KASHMIR SHAIVISM

A highly refined articulation of the spiritual work we do at the Movement Center is presented in the philosophy of Trika Yoga, 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 mandala of Para, highest goddess of the Trika tradition.

The mandala of Para, highest goddess of the Trika tradition.

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.

The 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.

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.

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.

In Kashmir Shaivism, all of existence, including ourselves and our lives, is understood to be an aggregation. It is layer upon layer of accumulated energy that comes together as an expression of the creative capacity of the universal mind.
— Swami Chetanananda

There are articles and videos of lectures on a variety of topics in Kashmir Shaivism by Professor Alexis Sanderson, a leading Sanksrit scholar, in the Publications section of the Institute for Śaiva and Tantric Studies website.