Frequently Asked Questions about Trika - Part 1
Since the e-mails coming to us are full of questions and false concepts about Trika --Non-dual Shaivism of Kashmir--, we had suddenly the idea of publishing a FAQ. We warn you that this page will be constantly and unendingly growing because it will be nourished with the questions asked by all of you. You can put any questions by e-mailing us, and as fast as possible we will answer them on this page --apart from the personal e-mail sent to you, of course--. New questions will be highlighted by a "N". Enjoy and learn!
Gabriel Pradīpaka answers your questions
Q: Why is this philosophical system so important?
A: An interesting question. People are undergoing tremendous suffering because of the ignorance. Non-dual Shaivism of Kashmir is one way out for mankind. Of course, it is not the only one. Since my lifetime is short and the philosophical systems are huge, I had to choose one. I chose Trika (threefold system -- a short name for Non-dual Shaivism of Kashmir) because it seemed revolutionary to me. Human being does not think and feel properly. He must firstly be taught to think properly. When he thinks right, he feels right as well. Trika contains new (and "old", at the same time) ideas which --when they are pondered over-- make one feel correctly. And consequently, one's entire life changes simultaneously.
Q: Could you explain this anymore?
A: For example. One thinks he is a limited person full of defects and living a certain life (very sad often). In turn, either God is a Supernatural Being dwelling far far away from me, or He does not exist at all or He is living within me but He is so pure and I am so impure, or anything else. When people say that God is within them, they are generally referring to their bodies. "God is within my body" would be a better way to say that. And this is so, because they consider themselves to be their bodies. Therefore, they undergo suffering after suffering seeing that the body is always at the mercy of pain, disease and death. Complete ignorance indeed, and it is hard to be free from that ignorance, no doubt about it.
How can God be either within or without exclusively? Trika states that God is an all-pervasive Reality, who is within and without, and beyond simultaneously. Besides, it says that human being is inherently God Himself and not a part of Him. The idea is controversial but it deserves to be pondered over. Not only me but everybody is God. God is the only One existing right now, who are you to exist apart from Him? Interesting! Who is Gabriel Pradīpaka to think that he is existing apart from God? It is apparently humble to say that "I am not God", but lastly it is a boastful attitude. Trika says that only God exists everywhere as you and everybody. When you think about yourself in this way for a long time, you will come to realize that your identity separated from God is a kind of illusion or mere notion. Then, you will renounce your ephemeral identity and will attain to unity with the Supreme Being. In fact, the union with God is always attained, since you are already God --right now!--.
However, the beginners in Trika do not often understand that teaching properly. They say: "Oh, I am God, but you are a limited person". If the teaching is not given correctly, you find people saying: "Oh, we are God but not you". Sometimes, they do not say it by using words, but they are thinking and/or acting like that. As a result, hate and discrimination get worse. No, no, no. Trika says: "Everybody is God". Every human being is inherently the Divine. When you have the aforesaid vision, you consider all people to be God Himself, and love of them increases accordingly. Unity with God should lead you to love not hate.
Another consequence of unity with God is Freedom. You come to realize you are essentially free to lead a happy life. What is the use of crying all the time when you can be happy? Nothing can harm you if you remember your divine Nature. No reason to be sad, because Joy is arising constantly in you. OK, sometimes your life is not good, and sometimes it is good. Despite the oscillation between "sadness and happiness", you feel you are not oscillating. It is the psychophysical being (ego + body + mind) who is oscillating but not the real You. So, the result is True Joy at every moment and a great strength to build a better world, I think. Go to Trika: Part 1 and read "Basic Teachings" there.
Q: What is the universe according to Trika?
A: One of the features of Trika is that it gives several answers to just one question. From Gabriel's viewpoint, the universe is a mass of immense galaxies and so on. And this answer is correct at Gabriel's level. By "Gabriel" I am referring to "the ego", the limited human being who was born in Argentina, who is teaching Sanskrit, who designs websites, etc. Gabriel is a label on a particular "body-mind" system. I and the rest of people call this "Gabriel". But I am not Gabriel at last. I am Pure Spirit living apparently in Gabriel and being a witness to all his activities. The same truth can also be applied to you, friend. Just subtitute your name for Gabriel.
Then, from my viewpoint as the Divine (not as Gabriel), the universe consists of two realities: "manifested universe" and "unmanifested universe". The former is the one which can be perceived directly through senses and mind. This universe is composed of "sounds, touches, visual forms, tastes, smells, thoughts and feelings". Every perceptible thing or person belongs to the former universe. And the latter is the one which is not currently being perceived. This is the unmanifested universe that is composed of probabilities.
