Āṇavopāya (Anavopaya) - The way of action (Part 1)
Hi, this is Gabriel Pradīpaka. Now, we are entering a new upāya called "Āṇavopāya". This term is composed of "āṇava" and "upāya". The first word means "related or pertaining to the aṇu or limited being", and the second one means "means or method". This upāya is the means or method which is related to the limited being. Most people begin their spiritual path from either Śāktopāya (the Way of Knowledge) or Āṇavopāya (the Way of Action). Just a few people begin from Śāmbhavopāya (the Way of Will), and Anupāya is really for high-souled ones. This Ānavopāya is a simple way for everyone to tread on. That is why it is as a matter of fact the way with the most number of followers. Guess why? Yes, you guessed right, it is predominantly a dualistic path, that is, you are not God but a limited being attempting to come closer to Him. Śāmbhavopāya is based on non-dualism, that is, you understand that you already are Śiva or God, but you merely use your will to reinforce that understanding. In turn, Śāktopāya is a mixture of non-dualism and dualism. Thus, Trika contains all viewpoints: non-dualistic, non-dualistic mixed up with dualistic, and dualistic.
Of course, one upāya leads to the other. That is to speak: Āṇavopāya leads to Śāktopāya, Śāktopāya leads to Śāmbhavopāya, and lastly Śāmbhavopāya leads to Anupāya. So, although Trika includes the previous three viewpoints, absolute non-dualism (I am Śiva or God) is the final goal to be attained. I advise you to read the documents to be found in the Trika section of our website (click here) as a support for our study.
Let us get down to work.
Therefore, Āṇavopāya is the way pertaining to the limited being. It is an easy-to-understand path, but really immense. This immensity is its principal difficulty. So many techniques, so large quantity of statements, so much knowledge, and the rest. This is why it has been divided into five well definite branches. You do not need to practice all the five ones to make progress in Āṇavopāya. No at all. Even though I will teach you the five branches, you should choose that one in which you feel at ease. After that, maybe you will move on another branch or even Śāktopāya (the means or method placed right above Āṇavopāya). Remember that one upāya leads to the other. Āṇavopāya must lead to Śāktopāya.
The five branches of Āṇavopāya are as follows:
|DHYĀNA||An active meditation full of creative contemplation and visualization.||You use Buddhi (the intellect)|
|UCCĀRA||The science of the vital energies must be learnt here. You fix the attention on the various prāṇa-s.||You use the specific or gross prāṇa, which is composed of ten vital energies|
|VARṆA||You fix the attention on the subtle "anāhata" sound that continues to sound "unstruck, uncaused" all the time.||You use the general or subtle prāṇa|
|KARAṆA||You use your own physical body, as well as several Mudrā-s (seals) as an additional aid.||You use your own body and certain dispositions of its organs and limbs|
|STHĀNAKALPANĀ||You fix the attention on external things.||You use some external object to make your mind one-pointed|
We will study only the first two branches in this document. "Dhyāna" is easy to understand, but Uccāra will need a long explanation on my part. Let us be patient because it is worth our effort. Remember that Kriyāśakti or Power of Action is predominantly used in Āṇavopāya. You will use your power of action to make your mind one-pointed throughout this upāya.
Let us study now "Dhyāna" (Meditation) according to Āṇavopāya.
What is the difference between the meditation taught in this upāya and that of Śāktopāya? This is not an easy-to-answer question, because the frontiers among them are really indistinct. One upāya is somewhat mixed with the other to which is adjacent. However, I can say that the crucial difference is the following:
In Śāktopāya, I mainly use my mind to repeat a Mantra, but my attention is actually resting on the Great Lake (I AM) or Śakti Herself. Hence its name: Śāktopāya. The attention does not rest on the Mantra itself but on its source or I AM. Instead, in Āṇavopāya the meditation is really gross if compared to that of Śāktopāya, since it is more mechanical and my attention does not rest exactly on the Divine I-Conciousness but on the intellect itself I am using. This is obviously approximate due to the previous reasons I said to you, but it is a good explanation for now, I think.
