1. MAYAVIN – SHIVA, THE MAGICIAN
If Paramashiva, the divine, unique consciousness and bliss is in fact our inner, essential substance, why can’t we perceive Him as such and instead we are overwhelmed by fear, illusion, pain, and dominated by body and ego?
This aspect of our life appears because Shiva is in the same time the Magician, who through His creative, “deceiving” force (Maya) hides Himself from Himself, through Himself, just as the spider wraps itself in its own net. Thus, Shiva unfolds His prodigious game of chaining and freedom.
Consequently, He perceives himself as divided in countless beings, created through self-oblivion, because giving birth to multiplicity He hides his uniqueness.
The mystic Laleshvari says: “There is no “I”, or you, no object of contemplation or contemplation itself, there is only the Creator of the universe, who is hidden inside the hearts of all beings, apparently lost in oblivion. If the blind (ignorant) cannot discover Him, the wise on the contrary, are ecstatically merged with Him.”
Even though in Shiva, liberating knowledge, absolute bliss, and universal love are one, in the inner being of the practitioner will predominate a certain attitude: the spiritual intuition in the jnana–yogi, the contemplative absorption in the raja-yogi, and the all-mighty love in the bhakta-yogi.
We will examine the ascension to Shiva from these three points of view: meditation and refinement of the consciousness, the total perception of the Pure Beatific Bliss, and finally through love. These are the three essential ways of approaching Shiva, hidden behind the cosmic illusion of Maya.
The divine conscious light (prakasha) has no color, as it transcends all colors. Nonetheless, when it is projected at the level of the individual consciousness, it becomes colored.
From the moment when we try to understand it through our intellect, it becomes fragmented into numerous aspects: “although omnipresent, the Self does not reflect into the imperfect and instable mirror of thoughts, as into this mirror reflect only the objects of the senses.” says Abhinavagupta.
Any experience regarding Shiva, based on intellectual reflection is consequently deceiving. Even in some forms of cosmic consciousness (samadhi), the practitioner cannot perceive God as an object to know, but in and through eternity. He is the Supreme Subject.
The profound understanding of his essence can be achieved only by “melting” into Shiva, only through total union with Him.
The wise Abhinavagupta illustrates in another manner the ineffable essence of the Divine:
“One cannot distinguish the raindrops on the background of the sky, but once they are looked upon the background of a tree or the roof of a palace they become visible.
In the same way the Supreme Bhairava (God in His transcendent aspect) cannot be perceived through the experiences of the individual limited consciousness. If the association with a certain time, or place, or form, or movement, or activity determines a limitation of the individual consciousness when experiencing the state of Bhairava, this association cannot shadow the genuine state of Bhairava.” Consequently, in order to know Shiva you have to become one with Him.
Shiva’s endless force manifests most strongly through the central channel of the body, Sushumna Nadi. This subtle channel controls and sustains the spiritual evolution of a person, making it possible for that person to experience transcendence.
This is the “straight and fast road” connecting this world to all the subtle worlds. Shiva’s endless power represents in fact the mysterious, penetrating power of the undifferentiated consciousness. Shiva is always the ecstatic force of spiritual evolution into transcendence.
In the end, the whole manifested world is reabsorbed into transcendence, because in reality this is the purpose of all yogic practices. Transcendence is going beyond all phenomenal limitations, and implies overcoming any boundaries imposed by duality.
It is the true purpose of human evolution, and represents the destiny of any being. The functions of creation and sustenance of Brahma and Vishnu are merely phenomenal and dualist forces if they are not backed up by Shiva’s transcendent force. Brahma’s endless creative power gives life to all beings, and Vishnu’s sustaining power takes care of this life.
Shiva’s infinite transcendent force is like a door opening towards a place from where we can contemplate the vanity of this world. This is the link between the physical plane and the spiritual one, and leads to a profound understanding of the true nature of existence.
On the highest level, transcendence is a blissful experience of the soul, on all levels, in which the practitioner is placed beyond death and vanity.