Vijnanabhairava tantra

Daniel Odier

Bhairava and Bhairavî, lovingly united in the same knowledge, left the undifferentiated state so their dialog may enlighten all beings.

1. Bhairava's Shakti, Bhairavî, said:
O God, who manifests the universe and makes light of this manifestation, you are none else than my Self. I have received the teachings of the Trika which is the quintessence of all the scriptures. However, I still have some doubts.

2-4. O God, from the standpoint of absolute reality, what is the essential nature of Bhairava? Does it reside in the energy of the phonemes? In the realization of Bhairava's essential nature? In a particular mantra? In the three Shakti? In the presence of the mantra which lives in every word? In the power of the mantra present in each particle of the universe? Does it reside in the chakras? In the sound Ha? Or is it only the Shakti?

5-6. That which is composed, is it born out of both immanent and transcendent energy, or only out of immanent energy? If it were the product of transcendent energy only, then transcendence itself would have no object. Transcendence cannot be differentiated in sounds and particles for its undivided nature cannot be expressed in the many.

7-10. O Lord, may your grace do away with my doubts!
Excellent! Your questions, O Beloved, are the essence of the Tantras. I will reveal to you a secret teaching. All that is perceived as a composed form of the sphere of Bhairava must be considered as phantasmagoria, magical illusion, a ghost city hanging in the sky. Such a description only aims to drive those who fall prey to illusion and mundane activity towards contemplation. Such teachings are meant for those who are interested in rituals and external practices and stuck in duality.

11-13. From an absolute standpoint, Bhairava is not associated with letters, nor with phonemes, nor with the three Shakti, nor with breaking through the chakras, nor with any other belief, and Shakti does not constitute his essence. All these concepts taught in the scriptures are aimed at those whose mind is still too immature to grasp the supreme reality. They are mere appetizers meant to spur aspirants toward ethical behavior and spiritual practice so that they can realize some day that the ultimate nature of Bhairava is not separate from their own Self.

14-17. Mystical ecstasy isn't subject to dualistic thought, it is completely free from any notion of location, space or time. This truth can only be touched by experience. It can only be reached by those entirely freed from duality and ego, and firmly, fully established in the consciousness of the Self. This state of Bhairava is filled with the pure bliss of unity between tantrika and the universe. Only this state is the Shakti. In the reality of one's own nature thus recognized, containing the entire universe, one reaches the highest sphere. Who then could be worshipped? Who then could be fulfilled by this worship? Only this condition recognized as supreme is the great Goddess.

18-19. Since there is no difference between the Shakti and the one who embodies her, nor between substance and object, the Shakti is identical to the Self. The energy of the flames is nothing but the fire. All distinction is but a prelude to the path of true knowledge.

20-21. The one who reaches the Shakti grasps the non-distinction between Shiva and Shakti and enters the door to the divine. As space is recognized when illuminated by sun rays, so Shiva is recognized through the energy of Shakti, which is the essence of the Self.

22-23. O supreme God! You who bear a trident and a garland of skulls, how to reach the absolute plenitude of the Shakti which transcends all notions, all descriptions and abolishes time and space? How to realize this non-separation from the universe? In what sense is it said that the supreme Shakti is the secret door to the state of Bhairava? Can you answer in common language these absolute questions?

24. The supreme Shakti reveals herself when inbreath and outbreath are born and die at the two extreme points, top and bottom. Thus, between two breaths, experience infinite space.

25. Between inbreath and outbreath, between stopping and going, when breath stands still at the two extreme points, inner heart and outer heart, two empty spaces will be revealed to you: Bhairava and Bhairavî.

26. With a relaxed body when exhaling and inhaling, lose your mind and perceive your heart, the energy center where the absolute essence of Bhairava flows.

27. When you have breathed in or out completely, when the breath movement stops on its own, in this universal lull, the thought of "me" disappears and the Shakti reveals herself.

28. Consider the Shakti as bright, subtler and subtler light, carried upwards through the lotus stem, from center to center, by the energy of the breath. When it subsides in the upper center, it is Bhairava's awakening.

29. The heart opens up and, from center to center, Kundalini rushes up like lightening. Then Bhairava's glory is manifested.

