Normally people associate spirituality with denial and lack of material possessions and although this might be true in another sense in an advanced stage of a spiritual seeker where these things become unimportant; yet this acts as a great deterrent to any aspirant who is just new on the path and is motivated by curiosity rather than a burning zeal.
Hence any sect or path which emphasizes on giving up everything material may not appeal very well to the modern day psyche where man (and woman) have to face a lot of pressures and the demands of living are going higher by the day.
Of course there are different paths suited for a person of any temperament or liking. All these paths lead to the same goal ultimately sooner or later and we are not against any path, still if the path is in tune with modern day aspirations and environment, it becomes a bit easier for the seeker.
This is way or a path which fulfills the above mentioned criteria in the sense that it can be used by a common man (and woman). The word common here refers to a person who has entirely no knowledge or any initiation of any kind into any spiritual path and does not even believe in the existence of an Almighty Power. Yet if the practices the followed the results are proof enough in themselves.
Kashmir Shaivism believes in celebrating life and not curbing it with negation and denials. Neither does one have to spare too much time or goto dense forests to meditate, yet it can be done apart from following your routine life or profession, whatever you are doing and still be making spiritual progress.
The 3 Pillars
Any philosophy is based on certain guiding principles or pillars and Kashmir Shaivism has them too. The three main pillars which form the basis of these teachings are as follows.
Supreme Unity of the Self: it is a popular saying that well begun is already half done and so is the case with spiritual journey too. Kashmir Shaivism believes that if you start your journey considering yourself as a helpless or worthless wreck, you will lose a lot of ground even though ultimately you might still reach somewhere. So this philosophy tells from the very beginning to have full faith in yourself, despite your limitations and weaknesses since you are a part of that Supreme Power and hence are one with that Force. Not only you but everyone and everything around you is just a reflection of the Divine so if you think about yourself and your relationship with others along those lines, you will see a new energy and charisma in your personality and your relationships, apart from the subtle spiritual progress.
Totality of Human Personality: this principle of Kashmir Shaivism simply asks you to accept yourself and others in the current state of being without expecting anyone to be perfect. Everyone has shortcomings and if we focus on them, we will surely be creating a lot of problems for others and self. Moreover diversity is the rule of nature and no two people or even objects are alike so comparison of merits and demerits is useless and the acceptance in totality is the second principle of this path.
Divine Grace: normally we must have heard the axiom that –Knowledge is Power- which is quite true in the material world especially in the current information age, but then Lord Shiva says in the Shiva Sutra – Knowledge is Bondage. Of course this has a totally different context and signifies that when we keep depending on our intellect, understanding and knowledge we cannot comprehend the Supreme which is above and beyond all knowledge. Hence it is the Divine Grace which is necessary to reach that ultimate goal rather than knowledge which could be used as a tool in the initial journey but has to be left later on.
Hence we can see how beautifully the principles of Kashmir Shaivism have the essence of spirituality embodied in few simple lines. It can also be seen how these principles can be applied in our everyday lives in a very normal fashion and hence we can progress materially in this world also apart from making progress at the subtle spiritual level. However this post barely touches on the surface of the profound teachings of Kashmir Shaivism. In our later articles we will learn more about the path.