Many meditation techniques or spiritual practices
lead toward a transcendence of the body, into a pure consciousness or
nirvanic void. They are meant to lead one into the higher centres,
especially in the Ajna or head, and leave behind the lower centres
and especially the lower half of the body below the diaphragm. These
practices and their inherent higher aims are of supreme spiritual
value. However, in the past few thousand years there has been a great
religious prejudice against the body, as religions and most all
spiritual systems have much more emphasized physical transcendence and
have often denied the spiritual importance of embodiment. The way of
tantra is a preservation of a more ancient wisdom which valued the
body, the earth, and sex. While many of the religions and so-called
spiritual paths have sought to abandon all three of these, and in some
cases have demonized them.
Yet in the complete tantric tradition, there is actually a balance
sought between transcendence and embodiment, and an avoidance of both
extreme physical engrossment and extreme physical renunciation. In the
very example of Shiva, one of the main Deities in tantra, Shiva is
sometimes in a solitude of deep meditation and worldly abandonment, yet
at other times Shiva is all over town with his sexual lingam and is
having prolonged periods of joyful sex.
Shiva is the power inspiring both transcendence and creative manifestation. Shiva has both a transcending intention and a creative intention, and both of these are complementary. They may at at times oppose each other within us, but this is only because of our limited and incomplete understanding, and when there is attachment to only one of the spiritual intentions. Often, one of these intentions will gain dominance over the other, yet then the other will battle within our psyche for recognition. But this struggle need not be, as the two intentions learn to cooperate and compliment each other.
So let us first consider the spiritual importance of balance. Raising one's center of awareness and one's energies into higher centres is needed for one to acquire a more concentrated experience of these centres of mind. Tantric teachings realize the importance of concentrating energies and awareness in the highest centres so that these can more fully be experienced, without distortion or distraction from the lower centres. The whole idea of renunciation is based on this need to leave behind the usual, casual world of experience, in order to fully experience a special, sacred world of experience, to leave behind the usual body experience, in order to concentrate within the higher centres of the body or within mind itself. Many meditation techniques have the fundamental aim of transcending sensations of the body, while holding consciousness steady and clear in the mind. It is a self transcendence of the body into the mind, so that there is finally only mind or consciousness left. Many teachers say that enlightenment is this state of complete body transcendence, when only the mind is awake and full of awareness, but awake in its purity and not in a dreamy or thinking state. The general aim of all this is, without doubt, one of the supreme aims of yoga. The tantra completely accepts this kind of aim and leads toward it.
Yet, tantra is not just a way of transcendence, and it views the experience of the body, even its lower half, as a significant aim of yogic practice. The tantra values balance, but it also values extremes, so many techniques are given to transcend the body and be fully in the pure mind, practicing a transformation of the mind from within the mind, where one is so fully into mindfulness or consciousness, that the body ceases to be felt. It basically disappears from experience, though often the breath remains as the only slight thread connecting the freed consciousness with life in the body. Such experiences are considered of supreme spiritual value, as they involve transmutation of baser energies into purer energies.
Various kinds of inner transformational work and
world healing work can be best accomplished when sensation of the
physical body does not distract one's mental focus or reception
of higher intuitive impressions. Many initiates work in service on
the purely subjective mental dimension, such that the body would
distract their telepathic contacts and healing work with other
initiates, masters, or students. So we cannot doubt the value of
body transcendence and concentration purely in the mind.
some yogic and spiritual teachings, the tantra does not emphasize
these practices of transcendence to the exclusion of spiritual
meditations involving body sensation and functions of the lower
chakras, because the ultimate goal of tantra is the complete
spiritualization of the whole body, as well as the realization of
pure mind or consciousness. The tantra understands how to use the
body for higher realization and how to use higher realization for
experiencing the body in its possible ecstatic state. One of the
goals of tantra practice is to interconnect the body and mind, and to
consciously interconnect the lower centres with the higher centres.
Whereas many yogic techniques aim toward transcending the lower
centres, or sublimating those energies to the higher mental
functions, many tantric techniques specifically employ the lower
centres and energies in the aim of balancing and interconnecting all
the centres and energies together.
