Techniques of Transmission in Kashmir Saivism

by Lilian Silburn

Based on the works of Abhinavagupta (AD 950–1016)

Siva seated, statue

11. The Absence of Any Path (Anapaya)

The term anupaya designates the supreme conscious light, the incomparable and single Reality. In this case, since the negative prefix a takes its meaning from total negation, there is nothing one can say:

"In the absence of any path, how can one know that this Reality escapes all paths? And about those to whom it shines spontaneously, in truth, what can be said?"

But since this term can mean a very narrow path (alpopaya), or access to reality without any means, we can say a little something about it.

On this level, there is no paradox, no divine play, no return, no unveiling, no liberation. When all is consciousness, what can reveal Consciousness?

Immaculate beings, incited by the Teacher, immediately recognize "the essential kingdom as being incomparable and eternal knowledge."

To this path Abhinavagupta dedicates his second chapter of the Tantraloka: [a] "Siva does not manifest because of the liberating paths; on the contrary, it is they who shine with His brilliance." (3)

[a. ]

"The quadruple form mentioned – the three paths and the non-path – that is assumed by pure Consciousness is none other than the very nature of the Omnipresent, and this Omnipresent is always surging forth." (4)

"Since he shines in countless ways, some are absorbed in him gradually and others all at once." (5)

Very rare are those who circumvent all paths.

"...Immaculate beings consecrate themselves to the inaccessible bhairavian [b] Consciousness, exempt from all paths." (7)

[b. Manifestation of Shiva associated with annihilation. ]

"Activity and yoga practices cannot serve as a path, for Consciousness is not born from activity. It is the reverse. Activity proceeds from consciousness."

Independent of conscious energy, activity is nothing.

"Conscious Reality shines from its own brilliance. Therefore, of what value are logical processes for making it known? If it did not shine thus, the universe, deprived of light, could not reveal itself, since it would be unconscious." (10)

"All paths, be they internal or external, depend upon Consciousness. How, then, could they reveal its access?" (11)

"0 Lord! Your Reality is everywhere present and immediately evident. The ways by which one undertakes to find You can never uncover you." (Stanza cited by the commentator.)

"Internal path, external path, all is nothing but the marvelous innate Essence of Siva, his pure and simple luminous nature." (15)

Not only concentration and other means of realization, but also sensations and feelings are Siva. "Who else could live in this supreme Non-duality made of pure Light, in which means and end have no other bond but Light itself?"

In it, all is identified: Siva, the energy and the individual:

"Duality, differentiation, non-differentiation, thus the Lord reveals himself, Conscious Light. In him, happiness, sadness, bondage, salvation, consciousness, and unconsciousness are only synonyms designating the one Reality, just as the terms jug and jar designate the same object." (18-19)

And yet:

"(This supreme kingdom) includes neither existence, nonexistence, nor duality, for it is beyond the reach of language. It remains firm on the footpath of the inexpressible. It lives in the energy but is free of it." (33)

Those who live in the non-path perceive a single taste in all things, that of the Self:

"The circle of things, while remaining present in them, is dissolved on all sides in the Bhairavian fire of Consciousness." (35)

"For these beings, happiness, sorrow, fear, anguish, and dualistic thoughts melt completely in the single, undifferentiated, and supreme absorption." (36)

Endowed with the hatchet that cuts to pieces all the restrictions of the treatises, their only task is to accord grace." (38)

This inaccessible Reality, free from all means, has as its single characteristic the immediate power of direct transmission from Teacher to disciple. [30]

All endnotes appear in a separate page: endnotes.htm   Brief endnotes are reproduced in the text as footnotes. Where suggested, click on the blue link to see the full endnote on the Endnotes page.

[See Endnote 30 for a quote from Meister Eckhart.]

The disciple whose heart is very pure easily recognizes the Teacher who, immersed in supreme Consciousness, will allow him to attain full Consciousness without means of approach. He renders homage to this Consciousness, being careful to avoid making it an object of knowledge or adoration. He is the beneficiary of the most intense grace.

But in the non-path, in the strict meaning of the term beyond all grace, he participates in the divine glory in which his Teacher lives. He is free then, though not "saved", for "in the undifferentiated and in the absence of a path, who then is liberated, where, and how?" (III. 273)

Several of Abhinavagupta's stanzas summarize his teachings on the Absolute, Incomparable Reality, the All towards which there is no means of access:

"From the perspective of Absolute Reality, transmigration does not exist. How, then, can there be question about shackles for living beings? And since this "free Being has never been enchained, efforts to free him are in vain."

"The illusion of a shadow of an imaginary demon, or a rope mistaken for a serpent produces such unfounded confusion. Therefore, take nothing, leave nothing; deeply established within yourself, just as you are, happily pass the time." (2)

"In the Inexpressible, what discord can there be, and how might one differentiate the adored, the adorer, and the process of adoration? And in truth, for whom and in what manner can there be progress? Who would enter (into the Self) by degrees?"

"Oh Marvelous Onel This illusion, although it be differentiated, is but Consciousness-without-Second. Ah! All is very pure Essence, selfevident. Thus, forget your useless concerns." (3)

"When Consciousness arises such that one has immediate contact with one's self, (at this time) real and unreal, the eternal and the transitory, that which is tainted by illusion and that which is purity of the Self – all appears radiant in the mirror of Consciousness."

"Having recognized all that in the light of the Essence, You whose grandeur is founded in your intimate experience, enjoy your universal power." (8)


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