[Cross-posted at my other hangout.]
In response to Hawk’s comment under the previous post, I thought I’d offer another take on the subject. Looking at one of my favorite traditions, Kashmir Shaivism (or Trika Shaivism), we find that God is transcendant on the one hand, while taking form on the other:
Trika Shaivism is a form of Hindu religion that believes in one God, which they call ParamaShiva, who creates the universe within Himself out of his own pure cosmic conscious Being.
ParamaShiva literally means “Supreme Auspiciousness”. He is considered to be essentially pure infinite featureless consciousness (called Shiva). But this Shiva aspect has an active creative side called Shakti. It is this ever-active Shakti that creates, operates, and destroys endless universes.
Our own consciousness, which appears so tiny and limited, is not just a part of the cosmic consciousness, but actually is the supreme consciousness in total! It just appears small and limited due to creative activity of supreme conscious Shakti which has a veiling deluding aspect (Maya Shakti). It is through this veiling deluding power that Shakti then transforms the supreme conscious experience into the experience of infinite finite conscious beings inhabiting different limited non-sentient universes. The discovery and overcoming of this Maya Shakti is then the key to spiritual liberation – the realization of one’s own true nature and complete liberation from the wheel of Karma – of life and death. This process whereby the Supreme Consciousness hides from itself through its own veiling power, and then liberates itself through seeing itself as it really is, is described in 36 steps (or Tattva-s) of conscious creativity and delusion and liberation. These 36 steps, or principles of creation are actually part of a larger system of contemplation (called Sadadhvan) which fits the “principles of creation” into a framework that includes on the one hand the actual worlds that are created, and on the other hand, the subjective processes by which non-conscious worlds emerge from supremely pure cosmic consciousness.
Trika Shaivism does not consider anything to be good or bad per se, but instead as only being part of the ongoing creative activity of that pure infinite consciousness. But within this process behavior does lead to consequences. Thus good behaviors that help others (for example) leads to mental and physical freedom and power in this life or future lives, whereas bad behaviors would lead to increasing physical and mental bondage and limitation (called the Law of Karma). But the most important activity is realization of one’s own true identity with the supreme consciousness which leads to spiritual liberation which is complete freedom from the wheel of life and death.
Personally, I appreciate the absence of a concept of Hell, or of eternal retribution for “sins” proscribed by someone’s book.
On the other hand, I’m drawn more and more to expressions from the “People of the Book,” no matter which book it is. Prophetic, revealed literature carries an archetypal level of meaning that transcends mere intellectual understanding (or misunderstanding), and this is something we can’t get at until we “surrender” to God in terms laid out in The Book.
Catch-22, in other words.
If you follow the link to the above quote, by the way, you’ll find further links to Trika Shavist sacred texts. They are, in their own way, People of the Book, and as such, they deserve our open-minded attention.