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. Click here to read Part I.
Centreing (Part II: 15-28)
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!
15. Intone a sound, as a-u-m, slowly. As sound enters soundfulness, so do you.
16. In the beginning and gradual refinement of the sound of any letter, awake.
17. While listening to stringed instruments, hear their composite central sound; thus omnipresence.
18. Intone a sound audibly, then less and less audibly as feeling deepens into this silent harmony.
19. Imagine spirit simultaneously within and around you until the entire universe spiritualizes.
20. Kind Devi, enter etheric presence pervading far above and below your form.
21. Put mindstuff in such inexpressible fineness above, below, and in your heart.
22. Consider any area of your present form as limitlessly spacious.
23. Feel your substance, bones, flesh, blood, saturated with cosmic essence.
24. Suppose your passive form to be an empty room with walls of skin — empty.
25. Blessed one, as senses are absorbed in hart, reach the centre of the lotus.
26. Unminding mind, keep in the middle — until.
27. When in activity, keep attentive between the two breaths, and so practising, in a few days be born anew. [Lakshmanjoo says this is his favourite.]
28. Focus on fire rising up through your form from the toes up until your body burns to ashes but not you.