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Posts tagged ‘reflections’

  1. Reading the Saundarya Lahari – XV

    “…those who always ponder over this [fivefold act of the Lord], knowing the universe as an unfoldment of the essential nature [of consciousness], become liberated in this very life. This is what the [sacred] tradition maintains. Those who do not ponder like this, seeing all objects of experience as essentially different, remain for ever bound.”
    Kṣemarāja, Pratyabhijñāhṛdayam

    Now for some brief discussion of verses 26-27 of Anandalahari. Continue reading »

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  2. Reading the Saundarya Lahari – XIV

    “I bow always to she who is the very self
    of Brahma, Vishnu and Rudra,
    the real form of the three gunas!
    I bow always to she who is the form of moon,
    sun and fire, her eyes restless with desire!
    I bow always to she who is the very self of Brahma,
    Vishnu and Siva, bestower of liberation whilst living,
    Giver of knowledge and consciousness!”
    Matrikabheda Tantra (transl. Mike Magee)

    Now to verse 25 of Saundaryalahari. Continue reading »

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  3. Heart Practice: approaching the tantric body-in-practice – I

    “The most immediate and concrete means of persuading people of the reality of divine power is to involve their bodies.”
    Thomas Csordas, Somatic Modes of Attention

    I’m going to progress this series by considering various themes related to the “tantric” body-in-practice. This is a massive subject, and I’ll begin by outlining what I mean by the “body-in-practice” and why this is a useful way of considering practice(see Tantra keywords: Embodied for some earlier reflections). Attempting to discuss the various different modes of tantra practice can be a tricky proposition, as it is, I often find, difficult to seperate them easily – as they work across different domains. In exploring Nyasa for example, at some point one will have to deal with how nyasa intersects with mantra-vidya. In considering mudras, it might be desirable to discuss how mudras ‘work’ across several registers simultaneously – from the broadly cosmological, the social, and the personal; as energetic movements through space and and at the same time, public, dialogical gestures. Continue reading »

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  4. Towards a SriVidya Bibliography – I

    “To be a knower of Sri Vidya one should be grounded in the Trika; to be a knower of the Trika one should be immersed in the Saiva Siddhanta; to understand Saiva Siddhanta one should be rooted in Samkhya.”
    Shudranath

    A friend asked me recently if I would provide her with a select bibliography for the SriVidya tradition. Approaching tantric traditions such as SriVidya as an “outsider” can be a daunting challenge, particularly if you don’t have access to practitioner communities or networks. But trying to organise even a basic “reading list” can be equally daunting, if only because SriVidya, as with most other South Asian religious currents, is heavily influenced by other traditions (tantric and otherwise). The epigraph above illustrates this, albeit tersely – that Sri Vidya, in its development, drew on many themes and concepts from the Trika traditions of Kashmir (a.k.a Kashmir Shaivism) and these in turn, require some understanding of the wider Saiva Siddhanta tradition – which was, in turn, heavily influenced by Samkhya philosophy.

    This is one of the difficulties of getting to grips with tantra – there has been tendency has been to treat it as something entirely abstracted and seperate from the broader Indian cultural landscape rather than, as contemporary scholarship tends to view it – as the “esoteric wing” of wider Indian traditions (be they Buddhist, Jaina, Śaiva, Śhakta, Viṣṇu, etc.). Tantra also builds on historically earlier traditions (such as Classical Samkhya) but re-interprets them in novel ways.

    So here’s a starting point – it is not intended to be comprehensive, and I’ll try and return to it periodically with updates. For the moment, I’m going to focus on scholarly works in English. Continue reading »

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  5. Reading the Saundarya Lahari – XIII

    “She is thus the beginning and end of the process of divinization, enabling all beings, gods and humans, to become more, even up to a final blissful immersion within Her. To participate in Her bliss, novice practitioners – including attentive readers – must assent to a gradual but ultimately complete deconstruction and enhancement of their own bodies, sensations, pleasures, and relationships. One loses all of this, regains it, and then is able to see Her directly and completely. The key to entering Her world seems to be a combination of reverence, intellect, and intense curiosity, which together make deepening interior vision possible.”
    Francis X. Clooney, Divine Mother, Blessed Mother: Hindu Goddesses and the Virgin Mary p177