In the sexual practices the higher
centres are awakened and concentrated upon, while the sexual centre
remains active and excited, thus maintaining an energetic connection
between the higher mental centres and the lower centres grounded in
the body. Energy and awareness remains active in the sacral centre as
meditation unfolds in higher consciousness. As the two bodies in the
sexual ritual embrace with the lingam in the yoni, the energies
raised into the head centres maintain an interconnection with the
lower half of the body, so that a flow of energy circulates up and
down the body and up and down the centres. The higher awakened
energies are, thus, grounded in the sacral centre through the lingam
and yoni, where they spread throughout the electrical channels of the
body, feeding the whole body with this higher food or energies of
Complimenting this, the excited sacral
energies feed the higher centres with an electro-magnetic vitality
and energy of enjoyment, thus awakening those centres even more and
with greater intensity. This is the interconnected path of tantric
sexual practice. Primal vital energy of the body feeds the fuller
awakening of higher consciousness, and this higher consciousness
enlightens the body and its feelings. And both consciousness and
vitality, mind and body, remain interconnected through the delightful
ecstasy circulating the integrated body-mind or the integrated feeling-consciousness. Body and mind, feeling and
consciousness, become united as one, which is how they are meant to
be, rather than disconnected or separated.
Disconnected extremes are respected as sometimes useful, but the ultimate aim is interconnection and unity within one living body-mind. It is possible to meditate just in the mind, just as it is possible to dream and think without any sensitive feeling of the body. It is possible to just be in the Crown chakra, or just be in the Ajna, or a combination of two or three of the higher chakras, and there need not be any sense of the body, nor emotion.
So in some teachings the transcendence of the body signifies real spiritual evolution. Such belief is true, yet a half-truth. For half the aim of the spiritual being concerns manifestation. Freedom, transcendence, impersonal wisdom, Self-realization: these are all aims of the ascending path, but this is only half the spiritual story. Just in itself it is one-sided and incomplete. For there must also be descension. Many who single-mindedly practiced and succeeded at the ascending path forgot somehow its incompleteness, and they mistakenly viewed its opposite, the descending path, as an opposition, or an evil, to be struggled against. They viewed the spiritual path as a linear evolution, going up, and so they struggled against the powers of descension. And it is true that powers of descension form the resistances against the ascending spirit, tending to keep our rising spirit down. Yet, down is where our spirit must go, because down is the path to manifestation and into feeling the body.
It's not a coming down or a downer, in the sense of gloomy or depressing emotions. Instead, we're talking about coming down to earth or getting into our body, which can be very joyous and enjoyable. Such a `coming down', or a path of descension, is not at all negative or undesirable from the complete cosmic viewpoint. Descension, incarnation, and creative manifestation are certainly of the Divine Purpose.
Spirit is meant to manifest and embody. So, the descension of spirit is only negative or obstructive from the viewpoint of the aspiring, ascending intention or will. And from the descending view, its opposite path may be found as obstructive. Each path of force finds its opposite as a resistance. Conflict is thus created as these two opposite paths resist or struggle against each other. The tantra views these opposing forces of spirit from the complete vantage point which accepts and embraces both, and it is a yoga of reconciling or complimenting these opposites. The resistances and struggle between the two are accepted as an inevitable creative struggle in the evolution of spirit, so the struggle itself must be embraced as part of both paths.
Yet, the grand spiritual purpose is the embracing of both paths and reconciling them as one circulating and synthesizing Path. The fact of both forces as resisting and opposing is fully accepted, yet the greater wisdom supports a rhythm of both in one's life and an evolution of their synthesis and complementation, rather than affirming one of the paths to the exclusion of the other and continually struggling against the other. We must allow both paths of spiritual intention or force to develop and syntheisis in relation to each other, allowing both to rhythm in our spititual life and gradually come into a synthesis of complementation and blending. We might call this the reconciling path or the path of synthesis, which is the greater path of complimenting the two opposing paths of ascension and descension, where the opposing forces will gradually merge together into one rhythmic and circulating flow of being. The two paths will always remain a fact of spiritual existence, and the tantra accepts this duality of spiritual purpose, the spirit of transcendence on one hand, and the spirit of incarnation on the other, but their willful opposition and resistance to each other is unnecessary, if only each accepts and allows for the other.
