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Pratyabhijnahrdayam Sutra 1

[ Easy Translation by Modern Scholers of Kashmir Shaivism ]

[ Originally posted by BEN HOSHOUR ON OCTOBER 4, 2012 BY @


FIRST STRA: Sutra 1 discusses the creative force of the universe. From a devotional point of view, it addresses the hearts longing to know the nature of God. The sutraoffers an explanation of Reality the nature of Reality and its relation to the world around us, as human beings.

Pronunciation of Sutra 1 || CITIH SVATANTR VIVA-SIDDHI-HETUH || 1 Awareness, full and independent, is the cause of the performance of everything. || 1 || (Christopher Wallis) Absolute Consciousness, of its own free will, is the cause of the manifestation, preservation, and dissolution of the universe. || 1 || (Jaideva Singh) Consciousness, in Her freedom, brings about the attainment of the universe. (Swami Shantananda) || 1 ||
citih: Consciousness, Conscious Awareness Svatantra: Free, independent, self-reliant, autonomous Visva: Everything, the universe, All of the principles of reality (tattvas) Siddhi: Accomplishment, attainment, performance, (creation, stasis, and dissolution) Hetuh: Cause To that end, in order to make it clear that the very Divinity that is ones own Self: 1) is the cause of everything, 2) can be reached through an easeful and direct path, and 3) is the most worthwhile fulfillment possible, it is taught:

|| CITIH SVATANTR VIVA-SIDDHI-HETUH || 1 || Awareness, free and independent, is the cause of the performance of everything.
Awareness itself is the Goddess we worship, the Supreme Power. She is free and independent, meaning that she consists of absolute Self-awareness. She is not different from Lord iva. She is the cause of the performance of everything: everything means all the Principles of Reality from Sadiva down to Earth;

performance means the emergence of all these layers of reality and their continued manifestation (i.e. their stasis) and their dissolution (i.e., coming to rest within the Supreme Knower).

For when She [i.e. Awareness] is flowing forth, the world appears, and remains there; when her flow ceases, it disappears.

Your own experience confirms this. Now anything elsesuch as my [the power of illusion], prakrti [primordial materiality], and so on could not be the cause of any object or aspect of reality because anything separate from the Light of Awareness (cit-praka) would be unperceivable, and therefore cannot be said to exist. On the other hand, if it is something manifest to perception (prakamna), for that very reason, it is inseparable from, and of one nature with, the Light of Manifestation (praka); and the nature of this light is simply Awareness. SoAwareness alone, and nothing else, must be considered the cause of anything that appears. For this very reason, place, time, and form, which are emitted from this Awareness, and which are sustained and animated by it, are not able to divide its fundamental nature. Thus, this Awareness equally pervades all places, arises at all times, and encompasses all forms. This is precisely what is implied by the stra. Objection: I understand that the world cannot exist as something different from Awareness. However, if Awareness and the world are the same thing, how can one be the cause and the other an effect? It is said in reply: It is the blessed Goddess who is nothing but Awareness, pure and free, who vibrates as the various infinite worlds: the condition of cause and effect has only this much reality. (2) And the stra reads as it does to allow for this interpretation: this Awareness alone is the cause of the performance of everything, which means the manifestation of knowers, the means by which they know, and the objects known. The function of the ordinary, feeble means of knowledge is to make apparent some previously unknown fact. Therefore, these are neither useful nor capable of establishing Awareness, which is independent, undivided, and continuously revealing itself. As it is said in the Trikasra:

If a person desires to step on the shadow of his head with his own foot, he will find his head will never be in the place of his foot. The power of the Point is the same. ||
(3) And the stra reads as it does to allow for this interpretation: This Goddess Awareness is the cause of the completion of everything, meaning its re-absorption; that is, She brings about its fusion with complete non-duality, causing one to relish it as seamless Unity. For this very reason, She is called independent. (4) We can derive a further explanation by reading the stra in this way: when its independence is fully recognized, this Awareness becomes the cause of all attainments, i.e., both worldly happiness and liberation. (5) Furthermore, this Awareness can be caused through the attainment [i.e., experience] of anything. That is, Awareness can be recognized whenever any object of perceptionthe color blue, the feeling of happiness, the body, the breath, etc.enters and merges with any self-aware knower by ascending through the path of perception. Through this reading, the stra teaches that there is an easy means of realization. As it is said in the sacredLord Vijna-Bhairava:

The awareness of knower and known is common to all embodied beings, but for yogs there is this difference: they pay careful attention to the connection. ||
The word Awareness is in the singular, expressing that it is not limited by place, time, or form, and suggesting the falsity of all dualistic doctrines. The phrase free and independent, denotes

difference from Vednta by stating that Awareness has an unlimited power of action as its essence. Thus the compound the cause of the performance of everything conveys that this Power of Awareness is: infinitely powerful the cause of everything reachable through an easeful and direct path, and

the most worthwhile fulfillment possible. || 1 || Sutra 1 with explanation:

Awareness, free and independent, is the cause of the performance of everything. || 1 ||

The first stra is the beginning and the end of the journey, and it pervades the whole. Full realization of the truth the stra points to is itself final liberation. The stras scope ranges from the entire cosmos of time and space down to the most trivial and ordinary of human experiences; and furthermore, it dissolves the apparent gulf between those two extremes. In light of this teaching, the ordinary becomes extraordinary, and the extraordinary becomes rather ordinary (or. at least, to-be-expected). In its light, the whole of reality is seen to be animated by conscious energy, pulsing in a dynamic dance of self-reflection, seemingly achieving ever greater harmony with itself, yet paradoxically complete and perfect in each moment. The word performance rightly suggests that all activity is the artistic self-expression of the Absolute: sometimes a joyous dance, other times a tragic play, but like all art, always a conscious self-exploration that yields wondrous beauty as its fruit. Indeed, that beauty, that sense of expansive, awestruck wonder (camatkra) that naturally arises upon truly seeing the exquisite pattern of the Whole, is the only consummation sought by divine Consciousness in all Her activities. In that state of true seeing, Awareness becomes fully itself. Since the joy of seeing and being seen in Her true nature is the only purpose to Her performance, everything whatsoever contributes to that consummation. Before we turn to Kemas detailed commentary on the first stra, let us contemplate some alternative translations of this all-important initial revelation of the text. All of these possibilities are allowed, even suggested, by the Sanskrit, and the first four are alternatives that Kema definitely has in mind, as we shall see. Take your time with these; savor them, feel their vibration, and ask yourself, What experience of reality might give rise to these words? Instead of answering that question with more words, simply explore the feeling that arises when you gently hold it in awareness. Stra One alternative translations Awareness, needing nothing but itself, is the cause of the manifestation of all things. Awareness, of its own accord, is the cause of the ultimate fulfillment of all things and beings. Autonomous awareness is the source of all attainments. Autonomous awareness can be accessed through the experience of anything. Autonomous awareness causes all things to become (or to be realized as) what they are. Awareness, free and independent, is the cause of the magic of the universe.

Now we will turn to Kemas commentary. He begins, as usual, with a simple gloss of the stra. A gloss is a terse definition that provides one or two synonyms for each word in the stra. It is an important device a Sanskrit commentator uses to clarify the basic meaning. For these crucial phrases, I give both the English and the Sanskrit, bolding the Sanskrit words that occur in the original stra.

Awareness itself is the Goddess [we worship], the Supreme Power. ~ Par-akti-rp citir eva bhagavat ~

She is free and independent, meaning that she consists of absolute Selfawareness. ~ svatantrnuttara-vimara-may ~ She is not different from Lord iva. ~ iva-bhattrakbhinn ~
The opening statement of Kemas commentary describes the first word of the first stra: citi or Awareness (pronounced CHIT-ee). He tells us that in his school of nondual aiva Tantra, awareness is the ultimate principle of reality, the highest goal to be attained, and that which is most worthy of worship. And the adherents of this school do worship awareness, quite literally, in the form of the lineage-goddess of the Trika, Par Dev. Par Dev (Supreme Goddess), also known as Par akti (Supreme Power) and Par Vk (the Supreme Word), is nothing but the personification of the power of fully expanded Awareness. As her name suggests, she is not so much a sectarian deity as a means of focusing devotion on the most fundamental power of reality as we know it. In Tantra, of course, every power or potency (akti) is worshipped as a goddess, or rather as an aspect of the Goddess. So clearly, the Supreme Goddess is she who embodies the most fundamental power. Looking at it another way, we could say that equating Par akti with awareness constitutes an argument on the part of this school that awareness is indeed the fundamental power. The Sanskrit permits this alternate translation: The blessed Goddess who is nothing but Awareness is the supreme Power. Imagine the cumulative impact on your life of worshipping Goddess Awareness every day for years on endfor adherents of this school did just that. Para is a multivalent deity, associated not just with the power of awareness, but also with two of its specific features. The first of these is pratibh, which simultaneously means intuitive insight, natural instinct, and creative inspiration. The second is icch, the urge to act on that inner wisdomi.e., the movement of the unconditioned will. So worship of Par is the veneration of these principles as well, to both of which we shall return in due course.

She is free and independent, meaning that she consists of absolute Selfawareness. ~ svatantrnuttara-vimara-may ~
Kema next addresses the second word of the stra, svatantra, which means independent, selfreliant, free and autonomous. Following his teacher, he argues that the fundamental attribute of Awareness is its total autonomy, its unlimited freedom (citi svatantr). But heres where it gets interesting: he glosses svatantr with consisting of absolute self-awareness (anuttaravimara- may). That is to say, Kema is telling us that to be completely self-aware is to be completely free. This is one of the most powerful teachings he has to offer us. We continually seek to experience freedom by manipulating our external circumstances; for example, most people believe if they have more money, they will be more free and independent. But what kind of independence is it that depends on money for its continuance? Kema tells us that freedom is an inner state that arises naturally once you know yourself completely. To know the whole of your real being is to know a freedom so limitless that it has to be directly experienced to be believed. The attainment of such self-awareness is made possible by clear and honest self-reflection. Lets engage in a little of that now. Hold this question in awareness for a few minutes, without grasping toward an answer: What is the connection between self-awareness and independent freedom? Now, think of a time when your self-understanding increased substantially. How did it result in greater independence and freedom? Conversely, think of a time when you experienced a breakthrough in your sense of your independence. Can you see how it was linked to an increased

self-awareness? The most common misunderstanding here is to think that this freedom is something individual or personal. In fact, we are talking about the innate autonomy of awareness, and that awareness is one and the same for all beings. When you access this divine freedom, you recognize that no one could ever limit your experience but you. You see all beings in yourself and yourself in all beings, so this is not the sort of freedom in which you take what you want at others expense, which in reality is not freedom at all but bondage.

She is not different from Lord iva. ~ iva-bhattrakbhinn ~

With his third phrase, Kemarja acknowledges that iva and the Goddess are just two names for the same principle, Awareness. Contrary to popular perception, in Tantrik philosophy the ultimate reality is not generally pictured as the conjoined pair of iva and akti (though that image is at the center of much ritual practice). Rather, one or the other name will be used, for either the God or the Goddess can be taken to signify the whole of divine reality. So here, Kema tells us that he will use the image of the Goddess as the guiding metaphor in his teaching, while signalling to us that he doesnt mean anything different from what is signified by the name iva. Nondualists usually prefer to focus on akti, because they are more interested in the ways consciousness flows in manifest reality than in the purely transcendent realms often denoted by the symbol of iva. Having established this, he goes on to gloss the rest of the stra: She is the cause (hetu) of the performance (siddhi) of everything(viva): everything means [all the Principles of Reality] from Sadiva (a.k.a. the Power of the Will, tattva #3) down to Earth (tattva#36); performance means: the emergence [of all these layers of reality] their continued manifestation, i.e. their stasis. their dissolution, i.e., coming to rest within the Supreme Knower.

Remember that as a pure nondualist, Kema is never differentiating the Goddess, i.e. univeral consciousness, from your very own power of awareness. Thus he can talk about the whole cosmos and your individual experience in the same breath. He can do this easily since Sanskrit is a gendered language, and the word awareness (citi) is a feminine nounso the pronoun she can simultaneously refer to the Goddess and awareness, as such. This flexibility of pronoun is impossible to translate, since in English we only use she to refer to persons. But try to keep the flexibility of the original Sanskrit in mind when you see the word she. Kema tells us that this Power is the cause of the creation, stasis, and dissolution of the whole of reality. He defines reality in terms of the schema of the 36 tattvas. This is significant, because the 36 tattvas are not a map of reality like one that a material scientist would draw; rather, they constitute of map of the total experience of reality had by conscious beings. And that, of course, is the only reality that we can know and speak about; anything else is mere speculation (and even that speculation is not separable from our conscious experience). Totally unlike the periodic table of the elements, then, all of the tattvas appear in and inform every moment of human experience (though you may not yet be aware of the more subtle of them).