In Śāktopāya there is more awareness of the origin of all than in Āṇavopāya. For example: to repeat a Mantra without being conscious of the inherent unity among the Mantra, God and myself, is a practice belonging to Āṇavopāya. However, as I become more conscious of the unity among them all, the practice is gradually transformed into one of Śāktopāya. Everything is dependent on where I place my attention. If I place it on the natural and spontaneous I-consciousness, my practice belongs to Śāktopāya; and if I place it on any other thing which is lower than that I-consciousness, my practice belongs to Āṇavopāya.
Another example: a ritual is an Āṇava practice at the beginning, because I generally perform it without being conscious of what I am. Later, I realize that the objects used to worship, the deity being worshipped and myself (the worshiper) are not different from each other. This realization makes me introverted, and the ritual, firstly Āṇava, is turned into a Śākta inquiry into I-consciousness. This search lastly gets to Śāmbhavopāya, in which I fully understand that I am not only the deity and the objects utilized to worship but the entire universe. When the aforesaid understanding is stable enough, you have arrived in Anupāya (the culmination of Śāmbhavopāya). This is the Supreme Experience according to Trika.
Every Āṇava practice is turned into a Śākta one, with a predominant mental activity searching for the origin of all. In the end of my way, I get to the Peace of Śāmbhavopāya, wherein the activity, even that belonging to the mind, ceases completely. Thus, I rest on my true divine nature.
And now an example of Āṇava meditation (Dhyāna):
You choose an object of adoration (whatsoever). You become conscious of the inherent unity among this object, your mind and senses involved, and yourself. This threefold awareness kindles an inner fire known as Kuṇḍalinī. Once this fire is burning high, you visualize yourself offering the object of adoration to the fire mentally. You behold how the flames quickly burn up the object. This fire is symbolic of the Supreme I-Consciousness (I AM), and its burning up the object means that the complete consciousness of unity has been attained through this practice. In short, you become conscious of the unity among the object, your mind and senses and yourself. This brief but strong realization kindles an inner fire which symbolizes the highest "I AM". The offering of the object means that you are becoming conscious of the universal unity. It is a simple practice.
I will give you another way to meditate according to Āṇavopāya in Techniques 4. The more you realize that "You are Śiva" in practicing an Āṇava technique, the more this technique is transformed into a Śākta one. This is the key to advance faster.
The word "Uccāra" is composed of "ut" ("t" is changed into "c" due to a Sandhi or combination rule) and "cāra". The former means "upward" and the latter "movement". So, "Uccāra" is "a upward movement". But, movement of what? Movement of Prāṇa-s or vital energies. Sometimes "appearing as sound" is added to the original meaning. Thus, the entire meaning would be: "a upward movement appearing as sound". This defines the principal quality of the vital energies: "they rise upward and appear as sound". The Prāṇa or vital energy may be divided into two main classes: specific or gross, and general or subtle. The general Prāṇa will be studied in Varṇa (next document). The specific Prāṇa consists of ten vital energies (5 principal and 5 subsidiary). Note that the same word "prāṇa" is used to designate a specific vital energy as well as the ten vital energies as a whole. I will use uppercase and lowercase for you not to mistake one for the other.
The ten prāṇa-s and their respective characteristics are as follows:
|apāna||orange red||excretory functions and drawing down of fluids|
|samāna||green||digestive and assimilative functions|
|udāna||violet blue||deglutition, speech, facial expressions and rising up of fluids|
|Subsidiary||kūrma||stimulates the eye's blink|
|kṛkara||generates hungry, thirst, sneeze and cough|
|devadatta||induces both sleep and yawn|
|nāga||causes hiccup and belch|
|dhanañjaya||prevents the dead body from decaying when a large quantity of it has been accumulated during the lifetime|
Look at the human body showing approximately the zones influenced by the five principal Prāṇa-s:
You can see here how these five principal vital energies are distributed throughout the body. The specific areas I have indicated are the most important zones of influence for every Prāṇa. Of course, each of these five vital energies often goes through the territory of the other.
Vyāna actually circulates throughout the entire body, but it is predominant in the extremities as pointed out. In turn, Udāna goes up from the navel, but it is predomiant in the area of neck and face.
