When a yogi holds the idea, ‘I am the Self of the universe, Shiva’, with unwavering conviction, he is established in the Self. One may have heard and understood the teaching but residual doubt and negative emotion can wash it away. Sadhana then becomes a process of strengthening the hold of ‘I am the Self’, and weakening the hold of doubt. As sadhana progresses, conviction gradually overcomes the latter. I certainly had my own generous portion of doubt and negativity. For Baba’s words to have had the lasting effect they had on me, they must have been charged with grace.

The sage Abhinavagupta, whom I will quote again and again, pointed out that anupaya can refer to ‘no means’ or ‘slight means’. A ripe seeker who comes into the presence of a realised being, may instantly be transformed. Or, more likely, a single spiritual instruction, accompanied by a powerful descent of grace, can effect a transformation that is both profound and permanent.

Baba had transmitted the direct experience of Kashmir Shaivism to me. The audacious equation, ‘I am Shiva’, is its essential insight. The first aphorism in the first text of Kashmir Shaivism, the Shiva Sutras, proclaims, Chaitanyamatma: The Self is Consciousness. In my innermost nature, I am my own awareness. That awareness is nothing but the Self and it is also Shiva or universal Consciousness and universal love. My personal awareness is the same stuff as universal Consciousness. I am Shiva and Shiva alone, though I may find it hard to grasp and hold this notion. Maheshwarananda, the 12th-century Shaivite master, says: The most beautiful of rubies is veiled by the brilliance of its own rays.

Thus, although it shines forth the greatest light for the entire world, the Self is not manifest. Like a gem, hidden by its own brilliance, Consciousness is hidden by all the mental and emotional manifestations that are its own creations. The yogi has to cut through these delusions to find the underlying truth.

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