and the deep sleep state. These “lower” states of duality and separation comprise mundane self-consciousness. All four levels of consciousness exist within human beings at all times simultaneously, and individuals may experience all four levels. Phonemic vibration permeates each level of human consciousness. The different states of consciousness as defined by Kashmir Shaivism were described by sages after they spent hours, days, and years in deep meditation. During meditation, exploring inner consciousness instead of outer manifestation, these great investigators of perception experienced the levels of awareness within a human being and came to understand their order and significance. Through the seminal texts of Kashmir Shaivism, they have bequeathed an essential legacy to mankind; the legacy of the heart. They realized that it is the heart that holds all levels of consciousness and that the journey to Self-consciousness is the journey to the heart. Not the physical heart, but the subtle heart, that is discovered in the quiet of meditation. The tradition of Kashmir Shaivism leads us to the experience of the state of Śiva, the never changing, eternally blissful, divine consciousness. It teaches us how to uncover this Self-consciousness within ourselves and why and how to become one with it. This is known as becoming Self-realized. With supreme, Self-consciousness as the background of our transcendental, immanent self and our manifested self as the foreground, the transcendent permeates and eventually resorbs the manifested through the power of Word, the vibration of creation. Since they are one and the same, the manifested self is able to surrender its conditioned, vibrational qualities to the underlying vibration of the transcendent Self and experience the wonderment, thrill of joy, and ecstatic rapture that is the character of the Self. The universe manifests as Śiva (known as the Divine Flame because he is supreme light) descends from the divine level to solid earth through the expression, or projection of his divine energy. A soul is a spark of the Divine Flame that has been sent willingly into exile through phonemic projection. This is known as the process of
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involution. Eventually, the spark, which has been separated from Śiva through his power to veil his essential nature, becomes conscious of the Divine Flame once again. This is known as evolution. Evolution is the reverse of involution, the ascent or path of return of the soul. As the individual ascends though the higher levels of Word, he becomes unified with Śiva at the divine level of consciousness once more. Every soul has the potential to become Self-conscious or Self-realized because every soul is a spark of divine light. According to Kashmir Shaivism, the reason it is possible for human beings to recognize the Truth (of being unlimited consciousness and bliss) and realize their supreme Self is due to divine grace. The bestowal of redemptive grace is one of the five principal functions of God, or Śiva, in which the veiling of his essential nature is lifted. Grace is independent of human action, that is, Śiva may bestow grace on anyone at anytime. The descent of grace awakens one’s spiritual energy and begins the process of spiritual maturity. The descent of grace is traditionally facilitated through the Guru or spiritual director. The Guru is one who has “acquired mastery over the divine powers inherent in the letters of the alphabet (Muktananda, 1975, p. 50).” In the Sanskrit language, the syllable “GU” means darkness and the syllable “RU” means light. So the Guru is one who awakens an individual from the darkness of ignorance and guides him or her to the light of the Self. The Guru commonly uses a mantra, a spiritually charged group of sounds, to awaken the spiritual energy within a seeker. Just as the power or energy inherent in sound is significant to involution, it is equally significant to evolution, to the process of Self-realization. Even divine grace is a phonemic emanation. The state of Śiva is supreme silence. Thoughts, such as, “I am not good enough,” or “I am unhappy,” or “I am alone,” are projections of phonic energy and do not exist at this state of being. These limiting thoughts become conditioned and strengthened in an individual through repetition over years and lifetimes, and prevent one from easily experiencing Self-consciousness. After grace awakens an individual to the awareness of Self-consciousness, its subtle vibration continues to churn inside the

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levels of Word, eradicating conditioned thoughts, so that the awareness of Śiva may be sustained. This means, therefore, that a person rises above the “play” of their own thoughts, to a more “pure” level of consciousness that is beyond the noise of gross phonemic projection. Grace quiets these limiting thoughts that divide and separate individuals from Śiva, therefore, giving the individual power over the thoughts. Eventually, an individual’s consciousness rests in the Self, in supreme silence, and is united with Śiva, never to be exiled or projected into manifestation again. All the thoughts, all the projections, were only the play of Śiva to begin with, and only Śiva has been awakened, purified, and returned to himself. Since grace is always flowing, the receptivity of the individual and his or her willingness to gain intellectual knowledge or right understanding will determine his or her final level of Self-realization for this lifetime. Either the “individual realizes his unity or identity with the universe and transcends all differences (Muktananda, 1975, p. 51)” or he doesn’t. Understanding the intellectual knowledge presented in this paper concerning Word and its role in the evolution and involution of man, will help a conscientious seeker to make progress towards Self-realization and liberation from ignorance and away from bondage and insentience. In the final analysis, however, “If the heart-lotus of some animal-like men has not blown under the ray of grace falling from the highest Lord, then hundreds of words of mine, even though their hearts be pierced with sharp needle-like words can neither make the heart-lotus blow nor make it accomplish the objective (Self-realization) (Singh, 1988, p. 114).”

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Creative Consciousness Among the philosophical underpinnings of Kashmir Shaivism is the concept that the universe, created by Śiva’s phonic energy, is permeated with the consciousness of Śiva. He is both the cause and the effect of his phonic energy. This energy or power, known as Word or Śakti, is first and foremost the creative aspect of God and is historically conceived of as a feminine energy. She is the energy with which God acts. Without her, only Śiva, a silent mass of eternal consciousness and absolute bliss, would exist and the universe, the Earth, and humans would not. Above all, Word is the mysterious force that creates, sustains, maintains, conceals, and reveals the universe. With Word, everything exists, from the cosmos to man. Because of Word, supreme consciousness becomes aware of itself, the breath moves, and spiritual, psychic, and vital energies arise. The primal sound vibration of Word can neither be separated from the Godhead, nor from anything else present in the cosmos. Word vibrates in all. Since Word creates everything, there are no absolute distinctions between God and any of his creations, including man. Word brings worlds and man into existence through the movement of her phonic energy known as Kundalinī. Word is a primal, divine energy. She is eternal, indestructible, and all pervading. She unfolds, evolves, and brings forth the stages of the cosmos, the stages of consciousness and the stages of speech. She has organized the universe and all of manifestation. As an emanation process, Word precedes objects. Objects come from Word; therefore, they are inferior to Word. In a neverending process, beyond time and space, pure light vibration goes through a series of transformations, condenses into sound, and brings forth the universe. Being one with supreme consciousness, Word brings phonemes into existence, which through their vibrating rays, give rise to the objective world forming “that which is to be expressed (Padoux, 1990, p. 154).” As Śiva’s ecstatic energy divides within phonemic emanation, all the diversity of the cosmos emerges. Word reveals objects; in fact, naming reveals the objective world and ushers supreme consciousness out of its subjective, undifferentiated state and into a state of differentiation. Word belongs to
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God. She is his power to use in any way he chooses. She is subordinate to him, subordinate to consciousness and subordinate to silence. Word is alive to create the cosmos because divine consciousness is alive. As Word condenses from the cosmic level to the human level, she becomes human language- a source of bondage. Language is bondage because Śiva is a plane of blissful consciousness eternally within us that is beyond language with absolute autonomy or freedom. Language and differentiated thought keep man separate from his divine nature, his inner primordial consciousness. Through words, man becomes bound in a process of becoming, becoming the countless forms of that which is expressing and that which is expressed. Words and language engulf humans in a sea of illusion. The power of illusion inherent in speech is known as Mātrkā, the mother of speech and the universe. According to Kshemarāja, author of the ancient Shaivite text Pratyabhijñāhirdayam, “As the mother-energy of the phonemes making up the words of language, she enslaves those who, for want of the necessary knowledge, are bound by her net of words or blinded by the false glamour of words (Padoux, 1990, p. 152).” Mātrkā permeates all levels of thought and perception. She gives rise to joy, fear, attachment and aversion. She conceals the real, unfettered nature of consciousness. Through her power, Mātrkā brings about the dependent nature of embodied creatures. No longer able to realize his or her divine consciousness, the limited human being, his or her freedom diminished, becomes helplessly “bound to becoming” and loses autonomy. Mātrkā, however, can be known and, therefore, overcome. Kshemarāja advises, “To know her is to return to the source of speech and of the universe, it is the liberation of the human being and the cosmic resorption (Padoux, 1990, p.152).” Taking the support of Mātrkā in Word, humans can stop “the process of becoming” and once again reconnect with the source of all being. They can, therefore, overcome bondage or ignorance and regain their supreme nature.

