They assert that the Self alone has absolute existence. This Self is within every human being, and in recognizing and experiencing It within ourselves, we are actually at one with the divine. What is more, the Self exists within us at all times, whether or not we recognize and experience It. As living beings we are always aware of our own existence, and the experience of existing is always present in us. Further, we never require the help of any aids in feeling our own existence. Even when we are in a state of deep dreamless sleep in which the senses and the knowing mind and intellect are no longer functioning, the Self continues to experience Itself as a witness to this state. Had the Self not existed as a witness during this time, how could we, upon awaking, recollect the void experienced in deep sleep? Thus the Self is always self-existent, self-evident, and self-conscious, and is Itself Its own proof.
Shaiva philosophers, relying on their experiences of deep revelation (turya) during meditation, assert that the Self is Consciousness, and that Consciousness is actually a kind of stirring. It is not physical or psychic in nature, but it is described as a spiritual stir or urge. All living beings feel in themselves this urge in the form of a will to know and to do, and so we are always inclined toward knowing and doing. We can recognize this urge in all forms of life, even in a healthy newborn baby, or in a chick just hatched out of an egg.
Knowing, the first urge, is itself an action, or something we do. The act of doing, the second urge, cannot occur without knowing. Yet neither of them is possible without willing. Willing is a sort of extroverted stirring of the above mentioned natural and subtle urge of Consciousness (Sivadrsti, I.9, 10, 24, 25).
This stirring appears as a vibrative volition known in Kashmir Shaivism as spanda. It is neither a physical vibration like sound or light, nor mental movement like desire, disgust, or passion. Rather, it is the spiritual stirring of Consciousness whose essential nature is a simultaneous inward and outward vibration. The inward and outward movements of spanda shine as subjective and objective awareness of I-ness and this-ness respectively. The inward stirring shines as the subject, the Self, the transcendental experience of the pure “I”, while the outward stirring illuminates the object, the other, the immanent “that-ness” and “this-ness” of phenomena. Because of this double-edged nature of spanda, the pure Self is experienced in both its transcendental and immanent aspects by yogins immersed in the state of Self-revelation (turya).
Beyond turya, one can experience the state of Paramasiva, known as pure Consciousness (turiyatita). Paramasiva, the Ultimate, is that Self illuminated within us by the glowing awareness of Its own pure Consciousness. There It shines as “I”, which transcends the concepts of both transcendence and immanence. It is “I” and “I” alone. It is the infinite and absolutely perfect monistic “I”, without any sense of “this-ness” at all. Shaivism uses the term samvit to describe this pure “I”. Samvit consists of that superior luminosity of pure Consciousness, which is known as prakasa and as its Self-awareness, known as vimarsa. The “I”, existing as samvit and samvit alone, is absolutely pure ptentiality, and is the real Self of every living being. Samvit is not the egoistic “I”. The egoistic “I” revolves around four aspects of our being: (1) deha, the gross physical body, (2) buddhi, the fine mental body, (3) prana, the subtler life force, and (4) sunya (the void of dreamless sleep), the most subtle form of finite, individual consciousness.
OM NAMAH SHIVAYA