Suppose you contemplate something beyond perception, beyond grasping, beyond not being – YOU.
Man is Janus-Faced – animal and divine both. Animal belongs to his past, divine belongs to his future, and this creates the difficulty. The past has passed, it is no more; just a shadow of it lingers on. And the future is still the future, it has not yet come; it just a dream, just a possibility. And between these two exists man – the shadow of the past and the dream of the future. He is neither and he is both.
He is both because the past is his – he was animal. He is both because the future is his – he can be divine. And he is not both, because the past is no more and the future is yet to be.
Man exists as a tension between these two: that which was and that which can be. This creates a conflict, a constant struggle to realize, to be something. In a sense, man is not. Man is just a step from the animal to the divine – and a step is nowhere. It was somewhere and it will be somewhere, but right now it is nowhere, just hanging in the air.
So whatsoever man is doing – whatsoever I say – he is never satisfied in it, never content, because two diametrically opposite existences meet in him. If the animal is satisfied then the divine is in discontent. If the divine is satisfied then the animal is in discontent. A part is always in discontent.
If you move to the animal, in a way you satisfy part of your being, but immediately in that satisfaction dissatisfaction arises, because the opposite part, your future, is just contrary to it. The satisfaction of the animal is the dissatisfaction of the possibility of your future. If you satisfy your divine possibility the animal revolts; it feels hurt. A definite discontent arises within you. You cannot satisfy both, and satisfying one, the other is dissatisfied.
I remember one anecdote. One sports car enthusiast reached the pearly gates, and St. Peter welcomed him. He had come with his Jaguar, and the first thing he asked St. Peter was this: ‘Are there beautiful highways in heaven?’
St. Peter said, ‘Yes, they have the most beautiful highways, but there is one difficulty – in heaven they don’t allow automobiles.’
The speed-fiend said, ‘Then it is not for me. Then please arrange for me to be sent to the other place. I would like to go to hell. I cannot leave my Jaguar.’
So it was arranged. He reached hell, he came to the gates, and Satan welcomed him and said that he was very happy to see him. He said, ‘You are just like me; I am also a lover of Jaguars.’
The speed-fiend said, ‘Fine, give me the map of your highways.’
Satan became sad. He said, ‘Sir, we don’t have any highways down here – that is the hell of it!’
This is the situation of man. Man is Janus-faced, a double being, split in two. If you satisfy one thing, then something becomes frustrating to your other part. If you do otherwise, then the other part is dissatisfied. Something is always lacking. And you cannot satisfy both, because they are diametrically opposite.
And everyone is doing this impossible thing, trying to do this – to have a compromise somewhere so both heaven and hell can meet; so body and soul, the lower and the higher, the past and the future, can somewhere meet and have a compromise. We have been doing that for many lives. It has not happened, and it is not going to happen. The whole effort is absurd, impossible.
These techniques are not concerned with creating a compromise within you. These techniques are to give you a transcendence. These techniques are not to satisfy the divine against the animal. That is impossible. That will create more turmoil within you, more violence, more struggle.
These techniques are not to satisfy your animal against the divine. These techniques are just to transcend the duality. They are neither for the animal nor for the divine.
Remember, that is the basic difference between other religions and tantra. Tantra is not a religion, because religion basically means: for the divine against the animal – so every religion is part of the conflict. Tantra is not a struggle technique, it is a transcendence technique. It is not to fight with the animal; it is not for the divine. It is against all duality. It is neither for nor against really. It is simply creating a third force within you, a third center of existence where you are neither animal nor divine. For tantra that third point is ADVAITA, that third point is non-duality.
Tantra says you cannot reach the one by fighting through duality. You cannot come to a non-dual point by choosing one thing in the struggle in duality. Choice will not lead you to the one; only a choiceless witnessing.
This is very foundational to tantra, and because of this tantra was never really understood rightly. It has suffered a long, a centuries-old misunderstanding; because the moment tantra says it is not against the animal, you start feeling as if tantra is for the animal. And the moment tantra says it is not for the divine, you then start thinking that tantra is against the divine.
Really, tantra is for a choiceless witnessing. Don’t be with the animal, don’t be with the divine, and don’t create a conflict. Just go back, just go away, just create a gap between you and this duality and become a third force, a witnessing, from where you can see both the animal and the divine.
