Yoga Spandakarika: The Sacred Texts at the Origins of Tantra


Translation and commentary of one of the most important texts of the Kashmirian Shivaism tradition of Tantra

• Author was a student of the late Kalu Rinpoche

• Explores the transmission of Mahamudra, the Great Cosmic Gesture

• Includes the Vijnanabhaﲡva Tantra, which contains the totality of the oldest source text on Yoga

The Spandakarika, the "Tantric Song of the Divine Pulsation," is said to have been transmitted directly to the sage Vasugupta from the hands of Shiva on Mount ...

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Yoga Spandakarika: The Sacred Texts at the Origins of Tantra

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Translation and commentary of one of the most important texts of the Kashmirian Shivaism tradition of Tantra

• Author was a student of the late Kalu Rinpoche

• Explores the transmission of Mahamudra, the Great Cosmic Gesture

• Includes the Vijnanabhaﲡva Tantra, which contains the totality of the oldest source text on Yoga

The Spandakarika, the "Tantric Song of the Divine Pulsation," is said to have been transmitted directly to the sage Vasugupta from the hands of Shiva on Mount Kailas. In his commentary on these fifty-two stanzas, the sage Ksemaraja described them as the heart of the Mahamudra.

The oldest masters of Spandakarika viewed everything in the universe, including matter, as consciousness and created a yoga practice in accordance with this realization. The sacred dance of Yoga Spandakarika, Tandava, is extremely subtle and difficult, requiring thousands of hours of practice to master, yet it surpasses any other physical practice, allowing the practitioner to touch the divine inner pulse. Once its third stage has been mastered, the yogi or yogini is able to manifest the dance of Shiva in space, a tradition visible in the statuary of Tantric temples in India and Tibet. Energy is no longer contracted by the perception of duality, and the mind and body become unbounded, forming a sphere that contains all that was formerly outside. In Yoga Spandakarika Daniel Odier passes on these vanishing teachings as he received them from his Tibetan master, Kalu Rinpoche, and Kashmiri yogi Lalita Devi.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"The Yoga Spandakarika helped me realize how my human feelings are key tools to understanding this divinity, and that the Divine can be as close as a shiver of joy."
Gef Temblay
"The Yoga Spandakarika helped me realize how my human feelings are key tools to understanding this divinity, and that the Divine can be as close as a shiver of joy."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781594770517
  • Publisher: Inner Traditions/Bear & Company
  • Publication date: 4/28/2005
  • Edition description: Original
  • Pages: 192
  • Sales rank: 946,183
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Daniel Odier began his studies with Kalu Rinpoche in 1968 and remained his disciple until his passing in 1989. In 2004 Odier received the Ch'an ordination in the Lin t'si and Caodong schools in China as well as permission to teach the Zhao Zhou Ch'an lineage in the West. He gives workshops in Europe, Canada, and the United States and is the author of Meditation Techniques of the Buddhist and Taoist Masters, Desire: The Tantric Path to Awakening, and Tantric Quest. He lives in Paris.
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Read an Excerpt

First Flow
(Stanzas 1-16)

The Instructions Concerning the Independent Existence of the Self
Stanza 5

In the absolute sense, pleasure and suffering, subject and object, are nothing other than the space of profound consciousness.

In the unity of the uninterrupted flow of consciousness, the different states are not divided, they are one and the same dynamic carried by the spacelike body which contains the totality of the universes, thoughts, emotions, and sensations. Discriminating between positive and negative movement only dims the power of the wave that carries us unceasingly to the finite and the infinite and reconnects them in an ecstatic harmony. The yogin and the yogini seek neither to attain illusory fixedness nor to cut themselves off from the world of thought, emotion, or corporal experience. There is only one motion, one flow, which at every instant attests to our absolute essence.

Je Gampopa said:
The mind has to be let loose without directing.
Sustained mindfulness has to be cast away
Without objectifying it.
The mind has to be left in its ordinary state without meditating.
Thus, with nothing controlling it,
The mind is joyous and at ease.
Where there is no nurturing of mindfulness,
There is no fear of distraction;
Where there is no separation between absorption and postabsorption,
There is no intermediate state;
Where there are diverse perceptions in the expanse of reality,
There is no acceptance or abandonment;
Where there is a false designation of everything,
There is an awareness of the falsity.
For the one who realized the unreality of the mind,
All cosmic appearances and existences are an expanse of emptiness;
For the one who does not ascribe values to discrimination,
All [emerging thoughts] are spontaneously released;
For the one who shuns inner yearning and attachments,
All things remain harmonious evenness;
For the one who has realized all these,
Meditation is an uninterrupted stream.

The fifth stanza should relieve us completely, because we might believe that being in pleasure and suffering simultaneously is something terrible. But no, Kallata eliminates this opposition. He says that to be subject and object in duality is profound consciousness. Before we even start, we have already attained the objective. It is wonderful that this objective is totally internal, that it is our source, the source of all things. Devi often told me, "The day that you stop thinking I can do something for you, that is when this will become very interesting."

