I acknowledge this graphic from the Net.

In this 40th verse and dharana of Vigyana Bhairava Tantra Shiva says:

Focused on one, nothing else matters

All unmoving and  still 

Let awareness of Shiva arise

Shiva started with looking at the barren landscape, stark and boring the mind into stillness. He then moved to two objects, looking between and beyond them, moving into awareness. Now, he tells us to focus on one thing, completely non dually.

In Ascent, Bihar School of Yoga‘s excellent commentary on Vigyana Bhairava Tantra by Satyasangananada, she makes two points: the focus on a symbol recommended by a guru and the other that this cannot be changed ever.

Much as I respect this book, I have reservations on both these conditions to Shiva’s dharana, from experience as well as what I have learnt from other masters.

For one thing, I am allergic to spiritual masters of today. I revere those who are dead, Shankara, Ramana,  and Kanchi Mahacharya! I would rather leave the living ones alone, based on my experience. Every one of the great masters recommended we follow the inner master, atma guru. No great master truly had a master who made him what he became.

The concept of disksha, the ritual initiation by a master, is both misunderstood and misused today. Diksha, the awakening, can happen through contemplation, and from inanimate and non human things as well, as Dattatreya so beautifully says. What we realize on our own, stays. What others tell us, we rarely own.

The issue of never changing a symbol gifted by a spiritual master bother me more. No symbol whoever bestows it on us, can be the ultimate truth. It’s another illusion, maya. A symbol can never be the truth, be it AUM or the face of Shiva, or anything else.  That symbol one starts with in a dharana technique must give way to a non symbolic understanding in dhyana and to witnessing in samadhi.

I am sure Satyasangadananda had good reasons to write what she did. My reality differs from hers.

Shiva uses the single object focus as a starting point. It may be a symbol, an object, a mantra, or even a concept that helps you focus. It’s not a repetition, a japa. It’s an unmoving and intense reality that occupies the mind frame to the exclusion of all else. That unmoving, undivided attention leads to stillness of the mind.

Many of us have experienced this when occupied with some thing we passionately do, and move with the flow in the zone. We move then into this Shiva state. Karma yoga merges into gnana and dhyana yoga.  Action without expectation merges into awareness and mindlessness.