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Systematic Speech Kashmir Shaivism describes the cosmic evolution of Word from the Godhead to the world in a highly systematic and structured way and explains how it extends from the energy of supreme consciousness down to phonemes, which are the Lord in his phonic form. The hierarchical order of evolution is complex: from cause to effect, from Word to manifestation, from highest to lowest, from unity to diversity, from subtle to gross, from freedom to limitation, and from silence to sound. Word unfolds in four successive stages as she brings forth the cosmos. Parāvāc is the supreme Word, which is identical to and in union with Śiva. This is the starting point and the ending point of Word. Paśyantī, literally “visionary” Word, is the first stage of differentiation. Madhyamā, “intermediate,” is the next stage of Word, containing the first appearance of duality and inner speech. Finally, the lowest, most corporeal and empirical level of Word, Vaikharī, is expressed speech and language (although with modern brain imaging techniques, the madhyamā level is becoming more empirical). The evolution of these stages corresponds to the rising Kundalini. As the universe emerges, speech and thought emerge simultaneously. Before taking a more in-depth look at how the universe and speech emerge through the four different levels of Word, a brief exploration of the concept of Kundalini, the coiled one, is warranted. Without her power, the universe could not unfold either on a cosmic level or a human level. Without her, knowledge and liberation would be impossible. Kundalini Kundalini is a universal phenomenon, known by all cultures at all times: the Holy Ghost to Christians, chi to the Chinese, ki to the Japanese, Quetzalcoatl, the serpent God in Mexico, and n/um (/ is a glottal stop) to the Kung people of the Kalahari desert. She moves outwardly into the world, taking the human with her into a world of diversity and individuality. During this process known as involution, she veils or hides the true Śiva nature of mankind, making humans undergo great suffering. Once awakened, by
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grace, her energy begins the most important journey a human being will ever take, the inner journey of evolution to his or her universal Self. Kundalini is Word. Kundalini is the power of God. Kundalini is Mātrkā, the mother of the fifty letters of the Sanskrit alphabet. Since she is one with Śiva, it is said “God is a cluster of letters (Muktananda, 1980, p.15).” These letters have been seen by ancient and modern sages during deep meditation, vibrating on the tips of the thousandpetaled lotus in the crown of the head, which is the abode of Śiva. She is so closely linked with Śiva that the written symbol for her phonic energy, the letter “a,” is the same letter that represents him. It is the first letter that arises from ecstatic, cosmic consciousness and it symbolizes the creator becoming conscious. Kundalini is the movement of Word. Although Kundalini manifests in the form of words, she also manifests the countless shapes and infinite forms of the universe because she is both a cosmic energy and a human energy. On a cosmic level, she emanates and resorbs all that is, cycle after cycle, lasting eons and eons. On a human level, she lies coiled at the base of the spine, giving life and movement through prāna, the subtle breath. In fact, she is “the ruler of prāna (Muktananda, 1980, p. 29).” According to Singh (1981), prāna is the subtle energy that links the mind and the body. It is important in the experience of the union of the individual consciousness with the universal, supreme consciousness. As ruler of prāna and Word, Kundalini’s power transforms a human being from matter and darkness to spirit and light. As Kundalini ascends along the central channel within the spine, being the most auspicious and perfect Śakti or Word, Kundalini purifies the bound soul on all levels, physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual until he or she experiences his or her oneness with Śiva, the innermost divine consciousness. Her liberating forces increase when she reaches the forehead, causing the seeker to look backward toward dissolution. God has created Kundalini to conceal himself and to reveal himself in all. Kundalini endows humans with the faculty of speech and she bestows the four levels of speech. While humans are generally unaware of her presence, she is always there and is the underlying basis of human language. Through the movement of the
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Kundalini Śakti, all phonemes are produced and the world evolves and emerges down to the level of empirical speech as a result. She is simultaneously the life force that animates human beings and the movement of cosmic consciousness, both of which help to produce phonemes and are the cause of their emergence. Because her phonic energy is present in the human body, humans can experience the microcosm and the macrocosm of the universe, but the latter only when she deliberately endeavors to make the ascent back to her beloved Śiva. As she moves through the levels of Word, humans become conscious of their innermost Selfconsciousness. As she ascends, individuals gain power over the levels of Word and as a result, they are able to extend the experience of the innermost Self. A deeper understanding of phonic energy and the levels of Word as postulated in Kashmir Shaivism is important for those whose Kundalini has been awakened. Parāvāc The first level of Word is known as parāvāc. This is the ultimate level of speech, the primordial level, that contains all other levels of Word, yet itself is undifferentiated silence. There is no higher reality than parāvāc. She is the ever present, all pervading, luminous, consciousness that is the ultimate reality. She contains all phonemes, words, actions, and objects. Every form in the universe is produced from parāvāc. As Abinavagupta writes in the Parātrīśikā Vivarana, without parāvāc “darkness and, therefore unconsciousness would prevail (Padoux, 1990, p. 173).” Parāvāc is a non-dual level of Word. Here Word is both undifferentiated light/pure consciousness and the awareness or realization of this light. There is no separation of these two aspects. Consciousness realizes itself and it is filled with supreme joy and wonderment. In fact, joy gives life to the light of consciousness. Since consciousness gives rise to Word, joy gives birth to Word as well. At this non-dual level, objects and words are not yet differentiated. They are of the same nature as the pure light of consciousness. Their separateness appears at a later level, when they

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become the expressing and the expressed. For now, this source and foundation of all speech is undifferentiated, desireless, consciousness and Word. Word has a vital role at this most supreme level. As she represents the blissful energy of supreme consciousness, she is what actually creates the orderly, harmonious, whole universe. As the creator of the cosmos, all archetypes exist within her. At this level, Word and supreme consciousness cannot be separated. Word whispers a pattern or paradigm to consciousness and makes consciousness self-aware. She gives consciousness the ability to be reflective, introspective, and she brings about the representation and memory of all things in the cosmos. Even at this level, the foundation is set for speech, as these concepts are inseparable from speech. When speech arrives at the human, expressing level it requires an inner awareness or mental representation of things and ideas. Humans experience an inner whisper, mutter or murmur along with some form of verbalizing when they are expressing differentiated, discursive knowledge. Without knowledge, without awareness, without some form of speech in parāvāc, then speech and language could not exist at the human level. She is the root of all thoughts, words, and things, although she is herself devoid of all thought constructs. She precedes the differentiated thought so prevalent at the human level. Parāvāc then is grounded in “I,” the level of “the sole cognizing subject and the sole cognized object.” The two rest in unequaled non-duality. She contains and feels all patterns and all intentions, but they remain unexpressed. The seeds of language are here and they will eventually evolve into the next three levels of Word, causing the appearance of the universe. For now, supreme consciousness rests within itself, free from any trace of contraction or impurity. As the ground of all being, she may be apprehended by those who seek her. Here, the individual soul may be one with the Lord, the supreme entity, the Supreme Reality, Śiva. This is the home of the highest phonematic emanation, the phoneme “a.” Spontaneous and unstruck sound, it is indestructible, eternal, and life giving. It vibrates in the hearts of all living beings and is the power of consciousness.

