Try this tonight: sit in a quiet, dark room alone, close your eyes and concentrate. Try to imagine a single burning candle. Concentrate on the flame. At first, it will be hard to make that flame come to life. Then, the flame will be there, but it will flicker. After a short while, you will be able to see that bright, unwavering flame and you will be fully absorbed in that thought. You have now, using your independent will-power, made manifest in your mind a lit candle. You can see it as clearly as if your eyes were open and you were staring at a burning candle.
Let us now think about reality. What is real and what is false here? Is that candle you see with your mind’s eye real? Is the light from the candle that is reflected in your mind real? Is your mind real? Which is false?
At first, due to our daily experience of the objective world, all of us will say, “I am real, and the candle is part of my imagination. The candle is therefore false.”
As you think on it some more, you may then say to yourself, “If I am real entity and my mind is real, then that which exists in my mind must also be real. The candle, which is part of my mind , must be real. It is part of my reality; it is part of myself. Just as memories of my past experiences are part of me, so is the candle. The only difference is my past memories are from a past experience, and the candle is part of my present experience.”
As you think on it more and more, at some point you will say, “Yes, indeed the candle is a part of me. In fact, that candle is nothing but myself. The light of the candle is my own inner light reflected back upon myself. When I close my eyes and look within the subjective world, all I am able to see is myself. The candle is not separate from me. It is indeed me.”
In this exercise, we have gone through three realizations: (1) you are real and the candle is false; (2) you are real and the candle is part of your subjective reality; (3) your subjective reality is not different from yourself - you are indeed the candle which you see.
Now, let us take this concept and consider it from the perspective of the universe. What if the entire universe is that candle, and the one envisioning the candle is Shiva? What if all of existence is the reality created within the mind of Shiva? Think on this. What if the universe rides on waves of Shiva’s thought? What if the universe, you, I and the rest, are merely candles reflecting within the consciousness of Shiva? What would be the implication? Would all this be different or separable from Him in whom all this exists?
In Shaivism, the above concept is called the Doctrine of Reflection, Pratibimbavada. The basic idea of Pratibimbavada is that all of existence is but a reflection within Shiva, manifest through His Svatantraya Shakti (Independent Will-Power). The universe exists as a reality within the reality of Shiva. Just as you realize with successive thought that the candle in your mind is essentially a part of your existence, nay, your existence itself; so, the reality of all existence is realized by advanced Yogis as non-different from the reality of Shiva, created and supported through His Shakti, His very Self.
Sarvam Sivamayam (All is Shiva)
~ Sri Siva Yogaswami
Aum Namah Shivaya.
© Agnideva, 2007. All rights reserved.