Apāna goes in through the inhaled air. It draws all the bodily fluids down to Mūlādhāracakra (the root cakra). In turn, prāṇa goes out through the exhaled air and it is accumulated in Anāhatacakra (the heart cakra).
Samāna is stable in the zone of the navel, and it is accumulated in Maṇipūracakra (the navel cakra). Udāna goes up to the crown of the head, drawing fluids up in the process. It is accumulated in Viśuddhacakra (the throat cakra). Finally, vyāna circulates freely throughout the whole body, but it is accumulated in Svādhiṣṭhānacakra (the cakra situated among Mūlādhāra and Maṇipūra).
It is enough for the time being. More knowledge will be unfolded by respective Appendixes later.
This has been a brief overview of the science of prāṇa-s. Let us go deeper into the subject. It is getting very interesting, isn't it.
You have now knowledge enough to undertake your practice of Uccāra properly. So, I will explain the whole process of Uccāra to you. I advise you to read the documents of the Trika section to understand completely my explanation (click here and then, click on Trika sign). I will divide this first way to practice Uccāra into five stages. Important: Do not try to control your breathing, just concentrate on it in a natural way. Thus, remember: "no control of it" is being taught in Uccāra:
1) You should be sitting with your spinal column straight. If you can take on a cross-legged pose as Padmāsana (lotus posture), much better. But the most important thing is to keep your column totally straight. You might practice in a reclined posture, but there is a tendency to sleep. This is why, I do not recommend to practice in a reclined position. However, if your legs or back are paining too much, you are allowed to perform Uccāra while lying down.
Close your eyes and pay firstly attention to the exhalation. I said to you before that the exhaled air is full of the vital energy called "prāṇa". If you continue to behold the exhalation, you will note that your attention tends to focus on the heart's zone in a natural manner because the Anāhatacakra situated there is the cakra in which prāṇa is accumulated. This center of energy regulates the cardiorespiratory functions and controls all that is concerned with the senses (specially the sense of touch). Therefore, the concentration on the prāṇa contained in the exhalation will bring an increasing awareness of the aforesaid cardiorespiratory and sensory functions to you. All your senses become more powerful as this concentration on prāṇa is perfected.
2) After performing this practice for a while, add the concentration on the "apāna" contained in the inhalation to it. Since apāna is concerned with the excretory processes, you will become gradually more conscious of them. As the cakra (Mūlādhāra) in which apāna is accumulated is situated in the root of the spinal column, you will perceive that your attention tends to be focused on that area as your concentration on apāna is perfected.
3) After doing that for a while, you will note that the "gap" between inhalation and exhalation has become longer due to the slowing down of them both. In this gap there is samāna. Obviously, this vital energy is always there but when the gap is enlarged through the concentration on the outgoing and incoming breaths, you develop awareness of samāna and its respective functions (digestive and assimilative). So, your attention goes now to that gap between inhalation and exhalation. The entire concentration is on samāna. You perceive that the attention gently moves to the navel. In other words, it goes to the Maṇipūracakra, the abode of samāna. The specific function of this vital energy consists in assimilating the food and then giving the energy extracted from it to every organ in a equitable manner. Hence it is called "samāna" (that which brings about "samatā" or balance). The continuous awareness of samāna will lastly bestow on you not only a understanding of the assimilative and digestive functions controlled directly by samāna, but a complete knowledge of all bodily functions. Despite I have spoken of the cakra-s in which the vital energies are accumulated, your attention should be placed on the Prāṇa-s themselves and not on the respective centers of energy referred to.
4) When you thoroughly enter the samāna zone, you will experience a number of vibrations rising from Mūlādhāra up to the crown of the head. A series of spontaneous breathings are experienced when this happens. Those natural prāṇāyāma-s (respiratory processes) increase the power of the previous vibrations. These are to be known as "udāna" or the ascending vital energy. Its principal function is to control all that is concerned with speech and deglutition. It is the vital air which controls the facial muscles. A secondary function of it is to nourish the various tissues. As you become more conscious of udāna, you will perceive how your attention moves to the throat because Viśuddhacakra is the center in which udāna is accumulated. If you keep fixing your attention on it, you will feel your body lighter due to its quality of rising all up.
