Research Paper: Cross-Currents of Philosophy

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[. . .] However he reserves the highest level possible for his own philosophical teachings and their practice. This stage has been called as the Paramam Padam and is only reached though the practice of Tantric Saivism.

One major difference that is found between the teachings of Abhinavagupta and Patanjali is in the way a person was initiated into the practice of that particular school of thought, and this difference is enough to make the teachings and practice of Abhinavagupta seem like elitist in their nature.

The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali direct towards no agent to attain the ultimate reality; in a fact, what has been found in these writings is simply a way for one to clear their mind and following a certain path. It almost makes the entire process personal, a matter between the individual and the higher reality that be. However, that is not the case in the teaching of Abhinavagupta, and must have been the reason to induce the criticism of the Buddhist scholar Dharmakirti. The initiation of an individual in the circle of Siva, with the guarantee of ultimate liberation at the time of the death, Nirvanadiksa, was done through a guru through a complicated religious ritual stretching over a period of two or more days, until his soul was made one with that of Siva, thus making him a son of Siva.

This Siva can then be taken as the ultimate reality or the universe of the Patanjali teaching with which the soul is infused making him at par with other individuals, as he has reached a level in which his own reality in the bigger picture is now clear to him.

Where in the Patanjali teaching's it is the word OM which is the agent in making a person in sync with the universe, in the teachings of Abhinavagupta it is the usage of the word ATHA which is a predominant notion. Again this notion attached to the righteous path is controlled by the guru, who would initiate with these words, so that the soul is never bounded again.

However, the unique thing about Abhnivagupta's philosophy, which has not been seen in the Sutras of Patanjali, is the concept of "Possession." This possession by the Power's of Rudra is the way to become one with the divine Gods. The way the experience has been defined is highly sexual in experience with the mention and temptation of Goddesses, which can cause one to dance and sing in a state of enchantment and ultimate bliss (Wallis 256). The text goes on to define the experience as one which would "give the fruit of both enjoyment and liberation" and would arise in the disciple the feeling of "Joy and contentment" and "certainly permanent bliss.…The transformation of impurity creates many instances of spontaneous happiness." This spontaneous happiness is then manifested in the dancing and the singing, which has been warned against as being taken over by the evil spirits. [9: Wallis, Christopher. "The Descent of Power: Possession, Mysticism, and Initiation in the Saiva Theology of Abhinavagupta." Journal of Indian Philosophy, 36 (2008): 256] [10: Wallis, Christopher. "The Descent of Power: Possession, Mysticism, and Initiation in the Saiva Theology of Abhinavagupta." Journal of Indian Philosophy, 36 (2008): 256]

However, this state is only caused by the initial experience and will be over powered through the continued dedication to Shiva and Rudra, and it is because of this reason that this state is not witnessed in the Guru, who has mastered this possession and state of ultimate reality in the many years of dedicated practice. It is at this stage that the lines between the thoughts of Patanjali and Abhinavagupta again seem to converge, as they both put emphasis on the dedication of the practice so that the righteous path is not lost.

However, what needs to be highlighted here is that the text of the Literature of the Tantras seem to focus of the deities and the Goddesses, thus the celebration of the two sexes, the male and the female, in the form of the deities that are mentioned in the sacred text and the Shiva both led to a union and a worship of the two sexes.

The third school of thought which would be the focus of this research is that of Aleister Crowley's Argentum Astrum. The section here forth would not only introduce the basic steps of this school of thought but would also draw upon the similarities and the contrasts between the two schools that have already been discussed in the above section.

Founded in 1907 by Crowley after this expulsion from the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn (G.D), A*A* or Argentum Astrum, it was a religion with a very human centric approach. The workings of the group were mostly individualistic in nature, thus letting it depend on the individual's commitment with himself to follow the many norms and rituals of the Order. This in comparison is much like the approach of Patanjali, in which it is the individual alone who is responsible for the commitment to carry forth the tradition of the Sutras.

In the case of the previous two school of thoughts, the Literature that was the ultimate source of guidance was the "Book of the Law" given to Crowley on his visit to Egypt. One of the main pointers however that were to be part of the commitment that one would make when entering the Oder were their acknowledgment of the authority of the Beast 666 and the Scarlet Lady. [11: Mega Therion. Astrum Argentum A*A*. n.d. 18th December 2011 .]

The meaning of The Book of the Law, which was originally named as "Liber AL vel Legis" or AL, means the God or the Great One. The letter A and L. also draws upon meaning for themselves through "elemental and planetary attributes: Air, to the letter "A"; and Venus, to the letter "L." "A" signifies the Creative Spirit (breath, prana, etc.), and "L" signifies the Woman Satisfied, or fulfilled with creative energy." [12: Grant, Kenneth. Aleister Crowley and the Hidden God. Skoob Books Pub Ltd., 1993. 5]

This is many case is quite similar to the idea of the Shiva and the Rudra Power who are presented as the Scarlet Women in Crowley's work and thus leads itself to describing the school of thought as " Sexual Magik." [13: Grant, Kenneth. Aleister Crowley and the Hidden God. Skoob Books Pub Ltd., 1993. 6]

The basic mantra of this school of thought, coming from the human centric approach, is that "Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law" is argued by Kenneth Grant in his writings as emphasizing upon the individual to control their will through the art of self-discipline, since the controlling of the will is what will determine how we use the freedom that has been ordained upon us. [14: Grant, Kenneth. Cults of the Shadow. London: Frederick Muller Limited, 1975.109]

This consideration and point-of-view is important for a school of thought in which there is no Omnipotent authority to guide its subject and thus the matter of how the freedom from the strings of religion is handled becomes of utmost important.

The three schools of thoughts hold another thing in common, and that is the non-duality of their approach. The three thoughts presented do not present a concept in which the relationship is binded between a God and the man, in a fact, you have a concept, in which the entire universe and the many objects carry within them the presence of the divine and a reflection of what he represents. [15: For more on the concept of Duality in Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, see the work of Heidi Jahn. ]

The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali talk about a connection that the Individual makes with the whole universe through meditation. It is a practice which makes the disciple realize that the entire universe and the consciousness around him is entwined with a higher being and it is his goal to reach that phase of pure bliss as well. There is no one on one relationship with a God; in a fact it is a relationship, which is shared with the entire universe. [16: Jahn, Heidi. "Patanjali - Yoga Sutras." 2009. The Yogic Flower. 16th December 2011 . 3]

In the Tantric and the teachings of Abhinavagupta, the duality is debatable, since the relationship is being bounded between the Shiva and the self, through the guru. However the presence of the Power of Rudra and the possession of the human vessel by the divine powers break this duality so that the worship of many Gods and man is celebrated in the teachings.

The human centric approach of the A*A* makes the individual find the God and the universe within himself as he is the master of his will and the universe. This approach also breaks the duality of the traditional relationship between the man and the God and instead builds upon one which… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Cross-Currents of Philosophy.  (2011, December 23).  Retrieved April 22, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/cross-currents-philosophy/5592789

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"Cross-Currents of Philosophy."  Essaytown.com.  December 23, 2011.  Accessed April 22, 2019.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/cross-currents-philosophy/5592789.