The Means to Self-realization

The process of interiorization and continuous purification of our awareness is beautifully and elaborately described in the Tantric doctrines of Kashmir Shaivism as the "Four-fold Knowledge" or the "four means” (upayas). These means are universal in nature and even the greatest Masters and Siddhas of the past have come to realize their fullest potential through these approaches to spiritual practice. As these paths to Self-realization are important in this work, we introduce them here in greater detail.

Igor’s approaches are not limited to a certain system and remain spontaneous in the way he delivers the teaching. However sporadic the discourses may seem, for those who have been attentive there are distinctive ways of how he, as the Master, employs these means in the work with his students. He decides which of these upayas is appropriate for a particular person, which depends, largely, on the degree of spiritual evolution, and the student's readiness to respond to the different pathways to realization.

When looking at this world, we find degrees of subtleties that open up with the refinement of our perception. We can perceive and describe the physicality of an object and our attention may go there. We can describe its energetic nature; or our attention might focus on the most subtle perception, the inherent divinity in each and every object and being. The different means are arrayed in the same manner ‒ the mode of perception ranges from external objects in this physical world, to the power of mental perception, to the sublime recognition of the Self.

The means describe possibilities through which the sadhaka dives deeper into his spiritual practice after receiving the transmission of Grace, shaktipat. The student may, in time, move between different paths on his journey, yet each of these approaches is a valid way in its own right, leading the aspirant to the supreme goal of one's undertaking ‒ ultimate liberation.

The primary and most basic path is "the path of the individual soul" (anavopaya). Here external objects like the physical body, the senses, psychic instruments and movements of prana activated by Kundalini Shakti along with the subtle experiences they inspire, are used as the tools of practice as well as to strengthen one's awareness. Analytical perception is the driving force, with the power of action (Kriya-Shakti) as its main instrument. Examples of this approach are meditation techniques, where we focus our attention on the natural movement of the breath which takes us into the field of internal subtle observation.

Then there is the "path of divine energy", the way of Shakti (shaktopaya). It is supported by the intellect, by direct cognition and knowing (Jnana-Shakti). Through the power of the unfolding Shakti bestowed by the Guru´s Grace, the student gradually loses the sense of duality and comes to realize the potency of the silent inner vibration which has become alive in him through shaktipat. This vibration is pure Grace ‒ the throbbing truth of "I am Shiva," transmitted by an adept, who permanently abides in this ocean of sound, in Unity Consciousness. The focus on this path is internal and involves an awareness of our state of feeling, independent from sensory stimulation ‒ beautifully expressed in Saint Tukaram´s quote: "God is in your bhava (feeling)." This approach requires potent thoughts that direct our attention towards the awareness of Consciousness. It is the path for pursuing a particular mental awareness and knowledge arising directly from sound vibration. We experience the purifying effect of Jnana-Shakti when dualistic concepts dissolve in inner currents of bliss, when we realize that this powerful vibration which is invoked through shaktipat is not separate from us, but is Shakti Herself, our own Self in motion. This "vibration of Love" rectifies and corrects our identification with concepts which we carry about the body, mind, the world, until we become One with the Truth of our essence, all-pervasive Consciousness. It is the way of Shakti which is mostly utilized in this work ‒ to bring that spontaneous realization through the power of direct knowing.

When Igor speaks of the path of Grace, he refers to the way of Shiva, the Divine means (shambavopaya). The Self is Consciousness. It is the Supreme Principle, from which all manifestation springs forth, from the most subtle thought forms to the gross physical realm. The Self cannot be recognized through the senses, it is recognized through the power of will (Iccha-Shakti). The experience is that of sublime Unity. We dissolve the binding effect of speech and letters (Matrika-Shakti) and rest in the profound, vibrant silence of all potentiality. Any idea of duality fades away and merges into the Bliss of the Self. Through the power of will, spontaneous knowledge arises within. The all-pervasive nature of Consciousness is perceived within and without. The mode of perception is immediate. Pure subjectivity of one's awareness is experienced. Shamboo, from whom this path gets his name, is the gentle, joyful, loving form of Shiva, who bestows ultimate happiness. The sadhaka established in this upaya truly knows "I am the Self." He feels total union with the supreme will of God. Through the Grace of the Teacher, who fully abides in that state, we might be able to catch a glimpse of this glorious way of Shiva.

The fourth means is the pathless path, the "no means" way (anupaya). It is empowered completely by the spontaneity of Bliss (Ananda-Shakti). On this path no effort is needed. It is the absolute path (anuttara), and because it is beyond subject and object, it is impossible for the mind to grasp it. Hence the format of experience is undefinable; it cannot be developed. It's mode of perception is pure Awareness. Nothing can be said about it. The pathless path describes the final state of a Siddha. The scriptures say that anupaya also applies to very pure souls, who are on the edge of liberation and who only need shaktipat to complete their attainment. For these advanced souls, one gesture of the Guru is enough to establish them in the ultimate state of Shivahood. On this path one depends exclusively on the descent of divine Grace.

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