For example: You are perceiving distinct things and/or people in front of you and indistinct things and/or people in the corner of your eyes. All this is the manifested universe for your eyes. The rest of the senses and mind have their own respective manifested universes as well (e.g. Your mind may be thinking of a person who is dead. This person is not manifested for your eyes but he is manifested for your mind). And all things that your eyes can not perceive directly remain as a "probability". Your own back now is not being perceived by your eyes. It remains as a "probability", visually speaking. You may touch it perhaps, but not see it. It is unmanifested for your eyes but manifested for your sense of touch. If you place a mirror suitably now, you will be able to see your back, and it will become a manifested reality for your eyes.
Therefore, the universe composed of "manifested" and "unmanifested" universes is a dynamic reality which is always changing. You are not seeing your feet now, and so they are unmanifested for your sense of sight. And at the following moment you are looking at them, and they become visually manifested, and so on with the rest of the senses and mind. If you ponder over this idea I am putting, you will come to realize the true nature of the universe and your own nature too. Go to Trika: Part 2 and Trika: Part 3, and have fun!
Q: What is the foremost practice to do in Non-dual Shaivism of Kashmir?
A: Again, several answers can be given. There are many meditative techniques for Gabriel (the ego) to perform. Go to Meditation 1: Introduction and the rest of documents to be found in the Trika section. However, I (the divine Śiva) just need "to understand" correctly. Meditation is a mere means by which you come to understand your own nature. Of course, there are also other means. But if you understand properly, so meditation is no longer necessary. Obviously, you can keep meditating after that if you wish.
There are no means for you to become united with God apart from the right understanding. In fact, you are already God and no meditation or practice would be necessary. Nevertheless, paradoxically, most people will have to meditate or perform any other kind of practice for a short or long time (depending on their spiritual maturity) in order to develop their understanding. When you attain to that right understanding, the goal is at hand.
I teach meditation to my pupils. However, when I note that a pupil is spiritually mature, I tell him/her not to meditate anymore by using techniques. I encourage him/her to remain in his/her own essential nature (a witness to all). Nothing else is necessary for him/her to do. Joy, strength, laughter, light, etc., emerge from this witnessing condition. And one day, he/she will see his/her own Divinity permeating everything and everybody, and the goal will be attained. When he/she realizes his/her unity with God, he/she will discover that he/she was always united with Him. This paradox is a real mystery. God hides and reveal His own divine nature and thus He plays the Cosmic Play.
Q: As you surely know, there are so many spiritual groups working right now. Some of them teach Trika or Non-dual Shaivism of Kashmir. Are Trika and those spiritual groups the same thing? N
A: Not at all! This a common and big mistake really. Listen:
1) Firstly, Trika is a "philosophy", while the spiritual groups or movements generally "use" one or several philosophies but they are not a philosophy.
2) Secondly, some spiritual groups or movements actually use Trika to explain their spiritual processes. It is as if you now create a particular Yoga called "My Yoga". After doing so, you adopt Trika as the principal philosophy on which you are going to base your brand-new Yoga. However, "My Yoga" and Trika are not the same thing. If you decided to take Trika as the philosophical support for your new Yoga, that is your business... what does Trika have to do with your new form of Yoga? Trika is pure, eternal and comes directly from the Supreme Śiva. It is not the creation of any mortal mind as that of yours.
If some spiritual groups or movement maybe claim to be related to Trika otherwise, through a so-called lineage of masters or something, that is their business, not Trika's. Trika is a fully independent and pure philosophical system coming from Śiva. Śiva told Vasugupta that he should find the Śivasūtra-s written by Him on a big stone, teach them to worthy disciples and so on, and Vasugupta did exactly that [Read Trika 1 (English) for the whole story]. Every time we meet to teach and learn Trika together, we are exactly doing the Bidding of Śiva. Vasugupta and their disciples did not die ever, but they continue to live in all those that teach and learn Trika right now, anywhere, not only in Kashmir or India. Death is an illusion. Śiva is eternal.
