A key concept for the exploration of ultimate reality and for the awakening of non-local, integrative consciousness
Author: Nicolae Catrina
Spanda is the highest vibration in Kashmir Shivaism. There they also call it the heart of God. In the Christian tradition it is the Holy Spirit, in physics it is the quantum state. This vibration can bring our consciousness to an enlightened and liberated state. A state where the reality and structure of creation reveals itself to us. Sound created the universe and the universe is recognized as tattvas.
According to the esoteric wisdom of Tantra and modern science, everything is vibration. The reality in which we live is a vibrating universe. The ancient concept of Spanda (the original creative vibration) – which is fundamental to the tantric school of Kashmir Shivaism – describes the universe. It says it acts as an outpouring of the playful nature of God’s consciousness through waves, vibrations and resonances.
In the Kashmir Shivaism tradition, the term spanda refers to the primary creative movement in the “heart of God.”
An extremely subtle vibration. Beyond time and space. A vibe from which all other possible vibrations (or resonant frequencies) emanate and which sums them all up. Therefore, Spanda is also called ‘The Supreme Power’, ‘The Absolute Heart’, ‘The Essence’, etc. All these names reflecting its unique character, which becomes fully accessible in spiritual practice.
THE VIBRATION OF THE UNIVERSE
Although Spanda is unique and constitutes the dynamic (life) of the Heart of God, it can be found everywhere. In every vibration – in everything that is – as the essence of every life form, because in reality everything vibrates. Therefore, the deep understanding of Spanda enables us to understand the intimate structure of every vibration. Since the entire endless series of vibrations (physical, subtle, mental, etc.), as well as the dynamics of our consciousness, have as their substrate the fundamental, universal vibration: Spanda. Which is thus mysteriously present in all our emotions, thoughts, perceptions. As well as in our bodies, in the entire external world, and so on.
Without Spanda, the universe would be completely inert.
That which animates and fills the entire manifestation with life and consciousness is the “pulse” of the heart of God. This is Spanda.
For this reason, Spanda offers direct and immediate paths to self-revelation. It is accessible on every level, in every experience, perception, movement, and so on. All we have to do is learn to recognize it. And for that, we don’t need to withdraw from our daily lives. We can perfectly recognize and integrate this essential creative vibration (spanda) in the midst of the “noise” of our daily lives. (And even with a modern scientific approach and understanding.) All we need to do is just to recognize our inherent, inner perfection. This is always present within us, because this is ultimately what we really are. And not what we think we are.
THE COSMIC GAME
As for the creation of the universe, an important text of the tradition of Kashmir Shivaism, Īśvarapratyabhijñā (I, 8), mentions, “The supreme vibrating energy [i.e., spanda] of divine consciousness is the inner creative lightning (ābhāsa), which is the source of all manifestation and transformation. It is the Absolute Being (Mahāsattā), but it is also equally free to be nothing. She is the source of everything that can be said, or of everything that can somehow exist. It is beyond the limitation of space and time. In essence, it can be said that this supreme freedom, this sovereign will, is the heart of God.”
Thus, from a divine perspective, everything (in time and space) appears as a series of flashing projections of the supreme, transcendent light. Although everything appears undifferentiated in the consciousness of God, everything is discontinuous in manifestation. The great Kashmiri sage Abhinavagupta says in this regard: “Just as the different images of a village or a city differentiate from each other in a very clear mirror, yet in the specular reflection they are not at all separate from that mirror. The world, though undifferentiated in the pure and transcendent consciousness of Paramaśiva, appears to be differentiated into different objects, just as it is in the manifested form of universal consciousness.” (Abhinavagupta, Parāmārthasāra)
Spanda – the vibration of life
On the other hand, if we look at this free and spontaneous cosmic play of creation from our present point of view, it will appear to us as continuous because of the extremely rapid succession of these “frames” (ābhāsas). It is like watching a cellular film that actually consists of static frames. However, there is also a black space between them. If this film plays at a speed high enough, the images appear to us as something perfectly coherent and continuous, with an “obvious” connection between the actual changes.
This is the miracle (or, should we say, illusion) through which external reality appears in our personal consciousness. In fact, as modern physics claims, there is no continuity in creation, everything is quantizing and fragmenting. Personal, human consciousness is also fragmentary through the numerous moments of self-forgetfulness or by large intervals of absence (e.g., deep sleep). Even though – from the perspective of this personal, limited consciousness – the external manifestation (space and time) appears “continuous.”
The tradition of Kashmir Shivaism confirms, just as in the modern holographic model of the universe, that everything reflects everything else closely. Every aspect of creation, even the most insignificant, is closely and directly reflected in every other aspect. In this vision, the entire universe is actually a gigantic network of virtual resonant fields between each “atom” (āṇu, in Sanskrit) of the universeand all other “atoms”. Each personal or individual consciousness can also be considered an “atom” of cosmic consciousness.
Spanda – the vibration of life© Adobe Stock.
Thus, in the vision of the entire tantric tradition, as well as in modern quantum physics, space as well as time have a holographic structure, and this means that each particle of space virtually “contains” all other particles, due to specific resonances. The whole reflects this part and each part reflects in the whole. In the same way, each time particle (each “moment”) contains eternity in it. If we know a single moment accurately, we know the totality of all moments, and if we know a single atom accurately, we know the entire universe, for every single form of vibration is essentially Spanda.
Kashmir Shivaism, as well as the Christian tradition, start from the idea that the entire universe is the result of a formative development towards differentiation starting from an undifferentiated, transcendent highest vibration (Spanda in the sense of Kashmir Shivaism) or the “descent” of the divine creative “Word” (Logos). In the Christian tradition, too, the divine Logos is seen as the foundation and ultimate principle of all that exists.
About the author
Nicolae Catrina (Adinathananda) has been teaching spirituality for over 35 years. He founded the only Kashmir Shivaism course outside India with several hundred lessons and teaches the teachings of I-Ching, Enneagram, Tantric Alchemy and Tibetan Tantric Yoga, among others.
This article appeared originally on the German Homepage Tattva Viveka: Spanda – die Schwingung des Lebens