Sometimes there is resistance and a struggle, as one seeks to ascend into the transcending light, while the other seeks to descend into the material body or physical manifestation, one force struggling against the other to ascend, or transcend the inertia of the body and feelings, while the other force struggles against its opposite to feel and embody the spirit. Yet, as a gradual acceptance and allowance of the other evolves, these two spiritual forces will compliment each other, the struggle will gradually cease, and each will be strengthened by the other. The success of each path will evolve the other path, such that they form an evolving complimentary relationship, each serving the other, and neither dominating the other. This is the true spiritual creative evolution. Evolution of being has traditionally been dogmatized into two opposing views. The traditional view of spiritual evolution is to transcend, in some way, the material world, the desires and feelings of the body, and to raise oneself into a higher vibration, reaching some heavenly or nirvanic consciousness, or return to the One Being as the Source. All of this is found to be significant in spiritual teachings. The other view of evolution, known as material evolution, is to evolve stronger, healthier, more beautiful bodies, and to support an evolving ecological diversity within creation. This material evolution is not essentially `materialistic' in the negative connotation of being superficial or wasteful.
Instead, it involves the evolution of beauty, enjoyment, and perfection in this material existence, as well as the creative diversification of artistic form on the planet. I would rather use the term creative evolution, but I want to first emphasize, for the purpose of contrast, the materiality of this creative evolution, because it has to evolve right here in the material body and the material earth. Material evolution is, essentially, an evolution of matter, earth, or body. It is diversified creative manifestation.
It is embodiment. But it is not any old kind of embodiment or creativity. If we turned this earth into a toxic dump site or intentionally created pain in the body, we should not call this a creative material evolution. To name some manifestation an evolution of creativity, there ought to be some greater sense or feeling of beauty, harmony, fascination, intelligence, or a greater degree of functional diversity and perfection of our inherent potentials. If manifestation remains the same as before, or if the same patterns keep repeating themselves, then we do not call this evolution, for the term inplies some degree of change for the better. When our physical world and our lives relating in this world become in some way better than before, then this is a creative evolution, though we still might disagree on what is better.
So, we have these two paths of evolution, one transcending and the other creatively manifesting. Yet, the creative evolution actually requires the path of transcendence as well as the force of manifestation, because -- otherwise, manifestation will proceed along patterns of inertia and habit. The path of transcendence, away from creation and toward the spiritual source of creation, is actually needed to break free of creation's inertia and the repeating patterns of our lives. We get stuck in patterns of behavior, of thinking, and of creativity. Our world, or our culture, gets stuck in its overall patterns. According to tantric cosmology, this is because of one of the three primary cosmic laws, tamas, the repeating cyclical nature of creation. That law is omnipresent and necessary in creation, at many levels, in order for creation to maintain some stability. But we do not need to get stuck by this law, or tendency of nature. The idea of karma is tied in with this tendency of repetition, as it was taught that whatever one does has effects which eventually return to us and our actions begin to develop a pattern of repetition, such that what we do tends to acquire its own repeating inertia.
In order to break free, in some degree, of our own repeating patterns of thinking and behavior, which have probably become quite subconscious to the half-asleep person known as you, one needs to struggle up the path of transcendence. This path involves letting go or renunciating the usual thinking, feelings and behaviors, and using all this now freed available energy to rise up into a higher centre in the head and take refuge in the pure light of consciousness, there perceiving the source of all creativity. Thus, the way to freedom is this path of transcendence, renunciating all the repeating patterns of thought and body, and coming into the purity of original light or purity of divine-natural consciousness. This is a way out of creation, a way out of our usual self, our usual thoughts and usual feelings, and many have called this spiritual evolution because it is a return to the source and purity of divine truth.
Yet, the tantra seeks to connect this spiritual evolution with the creative evolution involving the material world and our physical existence. In the tantra, spiritual evolution and creative evolution ought to be one great spiritual creative evolution, involving a complementation of the ascending path of transcendence with the descending path of creative embodiment.
