Spanda is a term that carries a lot of resonance for me - no pun intended - or, perhaps that is the point.
Whilst at a yoga retreat a few years ago, the teacher was sharing about the principles of Shiva, Shakti and Spanda. If you practice yoga, you've likely heard of Shiva and Shakti in some form or another. Depending on who is sharing, Shiva may be personified as the Divine Masculine, or purely as Conscious Awareness. Shakti can be personified as the Divine Feminine, or more purely as Energy.
Spanda is the pulse that brings life to consciousness & energy.
The Sacred Tremor that runs through every aspect of our existence.
This vibration is so intrinsic to our existence, we don't notice its consistent presence unless we really get quiet, listen and are somehow ready to FEEL it.
When my teacher shared about Spanda at the retreat, talking of this divine pulsation that penetrates every aspect of our existence, my body suddenly awoke to something that had been there all along, but somehow I'd become numb to it.
It's like how we don't know the smell of our own home, but it's obvious to everyone else.
Except, most people I know don't know the texture of Spanda. Most don't know the smell of our shared home.
As my body awoke, I also realized that whatever she was talking about, wherever this was coming from - this was it for me.
I'd been searching for 15+ years at that point - resigned that I would be somewhat spiritually lost my entire life - for other people who really 'got' the world the way I had. I was hoping just to find one or two people.
I had found an entire 1500+ year old tradition, with millions who understand the world in this way - Nondual Saiva Tantra aka Kashmir Saivism.
It's the same tradition that mystic poets like Rumi, Hafiz & Lalla were a part of.
“And still, after all this time, The sun never says to the earth, "You owe Me." Look what happens with A love like that, It lights the Whole Sky.”
~ still my favorite Hafiz poem
Funny, it has been under my nose through their poetry from the start of my searching, but it was never shared with me as a structured tradition, or explained to me all the mystical experiences I would have... but moreso they seemed to me like some rogue mystic poets who I'd assumed were some kind of reverent outcasts of their time.
Funny also because some mushrooms I ate when I was 19 showed me the principle of Spanda and I just chalked it up to some shared imaginal experience of the trees and clouds breathing again.
Or how I could palpably see how each being on this earth, is exhaled from the earth for a moment in time, into a contracted individual perception location as "Megan" or "you". And I would palpably see how the earth would inhale each of us back into her, upon our 'death'.
Or how the dog I was petting completely 'got' it and didn't have all the neurosis going through its head like I had. That's a classic mushroom + dog experience if there ever was one.
Right now, you can tune into many layers of Spanda quite easily.
The expansion & contraction of your breath.
There is a reason we focus on the breath in yoga. In meditation.
The pulse of your heart beat. The pumping of your blood.
Zoom out a tad... the expanse of the daytime, and the nesting of the night time.
Look in your garden at the opening and closing of your lilies with the day, and the night.
The ebbing and flowing of the tides.
The fertility and blooming of summertime, and the hibernating of wintertime.
(Many have a poor relationship with the dark.)
A woman's menstrual cycle.
(Many have a poor relationship with blood and bones and ashes.)
The contraction & expansion of labor pains when a woman gives birth.
HER Spanda gives birth to us all.
Our blood pulsates through our bodies.
Hear your heart beat. Our lineages are passed through blood.
They are also passed through breath.
The expansion of your awareness and consciousness with (insight, meditation, trance, knowledge, wisdom, psychedelics etc)
The contraction of your awareness with (sleep, unconsciousness, suffering, fear, projection-goggles, intense focus etc)
Birth and Death. and Birth Again.
Where were you before you were born?
Forests inhale and exhale.
Climates freeze and thaw.
Sound and light waves.
Zoom way out, the universe is currently expanding in a billion-years process, and it will start contracting after another several billion years.
Spanda is at the very heart of our known existence.
Why share about this though?
Because, there is a deep pulse to our interconnectedness.
Modern western culture is severed from it and we are suffering deeply because of this.
There are waves to catch and ride in our communities.
There is a flow to become a part of in the ever-shifting of cultures of what it is to be human. To live on this beautiful earth.
This isn't something that comes from the mind - it's not your next best idea.
It's something to be deeply, somatically felt.
It is something to relinquish control to - and in this relinquishing, you become Alive. Not just a talking head. Not just a brain-taxi.
It it antithetical to much of our modern culture, which is already very AI if you look at it honestly.
We generally don't feel this pulse that connects us all unless we take psychedelics (set and setting matter though!), or have a regular, devoted spiritual practice, or we spend significant time IN nature. I'm personally more of a proponent of the latter 2 these days. For many, psychedelics are sadly becoming another tool to prop ourselves up in culture that is terribly disconnected from itself.
People are a lot happier when we feel this connective pulse.
When we have the palpable felt sense that we are indeed, not alone.
Our neurosis melts away.
We are alive, before we die, again.
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