30. Meditate on the twelve energy centers, the twelve related letters and free yourself from materiality to reach the supreme subtlety of Shiva.

31. Focus your attention between your eyebrows, keep your mind free from any dualistic thought, let your form be filled with breath essence up to the top of your head and there, soak in radiant spatiality.

32. Imagine the five colored circles of a peacock feather to be your five senses disseminated in unlimited space and reside in the spatiality of your own heart.

33. Void, wall, whatever the object of contemplation, it is the matrix of the spatiality of your own mind.

34. Close your eyes, see the whole space as if it were absorbed in your own head, direct your gaze inward and there, see the spatiality of your true nature.

35. The inner channel is the Goddess, like a lotus stem, red inside, blue outside. It runs across your body. Meditating on its internal vacuity, you will reach divine spatiality.
36. Plug the seven openings of your head with your fingers and merge into the bindu, the infinite space between your eyebrows.

37. If you meditate in your heart, in the upper center or between your eyes, the spark which will dissolve discursive thought will ignite, like when brushing eyelids with fingers. You will then melt into supreme consciousness.

38. Enter the center of spontaneous sound which resonates on its own like the uninterrupted sound of a waterfall. Or, sticking your fingers in your ears, hear the sound of sounds and reach Brahman, the immensity.

39. O Bhairavî, sing OM, the mantra of the love union of Shiva and Shakti, slowly and consciously. Enter the sound and when it fades away, slip into freedom of being.

40. Focus on the emergence or the disappearance of a sound, then reach the ineffable plenitude of the void.

41. By being totally present to song, to music, enter spatiality with each sound which rises and dissolves into it.

42. Visualize a letter, let yourself be filled by its radiance. With open awareness, enter first the sonority of the letter, then a subtler and subtler sensation. When the letter dissolves into space, be free.

43. When you contemplate the luminous spatiality of your own body radiating in every direction, you free yourself from duality and you merge into space.

44. If you contemplate simultaneously spatiality above and at the base, then bodiless energy will carry you beyond dualistic thought.

45. Reside simultaneously in the spatiality at the base, in your heart at above your head. Thus, in the absence of dualistic thought, divine consciousness blossoms.

46. In one moment, perceive non-duality in one spot of your body, penetrate this limitless space and reach the essence freed from duality.

47. O gazelle-eyed one, let ether pervade your body, merge in the indescribable spatiality of your own mind.

48. Suppose your body to be pure radiant spatiality contained by your skin and reach the limitless.

49. O beauty! Senses disseminated in your heart space, perceive the essence of the Shakti as indescribably fine gold powder which glitters in your heart and from there pours into space. Then you will know supreme bliss.

50. When your body is pervaded with consciousness, your one-pointed mind dissolves into your heart and you penetrate reality.

51. Fix your mind in your heart when engaged in worldly activity, thus agitation will disappear and in a few days the indescribable will happen.

52. Focus on a fire, fierier and fierier, which raises from your feet and burns you entirely. When there is nothing left but ashes scattered by the wind, know the tranquillity of space which returns to space.

53. See the entire world as a blazing inferno. Then, when all has turned into ashes, enter bliss.

54. If subtler and subtler tattvas are absorbed into their own origin, the supreme Goddess will be revealed to you.

55. Reach an intangible breath focused between your eyes, then when the light appears let the Shakti come down to your heart and there, in the radiant presence, at the moment of sleep, attain the mastery of dreams and know the mystery of death itself.

56. Consider the entire universe to be dissolving in subtler and subtler forms until it merges into pure consciousness.

57. If, boundless in space, you meditate on Shiva tattva which is the quintessence of the entire universe, you will know ultimate ecstasy.

58. O Great goddess, perceive the spatiality of the universe, and become the jar which contains it.

59. Look at a bowl or a container without seeing its sides or the matter which composes it. In little time become aware of space.

60. Abide in an infinitely spacious place, devoid of trees, hills, dwellings. Let your gaze dissolve in empty space, until your mind relaxes.

61. In the empty space which separates two instants of awareness, radiant spatiality is revealed.

62. Just as you get the impulse to do something, stop. Then, being no more in the preceding impulse nor in the following one, realization blossoms intensely.