Transcendence leads us to our freedom, but it is away
from creation and form. It is a kind of death. That death is fine. That
death is spiritual. But death is not the
ultimate goal. How could death or transcendence from creation be the
ultimate goal of existence? Existence is creation, and creation must
be some kind of manifestation of Spirit or the Creative Being.
Without a lot of useless philosophical arguments, it can only be said
that creation and creativity must be an ultimate purpose of any
realized spiritual existence. Simply put, creative manifestation is
the purpose of the Spiritual Being. Thus, how can we really speak of
'spiritual evolution' as a path completely opposed to creation
and physical embodiment? The true spiritual evolution must also be a
creative evolution, for it must involve an evolution or unfoldment of
the creative purpose of Spirit.
So when we speak of spiritual
evolution we ought to be speaking of an evolving embodiment of
spiritual consciousness, a spiritual creativity here on earth. And
when we speak of material evolution we ought to be speaking of a
transcendence of the usual patterns and the self-freedom to re-create
our lives, at least to some degree, in a way more beautifully
reflecting the self-wisdom acquired through the light of
transcendence, where we find the Creative Source itself. Material
evolution must really be an evolution or improvement of what the
conscious spirit finds to be of spiritual value, beauty and love. How
else could we judge what is truly evolutionary, vs. devolutionary, if
not from the values found in the purity of the heart and the
uncluttered wisdom of consciousness itself?
So, a truly creative evolution must involve at least some transcendence from the world as-it-is and the self as-it-is, in order to enter a freshness of creative spirit and gradually re-create the self/world from this refreshing spiritual realization, the re-known purity of consciousness, one's true nature, Purusha, the substance of Spirit. This spiritual realization, or return to the true Spirit of one's being, cannot be the final end goal of existence, nor the final purpose of the spiritual path. Manifestation is the purpose of this existence, along with realization, both going hand in hand. Greater, more loving and beautiful manifestation requires greater realization of one's being and its potentials, and this greater realization needs the world of manifestation to embody itself and be actualized in creative forms. The Divine Spirit, Purusha, is not just a transcendental consciousness or a realization devoid of any relationship to creation. This has been the traditional yogic view, as professed by the followers of Patanjali, but the more ancient tantric view of spiritual consciousness is that it proves to have two complimenting polar qualities.
There are, essentially, two apparently opposite forces of the one spiritual consciousness, Purusha, or Light of Reality. One quality is transcendence, a spiritual force leading away from creation as-it-is, deeper into the pure Light of Being and the Source of creation. The other quality is creativity, a spiritual force leading toward creative manifestation, a spiritual will, as it were, to be creative and embody the realization of purity and unity. This creative force of spiritual consciousness seeks to formulate the realized pure Spirit into some vision or pattern of embodied existence.
Thus, certain understandings of Spiritual Truth arise
and formulate in the higher mind or intuitive mind, and these truths
of Being have an impulse to manifest and embody in life, in creation.
One realizes a fresh understanding of one's true nature,
through the freshness of transcendence, and this new understanding
has a spiritual will to manifest in all levels of one's life.
And because of the unitive nature of this spiritual realization, it
always involves a form of service in the world or a healing,
harmonious way of interacting in the world. One seeks to involve
oneself in the world of creation, not in the usual habitual manner of
reacting selfishly or graspingly for the mere benefit of the illusion
of a separate self, but for the benefit of the world around us, the
The transcendental consciousness, thus, is not just
a freedom from the world of attachment but also a transformation of
one's self-understanding and orientation in the world,
which leads to a fresh way of being in the world, a spiritually
transformed presence in the world. So, spiritual realization, through
transcendence, is, in fact, a transformation of self-understanding or
Being as we know it, which is a transformation of who we are in this
The self evolves from this ever-penetrating discernment or realization of Spirit, and this world evolves from these fresh self-realizations and the transformed creative presences interacting in the world. The world evolves from fresh perspectives of the one spiritual reality realized in the transcending consciousness. This is the creative-evolutionary aspect of spiritual reality, involving both death or transcendence and rebirth of the creative spirit. Thus, life, or spiritual existence, involves both death and creative rebirth, which are the dual qualities of Shiva.
a brief note:
philosophical differences turn out to be mere misunderstandings of
language and definition. Many so-called disagreements, such as
dualism and non-dualism in the Vedanta, are really no more than
different ways of describing similar experiences, so the problem
not with the philosophies but with the philosopher's trying to
understand them through contrast and juxtaposition and the ambiguity of
philosophical problems are problems with descriptive language and a
vagueness of understanding. Many confusion also arise because the
person has not yet experienced what is
being described, so they mis-interpret the description or else simply
discard it. But once experienced, one then can understand two apparently
contradictory views of that experience.