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As the power of consciousness, it is supreme bliss. Through specific practices and experiences, the bound soul may unite once again with the supreme Self at this level. Parāvāc is an extremely subtle level of consciousness. As there is no sequentiality, she is not a stage of speech or thought, yet she is the root of all forms of speech. As the root, she cannot be separated from words, just as she cannot be separated from all sentient beings. Humans may experience this level of Word at the interval between two thoughts. She contains all meaning and language in its seed form. As any seed, she is bestowed with the kinetic energy to assert itself and to grow. As she grows, she transforms into the next stage of Word, paśyantī. Even so, she never leaves her state of soundless sound; she never comes into the speech kingdom. Paśyantī When Word at the Supreme level of parāvāc begins to whisper and stir toward manifestation, paśyantī is born. Paśyantī is the first stage of speech. She has been dubbed “The Visionary,” because at this point supreme consciousness experiences its desire to see the coming manifestation and its first intent to know. Consciousness is looking, seeing, and observing; perceiving the whole and not the parts. Subjective consciousness continues to rule, but the first hints toward objectivity now emerge. Consciousness, being aware of the inner archetypes, desires differentiation. Phonemes, words, and sentences and their eventual expression as the objective condition of manifestation evolve from this level of speech. As with the level before it, the universe would not exist without paśyantī. Speech at this level is inward, subtle, and indestructible. It is poised on the precipice of duality, but at this moment it is not yet divided into what expresses and what is expressed. That will come at a later stage. Paśyantī is a transition condition. She contains perfect undifferentiation and the dawn of differentiation. She holds the energy that will eventually enliven sequentiality, yet sequentiality remains entirely resorbed in her. Paśyantī is responsible for consciousness perceiving itself as something different from objectivity. She is both mobile and immovable. She can be
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attained by mental concentration. All forms are resorbed into her, all process is withdrawn within her, and she is nothing but light. While parāvāc is associated with the power of consciousness, paśyantī is associated with the power of will. Here, supreme consciousness, using its cosmic power Kundalini, which is one and the same as phonic energy, begins to bring forth the universe, and in fact, limits itself to the universe. At the human level, she brings forth awareness of the objective world and is associated with the Kundalini reaching the umbilical region of the body. Her sound is /i/, although it is not yet utterable. Instead, Word exists here as the energy patterns that will eventually generate phonemes. These phonemes are inseparable from phonic energy, the power of will and the power of cognition. At the Śiva level of paśyantī, the universe is being brought into being. At the human level, the objective world is being brought into being. There is a subtle vibration, a moment when consciousness moves toward manifestation of objects, desire, and intent. It is the first stirring of will toward objectivity. Barely separated from supreme Word, this is the first moment of knowledge, as the power of cognition intends or desires to know the object which is to be known. This desire or intent implies that knowledge already exists, at least in an outline form. Therefore, with paśyantī we have the beginning of manifestation within consciousness. This desire to know manifests in the individual intellect, but it is only a subtle murmur, an inner formulation that accompanies the desire for action. It is kinetic ideation and still remains at the subjective level. It is the moment behind an action or a thought construct. It is the inception of the apprehension of words which will eventually come to express such an act or thought. In paśyantī, the full awareness of thought exists, however, the thought construct is not yet gross and it remains at the junction between manifestation vs. resorption. At the precipice between becoming “that” or remaining united with “I,” objectivity is not yet separated from subjectivity at this subtle level of speech. Paśyantī is a plane of pure energy and pure sensation, pregnant with the ability to generate the incredible variation of diversity within the universe. She can be
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perceived as a primordial resonance, said to resemble the finest vibration of a bell. While sound is more perceptible, it is not yet particularized. This level of speech is associated with deep sleep. From this plane of pure energy that supports the initial vision, the initial desire to see and to manifest, the second level of speech arises. Madhyamā The third level of Word, and the second level of speech, is known as madhyamā, “The Intermediate.” Arising from parāvāc, she dwells between undifferentiated speech and manifest speech, hence, intermediate. Now, as the Kundalini energy rises to the level of the heart, the first level of duality manifests and sound becomes particularized, although it is still not uttered. The main role of the intermediate level is the mixing of vowels and consonants together into words and language, although they are not outwardly expressed. Instead it is inner speech, thought, not articulated speech. Madhyamā is associated with the inner organ (the brain), the intellect, the power of cognition and the dream state. She is a stage in between supreme silence and manifest speech. In the madhyamā stage, the division of the expressing and the expressed takes place, but they are equally superimposed on consciousness, so that they are not yet separate. Subjectivity and objectivity coexist, along with time and timelessness, the supreme nature and the non-supreme nature and the creative – that which expresses and the whole creation- that which has to be expressed. Here, the universe is born, born from Word. Words are superimposed to objects so that she is a plane of objectivity, even though the manifested world still rests in madhyamā. “Both word and its referent are so intimately associated that the one signifies the other. At the level of madhyamā, they are so identified with each other that one can denote the other (Singh, 1988, p. 121).” The expressing and the expressed intermingle, making human speech more efficient and allowing diversity to emerge from oneness or to return to it in madhyamā.

