I acknowledge this graphic from the Net.
In this 104th dharana and 130th verse of Vigyana Bhairava Tantra Shiva says:
Bhairava dispels fear through reverberating sound
Gives without holding while pervading Universe
Uttering Bhairava’s name unceasingly realize Shiva
This is Shiva’s advice to us as a meditation technique to reach him. The very word Bhairava is the mantra which when repeated constantly creates the image of Shiva in our mind body leading to Shiva realization. To my knowledge nowhere else in Vigyana Bhairava Tantra has Shiva recommended a mantra to reach him. This is powerful stuff.
If one reads Rig Veda, there is no mention of Shiva. Only Rudra is mentioned. Rudra has later morphed into an aspect of Shiva. The first and only time Shiva features in Vedas is in Yajur Veda, where he is worshipped through the sacred verse Om Nama Shivaya, called the panchakshara (five word) mantra. Bhairava, as far as I know, does not feature in the Vedas, but makes an appearance in various puranas, especially Shiva Purana. He cut off the fifth head of Brahma, leaving the creator only with four heads! Bhairava also killed Daksha, Shiva’s father in law, when Daksha caused Sati, Shiva’s consort to die entering the sacrificial fire. He is Shiva’s terminator.
There are eight Bhairavas in the Puranas, the most famous of them Kala Bhairava, the aspect of Shiva controlling time. Bhairava is the fierce aspect of Shiva as the annihilator. I prefer to look at this aspect of Shiva as the rejuvenator, since no creation happens without annihilation. Whether one follows the philosophy of Einstein or Upanishad, energy is a constant, and any new energy requires deletion of an old. This rejuvenation is linked to time as well, in addition to space, which is evident. In Gita, when Krishna says ‘I always existed’ the reference is to the time aspect of energy in different forms and spaces.
When Shiva says that ceaseless repetition of Bhairava name will help realize him, it does not mean Bhairava is Shiva. Bhairava is close but not quite Shiva. The word is not the reality, or the map the territory. However, the image of Shiva when chanting Bhairava ceaselessly helps focus the mind’s eye on what we believe to be the truth of Shiva. That is what meditation is about. The constant focus on one thought become that thought. Gradually the duality of the meditator and the thought of Bhairava disappears into a common non dual truth of Shiva.
This verse when internalized explains the essence of mantra, the sacred words that help the yogi achieve samyama. The mantra is not the divine. It is a representation. So is an image of a deity. One can say that the mantra and the image not being the divine, there is no relevance in using or worshipping them. If one applies the same logic, knowing that we shall all die one day, one can say there is no purpose in living.
In the manifested mind body we are all driven by the senses, except when we reach the final yoga state of samadhi where duality ends. Till then visuals and sounds, as well as body sensations such a feel, taste and smell create the reality for us, however temporary. Maya, the illusion, is not the negation of our living reality, just the hint of awareness that living reality is temporary. Extending this, we do for the most part need mantras as sounds and images as visuals to reach us to the concept of the divine. When we are close, we can shed the duality and move into the nirvikalpa state of samadhi where all duality ends.
Meditation can become addictive and lead to the realization of that addiction. We can choose a word to meditate upon to realize Shiva, or something, a sound or an image that creates other fantasies to obsess upon, which then a meditation may realize those fantasies. We have that choice!