Unit VII. Supreme Bindu
1. Supreme Bindu
3. Emptiness vs Form
6. Divine Mother
7. The Guru
8. Implications for Practice
Materials needed: Journal, drawing paper & colors
Light and Ecstasy (optional)
The Biology of Transcendence
Shakti Yoga CD
Conscious Mind and Life
The Biology of Transcendence, Pt. I
Tuning the Mind
The Supreme Bindu is one of three major bindus
that are found in the head. We have already met the second bindu at
the sixth chakra. The parabindu was found at the Mahanada level, and
this one is located in conjunction with Samani.
This bindu is said to be the first cause of all. It is composed
of the Void (Shiva) surrounded by Maya (Shakti). This means that, in
some way, the power of consciousness is limiting the infinite space of the
void because it forms a circumference around it or around some part of it.
Genesis 1 indicates that creation begins with a separation between
heaven and earth. The earth, then, is formless and void with darkness
upon the face of the deep. The deep is not defined but perhaps refers
to water since the spirit of God moves upon the face of the water.
It is not until the third verse that God says, “Let there be Light.”
Since time immemorial, the void has been a symbol for the unknown and the
unconscious, or that of which we are not conscious. It is the abyss
out of which everything comes. The Absolute Reality.
So we have consciousness as Shiva united with the power of consciousness
as Shakti as the first cause of everything. Then, since Shakti is both
Maya and Mind, we have a seed that is consciousness limited by mind.
Samani is the level of dissolution that is associated with the Supreme
Bindu. Samani is an interesting term. With an “i” ending, it
has feminine connotations. With an “a” ending, it would be masculine.
Both forms are found in the literature with a slight predominance of “i”
endings. “Sa” means “with” and “man” means thinking or mind.
Therefore, this level has a mind component. “Mani” with a dot under
the “n” means “gem.” So we have the same interpretation dilemma here
as we did with Manipitha. Are we discussing mind or a gem, or both
perhaps. One could think of mind as a gem?
As we go further into the teachings, we find Samani defined as a point with
mind plus prana (life). So this gives us a clue as to its meaning.
What we have here is a level of consciousness with both mind and life.
Since it is also defined as the Shakti-tattva, we know that it is the power
of consciousness that has both mind and life. At this point the energy
is unmanifested. As the Shakti-tattva, it is referred to as the second
cause, the first cause being the Supreme Bindu which is the topic of this
Now, let us put this together. You will recall that Visarga, which
is another name for Shakti, is the two feet of the guru on the Manipitha
altar. The two feet of the guru are mind and prana, or life.
Shakti is also the power of consciousness; and, as such, must be both mind
and prana/life since she surrounds the Supreme Bindu and she is also defined
as a level of consciousness with both mind and life in our definition of
Samani. Also we have seen earlier that mind is the power of consciousness,
so it all fits together. The picture we get is that of Consciousness
surrounded by mind and life which give it definition and working potential.
We are also told that Shakti is Maya. Maya is defined as the form of
the formless. So the circumference of this bindu is the first limitation
of Consciousness by form, that form being a combination of mind and life.
We could call this duo Purusa and Prakrti to indicate a second level of differentiation.
Just to round this out, the Shiva-tattva is the 25th tattva and, as such,
is Cit, formless consciousness. The Shakti-tattva is the 24th tattva
and is the causal form body as Sat: Being, form and life. The union
of the two is the 26th tattva – the Supreme Bindu. This is called Tattvatita
which is the fifth state of consciousness. In Kashmir Shaivism there
is a different ordering of tattvas which adds 10 more tattvas to further
refine the upper levels. In that schemata, the 24th tattva is Prakrti
and the 25th is Purusa or Samani what would be, in this case, Samana.
However, in terms of function, we are talking about the same thing.
The Buddhist ideology follows the same pattern of two emerging from one.
The two are Prajna which is feminine and represents wisdom and Upaya which
is masculine and stands for compassion. If we combine compassion with
maitri (loving kindness), we have Love. Wisdom and Compassion taken
together are Bodhicitta which is Enlightened Consciousness or Liberation.
Get a large piece of paper and see if you can diagram the relationships of
the Yogic and Buddhist relationships at the Samani level of consciousness.
Add any other information you may have from other traditions. It could
be interesting to try to draw a mandala to represent these ideas.
Seed of the Universe
The supreme Bindu is the seed of the universe. We could think of this
as the conception between the parents in our procreation model. Woodroffe
(1973) refers to the gram, a canaka seed which has two halves, as the model
for the Supreme Bindu. This is two in one. So now we have the
first division into mind and life that we discovered above. Visualize
a circle with two parts somewhat like the yin/yang symbol which represents
the same thing. This reminds us of the polarization that takes place
early in creation and of the function of consciousness as the ground for
the activity of its powers. Positive and negative electromagnetism.
Vibration. Movement. Potential for change.
Out of this union comes Light, a great deal of Light, so much that we could
not look directly at it. St. John 1 brings a new concept to the idea
of creation: the Word. Word is one translation of Logos the term associated
with creation in the New Testament. Logos also means Life as Light
and essence. In Genesis 1, the third step is the creation of Light.
This is known in Sanskrit as Jyotir and/or Tejas (heat). In the myth,
the union of our two parents results in their desire to manifest and, consequently,
sparks of Light going out in all directions. We have 360 rays divided
into sun (106), moon (136), and fire (118). These you will recognize
as the kamakala triangle. And the numbers plus the role of sun in producing
day and night suggests that we now have the potential for Time and the sequencing
Light is often associated with Truth as well as all of the other positive
outcomes we hope for in life while darkness is presumed to be evil because
it is unknown and misunderstood. With Light, we are able to see – to
understand. So, from this point, the light motif persists throughout
all the levels below this one.
Light is connected to consciousness also because it has connotations of coming
awake. We wake up in the morning when the sun comes up, and our conscious
life begins for the day. When one is “born again,” we say, “S/he saw
the Light.” The body of an enlightened person is suffused with Divine
Light that can be seen by other people, often as a halo about the head.
A Self-realized person is said to be enlightened. So Light is a very
powerful symbol worth keeping in mind. If you think about it, you can
see why people in earlier civilizations worshipped the sun.
