Philosophical Foundations

Philosophical Foundations

Kashmir Shaivism

A highly refined articulation of the experience of the spiritual work we do at the Movement Center is embodied in the philosophy of Trika Yoga practice, also known as Kashmir Shaivism. Kashmir Shaivism is a general designation referring to the dualistic and nondualistic schools of thought that emerged in Kashmir, in northwest India.

From about 700 to 1100 c.e., Kashmir was the spiritual, cultural, and intellectual center for some of the most sophisticated spiritual practitioners of the time. Kashmir Shaivism arose from the experience of these dedicated Trika Yoga practitioners, who also happened to be skilled in expressing their experiences.

The inspired writings and commentaries by these philosophers, poets, and artists represents much of the work that we today identify as the embodiment of their rich culture. Their careful expression of their inner experiences produced a unique and highly refined organization of a number of strands of Tantrism existing in India from ancient times.

Kashmir ValleyThe practitioners of nondualistic Kashmir Shaivism came to view the world as absolute Consciousness, which they called Shiva. This Consciousness, being both one and free, creative and self-reflective, was revealed as the fundamental I, or Divine Self. Thus, Kashmir Shaivism emphasizes the inner Self. The systematic growth of Kashmir Shaivism unfolded as practitioners reflected on the nature of the highest reality, describing it as pure Consciousness.

This pure Consciousness is conceived of as not inert, but dynamic, with its dynamism being a quality that is not separate from that Consciousness. This is because life is not only stillness, but also motion and vitality. The Absolute is a paradox--both stillness and a dynamic vitality. From the standpoint of Kashmir Shaivism, God is a dynamic stillness.

The fundamental philosophical assertion of Kashmir Shaivism is that our existence is nothing but the boundless energy of Consciousness. It is a celebration of the creative power in every individual and the recognition of every person's power of free choice.

Trika Yoga

The spiritual practice associated with Trika Yoga is a form of kundalini yoga. The essence of Trika Yoga is to release tensions in all dimensions and allow our creative energy to flow without obstruction. Trika Yoga is a practice intended to develop awareness of this energy to the point where we experience it not merely as our finite self, but as the infinite Self, the power of spirit that underlies all reality.

Chakras OpeningThe practice of Trika Yoga puts us in touch with our subtle body, a system of energy channels and chakras, and helps us develop a deep understanding of the way in which it functions. We learn to change our state and our ways of relating to our environment. As we learned to stay attuned to the flow of creative energy, we experience an accelerated process of change and growth that leads to the maturing of love and fulfillment in our lives. Eventually we become established in a state of joy and total well-being which benefits everyone with whom we come in contact.


Trika Yoga is a Tantric tradition. In general, Tantrism is extraordinary in its acceptance of the world, and the events and experiences that happen there, viewing all these as complete and appropriate aspects of life. A person's life experiences become the arena within which he or she cultivates spiritual understanding. Unlike many traditions which have erected taboos and ritual prohibitions, the Tantric traditions recognize that no area of life is to be rejected. The experience of freedom, spontaneity, creativity, and well-being in this lifetime are what a Tantric practitioner seeks.