Sivasutra: The Shiva Sutra of Vasugupta, trans. Gerard D. C. Kuiken

“Why a new translation? Ravi Ravindra introduced me to the Shiva Sutra during a course in Ojai, California in April 2014. Another friend, Rick Sharpe, asked me about the quality of the translation of the Shiva Sutra used in the course. Looking more carefully at that and other translations, it appears to me that all these translations have added interpretations not found in the Sanskrit text. I have tried to honor the Sanskrit text without adding words. Other meanings of each Sanskrit word, aside from the one I chose for my literal translation, are given. It turns out that not only my translation but also other translations of a number of sutras are quite different from each other. I hope this version contributes to the appreciation of the Shiva Sutra and deepens your meditation.

The Shiva Sutra was revealed to and written down by Vasugupta (ca 875–925 CE). The Sutra is considered mystical and of divine origin. For Kashmir Śaivism, it is one of the most important key sources. It outlines the teachings of Shaiva non-dualism, where the focus is on attaining the Ultimate Reality in which everything is created and dissolved. This ultimate state is called Param Shiva and is beyond description. For attaining this state of Shiva for those who remember to reside in their own inherent-self-nature, which is of the nature of Shiva, no effort or no way (anpAy an-upaya) is needed. For every- ¯ one else there are three ways (upayas) for the attainment of Param ¯ Shiva described in the Shiva Sutra. There is no strict order given for meditating on the Sutra. It depends on one’s stage of evolution. The 22 sutras in the first chapter correspond with the third stage, which is the way of Shiva (śambhavop ¯ aya) and refers to the stage of evo- ¯ lution of one who is open to absorb the first sutra: Consciousness – Self…”

File Type: pdf
Categories: Tantra
Tags: book
Author: Gerard D. C. Kuiken

About Sunday morning

Sunday Morning Contemplation is informed by Eastern and Western contemplative traditions. The first, lectio divina has its origins in 6th century Europe. It unfolds in four steps or stages: reading (lectio), reflecting (meditatio), responding (oratio), and silent abiding (contemplatio). Our Eastern inspiration come from the Indian Upanishads (800-200 BCE), where contemplative practice consists of three steps or stages: listening (śravana), reflecting (manana), and meditating (nididhyāsana or dhyāna). Our contemplative practice on Sundays embraces both approaches, and each contemplation will be based on a reading from either tradition.

The texts and teachers I have chosen played a significant role in my life and I believe have much to offer. I will read presellected texts, slowly, with pauses between verses or quotes. The readings will be accompanied by soothing background music. To lessen distraction, I suggest participants close their eyes and listen. However, the screen will display the text so that people can choose to read along or mute the sound and read on their own. If there is time remaining after the contemplative period, participants can choose to either leave or stay for a short discussion.

As a preface to the reading, I will provide a 10-15 minute introduction to the text. When relevant, I’ll review facts about the author/teacher’s life. I will also present a brief explanation of the terms and language encountered in the reading.

Finally, when the contemplation is over, all texts read will be available online to read and/or download at any time on the website.

What I mean by
The Symbolic Life

This website makes liberal use of classical Indian visual art and refers mostly to traditional Indian texts (for example, the Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita and Yoga Sutras) in the courses, seminars, and discussions on offer. However, I am not presenting lessons in Hinduism; in fact, teaching mainstream Hinduism is neither my area of interest nor expertise. Rather, my interest in Yoga and Tantra is grounded in the concrete situation in which we find ourselves, in the places where we arrive and from which we depart. Beginning in the here and now, we will explore the underlying meaning of the symbols, stories, images, philosophies, and techniques found in Indian philosophical texts and practice, in light of our world and our current circumstance. We will excavate the meaning of the aphorisms and teaching stories; the symbolic figures of gods, people, and nature; and the sometimes terse, sometimes poetic, philosophy of the texts. Thus, in referring to the Symbolic Life of Yoga and Tantra, I mean not just the symbols themselves, but the rich explication of life that the symbols represent.

Our lived, concrete situation is wonderfully captured in the Sanskrit word loka, whose ancient meaning is “the world.”  The root meaning of both the Sanskrit loka and the English locate (and local, locale, and location) is identical. In the ancient Indian mind, the world is where we are located, in our current circumstance. Thus, the meaning of the symbols of Yoga and Tantra can occur only in the now, in the places where we find ourselves, and not in any imagined ancient and/or foreign world.

To emphasize our place of origin and return, I use the terms “archetypal” and “symbolic” quite frequently. Archetypal meaning is associated with the universal and collective aspects of human experience—what we intimately share with all others regardless of culture or era or epoch—while symbolic language forms a bridge between the realms of the universal with the culturally specific and local. Symbols are the scaffolding upon which human beings build a world and imbue it with meaning.

Think for a moment of pain and pleasure, sorrow and joy, hatred and love, and greed and generosity—universal experiences that ancient Indian thinkers called the dvandva-s. This Sanskrit term is a combination of two words, or rather, one word spoken twice: the word dva (meaning the same as the English “two”) duplicated. Dvandva is commonly translated as “the pair of opposites” or literally “the two-twos” (dvadva). The ancients who coined this compact symbol gave voice to an archetypal human experience that can be further unpacked to reveal deep insights into the human condition. Once we gain an understanding of the various symbols of Yoga and Tantra, we can further excavate their meaning and the archetypes they convey, and thus gain access to, in a practical and meaningful way, the vision of life experienced by the sages. These insights are available to us and are still relevant today, as are the resilient and adaptable techniques and forms of practice that can help us lead richer and more fulfilling lives