5) After practicing for a certain period of time you will feel many vibrations in your head. You experience a kind of shaking there along with a great joy. You can feel how those vibrations go down your head, neck and the rest. You are experiencing how vyāna circulates throughout your body. Its functions are concerned with circulation, muscle tone, etc. The limbs or extremities are under complete control of vyāna. Peace and Bliss are experienced as vyāna moves up and down your body. Concentrate on that Peace and Bliss and enter your own inner Self or essential nature. This is Uccāra.
And now a description of the seven different kinds of Ānanda-s (bliss) that you experience in Uccāra. Many things that you will find here are of my personal experience with Uccāra because the descriptions I have read are mostly half-done and unfinished ones. This description is a more complete explanation of Uccāra than the previous one you studied in "Uccāra: Going deeper" because it adds the teaching of the Ānanda-s and some other things. Pay attention:
1) The bliss you feel when you experience yourself as an indweller in this physical body, while you are sitting confortably for meditation, is called NIJĀNANDA (one's own bliss). Nijānanda is simply this joy of being in a human body. It is a day-to-day experience, but somehow you do not realize it until you bring your attention to it. The experience is something like that: "I am in this body but I am different from it". The Spirit or real You appears to be within a physical body even though He (You) is completely free from all limitations. It is a true mystery. Śiva (You) has apparently become a person dwelling in a limited body. The bliss you experience in this stage is a natural and spontaneous one. You do not need to do anything to enjoy it but to bring your attention to it.
2) Then, you close your eyes and go into a darkness like that of the dreamless sleep. In this quiet isolation, the bliss you experience is called NIRĀNANDA (joyless) because it is a joy that is acquired when all knowable objects are absent. The more you go into that darkness, the more you will feel that "joyless" bliss. It is the joy of the quiet and stillness. Therefore, it lacks the usual characteristics that you associate to the word "bliss". Ordinarily, joy is concerned with knowable things. For example: You may feel happy because of the acquisition of a new car (external object). You may feel happy because of a good memory (internal object) emerging in your mind. However, in Nirānanda you feel happy because there is no external or internal object. Bliss is here derived from the absence of any kind of knowable object (internal or external).
3) After coming out of the aforesaid void (Nirānanda), if you concentrate your mind alternately on prāṇa (which is in the outgoing breath) and apāna (which is in the incoming breath), you will experience the bliss known as PARĀNANDA (the higher bliss). Despite the name, it is not the Ultimate Bliss but one that is really higher when compared to the ordinary mundane joy. This is the true meaning. Make your mind onepointed (alternately) on exhalation and inhalation, and you will surely experience Parānanda. A unborn child rests firstly on Parānanda while awaiting to be born. Nevertheless, that child goes beyond Parānanda when he/she pays fully attention to the sound of his/her own breathing. This would be Varṇa, which I will teach you in the next document (Meditation 5). Through the practice of Varṇa, the unborn child does not become too restless due to the external noises, the extreme heat coming from his/her mother's stomach, etc. The "technique" of Varṇa is given to the little baby by Śiva Himself. It is a divine act of mercy and another mystery worthy of being pondered over.
4) After experiencing Parānanda, if you fix your attention on samāna, which is to be found between inhalation and exhalation (i.e. "between apāna and prāṇa"), you will be conscious of the complete unity of all knowable objects. There is consciousness of unity in the middle of difference, that is, although you perceive different objects, you do not experience separation in them. The delight you enjoy here is known as BRAHMĀNANDA (the bliss of Brahmā, the Creator).
5) Well, after the joy of Brahmānanda, you get to this stage. Your attention is now fixed on udāna having dissolved all knowledge and knowable objects in your essential nature. You experience how the entire universe and all knowledges pertaining to it are finally merged into You, the Witness or Śiva. The bliss to be experienced in this stage is called MAHĀNANDA (the great bliss). In short, you become conscious of the udāna going through the central channel of the spinal column right up to the crown of the head.