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In the madhyamā stage, individual consciousness arises. Cognition and analytical thinking are now possible as the mind becomes aware of speech. The mind is able to differentiate between the different sounds and words, using the power of the intellect, located in the highest portion of the inner organ. Humans have the power of cognition and action (articulate language), but discursive thought remains nonempirical in nature. Inner speech is only heard by the self and while there is no articulatory effort involved, the inner organs of speech must be used to utter them. When we think clearly in words and sentences, then we are in madhyamā. Silent mantra repetition also takes place in madhyamā. This level of speech is beyond the movement of the breath. Inner sounds may also arise here and should be considered the appearing of supreme consciousness within individual consciousness. Vaikharī The final stage of Word is termed vaikharī, “The Corporeal,” and is characterized by fully manifested speech. The Kundalini touches the throat chakra and reaches the face and the organs of speech. Now the expressing and the expressed are separated and duality, objectivity, and illusion reign. Non-supreme energy or awareness prevails in the empirical, limited world, linked with time. This stage includes everything that language consists of including phonemes, words, sentences, breath, organs of phonation, places of articulation of phonemes physically present in the body, the words of sacred and secular texts, and all things expressed and denoted. According to Vasugupta in the Spandakarikas, “When breath meets the places of articulation, the Corporeal Word appears, comprised of the fully achieved phonemes and linked to the movement of the breath of those who speak (Padoux, 1990, p. 217).” Fully manifested speech is the final stage of creation. Vaikharī brings with her all that has to be expressed. This includes images and representations belonging to conceptual thought, material objects, and the manifested universe, which Word brings into existence and words denote. She creates a level of speech and language along with the world, which can be known through that speech
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and language. She is precise, distinct phonetic sounds, not indeterminate sounds like environmental sounds, musical instruments and other perceptible sounds. She is linked to the breathing process, the body, and the waking state. She is said to exist in the root of the tongue. The spoken word arises from the will to speak; consequently the power of action predominates at this level of manifest expression, considered the lowest modality of consciousness. As with every level before it, vaikharī is grounded in the one and undifferentiated supreme Word (who is one with Absolute Consciousness) and is inseparable from it. She is the completion of a triadic process: Visionary>Intermediate> Corporeal. Timeless, continual, and unbroken, the process goes on uninterruptedly-and it is reversible. Vaikharī is present from parāvāc and never leaves it. “The underlying oneness remains, prevents an absolute and inseparable dualism, and stands for the basis as the validity of knowledge (Padoux, 1990, p. 212).” By apprehending the levels of Word and ascending to the most subtle level, a human being can know the Knower (Śiva). Manifest speech can take one away from the source of being or draw one closer to it, because it is inseparable from the source. Order of Sound Emanation The universe was brought into existence as Śiva projected into energy, fifty aspects of his energy. These fifty phonematic awarenesses, arising successively, apprehended as being different and dwelling all within him, emanated in a specific order. As he became aware, he brought them forth through the power of his Kundalini Śakti, and all of manifestation consists of and in them. Here is a general summary of the order of emanation of sound. 1. Absolute – prior to phonemes 2. Primordial sound vibration arises 3. Vowel “a” appears 4. Out of this, the rest of the vowels appear 5. Diphthongs appear
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6. Bindu appears 7. Consonants appear According to Kshemarāja, “Śiva brings about various classifications of the phonemes, which are sound-energy that precedes and gives rise to the objective world forming ‘that which is to be expressed’ (Padoux, p. 154).” Those classifications, each presided over by a divine energy, are the vowels, semivowels, consonants (gutturals, palatals, cerebrals, dentals, and labials), and spirants or fricatives. The entire universe is manifested through phonemes. Vowels have an outstanding position in the phonematic emanation of the universe. They are the seeds of Śiva, self-existent like Śiva, and are identical to him. Of all the vowels, three stand out; the short vowels “a,” “i,” and “u.” These vowels correspond to three fundamental Śiva energies. “A” is the supreme energy of consciousness and bliss. “I” is the power of will. “U” is cognition or awakening. In general, the sixteen vowels are lunar and the consonants are solar. More specifically, the short vowels are associated with sunbeams and the long vowels are linked to moonbeams. The vowels represent the nature of Śiva.

Romanized Sanskrit Vowel Pronunciation Guide from Jee, 1988 a ā i ī u ū as as as as as as a in America ā in father i in fill i in police u in full u in rude ri rī e ai o au as ri in merrily as ri in marine as e in prey as ai in aisle as o in stone as ou in house

As the vowels condense they bring consonants into being. Consonants, therefore, are subordinate to vowels and dependent on vowels. In fact, the Sanskrit consonants are always written with the letter “a” because they cannot exist independently of vowels. Beginning with the occlusives, followed by the gutturals, the semivowels, and the fricatives, consonants appear, manifesting with them the tattvas or
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36 aspects or principles of being. The consonants, therefore, represent Śakti, the creative power of Śiva. Tattvas of Limited Individual Experience According to Kripananda (1995), the tattvas or categories of being, are divided into those which are identified with the universal experience and those which are identified with the limited individual experience. Consonants and semivowels bring the tattvas of individual experience into being. Taking the last thirty-one tattvas in ascending order, they are divided into groups.    The five guttural consonants produce tattvas 32 through 36, which are the five gross elements: ether, air, fire, water, and earth. The five palatals produce tattvas 27 through 31, which are the five subtle elements: sound, touch, color, flavor, and odor. The five cerebrals bring forth tattvas 22 through 26, which are the five organs of action: the power of speaking, the power of procreation and sexual enjoyment, the power excretion, the power of handling, and the power of locomotion.  The five dentals bring forth tattvas 17 through 21, which are the five senses of perception: the power of hearing, the power of feeling by touch, the power of seeing, the power of tasting, and the power of smelling.  The five labials bring forth tattvas 12 through 16, which are mental operations and the limited individual: the inner sense or mind, the individual principle or ego, the intellect, prakriti (the stuff of the material universe experienced as object) and purusa (the individual soul experienced as subject).  The four semivowels give rise to tattvas 6 through 11, which are the five cloaks (so named because they cloak the Self from its true nature) and the veil of illusion (māyā). These are: limitation of omnipresence (necessity, space), limitation of eternal existence (time, sequence, temporal order),
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limitation of completeness (attachment, love for objects), limitation of omniscience (limited knowledge), limitation of omnipotence (determination, agency), and finally the veiling or obscuring force, māyā, is the 6th tattva. These tattvas make up the limited individual experience. Tattvas of Universal Experience The first five tattvas are extremely subtle and are known as the pure tattvas. These are the initial causes and states in the process of universal reflection. According to Jee (1988), the created universe is really the reflection of Lord Śiva. What we see as the world is the outcome of his reflection, of his own sweet will. As if we were looking in a holographic, concave mirror, creation appears to take place in reverse order from the lowest to the highest tattvas, not highest to lowest. We experience the lowest tattvas or reflections of his energy first, then the next lowest, and so on up to the highest tattvas. Although it was created highest to lowest, the principle of reflection makes us feel that the lowest have been reflected or created first. This reflection, our world, cannot be separated from its formal cause, the reflector. There is no other cause outside the mirror, there is only God consciousness, reflecting himself. If there were a separate mirror outside of God consciousness, it would not exist, because he has caused everything to exist through the reflection of his internal energies, the first five tattvas. The internal tattvas or energies of Lord Śiva are his most subtle and supreme. Through them he reflects the entire universe into being within himself. While these energies have been present in the lower tattvas, here they are the most pure. These energies or śaktis are: cit śakti, the energy of consciousness; ānanda sakti, the energy of bliss; icchā śakti, the energy of will; jñāna śakti, the energy of knowledge; and kriyā śakti, the energy of action. They are associated with the first sixteen vowels of the Sanskrit alphabet and as such, are associated with Śiva, remain contained within him and are not outgoing. All letters are reflected from these five energies or powers. Only one energy or letter predominates within each tattva, even though all five energies are present in each letter.
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Taking the first five tattvas in descending order of their energies or powers, the first and second tattvas, the primal two, are “eternal and mutually inseparable realities (Muktananda, 1979, p. 38).” The first tattva is the Śiva tattva, represented by the letter “a.” The predominant energy here is cit śakti, the pure “I” consciousness, beyond any objective content. The power of self-revelation (cit) is predominant in this static aspect of consciousness. In the second tattva, the Śakti tattva, ānanda śakti or the power of bliss is prominent. It is represented by the letter “ā.” The energies of “a/ā” are inseparable. “Where there is consciousness (cit) there is bliss (ānanda), and where there is bliss, there is consciousness (Jee, 1988, p. 17).” The universe has not taken place yet; consciousness still rests in its own power of bliss. Śakti, however, polarizes consciousness into subject or object because Śakti is the dynamic energy of Śiva. This is a state of perfect union, where Śiva and Śakti rest in supreme equipoise, full and complete, before manifestation of the world. The first two tattvas correspond to the parāvāc level of Word. The third and fourth letters, “i” and “ī” represent the power of the sweet will of God (icchā), which is predominant in the third tattva, Sadaśiva. The two letters signify the two forms of the power of will, unagitated and agitated, respectively. This agitation does not separate God from his own nature and he continues to reside in consciousness and bliss. At this point, the “I” experience remains more prominent than the “this” experience and consciousness is “I am this.” Now, with the fifth and sixth letters “u” and “ū,” something interesting happens. This is tattva number 4, Īśvara, where the energy of knowledge (jñāna) is predominant. Śiva now apprehends, “If I go forward, if I move onwards I may loose my own nature (Jee, 1988, p. 17).” With the “u” energy, the universe of existence is about to be created. It has not happened yet, but it is forthcoming. Add to this the “ū” energy, in which Lord Śiva becomes apprehensive about creation, fearing a loss or decrease in his cit and ānanda if he goes forward into creation. This apprehension prevents him from moving forward, it keeps him at a standstill. He remains as the first three tattvas, residing in his own consciousness and bliss and does not move into the world. The letters “ri,” “rī,” “li,” and “lī” represent the Supreme residing in his own nature. These
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vowels do not create anything. They represent the state in which Śiva rejects the universe, does not allow universal existence into his own nature, and in which he resides in his own nature forever. The manifesting of the universe stops completely as there is no thought of creating it. In tattva 4, “I” and “this” remain equally prominent, but consciousness is now “this am I.” Concurrently, “a” and “ā” do not recognize this apprehension. They are completely at ease and begin to create the universe in tattva number 5, suddha vidya. Not surprisingly, the power of action (kryia) is predominant in this final inward tattva. As “a” and “ā” create contact with “i” and “ī,” the letter “e” is created. Simultaneously, “a” and “ā” contact “e” and “ai” is created. When “a” and “ā” create contact with “u” and “ū,” “o” is created. Simultaneously, they contact “o” and “au” is created. Therefore, “e,” “ai,” “o,” and “au” represent the four states of action from “not vivid” to “most vivid,” respectively. The reflection of the whole universe takes place within these four states of action, although “au” is the primary reflection state because it is the most vivid. Both the subjective and the objective exist here. “I” and “this” are equally balanced: “this is this” or “I am I.”
Explanation of the Vowels from Singh, 1988 a denotes consciousness ā denotes bliss i denotes will to manifest, but still unaffected by objectivity ī denotes mastery. This is the state in will which is colored by objectivity u denotes power of knowledge ū denotes deficiency of knowledge the cause of objective appearance *r,r,Ị,Ī e ai o au am *ah denotes imperishable letter, not subject to change denotes indistinct power of activity denotes distinct power of activity denotes more distinct power of activity denotes most distinct power of activity denotes undivided knowledge of the universe denotes divine manifestation, “:”, two perpendicular dots. The lower dot, symbolizing Śakti, means that there is an expansion of an objective world. The upper dot, symbolizing Śiva, means that the entire universe rests in the I-consciousness of Śiva.