The supreme Bindu is the source of this Light, so it seems to be a product
of the conscious interactions of mind and life if we stay with our model.
Think about this for a minute.
What would it mean to lead a conscious life with a conscious mind?
Obviously, we do have moments when one or the other is conscious, or self-conscious,
but you have to admit that most of the time we run on automatic pilot. This
is so important that one of the primary practices in Buddhism is that of
mindfulness. This means deliberately holding your attention consciously
on whatever you are doing at the moment without letting your mind wander.
In meditation you are doing the same thing. If this idea is projected
into life as a whole, it would mean staying in the Now moment all the time
and never letting your mind or attention wander. It could even extend
into sleep. Later in this guidebook you will have an opportunity to
read about what it feels like to lose the self-conscious mind and the self-center
which forces one to live with conscious mindfulness. You may not want
to go there, but it is an option.
Exercise: Conscious Mind and Life
Select a day to practice when there is not going to be much pressure on you.
It would help to be alone. Begin your day with the Divine Light Invocation
(Appendix A) and renew it whenever your resolve wavers throughout the day.
Hold an image of yourself as a body of Light moving through the house
and engaging in your activities. See it extending out from your hands
as you do your work and moving into the items you have to deal with.
See it projecting from your third eye into everyone you meet or with whom
you have interactions blessing them as well as yourself. When you become
aware that you are conscious of something, acknowledge that it is not your
consciousness but Spirit’s. Allow yourself to feel the
Light coming through you as Spirit’s Light, not ego’s. Practice casting
it upon everything you see or experience as if it were a miner’s headlamp
fastened to your head. You may bless your garden, your children, your
spouse, your friends, your animals, your home, everything. In the evening,
sit for meditation and express your gratitude for the Light that enables
you to see and to feel divine. You might enjoy reviewing Light and Ecstasy by Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan (1998) for more details and ideas for practice.
Light is a subtle energy and we feel it as well as see it. That is
why fire is one of the manifestations of the Greater Light. In its
physical form it comes to us from the sun which is why earlier cultures worshipped
it. It is reflected from the moon in a more serene form.
Emptiness vs Form
Aksobhya is the Wisdom Buddha who stands on the cusp of creation and, like
the god Janus, looks in two directions. Or, rather, It reflects light
in two directions. Its function is mirroring which, incidently, is
symbolized by water. In creation, or involution, light as consciousness
is projected outwards as form. In dissolution, or evolution, that same
light peers into the void of dissolution. In creation, it is the first
step in unfoldment of forms. In dissolution, it becomes the integration
of opposites. Think of the mirror as the Mind. Mirrors must be clean in order to reflect light, so the mind must
be pure and clear in order for this function to work. All of this suggests
that, to return to the Source, one must dissolve the Mind in Light, i.e.,
go into the Light. This can be done by using the Divine Light Invocation.
Also note that the implication is that with the Mind we can comprehend both
the emptiness and the universe of forms. However, it can only be done
with the clarity of the Higher mind.
Let us look at mind and life in this framework, since they are the
first evolutes of consciousness and polarity, in order to see what we can
learn about manifestation and differentiation
The Universal Mind, which is what is under discussion here, is the precursor
of all the creations that follow it. What we have been looking at so
far are some of the stages it goes through to produce the universe and life
as we know it. We also assume that it is echoed in the mind and mental
functions of human beings. If so, we might be able to learn more about
it by studying human minds.
Joseph Chilton Pearce (2004) published a book called The Biology of Tramscendence
in which he describes the evolution of the human brain and then goes on to
discuss the developmental implications for transcendence and survival.
The brain has four major divisions of which the first three correspond to
our triad of knowing (neo-cortex), feeling (limbic system) and doing (reptilian
brain). The prefrontal cortex interacts with and governs these three
and appears to be an historically recent development found primarily in human
What was especially interesting to me was the distinction that can be made
between the combination of intellect and ego in the left hemisphere, and
the intelligence that is a joint function of the heart, limbic system,
right hemisphere and prefrontal lobes of the brain. Pearce (2004, p.
36) notes that there are very few direct connections between these two systems
as a whole. However, there are some linkages though the functioning
of the left hemisphere is not as wholistic as the more complex system associated
with the right hemisphere. Relatively speaking the left hemisphere
is pretty isolated which might account for its perception that it is the
big chief. Remember that the left hemisphere is the location of the
rational, analytic mind and sequential information processing, i.e., manas.
The right hemisphere handles information simultaneously and symbolically.
It is the location of artistic abilities and spatial orientation and roughly
corresponds to the buddhi mind.
A closer look at the processes involved in creativity and in spiritual
transformations indicates that the real action is in the more complex system
connected to the heart and limbic systems. Pearce’s discussion of how
these events occur and break through like a bolt of lightning is riveting.
What is most encouraging is that a passionate focus on finding the answers
connects us to the vast field of knowledge or wisdom through the heart’s
electromagnetic resonance with larger fields of information. Pert (1997),
Pearsall (1998) and McTaggart (2002) would probably all agree with this.
These insights are then relayed to the left hemisphere via the corpus callosum;
but, since the right hemisphere does not speak the same language as the left,
it downloads as a wholistic burst of meaning that must then be translated
into conventional terminolgy in order to be communicated to others.
And this download cannot occur when the left hemisphere or little mind is
busy about its affairs but only when it is inactive as in reverie, dozing,
meditating, or sleeping. The comparative magnitudes of these two systems
resembles that of a computer vs the Internet, and there may be other correlative
functions as well.
The implications of all this are that we can learn how to prepare ourselves
to receive the information we need from sources “outside” ourselves.
I use quotation marks around “outside” because in reality we are already
part of the whole field though the little mind is not tuned in to it.
We can prepare the mind to achieve the resonant frequency and then relax
it to allow the downloading to occur.
This is all related to resonant frequencies of vibration. When Shakti
enclosed a portion of the void, she put an insulator between us and the whole
field of vibration probably as protection from the high powered frequencies.
But the membrane appears to be permeable under the right conditions.
