Shakti: There are two issues you wanted to reveal. One is the path of attaining you through me and another is about people marketing us. Which one of these would you like to take up first?

Shiva: Naturally, it is the first one. This is more important because, duration of human life is limited and as I have told you, both realization and liberation are possible only in human life. Under normal conditions, the average span of life expectancy is around 75 years. One begins spiritual path a little over halfway mark of life expectancy, let us say around 35 to 40 years.

Shakti: But I find many youngsters pursuing spiritual path when they are young.

Shiva: That is not spiritual path, but foundation to spiritual path. They lay a strong foundation to their spiritual pursuit.

Shakti: What is the difference?

Shiva: A well defined and perfected spiritual path leads to understanding you and realizing you. This takes major portion of one’s spiritual life. Understanding and realizing you are very important and only after realizing you, one can realize me.

Shakti: Can you explain further on ‘well defined and perfected spiritual path’?

Shiva: I will come to that later. First, one should understand what spiritual foundation is. It is not just yoga and meditation. They will not give right spiritual foundation. They are meant for higher levels. Spiritual foundation is nothing but dvaita or dualistic worship. One cannot straightaway pursue Advaita or non-dualism. First, one must know the object of worship, understand it thoroughly and then should make efforts to attain it. This is the stage of ritualistic worship.

Shakti: Ritualistic worship? But you used to advocate only non-dualism (Advaita) and why suddenly this change?

Shiva: Even now I am advocating non-dualism, as only non-dualism can lead to realization and liberation. At the same time, non-dualism cannot be practiced that easily. One cannot move to masters without going to school, similarly one has to go through dvaita or dualism to attain perfection in non-dualism. In the material world, everything is related to evolution. What is evolution? It is a process in which something passes by degrees to a different stage, especially a more advanced or a matured stage.

Shakti: What one has to practice while pursuing dvaita?

Shiva: There are three stages in dvaita. The first stage is offering flowers, offering naivedya, etc and this is called ṣoḍaśaupacāra (16 types of offerings). This is the stage when one reads Scriptures (not Upaniṣad-s), which deal with standard of living. This is often called Scriptural dictums or dharma. It sets high moral and ethical standards of living and several dos and don’ts to discipline one’s life. It is like learning in schools.

Second stage is where one reduces the rituals and moves on to mantra japa. Both are practiced concurrently. After finishing pūjā, mantra japa is practiced. Over a period of time, he gradually reduces his time on ritualistic worship and spends more time on his japa. There are different stages in mantra japa. One’s spiritual guru guides him or her through these stages. The first stage of mantra is doing all the nyāsa-s, counting the number of repetitions and finally doing samarpaṇa to the concerned deity. There are eleven parts in a mantra japa. In the first stage, all the eleven steps are rigorously followed. In the second stage, several of these parts are dispensed with, according to the instructions of the guru. Counting of repetitions continues in this stage also.

In the third stage, counting of repetitions is stopped and one is asked to meditate on the mantra by keeping his or her consciousness in ājñā chakra. Though this is the point of transformation from ritualistic life to spiritual life, it is not the point of transformation from dvaita to Advaita. Former is not so important when compared to the latter, as both realization and liberation happen only in the highest level of Advaita. Various stages of mantra japa are like different stages of under graduate and post graduate studies in a university.

Shakti: What is fixing consciousness in ājñā chakra in mantra meditation?

Shiva: As you know ājñā chakra is the most powerful psychic centre which is strongly connected to the mind. Just above ājñā chakra (approximately an inch), there is a minor, yet powerful psychic chakra known as manas (mind) chakra, which not only has direct connection to the mind, but also controls five organs of perception. When one meditates a mantra at ājñā chakra, it becomes hyperactive which in turn activates manas chakra, which absorbs the mantra itself. Instead of recitation through senses, recitation of mantra is taken over by manas chakra and now the initiated mantra is constantly recited by the mind. This is how one attains the perpetual mantra japa state.

Shakti: But, how does this help?

Shiva: It helps in two ways. First, when the mantra recitation is taken over by the mind, by default mind recites the mantra perpetually and the subtle vibrations of bījākaśara-s are absorbed by the mind and these vibrations make the mind calm. When the mind is calm, breath rate also slows down and when the breath slows down, it calms the mind further. As I have already told you, only breath and mind can purify consciousness and look at the way these two are interdependent. This also goes to prove the concept of interdependency that prevails all over the universe. Even you and I are interdependent. As you are already aware I am the purest form of Consciousness. When mind and breath work in slow pace, one’s consciousness correspondingly attains purity.

