112 Ways to High States of Consciousness Without Doing Anything Special – The Secrets of Vijnana Bhairava Tantra

June 27, 2015 by stas | Filed under Metaphysical, Spiritual.





Vijnana-Bhairava-Tantra Vijnana Bhairava Tantra (VBT) is a little known practical gem coming from a very old tradition of Kashmir Saivism. It suggests 112 ways out of which any person on this Earth can find at least one suitable for their own personal enlightenment, and most likely they don’t need to do anything different from what they have been doing all along, other than adding one “little” thing to their daily routine. By enlightenment we mean remembering/recalling/discovering that they are divine, that there are not separate, but one with creation. Equally the unenlightened state is when that truth of their true state is concealed from them.

Just like we have many psychological systems that divide us into various archetypes, personalities, etc., the wise yogis of Kashmir found that each person has an aptitude for one or several techniques that – should they practised those – they will start having glimpses of the universal and transcendental states of consciousness and eventually fully remember who they are.

3 Paths to Liberation. Top-down Training Approach.

Path #1. Sivopaya

There are many spiritual and scientific teachings out there, and almost all start with an assumption that the newly arrived student is but ignorant of the science they are about to be taught. Kashmir Saivism is a very unique system, where the whole approach is done in reverse. When a new student discovers Kashmir Saivism the resident teacher will first entertain the possibility that the newbie is actually at their highest spiritual “degree”, therefore the first imparted teaching is very brief and it is: “You are Siva” – where Siva equals to the highest divinity of the various Hindu traditions, and equally applicable for any other faith or religion. (sidenote: Kashmir Saivism accepts all religions as just diverse paths suitable for different people on their spiritual path – i.e. it’s very inclusive).

This path is called Sivopaya – the path of Siva (upaya=path). It’s the path where all one need to do is to remember that there are that. Unless the student is indeed at a very high level realization (e.g. if they did a lot of spiritual work in the previous lives and they simply didn’t yet remember that in the current incarnation) this path is very difficult to practice since it’s very abstract and it’s not enough to just fake it until you make – eventually it’ll bear fruit but it’s very easy to mislead yourself into believing that you actually doing a spiritual practice, when nothing is really being done.

VBT offers several techniques that deploy the path of Siva, most in combination with the lower paths, e.g.:

  • (dh100) There is nothing but Siva (Sivopaya and Saktopaya)
  • (dh51) Joy of the mind (Sivopaya and Saktopaya)
  • (dh87) Stopping mind with physical exhaustion (Sivopaya and Anavopaya)

and only a few that work only at that high level, e.g.:

  • (dh110) There is neither Bondage nor Liberation

Path #2. Saktopaya

If the student doesn’t get instantly transformed thanks to the kind reminder from their teacher of their true nature, the teacher then offers the second-best path and that is of Saktopaya – the path of Sakti (Sakti is the female counterpart of Siva). This path is the path of energy, also known as the path of Kundalini energy. Instead of trying to go into the technical explanation of what Kundalini energy is, I’d simple give a few examples of when most of us experience this energy:

  • getting goosebumps
  • having an orgasm
  • experiencing fear
  • getting very excited about anything at all

and many other experiences where there is a strong energy surge through our body.

As you can see probably any person had at least a very brief experience of Kundalini rising in their body. VBT provides a wide range of different techniques to either trigger the surge of Kundalini energy on demand or recognize when you spontaneously found yourself in that state. It teaches how to ride that energy for spiritual benefits and how to sustain it for long periods of time. The most important part of the teachings here is that it’s not enough to have a Kundalini raising experience – the key is to become clearly aware of it first and then consciously direct that energy to where it’d be the most beneficial for the aspirant (e.g. to open their heart, the third eye or the crown chakra to name a few). This path is most suitable for people with strong passion/aspiration (called Bhavana in Sanskrit), as this passion is needed in order to have a prolonged sustainable experience of Kundalini raising. For example try to get goosebumps anywhere on your body and keep them going for say 5-10 minutes non-stop. Of course this special kind of passion can be learned if one has enough determination, but not everybody can do it easily.