Manas Mind. Mind is the basis of dualism
according to Dzogchen (Norbu, 1996, p. 98). This is echoed by Govinda
(1982) when he says that a fundamental principle is that “. . thinking is
making” (p. 135). This is especially true when working with mantras
as we have seen. In addition, the firing of neurons in the brain is
simply “on” and “off,” and some systems in the brain are arranged hierarchially,
so they lend themselves to categorical information processing (Pribram, 1971).
It is necessary to make a distinction between the Universal, luminous Mind
and the ordinary, working mind of everyday life. The Universal Mind
is the mind of the Supreme Bindu. Its counterparts in our lives are
Manas, the intellect, and Buddhi, the discriminative and creative mind, i.e.,
Antahkarana. The Universal Mind radiates consciousness like a gem sends
out fiery light.
The ordinary mind that is conditioned by society as we grow up is the one
that veils our reality and is the cause of both bondage and liberation.
So what can we do about that? Norbu (1996) says that the mind is like
a reflection in a mirror. If we enter the mirror’s capacity to reflect,
it will no longer be dualistic but we will find ourselves in the condition
of wisdom instead. That is a state of presence – our primordial essence.
The mirror is that part of ourselves that can look both ways and “see” both
emptiness and form. By “see” I mean experience both. It takes
practice, but it is possible to experience both at the same time. Initially,
we alternate back and forth between them as we come and go in and out of
samadhi. Then, gradually, we are able to maintain the liberated state
for longer and longer periods of time until, eventually, we can remain in
it at will. Finally, the rational mind takes on the status of a useful
tool which is employed only when it is needed. The implications for
practice are obvious.
Practice: Tuning the Mind
Find a CD or tape of Shakti Yoga recorded by Russill Paul available at www.therelaxationcompany.com
or call 800-788-6670. This CD contains “Om Namah Shivaaya, Devi (Shakti)
mantras, Bija mantras for the chakras, Tantric mantras, and Swara Yoga (meditation
on the seven primary musical intervals) in which the tonic symbolizes the
mother and the fifth the father.
Listen to the whole CD first to see which mantras speak to you. Then
either sit for meditation or lie down with earphones on or position your
head between the speakers and listen to one mantra chanting along with it.
When it is finished, turn off the player and allow yourself to go into deeper
meditation. When you come out of that notice how your body and mind
feel, especially your mind. Make notes in your journal. Continue
this practice on other occasions. You can either focus on one mantra
to explore how far it can take you [which I recommend] or use different ones
for different practices. Usually a mantra requires extensive practice
on a regular basis in order to give up its secrets.
Exercise: The Biology of Transcendence
Secure a copy of The Biology of Transcendence by Pearce (2004) and
read the Introduction and Part One on “Nature’s Transcendent Biology” which
will give you more details on his ideas discussed above. Give some
thought to how these discussions pertain to your own life and make some notes
in your journal.
Objectification. Finally, on the subject
of mind, we need to look at what this means on a wholistic level. Woodroffe
(1973) says that the dual aspect of single consciousness is called the Siva-Sakti-Tattva,
and it is composed of the transcendental changeless aspect and the creative
changing aspect. This is experienced as the nirvikalpa state in which
there is no distinction of “This” and “That” or of “I” and “This.”
Shakti is the negative aspect of this pair. [Note: The Sanskrit spelling
omits the "h" because the initial "s" before a vowel in that language is
pronounced "sh." I have been using the Anglicized spelling for clarity
The first thing that happens is that Shakti
. . negates Herself as the object of experience, leaving the Siva conscious-
ness as a mere
“I,” “not looking toward another”. . This is a state of mere
(Prakāśa-mātra) to which Sakti, who is called
presents Herself, but now with a distinction of “I” and “This”
as yet held together as part of
one self. At this point, the first incipient stage
of dualism, there is the first transformation of consciousness. .”
(Woodroffe, 1973, p. 33)
“Prakāśa” means manifestation of what is not manifest. And “Vimarśa” is another name for Shakti. Think of Shiva as “I” and Shakti as “This.”
This passage reminds me of the first time my son rode off down the
hill on his tricycle without looking back. There is an element of independence
in it. And it looks very much like the first incidence of self-consciousness
in the Divine Consciousness. What we have here is the first separation.
Such a separation is essential in order for an individual identity to develop.
Soon after birth, the infant perceives that it is no longer part of the mother
(cf. Mahler, 1975). And not much later, the child finds that it has
to cope with being alone in its crib without the source of nurturance available
for a time. There are now two beings.
So, what we have here is the separation of one into two as the first transformation
of consciousness. This is followed by three more stages in which first
the “This” is emphasized, then the “I” is emphasized and, then, in the third
by emphasis on both equally. After that, “. . Maya severs the united
consciousness so that the object is seen as other than the self and then
as split up into the multitudinous objects of the universe” (Woodroffe, 1973,
p. 33). [In this process, we find the five top tattvas when the count
is 36 of them.]
In this account, we find an exploration of what it means to be separate.
It is like an infant in its crib playing with a mobile kicking it with its
feet and watching what happens. And, in fact, what is happening is
that the child is learning what is its own body and what is not. So
a kind of self-definition seems to be going on. It takes some time
and experimentation to discover what is “me” and what is the rest of the
world. Woodroffe (1973) explains Shakti as
. . that state of active Consciousness. . in which the “I” or illuminating aspect
of Consciousness identifies
itself with the total “This.” It subjectifies the
“This,” thereby becoming a point (Bindu) of consciousness with it. When
Consciousness apprehends an
object as different from Itself, It sees that object
as extended in space.
But when that object is completely subjectified, it is
experienced as an unextended point. This is the universe-experience of the
Lord-Experiencer as Bindu. (p. 34)
What this looks like is that Shakti identified Herself as a separate entity
and then turned around and engaged in union with Shiva, but now as an independent
entity. This would make a good model for our return to the Source.
We have spent a lifetime viewing ourselves as separate individuals.
Now, we are called to downplay or control that identity in order to
share the Enlightened Consciousness.
Each person must make an independent decision about whether or not to do this.