* some diacritical marks are missing

Through the final three levels of Word, the universe has now been created. As far as Śiva is concerned, nothing ever happened. He never moved. He remained in his
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Self, which is represented by the letter “m” with a dot over it. His consciousness and bliss was not diminished by one iota, even though the universe was created from his own being. The reflective nature of the universe is represented by the sixteenth letter of the alphabet, the letter “h” with a dot under it. It is also known as the colon symbol “:” with the two dots representing the principle of reflection. These dots are known as the śiva bindu and the śakti bindu. This symbol represents the dual process of expansion and retraction. Śakti represents the predominately expansive movement of manifestation and Śiva represents, predominately, the return movement from objective manifestation. Beyond the Śiva Tattva, which is the initial creative movement, is Paramaśiva, the Absolute. The final vowel is the letter “h” with a dot under it. This is the last letter that remains in the internal energies of Lord Śiva. By combining the first letter “a” and the last letter “ha,” a syllable is created that contains a continuum of all the letters that exist in between those two letters. After adding the “m” with the dot over it at the end, the mantra of Lord Śiva is created. By focusing on this mantra, ”aham,” one focuses on and calls forth the subtle inner nature inherent in every sentient and insentient being. The dot or bindu over or under a letter represents a “drop” of concentrated energy from which the emanation of sound begins through the power of Śiva. “This power [Word], Śiva’s energy, a primal sound-vibration, gradually condenses, and passing through an initial “resonance”, becomes a drop (bindu) of phonic energy, divides, and subsequently gives birth to the matrix of the phonemes (Mātrkā), then to the phonemes themselves, and to words (Padoux, 1990, p. 83).” Out of the subtle bindu, which divides into three, comes the Kundalini from which arise the phonemes, speech, the gods, the elements, and the empirical world. So speech comes before manifestation and objects. All of differentiated consciousness returns through bindu and becomes pure resonance once again. The subtle bindu often flashes in meditation as a point of white or red light. All letters, all possible combinations of sounds, all possible words, and all possible languages exist within it. It creates through the eternal union of Śiva and Śakti. It is
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prior to diversity, but diversity arises from it. Word manifests through this point of supreme, radiant light. It is in the bindu that the shift from phonic to spatial energy takes place. Sound goes through an isomorphic process and becomes a subtle image. Subtle sound now has corresponding visual symbolism. Pure light vibrates into sonic/phonic energy, which develops into a visual reference through bindu. The bindu produces several triads: sun, moon, fire; knower, knowing, known; emanation, maintenance, resorption; paśyantī, madhyamā, vaikharī (the three planes of speech); and will, knowledge, action. Each member of these triads is associated with a sound; “m” (with a dot/bindu under it), “u,” and “a.” These three letters create the syllable OM (M has a bindu under it), which is the primordial mantra of transcendental reality, the initial move to manifestation and the means to cosmic resorption. Graphically, the dot represents the lengthening and nasalization of the letter it is written over or under. The bindu is the lingering, subtle nasalization and resonance that travels upwards between the eyebrows and becomes one with Śiva, from which it cannot be separated. It is at once phonic energy, intense light, and a geometrical point. Grammar In addition to the levels of Word, grammar reflects the metaphysical truths of the Kashmir Shaivism philosophy as well. This philosophy postulates that the universe is of a triadic nature. It is often referred to as the Trika system, meaning three. The triad that comprises the universe is Śiva, Śakti, and nára (the human being). Without these three, “there is neither word, nor meaning, nor mental movement (Singh, 1988, p. 74).” This triad reflects the singular, dual, and plural nature of supreme consciousness and its manifestation of the world, which in turn, reflects the linguistic concepts of first, second, and third person. It is no accident that this grammatical concept exists in all languages. “One thing becomes dual, and after becoming dual, it becomes plural (Singh, 1988, p. 73).” In the Trika system, the plural is nára. In grammar, nára is known as the third person. It is the “it” reference, denoting difference and is associated with the state
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of vaikharī Nára is all objective phenomena from the earth tattva up the māyā tattva and is the nature of many. The third person is the lowest in the triad and it can mount to the higher levels. Third person may mount to second person and second person may mount to first person. Third person, however, cannot move directly to first person, Śiva. Nára represents the One that has become many. When there is a counterpart, the second person, Śakti, is apparent. She is the knowledge to be known. Śakti is “this,” the second person and the “you” reference. Second person corresponds to the madhyamā level of Word and includes tattvas three, four, and five. The second person may surrender to the first person, the Knower (Śiva), for final fulfillment. First person is the state of Śiva and includes tattvas one and two, Śiva and Śakti. First person exists when there is no other counterpart. It is the pre-eminent “I” which is independent of reference to anything else and corresponds to parāvāc. This “I” is not the limited “I” commonly associated with an individual’s personality. It is the supreme “I,” which is conscious but has no consciousness of difference. It shines inwardly by its own light. It is light and the consciousness of that light. It is the celebration of light. It is whole, complete, undivided, unconditioned, and integrated. It is immanent in the universe and cannot be escaped from. It is abundant delight and Self-delight, which never vanishes. It is non-moving limpidity, beyond all appearance. It is the essence of absolute freedom. It is the union of the male and the female principle. All sound is resorbed into it. It is non-dual. Śiva, as the first person, represents the Knower. The first person represents the highest state and is the ultimate goal of nára. From first, to second, to third person the preceding state acquires the succeeding state. “There is absorption of the lower in the higher and higher because it is the higher that contains the truth of the lower (Sing, 1988, p. 74).” The triad of first, second, and third person is the creation of the highest Lord. The three exist in the one and the one exists in the three. An individual may only enter into the state of oneness. Supreme consciousness cannot be diminished and it cannot be augmented, it may only be entered.