    “She the primordial Śakti who excels all and who in Her own nature is eternal, limitless bliss, is the seed of all the moving and motionless things which are to be, and is the pure mirror in which Śiva experiences Himself.”
    Kāmakalāvilāsa verse 2

    Now for some brief notes on verses 23-24 of Saundaryalahari. Continue reading »

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  6. Reading the Saundarya Lahari – XII

    In twining creepers I see your body,
    in eyes of startled does your glance,
    in the moon the glow and shadow of your cheek,
    in the peacocks’ crested plume your hair,
    in the flowing waters’ quick ripples
    the capricious frown on your brow,
    but no single object holds
    an image of your likeness.
    Kalidasa, Meghadūta

    Desire (kāma) is the will to take possession [of the other] (to make the other oneself). Veiling everything with his desire, the desirer can accomplish everything, since everything has as its ultimate principle desire itself.
    Abhinavagupta, Mālinīvijayavārttika (1.281)

    Now to verses 21-22 of Saundaryalahari. Continue reading »

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  7. Practice Notes: Joy in meeting

    “On the occasion of a great delight being obtained, or on the occasion of delight arising from seeing a friend or a relative after a long time, one should meditate on the delight itself and become absorbed in it, then his mind will become identified with it”.
    Vijnanabhairava (transl. Jaideva Singh) v71

    In the previous post for this month I gave some short reflections on an “opportunistic practice” – grounded in verse 92 of the Vijnanabhairava. I’ve been reflecting on the possible consequences of this kind of approach to practice – and I think it is less about achieving – temporarily – a particular state, condition, or even a “result”; but rather, a process of habituating oneself to a general “stance” or attitude – that any moment of engagement can (potentially) unfold into an intensification of wonder, joy, delight (see Tantra keywords: Relational for some earlier reflections).

    Verse 71 of Vijnanabhairava roots this unfolding of delight in everyday, human encounters and the recollection of of those moments of feeling: on the occasion of delight arising from seeing a friend or a relative after a long time, one should meditate on the delight itself.

    i don’t think this requires any further comment.

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  8. Practice Notes: Opening to sky

    “When one concentrates on one’s self in the form of a vast firmament, unlimited in any direction whatsoever, then the citi śakti freed of all props reveals herself”.
    Vijnanabhairava (transl. Jaideva Singh) v92

    Continue reading »

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  9. Reading the Saundarya Lahari – XI

    “Likely, o beloved, [by meditating on Devi] in the form of Kāmakalā emerged in the sprout of madana, with the light-circle of the rising sun, a luminous body with an expanding flame top. She exists while gulping all the beings manifested to enjoy the world.
    Existing in I-ness, keeping herself within her own supreme glory, and manifesting successively down to the ground of kāma, which is within the body, manifesting in two forms whilst being alone.”
    Nityāṣoḍaśikārṇava, 4.34 – 4.37 (transl. Lidke, 2000)

    Now to verse 20 of Saundaryalahari:

    Whoever contemplates You in his heart,
    O essence of ambrosia,
    abundant and radiant like an image carved in moonstone,
    will quell the pride of serpents
    as if he were the king of birds,
    he will cure those afflicted by fever,
    with the streaming nectar that showers from his glance.
    (transl. Clooney, 2005, p.52)

    Continue reading »

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  10. Reading the Saundarya Lahari – X

    In this non-dualist tradition, adepts affirm the distinction between subject and object (in this case between human and divine) through darśan in order to dismantle distinctions between human and divine natures. The ritual’s aim is not to affirm a sacred space occupied by the śrīcakra in order to distinguish its “sacrality” from the “profane” ordinary world but to affect a transformation in understanding concerning the everyday world by identifying it as structured through the cakra’s form.
    Douglas R. Brooks, The Srividya School of Sakta Tantrism: A Study of the Texts and Contexts of the Living Traditions in South India

    “In this way the united Kāma and Kalā are the (three) letters whose own form (Svarūpa) is the three Bindus. It is She who is the Mother manifest as the three Gunas (Triguṇa-svarūpiṇī) and who assumed the form of the triangle.”
    Kāmakalāvilāsa, v25

    Continue reading »

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