So, to summarize, we have Mind as conscious awareness or self-consciousness,
a feeding back upon itself of consciousness. It is the power of consciousness
able to look at consciousness as the larger entity. It has an identity
component, but it is not an individual identity yet, merely the pattern for
The other aspect of Shakti is Life. We all take it for granted, but
have you ever asked yourself what it really is and where it comes from –
where it goes at death?
An example of the process described above with respect to gaining information
from the larger field is what I experienced in trying to figure out what
life is. First I made a list of all the things I know about life.
Then I searched my library for books that might have some clues, and I read
the relevant sections in them and took some notes. These came to a
head when I found a section in The Body Electric (Becker & Selden (1985) that explains the processes required for an entity to be called living.
There are three main ones: 1) ability to do information processing, 2) regeneration,
and 3) rhythm – defined as cyclic activity tuned to circadian rhythms.
These three criteria are met by semiconducting crystals which are piezoelectric
[pressure], pyroelectric [fire] and photoelectric [light] a very interesting
set of characteristics given our context. Three other characteristics
are: 4) a genetic system using DNA or RNA, 5) sexuality/reproduction,
and 6) right and left-handed molecules, one or the other but not both (referring
to their electrical charges).
The authors then go on to explain how life might have originated on earth
way back when. And they explain the development of nervous systems
beginning with a crystalline photocell (p. 260). The electromagnetic
details were fascinating, but too complex for me to try to explain here.
The gist of my story is what happened next.
As I was dropping off to sleep last night, I was pondering the question of
how I was going to explain life to you. As I became drowsy, I “saw”
that life in this context is the whole objectification/separation process.
That means that Life, expressed as Prana in the division of the power of
consciousness into Mind and Prana, is a prototype of the entire biological
schema. It is the procreation process itself.
Prana. Here is what Woodroffe (1973) has
to say about prana. Prana holds the gross and subtle bodies together
and vitalizes them [through breathing]. Prana evolves from active energy
in the subtle body. [Recall that the subtle body is composed of energy
(prana) and two levels of mind (manas and buddhi.] Individual prana
is a manifestation in all breathing creatures of the creative, sustaining
activity of Brahman represented by Kundalini. Prana is the life duration
of all. Life is not a vayu though prana and its five-fold functions
are sometimes called vayu. Prana as vitality is a common function of
the mind and senses, both sensory and motor which result in body motion.
Life, then, is a resultant of the various concurrent activities of other
principles or forces in the organism. Vedantists see prana as a separate,
independent principle and “material” form assumed by Consciousness (cf. our
model of the Supreme Bindu). It is believed to be unconscious [i.e.,
is an object of consciousness]. Prana is an homogeneous, undivided
whole which permeates the whole body, has no specialized organs and it ensouls
the body as its inner self. Pranas are involuntary, reflex actions.
Atman (Higher Self, Witness Self, the Real I, Pure Consciousness within)
gives life to earth organisms through terrestrial prana which is one manifestation
of the energy from Shakti.
Vayu, on the other hand, is a manifestationof life
that is the self-begotten, subtle, invisible, all-pervading, divine energy
of eternal life. It determines the birth, growth, and decay of all
organisms. It radiates through the body as nerve force instantly in
currents. It maintains equilibrium in the root principles of the body
(dosas and dhatus). It is known in its bodily aspect as prana, the
universal force of vital activity. There are ten functions of vayu,
five of which are primary:
1. Breathing – called prana. This is the force of respiration,
but not the physical breath which is a gross body function. Prana on
the earth plane is created and sustained by the sun, solar breath.
The solar sun is the manifestation of the Inner Spiritual Sun [Supreme Bindu].
It is the counterpart in humans of the Siva-Sakti-Tattva – the soul
of the universe (p. 77).
2. Apana – downward breath which pulls against prana. It governs excretion. Its function is rejection.
3. Samana – kindles the body fire, governs digestion. Its function is assimilation.
4. Vyana – diffused breathing throughout the body. It causes
division and diffusion and resists disintegration. It holds the body
together in all its parts. Its function is distribution.
5. Udana – ascending vayu, upward breathing in the throat. Its function is utterance.
Prana is generally conceived of as the force that sustains life in the body.
It is a vibrating field of subtle energy and, as such, is the vehicle of
Consciousness. We have met most of its forms already. Vayus are
subtle energies that move throughout the body as needed for various functions.
Svaras are patterns of flow of the life force that are carried on the vehicle
of the breath. Nadiis are subtle energy currents that move the vayus.
The three main ones are Ida, Pingala and Susumna. Chakras are subtle
energy centers, tattvas are subtle elements, and dalas are subtle brain centers.
It has long been known in Yoga that the breath is capable of uniting the
body and mind. Pranayama consists of practices to do this and is used
in conjunction with Hatha Yoga to train the mind and to become conscious
of every part of the bodymind. Svarodaya consists of practices to gain
conscious control over prana and the mind with specific kinds of breathing.
Svara Yoga establishes a particular pattern of breath flow for a specific
time or activity such as a certain event in daily life or even the dying
process. It is also used to explore the chakra system. One needs
a teacher to explore the esoteric forms of these practices.
Exercise: Subtle Energies
Read chapter 2 in Kundalini Vidya (Harrigan, 2002) on The Subtle Body.
As you do so, think about how her explanations refer to life as you know
it. What are the interactions between mind and life as served by the
breath? Is the breath life itself? If so, why do you think so?
If not, why not? What is life? Is there life without a breathing
body? Without a mind? Is there a mind without life? Is
one more important than the other?
Write a reflective paper on life and the mind.
Hamsapitha is the place of prana in our system, and it bears the guru’s footprint
[Mind + Prana]. It seems to be synonymous with the Soma Chakra, the
12-petalled lotus. the twelve petals are Ham + Sa X 6.
In other words, this is the Ham in the apex of the A-Ka-Tha triangle plus
Visarga which is the Ksa and Lla in the other two corners. We already
know that Visarga is the power of consciousness and Ham is consciousness
itself. In the Serpent Power (Woodroffe, 1973), the Hamsapitha represents
Purusa and Prakrti, so we are back to our original twosome. Since it
is the guru’s footprint, it is composed of mind and life.
