Recognising the essence of reality

September 2017

By T A Balasubramaniam

This is one of many such extended explanations in this rigorous, yet easy-to-understand work. It is both a commentary and a simple introduction to the Pratyabhijna-hrdaya, the 1,000 year-old original Sanskrit treatise written by Rajanaka Kshemaraja, which means ‘the essence of the recognition philosophy’. This original Sanskrit treatise explains the essential philosophy of the Kashmir stream of tantric yoga.Tan-mayo maya-pramata - one who consists of the mind perceives duality. Kshemaraja is saying that the primary locus of identity of any maya-perceiver (maya-pramata) is the mind. Another way of saying the same thing is that it is the mind that perceives duality. Therefore, anyone who is mind-identified will naturally be a duality-perceiver.

Kshemaraja was a renowned scholar and tantric master-teacher. Even in his days, tantric yoga was considered to be a difficult philosophy for anyone to understand. Kshemaraja composed this text, which runs to about 50 pages in the original Sanskrit,  to make it understandable for ordinary people. It is one of the primary references for the study and practice of nondual tantric yoga, and it has never been properly translated or fully explained until now.

The author, Christopher Wallis, holds a Ph.D on the traditions of Shaiva Tantra, one of the many schools of tantra. He teaches meditation, yoga darshana (philosophy), tantric philosophy and Sanskrit. He has been familiar with Indian spirituality and the practice of yogic meditation from the age of 16. Wallis has received traditional education at yoga ashrams in New York and India in meditation, mantra-science and karmayoga. His first book, Tantra Illuminated: The Philosophy, History, and Practice of a Timeless Tradition, was published in 2011.

In this book, Wallis explores Kshemaraja’s brief treatise in great depth. He begins by providing a literal translation of the 20 main sutras of the Pratyabhijna-hrdaya from Sanskrit to English. Then he offers his own explanations, providing an easy-to-grasp context with modern analogies, including ideas from contemporary science and day-to-day experiences. He suggests that the reader can choose to approach this work, not merely as a scholarly investigation, but as a direct route to spiritual enlightenment.

As he puts it, “Let these teachings be the ‘acid bath’ to dissolve the calcified structures of your identity and your conditioned ideas about reality...”

It is up to each reader to respond to this generous invitation in his or her own way! Even if you are just plain
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