I told you that the animal is the past and the divine is the future, and past and future are opposed. Tantra is in the present. It is neither past nor future. Just this very moment, don’t belong to the past and don’t hanker for the future. Don’t long for the future and don’t be conditioned by the past. Don’t allow the past to become a hangover and don’t create any projections in the future. Remain true to this very moment, here and now, and you transcend. Then you are neither animal nor divine.
For tantra, to be such is to be God. To be such, in this suchness of the moment, where past is unrelated and future is not created, you are free, you are freedom.
These techniques are not religious in this sense, because religion is always opposed to the animal. Religion creates a conflict. So if you are really religious you will become schizophrenic, you will be split. All religious civilizations are split civilizations. They create neurosis, because they create inner conflict. They divide you into two, and one part of your being becomes the enemy. Then your whole energy is dissipated fighting with yourself.
Tantra is not religious in that sense, because tantra doesn’t believe in any conflict, in any violence. And tantra says don’t fight with yourself. Just be aware. Don’t be aggressive and violent with yourself. Just be a witness, a watcher. In the moment of witnessing you are neither; both the faces disappear. In that moment of witnessing you are not human. You simply are. You exist without any label. You exist without any name. You exist without any category. You are without being anyone in particular – a simple amness, a pure being. These techniques are for that pure being.
Now I will discuss the techniques.
The first technique:
Suppose you contemplate something beyond perception, beyond grasping, beyond not being – YOU
Suppose you contemplate something beyond perception – that which cannot be seen, which cannot be perceived. But can you imagine something which cannot be seen?
Imagination is always of that which can be seen. How can you imagine something, how can you suppose something, which cannot be perceived?
That which you can perceive you can imagine. You cannot even dream something which is not capable of being seen and perceived. That’s why even your dreams are shadows of reality. Even your imagination is not pure imagination, because whatsoever you can imagine you have known somehow. You can create new combinations, but all the elements of the combination are known and perceived.
You can imagine a golden mountain flying in the sky like a cloud. You have not perceived such a thing ever, but you have perceived a cloud, you have perceived a mountain, you have perceived gold. These three elements can be combined. Imagination is not original; it is always a combination of something you have perceived.
This technique says:
Suppose you contemplate something beyond perception
It is impossible, but that’s why it is worth doing, because in the very effort something will happen to you. Not that you will become capable of perceiving – if you try to perceive something which cannot be perceived, all perception will be lost. In the very effort, if you try to see something which you have never seen, all that you have ever seen will disappear.
If you persist in the effort, many images will come to you – you have to discard them, because you know that you have seen this; this can be perceived. You may not have seen it actually as it is, but even if you can imagine it, it can be perceived. Discard it. Go on discarding. This technique says to persist for that which cannot be perceived.
What will happen? If you go on discarding, it is going to be an arduous effort, because many images will bubble up. Your mind will supply many images, many dreams; many conceptions will come, many symbols. Your mind will create new combinations, but go on discarding unless something happens which cannot be perceived. What is that?
If you go on discarding, nothing will happen to you as an object; only the screen of the mind will be there with no image, with no symbol, with no dream on it, no picture on it. In that moment a metamorphosis happens. When the screen is simply there without any image, you become aware of yourself. You become aware of the perceiver. When there is nothing to be perceived, the whole attention changes. The whole consciousness reflects back. When you have nothing to see, for the first time you become aware of your own self. You start seeing yourself.
This sutra says:
Suppose you contemplate something beyond perception, beyond grasping, beyond not being – YOU.
Then you happen to yourself. For the first time you will become aware of the one who has been perceiving, who has been grasping, who has been knowing. But this subject is always hidden in objects. You know certain things but you never know the knower. The knower is lost in knowledge.
I see you, then I see someone else, and this procession goes on. From birth to death I will see this and that and that, and I will go on seeing and seeing. And the seer, the one who was seeing this procession, is forgotten; it is lost in the crowd. The crowd is of objects, and the subject is lost.
This sutra says if you try to Contemplate something beyond perception, beyond grasping – which you cannot grasp by the mind – beyond not being… Immediately the mind will say that if there is something which cannot be seen and cannot be grasped, it is not. The mind will immediately react that if something is not seeable, not perceivable, not graspable, then it is not. The mind will say that it doesn’t exist. Don’t become a victim of the mind.
