What is real? Why are we here? Why is there something rather than nothing? Does life have innate meaning or purpose? What is the connection between consciousness and physical existence? Is free will an illusion? What is the nature of bondage and how does one aspire towards liberation?
This retreat is for anyone who:
“When Bhāvanā of Shiva is accomplished, the mind becomes supportless in samadhi.” - Kṣemarāja
This retreat combines philosophical inquiry with profound meditative practice. In an exploration of some of the deepest philosophical questions that have fascinated the human mind, we will dive into the nature of being and seek out the meaning and purpose of life. Why are we here? What is the relationship between consciousness and physical existence? Is free will an illusion? What is the nature of bondage and how does one aspire towards liberation?
Drawing on the wisdom of the non-dual Tantric tradition as well as that of modern philosophers and scientists we will explore these topics; but rather than seeking out answers with rational, analytic reasoning alone we will instead allow insight to emerge from within us, through deep meditation, using techniques inspired by tantric teachings. Such an inquiry challenges us to look beyond the superficial, mundane apprehension of our senses to see ourselves and reality in a new light.
Why are we here?
Creative contemplation is one possible interpretation of the tantric practice known as bhāvanā. Meditation is usually conceived of as either stilling the fluctuations of the mind through one-pointed concentration, or as mindfulness, the practice of witnessing all phenomena whilst becoming dissociated from them. In bhāvanā however the mind is employed as a tool for it’s own dissolution. Dr. Bettina Bäumer, a direct disciple Swāmī Laksmanjoo (one of the last torch bearers of the Kashmirian Tantric tradition) defines it as “dynamic transformative meditation, mediating between the individual and the Divine”
The Vijnana-Bhairava-Tantra is a profound, practice oriented gem of the non-dual tantric tradition. Rather than being simply an exposition of scriptural theory or metaphysics it offers doorways, 112 of them, which grant one access to a non-conceptual mode of being. The bhāvanā meditations we will practice are greatly inspired by this fundamental text.
Bhairava is a name which the non-dual Tantric Shaiva’s used as a personification of Śiva as the undefinable, indescribable and awe-inspiring Absolute. Bhairava cannot be known through study, ritual or pious deeds. To know Bhairava is to exist in an ego-dissolved, wonder-struck, state; the fundamental ground of Being. This can only be known through practice; by the establishing of one’s awareness in a state which is free from the identification with body or mind. It is a condition which requires the utmost surrendering of one sense of individuality, separateness and limited efficacy. It demands that all attachment to our limited vision of ourselves, others and the world be dissolved in the light of pure awareness.
Truth is only made apparent through direct perception; through the mystical intuition that arises spontaneously when the fluctuations and superficial levels of thought have been transcended. By progressively refining and expanding the silent center within us we aspire to actualize the revealed truths of the non-dual tradition within ourselves. Transforming our mode of perceiving ourselves and the world around us from something separate and conflicting to a holistic vision filled with significance and the scent of divinity.