6) And now your attention must be fixed on the vyāna (the pink vital energy) circulating throughout your body. You experience here your own all-pervasiveness. Although vyāna is the all-pervading energy moving through your entire system, you go even beyond your body and perceive everything as permeated by your own Self. The understanding that "I AM" comes to you spontaneously. The joy at this level is known as CIDĀNANDA (the bliss of Consciousness).
7) Once you experience that "I AM" is omnipresent, you come to recognize that everything and everybody is Yourself or Śiva. You see youself in all. This is the goal of all Yoga-s and obviously of Uccāra too. The Supreme Bliss you feel is called JAGADĀNANDA (the bliss of the world), because you recognize the entire universe as Śiva who is Yourself.
The first six Ānanda-s are belonging to Uccāra, but the seventh one is Liberation itself.
Well, I will summarize the whole processes of Dhyāna and Uccāra according to my previous teachings. Both of them constitute the first two methods of Āṇavopāya:
(meditation according to Āṇavopāya)
|You use visualization actively. There are various methods in which you use your postive imagination to experience unity with all. I taught you one and I will teach you another one in Techniques 4.|
(the science of the vital energies)
|1) You are sitting for meditation with your spinal column straight. If you can stay in a cross-legged position it would be great, but it is not an indispensable condition. The only necessary condition is to keep your back straight.||NIJĀNANDA (one's own bliss) is experienced here when you feel that you are an indweller of the physical body.|
|2) You close your eyes and experience the deep darkness before yourself.||NIRĀNANDA (joyless) is experienced here because it is a kind of bliss that is felt when no knowable object is available to be perceived.|
|3) You focus your attention alternately on both exhalation and inhalation, and consequently on prāṇa and apāna to be found there.||PARĀNANDA (the higher bliss) is experienced here when you concentrate your mind both on prāṇa and apāna. It is "higher" than the ordinary mundane joy. Hence its name.|
|4) You fix your attention upon samāna which is to be found in the gap between inhalation and exhalation.||BRAHMĀNANDA (the bliss of Brahmā, the Creator) is experienced here when you become your own mind onepointed on samāna (the green vital energy). At this level, you are conscious of the underlying unity in the middle of difference or diversity.|
|5) You become your mind concentrated on udāna or the ascending vital energy. You feel it rising up right from the navel (samāna zone).||MAHĀNANDA (the great bliss) is experienced here when you dissolve all knowledge and knowable objects in your own Self.|
|6) You focus your mind on vyāna or the vital energy circulating throughout your body. As a result, you acquire its all-pervasiveness and go even beyond the frontiers of your own gross body. You perceive that all is permeated by "I AM" or Śakti.||CIDĀNANDA (the bliss of Consciousness) is experienced here because Śakti is verily the joy of Cit (Śiva or Consciousness). You are Śiva and Śakti is your Bliss and not different from You either. This Ānanda is everywhere as everybody's own Self.|
|7) Having experienced the absolute omnipresence of Śakti, you come to the following recognition: "I am everything and everybody". You see your own face in all. This is complete Liberation and the goal of all upāya-s, not only Uccāra.||JAGADĀNANDA (the bliss of the world) is experienced here. It is the final Bliss... what else may I say about it? Experience it yourself and be free forever.|
These are three techniques belonging to Āṇavopāya in general, although the first one is specifically pertaining to Dhyāna (which I have taught you previously).
कालाग्निना कालपदादुत्थितेन स्वकं पुरम्।
प्लुष्टं विचिन्तयेदन्ते शान्ताभासस्तदा भवेत्॥५२॥
Kālāgninā kālapadādutthitena svakaṁ puram|
Pluṣṭaṁ vicintayedante śāntābhāsastadā bhavet||52||
One should imagine (vicintayet) that his own (svakam) body (puram) has been burnt (pluṣṭam) by Kālāgni (kāla-agninā) rising (utthitena) from the great toe of the right foot (kālapadāt). Then (tadā), there is (bhavet) a flash (ābhāsaḥ) of Peace (śāntá) lastly (ante).
"Kālāgni" literally means "the fire (agni) of Time (kāla)". Some authors add "the end of" to the translation: "the fire of the end of Time". In short, this fire is the destroyer of all when the final dissolution of the whole universe takes place. In the human being, it remains latent and dormant within the great toe of the right foot, which is technically called "kālapada".