The One Reality is all these powers integrated together, into Perfect Being, the True Spirit-Self known as Purusha, and from this Perfect Reality of Being the world creatively unfolds. The world is from the Integrated Reality but does not perfectly reflect that Reality, because this world is fragmented and out of balance. The world is fragmented into forms and persons that lack the full balance and integratedness of the Perfect Reality from which it comes. People are too one-sided, unintegrated and out of balance, and they are attached to such identities, all of which causes suffering in the world. The One God, out of which come all divine powers and creation, is called the Brahman Reality. This God-Being is not a mere abstract idea of the Universal Totality, nor is It merely a collection of multiple gods or potentials. Brahman is a singular reality, being itself. The seeming paradox is that Brahman is not authoritarian in creation and does not single-mindedly determine the unfolding creation. This is because Brahman, though One Being of multiple integrated powers, allows It's various powers and qualities to mix and relate in all sorts of spontaneous ways, such that creation is a great playfulness, Lila, of the One Being. The various powers and potential qualities of Brahman are free to play within creation.
Creation is a free play of these divine powers and qualities. We say this is a free play, but of course we mean this in an overall view of creation, since the forces of free play, rajas, are often conditioned by the other two forces of material inertia or habit, tamas, and by the force of organizing intelligence, a force of sattva.
The qualities are mostly fragmented and unintegrated in this world, but they can regain their integration through the evolutionary process of yoga, the return to cosmic self unity. The free play of the unintegrated world of selves is still amusing, but all life has the inherent attraction to eventually return to the Perfectly Integrated Universal Self, Brahman, from which all selves derived. Three fundamental powers, principles, or cosmic laws come from the integrated Being of Brahman. These form the triplicity of the Brahman Nature. But because there are three principles, there are also three triplicities, each known from one of the three fundamental viewpoints of the conceptualizing mind. The different viewpoints can bring about a philosophical confusion, yet the complete triplistic Nature of Brahman remains coherent in Itself. One of the triplicities can be viewed as material forms, pure consciousness, and the conceptualizing mind. These three relate in various ways to form our experienced reality.
Traditional Vedantic philosophies have tended to emphasize the reality of pure consciousness and degrade or name as illusion the conceptualizing mind and material forms, but this itself is merely a one-sided conceptualization of reality. The complete truth must encompass all three principles, all three powers of the One Reality, and all three must eventually evolve and integrate together for Brahman to more fully actualize within life. This is one view of spiritual evolution. There is no ultimate virtue in completely transcending the conceptual mind or the material world. Both the mind and matter are our given realities, and thus are potentially as spiritual as pure spirit itself.
Mind and matter are the fundamental experiences of consciousness, and each are fundamental purposes of this human existence. The true virtue is in spiritualizing mind and matter; thus evolving the mind toward a more coherent and integrated understanding of the self and reality as a whole, and evolving the material world toward a greater beauty and harmony of interaction.
It is of course true that the material world and the conceptual mind can be great traps to spiritual experience. This world and the thinking mind can hold our true nature attached to the limited senses and limited thought. This is why the spiritual teachings of yoga tended to negate the material world and the intellectual mind.
Sexual desires and philosophical arguments can be great attachments and traps. So can personal power and success. But such negation is ultimately a one-sided approach, if it becomes fanatical. Merely fulfilling one's sexual desires, one's desire for material success, or employing the conceptual mind, cannot lead to spiritual realization; and yet, using and enjoying the body and the conceptual mind does not necessarily hold us back from spiritual realization. The way of tantra is a way of integrating the whole living being, embracing and using both body and mind in the spiritual journey. We don't cut out part of our being. We respect and enjoy all of it. The secret is non-attachment and non-grasping. We don't let the mind or the body hold us back. We renunciate from attachment. We don't live being attached to our body or our concepts, but we do live in the body and in the mind, hopefully integrating these together with spiritual consciousness.
