Chapter 34 — Shiva: Three Stages of Awakening

Shiva continued:—

Such is the constitution of this world made up of reality and unreality and bearing the stamp of the Almighty. It is composed of unity and duality, yet is free of both.

Foul ignorance disfigures the conscious intellect so that it views the outer world as distinct from its maker, but to the clear sighted there is no separate outer world. Both inner and outer blend together in unity. The perverted intellect that considers itself to be the body is truly confined in it. But when it considers itself to be a particle of and identical with the divine, it is liberated from its confinement. The intellect loses its integrity by believing the duality of its form and sense. Combined with pleasure and pain, it no longer retains its real essence. 5 Its true nature is to be free from all designation and application of any name or meaning. The words pure, undivided, real and unreal bear no relation to what is an all pervasive emptiness.

Brahman the all and full, who is perfect tranquility without a second, equal or comparison, expands himself by his own power as the infinite and empty air, and stretches his mind in the three different directions of the three three-fold functions [creation, preservation, and destruction; waking, sleeping, and dreaming; supernatural, natural, and material; and rajas, tamas and sattva].

When the senses and organs of the mind are curbed in the great soul, a dazzling light appears before it and the false world flies away from it, just as the darkness of night disappears before sunlight. The imaginary world recedes from view and falls down like a withered leaf. The living soul remains like a fried grain without power to grow or reproduce. The conscious intellect, cleared of the cloud of illusion that hangs over a deluded mind, shines as clearly as the autumn sky. Having renounced all worldly impressions, it is called that which can be seen (pashyanti) from supernatural sight. 10 Consciousness settled in its original, pure and calm state, after it has passed beyond the commotions of worldly thoughts, when it views all things in an equal and indifferent light, is said to have crossed over the ocean of the world. 11 When consciousness is strong in its knowledge of perfect sleep (susupti) over worldly matters, it is said to have obtained its rest in the state of supreme joy, and to be freed from the doom of reincarnation.

12 Now I have told you, O great brahmin, all about curbing and weakening the mind, which is the first step towards the beatification of the soul by yoga. [The first stage is curbing the mind so it rests in supreme peace beyond rebirth; consciousness of the All. The second is freedom from all vestiges of duality: beyond awake, dream sleep and deep sleep. The next stage, the third that Shiva describes here is turiya, Brahman, and is beyond description.] Now listen as I tell you about the second step in the edification and strengthening of intellect.

13 Unrestricted power of consciousness is when it is filled with perfect peace and tranquility, full of light and clear of the darkness of ignorance, and stretched as wide as the clear dome of heaven. 14 It is as deep as our consciousness in profound sleep, as hidden as a mark in the heart of a stone, and as sweet as the flavor in salt, like the breath of wind after a storm. 15 When in course of time the living principle comes to its end at any place, consciousness takes flight in open air, like some invisible force, and mixes with the transcendent vacuum. 16 It gets freed from all its thoughts, as when the calm sea is freed from its waves. It becomes as calm as when the winds are still, and as imperceptible as when a flower emits its fragrance. 17 It is liberated from the bonds and ideas of time and place. It is freed from the thought of belonging to or being a part of anything in the world. It is neither a gross or a subtle substance. It becomes a nameless essence. 18 It is not limited by time or space. It is of the nature of the unlimited essence of God. It is a form and fragment of the fourfold state of Brahma, God the Creator, without any stain, disease or decay. 19 It is something witnessing all things with its far seeing sight. It is the all at all times and places. It is full light in itself, and far sweeter than the sweetest thing in the world.

20 What I told you is the second stage of yoga meditation. Now listen, O sage who is true to your vows, and well understands the process of yoga. I will tell you about the third stage.

21 Consciousness is without a name because it contains Divine Consciousness and all the objects of thought within its ample sphere, like the great ocean of the world contains all it parts within its spacious circumference. It extends beyond the meaning of the word Soul-of-the-Creator (brahmatma) in its extension without limit. 22 Through great enduring patience in course of a long time, the soul attains the steady and unstained state of its perfection (purushartha). After passing this and the fourth stage, the soul reaches its supreme and ultimate state of joy. 23 After passing successive grades and until reaching the ultimate state, one must practice his yoga like Shiva, the greatest of the yogis. Then he will obtain in himself the unremitting holy composure of the third stage.

24 By long continuance in this course, the pilgrim is led to a great distance which transcends all my description, but may be felt by the holy devotee who advances in his course.

25 I have told you already of the state, which is beyond these three stages. You, O divine sage, ever remain in that state if you wish to arrive to the state of the eternal God.

26 This world which seems to be material, when viewed in its spiritual light, appears infused with the spirit of God. Upon right observation, it is neither the one nor the other, neither springing into being nor ceasing to exist, but ever calm and quiet and of one uniform luster, swelling and extending like an embryo in the womb. 28 The non-dualistic unity of God, his motionlessness, and the solidity of his intelligence, together with the unchangeableness of his nature, prove the eternity of the world, although it appears as instantaneous and fleeting. 29 The solidity of Consciousness produces worlds like frozen water causes hailstones. There is no difference between the existent and nonexistent, since all things are ever existent in the Divine Intellect.

30 All is good, quiet, and perfect beyond the power of description. The syllable Om is the symbol of the whole, and its components compose the four stages for our salvation.