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The Secret of Question and Answer Because Word exists within human beings, individuals are able to communicate from the lowest to the highest level for the purpose of experiencing Self-consciousness. This is done through the process of question and answer. According to Kashmir Shaivism, the use of question and answer is the “secret” way to identify oneself with the supreme Self. Abinavagupta (1988) makes the point that through the process of question and answer, God himself assumes the role of both the teacher and the pupil. As the pupil, God asks questions from the levels of paśyantī and madhyamā. As the teacher, God answers questions using all the stages of Word. The most important questions are those that bring an individual into union with divine consciousness. The goal is to achieve unification of the empirical consciousness with the divine, universal consciousness in this very body. Because of the levels of Word, it is possible for individuals to talk to God and for God to answer! A person wishing to experience all levels of consciousness may turn inside and ask directly how to accomplish this achievement. This is what the Shaivite texts have recorded. They are accounts of questions and answers as they surfaced from the level of supreme consciousness. The authors don’t take credit for the answers, or the questions for that matter, and purport that they arise from a divine dialogue between Śiva and Śakti. Furthermore, the process is actually a divine monologue using the principles of self-reflection for self-recollection. Since Śiva, Śakti, and nára are Self contained, communication between the three is possible through Word. Through Śakti, Śiva reveals his nature to nára, the bound soul. Over time, the ignorance of the individual is transformed and purified through the recollection of divine knowledge, which is, in truth, God remembering himself. Eventually, this type of question and answer compels a person into his or her highest level of reality.

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Mysterious Mantra When a supreme emanation completes its journey down to the non-supreme level of uttered speech, it can go no lower. “Once entirely produced, the cosmos can only end in cosmic resorption, by returning to its divine source (Padoux, 1990, p. 305).” How human beings return to their divine source is the subject of much debate. In the context of this paper, however, it is a well-studied human experience, investigated by the philosophers of Kashmir Shaivism. There are many methods to assist an adept who is determined to be “liberated” from human ignorance. The underlying process includes apprehending the background of undivided consciousness that lies behind words. In order to return to it, one must identify with the prediscursive primal impulse of consciousness, which takes self-exertion by the student and the bestowal of divine grace from the absolute stage of Word. Divine/subtle energy is required to return to the source, because the initial stage of Word or speech is not manifested or physical, it is metaphysical or divine. Only one whose conscious awareness already exists at this absolute level, a true Guru, can initiate and purify the student. Grace is required, because śaktīpat dīkśa (the descent of Grace), which is how God awakens his Kundalini through the Guru, so that it retraces its steps in the process of emanation and grants a seeker liberation from the cycle of birth and death, is his to give. When the awakened, divine Kundalini completes its journey back to Śiva, it can go no higher. One method used by a Guru in the initiation and purification process is mantra. A mantra is a specific phonematic emanation that has the power to awaken a seeker’s Kundalini, initiating him or her into the process of resorption. In this way, a manifested sound is used to return the limited self to the supreme, unmanifested and silent Self. In order to be effective the mantra must be chaitanya; alive with the force of pure and supreme consciousness. Carrying the fully unfolded power of the Śakti of the Guru’s lineage, the mantra, which has taken the Guru to Self-realization, imparts that energy into the seeker through its syllables, initiating the return to the source.

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Just as everything in the universe exists on a supreme and mundane level, so too does mantra have a twofold nature. On the one hand, mantra is the most focused, condensed, unified and pure “I” consciousness that an individual may enter into. On the other hand, mantra is a sound, syllable, word or group of syllables in its phonetic form, belonging to the realm of differentiation and duality. A mantra from the mundane level (with certain qualifications) can be used by a transmigratory soul to reach the level of omniscience. Not surprisingly, all mantras are not equal. For the purposes of this paper, “Mantras are…a form of metaphysically creative and effective speech, and, especially, a means to take their user to the source of speech: to its primordial level, which is the Godhead (Padoux, 1990, p. 372).” The root of the word mantra is MAN, which means “to ponder over, to ruminate mentally (Singh, 1988, p. 85).” The suffix, TRA, means instruments or objects. A mantra, therefore, is an instrument of thought. Not discursive or conceptual thought used for the purpose of differentiating, but intense, effective, one-pointed thought, a concentrated form of speech endowed with special, spiritual potency and efficacy. Its special potency comes from the root of the suffix, TRA, which means to save or protect. Only the highest form of mantra, a supreme or conscious mantra will be soul saving, will bear fruit. The phonemes of a mantra that have the promise of liberation must be endowed with the energy of divine consciousness and bliss, Śiva. Otherwise, they are like common speech, drawing the utterer toward the world of differentiation. The purpose of a mantra is to orient the user within, toward their primary, transcendental source of all speech and manifestation. The promise of a chaitanya mantra is the union of Śiva and Śakti within a human being. The conscious mantra cannot be separated from the Guru, who in turn, cannot be separated from Śiva. By focusing intently on the mantra, one attains union with the deity of the mantra, the Guru. Since the Guru is one with Śiva, the seeker attains union with Śiva as well. The mind, seeking its own source through one who has already reached that source, becomes mantra, becomes identical with the Highest Reality. “The Guru who has attained Self-realization can alone help the aspirant in acquiring it (Singh, 1988, p. 83).” “The Guru is the means (Muktananda, 1975, p. 74).” The Guru’s mantra leads the way to liberation.
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Mantra, as a form of speech, differs from language in that it is not bound by linguistic conventions, is not associated with objects, but is oriented toward the origin of Word and energy. Mantras may be articulated or unarticulated, but japa, silent mantra repetition is said to be superior to audible repetition. As Abhinava expressed, “Even more, these phonic seeds concentrated in a mantra, which have nothing to do with the conventions of language and which cause consciousness to vibrate, are means to reach the latter. The fullness found in these clusters of phonic seeds is due to the fact that they do not convey any empirical meaning, they consist of a vibration of consciousness turning away from the external world, that they are self-luminous and associated with the awakening or the suppression of breath (Padoux, 1990, p. 377).” Mantras made of supreme consciousness are a means to return to supreme consciousness. Meditation While the scope of this paper is limited to the topic of sound and its role in the manifestation of the universe and the return of the soul to its source, the relationship of sound to meditation is important to understand. This is because the practice of meditation is specifically designed to bring about the perception or awareness of the higher Self. Through meditation, one who’s Kundalini has been awakened experiences the five kinds of experients contained within the human body. These particular vehicles include the external self, the prana as the self, the subtle body (which carries the soul from one state of existence to another), the inner self, and the supreme Self. All these experients, with the exception of the supreme Self, are made of phonemes. The supreme Self contains all the letters within, in their seed form and, thus, is soundless sound. In meditation, the grosser energies of sound within an individual’s manifested consciousness are resorbed into the more subtle energies of sound within the inner, supreme, unmanifested consciousness. The individual sits quietly, enthralled as Kundalini makes her journey, transforming the mind into mantra, so that the awareness of the supreme Self may be realized.

