Vijñānabhairava-tantra (Shloka 107)

Vijñānabhairava-tantra 107 Omnipresence

Summary of discussion on Vijnana-bhairava-tantra made by Guru Yogi Matsyendranath and Rev. John Dupuche

स्ववद् अन्यशरीरेऽपि संवित्तिमनुभावयेत्।
अपेक्षां स्वशरीरस्य त्यक्त्वा व्यापी दिनैर् भवेत्॥ १०७॥

svavad anyaśarīre’pi saṁvittimanubhāvayet |
apekṣāṁ svaśarīrasya tyaktvā vyāpī dinair bhavet || 107 ||

“Leaving aside any consideration of his own body, he should experience the consciousness present in another’s body. In a matter of days he will become all-pervading.”

This remarkable śloka develops the theme of mindfulness. The awareness involved here is not of an object or situation or of one’s own mind, but consciousness of another’s consciousness. The practitioner experiences (anubhāvayet) another person’s state of mind (saṁvittim).

This requires on the part of the practitioner a self-emptying, a detachment (tyaktvā) from one’s own limited human condition, one’s own desires and revulsions, self-concept, and anxieties, which are signified by the word ‘body’ (śarīra). This purification allows a clear vision of the other in the deepest part of their being, namely their consciousness, which is not ethereal but embodied.

By freedom we perceive freedom. Clear vision alone can fully perceive the truth of another. Thus the detachment from one’s own ‘body’ enables the practitioner to perceive the consciousness in another’s ‘body’ (anyaśarīre) in all its limitations. One is not limited by the limitations of another.

As a result, the practitioner becomes omnipresent (vyāpī) in a matter of days (dinair). The perception penetrates everywhere, into vegetation as well as into blooded creatures, the ‘mobile and immobile’, even into the darkest recesses.

This is ultimately possible because there is in fact one consciousness. For those who are fully enlightened, there is no distinction between this awareness and that awareness. There is one mind. This is in keeping with the Gospel of St John 1:4 ‘the Word is the Light that enlightens all people’. Or again, according to Kashmir Shaivism, there is one Śiva who is ultimate consciousness. The Qur’an speaks of Allah breathing his breath into human beings, so that the one divine breath unites them all.

This practice involves becoming aware not only of the deepest truth of others but also of their limited consciousness, indeed their impure consciousness. Only the pure can perceive the impure, whereas impurity is self-defeating because it clouds perception. The awareness of the other’s consciousness comes gently and smoothly, for it is understanding, compassionate and sensitive. And by its presence, the other is assuaged and calmed and satisfied. It has a healing effect.

Vijñānabhairava-tantra (Shloka 42)

Vijñānabhairava-tantra 42

Summary of discussion on Vijnana-bhairava-tantra made by Guru Yogi Matsyendranath and Rev. John Dupuche

piṅdamantrasya sarvasya sthūlavarṇakrameṇa tu |
ardhendubindunādāntaśūnyoccārād bhavec chivaḥ || 42 ||

“On the other hand, by [noting) in due order the ‘gross’ phonemes of any piṅdamantra, [and ] by rising through the stages ‘half-moon’, ‘dot’, ‘end of sound’, ‘void’,  one becomes Śiva.”

In the normal recitation of praṇava (AUM), according to Kashmir Shaivism, the practitioner goes through twelve stages, namely a, u, m, bindu, ardhacandra, nirodhini,  nāda, nādānta, sakti,  vyāpinī, samanā, unmanā. The first two are the vowels A and U followed by M whose nasalization is shown by the sign ँ . This sign consists of two parts, the crescent shape, ardhendu (literally ‘half-moon’) and the dot, bindu. The termination of the process of sounding is nādānta (‘end of sound’). The whole process ends in unmanā or, equivalently, in śūnya. This moving upwards from the audible to the inaudible, from limited sound to the unlimited void, is called uccāra.

By mentioning only some of the twelve stages, namely ardhendu-bindu-nādānta-śūnya the śloka is referring to all.

This particular śloka 42 considers, not a mantra which is pronounceable, but an unpronouncable mantra, namely one which consists only of consonants, which are given the description ‘gross’. This is called piṅdamantra, since it consists of a ‘mass’ (piṅda) of sound. An example of a piṅdamantra is H, R, Kṣ, M, L, V, Y, Ṇ, Ūṁ which is called navātma.  It cannot be pronounced but it can be thought. It is not the object of contemplation if contemplation means focusing on the mantra, for the intention is to move through the twelve stages to reach the ultimate state, which is Śiva.

The śloka 42 comes as the conclusion of a series on mantra and sound: namely ślokas 36 and 37 on bindu, śloka 38 on anāhata (‘unstruck’ or spontaneous sound), śloka 39 on AUM, 40 on the beginning or end of a phoneme, śloka 41 on the sound of a plucked string. Then śloka 43 proceeds on to techniques concerned with the void (śūnya), which is also mentioned in 42. In this way, śloka 42 forms a fitting conclusion to one series and an introduction to the next.

The technique, therefore, it is firstly to acknowledge the unpronouncable mantra and from this position to go through the various stages to the void, at which point the practitioner becomes identified with Śiva who is the void and the source of all manifestation.

This practice forms a useful corrective in case the practitioner should stay tied to a pronouncable mantra and not proceed on to silence. This śloka emphasizes that the purpose of reciting a mantra is to go beyond it to the state of Siva himself.  In other words, the purpose of the audible is to reach silence, the purpose of the visible is to reach the formless, since silence and emptiness are the origin of all and contain all.

The technique starts with āṇavopāya and finishes with śāmbhavopāya.