We have been discussing unity all along because that is what the Supreme
Bindu is symbolic of. But there are some other interpretations of what
unity means that we can add to our collection to give it more depth of understanding.
Here are a few that seem to be occurring at the same level of consciousness.
Bodhicitta is Enlightened Consciousness. It is the result of the union
of life and knowledge which leads to radiation or Light. Govinda (1982) says
that life is blind without the power of conscious awareness, and that the
power of knowledge is the poisonous intellect without the unifying primordial
force of life to temper it.
Where, however, these two forces [knowledge and life] co-operate,
penetrating and compensating each other, there arises the sacred flame
of the enlightened mind (bodhi-citta), which radiates light as well as
warmth, and in which knowledge grows into living wisdom and the blind
urge of existence and unrestrained passion into the power of universal love.
So, here we have our parents giving rise to Love. The “Yoga of the
Inner Fire” is a series of practices that can lead to “. . a state of inner
unity and completeness in which all dormant forces and qualities of our being
are concentrated and integrated like the rays of the sun in the focus
of a lens” (Govinda, 1982, p. 165). This refers us back to the
mirror and the Light. The symbol of perfect integration is the flaming
drop (bindu) which, in addition to Light, has all the qualities of fire such
as warmth, purification, fusion, radiation, transfiguration, etc. Its
seed mantra is Hūm.
Govinda also says that an Enlightened One combines both sides of reality,
the physical as well as the mental and spiritual, including the creative primordial
power of life and the luminous, all-penetrating power of knowledge. Also
that life and knowledge lead to radiation and Bodhicitta the latter of which
is a joining of knowledge (prajna) and compassion (karuna). The only
difference from what we have been discussing is that, in Buddhism, the active
and passive roles are reversed. The masculine Karuna is active and
the feminine Prajna is passive. Notice, however, that, in both cases,
knowledge is seen to be passive while life and love are active principles.
Later on, Govinda (1982) says that, in the process of “breaking through”
to universal consciousness, intuitive knowledge and spontaneous feeling
are “merged into an inseparable union” (p. 198). We will return to
“breaking through” in the next unit. However, notice the combination
of knowing and feeling linked together once again. Amitabha is connected
with both the life aspect of breath as well as with the knowledge aspect
of mantric sound that leads to the distinguishing Wisdom of Inner Vision.
Another Wisdom Buddha, Ratnasambhava, symbolizes life and love. In
this role, we have a union based on the knowledge of non-duality plus an
emphasis on the equality of all beings. Note that the word used is
“beings,” not human beings, so we are talking about all life forms and possibly
all forms because they all vibrate. The wisdom of Equality destroys
the object differentiation of the world which leads to the subject as living
being. In talking about "Rinzai’s Fourfold Contemplation," Govinda
In the Wisdom of the Great Mirror we destroy the subject (and the subjective
conception of the world)
in favour of the object (the objective ‘suchness’);
in the Wisdom of Equality we destroy the object (the separating differenti-
ation of the outer world
of appearance) in favour of the subject (the living
being); in the analytical
Wisdom of Inner Vision we destroy the subject and
object (in the final experience of sunyata); and in the All-Accomplishing
Wisdom we neither destroy
the subject nor the object, i.e., we have reached
that ultimate freedom,
in which we, like the Buddha after his enlightenment,
can return into the
world for the benefit of all living beings, and this without
danger to ourselves,
because we do not cling any more to the world. (p. 264)
If you are canny, you will notice that the subject referred to here is the
“I” and the object is the “This” of Shakti’s first movements toward objectification
only here we have a description of the return trip, i.e., dissolution.
That paragraph bears some intensive reflection if you are seeking an “how-to.”
Also, please note that the end result is assumed to be a return to
help others in the world. This is the Bodhisattva role. Maitri
(loving kindness) plus Karuna (compassion) leads to the urge to give, and
Ratnasambhava is the figure who nurtures and feeds, a symbol of abundance,
truly a Divine Mother image. This is One who has feeling for others,
an inner participation and identification with all that lives. As such,
Ratnasambhava transforms the feeling skandha.
Ratnasambhava’s symbol, called (guess what?) maņi, is the three jewels which
represent the three vessels of enlightenment: Buddha (the Enlightened one),
the Dharma (Truth), and the Sangha (community of those on the path).
I once thought of this as “I am the One,” “I know it,” and “Everyone
else is too.” Consciousness is the precious jewel. Maņi is the
prima materia of the human mind, the faculty of higher consciousness.
As cintamaņi it is a wish-granting jewel. It later came to be
symbolized by the vajra or Diamond sceptre, the highest spiritual power.
In any case, we have another triad here. See if you can fit it into
the overall schema.
In Christianity, unity consciousness is equated with union with God the Father.
Jesus, as the Christ, came into the world to show us how to live the life
of the Divine One in a body in the world. His teachings paralleled
those others presented here including the triadic unity of God the Father,
Christ the son, and the Holy Ghost. The purest source of Jesus’ original
teachings is probably the Gnostic Gospels. There is also evidence
in Tibet (Bock, 1995; Connelly & Landsberg, 2004; Palmer, 2001) that
Jesus traveled to the far east to study with the gurus who were then in bodies
there. He also studied in Egypt as a young boy and adolescent.
In the Bible, the “Gospel of St. John” gives us the rendition that
is closest to the mystical teachings. It is essential that we remember
that the events presented in the Bible do not need to be historically
factual. It is the symbolism of them that is crucial just as that is
true of all other spiritual traditions. The book of “Revelations,”
also by St. John, is a good case in point. In fact, there is one commentary
(Pryse, 1910) that interprets “Revelations” as a treatise on the seven chakras.
Swami Radha also viewed that book as a symbolic treasure.
The main point to remember about union is that it is a state in which all
the aspects of dualism have been overcome, and the initiators of it are in
a condition of serenity and peace however temporary that might be.
And lest you think the journey is over, there is still a way to go to reach
the pinnacle of Liberation. We still have a few guides who have traveled
that territory to help us along. But that is a story for the following
Remember the creative pattern of: One leads to two which leads to three to
seven and thence to multitudes: 1 –> 2 –> 3 –> 7 –> many?