The conceptualizing mind cannot be a substitute for true insight, yet conceptualizing one's direct experiences is valuable for stabilizing direct insights and understandings. We can ground spiritual experience or realization in the mind, making a kind of landmark in our conceptual view of reality. These conceptual landmarks are helpful in leading us back to certain experiences, building upon them, and communicating them with conceptual language. We thus build a more complete and coherent view of the reality of self and world, and we are able to communicate this to others. Any verbal or written communication requires the conceptual mind. All the spiritual teachers who negated the value of the conceptual mind were, in fact, necessarily using this mind to communicate their teachings which were, in fact, conceptual views of spiritual reality. All anti-intellectual philosophies hypocritically use the intellect for their support and rhetoric. I'm not suggesting that the intellectual, conceptualizing mind can, in itself, discover truth, but it can clothe the truth in suitable form and build a coherent view of reality, based on direct experience.
Traditional yogic philosophies, that is, those which acquired greater social support from the vedantic establishment, such as the works of Patanjali, rather than works by the many tantric masters, tended toward a negative view of the world, the body, and of the intellect. They were almost obsessed with a fear of attachment to the body and mind and obsessed with the goal of spiritual purity.
Renunciation and purification are, without doubt, cornerstones of any spiritual philosophy, but the obsession on purity is not. Because of the obsession with purity, yoga tends to look overly chaste and anti-worldly. The tantra never accepted this fanatical emphasis on purity, and many rituals intentionally embraced people and things traditionally thought to be impure. Fundamentally, though, the tantra embraced pleasures of the human body and fascinations of the imagination, which were distinctly opposed by other yogas, the so-called 'pure' yogas. Practices of purification, in mind and body, are important in tantra, but living in the world as a divine body and viewing the world from the divine imagination is equally important. The ultimate goal of purifying the mind and body is to transformatively evolve our understanding and sensitive feelings, so to more fully enjoy life in this body here on earth and come closer to being true to what is essential in our living experience.
Greater purity should transform our body-mind existence. The goal of purity is not to leave behind this body, this mind, or this living world, but to be more fully alive in the body-mind, more vital, more loving, more understanding, more enlightened, and more truthful to our natural-divine being relating in the world.
We want to come into realization of our pure divine nature. That is the importance of purity and renunciation. The tantra makes no argument against this. But ultimately, the body and even the conceptual mind have to be included in what we call the spiritual being. All of this is what we are. It's what our life is about.
Without the body, without emotions, and without thoughts, our human life would become quite dull, unexciting, and uninteresting. Many yogis call this dull life spiritual and blissful. Their blissful experience cannot be denied, but the tantra holds faith in the potential blissfulness of fully being human, enjoying the body, the feelings, and the thinking mind, as well as the pure spirit.
Still, we should not mistake mere conceptual thinking for the purity of spiritual realization. Conceptual thinking is useful on the spiritual journey, but it is not spiritual realization. And spiritual realization requires a surrender of conceptual thinking, at least for the time of that realization, because self-realization is essentially a conscious purification of conceptual thought. The way to spiritual realization is through renunciation of worldly and bodily attachment and through purification of the mind-body.
Only when the mind is cleared of mental clutter and purified of thought, can Spirit be realized. Spirit is the deep essence of mind, the source and essential being of mind. This is realized as pure, translucent light, not merely perceiving such light but being this light realized.