As Kema indicates, 34 of the 36 tattvas are caused, that is, they emerge from the primal Cause, whether the latter is identified as iva (tattva #1) orakti (tattva #2), two sides of the same coin. That Cause, or Source, is not only the Creator, but also the Maintainer and Destroyer of every aspect of reality. Kema carefully chooses words for these three Acts that point to their real nature: thus creation is really the emergence of what is eternally held in the Source as pure potentiality (sti = nipatti); the second Act, known as maintenance or stasis, is not at all static, but rather a continually refreshed manifestation (sthiti = prakana); and destruction is really the dissolutionor reabsorption of what has been manifested back into its Source, here named as the Supreme Knower (samhaara = para-pramt-virnti). With that final phrase, Kema reminds us that he is not differentiating here between divine Awareness and your apparently ordinary awareness, for the Supreme Knower is the essence and core of all beings whatsoever. This non-differentiation is easy to see in the original Sanskrit, where it is clear that this description of the creation and dissolution of the whole universe is equally a description of your individual creation and dissolution of your own experience of realityfor the latter process is nothing but the former reiterated on a smaller scale. Indeed, it is only in translating Kemas words into English that even the illusion of difference appears. He simply describes the one process which operates on all scales. This point is driven home by what he says next:

For when She [i.e., Awareness] is flowing forth, the world appears (unmi), and remains there; when Her flow ceases, it disappears. Your own experience is the witness for this.
Since reality is manifested by the power of awareness and has no existence apart from awareness, the world only appears when awareness is flowing. Kema tells us that our own experience is the witness (sk) of this: a nice double meaning, for he suggests I am the nothing but the witness of all that arises and subsides in my moment-to-moment experience, and also implies that my daily experience of falling asleep repeatedly confirms that when my awareness does not flow toward it, the world truly ceases to exist for me. Similarly, the world of dreams ceases to exist the moment I awaken and reverse the flow of awareness. As within, so without. As above, so below. The daily cycle of waking and sleeping is a microcosm of a vast cycle of creation and dissolution and recreation of worlds. If the consensus reality I know in my waking state still exists while I am asleep, it is only because other beings are awake to witness it. Since all that exists exists solely within Awareness, there cannot be objects without subjects; in other words, without perceivers, there are no perceivables. This proposition reminds people of the Zen koan, If a tree falls in the forest, and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound? The answer, in fact, is indisputable: it cannot make a sound, because sound denotes the experience a perceiver has when a vibration moving through the medium of air strikes the eardrum. It denotes the coming together of all those factors within the field of awareness. It is meaningless to talk of sound otherwise. Similarly, it is meaningless to talk of the existence of the universe independent of our conscious perception of it (except as a theoretical construct wholly dependent on that very perception). Note, however, that this philosophy is not asserting simplistically that there was no universe before we were here to see itrather, what is being said is that universe denotes the collection of perceivable objects as they exist within our perceptions. What we call universe is only the coming together of perceivers and things perceived, a coming together exclusively mediated by the means of perception (including mind and consciousness) possessed by those perceivers. We cannot know anything apart from this. One of the most widespread modern myths, produced by a superficial understanding of physics, is the notion of an unconscious universe that exists independently of conscious beings, vast and uncaring, against the backdrop of which our appearance is a meaningless and accidental blip. The fact is, such a universe exists only as a figment of our imagination. All that we have direct evidence of, all that can be properly called real, is the phenomena that arise from the union of perceivers and perceived. So it is literally true to say that the universe appears when awareness is flowing. Scientists and philosophers can all accept the main point being made here (provided they understand it)but Kema takes it further, making a point which not all will accept without meditative investigation: that awareness is not only necessary for the appearance of reality, it is the cause of its appearance, its apparent consistency, and its disappearance too. Though the universe has no existence apart from awareness, awareness can and does exist apart from the universe. You can verify this through your own experience as well: for example, in states of meditation where all percepts and concepts have dissolved, but awareness remains. Since it is the only constant in radically different states of experience, wholly divided from each otherthe waking state, the dream state, and the samdhi state (contentless meditation)the tradition argues that awareness must be seen as the substratum of all these states. And in Indian philosophy, the substratum of anything is also the cause of its manifestation. We will return to all these themes later, so dont feel you need to understand them now.

We can sum up everything weve learned so far quite easily:

Awareness brings about the emission, sustenance, and reabsorption of all objects of experience as an expression of itself. Awareness is therefore the ultimate principle of reality and that which is most worthy of reverence.
Of course, these propositions will only make sense if you grasp that the mind is one of the things produced by this all-encompassing Power of Awareness, not the other way around as materialists believe. This is why we use the phrase divine awarenessnot to denote the awareness that is possessed by some separate God, but to indicate an Awareness that is all-encompassing and fundamental to all that it can observe, including the mind and its contents, including even your very sense of self. Having established Awareness as the ultimate universal cause and source of all phenomena, Kema now turns to address some of the other things put forward as the universal cause by other schools of Indian philosophy. He seeks to demonstrate, with a terse bit of logical argument, why they cannot possibly be the universal cause. In order to understand his argument here, we need to first encounter the Sanskrit word praka. There is no direct translation forpraka into English, as will become clear when you look at the meanings of the word below. Meanings of the word praka: (adj.) visible, shining, apparent, manifest; out in the open, public; (noun) light, splendor; manifestation; expansion, diffusion.

The meanings here group around two distinct concepts in English: light, on the one hand, and appearance or manifestation on the other. We can understand the connection between them by considering the fact that only when something is illuminated does its existence become apparent (at least to our visual sense). The noun praka derives from the verb prak; its meanings are to shine, to shine forth, to appear, to manifest, to come intobeing. The Sanskrit language itself, then, has already predisposed our philosophers towards a certain line of thought, which is hardly a problem for them because they consider Sanskrit a sacred, divinely revealed language. (Later we will explore the word often paired with praka, i.e. vimara,reflection, which continues and deepens the metaphor of Awareness-as- Light.) Light becomes, then, the central metaphor for Awareness in nondual Tantrikphilosophy. This is a felicitous choice of metaphor, because it correctly implies that the whole of manifest reality consists of various forms of energy. We can translate praka in the current context as the Light of Manifestation, the Light of Creation, or even the Light of Awareness, since we already understand that it is Awareness that manifests all things and states of being. But keep the more basic meanings in mind, and you will understand the following paragraph better; for example, aprakasimultaneously means unmanifest, unperceivable, and not shining. Lets turn now to Kemarjas refutation of the other schools.

Now anything elsesuch as my [the power of illusion], prakti [primordial materiality], and so oncould not be the cause of any object or aspect of reality because anything separate from the Light of Awareness (cit-praka) would be [by definition]unperceivable (apraka), and therefore cannot be said to exist. On the other hand, if it is something manifest to perception (praka-mna), for that veryreason, it is inseparable from, and of one nature with, the Light of Manifestation (praka); and the nature of this light is simply Awareness. So Awareness alone, and nothing else, [must be considered] the cause [of anything that appears].

Now lets break that down a bit. Kema specifically cites the causes of the manifestation of the universe that are posited by two of the popular philosophies of his day: my, the power of illusion, posited by Vednta; andprakti, unconscious materiality, posited by Snkhya. We cannot get into the details of these concepts here, though I will mention that prakti is not so very different from the modern concept of nature as an unconscious collection of matter and the mechanical laws which govern it. What is important to realize is that in both of these philosophies, the cause of manifestation (whethermy or prakti) is something distinct from Awareness or conscious Spirit.Snkhya philosophy endorses a strong duality of matter and spirit, though both are real, whereas Vednta argues that only divine consciousness (brahman) is real, and matter only appears to be so, like a convincing mirage of water appears in the desert. Note that both of these views derive from, and perpetuate, a fundamentally world-denying attitude. The world is basically a vale of tears, tainted by sin, and thus not to be associated with divine Consciousness, which is absolutely pure and couldnt possibly be sullied with the creation of a messy reality filled with dualities like pure and impure, good and bad, beautiful and ugly. The Tantrik View, by contrast, refutes all duality, or rather argues that duality is only true as a level of perception that does not yet see the Whole. (We will of course return to this theme.) Kemarjas paragraph above is a condensation of an argument previously presented by his teacher, Abhinava Gupta. The argument amounts to this: that to whatever cause the philosophical opponent proposes, we can respond, Is this cause something separate from the Light of Awareness or not? If you say it is separate, we say then that anything separate from that Light is by definition unknown and unperceivable, in which case it does not exist except as a mental construct, which clearly is a vibration of the Light of Awareness. If you say it is not separate, but rather is indeed something manifest and perceptible, then you must allow that it is just another form of the Light of Awareness, whose nature is to manifest objects of experience. Therefore, the only possible cause of anything and everything is Awareness. (If this is a bit exhausting for you, take heart from the fact that this kind of philosophical argument is rather rare in Kemarjas text. I can tell you that it is quite a bit easier to follow in the Sanskrit, though I have spent three years making the English as clear as possible.) In philosophy, the nondual Tantrik View is considered idealism (as opposed to realism), since everything is seen as internal to Awareness, and is an expression of the same. But this simple dichotomy makes the present View sound overly mystical, and misses the very simple and immediately demonstrable point: that we can be sure that objects of experience are internal to awareness, but we cannot be sure that they have any existence external to awareness; and anyway, it is pointless to speculate, since all we have access to are the contents of awareness. Having established that irrefutable fact, it necessarily follows that there is only one Awareness, since we observe that we do not each live in our own private universe, but rather can communicate effectively about an obviously shared reality, divided only by our concepts of it. There is only one Being, looking at itself through countless pairs of eyes. This is logically true as much as it is spiritually true, but we will have to explore this it more later. Suffice to say that the only divisions that exist are divisions created by the way we see things, and therefore they too are not different from the Light of Awareness, and hence cannot divide it. This is exactly what Kema declares next.

For this very reason, place, time, and form, which are emitted from this Awareness, and which are sustained and animated by it, are not able to divide its fundamental nature. Thus, this Awareness [equally] pervades all places, arises at all times, and encompasses all forms. This is precisely what is implied [by the stra].

Since Awareness is the only cause of everything, the primary apparent divisions of realityplace, time, and particular formare themselves expressions of the one Light, and have their being solely within it. They are ways of seeing reality, rather than absolute divisions. They seem absolute from the perspective of the mind, which is conditioned to notice difference, and to perceive as static form what is really a flux of interrelating andinterdependent energies. As modern physics has shown, time and space are not fixed but relative: for example time flows at a very different rate when space is different (e.g., altered by the presence of a massive body like a planet). Furthermore, in the equations of physics, which have now described the nature of the physical universe to quite a precise degree, there is no difference between the past and the futurewhich seems to reinforce theTantrik notion that past and future are mental constructs. And, according to the Tntrikas, particular formspeople, trees, bugs, starswhich seem so absolutely different to our senses are really just various permutations of a single field of matter/energy, animated by a single Awareness. Differences of name and form are significant to the conditioned mind, so it easily misses the fact that people, trees, stars, etc. are all different forms of the same thing, in the same way that gold objects are all nothing but gold, whether we call them necklace, earring, statue, or bullion. All living beings are not only made of the same stuff (the Light of Awareness), they also form acontinuous field, for they are constantly exchanging particles with their total environment, to the extent that if you were separated from your environment (e.g., transported to space), you would immediately die and dissolve. We could go on and on in this vein, but lets sum up the main points here. Divisions in the field of being, whether of time, space, or form, are not absolute, but are categories with which the analytical mind carves up reality. These categories are not, on the other hand, pure imagination, for they are based on actual boundaries. Boundaries, properly understood, are places we meet: the points where different aspects of the one field meet and trade information and/or share being. These boundaries are fluid and ever-shiftingwith the currents of the one field. They are the ways in which Awareness articulates itself, so they do not constitute actual divisions of the One. Therefore, we must conclude (with Kemarja) that the Light of Awareness equally pervades all places (vypaka), is continuously arising in all times (nityodita), and expresses itself as all forms (paripra-rpa). Of course, this logical conclusion doesnt change the fabric of your life unless it becomes direct experience. The joy of that experience makes the pleasure of entertaining these concepts incomparably feeble and pale in comparison. Whew! We are almost done with the dense philosophy stuff. People call it heady, but here its just the opposite: reflecting on the ultimate nature of reality is difficult for the mind because the minds parameters are generally much narrower than the scope of what we are trying to look into. In other words, we are trying to use mental concepts to go beyond the mind! Thats not easy, especially if you keep trying to thoroughly puzzle out the concepts instead of looking to where they are pointing you. So if you intuitively get what Kema is trying to say here, stop puzzling and move on (unless you really like puzzling and want to do it just for fun). Why did he bother with the logical philosophy? Because many people do have the kind of mind that needs to be shown that the truths being proposed are logically plausible; that is, they feel more sure of committing themselves when they see that these truths make sense on all levels, including the logical. If thats not you, dont worry about it, just keep reading! Now Kema starts to shift the discussion away from the terms of philosophy and towards those of theology. But you would be misunderstanding him if you think hes really saying something different: hes always just using different forms of discourse, different pedagogical strategies, to get at the same

thing. If you experientially (non-conceptually) grasped a single one of his statements in its completeness, you wouldnt need any others. In the next paragraph, he pictures a student raising a logical objection, and gives an answer that shows us that words and logic can only approximate the truth.

