Reaching the Third Level….

RohiniPracticing, Reflections, Uncategorized

The third level of practice, which is called śāmbavopāya (path of Śiva) in the tradition of Kashmir Śaivism, uses the will. All traditions teach this practice, in which we rest in the Heart by a well directed will. Obviously, this is not easy; it requires discipline and complete surrender to God, Self, the Absolute.

Yoga Sūtras III.17 says that through intense concentration, meditation and absorption we can and will separate the name of an object, the idea of the object, and the object itself, which are normally merged in our consciousness, and be able to understand what lies beneath all utterances. Many people do not realize that there are distinctions among these three. When they say the word “Heart” and imagine Heart, they believe they have gotten to or are in the actual Heart. This is a major problem for most people pursuing spiritual practice; they believe that if they think it, then it is real.

This is idealism at its most negative. Idealism should be a signpost that leads us first to the belief that what we want exists and then to the conviction that what we want is real and attainable. We will be able to go from the word to the idea to the actuality, if we have separated these three different understandings.

Scripture says if we call a name, we will get what we call. So people of all sorts, from the traditionally religious to the New Age, call on God and anything else, downwards to the most superficial. They use mantra with emotional earnestness and probably wonder why nothing manifests for them. Such manifestation happens only after we experience the distinction of name, form, and idea, and have surrendered all that is not God.

We have to be free from identification with all that is not God, with all that is temporary. Then, when we call the name we get both the idea and the object. Sages were said to have fought battles by calling weapons into manifestation.

If we want to go to the Heart and rest in the Heart, then we may start with the name and then go to an idea in our minds, but we have to give those two up and actually go to where the Heart is. Where is the Heart? Beyond the waking state, dream state, and deep sleep state. The Heart is where we “know” we are the witness of the three states.

What then should we do when we are unable to practice at this level?

When obstacles and past impressions show themselves to us in ways that distract us, we have to go back to practices and tools that are more obvious and can aid us to reestablish and maintain our foothold in the third level.

What are these practices and tools? Below is a list of some of these.

First Level tools and practices:




Environment – incense, cleanliness, listening to sattvic music and chanting,

Healthy lifestyle – eating moderately and healthy, sleeping appropriately, exercising

Good company and community

Attending a place of group worship

Second Level tools and practices:


Mantra and prayer





When we use these tools and then get back on track, we can again redirect our will toward the Heart.  We again actually practice, because we have returned to the path that takes us Home. We are able to distinguish our mental machinery from us and disentangle out of those vehicles with which we have been so identified.

Then we are no longer deluded by words or images in our minds; we are able to discern that we are redirecting our attention literally out of the head and into the Heart.




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