There is one thing to be fully understood: Most people associates the fire with "that which burns up impurities and sins", but this viewpoint is not valid in Trika on higher stages. According to this philosophical system, the whole universe and oneself is permeated by just one Pure Self. In fact, one is that supreme Self who is spotless. Even though at the beginning of the spiritual path one person may have certain notions of impurity or sin, his final goal should be to get rid of them. Thus, Kālāgni is not here a fire burning impurities and sins but something which is symbolic of a growing awareness of unity being developed in that person who uses this technique. A growing fire that burns one's own body symbolizes a growing realization of the unity underlying in this universe.
As the body is burnt to ashes, your sight of that one all-pervading Reality becomes more distinct because you stop identifying your real Self with the gross physical body. This is the meaning of the aphorism.
A final advise: If your notion of impurities and sins is still strong, imagine that Kālāgni is burning it up. So, you will be free from it and experience supreme Peace.
उपविश्यासने सम्यग्बाहू कृत्वार्धकुञ्चितौ।
कक्षव्योम्नि मनः कुर्वञ्छममायाति तल्लयात्॥७९॥
Upaviśyāsane samyagbāhū kṛtvārdhakuñcitau|
Kakṣavyomni manaḥ kurvañchamamāyāti tallayāt||79||
Sitting (upaviśya) confortably (samyak) on a seat (āsane), placing (kṛtvā) the two arms (bāhū) in the form of an arch (overhead) (ardhakuñcitau) and fixing (kurvan) the mind (manaḥ) in the holes (vyomni) of the armpits (kakṣa), one enters (āyāti) a peaceful condition (śamam) due to his absorption (layāt) in that (restful pose) (tad).
This is a very simple technique. When you concentrate your mind on the holes of the armpits, what you are really doing is to make it as hollow as them. A hollow mind is one devoid of thoughts. Besides, the pose itself induces a peaceful state in you. It is a very good technique because of its simplicity.
ध्यायतोऽनुत्तरे शून्ये प्रवेशो हृदये भवेत्॥३२॥
Dhyāyato'nuttare śūnye praveśo hṛdaye bhavet||32||
There is (bhavet) penetration (praveśaḥ) into the highest (uttare) Void (śūnye) --the Heart-- (hṛdaye) for he who meditates (dhyāyataḥ) on the five (pañcakam) voids (śūnya) by means of the multicolored (citrarūpaiḥ) circles (maṇḍalaiḥ) (appearing) on the feathers (pakṣaiḥ) of the peacocks (śikhi).
The five voids are the Tanmātra-s or subtle elements (sound as such, touch as such, color as such, taste as such and smell as such). They give rise to the five gross elements: ether, air, fire, water and earth. They are a kind of five voids behind one's own senses because they have no concrete appearance. If you take a feather of peacock, you will see five circles. If you fix your attention on them, you will be absorbed in the void which is behind your sight and consequently in the other four voids behind the rest of your senses. This absorption in the Tanmātra-s will lead you to the absorption in the Absolute Void (the Heart or Core of all, not the ordinary physical heart).
Śiva is here depicted by a "Void" because He is devoid of the universe as such. However, although He looks like a Void, He is really full of Consciousness. Just as a huge tree does not appear to be latent within a tiny seed since they are apparently so different from each other, so the entire world rests on Śiva and is united with Him despite it seems to be so different. The universe is full of objects and subjects, but Śiva is without them all, hence He is called "Absolute Void". This Void is not like that postulated by Buddhism. Trika states that Śiva is a "conscious" Being who manifests all from His own free Will. And that Śiva is You. This should be fully understood.
It has been a good document. You have learnt the first two stages in Āṇavopāya known as Dhyāna and Uccāra. Beyond the rather complete theory given by me, it is important now that you practice that which was taught. If there is no practice you will fail to fully understand not only these two stages (Dhyāna and Uccāra) but any type of yogic method. Theory and practice are the two legs carrying you to the final stage or Enlightenment. No doubt about it. So, study and practice.
Next document will deal with the remaining three stages (Varṇa, Karaṇa and Sthānakalpanā). See you!
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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