63. Contemplate over the undivided forms of your own body and those of the entire universe as being of an identical nature. Thus will your omnipresent being and your own form rest in unity and you will reach the very nature of consciousness.

64. In any activity, concentrate on the gap between inbreath and outbreath. Thus attain to bliss.

65. Feel your substance: bone, flesh and blood, saturated with cosmic essence, and know supreme bliss.

66. O gazelle-eyed beauty, consider the winds to be your own body of bliss. When you quiver, reach the luminous presence.

67. When your senses shiver and you mind becomes still, enter the energy of breath, and, when you feel pins and needles, know supreme joy.

68. When you practice a sex ritual, let thought reside in the quivering of your senses like wind in the leaves, and reach the celestial bliss of ecstatic love.

69. At the start of the union, be in the fire of the energy released by intimate sensual pleasure. Merge into the divine Shakti and keep burning in space, avoiding the ashes at the end. These delights are in truth those of the Self.

70. O goddess! The sensual pleasure of the intimate bliss of union can be reproduced at any moment by the radiant presence of the mind which remembers intensely this pleasure.

71. When you meet again with a loved one, be in this bliss totally and penetrate the luminous space.

72. At the time of euphoria and expansion caused by delicate foods and drinks, be total in this delight and, through it, taste supreme bliss.

73. Merge in the joy felt at the time of musical pleasure or pleasure from other senses. If you immerse in this joy, you reach the divine.

74. Wherever you find satisfaction, the very essence of bliss will be revealed to you if you remain in this place without mental wavering.

75. At the point of sleep, when sleep has not yet come and wakefulness vanishes, at this very point, know the supreme Goddess.

76. In summer, when your gaze dissolves in the endlessly clear sky, penetrate this light which is the essence of your own mind.

77. You will enter the spatiality of your own mind at the moment when intuition frees itself through steadiness of gaze, love's uninterrupted sucking, violent feelings, agony or death.
78. Comfortably seated, feet and hands unsupported, enter the space of ineffable fullness.

79. In a comfortable position, hands open at shoulder level, an area of radiant spatiality gradually pervades the armpits, ravishes the heart and brings about profound peace.

80. Steadily gazing without blinking at a pebble, a piece of wood, or any other ordinary object, thought loses all props and rapidly attains to Shiva/Shakti.

81. Open your mouth, place your mind in your tongue at the center of the oral cavity, exhale with the sound HA and know a peaceful presence to the world.

82. Laying flat, see your body as supportless. Let your thought dissolve into space, and then the contents of the inner core consciousness will dissolve too, and you will experience pure presence, freed from dreams.

83. O Goddess, enjoy the extremely slow movements of your body, of a mount, of a vehicle and, with peace in mind, sink into divine spirit.

84. Gaze at a very clear sky without blinking. Tensions dissolve along with your gaze and then reach the awesome steadiness of Bhairava.

85. Enter the radiant spatiality of Bhairava scattered in your own head, leave space and time, be Bhairava.

86. When you reach Bhairava by dissolving duality when awake, when this spatial presence continues into dream, and when you then cross the night of deep sleep as the very form of Bhairava, know the infinite splendor of awake consciousness.

87. During a dark and moonless night, eyes open in the dark, let your whole being melt into this obscurity and attain to the form of Bhairava.

88. Eyes closed, dissolve into darkness, then open your eyes and identify with the awesome form of Bhairava.
89. When an obstacle gets in the way of gratification through the senses, seize this instant of spatial emptiness which is the very essence of meditation.

90. With all your being, utter a word ending in "AH" and in the "H" let yourself be swept away by the gushing flow of wisdom.

91. When you focus your structure-free mind on the final sound of a letter, immensity is revealed.

92. Waking, sleeping, dreaming, consciousness free from any prop, know yourself as radiant spatial presence.

93. Pierce a place on your body and, through this one spot, attain to the radiant domain of Bhairava.

94. When through contemplation, ego, active intellect and mind are revealed as empty, any form becomes a limitless space and the very root of duality dissolves.