[A skeptical student asks:] I understand that the world cannot exist as something different from Awareness. However, if Awareness and the world are the same thing, how can one be the cause and the other an effect? [It is said in reply:] It is the blessed Goddess who is nothing but Awareness, pure and free, who vibrates as the various infinite worlds: the condition of cause and effect has only this much reality.
Kema here shows us the limits of concepts, and his language necessarily grows more poetic as he leans deeper toward truth. Nor is it quite translateable: the word sphurati, here rendered as vibrate, simultaneously means scintillate, sparkle, shine and burst into view, become manifest, expand. Try the sentence above again, substituting the various alternate meanings. Whisper it to yourself, and feel its power. To explicate Kemasbeautiful sentence, I can hardly do better than to quote the words of my primary academic teacher, the greatest living scholar of aiva Tantra, Professor Sanderson of Oxford. He paraphrased Kemarja in this way:

Consciousness is that unique reality which can appear this way - as the substance of all our experiences; it is one thing that can appear as a plurality without losing its central identity.
Someone who is completely steeped in the teachings of these texts can spontaneously produce a sentence as worthy of contemplation as the original source itself. We can summarize all weve learned so far with two sentences (the second sentence covering the last five pages:

Goddess Awareness brings about the emission, sustenance, and reabsorption of all things as an expression of herself. Nothing else could be the cause because nothing exists separate from the divine Light of Awareness.
Now Kema introduces a second interpretation of the meaning of the stra, his second of five interpretations in fact, each one more concise than the last. He wants to show us that the first stra is so richly layed with meanings that it contains in seed form the whole rest of his text.

And the stra reads as it does to allow for this interpretation: This Awareness alone is the cause of the performance of everything, which means [it is the cause of] the manifestation (praka) of knowers, the means of their knowing, and the objects they know. The function of the ordinary, feeble means of knowledge [i.e. sense-perception,reasoning, or believing an authoritative source] is to make apparent (praka) some previously unknown fact. Therefore, these are neither useful nor capable of establishing [the nature of] Awareness, which is independent (svatantra), undivided(aparicchinna), and continuously revealing itself(sva-praka).
Here Kemarja introduces one of the primary triads for which his lineage (theTrika or trinity) is named: that of the knower, the means of knowing, and the object known. The performance of everything or the universal accomplishment (viva-siddhi) of the stra here means manifesting the whole of reality as an expression of this triad. That is to say, everything that exists is either a knower, a means of knowledge, or an object of knowledge. These three categories exhaust the whole of reality. Knower and knowledge have become such academic terms in English, but the equivalent

terms in Sanskrit (pramt-prama-prameya) could be translated equally well as perceiverperception-perceived or cognizer-cognition-cognized. These three are seen as all arising from a single ground, Awareness. One of the central arguments of the Trika, based on meditative experience wedded to logical reflection, is that the three are aspects of a single process, and it is erroneous to regard them as separate. Its like the case of a trident mostly immersed in the watera viewer might think that there are three separate rods sticking out of the water, when if he just looked a bit deeper, he would see that there is only one object.

A contemporary meditation master and spiritual teacher, dyashnti, describes his final awakening in these terms. He tells us that he was sitting in his meditation room one morning, and he heard a bird chirp outside, and in that moment he clearly saw the nature of things: I suddenly realized I was as much the sound and the bird as the one hearing the bird, that the [one] hearing and sound and bird were all manifestations of one thing. I cannot say what that one thing is, except to say one thing. This is exactly the insight ofthe Trika masters of 1,000 years ago (whose teachings dyashnti was wholly unaware of at the time of his awakening). They called the one thing citi,which we translate as Awareness or Consciousness. Kema next makes the point that the usual ways in which we figure out the nature of things dont apply when it comes to ascertaining the nature of Awareness. He alludes to the three most common ways of acquiring knowledge: direct perception with the senses, sound logical inference, and the testimony of a reliable, authoritative source. He scorns all three as feeble in this case, for they are all ways that the mind comes to acquire some fact it didnt know before, and Awareness cannot be known in this wayit cannot be illuminated by the mind, for it is the very source of whatever light the mind possesses. The mind is a functional contraction within Awareness, dependent on it and limited; it is the moon to the sun of Awareness, luminous because of its capacity to reflect light. Awareness, by contrast, is independent, unlimited, undivided, and self-luminous. It knows the mind, but the mind cannot know it. It is the prerequisite for the minds activity, but it can see without the mind. The mind cannot grasp it, because grasping is a form of contraction, and Awareness is completely uncontracted. It remains, quietly illuminating itself, when the mind gives up and stops. If youre not getting this, then youve understood perfectly. Thats the whole pointthe mind will never grasp Awareness. All it can do it surrender to that fact, and in surrendering, melt into the ever-present field of Awareness. Kemarja conveys this truth with a quote from a scriptural text. In this text, the Trikasra, Awareness is characterized as the absolute center of your being, the point from which

all seeing is done. That point, by definition, cannot be made into an object of perception, since it is the very center of your subjectivity. In other words, you cannot see the point from which all seeing is doneyou can only be it. The text communicates this truth with a clever metaphor.

As it is said in the Trikasra [The Essence of the Triad]: If a person desires to step on the shadow of his head with his own foot, he will find his head will never be in the place of his foot. The power of the Point is similar. ||
How can you see the seer? Just as youve never seen your own face directly, when you go looking for your innermost Self, you cannot find it. But you can be itin fact, youve never stopped being it, and youll notice that the moment you stop trying to become anything and everything but it. As a wise man once said, The one you are looking for is the one who is looking. But if you are trying to see that one, to have an experience of it, you can search forever, like someone searching high and low for the glasses on their own head. When you give up the search and relax into the fullness of your own beingthere it was, all along. To be a seeker presumes the absence of that which you seek. So ironically, to go searching for the truth, you must deny that it is here. And for most people, that denial is what makes the spiritual path take a long time. If this teaching is at all frustrating or confusing for you, good. Thats the mind being checkmated. Dont worry, everything will become clear for you as we go along. For now, just breathe and be okay with where youre at. Thats the real beginning of the spiritual path. We can sum up the second interpretation of the stra in this way:

Awareness is the ever-present and sole identity of you, your experience, and the objects of your experience, which are really three aspects of a single process.
Now lets go on to the third interpretation of the stra. This interpretation focuses on the ultimate consummation of the creative play of Awareness, a consummation sometimes characterized as the goal of spiritual lifebut the term goal implies a future point we want to get to, a point at which things will be more right and perfect and divine than they are now. That is not what is implied here. Rather, Kemarja simply alludes to the inevitable culmination of the process. Is a river more beautiful and perfect when it merges with the sea? Surely its beauty is expressed in the whole of its length; and so it is for your process as well.

And the stra reads as it does to allow for this interpretation: This Goddess Awareness is the cause of the completion (siddhi) of everything, meaning itsreabsorption; that is, She brings about its fusion with complete nonduality, causing one to relish it as a seamless whole (pardvaya-smarasya). For this very reason, She is [called] independent (svatantr).
The completion or fulfillment (another meaning of siddhi) of all things is their merging or reabsorption into the ground of being, the divine absolute. However, this does not refer to the dissolution of the universe at the end of time, but rather the true seeing had by awakened consciousness: that everything is one, a continuous field, a seamless whole. Now, since this oneness is always and ever the true nature of reality, what Kema is referring to here is the shift in perception had by one who transitions from the unawake state to the awakened state (buddha-vat). Subjectively speaking, it seems as if that which was divided becomes undivided, that which was many merges into one. The advent of this state of true seeing is called pardvayasmarasya, literally, fusion into total unity. The word smarasya, fusion, comes from sama-rasa,literally same taste, so the implication is that in this state, everything is imbued with the flavor of the Divine. That should not be taken to mean that every experience literally tastes the same, which would of course be terribly boring, but rather that

everything tastes like God, meaning it is seen as absolutely beautiful exactly as it is. In this tradition, remember, the capacity to experience beauty and expansive wonder (camatkra) is the highest nature of the Divine. And this is not some kind of pollyanna-fantasy overlay onto reality. Rather, the masters of this tradition speak of the capacity to experience the terrifying, the disgusting, and the wrathful as beautiful, just as much as the astonishing, the compassionate, and the peaceful. It is the Goddess Awareness, Kema tells us, who brings about the fusion with complete nonduality. This means that it is not the conditioned mind that accomplishes this. However much the thinking mind with which we are generally identified might want to bring about this divine state, it has no power in this realm. This consummation can only be brought about by your deeper nature, the Goddesspower within all things. For this reason, your primaryresponsibility on the spiritual path is to open to that deeper power within you, surrender your false sense of agency in the process, and simply allow it to unfold. Accepting that you are not in control of this process doesnt mean resigning yourself to some sort of fatalismon the contrary, if you want to see this process unfold in the present lifetime, it is your responsibility to give Goddess Awareness the space to do what she does best, if you only give her the chance. That is what a daily practice really isgiving Her the time and space to do Her work. Not a daily practice where you are just going through the motions or numbing out with pleasurable meditation techniques, but one in which you listen deeply and seek to open fully to what is true for you in the present moment. Kema ends this paragraph with For this very reason, she is independent(svatantr). Firstly, Goddess Awareness is independent in the sense just discussed, that she brings about the unfolding of the spiritual process that leads to total immersion in nondual reality with or without the understanding of the conditioned mind. Secondly, she is independent in the sense that she is also the ground of the whole process; she is the unified field, that which manifests everything in oneness with itself. Finally, she retains her nature of absolute freedom regardless of whether individual conscious beings perceive her correctly or not. That is, oneness is true whether you see or not; you are lovingly embraced and held by Awareness in every moment, whether you experience it or not. Objects of awareness relative and dependent: they are partially created by your (and others) perception of them and doesnt exist in quite the same way without that perception. But Awareness is independent and absolute, not dependent on your perspective, just like the speed of light is always the same, no matter how fast you are going. Light thus has an absolute value, against which everything is relative. This is (unsurprisingly) a perfect parallel to the way the tradition understands Awareness as absolute, though its manifestations are relative. This is why your essence-nature, which is one with universal Awareness, remains as it is despite all the changes and traumas endured by the mind and body. We may summarize the third interpretation in this way:

Awareness independently brings about the completion/fulfillment of all beings and things by causing you to experience their perfect unity.
We now proceed to the fourth interpretation, which is quite straightforward.