3) Thirdly, some of those spiritual groups and movements are "mainly" working for the king known as "money and power" and his progeny "personality cult, sectarianism, etc.", which give rise to so much pain in this world. Trika is not at all related to such low king and progeny. Trika is pure and divine as it comes from Śiva Himself. Just as Śiva does not need any money or power because He is the Owner of all, that which has come from Him has a similar nature. Only mortal and limited minds might be interested in money and power, not Śiva. So, Trika is great and completely independent. It can be used by anyone, but it is not the possession of any conditioned individual. Trika is only for a person to realize his own Divinity. Trika is only for the sake of the Self.
Q: But all is Śiva, even those false spiritual groups. N
A: Your present reasoning is a good example of misunderstanding the original teachings of Trika. Before, I told you the following:
"However, the beginners in Trika do not often understand that teaching properly. They say: 'Oh, I am God, but you are a limited person'. If the teaching is not given correctly, you find people saying: 'Oh, we are God but not you'. Sometimes, they do not say it by using words, but they are thinking and/or acting like that. As a result, hate and discrimination get worse."
Although the situation is now different, you are erroneously thinking as those beginners. It is true that all is Śiva but use this divine Truth along with common sense. All is Śiva but you do not eat cowdung, don't you? All is Śiva, but if a thief tries to blackjack you to steal your money, you will probably run away or something, won't you? Thus, use always your discernment and do not use sacred teachings to hide or justify that which is completely wrong.
Sometimes, one's own ego, when getting in touch with Trika's wisdom, gets too clever. For example, when he is doing evil actions, he thinks: "Oh, all is Śiva". Obviously, when he receives the horrible fruits of his horrible previous actions, he forgets Śiva. He does not think: "Well, these awful fruits of my terrible actions are Śiva too". Therefore, if you are going to use the teaching that "all is Śiva" to justify evil actions and ignorance, make sure that you will keep that very "divine" attitude when receiving the respective fruits. Use always your understanding, friend, and stop behaving like a prankish child in the name of Trika.
Q: OK, OK, I was caught in the act, hehe! Getting serious now, what does Trika state about duality? N
A: The word "Trika" literally means "Triple or Threefold". There are several ways to explain this:
1) Non-dual Shaivism of Kashmir is Triple because its teaching are related to God, universe and human being.
2) Non-dual Shaivism of Kashmir is Triple because its teachings are related to three levels of manifestation, viz. "Para (Supreme), Parāpara (Supreme/Non-Supreme) and Apara (Non-Supreme)".
3) Non-dual Shaivism of Kashmir is Triple because its teachings are related to three levels of manifestation, viz. "Advaita (Non-dual), Dvaitādvaita (Non-dual/Dual) and Dvaita (Dual)"... and so on.
The last interpretation of the word Trika "clearly" states that this philosophical system contains three levels of reality: Non-dual, Dual and intermediate (Non-dual/Dual). Sure, Trika tends to Non-dualism, but the other two levels are also accepted. However, they are viewed as a Divine Play of Śiva. The middle level (Non-dual/Dual) is that condition in which you see objects and people but you do not experience separation from them. In other words, you feel inherent unity with all around. You experience difference but not separation. In turn, in Duality you experience difference as well as separation. Of course, in Non-duality, you experience neither difference nor separation, that is, no universe is experienced but only Śiva-Śakti in the form of "I AM".
It seems that Śiva, having grown tired of Non-dualism (He often gets bored, you know... don't you hear His yawnings?, hehe) decides to manifest Dualism for His own Delight. Before doing so, He manifests a middle level known as Non-dualism/Dualism or "Dvaitādvaita", which is a mixture of Non-dualism and Dualism... oh, I am so intuitive, just kidding. Still, I was not kidding when I said that He gets bored with Non-dualism. Imagine that poor guy experiencing absolute unity with all... so boring! He behaves like us when bored... he attempts to have fun. His Divine Fun is Dualism in the form of this universe. He plays so many roles, but always retains His Essential Nature as "I AM" throughout His entire Divine Play. And that Śiva is You... awake now!
Q: Would you talk a little more about His boredom? If this is true, to attain to Enlightenment would be the same as returning to His previous boredom, wouldn't it? N
A: Oh yes. As Śiva really yawns when experiencing absolute Non-dualism, He manifests this universe as a Divine Play. He does not like the Void which is beyond the void (Śūnyātiśūnya), that is, He already knows that He is the Supreme Lord of all and wants to have some fun. This idea may be strange and difficult-to-accept, specially when you have devoted your entire life to the search for Śūnyātiśūnya! Śūnyātiśūnya is the essential nature of Śiva. He is like a Void in His Highest State, because it is without any objects, but at the same time, it is full of Divine Consciousness. That is why, His primordial nature is known as Śūnyātiśūnya or the Void which is beyond the void. I like to call it: "a full, non-empty Void". In this sublime essence, He experiences only I AM or Śiva-Śakti. Time, space or any other limitations cannot reach Him here. However, He dislikes to remain only in this transcendental condition and manifests the universe with its inherent duality.