95. Illusion perturbs, the five sheaths obstruct vision, separations imposed by dualistic thought are artificial.

96. When you become aware of a desire, consider it the time of a snap of fingers, then suddenly let go. Then it returns to the space it just came out of.

97. Before desiring, before knowing: "Who am I, where am I?" such is the true nature of I, such is the spatial depth of reality.

98. When desire or knowledge have manifested, forget their object and focus your mind on object-less desire or knowledge as being the Self. Then you will reach deep reality.

99. Any particular knowledge is deceptive. When thirst for knowledge arises, immediately realize the spatiality of knowledge itself and be Shiva/Shakti.

100. Consciousness is everywhere, there is no differentiation. Realize this deeply and thus triumph over time.

101. In a state of extreme desire, anger, greed, confusion, pride or envy, enter your own heart and discover the underlying peace.

102. If you perceive the entire universe as phantasmagoria, an ineffable joy will arise in you.

103. O Bhairavî, do not reside in pleasure nor in pain, instead be constantly in the ineffable spatial reality which links them.

104. When you realize that you are in every thing, the attachment to body dissolves, joy and bliss arise.

105. Desire exists in you as in every thing. Realize that it also resides in objects and in all that the mind can grasp. Then, discovering the universality of desire, enter its radiant space.
106. Every living being perceives subject and object, but the tantrika resides in their union.

107. Feel the consciousness of each being as your own.

108. Free the mind of all props and attain to non-duality. Then, gazelle-eyed one, limited self becomes absolute Self.

109. Shiva is omnipresent, omnipotent and omniscient. Since you have the attributes of Shiva, you are similar to him. Recognize the divine in yourself.

110. Waves are born of the ocean and get lost in it, flames arise and die, the sun shows up then vanishes. So does everything find its source in spatiality and returns to it.

111. Wander or dance to exhaustion in utter spontaneity. Then, suddenly, drop to the ground and in this fall be total. There absolute essence is revealed.

112. Suppose you are gradually deprived of energy and knowledge. At the moment of this dissolution, your true being will be revealed.

113. O Goddess, hear the ultimate mystical teaching: you need only fix your gaze onto space without blinking to attain to the spatiality of your own mind.

114. Stop sound perception by plugging your ears. Contracting the anus, start resonating and touch that which is not subject to space or time.

115. At the edge of a well, gaze motionless into its depths until wonder seizes you and merge into space.

116. When your mind wanders externally or internally, it is then precisely that the shaivist state manifests. Where could thought take refuge to not savor this state?

117. Spirit is in you and all around you. When all is pure spatial consciousness, attain the essence of plenitude.

118. In stupor, anxiety, extreme feelings, at the edge of a precipice, running from the battlefield, in hunger or terror, or even when you sneeze, the essence of the spatiality of your own mind can be seized.

119. When the sight of a certain place brings back memories, let your mind relive these instants; then, when memories fade away, one step further, know omnipresence.

120. Look at an object, then slowly withdraw your eyes. Then withdraw your thoughts and become the receptacle of ineffable plenitude.

121. The intuition which springs from the intensity of passionate devotion flows into space, frees you and lets you attain to the domain of Shiva/Shakti.

122. Attention focused on a single object, you penetrate any object. Relax then in the spatial plenitude of your own Self.

123. Purity praised by ignorant religious people seems impure to the tantrika. Free yourself from dualistic thought, and do not consider anything as pure or impure.

124. Understand that the spatial reality of Bhairava is present in every thing, in every being, and be this reality.

125. Happiness resides in equality between extreme feelings. Reside in your own heart and attain to plenitude.

126. Free yourself from hatred as well as from attachment. Then, knowing neither aversion nor bond, slip into the divine inside your own heart.

127. Open and sweet-hearted one, meditate on what cannot be known, what cannot be grasped. All duality being out of reach, where could consciousness settle to escape from ecstasy?

128. Contemplate empty space, attain to non-perception, non-distinction, the elusive, beyond being and not-being: reach non-space.

129. When thought is drawn to an object, utilize this energy. Go beyond the object, and there, fix your thought on this empty and luminous space.

130. Bhairava is one with your radiant consciousness; singing the name of Bhairava, one becomes Shiva.

131. When you state: "I exist", "I think this or that", "such thing belongs to me", touch that which is unfounded and beyond such statements, know the limitless and find peace.