We have already examined the triads in the preceding levels of dissolution,
but at this level we find a triad that bridges the duo and the rest of the
triads. It is SatCitAnanda. This is so because we are still with
the Supreme Bindu, but SatCitAnanda connects it to the actual acts of creation.
SatCitAnanda means Being, Consciousness and Bliss. You will recognize
Being as Shakti as Life and Mind, Cit as Shiva or Pure Consciousness, and
their relationship as Ananda or unconditional Love otherwise known as bliss.
These three concepts can be translated into any of the triads such as Sun,
Moon and Fire; Light, Love and Life; Mind, Voice and Body; Essence, Energy
and Nature; Presence, Movement and Calm; Sattva, Rajas and Tamas; and the
Kayas: Dharmakaya, Sambhogakaya and Nirmanakaya, not necessarily in these
Sat means Being or Presence. As represented by Shakti, this Being
would be self-aware, alive and possessed of a functional mind. It would
have all the characteristics and functions we discussed in the section on
Emptiness and Form. And, as such, it would be the forerunner of the
universe and all life on earth.
Cit means Pure Consciousness. As such, it is represented by Shiva,
Brahman, Buddha, the Atman, The Ma or anusvara of Bindu, and the Sun.
As Cosmic Intelligence, it is Truth and Light. This aspect is awake
and aware of what is going on, but is believed to be inactive serving as
a grounded pole for the activities of the Power of Consciousness. For
us to experience this dimension of the triad, we must enter nirvikalpa samadhi
which is formless, vast and dark because it is a part of the Void.
Consciousness is in all life and holds the body together while supporting
the tattvas. In itself, it is non-dual.
Ananda is the bliss of unconditional Love. It is represented by Amrita
the nectar and joy of the union of the Supreme Bindu. It has a counterpart
in human experience when samadhi releases endorphins in the nervous system.
That is called Maithuna. If we include Ratnasambhava in our theory,
we would be able to add Love to this mix.
Nirvana-Kala. This is the part of
the Bindu that is in a state of absorption or nirvana. This means that
all awareness is withdrawn into the center, and there is little or no contact
with outside reality. Nirvana-Kala is associated with the Tattva-jnana
or spiritual wisdom which is granted upon occasion usually in connection
with samadhi. Nityananda or pure consciousness is within Nirvana-Kala.
Samadhi. There are two forms of samadhi relevant to this level: 1) Savikalpa which is accompanied by the meditator’s consciousness, and 2) Nirvikalpa
which is beyond normal consciousness. In this Bindu, we would be dealing
with Savikalpa samadhi as a personal union with the light of consciousness;
that is, conscious awareness of the experience. Sometimes called Sunyata,
this state is composed of the Void plus Mind which would enable a conscious
perception of the supreme Bindu itself. This state is accompanied by
bliss unlike nirvikalpa samadhi which is entirely serene and in which the
personal consciousness is not active.
There are two forms of bliss: 1) Rasa which is the bliss of moksa.
This is a controlled mind which concentrates its entirety on the Sahasrara
Padma and knows it is freed from rebirth. A person who experiences
this is called a Jivanmukti. Muktananda was a good example of one. 2) Virasa is the bliss of the Shiva-Shakti union. From this arises the universe and the nectar of amrita.
In order to come to samadhi, one must practice Vairagya or detachment.
Usually this is done through a commitment to renunciation. This means
not being attached to anything, good or bad. It does not mean we must
live in a cave in the Himalayas. We have our usual lives, but we could
do without them if necessary. Most renunciates get rid of all
their excess baggage, and many go to live in spiritual communities where
they have the benefit of supportive companions. There are layers and
layers of attachment especially in the western, materialistic, consumer-oriented
nations. So, if you are a member of one of these societies, be prepared
for a real struggle. It is no accident that renunciation is a primary
vow of the mystics.
Woodroffe (1973) says that “. . if the Citta [mind] be not in the heart there
can be no union with the Paratma [Supreme Atman]” (p. 285). This does
not surprise us since we already know that the real mind is in the heart.
However, the implications for practice are that all the centers of the body
must be purified. And this is connected to another primary vow, that
of chastity. Chastity means not only sexual abstinence but purity in
every sense you can think of including the senses, perceptions and mental
Finally, samadhi brings us to the realm of Satyam Loka – Reality. Satya
means Truth, Brahman or the Absolute. We have arrived at the essences
of the creative process and discovered that we are one with them. They
are Us. Tat Twam Asi – That Thou Art – I am That. Or, as God
said to Moses, “I am that I am.” We are Pure Consciousness, Light;
we are Pure Being, Life; and we are Supernal Bliss, Love. Light, Life
and Love. That is easy to remember.
Ah, Divine Mother! When I first went to live in the Ashram, I couldn’t
figure out who Divine Mother was. Why was She so important and why
did everyone worship Her, talk about Her, play Her mantras, etc.? It
took a while for me to find out. Finally, in one workshop, I had to
write a paper on Divine Mother, so my perplexity finally came to a head.
As I sat there with my question, I suddenly realized that, for me, Divine
Mother was black because the person who had nurtured me as an infant was
a black woman in Alabama. Then it all made sense. Divine Mother
is the the aspect of the Divine One who takes care of us, nurtures us and
protects us. In Hinduism, that is Kundalini Shakti; in Buddhism, it
is Tara; in oriental Buddhism it is Kuan Yin; and in Christianity, it is
Mother Mary or the Holy Ghost. Every religious tradition seems to have
a mother figure to meet this need to be taken care of.
Inside Nirvana-kalā, we have Nirvana-Shakti who is the giver of life
and the life of all beings. We noted the change aspect of the moon.
That change is life’s movement. Here we are referring to True Life:
the simplicity, clarity and oneness of the Great Flow (Roberts, 1985, p.
33) and to the Truth that remains when there are no experiences left. (p.
35). The amrita mentioned above is the giver of life. You might
say it is a tool of Nirvana-Shakti.
It is Nirvana-Shakti who forms the circumference around the void to create
the Supreme Bindu. She is the form of the formless, the first limitation
upon Pure Consciousness. It is as if She carves out a bit of
the formless for Her own territory. Nirvana-Shakti manifests as Nada
and Bindu plus Light which leads to the desire for change.
