Kabbalah · Tantra

Similar concepts in lurianic Kabbalah and Kashmir Shaivism

There are some similarities between kabbalah concepts expounded in many sources like “Etz Chaim” and these from Kashmir Shaivism. I’m not expert of the latter, but I know kabbalistic teachings enough to explore some deeper concepts in tantric traditions.


I know that both these traditions are not popular, they are hermetic, esoteric and these concepts may seem difficult to grasp. In reality we must try to find these teachings inside us, because it’s how it should be. This is something that we already know, we only reaveal that which we temporarily forgot (as a Divine Being).

Of course these teachings are very deep and require experiential knowledge far beyond our senses and wordly mind.

Below is a quote from Paramarthasara of Abhinavagupta (with commnetary of Yogaraja). This is the quote that is particularly similar with the kabbalistic concept of tzimtzum.

“The supreme Lord, who is of the nature of pure consciousness and who as such underlies the universe  has the self-experience in the form of “I become the universe”. Subsequently he negates [his absolute nature] and thereby creates void in himself. This void, created by following the negation of his absolute nature, is the foundation of all existence, the world, to be manifested subsequently, and the blissful state in which this occurs is called śakti tattva. This level of the supreme Lord’s involution, which is one of both negation and fullness, on account of the dissolution and the creation of the universe, has been designated as Śakti in all secret doctrines [the Agamas].”

These are actually the words of Yogaraja,  from commentary. He was the disciple of Abhinavagupta.

And now “Etz Chaim” from Arizal:

“Know that before any emanations or creatures were fashioned there was an Upper Light (Or Elyon) that simply permeated all Existence, and there was no empty place, in the sense of atmosphere, merely space. However, everything was imbued with Infinite Light (Ayn Sof Or), to which there was no beginning nor yet any end; all was Light permeating everything evenly. This is called the Infinite Light (Ayn Sof Or).

And when He wished to create worlds and cause emanations, to bring into being His perfect works, names and attributes–which was the reason for the creation of the worlds, He then contracted (tzimtzum) Himself into the middle point, in the very center. He contracted that Light and removed Himself far to the perimeter round the midpoint, so that in that very midpoint there remained an empty place and air and a void.”

I think that these two quotes are very interesting. For me Arizal words have more power, it’s like he writes from very high level, beyond any doubt, with such uncomparable precision.. Every word here has deep meaning..

What he explains here is about Ayn Sof (blessed be He), where all creation is only in potentiality, we could say it’s Unmanifested yet.

In Talmud Eser Sfirot from Yehuda Ashlag (commentary to the Arizal teachings) there is the explanation of the meaning of this “empty place, in the sense of atmosphere”, that this is not particularly material place or atmoshphere, but a kind of spiritual light (in hebrew text this “atmosphere” is called avira dahia which is also translated as “empty air”]. And he warns us that in spirituality there is nothing about material space, time, etc. This is very important.

“You should know that that Ohr Hassadim is called Avir or Ruach. When it is by itself, without Ohr de Hochma, it is called “empty Avir,” meaning empty of Ohr Hochma. Then it waits for Ohr Hochma to clothe it and fulfill it.”

Ohr – means light.

“Bear in mind, that the entire wisdom of Kabbalah is founded on spiritual matters that do not take up time or space. They are not subject to change or absence and all the changes that are spoken of in this wisdom do not imply that the first form becomes absent and is replaced by a different form. The above change rather implies an additional form, while the first does not move from its place, as absence and change are corporeal conducts.” Talmud Eser Sfirot, chapter 1

I hope that this give some key about such superficial matters… There is more things to reveal. Maybe later (with God’s help)  I’ll write something about letters of alphabet, and give some keys from Zohar and compare this with Matrikacakra concept from Kashmir Shaivism. Or maybe concepts from Vedas and Torah, like sacrifices, which have also spiritual meaning and are explained in the wisdom of kabbalah. These traditions to be honest are not so far from each other, there are probably both part of one old teaching… (I mean Vedas and Torah)


True love-making


Loving is essentially the activity of feeling the soul of another in a bodily way and receiving it into our own soul. It is the capacity to feel, receive and embrace the body of the other, not just with our physical body but with and within the entire field of our feeling awareness, our soul body. If ‘loving’ is the deepening of our bodily feeling awareness of another, then ‘love-making’ means making our soul bodies open to being filled by that awareness – by the soul of the other – or intending to open and fill the body of the other with our awareness, our soul. ‘True’ love and love-making are impossible without the capacity to feel our own body as a whole as a sense organ of our soul, an organ with which we can see and feel the body of the other as a sensory image of their soul in all its aspects.

Both ordinary and scientific notions of love and love-making however, see it as something based purely on physical attraction and expressed though purely physical contact with the body of the beloved. The ordinary understanding of sexual attraction, contact and intercourse is entirely focused on the physical body of the other – their outwardly seen and outwardly felt body. There is no place in this understanding of sex for the soul – for the soul is our own inwardly felt body and the inwardly felt body of the other. The inwardly felt body is not simply the physical body as felt from within. On the contrary, the physical body is but the outwardly perceived form of the inwardly felt body – the soul body or awareness body.