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In meditation, sound takes one from the dual level of consciousness to the nondual level of consciousness, to the supreme Self. This is a level of pure consciousness, beyond awareness of separation, agitation, or disturbance. The supreme Self is also referred to as the transcendental Self. It can be seen during meditation (or even during the waking state) as a point of brilliant blue light, the size of a sesame seed. When this light expands to fill an individual’s awareness during meditation, he or she experiences the all-pervasive love, compassion, light, and oneness that is the nature of the supreme Self. Body-consciousness may be lost as the gentle, blue light and subtle awareness of supreme consciousness overtakes the grosser feeling of the manifested body. There is no higher experience, no higher awareness than this. For this seeker, “The wheel is broken, the Desireless attained. The river bed is dry, no water flows. No more will the broken wheel roll. This is the end of sorrow (Kripananda, 1995, p. 124).” The sound that allows one to mount the steps to the supreme Self is the mantra. The sound energy within the mantra awakens the meditation energy, the Kundalini. The Kundalini, which is made of sound, makes the ascent to the supreme Self within a seeker. The meditator learns to witness the Kundalini, for in reality, it is the Kundalini which does all the evolutionary work within the human being. The solid matter of a human being cannot penetrate into the subtle consciousness of the supreme Self. Only another subtle energy, i.e. the Kundalini, can do that. Kundalini is the vehicle through which Śiva is attained. Through Kundalini, the steps are retraced and all sound energies within the body are purified, so that one may enter into the pure consciousness of the supreme Self. Sound, in the form of mantra, conveyed through the Kundalini, plays a vital role in the homecoming of a soul to its origin. The goal of mediation and the ultimate goal of existence are to experience the supreme Self and to remain eternally in the awareness of that Self. The model for remaining in the Śiva state was established in the fourth tattva. By staying within himself, Śiva has set the precedent for manifested souls to return to the same state of being, to the state of union of Śiva and Śakti, and to remain there. “Enough of useless efforts like reading and concentrating on books, exposition, discussion, etc. This heavy burden should certainly be abandoned. One should then sit
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quietly. God’s will alone would save one who is to be saved. It is His merciful will that makes one depend on such a thought (Padoux, 1990, p. 340).” God’s will is manifested through letters. At the supreme level of consciousness, the Knower “shows itself as made of phonemes (Singh, 1988).” Phonemes have unlimited power but they also limit an individual. It is letters, words, and sentences that are to be purified on the path to Self-realization. They are purified through the subtle sound of grace, the sound of mantra, repeated silently in meditation. By sitting quietly and focusing on the mantra, one allows the sound of grace to flourish within the body and work its mysterious alchemy of turning base metal into gold, i.e. turning matter into spirit. Conclusions Just as a human being expresses himself and attains his desires, God expresses himself and attains the universe. We are literally “expressions” of God. We are expressed through all four levels of Word. As we awaken to all the stages of Word, we awaken to our full expression. Until then, our expression, our evolution, is incomplete. To be fully expressed is to be fully evolved. Full expression includes the experience of supreme silence, stillness, peace, joy, and love. Full expression is our birthright. As human beings evolve spiritually, they return to their inner source of consciousness; a tremendous mass of love, awareness, and power (energy). By doing so, they live in a state of blissful, peaceful delight. They feel at rest, even in the midst of their busy lives. Walking through a crowded airport feels like walking on a cloud, effortless. With evolution, individuals discover that having a humble heart is more natural than a having an anxious heart and that having a pure mind is more valuable than having pure gold. A continuous, love-filled state of being is entirely possible for people who are ready to evolve. Many have achieved it and countless others are in the process of evolving into a life with this perception. They are returning to their inner consciousness by fighting fire with fire; using sound to enter silence, using thoughts to reach stillness, and using firm concentration to “go with the flow.” They are

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experiencing the precepts of an ancient philosophical system known as Kashmir Shaivism and are living as true, fully conscious, human beings. According to the philosophy of Kashmir Shaivism, the entire world is literally created by letters. The letters manifest as Śiva, an immense force of undifferentiated light, consciousness and bliss, wills them to exist through his creative power, Śakti. As the capital letters spiral downward into manifestation, they create all of the differentiated things that exist. Since the letters belong to and are permeated by Śiva, so too are all the things in all the categories that have been created, or expressed by him as well. Without letters, the manifested world would not exist, mankind would not exist, and speech would not exist. A soul, which is a spark of God, must go through the process of involution before it can go on to evolution. Through phonemic projection, God manifests himself as a human being, loses awareness of himself in the state of objectivity, suffers, and ultimately finds himself again. It is a game of cosmic hide and seek. Everything human beings require, in order to return to their source, is built into their systems. Word, which makes a person an objective being, is utilized to rediscover one’s subjective Self. In order to do this, a seeker must retrace his or her steps from this world made of sound to the inner world void of sound. In order to begin the process of evolution or resorption, divine initiation must take place. God is always looking for someone who is ready to return to the source, because this is a part of his play and he wants to play. Those who have already returned to the source and have been so designated are known as Śáktipat Gurus. Divine grace functions through them, so they are an essential part of the play. They can awaken the divine Word, the Kundalini, within a seeker. Thus begins the return and resorption of a seeker’s own limited consciousness into their own, inherent divine Selfconsciousness, which is ultimately the same for all. Gurus often use mantras, which are divinely empowered sounds and syllables, to awaken the Kundalini. The Kundalini is the fifty phonematic emanations of Śiva and it dwells in a subtle channel along the spine. When the vibratory power of a mantra starts the Kundalini moving, the process of purifying his awareness of the sounds that have
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projected him into manifestation begins in the seeker. By intently focusing the mind on the mantra in the heart, the prana, or subtle breath, stills in the subtle channel. The seeker then hears true mantra, the unstruck sound, and focusing on it, knows he is approaching the abode of Śiva, the subtle heart. As the prana quiets, the sounds of manifestation quiet as well, resulting in the seeker “gaining power” over the sounds. He has gained power over them by being able to quiet them. Sounds are objects; therefore, the seeker has gained power over objects as well. This is because as the prana and sound stills, the seeker has the experience of leaving the manifested, objective state of being and entering the subjective state of being. That is, he literally sees objects as if he were looking in a mirror, as if he were the subject of everything. The world becomes a reflection of himself as he “assimilates” everything into his own consciousness and being, when in actuality; his small selfconsciousness is being assimilated by his greater Self-consciousness. He sees the world as it really is, the reflection of Śiva. He becomes Self-absorbed. Concurrently, bliss begins to swell along his spine and within his body. He feels as if he is being embraced by love. Bliss is arising because he is leaving the expression of vaikharī, madhyamā, and paśyantī behind. He is coming closer to parāvāc, which is a mass of bliss. She is also supremely quiet, still, and beyond manifest sound. The seeker may now extract and experience the essence of every manifest thing he is aware of, which is bliss. Thus, he experiences the ground of all things and if strong enough and fearless enough, he will not get pulled out of his state of intently inwardly focused energy and being. He will not experience an object or a person as only that object or person; he will experience them as his own, subjective supreme Self. He will not get caught in the drama of the objects or people, he will remain within himself, hence; he has power over them. Not the power to control them, but the power to not let others control his own state of consciousness with their actions and words. He is able to remain in his own inner bliss, regardless of circumstances. Because he is approaching the source of all light, the primal level of expression, he will be entering a state of beatitude at the same time. To help himself retain the subjective awareness, the inner quiet, and the bliss he has uncovered, he develops an
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attitude of gentle worship and humility. It is the state of beatitude that he worships, because this is his own, true Self, his initial expression. He becomes quiet, full, and content within his own being, and gives up the illusion of becoming anything other than the Self, for in reality, there is nothing greater. He remains eternally conscious and full of bliss even after leaving his body and does not get projected into the reflection again, because he finally has power over letters. It is imperative that an individual overcome the power represented in letters, because they trap humans at the level of mayā. Through grace, a seeker eventually realizes that the expressed, manifest world comes from sentences, sentences come from words, words come from letters and letters come from the supreme “I.” We can use letters in the form of mantras to transcend manifest speech and escape mayā. The urge to go inside and re-discover our primal “I” is hard-wired into us. The precedent has been set. With effort, enthusiasm, and repetition, repetition, repetition, we turn our energy back inside again and again through mantra repetition and meditation. There is no substitute for meditation on the mantra, for in meditation one sits in the sound of grace. We stay within to transcend our small self and to reach the silence of our great Self. Having the levels of Word within, affords an individual the opportunity to name and call forth the qualities of the ultimate Self through words. It is possible to experience these exquisite qualities by merely asking. In this way, a seeker cooperates with their evolution by asking for and receiving the qualities they are ultimately intended to become. This is the most supreme use of language for it brings the clearest emanation or expression of Śiva into manifestation within a human being. Any language may be used, because the bindu contains all languages. Seeking and finding God, as well as asking for and receiving grace, are possible because of Word. By taking part in the evolution process, our lives are filled with grace. Grace permeates our lives and helps us to make the transition from sound to silence, from thoughts to stillness, and from manifested being to unmanifested being. We don’t have to give up anything except our limited concepts. We gain eternal consciousness and bliss. As we venture to return to the source of our expression, we begin to realize our
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unity with the universe and we discover there is nothing to fear. Claim your birthright. Ask for grace and return to the source now.