Here are some VBT practices that fit the Shaktopaya/Bhavana path:

  • (dh18) Music appearing from and disappearing into the void
  • (dh42) Contemplate entire universe as bliss
  • (dh 50) Pleasure of the sound and other senses

Path #3. Anavopaya

Finally, if the first two more superior paths are inaccessible for the student, the third path is offered and it’s called Anavopaya. This is a path that most people who are interested in their spiritual growth can practice and this is the path of standard yoga exercises, which typically involves different postures (asanas) where one concentrates on chakras, energy movements, or even just doing them mechanically. Even a mindless practice such as doing the posture while thinking about dinner will eventually bear fruit, except it’d take a very long time. If however thinking about dinner makes you very excited and your Kundalini raises because of that, and you direct that energy properly – it becomes the path of Saktopaya, the second path. VBT again provides a plethora of techniques for those who feel that the third path is the most suitable for them at that point. Here are some examples:

  • (dh56) Holding hands in armpits
  • (dh60) Body swinging, rocking, swirling

Integrating Several Practices

In reality one could practice all three paths at different times in different circumstances of life. In fact many of the techniques in VBT may start at the lowest path (Anavopaya) and then can be progressively deepened to take it to Saktopaya and even Shivopaya. For example:

  • (dh10) Zen white blank wall meditation
  • (dh25) Feel the skin and void inside it
  • (dh70) Concentrate and amplify physical pain

Having awareness of the many techniques is very empowering because it allows the aspirant to turn “mundane” events of their lives into a spiritual practice, that is one can practice spirituality 24/7 without ever sitting down to meditate. One can go about life as any other person would do and have an ongoing spiritual growth. For example you can practice spirituality while having a delicious meal, looking into the eyes of your lover, making love, watching a sunset, being in a communion with nature, feeling pain, grief or elation, sleeping, etc. The key to turning the seemingly mundane daily experiences into a powerful set of practices is to develop the awareness of you experiencing all those different experiences as they happen.

Since Kashmir Saivism is all inclusive – in no way does it deny the power of the “classic” meditation practices therefore VBT also provides a plethora of practices that can be done by stopping normal daily activities, retreating to a quiet room and practising the chosen techniques for as long as you choose to.

Unique Aspects of VBT Techniques

Each of the VBT techniques caters to people with one or more groups of sensory acuity, the primary three of which are: visual, auditory and kinesthetic. Some techniques activate just one of these senses, for example most trataka techniques, comprised of staring at something without blinking, are Visual techniques. Others can involve two senses at the same time, for example Bhairavi mudra variations, which are meditations with eyes open but not seeing, where Visual and Kinesthetic senses are involved. And yet others that involve all three senses, such as the technique of evoking a strong past sexual experience (and even more senses can be recalled in this particular techniques).

The VBT techniques can be further categorized into the following groups:

  • annihilation meditations
  • bhairavi mudra variations (meditation with eyes open)
  • work with breath
  • meditating on expansion
  • work with light
  • madhya techniques (trying to catch a gap/hiatus between various events)
  • phonemes (work with Sanskrit phonemes)
  • techniques that involve physical activity
  • meditations on sensory experiences and the recall of
  • techniques of simultaneous perception
  • contemplating the Siva nature
  • working with sound
  • mind stopping techniques
  • meditating on the 36 Kashmir Saivism tattvas
  • meditating on void
  • whiteout (increasing the contrast until nothing but white is seen)

Some of these groups have only a few techniques, while others have many – for example VBT contains almost 30 techniques to contemplate the nature of Siva, 16 Bhairava Mudra meditations and 10 ways of stopping one’s thoughts.