We can derive a further explanation by reading the stra in this way: when its independence is [fully] recognized, this Awareness becomes the cause of all attainments (siddhi), i.e., both worldly happiness (bhoga) and liberation (moka).
In the Tantrik View, there are two goals in human life: worldly success and spiritual liberation. The former consists of learning how to successfully negotiate the challenges of embodiment. Creating sufficient harmony and balance in relation to ones work, family, mental and physical health, and so on gives rise to worldly happiness, the ability to simply enjoy life (bhoga). Unlike all the pretantrik forms of yoga, the Tantra does not reject this goal, but actually provides tools to achieve it. The

second goal or purpose of human life is seemingly very different: to achieve a spiritual liberation that entails a deep and quiet joy that is utterly independent of ones life circumstances, a joy in simply existing (moka). Tantra does not see these goals as necessarily mutually exclusive: you can strive for greater happiness in the world while at the same time deepening a practice that will enhance your ability to love your life even if it doesnt go the way you want. Its a win-win proposition. But the tradition correctly points out that unless the former activity (bhoga) is sub-ordinated to the latter (moka), it is likely that pursuit of bhoga will take over. That is potentially regrettable for two reasons: firstly, if you havent cultivated moka and your carefully built house of cards collapses, as can happen to any of us at any time, you have no inner safety net to catch you. Secondly, even if everything goes your way, the greatesthappiness that bhoga has to offer you is nothing compared to the infinite joy and freedom of moka. (However, I must also say that this way of talking is misleading, because the mind cannot picture infinite joy except as worldly happiness times infinity. That is not correctit is indeed infinite in the sense of boundless and independent, but joy is just a pseudonym. It is a state impossible for the mind to encompass, as you can easily see if I tell you that in this state, you can experience infinite sadness as an aspect of joy. The truth is, there is nothing about moka that could satisfy the mind the waybhoga does, but since, as it turns out, the mind is a very small part of your real being, that ends up not mattering very much.) Now, we tend to think that bhoga and moka require very different skill sets, and in terms of techniques that is true. But, Kema tells us, the fuel that propels both forms of development is one and the same: the power of Awareness. It gives rise to both when its independence is fully recognized. That is, when the total autonomy of Awareness is seen, a profound shift takes place. You recognize that it is you who creates your experience of reality, that no-one, not even your own conditioning, can dictate reality to you, and you are the sole author of your destiny. Not, however, in the usual sense of that phrase, that you can make anything happen by dint of sufficient effort, that you can bend the world to your individual will. No, that is total delusion. Rather, you become the author of your own destiny when you recognize that there is only ever one real choice: whether to listen to your programming or to listen to your deeper wisdom. Awareness is so free it can choose to bind itself to the minds conditioning and become that, with little to no hint of its deeper nature. And, in turn, it can melt into its expanded state and thereby access the infinite wisdom of the pattern of the whole. You create your experience of reality through this choice, moment to moment. The beauty of it is that choosing to act from your deeper wisdom, your innate inspiration (pratibh), does not mean dispensing with your conditioning. It means that the conditioned mind, which includes all learned skillsets, becomes the servant of this wisdom that contains and expresses the pattern of the whole. Of course, discerning the difference between the latter and your subconscious layers of conditioning is only possible with a listening-based meditation practice, because the latter creates ever increasingly clarity of perspective. But the practice starts now, with the simple intention to listen more deeply. Recognizing the freedom you have to choose, recognizing that no matter how challenging your circumstances, Awareness is never bound, is the key to both bhoga and moka. Recognizing the innate autonomy of your real nature is profoundly inspiring. You always have the freedom to shift the place from which you are seeing a situation, and that shift makes all the difference: it will always unveil either a different way of approaching the situation, or an opportunity to surrender more deeply to what is, or both. Think of a situation in your own life that is challenging. Become aware of the stance you are adopting towards it. Then recognize that other stances are possible. Give yourself the freedom to adopt any stance, noticing that each creates a different experience of reality. Now, recognizing your freedom to choose, tap into your deeper wisdom. Which perspective, which stance allows you to be in service to all beings involved (including yourself)? Now surrender a little

deeper, giving your hearts consent to things as they are, including your role in them. Let yourself fall into harmony with the situation by adopting the stance that is both true to you andin service. Now we turn to the fifth and final interpretation of Stra 1. It is both powerful and subtle, for here Kemarja begins to hint at the secret teachings of the Krama lineage which he will delve into further in Stras 8, 11 and 12. Both Kema and his guru Abhinava Gupta were initiates into the lineage called the Krama (Sequence, referring to the phases of cognition), also known as the Mahrtha (Great Truth). They both present the Kramateachings as the inner core of the Trika and Pratyabhij teachings. In the following interpretation, Kema arrives at a very different reading of stra one (by taking the stra as a bahuvrhi compound, for you Sanskritists out there), which essentially amounts to this:

This Goddess Awareness can be recognized through anyexperience whatsoever.

With that orientation, carefully read through Kemas paragraph a couple of times.

Furthermore, this Awareness can be caused through the attainment [i.e., experience] of anything. That is, an opportunity for recognizing[the true nature of] Awareness arises when any object of perception the colour blue, the feeling of happiness, the body, the breath, etc. enters and merges (vea) with any selfaware knower by ascending through the path of perception. Through this reading, the stra teaches that there is a easy means of realization [taught as the Kramarevelation].
The path to liberation was generally considered arduous, requiring incredible self-discipline and the cultivation of ever more refined states of consciousness through yogic meditation. The Krama, however, took a different approach, arguing that because we are never separate from our true nature, it must be accessible at any given moment, not only in the transcendental state. All that is required is careful attention to what happens in any given act of perception. This method, which is only briefly touched on here, is called the sukhopyathe easy or pleasant method. Easy is a relative term, however, and 1,000 years ago life required quite a bit more difficult labor than it does for many of us now. The easy means Kema alludes to here is not really all that easy for us modern folks, because it requires both patience and an ability to slow down and become fairly quiet inside. Isnt it interesting that slowing down and getting quiet, so pleasant for a premodern person, is so difficult for an overstimulated attention-deficit denizen of the 21st century? Lets briefly explore the method Kemarja has in mind. The key term that differentiates what he is describing above from ordinary perception is the term self-aware (vimara). Through the intensified awareness brought on by being clear, sharp, awake, and fully present, one may see the nature of reality more deeply and absorb the significance of what is seen more fully. What is it that Kema would like us to see clearly? In a nutshell, that every thing you experience becomes a part of you. There is no actual separation between you and the object of your experience, because all that really exists is the energy of awareness, vibrating to the frequency of each particular object of experience. The practice that leads to this realization is the simple tracking of each object as it transits from being an apparently objective phenomenon to merging with your innate subjectivity. First you notice anobject (e.g., chocolate ice cream), become absorbed in perceiving it for a short length of time (mmm . . . chocolate), then attention shifts to the quality of your experience of the object (I love chocolate!), and finally to a wordless contemplation of your inner being, with a subtle remnant of the flavor of the experience lingering. This is what Kemarja describes as the ascent of the object through the path of perception to merge with the self-aware knower. The fourth

and last stage of this process is the one we move on from the quickest and savor the least, though it is actually the most crucial stage for a person developing self-awareness. When you follow through each experience completely, it leads to the center of your subjectivity, your innermost self. To put it in spiritual language, each object of perception attains union with God through your experience of it. To understand this, remember that God = Awareness in this system, and then contemplate that each thing you experience becomes one with Awareness through the simple act of being perceived: it rises through one of the sense channels (vision, hearing, etc.) and dissolves within the space of pure subjectivity. Thus each act of perception is a mirror of the universal process by which all things are realized as an aspect of the One. Kemarja gives this innovative teaching greater legitimacy by citing a scriptural verse that can be interpreted in a similar way:

As it is said in the sacred Lord Vijna-Bhairava:The awareness of knower and known is common to all embodied beings, but for yogs there is this difference: they pay careful attention to the connection. || [verse 106]
The Vijna-Bhairava, itself an innovative text, here defines a yog (which in general means meditator) as one who closely examines the relationship between subject and object, seer and seen. The pre-tantrik yogas (such as that of Patajali) posited an absolute division between seer and seen, describing the innermost self as a witness that stands apart from everything it sees. Furthermore, this witnessing self (purua) is qualitatively different from that which it perceives: it is conscious spirit and everything that it perceives is unconscious matter. The Tantrik view, alluded to in the above verse, is radically different. It argues that every thing is the self-transformation of Awareness, and therefore that which is perceived is an aspect of the perceiver. In this context, paying careful attention to the connection means, among other things, noticing that each and every phenomenon is simply a vibration in the field of your awareness, and that you are that which encompasses all that is perceived and you are that which unifies it into a single field. We will investigate this more later onthis is just a foretaste. We have now explored the five different interpretations Kemarja gives to his first stra, so were ready to sit and meditate on the stra itself. Read it to yourself quietly, five times, and then just sit and absorb its vibration. Theres no need to think about all youve learned, and no need to try to clear the mind either. Just take the vibration of the stra into the deepest part of your being that you can.

Awareness, free and independent, is the cause of the performance of everything. || 1 ||

Kemarja concludes his commentary on stra one with some notes and a summing up. The notes briefly indicate how this teaching differs from other forms of Indian philosophy and religion.

The word Awareness is in the singular [not the plural], expressing that it is not limited by place, time, or form, and suggesting the falsity of all dualistic doctrines. The phrase free and independent, denotes [the] difference [of our View]from Vednta by stating that Awareness has an unlimited power of action as its essence.
We already explored above the concept of Awareness being unlimited by place, time, and form, since those categories are all emitted and sustained by awareness itself. Kemarja briefly notes here that his system denies that any dualism is ultimately real. Dualism is simply the teaching that everything boils down to two or more irreducible essences, such as spirit versus matter. Though some forms of dualism are provisionally, partially, or temporarily real, none are ultimate, for as we have seen, everything is an expression of a single unified field, the Light of Awareness.

Secondly, Kema wants us to be aware that his system (which western philosophers would call monistic idealism) is different from that of theVednta, which also asserts that everything is consciousness. However, the two systems are very different indeed because in Vednta, all activity is an illusion. This must be so because in their view, the Divine (brahman) has noakti (energy, power, dynamism), specifically no kriy-akti or power This is why Kema makes the following point the one that sets his system apart: Awareness has an unlimited power of action as its essence. This crucial phrase, cito mhevarya-srat in the Sanskrit, admits of more than one possible translation. Alternatives would be: Awareness has boundless sovereign power as its essence, or, more vaguely, Awareness has Divinity as its essence. For Kema, the use of the word Mahevara instead of Brahman to denote the Divine is important, because the former implies an absolute capacity to act, an dynamic quality that the static Brahman of the Vednta lacks. Finally, like any good college textbook, Kema sums up what the Stra One commentary has shown us. Thus the compound the cause of the performance of everything conveys that the Divinity that is ones own Self (svtma-devat) is: infinitely powerful the cause of everything reachable through an easeful and direct path, and the most worthwhile fulfillment possible. || 1 ||

The astute student who compares this summary with Kemas declaration of his intention for Stra One will notice that something has been added: there are four points established in the conclusion, whereas three points were stated in the intention. Clearly, Kema feels that the infinite powerfulness of divine Awareness was established along the way; he is probably thinking of the most recent discussion above. Note also that the phrase free and independent Awareness (citi svatantr) in the stra here becomes the Divinity that is ones own Self (svtma-devat), showing us that the two are precisely equivalent in Kemas understanding. That is, unbounded Awareness is the identity of the Deity that is not different from ones own essential nature. To put it another way, the essential nature of all beings, Awareness, is the Deity of this system. Furthermore, Kema tells us, if you were to fully see and know the reality of your essential nature, you would realize that it is the infinitely powerful cause of everything. For this to be true, of course, it must be the case that this Awareness is not personal to you, for it is clear that your individual personhood is not infinitely powerful. The ground of your being is the ground of all Being, and that is the infinitely powerful cause of everything. He also assures us that, since it is your essential nature, the realization of the Awareness-ground can occur through an easeful and direct path (which will be elaborated further at the end of stra eight, and in stras 11, 17, 18, and 19). And finally, he tells us that this realization is the most worthwhile fulfillment possible, literally the great fruit (mah-phala) that is the consummation of human life. It is the fullness of being (pratva) that all human striving is aimed at, and which only this realization succeeds in reaching. When we begin to understand and to perceive everything as Consciousness, as one Reality as a reality of One an unsettling thing happens: the world itself seems unreal at first. Or, at least, it seems grounded in a strange reality. We think that if everything is citsakti, then the universe does not exist, for what then is different from Consciousness? In other words, if God is the only Reality, then how could you or I exist, or our families, or the world we inhabit? But isnt that absurd?! Yet if the world exists, as our senses tell us it does, and it is nothing but Consciousness, as the Saivite sages suggest, then why is one thing different from another? Is every manifestation equally real? And how does Consciousness become the world?