Spirit, our true self, is pure blissful consciousness. It is not created in us, though we do develop the capacity for its realization. It is already here, as the very essence of our mind, but it is clouded by our incessant thinking and worrying. Pure consciousness exists behind this thinking or behind the thoughts of which consciousness is attached and bound. It is as though God were our true consciousness, the One truly experiencing life, but our incessant thoughts and desires keep demanding attention. We're always talking inside, or we're always going 'Look at this. This is important', or we're just carried on uncontrollably by the habitual inertia of our associative thinking. However it is, our consciousness, which is essentially pure, is usually being employed by our incessant worries and thoughts. This is the trap which pure consciousness cannot alone break free of. That is because this pure consciousness serves whatever is asked and involves itself with whatever is demanded. It is us who must save ourselves from a fate of never realizing the purity of consciousness. The way must be to renunciate or sacrifice this habitual pattern of thinking, to let go of all that clutters the natural purity of consciousness, and thus realize that purity when all else dissolves. If we would just shut up and listen, we could hear that purity of our being. Stop the inner talking and purely listen to the knowing sound of oneself underneath or before thought. You won't realize your true self, pure of any concepts, if you listen for thoughts, because your pure self is not a thought. Don't listen for thought. Listen to being itself.
Neither do you see the self, like you would see other things. This pure self has no form. It is like a boundless space of pure light. The pure self cannot be visualized. And you're not looking for some image of yourself, or an image of your soul. All of this belongs to the conceptual mind. It's fine for what it is, but it doesn't lead to the pure realization of oneself. The pure realization is without image, without thought, without idea, and without any object of any kind. This is the pure self-realization, called Samadhi, when there are no objects of consciousness, no things or thoughts taking up or trapping the pure experiential mind. Conscious experience is just of itself, not looking at anything, not even hearing anything, no thoughts, no images, nothing but consciousness itself in absolute purity. Here, one is blissfully lost in pure consciousness, lost within but conscious throughout. That is known as the great death, and it is known as the great ressurection. It is the still point between death and life, between non-creation and creation, and it is known in the tantra as Shiva. We can call this transcendental consciousness, because it transcends all thought and objects of consciousness.
Here, there is freedom. And many believe this is the final goal of the spiritual journey. But we can carry this new found freedom into our lives and into the world. This freedom transforms ourself and eventually transforms the world. This freedom will transform the mind and the body, but not if we negate the mind and body, and not if we intentionally suppress them. The nature of this pure consciousness, or pure self, is blissfulness and freedom.
Yet, it also has the nature of creative, imaginative will. Pure consciousness is free of thought and body feelings; yet, its inherent divine impulse is to be creative in mind and body. This is, in fact, the divine impulse of creation and the true source of the creative imagination behind all creative activity and manifestation.
If we suppress that creative impulse of pure consciousness, through an ongoing forceful intention to remain always in this purity, then we are negating part of our divine nature. Our pure divine self is unattached and free of thought and body, and yet it is also free to create, if we allow this freedom. Unfortunately, many spiritual egos of the yoga tradition did not allow this creative freedom of their divine self. If allowed, the creative nature of pure blissful consciousness will spontaneously unfold, first in thought and then in body. Creation began with this spontaneity of Divine Being, out of the creative imagination of Divine Consciousness, as represented by Shiva, and manifesting through the vital and enjoyable energies of the world, as represented by Shakti. The mind of creation is Shiva and the body of creation is Shakti. So if divine creation occurs in this manner, such ought to be possible in human existence, for we are the reflections of Divine Being. If Divine Being spontaneously creates and enjoys existence, then why not us? Creation must be a great purpose of Divine Being, so why would yogis think that this is not our purpose? Creation, activity, enjoyment, thought, feelings, body, relationships -- all these are purposes of the Divine.
Our purpose is not to evolve out of the world,
transcending it into pure spirit,
but to evolve in the world, infusing it with pure spirit.
