This conversation between Shiva and his partner Devi is a teaching about self-knowledge that could be up to 5,000 years old. It features in a number of ancient Indian texts and has been rewritten countless times up until today. This version, taken from the collection, Zen Flesh, Zen Bones, is a more recent English translation transcribed by Paul Reps, prefaced with the beautiful assertion that it was originally chanted “in a language of love we have yet to learn.” It is basically Shiva’s answer to his lover’s question about reality and how to enter it fully; while Devi herself was enlightened, her questions were posed for the benefit of others. The text itself is long – covering 112 points in total – and will be divided into eight parts over the coming weeks. Part II.
Centreing (Part I: 1-14)
O Shiva, what is your reality?
What is this wonder-filled universe?
What constitutes seed?
Who the universal wheel?
What is this life beyond form pervading forms?
How may we enter it fully, above space and time, names and descriptions?
Let my doubts be cleared!
- Radiant one, this experience may dawn between two breaths. After breath comes in (down) and just before turning up (out) — the beneficence.
- As breath turns from down to up, and again as breath curves from up to down — through both these turns, realize.
- Or, whenever inbreath and outbreath fuse, at this instant touch the energyless energy-filled centre.
- Or, when breath is all out (up) and stopped of itself, or all in (down) and stopped — in such universal pause, one’s small self vanishes. This is difficult only for the impure.
- Consider your essence as light rays rising from centre to centre up the vertebrae, and so rises livingness in you.
- Or in the spaces between, feel this as lightning.
- Devi, imagine the Sanskrit letters in these honey-filled foci of awareness, first as letters, then more subtly as sounds, then as most subtle feeling. Then, leaving them aside, be free.
- Attention between eyebrows, let mind be before thought. Let form fill with breath essence to the top of the head, and there shower as light.
- Or, imagine the five-coloured circles of the peacock tail to be your five senses in illimitable space. Now let their beauty melt within. Similarly, at any point in space or on a wall — until the point dissolves. Then your wish for another comes true.
- Eyes closed, see your inner being in detail. Thus see your nature.
- Place your whole attention in the nerve, delicate as the lotus thread, in the centre of your spinal column. In such be transformed.
- Closing the seven openings of the head with your hands, a space between your eyes becomes all-inclusive.
- Touching eyeballs as a feather, lightness between them opens into heart and there permeates the cosmos
- Bathe in the centre of sound, as in the continuous sound of a waterfall. Or, by putting fingers in ears, hear the sound of sounds.