VBT5 – Conscious Presence – final session

The last in the current series of seminars and meditations taken from the Vigyana Bhairava Tantra, delivered to Sheffield School of Yoga by Swami Nishchalananda.

Concepts are there to take us to a non-conceptual understanding

Swami Nishchalananda Saraswati

Swamiji begins by pointing out that many of these everyday practices can ‘lift’ us in these times of isolation during ‘lockdown’ (for those living in countries where this has been happening).

The session starts with practice, guided meditation, from Dharana no. 76 (remember the context is the dialogue between Bhairava, the teacher, and Bhairavi, the student, but in another context they represent principles which are explored in Swamiji’s translation of the text, ‘Insight into Reality – The Tantric Teachings of the Vigyana Bhairava Tantra’, (see books-and-seminars in this blog). The dharana states the following:

My Beloved, thoughts do not indicate the fundamental cause and basis of everything, moreover they are deceptive and illusory. Thoughts do not belong to anyone.


How can this be understood? We use thoughts to examine these very propositions! And how are thoughts deceptive and illusory? Swamiji points out that it can be easy to buy into a particular concept which actually leads nowhere; this may be especially true of ‘spiritual’ concepts. And the statement that thoughts don’t belong to anyone, how can that be understood? Listen to the guided meditation.

Dharana no. 6 works with the paradigm of the Chakras:-

Meditate on the lightning-like energy moving upwards successively from chakra to chakra. Ultimately this can lead to the osmotic identification with Consciousness.


Looking deeper at what lies within this paradigm, the proposition becomes that Awareness exists at every level of personality and within every experience of life. The practice that follows brings Consciousness, as represented by the crown chakra Sahasrara, to each of the chakras thereby representing Conscious Presence coming into every aspect of our life.

Dharana no. 29 is an acknowledgement of the fact that all things created, must end, and all beings that are born will die, in this case consumed by the Fire of Time.

Imagine the Fire of Destruction rising through your body from the toes upwards, until the body burns to ashes. But your essential nature, which is Peace personified, is untouched.


Our physical demise cannot be ignored! A guided meditation based on this Dharana follows.

There is a Question and answer session where Swamiji is able to explore wide-reaching aspects of our life touched by the practice of Yoga, Advaita and Tantra. The replies to questions showcase Swami Nishchalananda’s great experience both in terms of practice and experience, also in terms of the core knowledge and texts behind these traditions. He emphasises points such as:-

The practices in the Vigyana Bhairava Tantra apply in everyday life in contexts such as walking or doing seemingly mundane tasks, though there are also formal practices to be done seated or in any comfortable position.

Is there ‘reality’ to the colours assigned to each of the chakras, or are they an invention by someone exploring the concept of chakras? Actually, the purpose of a symbol is to take us beyond that symbol, so it may not be significant.

‘Spaciousness’ should not be seen as the most fundamental principle in the manifest Universe. It’s better to see this as a middle step from the mind-generated world, to the state of identification with Conscious Presence.

Finally, we have to remember that Tantra says the teachings will change, according to the particular era. How easy is it to focus in ‘one-pointed’ concentration when we spend our days, in this era, somewhat scattered by all the social media, internet phenomena, and access to so many things that instantly attract our attention. It may be that practices such as the Vigyana Bhairava dharanas, including those modern day additions proposed by Swamiji in his translation of the text, are better suited to current times?
Please enjoy the discourse and guided meditations below.

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