In the Tantras and in the ancient Upanishads there is no silly idea that God created the world so that we should suffer for some primordial mistake, nor for the purpose of us renunciating the world. This world isn't a testing ground for some defined set of morals, nor is it a filthy, low-life place to get out of. The true reason for renunciation in the yoga tradition was to be clear of the usual demands and temptations of the world, so that one could concentrate on the goal of spiritual realization, acknowledging that this world can hold us back and clutter our minds. That renunciation may be needed, for the forces of attachment and ignorance in the world are powerful. Yet, this does not mean that the world is outside of the divine purpose or that it must ultimately be transcended. The deeper meaning of renunciation is known as vairagya, the renunciation of illusion, the illusion of separate existence. This involves self-surrender to the one and only inner truth eternally present but usually veiled by our incessant thoughts and desires. These thoughts and desires are mostly concerned with what we think of as `I', as ourself. We are usually thinking about ourself, or something related to this self, or something or someone that `I' am attached to or concerned about. So, these thoughts about ourself and about our attachments or concerns will veil the inner truth or the pure light of being. Only when these are surrendered can the inner light be realized. Only when these thoughts dissolve and stop clouding the clear sky of consciousness, can the pure sky be seen in its true of translucent splendor. And we must sacrifice this `I' as an object-reality, as something real in itself, to be protected, maintained, or satisfied. The `I', that is, the life-conscious subject that we think we are, is merely a concept and not a real existence. It may be a useful concept for this particular body-mind conglomerate to relate in the practical world, but the higher teachings say that this self-notion is an illusion which must be finally sacrificed before the true spiritual realization is possible. The notion of oneself, or `I' existence, is like looking out into the cosmos from this unique and separate center of existence. So it is called the ego-perspective, perceiving all reality from some center, or relating everything one learns to this center of significance. Such `I'-centricity may be inevitable or inevitably practical in living as a body-mind in relation to other body-minds, so believing that this ego-self can be or ought to be permanently transcended in this life seems to be a false idealism. Yet, realizing a transcendence of this ego-perspective is undoubtedly possible in this life, at least for some period of time.
It is possible, in deep conscious meditation, to surrender or sacrifice all thoughts and desires, and even the sense of `I'ness, ahamkara, in order to fully experience the transcendental self, Unmani, or the true spiritual nature, Purusha. Here, there is only the experience of conscious bliss or unbounded enlightened space. This is the true spiritual realization, the realization of who we really are. We come into the purity of conscious being, where there is only the subject-self consciousness and no self-object of consciousness. This is not an inner perception `of' the true self, as an object or image of consciousness. Instead, it is the experience of no object, neti-neti, not this not that. It is not a thought and it is not an image. It is a pure experience, a pure realization.
It is when the object of consciousness is no different than consciousness itself, such that complete unity of mind is realized. The object of consciousness is finally consciousness itself, as all else has dissolved, as all else has been sacrificed in the fire, Agni, of pure consciousness. This is Samadhi. When all objects of mind, all thoughts, all experiences, have been consciously sacrificed back into the pure Light from which they originally came. This is purification, called shuddhi, in its highest meaning. The essential nature of mind is this transparent pure consciousness, but it can only be realized when mind consciousness is purified of all thoughts and images. The mind is really like a mirror, reflecting objects, but when all objects disappear the mirror is realized in its pure translucent luminosity. The thoughts veiling or obscuring the mirror must dissolve. Then, the pure truth of Self is known. Who we are, in pure essence, is realized. Only the pure clarity of consciousness remains.
The secret is consciously letting go and allowing consciousness to just purely be. One then finds that pure consciousness is pure bliss, and one just allows the mind-body to remain in this blissful existence.
Thoughts of self-concern or other worries of mind may arise, like ghosts vying for attention. 'Hey but what about me,' they say, worried they won't get their due attention from the mind resting in bliss. We should give these kids assurance by affirming that we'll deal with these concerns later after having time in the blissfulness of our true nature. But for some period of time, at least, we can allow this pure realization to just be, allowing this pure delight, this Ananda, to be full in experience. Such is Samadhi, though probably a temporary Samadhi. Samadhi cannot completely survive all the time in our practical life. But that's OK. Samadhi is not meant to be practical, though it will transform our practical mind and our practical life.
Samadhi can carry into our lives, but for practical reasons we cannot expect this purest state of mind to completely survive in daily life. Yet it will gradually grow into our daily conscious lives, if we keep coming back to this pure realization. That is the practical value of spiritual practice.
The spiritual path, though, is not to just remain in this pure consciousness or Samadhi. The path is to allow this purity to transform our being of mind and action, to be in life and serve life inspired by this pure realization of Self-reality. The Samadhi can grow in us. We do not develop this spiritual realization, for the truth of pure Self already eternally exists, but we can develop this realization in our mind-body and radiate this truth into the world of relationships. This is spiritual evolution in life, making this realization a reality in our living existence as a mind-body interrelated with others. The spiritual goal is not just transcendence. It is bringing the power and realization of transcendence into creation.