To establish the causal connection between the Creator and the creation,Saivism offers an explanation very much its own: Supreme Consciousness, through Her own free will, contracts Herself to assume the manifold forms and objects that make up creation. In Sanskrit, contraction or condensation is called samkoca. It operates on much the same principle as water freezing to become ice or vaporizing to become steam or humidity. Though these forms are different one liquid, one solid, one vaporous in essence they are the same; their molecular composition is unchanged. If ice is melted or vapor condensed, the substance is water once again. In a similar metaphor, the sage Abhinavagupta seems to bring out the sweetness of ananda in its free and purposeful gesture of condensing into the world we experience:

As sweet watery juice will become thick and thicker still, lumpy sugar and refined sugar are only sugarcane juice, so all phenomena are merely difference states of Siva, the Lord in His universal aspect. Paramartha-sara, 26.
Difference is real, but not difference in the sense of separation. We are each unique embodied and different expressions of the divine, but we are not actually separate because we are not our bodies. Our true and enduring nature is the same we are all God and share in this divine essence. This first sutra presents the paradox of non-duality upon which the following sutrasrest The difference between the sugarcane or ice metaphors and the condensation of Citi to create the solid forms of the universe is that the creative act of Consciousness happens outside of time and free from the limitations of space and form, within which the laws of cause and effect operate. As She exercises her svatantrya-sakti, Her power of free will, the one Reality projects Her light like an explosion of fireworks on a dark night, sending forth brilliant sparks that assume countless forms that inhabit the cosmos. It is these objects and worlds in creation itself that we encounter the parameters of time, space, and the natural laws of cause and effect. Prior to creation, the sages say, there is only the undifferentiated potential of Citi. While there may be some tremendous difference in the language and metaphors employed by science, many theoretical physicists appear to hold somewhat parallel views particularly concerning the absence of natural laws at the point when creation occurs. Place, time, and form are products of the power of awareness, so they cannot limit it. They are different ways that awareness can be experienced, but all presuppose awareness. Awareness must therefore be available at all times, in any place, and in all forms. Awareness is a priori and time and space are a posteriori. The act of manifestation is the coming forth of what is already contained in the undivided oneness of Consciousness. In a classical analogy, Ksemaraja clarifies the point:

The entire universe is already contained in Supreme Consciousness or the highest Self even as the variegated plumage of a peacock is already contained in the fluid of its egg. Vimarsa is the positioning of the Self that leads to manifestation. Parapravesika, p. 1-2.
A modern metaphor for the peacocks plumage is the way every aspect of our genetic inheritance stature, eye color, hair, color, skin tone is contained in DNA molecules. The positioning of the Self is a reference to a quality of Consciousness that we might call creative vibration. In its original, pure state,vimarsa is a reflected brilliance that throbs with a movement of extreme subtelty. The sage Vasagupta calls this primordial vibration spanda, the pulsation by which Consciousness becomes the source of all creation. Ksemaraja is saying that the vibration of spanda pulsates from the heart of vimarsa, which is Consciousnesss awareness of Herself. This movement is described with the adjective kimcit calana, which means an infintesimal stirring or the very slightest and most tremulous movement. Of course, with the term movement we are usually reffering to a motion at

least as tangible as pulsation, like an electric wave moving from socket to cable. Thekimcit calana of Consciousness, which is beyond space and time, is a vibration so extraordinarily subtle that its motion is not at first externally directed. These vibrations occur without interruption, in a throbbing motion of contraction and expansion through which the cosmos appears and disappears. When you blink, your own universe appears and disappears from sight and we do this every six or seven seconds, so it happens thousands of time each day. It is through spanda that the cosmic eyes of Consciousness open (unmesa) and close (nimesa) and the universe unfolds and refolds itself in a rhythm of creation and dissolution. The universal pulsation of spanda happens at dizzying speed, ceaselessly renewing its manifestation. As yogis, it is significant for us to know that the world in which we are living at this point in time is not the same as the world that existed just a moment ago. This cosmic process is not unlike what occurs within each of us, individually. This is why spiritual transformation is always possible for us, why it is a possibility for us at all. Rather than holding on to notions that fossilize our lives into undesirable patterns grudges, visceral fears, noxious habits, or even just opinions that we cant seem to change we have the power to align our intentions and activities with the rhythms of the spanda, and thereby to tap the source of genuine contentment. For me this is the most significant message of this sutra: like unencmbered Consciousness, we as individuls possess the freedom to establish a universe in which we can live blissfully. Recognizing this gives us acces to a part of our nature that is innate, though often forgotten.

Nothing perceived is independent of perception, and perception differs not from the perceiver; therefore the perceived universe is nothing but the perceiver. Isvarapratyabhijnavivrtivimarsini, I/710.
References: Heart of Recognition Course by Christopher Hareesh Wallis. For more information please visit the Mattamurya Institute. Pratyabhijnahrdayam: The Secret of Self Recognition by Jaideva Singh. The Splendor of Recognition: An Exploration of the Pratyabhijahrdayam, a Text on the Ancient Science of the Soul by Swami Shantananda


The 7 Perceivers or Levels of Consciousness


The Seven Perceivers The root-text of the Trika school, The Final Triumph of the Phonemic Goddess (Mlin-vijaya-uttaratantra) presents a teaching on the seven types of sentient beings, the sapta-pramatrs, which are mirrored within each one of us as the seven layers of our own consciousnessthat is, the seven ways we can see or experience reality. There is of course some overlap of this list with some of the other lists, because all these sets are different ways of examining One being, different facets of the same jewel if you will, or different maps of the one reality. (Each of the Tantras tended to emphasize one of these maps over the others; there are some Tantras that try to include all the maps, as we are doing here, to better home in on the reality they all point to.) As with all the maps, there are two ways we can proceed in examining the list: either the order of emanation (srsti-krama) or the order of re-absorption (samharakrama), which is also the ladder to liberation. As before, we will follow the samharakrama. The first of the Seven Perceivers is the Sakala, which refers to the ordinary embodied human consciousness with which we are so familiar. (Some of the unseen beings also fall into the Sakala category; we will not address them here.) Sakala literally means with (sa-) limited powers (kal), meaning primarily the limitations of the three psychic Impurities. Sakala is a synonym of jva, an embodied sentient being. Sentient refers to the fact that the being in question can not only perceive an object, like animals can, but can be aware of itself as the perceiver of the object. That is, a Sakala has the basic capacity to know that he knows. Sakalas generally experience themselves as completely differentiated from each other and from objects of their awareness. They experience themselves as circumscribed in their cognition and action, and limited by place, time, and form. Since all beings perceive the universe in a manner defined by how they are constituted, Sakalas see the world as they see themselves: differentiated and circumscribed. Until a Sakala being touches a deeper layer of his own consciousness, he will find it very difficult to believe that there is another reality to be experienced at all. The second of the Seven Perceivers is called the pralaykala, one free of limitation due to dissolution. In ancient Shaivism, this was the name of beings who had not attained liberation by the time of the end of the universe (pralaya), and who existed in limbo until the next universe was created, that they may have bodies again. But in classical aiva Tantra, pralaykala refers to the second layer of consciousness within each one of us: the mode of unity-perception that we access every night in deep sleep. It is a state of non-duality, but the non-duality of nothingness, for it is void of conscious awareness along with everything else. Some meditators who access this state, which is like being awake at the level of deep sleep, get stuck by identifying themselves exclusively with the emptiness of the void experienced in this type of samdhi. They are unable to see any object of the waking state as an expression of that pure emptiness. Thus they can only experience non-duality in the void, and thus their meditation becomes a kind of escapism. The third Perceiver is the vijnkala, the one free of limitation due to insight. This refers to one who has gone beyond My and is thus free of bothkarma and the illusion of subject-object differentiation. Beings in this state experience the void of pure non-dual consciousness, the Fourth state (turya), but with full awareness, unlike the pralaykalas. They are able to see objects of perception as expressions of that non-dual state. However, they are still partially bound, for they are entirely passive and detached, unawake to the autonomy and dynamism of ultimate Consciousness. Nor are they free of the Impurity of Individuality. This means that they still believe in and experience themselves as separate individuals, rather than a spontaneously arising vibration of energy in the One. They may have a sense of themselves as superior to other beings, and though it is true that these vijnkalas

are in an exceedingly high state, their very sense of separation and superiority keeps them from the final liberation, that of awakening into the Pure Universe. Another way of saying this is to note that the state of a vijnkala is the highest one can reach without the power of grace, without surrendering ones individuality into something greater than oneself. So the vijnkalas are pictured as being stuck at the summit of My, unable to enter the Pure Universe (which is of course a state, not a place), insofar as they are unable to relinquish their sense of identity as a being of highly-evolved spiritual insight, a sense that separates them from others. Lastly, Vijnkalasidentify themselves as pure consciousness over and against any other aspect of their being, which they reject as not-self. Because of this, they relinquish their power of agency, and are not able to tap into the absolute autonomy of unbounded Consciousness and its power of active manifestation. In other words, they are stuck in the transcendent. By the power of grace, we may penetrate to a yet deeper layer of awareness, the fourth Perceiver, known as Mantra. This is the lowest level of the Pure Universe, and thus the baseline for full liberation. It is a dynamic, action-oriented, extremely high-vibration state; it is a state of oneness with the Divine free of all three Impurities. There is still diversity on this level, however, because all the Mantra-beings are fully self-aware different vibrations of the One. To understand this level, we must remember that the doctrine of the Seven Perceivers has two aspects: it tells us about the seven types of beings in this universe and about the seven layers of our own consciousness. This makes perfect sense in this system, for each individual part of the whole reflects the pattern of the whole. If there is a type of being out there in the universe, it will be reflected within us as a part of ourselves, and vice versa. So why are the beings on this level called Mantra? A unique doctrine of aiva Tantra is that mantras are not just sound vibrations or sentences: they are considered as conscious beings, emanations of the One Being but expressing a distinct flavor (rasa) of Awareness, as it were. Some of these Mantra-beings are what we usually refer to as the gods and goddesses of the mainstream Indian tradition. That is, in the Tantra, the true form of any god/dess is in fact a sound-vibration: its mantra. However, there are said to be seventy million mantra-beings in total, and thus many more than there are named gods and goddesses. If we ponder the description of these mantra-beings as structures of light, sonic emanations of God, complexifications of intelligence that serve to uplift limited beings, then perhaps we will call them by another name: angels. In the context of aiva Tantra, I argue, angel is an accurate translation of mantra, taking into account exactly what mantra actually means to the Tantrik users of the term. So in this doctrine the term mantra refers both to these beings, who existing at the level of the uddhavidy-tattva, and as the fourth layer of our own consciousness, that is, our angelic layer of being, the layer of divine sound vibration. Mantra-beings, like all beings, see the universe in a form consonant with their own nature. That is, they see all reality as variegated pulsations of energy, interacting patterns of vibration. Only beings in the Impure Universe see things in terms of concrete, distinct matter. (Remember that the Pure and Impure Universes are not two different places, but two different ways of experiencing the same universe.) On this level of consciousness, the universe is seen as equally explicit in awareness with ones awareness of self. Neither aspect has predominance; they are perfectly balanced mirrors of each other. Thus the phrase that expresses the experience of this level is said to be This am I; I am this (aham idam idam aham). As an interesting footnote, we may observe that in the Torah and the Bible, this is expressed in precisely the same way: when asked for his name, the Deity declares: I am That am I (ehyeh asher ehyeh, Exodus 3:14). The fifth Perceiver is called Mantrevara, Lord of Mantras. This is essentially a further expansion of the Mantra-level. The Mantrevaras exist at the level of the vara-tattva, the level of the personal Deity, of whom they are emanations. The phrase that expresses the experience of

a Mantrevara isidam aham, I am this, for in this liberated state all things are seen as an expression of ones own nature. On this level, the this is predominant in experience, rather than the I; that is, I am this. When an accelerating object approaches the speed of light, the normal physical laws seem to change, becoming stranger, subtler, and more malleable. In the same way, as we progress through the layers of consciousness towards the state of infinite expansion, things get subtler and more difficult to explain. The sixth layer of Consciousness is the Mantra-mahevara, a yet fuller expansion of the synaesthetic light-sound-consciousness-being described earlier. The Mantramahevaras (and any embodied beings who have attained that level) exist on the plane of the Sadiva tattva, the level at which the I pole is emphasized, and the universe exists in its potential form, as a thought of its possibility, within the formless Divine. In other words, this phase of consciousness perceives the incipient universewhich is here merely implicit and inchoatewithin itself, and thus experiences aham idam, This (potentiality) am I, or This totality is my very Self, but without any sense that the universe thus perceived exhausts its Beingindeed, it is a relatively small movement within infinite vastness. If we were moving in the si-krama, the direction of creation (i.e. top down), this is the level of the first movement toward the creation of a manifest reality, the barest beginnings of the possibility of perceiving things in terms of two separate aspects. This is the level of icch-akti, the creative upsurge within Consciousness, and so theMantramahevaras exist as phases of the Divine Will. Finally, the seventh Perceiverwho is also the First Perceiver if we are moving in the other directionis of course Lord iva [tattva #1], who is said to transcend all those lower perceivers, whose substance and nature is solely the Light of Consciousness [praka], and for whom all states are nothing other than that same Light. This is not yet the end of the story, however, for the ivaPerceiver is in a sense limited by his transcendence: he can only perceive in terms of the Light, in terms of the Absolute, not the relative. NT thus teaches the doctrine of Supreme Non-duality [paramdvaya], that the ultimate reality is not wholly transcendent, or rather it is that while simultaneously wholly immanent. It is completely malleable, it surrenders itself into every form, no matter how humble. This perspective is the final attainment, for here one sees all beings as the infinite Light but also in terms of their embodiment, their earthy humanity (or animality or whatever), naturally placing equal value on both, or rather seeing both as expressions of each other. From this perspective, all the Seven Perceivers are different forms of one Perceiver. Ulimately, all these maps of reality have one and the same origin and terminus: the dynamic core of reality, the paradoxical simultaneously wholly transcendent and wholly immanent pulsation of Absolute Consciousness known as the Heart, iva-akti in perfect fusion. This is that level of Being which experiences reality in terms of the absolute non-duality of the supreme Subject. That is, from the most complete, all-encompassing perspective of the Heart, there is only AHAM, the universal I, experienced by all beings all the time. All those little Is turn out to be one I; and from the perspective of this Absolute Perceiver, there is no sense of any reality even slightly separate from the I. This is of course a state impossible to think ourselves into, impossible to imagine correctlyyet possible to experience in the most complete and final realization, in which one knows oneself as the entire universe, the totality of all things in and beyond all time and space, breathing a single word, the mah-mantra: AHAM. The venerable Kemarja gives this teaching in his Heart of the Doctrince of Recognition in these words:

r-Paramaiva, consisting solely of the Light of Consciousness replete with absolute Bliss, simultaneously transcends the universe and embodies itself as the universe. From that

perspective, all of existence from transcendentiva down to Earth vibrates into manifestation [sphurati] as that Light, without any duality whatsoever. So in reality, there is no subject or object that is other; rather, it is simplyr-Paramaiva that is vibrating and scintillating thus in thousands of various different forms.
SOURCE: Wallis, Christopher. Tantra Illuminated: The Philosophy, History, and Practice of a Timeless Tradition. Anusara Press, The Woodlands, TX, 2012. For more information on non-dual Saiva Tantra, please visit Christopher Walliss website at The Mattamayura Institute.


The Post-Scriptural (Exegetical) Phase


Kashmir Saivism: The Refinement of the Tradition in its Post-Scriptural Phase We have already alluded to the fact that while Saiva Tantra was pan-Indian, it particularly flourished in the valley of Kashmir to the far north. Kashmir is on the border of the geographical regions of Central Asia and South Asia, and was close to the routes of the Silk Road, and thus enjoyed a kind of cosmopolitan multiculturalism not seen in the Indian subcontinent. The Kashmir Valley is protected by mountains on three sides, creating a perfect site for the capitol of the little Kingdom. This ancient city, situated by a large lake, was, and still is, named Srinagar (the Blessed City, the Goddess City). This exquisitely beautiful site was called the tilak (sacred forehead mark) of Mother India. All the Indian religions flourished there, especially those ofSaiva, Sakta, Bauddha, Vasinava, and Saura traditions that is, those devoted to the teachings of Siva, Sakti, the Buddha, Visnu, and Surya,respectively. Furthermore, the kinds of Kashmir in the early Middle Ages were patrons of philosophy and the arts, allowing for the development of sophisticated philosophical schools side by side with a flourishing literary tradition of plays, ornate poetry, witty social attire, and carefully thought-out aesthetic theories. It was in this environment that a crucially important post-scriptural orexegetical phase of Saiva Tantra developed, a phase that would eventually make its influence felt all the way down to the tip of the subcontinent. Exegesis means explanation or interpretation of scriptural material. So here we are broadly contrasting two chronologically successive and distinct phases of the Saiva Tantric tradition. The first is that of the nine sampradayasas revealed in anonymously written scriptures that claimed to be spoken bySiva himself (or in the case of the Krama, by Sakti herself). These texts were often mysterious, elliptically worded, and focused on practice rather than philosophy. The second phase consists of texts authored by named individuals, often highly educated

people, who composed in a very different style of Sanskrit. Though their works were intended to explain these scriptures, either they are highly philosophical or they present a sophisticated theology. These authors show knowledge of the prevalent pan-Indian theories of knowledge and logic. Their arguments concerning the nature of reality are built on three levels: through reason, through appeal to the scriptures, and through appeal to personal experience. These three methods of discourse corresponded to three spheres of discourse: the first method could be used in debate with Buddhists and other non-Saivas, the second in debate withSaivas of schools other than that of the author, and all three in instruction of the authors own disciples. We are now concerned with the second phase, the exegetical writings of theSaiva Tantric masters from Kashmir. It is this body of literature that has been called Kashmir Saivism since the early 20th century and taught in the West under that name, but entirely disassociated from the full context of Saiva Tantra and its scriptures. This happened because, though much of the Tantrictradition has been forgotten, in the early 20th century some scholars started reading the philosophical texts in isolation from their contexts and published them in English, coining the phrase Kashmir Shaivism in the process. These publications, which continued sporadically through the rest of the 20th century, showed little to no knowledge of the powerful practices of that tradition. Even today, there are still no accurate translations of the original Sanskrit sources on Kundalini and the subtle body practices so crucial to the classical tradition. Furthermore, the 20th century writings on Saiva philosophy often present it as rarefied and esoteric speculation on the ultimate nature of Reality little connected to real life. And yet the primary concern of the original Tantric authors was to give an accounting of how Consciousness creates the reality of our moment-to-moment experience of life. To return to the main topic: the ancient exegetical writers of Kashmir, inspired by the scriptures, created coherent and elegant systems of thought not to be found in the earlier period. This spiritual thinking, it should be emphasized, was never divorced from practice, even as its most esoteric. We will now briefly review the key lineages of the exegetical period (900-1050CE). In the 9th century, the Trika and the Krama rose to prominence in Kashmir, not among the masses, but in a circle of individuals with connections to the royal court. These two sampradayas counted among their initiates extremely learned individuals. They composed works that gave these two groups much greater philosophical respectability. More importantly, several of these authors were, according to the tradition, fully liberated and awake spiritual masters, whose words vibrate with the power of their attainment, giving us the most direct insight in the nature of reality possible through words. Therefore, their writings came in time to be revered as equivalent to scripture The Common Base From middle of the ninth century these Tantric Saiva traditions of theMantramarga emerged from their scriptural anonymity into an extensive body of Kashmiri exegesis. In this literature we encounter two schools. On the left were the theoreticians of the Trika and the Krama. On the right were the more orthodox and Veda-congruent Saiva Siddhanta. The doctrines of the former reached their definite formulations in the works of Abhinava Gupta (975-1025 CE) and his pupil Ksemaraja. Those of the latter school culminated in the works of their contemporary, Ramakantha. The tradition of Abhinava Gupta was recent. It looked back to Vasagupta (875-925 CE) and Somananda (900-50CE) as the founder of a new and anti-Saivasaiddhantin movement among the learned. The Saiva Siddhantaitself has preserved no records of its presence in Kashmir beyond Ramakantha the Elder, a contemporary of Somananda. We know that there was already a well established tradition in Kashmir at that time, but we do not know how long it had been there. It based itself above all on the works of Sadyojyoti (Naresvarapariksa, Moksaharika, Paramoksa-nirasakrika,

etc); and it has been assumed that he too was Kashmiri, and that he lived before Somananda, but there is no evidence that Kashmir was his home and some that he may be considerably older. Both schools addressed themselves principally not to the specialist seekers of power so prominent in the scriptures themselves, but to the seekers of liberation, to those with no specific goal, who seek self-perfection through conforming to the physical and mental rituals of the Saiva tradition. This, the unmarked category, was the sects broad base in society, the community of married Saiva householders. It is in accordance with this breadth that Saivismappears in both schools not merely as a system of doctrines but first and foremost as a set of social facts independent of or presupposed by doctrine. Thus beneath the fundamental differences in theology which separate these schools, there is complete solidarity in basic faith that it is enough to be aSaiva in a purely ritual sense, that the least Gnostic (privy to special knowledge) of their common audience will attain liberation simply by being processed by the rituals of the community. The Kashmiri Saiva Siddhanta The Kashmiri Saiva Siddhanta enclosed and reinforced this exotic base. It propagated an anti-gnostic ritualism which immunized the consciousness of the Tantric performer of ritual against the mystical and non-dualistic tendencies of the Kapalika and the Kuala left, and encouraged him to internalize, without inhibition, the outlook and values of the non-Tantricorthodoxy. According to Ramakantha, the scriptures of the Saiva Siddhanta teach that salvation can only be attained through ritual. To be bound to the cycle of death and rebirth (samsara) is to be ignorant of ones true nature, but the knowledge of that nature cannot bring that bondage to an end. This is because the absence of the liberated self-awareness is caused by impurity (mala). This cannot be removed by knowledge, because it is a substance. Being a substance, it can only be destroyed by ritual action as given forth in the Saiva scriptures. The rite of consecration (diksa), through which one enters upon ones ritual obligations, destroys all the impurity (mala) which would otherwise be the cause of future incarnations. The daily and occasional rituals which one is bound to perform after consecration case, said Ramakantha, decrease of the impurity which the rite of consecration has left intact, the impurity which is the support of ones current physical and mental existence. But since the passage of time itself accomplishes this end, bringing one daily closer to the liberation at death which is the promised effect of the consecration, it is hard to believe that the theory that ritual after consecration has a positive effect can have been in the forefront of the awareness of the Tantrics of the Saiva Siddhanta. More compelling must have been the negative argument offered by Ramakantha that one performs ones ritual duties in order to avoid the evil consequences of not performing them. For if one omits the, or breaks any others of the rules (acarya) which bind the initiate, one must perform a penance and one is told that if the penance is neglected ones liberation, guaranteed by the rite of consecration, may be postponed by another incarnation, even a period in hell. The Kashmiri Trika Deity: The three goddesses: Para, Parapara, and Apara Visualization (of Para): White, radiant, two or four armed, displaying cin-mudra, a manuscript a mala, and a trident


Mantra: SAUH, also HRIM Principle Texts: Malini-vijaya-uttara-tantra; Vijnana-bhairava-tantra, commentaries on the SpandaKarikas If you hear the term, Kashmir Shaivism, it is generally referring to the philosophy of the Trika school of Saiva Tantra. The Trika School is often associated with Kashmir because of its greatest exponent, Abhinava Gupta, who was from Srinagar in the Kashmir Valley. The founder of Kuala-Trika is said to be a sage named Tryambaka, who might have been associated with Tryambakeshwar, a beautiful power-site in rural Maharastra where there is a temple still in operation today. The Trika (Trinity) was an unusual sampradaya because, in its later phase, its doctrine encompassed duality, non-duality, and the inexpressible teaching beyond duality and non-duality. This is why the great master Abhinava Gupta made the Trika the fulcrum of his summation and explanation of the whole tradition of Saiva Tantra. Abhinava embraced the more strongly non-dualist version of the Trika, known as the Kuala Trika, which is said to have been founded by Tryambakas daughter, making it the only major lineage to have been founded by a woman. Briefly, the Kuala Trika is a more essentialized, interiorized, and aestheticized version of the Trika, and is thus considered a higher, more esoteric expression. Adherents of the Trika worshipped three goddesses: the sweet and gentlePara-devi (Supreme Goddess), flanked by two lower, fierce Kali-like emanations of the central Goddess,

called Parapara and Apara. These three are understood as the embodiments of the following principles The Vijnana-Bhairava

Tantra is one of the seminal texts of the TrikaSchool, teaching an esoteric approach to expanding consciousness by using seemingly simple and concise methods to awaken. This text was only given to an advanced practitioner who had already trained and disciplined the mind through meditation and ritual; it was not intended as a short0cut, but rather to provide the profound realization of what triggers the Bhairavi state in life apart from the spiritual practices with which he or she was already familiar.
All of the listed techniques are subtle, for in all of the experiences, we are to turn our awareness within toward the vibration of a specific feeling and not focus on an external object as we normally do. You can see how this presupposes a strong meditation practice. This text laid the groundwork for a gnostic version of the Trika in which traditional ritual could be infused with profound inner meaning, or dispensed with altogether by those who were ready to make all of life a spiritual practice. The Kashmiri authorities of the Trika attacked the ritualism of their Saiva Siddhantin contemporaries. They claimed that they had exaggerated certain tendencies in the scriptures of the Saiva Siddhanta by means of a sophistic exegesis. Thus, said the Trika, these scriptures place a greater emphasis on ritual than those of the left, but they do not go to the extent of claiming that salvation can be gained by no other means. According to the left, the Saiva Siddhanta contains the truth as modified bySiva for the benefit of those not mature enough to enter the less conditioned and more demanding paths of his esoteric revelations. The extreme positions of the current Saiva Siddhanta exegesis were believed to have arisen from the failure to see this essential continuity of the Saiva revelation. Thus the left attacked certain interpretations of these scriptures and it must be said that in the main their criticisms are justified but it never denies the efficacy of the religious practices of those who followed the prescriptions of these scriptures, even if they accepted the rights biased exegesis. The left was content to believe that the most hardened Saiva Siddhantin ritualist would attain perfect liberation at death by the power of Siva manifest in the mechanism of ritual. It drew its strength not from exclusion but from the propagation of a universally applicable theory of ritual. This theory promised liberation to all Saivas while motivating ascent into the esoteric left through further consecrations in which the meaning of ritual proposed by the theory could be realized with every greater immediacy and intensity. The culmination of this intensification is liberation, not at death, but in life itself. The left maintained that there are those who have attained this mystical transformation spontaneously or by other means of gradual, ritual-less insight. Thus while the Saiva Siddhantins held that liberation could not be attained except through ritual, the authorities of the Trika maintained that liberation, while attainable by ritual alone (Saiva-Siddhantic or esoteric), could be attained by mystical experience and gnosis. Ritual without internal awareness would lead to liberation at death, as we have seen; but ritual could also be a means to liberation in life. Gnostic meaning encoded into the manipulations and formulas of the ritual could be so internalized through daily repetition that it would no longer require this external medium of expression in action. It could become purely mental, a ritual of self-definition in thought. The Tantricwas exhorted by the left to see the sequence of ritual as a mirror in which he could perceive and contemplate his ultimate nature. Thereby he could attain liberation for to be fully aware of this ultimate nature is to be liberated as this nature. By means of daily repetition he was to achieve a state of mind in which he believed that he was and always had been that which his ritual defines.

