27 Jan And In Between – Magic: Reflections on the Vijnana Bhairava Tantra
I have been re-reading the Vijnana Bhairava Tantra in preparation for Shiva Shakti Power: A Classical Kundalini Training that we’re offering in March. It is an exquisite compilation of 112 meditations. These meditations describe variously how to drop into the infinite consciousness or infinite presence in all things. Sometimes there is mention of sound and going deeply into the sound of music. Sometimes directions to focus on the skin as a portal to the infinite energy, or the din of life going on around you. And some sutras focus on the space between: the lull at the end of an exhalation, the space between sun and earth, the space at the centre of an infinitely vast universe. All of the meditations illustrate this concept of a dynamic universe at play within and infused by conscious awareness. They describe the interplay of the manifest universe (Shakti) and the still consciousness (Shiva) and the illusion of their separateness. The verses invite us to rest in that total presence or total awareness in any given moment.
The verses are beautifully translated in the Radiance Sutras (2014) by Lorin Roche, though these veer into interpretation, and in the Book of Secrets by Osho.
The following are some beautiful meditations on the concept of the space between. Meditations 2 – 4 are about the space between breaths. In four we see:
At the end of the exhale,
Breath surrenders to quietude.
For a moment you hang in the balance –
In the fertile spaciousness
That is the source of breath. (Roche, p. 39)
Another example of the space between occurs in meditation 38 with the instruction to meditate on the space between two ideas or perceptions:
Watch for a moment in which
Two opposing perceptions occur –
Wanting to go and not going,
Knowing and simultaneously not knowing.
In the midst of this dilemma,
Let go of both perceptions
And jump into the interval between. (ibid: p.73)
This may be practiced as being gently aware of the space between two thoughts and resting in that space. I wrote a poem this summer about the rushing of waves, and how after the crescendo, waves roll up the beach and there is a lull. In this lull, in the space between, there you’ll find the magic. The stillness in which everything is present.
Almost immediately following, in meditation 40, we see that this resting between brings us to the idea of non-duality that is a hallmark of Tantra, in particular that the body is not separate from Consciousness.
Delight in this entire universe
As permeated with divine awareness
And every area of your body –
Your feet, your face, your shoulders –
Made out of divine awareness. (p. 75)
During your own meditation practice, you can explore meditations on micro-parts of the body, such as the arch of the foot or the line between the lips and the nose. These meditations take us into one area with such total awareness that it appears that the whole universe exists in this small area. This practice mirrors Upanishadic verses about the drop and the ocean being essentially the same, or a Kabir poem about the “whole universe in one drop”.