What is Paramshiva?
Paramshiva literally translates to “beyond shiva.” If shiva is supreme consciousness, paramshiva is ultimate reality and encompasses both shiva and shakti. Shiva is the manifestation of consciousness and shakti is the power of consciousness. This can be described using the analogy of the sun (shiva) and the rays of the sun (shakti).
Paramshiva is the first level of the Absolute tattvas of tantric cosmology. This cosmology gives us orderly insight into the universe. Paramshiva is also one of the foundational aspects of the study of Kashmir Shaivism. Shaivism is the hindu worship focusing on the deity Shiva and Kashmir Shaivism came from the Kashmir area of India and is unique in its attention to the relationship of shiva shakti. This is the basis of Anusara yoga which focuses on “shiva shakti tantrism” and I will use the names interchangeably. Anusara yoga philosophy is epitomized by it’s heart-oriented celebration of the heart and the ability to look for the good in everything. Kashmir shaivism turns our attention to the 36 tattvas of tantric cosmology in order to see the evolution of God to manhood, starting with paramshiva and the macrocosmic consciousness, filtering down through microcosmic consciousness and then the relative world.
Macrocosmic consciousness starts with the first level Paramshiva, second level Shiva Shakti, and third level has three parts: willpower (Iccha), knowledge (jnana), and action (kriya). Iccha is a deep desire that fuels all of us to connect with the universal, to align with the divine. Jnana is the ability to act on that desire and create alignment. Kriya is the spontaneous movement of grace that creates an opening and connection to the divine. It is important to note that in Shiva Shakti tantrism is grounded in the non-dual belief that matter and spirit are interacting constantly and the mind and body are vehicles to understand and connect to the divine. This is in contrast to classical yoga philosophy which takes a dualistic approach where matter and spirit never interact and it is necessary to transcend the body/mind in order to experience the divine. The third level corresponds with Sat-Chit-Ananda translating to being-consciouness-bliss, experiencing your true nature results in pure bliss.
The psychical tattvas of microcosmic consciousness are defined by Maya – the differentiating forces of the universe that veils or obscures our true nature and causes us to primarily see all the things that disconnect one another. The effect of Maya is an illusory belief that all things are separate, that universal consciousness which is unity appear instead as dualistic. There are five cloaks of microcosmic consciousness known as Kanchukas. These cloaks limit our ability to see the unity that is universal consciousness. Kala limits omnipotence or ability to act (Kriya). Vidya limits omniscience or knowledge (Jnana). Raga limits fullness of the heart or the desire to obtain fullness (iccha). Niyati limits omnipresence or the expression of creative power (Shakti). Kala (spoken with different inflection) limits supreme consciousness (Shiva) creating time and sequential awareness.
The physical tattvas of the relative world are defined by the interaction of the limited form (Purusha) and it’s nature (Prakriti) due to Maya. This interaction leads to the formation of the senses, mental operations, physical composition, and energies. The final aspect of the relative world are the five Mahabhutas or elements. These five elements are space (Akasha), air (Vayu), fire (Agni), water (Ap), and earth (Prithivi).
Shaktipath is the descent from godhood to manhood that is how the unbounded Absolute can experience itself in limited form. It is important to remember that we are all embodiments of the divine. The One becomes Many in order to enjoy the cosmic dance of creation, sustenance, and destruction of all things. There is no underlying motivation to this dance but the ultimate joy of existence and experience. Duality is created and the act of concealment into the finite has be done in order to experience revelation. The divine hides itself solely to be found. Maya causes us to forget this true nature of all things and identify ourselves with the cloaks that veil our true Self. By perceiving all things to be disconnected we disconnect from the divine spark and descend into suffering. Yoga literally means union and it through this illustrious path that a student can rise from the suffering and see the unity of all things. It is from this path that students can discover that all beings share the universal spark of Consciousness. We are all drops of water in the vast ocean of Consciousness that has no shore.
If we are to look at the nature of the Divine and assess the properties the divine posesses in order to align more fully with this force, this list can be made. It is important to note that this list although ordered here is without sequence (Akrama). Everything discussed in yoga philosophy can be connected back to a principle on this list since our ultimate goal is to reveal our own true nature which is part of the Supreme Consciousness.
1. Chit – absolute consciousness
2. Ananda – bliss
3. Spanda – the pulse of chit and ananda
4. Svatantrya – absolute freedom
5. Purna – complete fullness
6. Shivaya – auspicious force that underlies everything
Why is Sat not on this list?
Sat is implicit and inherent since beingness just is, and does not warrant classification.