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Cathryn Roberts

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References 1. Padoux, André, 1990. Vāc. The concept of the word in selected hindu tantras, Sri Satguru Publications, Delhi, India. Initially written as a doctoral thesis, this book on the origins of Word is tremendous in scope and significance. It is highly technical and abundant with hundreds of references on the subject, making it a veritable gold mine for anyone interested in exploring this subject more deeply. Padoux is careful to convey the mystery surrounding the subject, while at the same time expounding on the ancient teachings with scholarly language. This is not a casual, beginning read. It is recommended for jñāna yogis, or those who have a deep desire to understand the power of sound in creation. 2. Pandit, B.N., 2004. Īśvara-pratyabhijñā Kārikā of Utpaladeva. Verses on the recognition of the lord. Muktabodha Indological Research Institute, New Delhi. This is an English translation of four “books” originally written in 10th century AD in Kashmir. It is a foundational text and considered to be a work of foremost importance in non-dual Śaivism. Utpaladeva is masterful as he refutes Buddhist and Vedāntin doctrine with logic and inference on the topics of divine knowledge, divine creative action, scriptural knowledge, and divine principles. The book includes a glossary of Sanskrit terms and a good bibliography. It is recommended for anyone on the path, especially people who like to know the intellectual arguments behind spiritual truths and teachings. 3. Singh, Jaideva, 1981. Vijñānabhairava or divine consciousness. A treasury of 112 types of yoga, Indological Publishers & Booksellers, Delhi. This collection of yoga practices in the non-dual tradition was written by Kshemarāja. It is an extremely significant text and it was already well known in the 8th century AD. It is filled with ritual practices, mantras, and mystical practices. It is a manual for anyone wanting to experience union with the divinity within. It contains Sanskrit verses, a Romanized Sanskrit translation and an English translation with commentary by Kshemarāja and Jaideva Singh. It is recommended for those who have had some experience with mediation and who have had Śáktipat. 4. Singh, Jaideva, 1982. Pratyabhijñāhrdayam. The secret of Self-recognition, Indological Publishers & Booksellers, Delhi. The English translation of a major book written by Kshemarāja for those who had had Śáktipat, but weren’t intelligent enough to understand the teachings and arguments in the Īśvara-Pratyabhijñā Kārikā. The title of the book means “re-cognition” and it was written to help an individual to recognize his real nature. Kshemarāja writes 20 sūtras or teachings that succinctly describe ultimate reality and the spiritual disciplines by which one may attain “at-one-ment” with that reality.

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5. Singh, Jaideva, 1988. Abhinavagupta, A trident of wisdom. Translation of Parātrīśikā Vivarana. State University of New York Press, Albany, NY. This book is a major work translating into English the highly technical writings of Abhinavagupta, a sage that lived hundreds of years ago. Mr. Singh, translator of many Shaivite texts, has done a tremendous job with this work, originally written for more advanced seekers. The book contains the original Sanskrit text. It also includes commentary on Kashmir Shaivism written hundreds of years ago 6. Singh, Jaideva, 1988. Śiva sūtras. The yoga of supreme identity. Motilal Banarsidass, Delhi, India. This English translation of the seventy-seven Śiva Sūtras, believed to be revealed directly from Śiva to the sage Vasugupta, contains the commentary Vimarśinī written by Kshemarāja. This is the foundational scripture for the Kashmir Shaivism philosophy. It has been said that one can attain Self-realization by contemplating and understanding these sūtras. This book is extremely esoteric. By including Kshemarāja’s commentary as well as his own, Singh assists the reader in understanding the meaning of the verses. Without knowledge of Romanized Sanskrit, some copy will be lost to the reader, but that should not stop one from delving into these ancient truths that will certainly ring true to anyone who contemplates them. 7. Swami Kripananda, 1995. The sacred power, A seekers guide to Kundalini, SYDA Foundation, South Fallsburg, NY. Swami Kripananda writes knowledgeably about the concept of Kundalini from her discipleship with great Siddhas, her own scriptural studies, and from personal experience. She describes how the Kundalini comes into being and how it brings all of creation into being with it. She explains the esoteric descriptions of Kundalini in plain language. This short book is valuable for beginning as well as seasoned yogis and for all levels of students of human consciousness. 8. Swami Lakshman Jee, 1988. Kashmir shaivism. The secret supreme. State University of New York Press, Albany, NY. This book is a compilation of lectures given to westerners in the early 1970’s by the noted Master of the Shaivite tradition, Swami Lakshman Jee. As such, it is a good beginning text that covers a broad range of Kashmir Shaivism principles. Swami Jee explains Sanskrit terms in an easy to understand way, but there is no glossary of terms for quick referencing. This text is technical but conversational at the same time. It is recommended for anyone wanting to “get their feet wet.” 9. Swami Muktananda, 1980. Kundalini Stavah, SYDA Foundation, South Fallsburg, NY. This booklet is the hymn to the Kundalini. It is printed in Sanskrit with an English translation. The hymn is sung in ashrams and by seekers who want the grace of the Kundalini to enter their lives. A recording of this hymn is also available from the SYDA Foundation.
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10. Swami Muktananda, 1975. Introduction to kashmir shaivism. Gurudev Siddha Peeth, Ganeshpuri, India. Swami Muktananda, a Siddha Guru of our modern times, wrote this short introduction to the philosophy of Kashmir Shaivism. With the gift of clearness, succinctness, and directness, he deftly summarizes the main tenets of his own path. This is a good source for a quick, overall understanding of the Shaivite beliefs and a source for the names of its main authors and their texts. It is recommended for all beginners on the path to Self-realization.

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Cathryn Roberts

Return to the Source

About the author: Cathryn Roberts has over thirty years experience as a speechlanguage pathologist and seventeen years of experience as a meditator. Since receiving divine initiation from her Guru through the mantra Om Namah Shivaya in 1988, she has become fascinated by the process of the evolution of human consciousness. She lives with her husband, John, in Anchorage, Alaska.

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