Shaktipat

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Shaktipat or Śaktipāta (Sanskrit, from shakti - "(psychic) energy" - and pāta, "to fall")[1] refers in Hinduism to the conferring of spiritual "energy" upon one person by another. Shaktipat can be transmitted with a sacred word or mantra, or by a look, thought or touch – the last usually to the ajna chakra or third eye of the recipient.

Saktipat is considered an act of grace (anugraha) on the part of the guru or the divine. Its reception cannot be forced though the recipient must be open to such an influx since it also cannot be imposed by force.[2] The very consciousness of the god or guru is held to enter into the Self of the disciple, constituting an initiation into the school or the spiritual family (kula) of the guru.[3] It is held that Shaktipat can be transmitted in person or at a distance, through an object such as a flower or fruit or else by telephone or letter.[4]

Levels of intensity[edit]

Levels[edit]

In Kashmir Shaivism, depending on its intensity, Śaktipāt can be classified as:

  • tīvra-tīvra-śaktipāta - the so-called "Super Supreme Grace" - produces immediate identity with Śiva and liberation; due to the extreme intensity of this grace the physical body dies; such a being goes on to become a siddha master and bestows grace from his abode (Siddhaloka), directly into the heart of deserving aspirants[5]
  • tīvra-madhya-śaktipāta - "Supreme Medium Grace" - such a being becomes spiritually illuminated and liberated on his own, relying directly on Śiva, not needing initiation or instruction from other exterior guru. This is facilitated by an intense awakening of his spiritual intuition (pratibhā) which immediately eliminates ignorance[5]
  • tīvra-manda-śaktipāta - "Supreme Inferior Grace" - the person who received this grace strongly desires to find an appropriate guru, but he does not need instruction, but a simple touch, a look or simply being in the presence of his master is enough to trigger in him to the state of illumination[5]
  • madhya-tīvra-śaktipāta - "Medium Supreme Grace" - a disciple who receives this grace desires to have the instruction and initiation of a perfect guru; in time he becomes enlightened. However, he is not totally absorbed into this state during his lifetime and receives a permanent state of fusion with Śiva after the end of his life[6]
  • madhya-madhya-śaktipāta - "Medium Middle Grace" - such a disciple will receive initiation from his guru and have an intense desire to attain liberation, but at the same time he still has desire for various enjoyments and pleasure; after the end of his life, he continues to a paradise where he fulfills all his desires and after that he receives again initiation from his master and realizes permanent union with Śiva[7]
  • madhya-manda-śaktipāta - "Medium Inferior Grace" - is similar to "Medium Middle Grace" except that in this case the aspirant desires worldly pleasures more than union with Śiva; he needs to be reincarnated again as a spiritual seeker to attain liberation[7]
  • manda - "Inferior Grace" - for those who receive this level of grace, the aspiration to be united with Śiva is present only in times of distress and suffering; the grace of Śiva needs to work in them for many lifetimes before spiritual liberation occurs[8]

Table[edit]

Type of spiritual grace
When is the moment of liberation?
What one needs in order
to attain liberation?
What is the defining quality
of the recipient?
tīvra-tīvra-śaktipāta
Super Supreme Grace
immediate
nothing exterior, only
the grace of Śiva
capability to abandon duality
tīvra-madhya-śaktipāta
Supreme Medium Grace
immediate
nothing exterior, only
the grace of Śiva
intuition of nonduality[note 1]
tīvra-manda-śaktipāta
Supreme Inferior Grace
after meeting a perfect guru
the presence of
a physical guru
total surrender for his guru
madhya-tīvra-śaktipāta
Medium Supreme Grace
at the end of life in this physical plane
the initiation
and instruction of a guru
intense spiritual aspiration
madhya-madhya-śaktipāta
Medium Middle Grace
after living for some time in a paradise
the initiation
and instruction of a guru
spiritual aspiration is more intense than worldly desires
madhya-manda-śaktipāta
Medium Inferior Grace
in the next physical incarnation
the initiation
and instruction of a guru
lower aspiration than
worldly desires
manda
Inferior Grace
after many lifetimes of incremental progress
the initiation
and instruction of a guru and lots of time

Descriptions[edit]

Paul Zweig has written of his experience of receiving shaktipat from Muktananda.[9] In the same book Itzhak Bentov describes his laboratory measurements of kundalini-awakening through shaktipat,[10] a study held in high regard by the late Satyananda Saraswati, founder of the Bihar School of Yoga, and by Hiroshi Motoyama, author of Theories of the Chakras.

Barbara Brennan describes shaktipat as the projection of the guru's "aura" on the disciple who thereby acquires the same mental state, hence the importance of the high spiritual level of the guru. The physiological phenomena of rising kundalini then naturally manifest.[11]

Osho commented:

I have not used the method of shaktipat for six years because I felt there were some flaws in it. First, the disciple has to be in a lower state than the master - which I don't like. Nobody is lower here; nobody is higher. The disciple has to be just a receiver. He cannot contribute anything to it. He becomes dependent also, because only when the master touches him does he feel full of energy, full of joy, but not otherwise.

Secondly, the very idea of surrender is basically difficult, and to ask for total surrender is to ask for the impossible. We should think in human terms. We are dealing with human beings, we should not ask something which they cannot do. And when they cannot do something and are condemned, they start feeling guilty that they are not open, that they are not totally surrendered, that there are doubts in their mind.[12]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Abhinavagupta distinguishes here between two sublevels:
    • those whose intuition (pratibhā) is firm
    • those whose intuition is hesitant, who need more practice in order to stabilize; they would take a guru, study the scriptures or practice yoga[1]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Abhinavagupta, The Kula Ritual, as Elaborated in Chapter 29 of the Tantrāloka, John R. Dupuche, page 155
  2. ^ Abhinavagupta, The Kula Ritual, as Elaborated in Chapter 29 of the Tantrāloka, John R. Dupuche, page 154
  3. ^ Abhinavagupta: The Kula Ritual, as Elaborated in Chapter 29 of the Tantrāloka, John R. Dupuche, Page 131
  4. ^ Satyananda Saraswati, Kundalini Tantra, Yoga Publications Trust (1984), p. 46.
  5. ^ a b c Kashmir Shaivism, The Secret Supreme, Lakshman Joo, Page 66
  6. ^ Kashmir Shaivism, The Secret Supreme, Lakshman Joo, Page 67
  7. ^ a b Kashmir Shaivism, The Secret Supreme, Lakshman Joo, Page 68
  8. ^ Kashmir Shaivism, The Secret Supreme, Lakshman Jee, Page 69
  9. ^ Paul Zweig, in John White (editor), Kundalini, Evolution, and Enlightenment (ISBN 1-55778-303-9)
  10. ^ Itzhak Bentov, Micromotions of the body as a factor in the development of the nervous system, in John White (editor), Kundalini, Evolution, and Enlightenment (ISBN 1-55778-303-9)
  11. ^ Barbara Brennan, Hands of Light
  12. ^ Osho, The Sword and the Lotus, Chapter 7, "The ecology of existence", Rebel Press.