This is a distinctive feature of Tantrism that the masters very much insist upon, so that we can overcome dependence, realizing little by little that the treasure we are looking for is inside us, and that all we have to do is contact it in snatches so that it will truly appear once on that great day. Over the course of your practice, you will realize this physically. You will then be comforted that you are no longer completely dependent upon he or she who suckles you and to whom you are so attached that you cannot experience the love you seek, as this love cannot be found in someone else, the so-called master, but only within yourself. Abandon the hope that someone will pour over you the fine ambrosia considered in these texts; taste it at the source of your own heart. Fundamentally, there is neither master nor disciple, although there is sometimes a non-neurotic connection between two people who walk together in space. It can be said that this is love.

The day that we realize this, we will strap on the seven-league boots because we will have become independent. The beauty of Tantrism is that the masters make every possible effort to ensure that their disciples acquire real autonomy, so that no subjugation will be established. This requires constant vigilance. We are intoxicated by dependence. The great spatial freedom, who has experienced it? Once we have this taste of freedom on our tongue, we slip into this cyclic energy and we realize that, fundamentally, no outer nourishment can fulfill us. We then experience this marvelous state toward which Devi was continually pushing me: absolute confidence in oneself, in one’s incandescent kernel, free and absolute.

This is a difficult stage because we are conditioned to doubt our completeness. Harder still is to trust the idea that we have all this richness within us and that a text like the "Sacred Tremor" is only one jolt of this energy, the expression of our fundamental liberty--as if the knowledge came from our body, as if we had written this text ourselves, as if it were a manifestation of our absolute consciousness.

Kallata reintroduces us to the presence of the senses. It is true, all that is being considered here can pass only through the senses. If we deeply enter into this text, we will have the sensation that it is about our own substance, even though someone else wrote it. We understand with our whole body, with our whole mind. We feel, while reading, that this text is the image of what we deeply are. One day, confidence begins to bloom, then flowers. We then lose the idea of separation, and we get a taste of totality, space. There is no longer a connection that keeps getting severed; there is, on the contrary, a process that never stops evolving over the course of a life, movement that takes us always farther toward new experiences. Gradually, things open up, and the process is never over. Never will we attain a fixed state of tranquillity or absolute happiness, because process itself is this absolute happiness. Once this fact is accepted, we become completely fluid, opposites subside, joy becomes stronger and stronger, and inconceivable freedom emerges.

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Table of Contents


The Ancient Text
Spandakarika: The Tantric Song of the Sacred Tremor

The Commentary
First Flow (Stanzas 1-16): The Instructions Concerning the Independent Existence of the Self
Second Flow (Stanzas 17-27): The Direct Perception of One’s Own Fundamental Nature
Third Flow (Stanzas 28-52): The Universal Nature Reflected in the Power of One’s Own Nature

Conclusion: Should One Practice Mahamudra?
Appendix 1: Vijnanabhairava Tantra
Appendix 2: The Natural Liberation through Naked Vision, Identifying Intelligence

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 9, 2005

    Yoga Spandakarika

    The Yoga Spandakarika (spanda: sacred tremor karika: set of verse), originally written in the ninth century by Kallata, is one of the fundamental Tantric texts of Kashmir Saivism. Teacher and author Daniel Odier brings one of the first translations of this scripture to the West with clear and engaging language and commentaries. In the book, he also presents the Vijnana-Bhairava ¿ another fundamental text of Kashmir Saivism ¿ and other scriptures to help assimilate the teachings. A main principle of the book is that of spanda, the sacred tremor that inhabits everything. Odier teaches that in order to feel the tremor, we have to find the root of desire and experiment with that excitement, that shivering delight. He goes further to say that we come across this tremor in our everyday life, but in order to tune in to the Divine, we need our desires to be objectless. This is quite a challenge for me, but Odier continues by saying that the point is to understand that everything is Divine and that divinity is not an object so we should turn our desires toward that ¿objectless Divinity.¿ At that moment, we can feel spanda without a cause or effect we can just become the Spanda. He also encourages the practitioner to adopt a ¿spherical view,¿ where everything is included in our practice. That view enables us to evolve without limitation and helps us to integrate wholeness in our lives. The first section of the Yoga Spandakarika offers a full translation of the fifty-three verses, while the second section features Odier¿s commentary interlaced with the Spandakarika text and other sacred texts. The translations are fluid and poetic, and the commentaries illuminate the verse in an engaging way without using overly complex language and concepts. Daniel Odier has a long history of training and practice in Tibetan Buddhism through his teacher Kalu Rinpoche. In another of his books (Tantra: l¿initiation d¿un Occidental à l¿amour absolue, Paris: J.-C. Lattès, 1996 Pocket 1998), he explains his training with a Tantrika Master named Lalita Devi, who taught him the Tandava: a dance where the practitioner learns how to feel the spanda throughout his body. He has also trained in Ch¿an Buddhism with Chinese master Jing Hui. I was quite pleased by this book and feel that Daniel Odier writes from a place of experience and not simply intellectual knowledge. The poetic translation reminded me that sacred texts are indeed poems and many translations rarely offer this. In my own path I have come to understand that Divine Mother encompasses my whole life and if I try to cut some part of my life, then I am only negating a part of my own divinity. The Yoga Spandakarika helped me realize how my human feelings are key tools to understanding this divinity, and that the Divine can be as close as a shiver of joy.

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