Contemplations from the 22nd lesson on the Shiva Sutras.
Sutra 21: PRANASAMACHARE SAMADARSHANAM
When you know all things to be energy, you will see all things as equal.
In our penultimate visit to the fountain of divine insight, the upsurge of wisdom foaming and sparkling into our eager cups is as clear and pure as it’s ever been. Shiva, as always, wants for our liberation and empowerment, He wishes for our fruition and fulfillment; thus He’s produced yet another rugged jewel for us to cut, polish and make our own for all time.
The true Teacher is plunging straight to the heart of the matter (or energy to be more accurate) this week as His sutra delves directly into the crux of reality and its substratum. He is saying in quite plain terms that when we see, that is to perceive empirically for ourselves, that ALL the multifarious and diverse elements of our experience are simply manifestations of the same one energy, then we will naturally behold all things as equal. From memories to moonbeams, sneezes to skyscrapers, they’re all just ever-changing permutations of Shakti or life energy.
Although with their limited scope, our sense perceptions report back a Universe of many separate, discrete fragments, each with its own origins, composition and identity, Shiva is saying quest deeper, look higher and unshackle your awareness from the village stocks of the senses. Take a universal perspective on what is; and know the truth of oneness and the fundamental, energetic basis of everything… literally everything from quarks to quasars, emotions to empires, roller-skates to Rodin’s thinker and all stops in between. These apparently unique, disparate items, beings, objects, forms are all the one energy in more or less gross or subtle states. So a photon and a battleship are the same energy in a subtle and a gross configuration, just as a feeling of envy in the pit of your stomach or the sound of a Mozart piano concerto are also the same ‘stuff’ just appearing as very different entities. Understanding this sameness, this universality, says Mahadev, is the key to unlocking our mental bondage to the pervasive notion of separateness, insularity and the whole false and limiting construct of ego and the ‘I’, ‘me’, ‘mine’ mentality.
Shiva offers the following analogy to help illustrate the way the Shakti/energy mutates and shifts but remains itself in essence. He asks us to imagine Shakti as a river flowing and rolling, wild and free along its creative course from unmanifest to manifest. Now imagine we take a copper pan and plunge it into the ‘river’, we say ‘I have put the pan in the river!’ However the moment we pull our hand and pan out of the ‘river’ we say ‘I have water in the pan!’ In that moment the ‘river’ was given a new name changing it from ‘river’ to ‘water’. What if we then heat that ‘water’ over a stove? It will boil and rise as ‘steam’, another name change. If we capture that ‘steam’ in a bowl we will find it cools into ‘droplets of condensation’, which if we put in the deep freeze, will emerge as ‘ice’. If we take that ‘ice’ and hold it in the flow of the ‘river’ it will naturally melt and once more be called ‘river’. So says Lord Shiva, we see that the river never stopped being the river, only the names changed, those names being mere conceptual labels designed to aid our limited psychological faculties in framing and ‘making sense’ of the infinite, eternal vastness of all Creation. The mind needs to do this labelling and setting within parameters so it can compute and ‘get to grips’ with experience, but it is necessarily narrow in scope; so when we only experience life through the myopic lens of the psychological mind, then we miss the ineffable boundlessness of Truth and remain blearily blinkered and obliviously blind as we survey the drab stone walls of Plato’s cave instead of wandering and wondering free and unfettered in the unfathomable ‘is-ness’ of the Cosmos. To see the truth of the one energy, open the mind then transcend it, as feeling picks up where thinking and conceptualising fall short.
How best to do this though? Shiva has the answer. Start with the closest, most obvious form that Shakti takes, and by this He means us, ‘ourselves’, our very own life force, the prana coursing through our nadis, and then make a simple conscious connection with this shakti-fest. He’s inviting us to step outside the dungeon of the mind with its bars and meshes, ceilings walls and floors and instead to engage with the unbridled energy of the rest of our being as it is conducted through our five-sheath ecosystem. This way thoughts and psychological forms can lose their falsely bestowed pre-eminence within our experience, and the energetic totality can balance out and become a truer expression of itself. This means sensations, intuitions, emotions, bliss, thoughts and all other internal energetic phenomena can lead their merry dance as multi-faceted Shakti, but we give no preference or priority to any of them. We just sit as the subtle-most of all Shakti i.e., pure, pristine Consciousness, and witness, feel, experience and indeed worship the less subtle configurations as they play, emerging and dissolving, reprising then resolving… then starting all over again… the play of Shakti, bubbling and dancing in all its guises shapes and sizes… coursing here, flowing there, pulsing everywhere. One Divine Energy!
Once we have escaped the padded cell of the mind and established a meaningful and intimate relationship with our true nature as undifferentiated Shakti, we then use Sadhana as a means to deepen and expand this relationship. Spiritual Practice then becomes the interface between our subtle-most core (The Self) and the sheaths or layers of energy in their various degrees of grossness and materiality as they extend outwards; from the mind to the gut to the tips of our toes and beyond.
When we know what we’re made of beyond all equivocation, then naturally the question arises, ‘If I’m made of this energy at EVERY level, then what’s She/He made of, what’s this floor made of, or that long winding river flowing from mountain to ocean??’ The answer springs up like a Jack In The Box. Energy of course… Life, Shakti, God Essence call it what you will, they’re only name tags; the underlying principle is changeless, universal and indestructible. It’s as simple and as complex as any paradox could ever be; you have and are Nothing (roles, possessions, identities etc.) because you have and are Everything…energy! Everything is equal, everything is One.
We are energy in energy, with energy on energy surrounded and infused by energy as energy! Unity, Oneness, Non-Duality, Universality, Total Equality but definitely and crucially NOT…
Name: Joe Bloggs DOB: 09/09/69 Shoe Size: 10 Occupation: Ego.
So in summary, Shiva wishes us to know that everything is energy and for us to begin to perceive this oneness everywhere. He invites us to ‘drop a foot’ from the mind into the feeling instrument of the Heart, and to experience the Life-force at play as ‘Ourselves’. We will discover how equal all inner permutations of energy are when we cease judgement, analysis and identification with them and just bear plain witness to their flow. He’s saying once we’re established in the true nature of our Shakti and the equanimity that ensues from there, then it’s only a hop, skip and a jump ‘outside’ of ourselves to the Cosmos at large and all the infinite, shifting expressions of energy in the Universal Dance beyond our apparent physical boundaries. Here we attain the Divine Vision (SAMADARSHANAM) with which we see for ourselves the energetic basis and utter, impersonal equality of all elements of experience, all items, beings, objects and abstract forms as One… as Life… as The Divine.
When you know all things to be energy, you will see all things as equal.
The infinity of space,
The limitless profundity of silence,
The ubiquity of energy,
And the eternal now,
All support the truth of Being.
The luminescence that reveals form within void,
The stillness that sits unmoved in your thumping core,
And the consciousness that bears plain witness to the microcosmic fragment or the macrocosmic whole,
In essential equality, these are the ultimate reality.
To know this energetic reality and this Truth,
Is to be at once present and perpetual,
In peaceful acceptance of the impermanent,
And in joyful surrender to the timeless.
When we seek without looking,
Ask without speaking,
And can know without understanding,
Seeing all as equal...
There is the Heaven within.
~ by Elliot Donnelly.