Let’s briefly look into the mind stopping techniques, more than half of which are also what are called sudden methods, which are very popular in Zen Buddhism (koans). In such techniques often something is done abruptly that catches the mind unprepared and it just stops in its tracks unable to think. Here are the corresponding VBT techniques:

  • (dh66) Arresting an action of a sense organ
  • (dh73) Stop a thought and desire abruptly
  • (dh74) Consider who you are before desire arises
  • (dh87) Stopping mind with physical exhaustion
  • (dh88) Stopping mind with mental impasse or shock
  • (dh94) Literal sudden methods: sneezing, battle fear, intense curiosity

and the non-sudden methods:

  • (dh39) Stopping the mind between two thoughts
  • (dh78) Immobilize mind when having strong a emotion
  • (dh105) Zip it, and find Madhya
  • (dh111) Detach from sense organs and find self (the matrix movie)

So next time you sneeze or if you’re prone to fits of sneezes remember that this is a golden opportunity to stop your mind that is presented to you by your daily life.

Working with thoughts is interesting in particular since we think all day long and therefore there are plenty of opportunities to experiment with this rich group of techniques. One can try to first catch the moment before a thought has emerged – that is when you just have a subtle feeling that the thought is about to arise (a vibration/potential for it, often called Spanda). If the thought has just aroused instead of allowing it to develop one can stop it in its tracks (recall the Zip-It scene from the movie “Austin Powers” if you want a good exemplification of this one). Then one could think the thought for a while and then suddenly abort it. Finally it’s possible to catch the moment when the thought is over and there is a short silence/hiatus (called madhya) between the end of the current thought and the emergence of the next thought. All these techniques lead to the mind being quiet since the mind gives up on trying to think if it’s not being supported by the one who is thinking.

 

 

Another interesting aspect is that for techniques involving doing something in the physical world, there is a technique for doing it and another technique for recalling the doing of the same thing. Our mind can’t tell the difference and will respond in the same way to the real and recalled/imagined stimulation. For example it’s easy to practice at least two techniques for any human who has ever had an orgasm – as you can see in the following two techniques:

  • (dh46) Bliss at the end of sexual union
  • (dh47) Evoke a strong past sexual experience

i.e. you can have an actual sexual experience or simply have a strong recollection of one from the past. So if you ever get stuck alone on uninhabited island you can still practice most of the VBT techniques.

You can even turn a negative experience into a spiritual practice – for example Dharana 70 says that one could turn physical pain into a very powerful spiritual practice, since one could sublime the pain and bring to oneself to a high state of consciousness without doing anything special. So the next time you have pain in your body – instead of taking a painkiller you could try to concentrate on this pain and perhaps experience an immense bliss of transcendence. There are techniques for working with other negative emotions such as depression, sadness, anger, etc.

Literally you could turn your life into a non-stop spiritual practice whether you feel you are in heaven, hell or a state of contentment, by doing the exact same things you have been doing so far, with an added awareness and a little bit extra of understanding on how to turn the normal states into the divine states.

The VBT Matrix

Here are all the VBT dharanas (techniques), the paths they belong to, the sensory acuity they require, and their group and the description.

The columns of the table are:

  1. Dharana (Technique) Number
  2. A = Anavopaya
  3. B = Bhavana/Shaktopaya
  4. S = Shivopaya
  5. V = Visual / v = some visual
  6. A = Auditory / a = some auditory
  7. K = Kinesthetic / k = some kinesthetic
  8. Group
  9. Description

(this table is too wide, therefore I had to use the abbreviations instead of full names in the table header)