Nirvana-Shakti works through the subtle body: the etheric, manic and buddhic
kosas. She is the inner spiritual director, the Divine within, the
Light of all Lights. As such, She controls the life energy and maintains
Jiva consciousness, life and awareness. She is sometimes called the
Cinmatra-Tattva which includes the Bindu (Ham) plus Visarga (Sah) combination
that you will recognize as the Hamsapitha. These two entities are also
called Purusa and Prakrti who, together are Parama-Hamsa. Parama means
“the Highest” or “Supreme.” Prakrti is the unmanifest energy potential
for life and creation while Shakti is the dynamic or manifesting form.
Nibodhika is an elusive and somewhat nebulous concept that is associated
with Nirvana-Shakti. It means fire and life. Woodroffe (1973,
pp. 448-9) described it as fiery and as the unmanifested Nada, i.e., a phase
of Avyakta-nada or unmanifested sound. The other two phases are Bindu
and Nada. Translated this means Moon, Sun, and Fire. Bindu is
the Moon, Nada is the Sun, and Nibodhika is the Fire. In another
association, Iccha is the Moon, Jnana is the Fire, and Kriya is the Sun.
It is said that Iccha is the Moon because Iccha is the precursor of creation
and is eternal, Jnana is Fire because it burns up all actions, and Kriya
is the Sun because, like the Sun, it makes everything visible. It is
your choice which way to interpret it. These relationships may be clearer
in Table 7. If you consider the last two rows, you may discover some
reasons for the first interpretation.
| Feeling or Willing
Nibodhika means “Giver of Knowledge.” This is meant in the sense of
negating the operation of the principle of unconsciousness and working toward
a positive state of pure consciousness, a kind of pruning effect. This
pure state of consciousness is experienced as Samadhi and occurs after the
absorption of Life and Mind and the cessation of all thinking.
Nibodhika is also associated with Life as the accompaniment of heat and light.
So what significance does Fire have for us personally? Fire destroys,
warms, purifies, and acts as a catalyst in both cooking and chemistry.
As such, it has the power to change the combinations of elements and molecules.
So it appears that Nibodhika plays a major role in the purification and preparation
of the bodymindspirit for spiritual advancement. It facilitates
and may even force us to change. If your house burns down, you must
change your way of living. We light a candle to signify the presence
of the divine during our worship. So fire also symbolizes Light, and
consequently insight and understanding.
Sit for meditation and do a little reflection about the combination of Heat
and Light in your practices and in your life. Why do the two qualities
go together? Consider that fire is one of the four elements, and it
governs the third chakra whose sense is sight which requires light.
Ego’s home is in the third chakra. Is that significant? What
effect might heat and light have on the ego? And, in that case, what
would heat and light represent to you? If the ego were refined,
as the senses can be, what would you have then? Take one of these questions
or come up with your own and relax into meditation waiting to see if an answer
comes to you in the twilight zone prior to samadhi.
The Guru is symbolized in the Sahasrara Padma by the circle at the top of
the mandala that is sitting on the inverted A-Ka-Tha triangle. It is
called Parama Shiva and is said to be in the pericarp of the 12-petal lotus
or Soma Chakra. The Guru is placed in Nirvana-Kala on the Hamsapitha.
That means It is in deepest meditation and Nirvikalpa samadhi. We could
think of that as unconditional consciousness. Parama Shiva is represented
by the Surya Bindu which accounts for the Light that emanates from it.
Because it is the Parama Shiva, it is the Supreme form of Consciousness or Cit.
Consciousness (Cit) as the ultimate experiencing principle, pervades and is
at base all being. Every cell of the body has a consciousness of its own.
The various organic parts of the body which the cells build have not only
particular cell-consciousness, but the consciousness of the particular organic
part which is other than the mere collectivity of the consciousness and its
units. . . the organism as a whole has its consciousness, which is the individual
Jiva. (Woodroffe, 1973, pp. 162-3)
I offer this quotation because each of these forms of consciousness has its
own individual name which can be confusing. Woodroffe (1973) goes on
The seventh or supreme centre of Consciousness is Parama-Siva, whose
abode is Satyaloka, the Cosmic aspect of the Sahasrara in the human body.
The Supreme, therefore, descends through its manifestations from the subtle
to the gross as the six Devas and Saktis in their six abodes in the world-axis,
and as the six centres in the body-axis or spinal column. The special operation
of each of the tattvas is located at its individual centre in the microcosm. (p. 163)
Let us examine some of the guru forms.
Brahman is the name you will find used most frequently to represent the highest deity. Shankara in The Viveka-Chudamani
(Prabhavananda & Isherwood, 1975), after a long discussion of both Brahman
and Atman says that they are the same. Both are the Absolute.
However, it appears that the Atman is the inner aspect of the Guru in human
beings whereas Brahman is an exteriorized figure. Cidatma is Brahman as Cit or Pure Consciousness.
Shankara (Prabhavananda & Isherwood, 1975) says that Atman is nature,
pure consciousness, the Real I, the God within; Infinite Being, Wisdom and
Love (cf SatCitAnanda). We experience It as the Witness state or the
Higher Self which is detached from ordinary concerns and which observes what
The Dzogchen description (Norbu, 1996, p.p. 116-7) of Pure Presence sounds
like Atman. Our actual existence is said to have two states: 1) a calm
state and 2) the movement of thoughts which arise and disappear.
In contemplation, there is no difference between the calm state and movement,
so one should try to maintain the same state of presence in either state.
In meditation, there are two phases: 1) shinay – the state of calm, and 2) lhanton
– inner vision, a kind of awakening of consciousness. Shinay corresponds
to voidness [the calm] and lhanton to clarity along with integration of the
state of presence with movement. “Movement” here includes prana or
life. In this state, every aspect of body, voice and mind is integrated
with contemplation. The Dzogchen point of view is that we do not need
to do anything to arrive at Enlighenment since we are already there.
The practices are directed at helping us to realize that.
Everything has already been accomplished, and so, having overcome the
sickness of efort, one finds oneself in the self-perfected state: this is con-
templation. (Norbu, 1996, p. 119)
Isvara is what we might call the personal god with attributes. It represents
the combination of Brahman and Maya and is the cause of the universe.
