Every seeker wishes to know the way and wants every delusion cleared. Yet there is frustration and lack of knowledge on how one should even proceed in this path. It raises the deep question on why am I born human?
What is the meaning of being human?
The beauty of Thirumular's explanation is that it removes the veil of Maya straight away by presenting this concept to us. Being human is a state, its not me or you, but a state that we have taken on in this birth. This quite simply answers the question - Who am I. Aham Brahmaasmi - That I am/That thou art.
I am not human as much as I am consciousness in this form of a human in this period of time, in this kaal. I breathe because I have taken birth and in this birth my purpose is to raise myself to not just the state of a sidhha or a deva but to raise myself to the state of Shivahood. Is it possible, it is and Thirumular explains how.
Many people center their spiritual progress to offering 5 to 10 mins of puja, offering Archanai at a temple, and/or following few steps to do a parigaram to ward off immediate troubled forces created by planets and yet they wish for wealth, prosperity and progeny. Thirumular attributes all this to the path of Kriya where, though it is beneficial it also accumulates karma. We cannot consider our spiritualism as complete by any of these methods.
Thirumular further goes to explain that the nature of the supreme atman cannot be discovered or experienced by the senses hence it is vain on our part to hope to achieve salvation through our senses. Just as it is in the nature of the sun to rise in the east, one cannot wish it to rise from the west, similarly it is in the nature of the divine to be realized through contemplation and jnana and not just through momentary archanai/puja or action.
The higher form of worship is in the mansion of the mind, our mind, that which only we can control.
Offer oblations in love
Light lamps golden,
Spread incense of fragrant wood
And lighted camphor in directions all
Forget your worldly worries, and meditate
You shall attain rapturous mukti true
Worship is in the consciousness of the mind, where oblations are offered with love, lamp lights appear golden and the fragrance of incense spreads around the Lord. Burn camphor in all the four directions and forget all your worldly worries for a while, this time is for just meditate on the Lord. It is a state of bliss and peace that is achieved over time with practice. Ritual helps us do this with discipline and as one rises in their spiritual curve this turns into a conscious activity in the mind, rhythmic and simple as one tunes in their mind to spend some silent moments with the self.
The beauty of this practice is explained in another passage:
Even when other men's wives approach them
They touch them not
They have mastered passions all
Their mind is preoccupied perpetually
With offer of oblation diverse
They worship prostrating low
Constantly chanting mantra
Thus in the mansion of the mind they abide.
In the realistic world today seduction is an art not just known to women but men as well and these temptations can come from any where, to both genders included. Excluding the chauvinism in the verse that is very male centric, the essence applies to all. When the mind is so deep in the thought of Lord Shiva, in the conscious state it dwells on him in worship, and all passions are mastered and controlled. The mind doesn't waver, and the oncoming temptation doesn't affect it leaving the bhakta far from falling prey to seduction.
They know not to reach him by jnana divine,
They seek him by ways of senses, in vain
If within you constantly seek him in the right way
You shall indeed be in nadanta
As one rises up the charts of evolved spiritualism, kriya path gives way to that of jnana. Contemplation takes over action.
Bhaktas, yogis and jnanis do not take to kriya path but instead move into jnana and reach the state of Nadanta.
Yourself himself becoming
And himself yourself becoming
And with two none
And as one Shiva becoming
When thus it is,
Those who went the way of kriya
If they take to jnana
They with Shiva one become
They who seek kriya
May but devas be
There is so much inner beauty in this passage. By being in dhyana and contemplating regularly one can attain Shivahood. By mere practice of ritual in momentary intervals one can best hope to reach the state of being Deva. If the mind dwells entirely on Shiva, it entertains no other thought and life's problems appear like states of living without any attachment.
Problems are accepted situations and conscious mind time is spent in single point concentration leaving the mind passionate of Lord Shiva thus elevating the soul to a constant state of Shivahood.
In this state OM rises from under the navel, VA rises from the throat stretched, NA has its seat in forehead and bindu and nada are still placed higher. Nectar or amrit flows from the 7th centre, the bright light of jnana glows at the 8th chakra, in the 11th chakra lies the supreme and beyond it is the void described as the dwadasanta space.
In this world that we live in, in this stressful world that we belong to, time, contemplation, passion and persistence are the possible characteristics that can lead us closer to salvation.
* Dwadasanta is the mystical place 12 units above on the head counting from the region of the third eye between the brow. Each unit is an angula, measuring 1 division on the finger.
Courtesy: Excerpts from the Thirumanthiram written by Sage Thirumular.