123456789
DhABSVAKGroupDescription
1ABSVAKbreathTantric Vipassana, Visarga
2BSVAKbreathTantric Vipassana, Focus on void between the gaps
3BVKbreath, whiteoutPrana Apana friction generates new energy, expansion
4ABvKbreathStop Breath in and out, expand in peace
5BSVklightKundalini as multicolored light – MU to SA non-stop
6ABVklightKundalini as light, stop at every chakra
7ABSAkphonemesKundalini as sound, Uccara aa ii uu e ai o au am ah
8ABvKphysicalKundalini as Brukshepa Mudra
9SVmadhya, bhairavi mudraPeacock feather trataka, Madhya
10ABSVbhairavi mudraZen white blank wall meditation
11BSVklightStar of light in Brahmarandra, Krama Mudra
12ASVKmadhyaMiddle channel, Madhya nadi MU-SA, HRID-SA
13ABVaKphysicalShanmuki Mudra, Phosphenes
14ABVKphysicalTouching eyeballs, pushing energy to SA
15BAsoundUnstruck sound, Direct nada meditation
16BvAKphonemesUccara of AUM (Pranava Mantra)
17BSAsoundSamyama with void energy of beginning and end of single sound
18BAsoundMusic appearing and disappearing into void
19ASAphonemesUccara with (complex) Navatma Mantra
20BSVKexpansion, simultaneous perceptionImagine empty Space-Akasha in all directions simultaneously
21BSvKsimultaneous perceptionSimultaneous perception of 2 Voids MU-SA
22ABSvKsimultaneous perceptionSimultaneous perception of 3 points, MU-AN-SA
23BSVKsiva natureContemplate Non-duality (Spanda) anywhere in the body (AN, SA)
24ABSVkexpansionContemplate body as Space-Sky-Akasha
25ABSVKphysicalFeel skin and void Inside it
26BVKannihilationHridaya, annihilating senses/mind
27ABVKphysicalAwareness in Brahmarandra
28ABSVaKphysicalExisting from Dvadashanta
29ABSVaKannihilationSelf annihilation
30BSVaKannihilationWorld annihilation
31BVaKannihilation, tattvasMental body – dissolution of tattvas
32ABSVaKmadhyaMadhya In Yoga Nidra with Tantric Vipassana
33BVAannihilation, tattvasDissolving 6 Adhvas (pathways)
34SVAannihilation, tattvasShadadhva
35BSVKvoidUniverse as void
36ASVkbhairavi mudraBhairavi Mudra on empty space in a jar
37BSVakbhairavi mudraLook at the vast desert-like space
38ASVmadhyaMadhya between two objects
39BSvakstop mind, madhyaStopping the mind between two thoughts
40BSVaksiva natureUniverse identical as Siva
41ABSvKbreathEnergy friction (variation of dharanas 1-4)
42Bvaksiva natureContemplate entire universe as bliss
43BvaKsensorySensory stimulation
44BKsensoryTingling sensation, Shaktichalana
45ABvKsensorySex, Sexual Mantra
46BKsensoryBliss at the end of sexual union
47BvaKsensoryEvoke a strong past sexual experience
48BVAKwhiteout, sensoryJoy, emotion due to sight and sound and senses
49ABKsensoryBliss by taste
50BvAksensoryPleasure of the sound and other senses
51BSvakwhiteoutJoy of the mind
52BSvaKmadhyaSleep-Awake madhya
53ASVmadhyaLight-Shadow gap madhya
54ABSKphysical5 Kashmirian Mudras
55AKphysicalNo support for arms and legs
56AvKphysicalHands in armpits
57ABSVaKbhairavi mudraBhairavi Mudra starting from a small object
58ABSAKphonemesUccara of HA, Anachka
59BvKphysicalLose body support and do Bhavana
60ABKphysicalBody swinging, rocking, swirling
