' Absolute Independence of God Consciousness '
“As Abhinavagupta tells it, when Lord Shiva is completely alone, bereft of his creation, he exists in the full splendor of his God Consciousness. He does not need to recognize his own nature, because it is already there. Nevertheless, he wants his own nature to be recognized. This recognition gives him great joy. But, because it is already there, there is nothing to recognize. So, in order to recognize his nature, Shiva must become ignorant of his nature. He must seemingly separate himself from his nature. It is only then that he can experience the joy of recognizing it.
This, Kashmir Shaiva's say, is the play of the universe. Because of Lord Shiva's freedom, his Svatantrya, this universe is created solely for the fun and joy of this realization. It is Shiva's play to seemingly leave his own nature so that he can find it and enjoy it again. This is the dance of Shiva, the joyous game in which he is continuously creating this universe--to lose himself and then find himself.
In order to seemingly depart from his own nature, to lose himself in his creation, he must withdraw his God Consciousness. And in order to find himself, he must again expand his God Consciousness. This process is known as nimesa (closing) and unmesa (opening). It is the supreme energy of God which gives rise to nimesa and unmesa. Nimesa is the withdrawal of his God Consciousness, and unmesa is the expansion of his God Consciousness. Both of these states are contained within Shiva simultaneously.
By withdrawing his God Consciousness, Shiva conceals himself in his creation. Only Shiva has this power, the power of his own Svatantrya, to totally disregard and hide his own nature and then to find it again. But what is it that he finds when he rediscovers his own nature? He finds, upon realizing his own nature, that it was already there. For the Kashmir Shaiva, this is the real essence of this teaching. Lord Shiva loses his nature only to find it again--and when he does he realizes that it was already there.
He wants, in the external universe that he has created, to completely disconnect his God Consciousness and then to realize that it was never disconnected. For although it is disconnected, in the real sense, it is not disconnected at all. In finding it he realizes that it was never lost. He experiences that there was never really any separation from his God Consciousness. Separation only seemed to exist. For Shaivism this is the greatest mystery of existence and Lord Shiva's supreme act.
In clarifying this process, Lakshmanjoo tells us that what this yogi is experiencing is the fusing of his/her inner and outer worlds in the oneness of God Consciousness. He says that the aspirant's I-Consciousness, his/her universal Consciousness, is diluted in consciousness-of-this, consciousness of the external world, and consciousness-of-this is diluted in I-Consciousness. Here the fullness of I Consciousness absorbs "thisness," external objectivity, and produces the oneness of internal mystical trance (samadhi) and external experience (vyutthana). The nature of this yogi and the external world become one. They are experienced as being completely united, one with the other. There is absolutely no difference between them. This process of krama-mudra--resulting in the absolute oneness of universal Consciousness and the outer world--is the state of absolute independence. The yogi, in this state, experiences that the internal world of mystical trance and the external world are absolutely the same. This independence and absolute oneness gives rise to the state of jagad-ananda (universal bliss).
To further explain this state of jagad-ananda, Abhinavagupta says, "My master Shambhunatha described jagad-ananda as the state that is completely unencumbered, where bliss (ananda) is found shining, where it is universally strengthened by the Supreme I-Consciousness of God, and where the six limbs of yoga—bhavana, dharana, dhyana, pratyahara, yoga, and samadhi--are no longer used or required."
This aspirant, whose being has become absolutely independent (svatantratmaka) and who possesses the state of jagad-ananda, is said to be a jivanmukta, a being who is liberated while living. In the Bodhapancadasika, Abhinavagupta tells us that when the aspirant attains real knowledge of reality, which is the existent state of Lord Shiva, that is final liberation. What is this real knowledge? Real knowledge exists when the aspirant comes to understand that this whole objective universe of diversity and duality is just a trick, the play of Lord Shiva. That does not mean that it is a trick which creates an unreal world. For the Trika Shaiva liberated yogi the world does not disappear as the teachers of Advaita Vedanta like to proclaim. The goal is not the world-oblivion of kaivalya (isolation).
We have seen how this objective world is just as real as Lord Shiva. The trick lies in the fact that it causes the limited individual to experience this world of diversity as the only reality. Real knowledge exists when the aspirant becomes one with God Consciousness, which is the same as attaining perfect Self-knowledge. In possessing real knowledge he/she knows that the world of differentiation is not actually different from Shiva, the supreme reality.
The cycles of bondage and liberation are both one with Lord Shiva. It is only his trick that we think that some souls are bound in ignorance while others are elevated. As only Lord Shiva exists, there is not any second thing that could cover or bind him. It is only his play that we think that this covering of diversity actually exists as a separate reality which covers him. There is not a second being or reality. His trick, therefore, is our trick. Why? Because we are Lord Shiva. We have concealed ourselves in order to find ourselves. This is his play, and therefore it is our play.
This is clearly illuminated by the concept of anupaya. The Sanskrit word anupaya literally means 'no upaya.' We have already seen that in Kashmir Shaivism there are three upayas, sambavopaya, saktopaya, and anavopaya. In addition to these three upayas another called anupaya is also mentioned. As the name implies, anupaya is not actually an upaya, for in anupaya there are no means. The one who has attained anupaya has only to observe that nothing is to be done. Just to be is enough. In anupaya the aspirant experiences that everything is filled with his own God Consciousness. In fact, anupaya is the unexplainable reality of the liberated aspirant. In anupaya the Shaiva yogis are filled with the realization that they were never ignorant and are therefore not now liberated. They know that nothing was lost and nothing is gained. What could they have been ignorant of and what are they liberated from? They experience that it was their own play, their trick that they appeared ignorant before and liberated now. They know that they are Shiva and that this world is their own