The ritualist of the Saiva Siddhanta maintained that the scriptures taught no self beyond that of a purified and bliss-less individuality. For him, salvation was not a merging into a transcendental godhead. It was simply the state of the eternally individual self in which its equality with Siva previously concealed by the substance of impurity had become fully manifest. He did not becomeSiva, he became a Siva, omniscient and omnipotent but numerically distinct. Thus, the Kashmiri Saiva Siddhantins stressed the difference between theSiva who had never been bound, the original Siva, and those who were Sivasthrough liberation from bondage, released Sivas. The latter were held to be capable of performing the five acts of God, but refrained from doing so because of the non-competitive spirit inherent in liberation. Equally absolute in the Kashmiri Saiva Siddhanta was the doctrine that matter and consciousness are entirely separate. According to Ramakantha, selves know and act upon a world whose existence is entirely independent of them, though it is arranged to fulfill their karmic needs. Siva causes the entities of our universe to emerge by stimulating an independently eternal, all-pervasive, and unconscious world-stuff (maya). Thus are created the various spheres, bodies, and faculties by means of which eternal selves can experience the effects of their past actions (karma) and eventually attain release from their beginning state of bondage through Saiva consecration (diksa). In the Kashmiri Trika, the seeker of liberation is to realize through his ritual a self which breaks through the exoteric barriers of pluralism, realism, and reified impurity. For the self of his worship and meditation is an absolute and omnipotent consciousness, which, by manifesting contraction of its infinite powers, appears as separate individuals, their streams of experience, and the outer objects or cause of those experiences. He thinks of the three goddesses convergent in the fourth as his infinite and all-containing self, seeing their structure as that of his own consciousness. As this awareness deepens through immersion in the ritual, his undivided consciousness, which is these powers contracted without change of their structure, dissolves into its un-contracted prototype. The Doctrines of Vibration (Spanda) and Recognition (Pratyabhijna) According to the Kashmiri Trika, these doctrines of the ultimate non-plurality of centers of consciousness, of the non-existence of any reality except as a projection within this all-containing consciousness, and consequently, the immateriality of impurity (mala), have been revealed by Siva in all the Tantrasof Bhairava. This is to say that they were read into this corpus or presupposed in any reading, for the surviving texts themselves hardly support this sweeping claim. Nonetheless, these doctrines are not entirely post-scriptural. For the view that deity is non-dual, dynamic consciousness was already present at the far left of this corpus, in the literature of the Kapalika and Kuala cults of Kali (i.e. theKrama). From the middle of the ninth century the Trika, which was then permeated by the Kali cults, produced theological metaphysicians who elevated these doctrines towards respectability within the Saiva mainstream by abstracting them from their heterodox ritual context, by formulating them in a less sectarian terminology and by defending them philosophically again the doctrine of the Buddhists. This new direction began precisely during the period at which royal patronage in Kashmir started to shift from the Pancarata Vaisnavism to Saivism. The first stage of this development is seen in two works of the ninth century: the Aphorisms of Siva (Siva Sutras) and the Concise Verses on Vibration(Spanda Karikas). The first was discovered by Vasagupta and the second was composed by his pupil, Kallata. The Sivasutra is too brief and allusive a work for us to be able to form a precise picture of its doctrine apart from its inevitably biased interpretation in the commentaries of Bhaskara (925-75 CE) and Ksemaraja (1000-50 CE). We can see only that it sought to outline the non-ritual soteriology of an esoteric Saiva tradition closely related to what we find in the Jayadrathayamalatantra and the Kali-based Trika.

The Spandakarikas, being more discursive, can be much more clearly understood independently of the commentaries. The works fifty-two verses, offered as the key to the theology of the Sivasutra, proposed that Siva is all-inclusive reality, a single, unified consciousness, which manifests as all subjects, acts, and objects of experience by virtue of an inherent and infinite dynamism. This dynamism, the essential nature of the Deity, was termed the Vibration-Reality (spanda-tattva). Liberation was to be attained by realizing this vibration (spanda) in the source, course, and end of all states and movements of consciousness. Ksemaraja, the author of an important commentary on this work, was probably right when he claimed that the scriptural background of the text is the Krama with some elements of theTrika. For the concept of vibration, or rather the use of this term to denote the inherent dynamism of a non-dual consciousness is wellestablished in theJayadrathaymalatantra and other texts of the Kali cult. The second stage of this scholarly underpinning began in the early tenth century with the Perception of Siva (Sivadrsti) by Somananda (900-50 CE). While the Spandakarikas preserved some of the heterodox flavor of the goddess-oriented traditions of the far left, Somananda, though he was certainly an initiate in those traditions, formulated a Saiva non-dualism along more orthodox and rigorously philosophical lines. His pupil, Uptaladeva, also aguru of the Trika and the Krama, gave this non-dualism its classical form in his Concise Verses on the Recognition of the Deity (Isvarapratyabhijnakarika). Claiming to follow his master, he offered a new and easy path to salvation through the recognition (pratyabhijna) that it is ones own identity (atman) which is Siva, the Great Deity (Mahesvara). This transpersonal Self is to be seen as that which contains all subjective and objective phenomenon, holding this totality in a blissful synthesis of non-dual awareness. Through this recognition, which is forcefully defended against the Buddhist doctrine of impersonal flux, one is released from the cycle of death and rebirth. For ones true identity is an already liberated and never bound I-consciousness. The pure autonomy of the self expresses itself by manifesting its own contraction in the form of limited centers of consciousness perceiving and acting within time, form, and location in accordance with the causal power of their acts (karma). Thus there arises the binding appearance of essential differences between a world out there and a self in here and other selves. Liberation is the realization that all this is internal to the awareness which represents it as external. Consciousness thereby throws off its state of contraction and knows itself only as the prerelational, pre-discursive unity of manifestation (prakasa) and self-cognition (vimarsa). The philosophical position of Uptaladevas Doctrine of Recognition was analyzed and supported in great detail by Abhinava Gupta (975-1025 CE), a pupil of Uptaladevas pupil, Laksmanagupta, in a commentary of the Concise Verses (Isvaraprtyabhijnavimarsini) and in a much longer commentary on Uptaladevas own exegesis of his verses (Isvarapratyabhijnavivrtivvimarsini). The Doctrine of Recognition and the Trika The Kashmiri Trika is known to us principally through the works of this same Abhinava Gupta, particularly through his Tantraloka, Tantrasara, Malinivijayavartika, and Paratrimsikavivarana. In the first three of these, he expounds the doctrine and ritual of the Trika on the basis of theMalinivijayotaratantra. In the fourth work, he develops a more concentrated form of Trika worship, which focuses only on Para, the highest of the three goddesses. Because the goddess is worshipped here as a Solitary Heroine (Ekavira), that is without the customary offerings to aspects and emanations, this tradition is sometimes distinguished from the Trika proper as Ekavira.For the same reason, it is known as the Anuttara, that above which there is nothing. His exegesis of both of these forms of the Trika is based on the Doctrine of Recognition. Uptaladevas concepts and terminology provide his metaphysical groundwork and are fed into Trika ritual. Thus, to give but one example, the phases of the worshippers divinization of his person with mantras is

required to be understood within the framework of Uptaladevas four levels of contraction in which the self manifests itself in progressively grosser forms as the sensation-less void (sunya), internal sensation (prana), the mind (buddhi), and the body (deha). Thus, we may speak of at least three major phases in the evolution of the Trika. 1). At the beginning, probably before 800 CE, are the Siddhayogaesvarimata and related texts which teach a Trika Saivism characterized by the triad (trika) of goddesses: Para, Parapara, and Apara. They are usually worshipped alone or, occasionally, with subordinate Bhairavas. This was the system of ritual associated with the cult of the eight mother-goddesses the cult of Yoginis mentioned earlier. 2). In the second phase, the cult of the goddess Kali is incorporated into theTrika: Trika assimilates the cult of Kali as the Destroyer of Time (Kalasamkarsini), whose hundred-plus manifestations are described in theJayadrathayamalatantra. In this Kali-based stratum of Trika, Kalasamkarisnitranscends the three goddess of the Trika and is worshipped above them. This second phase include texts such as the Devyayamala, theTrikasadbhava, and the Trikahrdaya. 3). In the third phase, Trika Saivism develops a solid philosophical base which it defends against the Buddhists, Nyaya, and Saiva-Siddhanta. We have the Pratyabhijna-based Trika of Abhinava Gupta with its two aspects: the first being the Kali-based cult of the Tantraloka, and the second the condensed cult of Para as the Solitary Heroine. The Kashmiri Krama Deity: Kali Kala-sankarsini (the Dark One, the Devourer of Time) Visualization: No anthropomorphic form Mantra: KHPHREM MAHACANDA-YOGESVAR Principle Texts: Jayadratha-yamala; Kalikula-panca-sataka The Kali-kula or Family of Kali denoted several interrelated groups whose primary deity was Kali, the beautiful Dark Goddess. To be clear, we are not speaking of the later Bengali version of Kali, the socalled Goddess of Destruction whose image is so well known today. The Kali worshipped by theKalikula was the all-encompassing Highest Divinity, the ground of being itself, ultimate Consciousness. One of the groups of the Kalikula rose to prominence and eclipsed all the others: it was called Krama, which means the Process, the Cycle, or the Sequence. It was so named because its initiates worshipped the phases of the cognitive process as forms of the Goddess. The followers of the Kramaviewed Kali as the Supreme Deity whose ultimate nature is formless the insatiable void in the Heart of Consciousness, which the limited self cannot enter and survive. The Krama was unequivocally the most radical, transgressive, feminine-oriented, and non-dualistic of all the tantric sects. It was the Kuala path par excellence, for unlike the other sampradayas, it had no non-Kuala variant. The Krama was also (in its post-scriptural phase) the most sophisticated and subtle of them all in terms of its speaking, especially in the careful way it assimilated philosophical ideas with ritual practice, its determined attempt to make the latter truly meaningful. Thus, the Kramaincludes some of the most refined spiritual thinking in the same sphere as some of the most transgressive practice, a seeming paradox that fits well in a system that thinks of the Divine as precisely that which can meaningfully subsume paradoxes within itself. The documented history of the Krama begins with the story of a spiritual practitioner and seeker of the Truth, probably from Kashmir, who in the mid 9 century, made a pilgrimage from the small kingdom of Uddiyana, in the far northwest of Indian cultural religion, a site later considered to be one of the four most important Tantric centers. There he journeyed to a town called Mangalapura, in the heart of Uddiyana, where it said that nearly everyone was practicing Tantra. Situated next to a town was a sacred power-center (saktai-pitha), the great cremation ground called Karavira, which is said to be the

dwelling place of the Goddess Mangala (Goodness, Auspiciousness) a benevolent form of Kali, together with the 64 Yoginis that made up her retinue. There the pilgrim took up residence, propitiating and meditating on the Goddess until she revealed herself to him in an awesome epiphany, granting him divine insight. Thereafter, the siddhi (perfected master) was now called Jnananetra Natha (Lord of the Eye of Wisdom) and became the first guru of the Krama lineage and the transmitter of the principal Krama scriptures. His tradition is remarkable for theoretical structure of its ritual. It synthesized and adjusted the scriptural prototypes (principally those of Devipancasatakaand the Kramasadbhava) to produce a liturgy which could be thought of as the unfolding of the imperceptible sequence of cognition in the perceptible sequence of worship. The Krama offers practices to bring about liberation-in-life through the dissolution of contracted awareness by means of insight into the emptiness of all objective and mental phenomenon and reversion into the un-contracted inner ground of Consciousness by observing the process of the arising and the dying away of cognition, especially where the latter is particularly intense, as in the perception of the beautiful or the meditation on the sensation of an orgasm. To put it simply, the Krama acknowledged the need to dissolve the contracted mind in order to be in Presence, but instead of doing so through cultivating distaste for the worldly experiences that the mind can become attached to, this uniquely tantric easy method was to allow yourself to become totally absorbed in a beautiful, sensual object that naturally dissolves away. The more complete your absorption in the object the more complete the dissolution of mind you would achieve. Consider the following examples from the Svabodhodaya-manjari.

