The Bliss of non-duality

The Bliss of non-duality

28 Dec 2019

"This Bliss is not like the intoxication of wine or that of riches, nor similar to union with the beloved. The manifestation of the light of consciousness is not like the ray of light from a lamp, sun or moon. When one frees oneself from accumulated multiplicity, the state of bliss is like that of putting down a burden; the manifestation of the Light is like the acquiring of a lost treasure the domain of universal nonduality" - Abhinavagupta, translated by Mark Dyczkowski

In this quote, taken from one of my favorite books "The Doctrine of Vibration", Mark is quoting Abhinavagupta's Anuttaraṣṭika, a profoundly inspired piece of writing about the highest spiritual condition one can aspire towards.

When I first read these words almost 20 years ago I was fascinated but there was very little inside me for them to anchor to,. I had found this book in the University library, one of only two books on Tantra (the other being another favorite of mine The "Triadic Heart of Shiva" by Paul Muller-Ortega). The title jumped out at me, as at this time I had become obsessed with the subject of Kundalini and the word vibration struck a chord. But it was only years later that the significance of these words began to crystallize as my conceptual map, terminological vocabulary and depth of experience increased.

Though I am not an academic scholar, I find the study of these texts deeply compelling, like I am deciphering an ancient riddle or exploring the secrets of reality. The words themselves are easy enough to understand and at a first read one may even walk away thinking they have understood what is being conveyed in it's entirety. But I believe it is only by progressively refining our conceptual understanding by repeatedly diving into these writings and more importantly by backing up that understanding by personal experience that their true wisdom becomes apparent.

Mark follows that quote with: "This is the central experience upon which the Kashmiri Shaiva bases his understanding of the nature of reality. In the transition from experience (mysticism) to a concept of reality (metaphysics), we can only carry with us ideas symbolic of the original experience. Philosophy, from this point of view, can only serve a descriptive function. It is a 'systematic symbolism' which serves primarily to generate insight into the nature of reality by a process of elevating the philosopher's power of recognition, allowing him to couple the concept with the experience which lies behind it."

How does one put words to what essentially transcends the mind? Yet this is what the great sages of the past have done; they attempted to encode and transmit the ineffable; using language to say what cannot be said.