This sutra says: … Beyond perception, beyond grasping, beyond not being. The mind will say that this is nothing, this cannot exist, this is a not-being. The sutra says, don’t believe in it. There is something which is being beyond not-being, which exists and which cannot be perceived, and which is not graspable: that is you.
You cannot perceive yourself, or can you? Can you imagine any situation in which you can encounter yourself, in which you can know yourself? You can go on using the word ‘self-knowledge’, which is absolutely absurd, because you cannot know the self. The self is always the knower. It cannot be reduced to the known, it cannot be reduced to an object.
For example, if you think that you can know the self, then the self that you know will not be your self, but the one who is knowing the self will be the self. You will always remain the knower; you cannot become the known. You cannot put yourself in front of you; you will always recede back.
Whatsoever you know cannot be yourself – this means that you cannot know it. You cannot know it the way you know other things.
I cannot see myself the way I see you. Who will see? Because every relationship of knowledge, seeing, perception, means that there are at least two things: the known and the knower. Self-knowledge is not possible in this sense, because there is only one. There the knower and the known are one; the observer and the observed are one. You cannot convert yourself into an object. So the word ‘self-knowledge’ is just wrong, but it connotes something, it says something which is true. You can know yourself in a very different sense, in an altogether different sense than from how you know other things. When there is nothing to be known, when all objects have disappeared, when all that can be perceived and grasped is no more, when you have discarded all, suddenly you become aware of yourself. And this awareness is not dual: there is no object and no subject. There is simply subjectivity.
This awareness is a different type of knowing. This awareness gives you a different dimension of existence. You are not divided in two. You are aware of yourself. You are not perceiving, you cannot grasp it, and yet it is existential – the most existential.
Try to think in this way. We have energy: that energy goes on moving to objects. Energy cannot be static. Remember it as one of the ultimate laws: energy cannot be static, it is dynamic. It cannot be otherwise. Dynamism is its very nature – energy moves. When I see you, my energy moves towards you. When I perceive you, a circle is made. My energy moves to you, then it comes back to me – a circle is made.
If my energy moves to you and doesn’t come back, I will not know you. A circle is needed: the energy must go and then come back to me. With its coming back it brings you to me. I know you.
Knowledge means that energy has made a circle. It has moved from the subject to the object, and then it has moved again and come back to the original source. If I go on living in this way – making circles with others – I will never know myself, because my energy is filled with energies of others. It brings those images, it delivers those images to me. This is how you gather knowledge.
This technique says to allow the object to disappear from there. Allow your energy to move in a vacuum, in emptiness. It goes from you, but there is no object to be grasped by it, no object to be perceived by it. It moves and comes back to you through emptiness; there is no object. It brings no knowledge to you. It comes vacant, empty, pure. It brings nothing. It brings only itself. It comes virgin – nothing has entered into it; it remains pure.
This is the whole process of meditation. You are sitting silently, your energy is moving. There is no object with which it can be contaminated, with which it can become entangled, with which it can become impressed, with which it can become one. Then you bring it back to yourself. There is no object, no thought, no image. Energy moves, the movement is pure, and then it comes back to you – virgin. As it left you it comes; it carries nothing. An empty vehicle, it comes to you, it hits you. There is no knowledge carried by it; it is coming only by itself. In that penetration of pure energy you become aware of yourself.
If your energy is bringing something else, then you will become aware of that something. You look at a flower. The energy is bringing the flower to you – the image of the flower, the smell of the flower, the color of the flower. The energy is bringing the flower to you. It is introducing you to the flower. Then you become acquainted with the flower. The energy is covered by the flower. You never become acquainted with the energy, the pure energy which is you. You are moving to the other and coming back to the source.
If there is nothing to impress it, if it comes unconditioned, if it comes as it had gone, if it brings itself, nothing else, you become aware of yourself. This is a pure circle of energy – energy moving not to something else, but within you, creating a circle within you. Then there is no one else, only you moving within yourself. This movement becomes self-knowledge, self-illumination.
Basically, all meditation techniques, all of them, are different variations of this.
Suppose you contemplate something beyond perception, beyond grasping, beyond not being – YOU.
If this can happen, then for the first time you will become aware of yourself, of your being, of your existence – the subjectivity.