Shakti: Can you explain this further?

Shiva: Put five dots on a paper. Look at all the five dots. You will not be able to fix your consciousness on all the five of them. You move your eye balls from one dot to another. This is known as impure consciousness. Instead of looking all the five dots at the same time, look only at one dot and you will be able to fix your consciousness only on that dot and this is known as pure form of consciousness. The purest form of consciousness is known as bindu, which means a dot. This is the cause of creation. That is why, I am called bindu.

Shakti: This seems to be a simple practice. You said two ways and you have revealed one; what about the other?

Shiva: The full potency of any bījākaśara can be attained only after repeated repetitions. The potency of bījākaśara-s can be felt not only in purifying the mind, but also helps one to realize his or her iṣṭadevatā {Patañjali yoga sūtra (II.44) – ‘svādhyāyād iṣṭadevatā samprayogaḥ’; meaning – by constant repetition of a mantra, one’s iṣṭadevatā (devatā pertaining to that mantra) is realized.}As you know, you are always the iṣṭadevatā, as you represent all other gods and goddesses.

Shakti: But there are innumerable mantras for various gods and goddesses. How do you say that I am the iṣṭadevatā?

Shiva: Already Vāc Devi-s have said in Lalitā Sahasranāma (577) that you are matṛkā-varṇa-rūpinī. You are not only Saguṇa Brahman but also Śabda Brahman. Every sound of the universe originates from you and obviously you are the universal iṣṭadevatā, as you alone remain in all the mantras. However you manifest in various physical forms (various forms of gods and goddesses) and their associated sounds known as mantras. Thus all forms and mantras lead to you and you in turn lead them to me. Only through you, others can attain me and attaining me is known as Self-realization. Realizing me is the midpoint of one’s spiritual life.

Shakti: How do you correlate between meditating mantras in ājñācakra and realizing you?

Shiva: I have already said this. It is simple. Meditate the mantra at ājñācakra. First one will feel the vibrations over there. These vibrations will move slightly upwards and activate manas chakra. The subtle vibrations of the mantras enter into manas chakra and control the mind and make the mind work on five organs of perception or jñānendriya-s, which are the main source for causing illusion, also known as māyā. Now, mind is purified and the organs of perception are also subdued through manas chakra resulting in the removal of veil of māyā cast by you. I have already told you that manas chkara is activated not only by meditating the mantra over there, but also bringing down the breath rate.

Shakti: How to bring down the breath rate?

Shiva: This is to be practiced. Practice is very important in spiritual path. It is not about the time taken, but about the quality. When I mean breathing, I always refer to abdominal breathing. In general breathing rate per minute could be around 12 to 15 per minute. Breathing pattern also depends upon one’s doṣa or pathogenic factors such as vāta, pitta and kapha. These three doṣa-s should be present more or less in equal proportions in a gross body. If these doṣa-s are not in harmonious state, one gets disease. Such diseases also affect the mind (Caraka Saṁhitā I.48) and such mental afflictions can be cured through meditation. Minor modifications of these doṣa-s in the gross body can be set right by taking triphala (available both in the form of powder and tablets) on a daily basis. A perfect harmony of the three doṣa-s keeps the breath rate at very good levels. The best breathing rate during advanced meditative stages would be around one breath in three minutes to three breaths per minute.

Coming back to your question of bringing down the respiratory rate per minute, one has to learn to hold the breath, both internally and externally apart from slowing down the pace of exhalation. If one is able to bring down the breathing rate to three or four per minute consciously, the breathing rate will be reduced automatically. This in turn will calm down the mind. Now slow respiratory rate coupled with purified mind leads to your realization. When you are realized, you will unveil your power of māyā, leading to my realization.

Shakti: What happens next?

Shiva: Realizing me alone is not the purpose of this life. The moment one realizes me he or she stops accruing further karmas. However, he or she has to experience the karmic bag that he or she carries with him/her. When the karmic bag has insignificant weight, one has to meditate to reach mahāśūnya to get liberated.

Shakti: Please explain the steps to get liberated.

Shiva: Yes, I will, but not now. Before that you must know how we are commercialized. I am very upset about it. I will show you few places and you will know what is going on.

More articles:

Shiva In Conversation With Shakti - Part 6

Shiva In Conversation With Shakti - Part 8