Though in the physical sex act there may be penetration of the fleshly inwardness of one’s partner’s body, this purely phallic and physical penetration does not by itself reach into their soul body. Ordinary sex is limited to the physical body – the outwardly seen and felt body. Soul body sex starts from the inwardly felt body or ‘soul body’. It is the experience of our own soul body filling or being filled by a sensual flow of awareness – something that requires no physical sex organs, male or female.

Peter Wilberg “Tantra Reborn”


Unfolding of the universe

That Siva — who in the process of unfolding (of the universe) spreads in all directions, first assumes the na­ture of various objects (and) then becomes objects mu­tually distinct from each other, thus, attaining the prop­erty of being the objects of experience; then again (in reverse), under the influence of one-pointed meditation he once again reaches the state beyond differentiation — that Sambhu, the destroyer of inauspiciousness, the storehouse of illuminating consciousness, is (always) victorious.

— Abhinavagupta, Gitartha Samgraha, p.1


Moksa and the means of its attainment in Kashmir Shaivism

shiva_by_christasvengel-d6hyf9nAs 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 playground.

~Moksa and the means of its attainment in Kashmir Shaivism

By John Hughes


From “Specific Principles of Kashmir Shaivism”


“Perfectly pure beings, having evolved the world through their own natural vilasa [exuberant divine play], and offering all things as oblations to the sacred fire of their own pure and perfect Consciousness, excel all while drinking deep the nectar of the blissfulness of their own vilasa, vibrating within their heart”

(Amritavagbhava, Atmavilasa, IV.24).

Such a yogin takes up the limitations of the world, absorbs them into himself, and offers them into the sacred fire of pure I-consciousness. The ability to thus transform the mundane and limited into the finest and purest is the highest goal of all life.

— B. N. Pandit, Specific Principles of Kashmir Shaivism



Bodhapancadasika – Fifteen Verses of Wisdom

1. The brilliance of the One Being’s light does not vanish in external light or in darkness because all light and darkness resides in the supreme light of God Consciousness.

2. This Being is called Lord ‘Siva. He is the nature and existence of all beings. The external objective world is the expansion of His Energy and it is filled with the glamour of the glory of God Consciousness.

3. ‘Siva and ‘Sakti are not aware that they are separate. They are interconnected just as fire is one with heat.

4. He is the God Bhairava. He creates, protects, destroys, conceals, and reveals His nature through the cycle of this world. This whole universe is created by God in His own nature, just as one finds the reflection of the world in a mirror.

5. The collective state of the universe is His supreme Energy (‘sakti), which He created in order to recognize His own nature. This ‘Sakti, who is the embodiment of the collective state of the universe, loves possessing the state of God Consciousness. She is in the state of ignorance, remaining perfectly complete and full in each and every object.

6. The supreme Lord ‘Siva, who is all-pervasive and fond of playing and falling, together with the Energy of His own nature simultaneously brings about the varieties of creation and destruction.

7. This supreme action cannot be accomplished by any other power in this universe except Lord ‘Siva, who is completely independent, perfectly glorious and intelligent.

8. The limited state of consciousness is insentient and cannot simultaneously expand itself to become the various forms of the universe. The possessor of independence is absolutely different from that insentient state of consciousness. You cannot, therefore, recognize Him in only one way. The moment you recognize Him in one way you will also recognize Him in the other way.

9. This Lord ‘Siva, who is completely independent (svatantra), has the diversity of creation and destruction existing in His own nature. And, at the same time, this diversity is found existing in its own way as the field of ignorance.

10. In this world you will find varieties of creation and destruction, some of which are created in the upper cycle, some of which are created below, and some of which are even created sideways. Attached to these worlds smaller portions of worlds are created. Pain, pleasure, and intellectual power are created according to the status of being. This is the world.

11. If you do not understand that there is actually no span of time, this misunderstanding is also the independence (svatantrya) of Lord ‘Siva. This misunderstanding results in worldly existence (samsara). And those who are ignorant are terrified by worldly existence.

12. & 13. When, because the grace of Lord ‘Siva is showered upon you, or due to the teachings or vibrating force of your Master, or through understanding the scriptures concerned with Supreme ‘Siva, you attain the real knowledge of reality, that is the existent state of Lord ‘Siva, and that is final liberation. This fullness is achieved by elevated souls and is called liberation in this life (jivanmukti).

14. These two cycles, bondage and liberation, are the play of Lord ‘Siva and nothing else. They are not separate from Lord ‘Siva because differentiated states have not risen at all. In reality, nothing has happened to Lord ‘Siva.

15. In this way the Lord, Bhairava, the essence of all being, has held in His own way in His own nature, the three great energies: the energy of will (iccha-‘sakti), the energy of action (kriya-‘sakti), and the energy of knowledge (jñana-‘sakti). These three energies are just like that trident which is the three-fold lotus. And seated on this lotus is Lord Bhairava, who is the nature of the whole universe of 118 worlds.

16. I, Abhinavagupta, have written and revealed these verses for some of my dear disciples who have very little intellectual understanding. For those disciples, who are deeply devoted to me, I have composed these fifteen verses just to elevate them instantaneously.