61BSVbhairavi mudraBhairavi Mudra on blue sky
62ABSVaKbhairavi mudraMacrocosm-microcosm through brahmaranda
63BSVKbhairavi mudraSiva in all objects in 3 states – wake, sleep and dream
64BSVKbhairavi mudraPitch-black darkness Bhairavi Mudra
65ABSVbhairavi mudraBhairavi Mudra on absent darkness by blinking
66BSVAKstop mindArresting an action of a sense organ
67ABSvAKphonemesPhoneme A isolated
68ABvAKphonemesPhoneme H-Visarga isolated
69BSVKexpansion, siva natureSelf as a vast firmament
70ABSvKphysicalConcentrate and amplify physical pain
71BSVaKsiva natureOne is not their internal apparatus (mind)
72BSvaksiva nature, tattvasFive kanchukas are attributes of Siva
73BSvakstop mindStop a thought and desire abruptly
74BSvaksiva nature, stop mindConsider who you are before desire arises
75BVAKwhiteout, expansionFocus fully on desire once it arose
76BSvaksiva natureInferior knowledge is an illusion
77BSVaksiva natureConsciousness is everywhere and in everyone
78BSVAKstop mindImmobilize mind when having strong a emotion
79BVAKsiva naturePerceive universe as an illusion
80BvakmadhyaMadhya of opposite emotions, Divine indifference
81BSVaKsiva natureRealize – I’m everywhere
82BSVaKsiva natureConsciousness is everywhere, Everything is conscious
82 bBvaksiva naturePure Knowledge, union of subject and object
83BSVaKsiva natureContemplate consciousness in others
84Sbhairavi mudraEliminate all thoughts, Bhairavi mudra
85BSVaKsiva natureI am Siva
86BSvaksiva natureSakti is Siva (Pratyabijna)
87ASKstop mindStopping mind with physical exhaustion
88ASvaKstop mindStopping mind with mental impasse or shock
89BSVkbhairavi mudraBhairavi Mudra
90ABvAKbhairavi mudraListen to nada, w/ ashwini mudra & plugged ears, bhairavi mudra
91ABSVkbhairavi mudraDeep well meditation, bhairavi mudra, madhya, void
92BSvaksiva natureAnywhere mind goes, Siva is there
93BSVAKsensorySensory perception expanding into consciousness
94ABSVAKstop mindSudden Methods: sneezing, battle fear, intense curiosity
95BVAKsensoryDaydreaming, intense memory
96ABSVkbhairavi mudraBhairavi Mudra withdrawing from an object
97Bvakwhiteout, siva natureEssense of Bhakti
98ABSVkbhairavi mudraTripura Bhairavi void concentration by Bhairavi Mudra
99BSsiva natureMeditation on Non-Duality
100BSvaksiva natureThere is nothing but Siva
101BVksiva natureSame towards foe and friend, oneness
102BvakmadhyaNo aversion, no attraction but emotional madhya
103BSvakvoid, siva natureContemplate existance beyond imaginable, void
104ABSVaKexpansionMeditation on nature of space (Bhuvaneshvari)
105BSvakstop mindZip it, and find Madhya
106BvAsiva natureMeditation on Bhairava name
107Bsiva natureI am, this is mine – Self-awareness Is Siva
108BvAksiva natureGetting excited about Siva attributes
109BSVkvoid, siva natureThe world is void, one, undifferentiated
110Ssiva natureThere is neither Bondage nor Liberation
111BVAKstop mindDetach from sense organs and find self (the matrix movie)
112BSsiva natureConcept meditation on knowledge and the known as one
112 bBSsiva nature, annihilationMelting of manas, buddhi, prana, ahamkara