Knowledge is of two kinds: knowledge of objects, and knowledge of the subjectivity. Knowledge of the known, the knowable, and knowledge of the knower. And a man can know millions and millions of things, he can become acquainted with the whole world, but if he is not aware of the knower he is ignorant. He may be knowledgeable, but he is not wise. He may have collected much information, much knowledge, but the basic thing which makes one a knower is lacking – he is not aware of himself.
In the Upanishads there is a story. Svetaketu, a young boy, came back from his master to his home. He had passed all his examinations, and he had passed well. All that the master could give him, he had collected. He had become very egoistic.
When he reached his father’s house, the first thing the father asked Svetaketu was this: ‘You seem to be too filled with knowledge, and your knowledge is making you very egoistic – the way you walk, the way you have entered the house. I have only one question to ask you. Have you known that who knows all? Have you known that by knowing which everything is known? Have you known yourself?’
Svetaketu said, ‘But there was no course for it in the school, and the master never discussed it. I have known everything that can be known. You ask me anything and I will answer you. But what type of question are you raising? It was never discussed.’
The father said, ‘Then you go back, and unless you know that by knowing which everything is known, and without knowing which nothing is known, don’t come back. First know yourself.’
Svetaketu went back. He asked the master, ‘My father says I cannot be allowed to go back home, I cannot be welcomed there, because he says that in our family we have been Brahmins not only by birth. We have been knowers, knowers of Brahma, Brahmins, not only by birth but by real authentic knowledge. So he said, “Unless you become a real Brahmin, not by birth, but by knowing the Brahma, by knowing the ultimate, don’t enter the house. You are not worthy of us.” So now teach me that.’
The teacher said, ‘All that can be taught I have taught you. And that is something which cannot be taught. So you do one thing: you simply be available for it. It cannot be directly taught. You simply be receptive; some day it will happen. You take all the cows of the ashram…’ The ashram had many cows; they say four hundred. ‘You take all the cows to the forest. Remain with the cows: stop thinking, stop verbalizing, just become a cow. Remain with the cows, love them, and be silent as cows are silent. When the cows become one thousand, come back.’
So Svetaketu went with four hundred cows to the forest. There was no use in thinking, there was no one to talk to. By and by his mind became just like a cow. He sat silently under the trees, and for many years he had to wait, because only when the cows became one thousand could he come back. By and by language disappeared from his mind. By and by society disappeared from his mind. By and by he became not a human being at all. His eyes became just like cows’.
And the story is very beautiful. The story says he forgot how to count – because if language disappears and verbalizations disappears…. He forgot how to count, he forgot when he had to return. The story is beautiful. The cows said, ‘Svetaketu, now we are one thousand. Now let us go back to the master’s house. He must be waiting.’
Svetaketu came back, and the master said to the other disciples, ‘Count the cows.’
The cows were counted and the disciples said, ‘Yes, there are one thousand cows.’
And the master is reported to have said, ‘Not one thousand, one thousand and one – that’s Svetaketu.’
He was standing amidst the cows, silent, just being there, with no thought, with no mind. Just like a cow – pure, simple, innocent. And the master said, ‘You need not enter. Now go back to your father’s house. You have known; it has happened to you. Why have you come again to me? It has happened to you.’
It happens: when there is no object in the mind to know, the knower happens to you. When the mind is not filled by thoughts, when there is not a single ripple, when there is not a single wave, you are there alone. There is nothing other than you. Obviously you become aware of your self; for the first time you become filled by yourself. A self-illumination happens.
This sutra is one of the foundational ones. Try it. It is arduous, because the habit of thinking, the habit of clinging to objects, to that which can be perceived and that which can be grasped, is so deep-rooted, so ingrained, that it will take time and a very persistent effort not to be involved in objects, not to be involved in thoughts, but to just become a witness and discard them and say, ‘No, not this, not this.’
The whole technique of the Upanishads is condensed in two words; NETI, NETI – not this, not this.
Whatsoever comes to the mind, say, ‘Not this.’ Go on saying and discarding and throwing all the furniture out. The room has to be empty, totally empty. When emptiness is there, then that happens.
If something else is there you go on being impressed by it, and you cannot know yourself. Your innocence is lost in objects. A thought-ridden mind is moving outwards. You cannot be related to yourself.
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Here you can find all of Shiva’s 112 Meditation Techniques.
Here you can listen to the discourse excerpt Contemplate Something Beyond Perception.