From the viewpoint of a limited being who strives to get to Śūnyātiśūnya, Enlightenment is the goal to be attained. Nonetheless, from Śiva's viewpoint, this does not make any sense. He always realizes Śūnyātiśūnya. In fact, there is no limited being anywhere, because He is the only inhabitant of the universe. Still, He makes sure that nobody discovers the non-dual Truth which is behind apparent dualism. For example, look at the objects around you right now. All of them seem so solid and autonomic. However, this is an illusion brought about by You Yourself, Śiva, because when your attention is withdrawn from them, they dissolve again in Your state of Śūnyātiśūnya. Where is the world that you were experiencing before? The answer is: "in Śūnyātiśūnya". It does exist, but it is unmanifested. It is merged with the Transcendental Void full of Consciousness, which is Your innermost nature. Where are the thoughts that you thought yesterday? In Śūnyātiśūnya. Now you remember them and they appear once again before you. You are the eternal Witness to them all. You never disappear, dear Śiva.
You may wonder, what is the point of performing spiritual practices if one understands this obvious reality? And you are right, because when someone "genuinely" realizes this truth of Śiva, he does not need to practice anymore. The goal has been attained, but... was there a goal really? Śiva is always Śiva and no conditioned individual has never existed except as a role played by the Divine Self. "I am Gabriel" consists of "I am" and "Gabriel". Gabriel is the ephemeral role that Śiva is playing at this moment, but "I am" is everlasting. In fact, I would call it "I AM" (uppercase) since it is the embodiment of Śiva-Śakti. "I AM" pervades all and thus gives support to all. Nothing can exist without this I AM as its foundation. When you perceive that you are I AM, the attainment of Enlightenment is completely forgotten. Enlightenment is only relevant to a "paśu" or limited being, but now you have realized that You are Śiva Himself, and that no paśu has never existed. Gabriel (the apparent paśu) has never existed as such, but he is just a role played by the Supreme Actor. And just as Gabriel was only an invent of Śiva, the remaining John's, Otto's, Juanas, Jane's, Erik's, Maxima's, Kumaram's, etc. in this world have never existed as such. They were always just Śiva, and this Śiva is You.
Śiva manifests duality (John's, Gabriel's and so on) in order to experience some fun. For that reason it is difficult to achieve Enlightenment... He does not want to experience Divine Boredom again! From the viewpoint of the fleeting character known as Gabriel, the Enlightenment is the goal to be attained, but from the viewpoint of Śiva, Enlightenment is always His possession. In fact, Gabriel and his ardent search for Enlightenment is another play of Śiva, the Supreme Actor. He is already enlightened, friend... He does not need more Light, hehe! So, if you are now a person in search for Enlightenment, you may keep searching for it if you wish, but remember that all is lastly a pastime of Śiva (You)... do not knit your eyebrows and get serious as you are a seeker for Truth! The Enlightenment is certainly to realize that Śiva is always Śiva, and no Gabriel, John, Jane and so on have ever existed as different from Śiva. If you associate Enlightenment only with divine visions or something, you are thinking too much friend... and this is another play of Śiva, no doubt.
Q: So, what is the point of performing such spiritual practices as meditation and the like? N
A: You are not listening, friend. Perform them until you realize that You are Śiva. At the moment you get to that realization, the spiritual practices might be abandoned if you wish. They are no longer necessary if you have gotten to that point of understanding. However, have fun while practicing meditation and the like... as I said to you before, do not knit your eyebrows! Śiva is Śiva forever, and Enlightenment is always Your possession.
Q: But you seem really serious while teaching and defending Trika. N
A: When my role is to be a Trika teacher, I play it very well. Despite my apparent seriousness, I do not consider myself to be different from Śiva. I simply play the role that I have to play in accordance with the circumstances. Remember that Śiva is the Supreme Actor.
Keep studying Trika, friend. Best wishes to you.
to be continued
This document was conceived by Gabriel Pradīpaka, one of the two founders of this site, and spiritual guru conversant with Sanskrit language and Trika philosophy.
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