Its job is to rule Maya (which is Brahman’s power) and to create, rule, and
destroy the universe(s). It is the creative principle. Although
this comes close to describing Shakti, She is not specifically identified
in the Viveka Chudamani version from which this information was taken.
This is your favorite deity, the one you perceive as your teacher and personal
god. This is the one who answers your spiritual longing and so becomes
the object of your adoration and love. The whole discipline of Bhakti
Yoga revolves around this concept of worship. Japa or Mantra Yoga is
used to achieve darshan of the Istadevata. Darshan means insight,
a way of seeing or a vision of Reality. Repetition of the Holy Name
can lead to higher consciousness when practiced long enough and in the right
frame of mind. Tyberg (1970) says that, “Japa is a vehicle for Power
to decend into one’s being” (p. 156).
This is the Guru mantra in the form of Aim which is pictured as the Sanskrit figure
in the center of the Sahasrara mandala. Aim is the bija of Sarasvati,
the goddess of creativity and the arts. Aim represents both the body
of the Hamsapitha and the petals of the Soma chakra which is the 12-petaled
lotus. According to Harrigan (2002), the phoneme “ah” means
“Destroyer of death,” and the phoneme “im” means “Nourishing giver of benevolence”
which fits with our concepts of Shiva (the destroyer) and Divine Mother (the
nurturer). The combination, “Aim,” means “Captivator of men,
giver of purity and peace” (p. 66). This seems a fitting description
of the Supreme Guru.
So you can see that we are observing several different levels of the concept
of guru. This gives you a generous collection of guru forms from which
to select your own.
Implications for Practice
What is at stake here is one’s absorption in the union of Pure Consciousness
and Mind. It means bringing the ordinary, little mind to complete stillness,
so the nirvana state can be experienced. When that happens, both thinking
and conscious awareness stop. Although the Great Mind in union with
Pure Consciousness is an aspect of the Supreme Bindu, it is not the thinking,
everyday, ordinary mind. Instead, we could imagine it as the Universal
Mind. Our little minds get in the way with their incessant chattering,
so that must be silenced in order to venture beyond. It can take years
of meditation practice to achieve the stillness that we call contemplation
or absorption. The process is called “dissolution” because it means
exactly that. We must literally dissolve all our sentient activity
into space. This can be scary because it feels like losing one’s mind
or like a loss of that precious identity. However, it usually happens
gradually which enables us to get used to the new state of beingness.
You may reach a kind of plateau of ecstasy in this union, and many decide
to remain here enjoying the rapture at the same time engaging in life in
the world. However, if you wish to continue, there are practices designed
to take you further.
What follows are some ideas for practice at this level of the journey.
If you decide to work with mantra, you will need to seek the one that vibrates
for you and fits your special kind of longing. In the Buddhist tradition,
Foundations of Tibetan Mysticism (Govinda, 1982) offers considerable
detail around mantra practice and how to do it, along with a few key mantras
themselves. For various types of Yoga, you can find tapes such as “Om
Namah Sivaya” at www.timelessbooks.org . The chant “Om Mani Padme Hum” is in their Bhajans at Yasodhara Ashram
songbook. The chant “Shri Guru Gita” can be found at The SYDA Foundation,
and this is a classic that they chant every day there. For “Shakti
Yoga” and other Yogic chants by Russill Paul, go to www.therelaxationcompany.com.
In the Christian tradition, the Taize Community in France has made
a series of tapes such as “Laudate” (you will have to Google this one as
I do not have the web address). At the top of your Christian list should
be Gregorian chant (there is a set of four CDs called “Festival of Gregorian
Chants” produced in Canada that is marvelous).
Om is, of course, the quintessential mantra since it is the sound of the universe.
Hu which is uttered as a whisper is a Sufi mantra for the Divine One.
Note that the combination of “Hu” and “man” in the word “human” means “Divine
Meditation is the practice of choice at every level, and it is associated
with Raja Yoga which will take you to the end of the line.
Since the world is created by the mind, one way to deal with this is to begin
to withdraw your projections. Since we cannot experience the inner
lives of others, we attempt to understand them by projecting our own experience
into them. This is a source of considerable error since we are not at all
identical. Usually this occurs when we get emotionally upset. So that
is another point at which work can be done. If you are subject to emotional
upheavals, there is still a challenge at the third chakra level. But
projection is such a universal phenomena that we all do it a great deal of
the time. So it would bear some watching. And when you catch your-self
doing it, ask how you do it to yourself and try to reclaim the energy from
This is a watchword in all spiritual journeys. We need to learn how
to tell the difference between Maya and Reality. Both are acceptable
experiences as long as we do not confuse them in actual life.
This set of practices can be found in The Serpent Power by Woodroffe (1973).
These are oriented toward working with Kundalini Shakti and will result in
unity consciousness if carried to fruition.
Along with discrimination, detachment is criterial. As long as we are
attached to things, people and events in the world or even to our spiritual
journey, we are still entangled with Maya. That, in itself, is not
particularly bad, but it will not result in enlightenment or liberation.
You could think of enlightenment as liberation from attachments. Granthis
are the points where attachments become most problematic. You can review
those in your Johari (1987) book.
These are just a few ideas. There are endless sources of guidance for
this journey. You must be careful in selecting the ones you use especially
in choice of a teacher. A little book called Guru and Disciple by Swami Satchidananda (1979), which may be available at www.timelessbooks.org or at Yasodhara Ashram lays out in easily understood terms what criteria to use in selecting your teacher.
We have been exploring the various aspects and implications of the Supreme
Bindu near the apex of our spiritual tree. Our focus was on consciousness
and the forms associated with it as a result of Maya. Part of that
had to do with emptiness vs form or the mirror function of Aksobhya.
We looked at the roles of Mind and Life as the basic forms of Maya as well
as what constitutes Unity and SatCitAnanda. Finally, we had a look
at Divine Mother and The Guru.
In Unit VIII. Visnu Vakta, we begin to walk
the tightrope between life as we know it and the beyond because this point
in the journey represents the threshold of dissolution.
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