132. "Eternal, omnipotent, supportless, Goddess of the whole manifested world..." Be that one and attain to Shiva/Shakti.

133. What you call universe is an illusion, a magical appearance. To be happy, consider it as such.

134. Without dualistic thought, what could limit consciousness?

135. In reality, bond and liberation exist only for those who are terrified by the world and ignore their fundamental nature: the universe is reflected in the mind like the sun on the waters.

136. At the moment where your attention awakens through sensory organs, enter the spatiality of your own heart.

137. When knower and known are one and the same, the Self shines brightly.

138. O beloved, when mind, intellect, energy and limited self vanish, then appears the wonderful Bhairava.

139. O Goddess, I just taught you one hundred and twelve dhâranâ. One who knows them escapes from dualistic thought and attains to perfect knowledge.

140. One who realizes one single of these dhâranâ becomes Bhairava himself. His word gets enacted and he obtains the power to transmit the Shakti at will.

141-144. O Goddess, the being who masters one single of these practices frees himself from old age and death, he acquires supernormal powers, all yogini and yogin cherish him and he presides over their secret meetings. Liberated in the very middle of activity and reality, he is free.

The Goddess said:
O Lord, let us follow this wonderful reality which is the nature of the supreme Shakti! Who then is worshipped? Who is the worshipper? Who enters contemplation? Who is contemplated? Who gives the oblation and who receives it? What gets sacrificed and to whom?

O gazelle-eyed one, all these practices are those of the external path. They fit gross aspirations.

145. Only the contemplation of the highest reality is the practice of the tantrika. What resonates spontaneously in oneself is the mystical formula.

146. A stable and character-less mind, there is true contemplation. Colorful visualizations of divinities are nothing but artifice.

147. Worship does not consist in offerings but in the realization that the heart is supreme consciousness, free from dualistic thought. In perfect ardor, Shiva/Shakti dissolve in the Self.

148. If one penetrates one single of the yoga described here, one will know a plenitude spreading from day to day to reach the highest perfection.

149. When one casts into the fire of supreme reality the five elements, the senses and their objects, the dualistic mind and even vacuity, then there is true offering to the Gods.

150-151. O supreme Goddess, here the sacrifice is nothing else than spiritual satisfaction characterized by bliss. The real pilgrimage, O Pârvati, is the absorption in the Shakti which destroys all stains and protects all beings. How could there be another kind of worship and who would be worshipped?

152. The essence of the Self is universal. It is autonomy, bliss and consciousness. Absorption in this essence is the ritual bath.

153. Offerings, devotee, supreme Shakti are but one. This is supreme devotion.

154. Breath comes out, breath comes in, sinuous in itself. Perfectly tuned to the breath, Kundalini, the Great Goddess, rises up. Transcendent and immanent, she is the highest place of pilgrimage.

155. Thus, deeply established in the rite of the great bliss, fully present to the rise of divine energy, thanks to the Goddess, the yogin will attain to supreme Bhairava.

155 a - 156. Air is exhaled with the sound SA and inhaled with the sound HAM. Then reciting of the mantra HAMSA is continuous. Breath is the mantra, repeated twenty-one thousand times, day and night. It is the mantra of the supreme Goddess.

157-160. O Goddess! I just gave you the ultimate, unsurpassed mystical teachings. Let them only be taught to generous beings, to those who revere the Masters' lineage, to the intuitive minds freed from cognitive wavering and doubt and to those who will practice them. For without practice, transmission gets diluted, and those who had the wonderful opportunity to receive these teachings return to suffering and illusion even though they have held an eternal treasure in their hands.

O God, I have now grasped the heart of the teachings and the quintessence of tantra. This life will have to be left behind, but why renounce the heart of the Shakti? As space is recognized when lit by sunrays, so is Shiva recognized through the energy of Shakti which is the essence of the Self.

Then, Shiva and Shakti, glowing in bliss, merged again in the undifferentiated.

© Albin Michel, 1998
from "Tantra Yoga, le Vijñänabhaïrava tantra"
Translated and commented by Daniel Odier

Translation by Jeanric Meller