Whatever captivating sound that comes into ones hearing, such as a gong or rumbling thunder, one should become one-pointed on it, until, dissolving, the mind dissolved with itOne should not think on what has dissolved, but remain full of the intensified sense of ones own being. (v. 15-16). One should cast ones mind into the point between the navel and the sex organ at the end of climax of good sex, as the bliss of lovemaking dies away, one may become waveless (the mind become still) in a moment. (v. 38). Keep a delicious confection on the tip of your tongue; when the pleasure of the flavor fades away, liberation arises. (v. 42).
It is not surprising that the Krama did not survive, for its liberated ethos represented a tremendous challenge to the conservative patriarchal, and xenophobic and deeply inhibited mainstream brahminical culture. More than any other religious sect in pre-modern Indian History, the Krama repudiated hierarchies based on caste, class, or gender. Furthermore, its frank acceptance of sexuality and inclusion of that and other sensual elements in spiritual practice was at odds with the values of both the Brahmins and their Muslim conquerors, who brought North India under their sway th th in the 12 and 13 centuries. An additional factor undermining the survival of the Krama and related Kuala groups was the existence of plentiful false gurus, who used the teachings of transgressive non-dual tantra as an excuse for sexual exploitation and alcoholic over-indulgence. We have evidence that the Kramaresponded to this behavior with sarcastic criticism, showing that teachers of this tradition were aware that its teachings could be quoted accurately by those with no real understanding of them: Adopting misconduct, they make love to others wives, declaring constantly that it is wrong to impede the inclination of the powers of consciousness. They are deluded in their constant relish of the objects of the senses, saying that the goddesses of their faculties are thus filling the Lord that is

consciousness with the objects of their enjoyment. 100 Verses on the Unity of Teaching and Practice. This passage is significant in that it clearly shows us that understanding the teachings on a mental level does not in any way require a person to understand the real inner state that they point to. This difference is precisely what makes the Krama an esoteric tradition it embodies an understanding that while it can be pointed to, cannot in fact, ever be conveyed in words. There will always be those who are unable to grasp its real purport and who even doubt there is such a level to be grasped though they may be able to articulate the ideas that point to it. Teachings of the Krama The Krama advocated a complex ritual of five distinct phases, which culminated in the worship of the four sequences (krama) of both cognition and creation: Emission (srsti), Maintenance (sthiti), Reabsorption (samhara), and the Nameless (anakhya), which pervades the three as their ground. The twelveKalis of this final sequence are to be worshipped during sexual intercourse with a duti and are understood as the gradual withdrawal of cognitive power into Kalasamkarsini (Kali, the Destroyer of Time), the waveless void of the absolute Self. Here the worshipper realizes the absolute autonomy of the Goddess (Consciousness) through which she assumed the form of the universe without contamination or diminution of her nature. The function of this complex ritual sequence of this tradition is said to be that it prepares the initiate for the non-sequential (akrama) intuition that will enable him to transcend it. It is designed to condition this awareness with the awareness of its true nature, so that eventually it will provoke a spontaneous and instantaneous swallowing of the dichotomizing of cognition, the annihilation of the mechanisms of individuation and projection through which innate purity of awareness appears as though it were sullied in the natural process of ideation and perception. The worshipper is to pass through the ritual to reach the liberating conviction that absolute reality is this pure awareness, and that the phases and levels of cognition are co-extensive with it as its innate vitality. Liberation here is the resolution of the distinction in self-perception between a transcendental or internal state of nirvana and an imminent or external state of finite, transmigratory existence (samsara). This system of contemplative worship was not the Kramas only means to enlightenment. It believed that there were those who were capable of reaching the goal without it. For these, two higher paths are described. In the first, that of Oral instruction, the guru was to provoke the disciples intuition through certain mystical aphorisms (katha, chumma). The emphasis here is on sudden enlightenment. The way to approach these esoteric teachings is through intuition rather than intellect, holding their vibration in awareness until the inner meaning spontaneously unfolds in a wordless state of realization. For example: RAMI EKAYANU: The One Ground plays. Commentary: He who is of the One Ground plays by taking in every kind of embodiment, and subjecting itself to every kind of experience; that is, He enacts the total range of possibilities within his being as a divine play In the second path, the goal was believed to be attained without any instruction, either spontaneously or through some non-verbal stimulus, such as the gurus glance. Direct transmission was thought to consist of an encounter with a fully awakened Master in which the disciples awareness, ripe for expansion, spontaneously fuses with that of the guru in a moment of revelation that triggers a deep opening, a permanent shift. The Krama had four means to awaken: 1. Direct transmission (sankramanam) 2. Oral Instruction (kathanam)

3. Ritual Worship with non-dual awareness (pujanam) 4. The Teaching of the Manuscript We find in this last means an interesting tension regarding the role of knowledge and learning in the spiritual life. On the one hand, the Krama is a very textually productive lineage, with many scriptures, hymns, poems, and commentaries. On the other handm its mastewrs warn us repeatedly against the snare of learning and the danger of getting lost in mere intellectual understanding of the doctrine. The symbol of the manuscript is a central one, yet the recurrent theme of breaking open the boards of the manuscript reveal the trans-mental experiential reality that exists between the polarities that the two boards represent (Sanskrit manuscripts consists of sheaves of palm-leaf or birch-bark protected by two wooden boards and bound by cords). Both this intuition and this view of ritual as a mode of liberating insight are thoroughly in harmony with the position which Abhinava Gupta expounds for the Trika. Indeed, in this respect the Trika was greatly indebted to the Krama. It had already accommodated important elements of this system in the second phase of its development. In the third phase, during which this enriched Trika was grounded in the Doctrine of Recognition, we find Abhinava Gupta drawing directly on the post-scriptural Krama of the linage of Jnananetra, adapting it as the basis of the Trikas claim to the ultimate in Saiva revelation. Ksemaraja, his pupil, who offered no detailed exegesis in the Trika itself, unambiguously asserts that it is the Krama that embodies the final truth. Clearly the prestige of the Krama-based Kali cult was widely felt in esoteric Saiva circles. The manthanabhairavatantra places it above the Trika at the summit of the hierarchy of the Saiva traditions, allowing it to be transcended only by the Western Transmission (Pascimamnaya), the tradition of the text itself. Another work of that transmission, the Cincinimatasarasamuccaya, goes further. It gives the realization of the Krama Kalis in the Sequence of the Nameless as the highest, internal worship within the cult of Kubjika itself. The Kashmiri Cult of Svacchandabhairava We have seen that Saivism in Kashmir was split between two centers of authority. On the right was the ritualistic Saiva Siddhanta with its anti-mystical pluralism and extrinicism. On the left was the Gnostic non-dualism of the Trika and the Krama. The right saw the left as heretical while the left saw the right as the exoteric base of the Saiva hierarchy, leading to liberation only at death. It might be imagined therefore that it was the tradition of the Saiva Siddhanta,which was the source of the practice of the greater part of the Saiva community, and that the Trika and Krama were the preserves of enthusiasts dependent on this exoteric or common Saivism both for the candidates for these higher initiations and as the form of their own public identity in the wider society. This then would be the sense of the frequently invoked maxim of the left which requires one to be privately Kuala, publicly Saiva and Vedic in ones social intercourse. However, the interrelation of the traditions was more complex in Kashmir. For the Saiva cult of the majority was not that of Sadasiva taught by theSiddhanta, but that of Svacchandabhairava. Since the latter derived its authority from the Svacchandatantra of the Mantrapitha section of the Tantras of Bhairava, it was, strictly speaking, a tradition of the Kapalika-based left. Nonetheless, the Kashmiri practiced a thoroughly domesticated form of the cult, and in the tenth century the Saiva Siddhanta, though not its source, had taken advantage of this to bring it under the sway of its doctrines. The Saiva Siddhanta was, therefore, the principal doctrinal authority among the Saivas of Kashmir, at least during the tenth century. It should hardly be surprising then that the non-dualistic tradition of the left should have tried to oust the Saiva Siddhanta from this position of power once it had itself attained a degree of respectability during the course of the tenth century. This vital task of establishing the authority of the new exegesis beyond the confined territory of the Trika and the Krama was accomplished by the works of

Ksemaraja. While his teacher, Abhinava Gupta, limited himself to the exposition of the esoteric traditions in harmony with the Doctrine of Recognition, Ksemaraja (1000-50 CE) popularized the essential doctrine and applied it through commentaries to the cult ofSvacchandabhairava and its annexes. In the first case we have such works as his Essence of the Heart of Recognition (pratyabhijnahrdayam) and his commentaries on two popular collections of hymns, the Stavacintamani of Bhatta-Narayana and the Stotravali of Uptaladeva. In the second case we have his elaborate analytical commentaries on the Svacchandatantra and theNetratantra. In both of these commentaries, Ksemaraja states that his motive is to free the understanding of these texts from the dualistic exegesis that was traditional in his day. The importance of the Svacchandatantra has already been stated. The Netratantra was the authority for the cult of Amrtesvarabhairava and his consort Amrtalaksmi. The worship of this pair was closely linked to that ofSvacchandabhaiarava and his consort Aghoresvari in the Kashmiri tradition, as can be seen from surviving ritual handbooks in use until recently among the Tantric family priests. In purely doctrinal terms, Ksemarajas commentaries do violence to both of these texts, at least, as much as that of which the dualistic commentaries must have been guilty. Neither Tantra fits either exegetical straightjacket. In the area of ritual, however, Ksemaraja had a clear advantage. When, for example, he attacked the current practice of substituting water for alcohol inSvacchandabhairavas guest-offering, he was simply reinstating the text within the tradition of the Bhairava Tantras to which it properly belonged. This re-contextualization would have seemed all the more plausible in the light of the fact that when the deity-system of the Svacchanda cult of common Saivaworship in Kashmir extends beyond its immediate boundaries, it does so not to the right and the Saiva Siddhanta but to the left and the goddess cults. Thus we find the PicumataBrahmayamalas Canda Kapalini with her eightsaktis, Kulesvari and the eight Mothers with the Bhairavas, the Kuala alcohol deity Anandesvarabhaiarava, the Trikas Para and Malini (as Goddess of the Eastern Transmission), Kubjika (as Goddess of the Western Transmission), several aspects of Tripurasundari and a number of goddesses from theJayadramayamala. The literature of this common Saiva worship current in Kashmir shows this attempt to throw off the influence of the Saiva Siddhanta was entirely successful. How quickly this was achieved cannot be seen from the evidence. We can say only that the corpus of anonymous texts of Saiva ritual in Kashmir is completely non-dualistic in the manner defined by Abhinava Gupta and Ksemaraja, that this corpus records a tradition which must go back at least five hundred years, and that there is no trace of any Kashmiri literature in the doctrinal or liturgical aspects of the Saiva Siddhanta after the eleventh century. SOURCES: Brown, Robert & Harper Katherine (Ed). The Roots of Tantra. State University of New York Press, NY, 2002. Furlinger, Ernst. The Touch of Sakti: A Study in Non-dualist Trika Saivism of Kashmir. DK Publkishing. New Delhi, 2009. Sanderson, Alexis. Saivism and other Tantric Traditions in The Worlds Religions, pp. 660-704. Routledge, New York, NY, 1988. Wallis, Christopher. Tantra Illuminated: The Philosophy, History, and Practice of a Timeless Tradition. Anusara Press, The Woodlands, TX, 2012. Wallis, Christopher. Various papers available on Scribd.