Interpretations of VBT

There exist several translations and interpretations/commentaries of Vijnana Bhairava Tantra. Depending on how deep you’d like to go with its practices some texts might be more suitable than others. Most of the interpretations available these days are written by interpreting an existing translation instead of the original Sanskrit version or even someone else’s interpretation. For example Osho wrote his “Book of Secrets” by commenting on Paul Reps’ “Zen Flesh, Zen Bones”, which in its turn was an attempt to interpret VBT using the prism of Zen – the authenticity of the final result is very questionable as it’s so far removed from the original.

Based on teachings that I received some interpretations are mostly far off from the original teaching, others hit the bull’s eye half the time, yet others are as close to the original teachings as possible. As with any interpretations there is no unanimous agreement of what the original text of each technique meant, compounded by the fact that most original Tantric texts were obfuscated on purpose to prevent the uninitiated from getting access to this information. Therefore the best approach is either to find a teacher who hopefully knows a great deal about the sciences of authentic Tantrism., or to try to study various interpretations yourself, to meditate on them and to use your intuition to see which ones you feel work the best for you. I believe that any effort you will make in this direction, even a small one, will pay off in a big way in the long run.

Here is a non-exhaustive list of such interpretations and translations where you could start your research from:

  1. Dmitri Semenov – Vijnanabhairava or Techniques for Entering Liminal Consciousness
  2. Jaideva Singh – The Yoga of Delight, Wonder, and Astonishment – Vijnana-Bhairava
  3. Jaideva Singh – Vijnanabhairava or Divine Consciousness
  4. Jnani Christian Karl – Handbook of Consciousness – Vijnana Bhairava Meditations For Everyday Use
  5. Lorin Roche – The Radiance Sutras: 112 Gateways to the Yoga Wonder & Delight
  6. Osho – The Book of Secrets: 112 Meditations to Discover the Mystery Within
  7. Paul Reps, Nyogen Senzaki – Zen Flesh, Zen Bones
  8. Ranjit Chaudhri – Vigyan Bhairava Tantra – 112 Meditations for Self Realization
  9. Sally Kempton – Doorways to the Infinite – The Art and Practice of Tantric Meditation
  10. Swami Lakshmanjoo – Vijnana Bhairava – The Manual For Self-Realization
  11. Swami Lakshmanjoo – Vijnana Bhairava – The Practice of Centering Awareness
  12. Swami Satyasangananda Saraswati – Sri Vijnana Bhairava Tantra – The Ascent

Most of my knowledge on this topic came from Swami Vivekandana Saraswati‘s teachings and he helped me a lot with creating the VBT Matrix that is part of this article. I’m very grateful for having him introduce me to this completely unknown to me science and showing me the nuts and bolts of it. You can learn the foundation of Kashmir Saivism by taking an introductory workshop with him.

Several teachers provide courses and retreats on the topic of VBT these days (in no particular order):

  1. Bettina Bäumer
  2. Swami Vivekandana Saraswati
  3. Sally Kempton
  4. Sahajananda
  5. Christopher Tompkins
  6. Lorin Roche
  7. Mahasatvaa Ma Ananda Sarita
  8. Paul Muller-Ortega

 

Nirvanashaktam, Or Six Stanzas On Nirvana

I’d like to conclude this post with a wonderful poem translated by Shankarâchârya:

Who am I?
I am Consciousness and Bliss without form
I am Siva, I am Siva

I am neither the intellect, the mind, the sense of ego, nor the thought
I am neither the hearing, the taste, the smell, or sight
I am neither the Ether, the earth, the fire, or air
I am Consciousness and Bliss without form
I am Siva, I am Siva

I am neither the vital breath, nor the five subtle ethers
I am neither the seven components of the body, nor the five bodies themselves,
I am neither the five action-organs
I am Consciousness and Bliss without form
I am Siva, I am Siva

I am neither aversion, nor attraction,
Neither avidity, nor wandering aimlessly
I know no pride or envy
I have neither obligations nor interests, desires, or passions
I am Consciousness and Bliss without form
I am Siva, I am Siva

For Me, there are no good or bad actions, no pleasure or pain
There are not even ritual incantations, holy places, Vedas or religious Sacrifice
I am neither the pleasure, nor the object or agent of pleasure,
I am Consciousness and Bliss without form
I am Siva, I am Siva

I know no death or doubt, no difference of caste
I have no father, no mother, for I am unborn
I have no friend, no relative, no master, nor disciple
I am Consciousness and Bliss without form
I am Siva, I am Siva

I am eternal, immutable and formless
Through my omnipresence I exist everywhere
I am not attached to the sense-organs and that is why I have no desire
I know neither freedom nor slavery
I am Consciousness and Bliss without form
I am Siva, I am Siva


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One Response to “112 Ways to High States of Consciousness Without Doing Anything Special – The Secrets of Vijnana Bhairava Tantra”

  1. Eva Nemeth says:

    thank you for this amazing info and very thourough
    hug
    eva from hungary

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