A “kārikā” is a collection of explanations about a philosophical subject. The subjects at hand being Spanda, which is a technical term for the divine throb or vibration out of which everything arises and which permeates everything.
Spanda is the dynamic aspect of Shakti, which is the energy of the Self. Spanda is not a fantasy or a merely philosophical concept, it can be experienced and felt directly.
Spanda Karikas is a classic text of Kashmir Shaivism from the 10’th century AD. Some ascribe authorship of the Spanda Karikas to Vasugupta, others ascribe it to Kallata, a disciple of Vasugupta. But whoever wrote it, it is an important text of Kashmir Shaivism and its content is unique.
Spanda as one’s own nature
1. We laud that Śaṅkara –an epithet of Śiva– who is the source or cause of the glorious group of powers, and by whose opening and shutting of eyes there is dissolution and emergence of the world.
2. Since He has a unveiled nature, there is no obstruction to Him anywhere, in whom all this universe rests and from whom it has come forth.
3. Even in the variety of states, such as wakefulness, etc., which is not separate from that Spanda, the principle of Spanda continues to flow. Spanda does not ever depart from Its own essential nature as the Perceiver or Experiencer.
4. “I am happy, I am pained, I am attached”, etc. Those cognitions remain evidently in another, in whom the states of happiness, etc. are strung together like beads in a necklace
5. Wherein there is neither pain nor pleasure nor object nor subject; wherein the state of insentience does not even exist… that is, in the highest sense, the principle of Spanda.
6. That principle of Spanda should be inspected with care and respect, by which this group of organs or instruments –intellect, ego, mind, powers of perception and powers of action, though insentient, proceeds as if it were sentient by itself,
7. Together with the inner group (Karaṇeśvarī-s or goddesses of the senses), spanda enters into the states of “Pravṛtti” –i.e. to go toward external things–, “Sthiti” –i.e. to maintain those very external things for a while– and “Saṁhṛti” –i.e. to dissolve those things in one’s own Self–, inasmuch as this natural Freedom of Its exists everywhere.
8. This limited individual does not direct or drive the goad of will and desire. Yet, by getting in touch with, abiding in its own essence, the Force or Power of the Self, that person becomes equal to That essence.
9. When the agitation of that limited individual who is incapacitated by his own impurity and who wishes to perform actions, thoroughly dissolves, then the Supreme State occurs.
10. In that case, his innate nature characterized by knowledge and activity appears, by which that person then knows and does all that is willed and desired.
11. How can this vile transmigratory path be his who abides or stands astonished, as it were, while beholding that essential nature or Spanda as presiding over the entire universe?
12. Nonexistence cannot be contemplated, and there is no absence of stupefaction in that condition either, because by coming into contact with “abhiyoga” –i.e. by hearing the declaration made by the person who has just emerged from that state, it is true that it –i.e. the condition of stupefaction– really existed.
13. For this reason, that artificial knowable is always like the state of deep sleep. However, that principle of Spanda is not thus perceived or realized, that is, as a state of recollection.
14. It is said that there are two states in this principle of Spanda; the state of deed and the state of doer. Of those, the state of deed is perishable, but the state of doer is imperishable.
15. Only the effort which is directed to deed disappears in this state of Samādhi. When that effort has disappeared, only a fool would think “I have disappeared”.
16. There is never cessation of that inner state or nature which is the abode of the attribute of omniscience, on account of the nonperception of another.
17. To the perfectly awakened one, there is, always and constantly, the perception of That –i.e. the Self–, and this perception of the Self stays throughout the three states of consciousness. However, to the other one –i.e. to the one who is not fully awakened–, there is that –i.e. the perception of the Self– only at the beginning and end of each state
18. The all-pervading Self shines forth in the two states of wakefulness and dreaming accompanied by His Supreme Power –śakti– whose nature is knowledge and knowable. Nevertheless, in the other than those two, He appears only as Consciousness.
19. The emanations of Spanda that begin with the qualities of “Prakṛti”, and which obtain their own existence by resorting to generic Spanda, does not ever stand in the way of one who possesses knowledge of the Self.
20. Nonetheless, these very emanations of Spanda, laboring diligently and incessantly to cover or veil their –i.e. of the people who have unawakened intellects– real state or nature, cause people of unawakened intellect to fall into the terrible course or way of Transmigration, from which it is difficult to come out.
21. For this reason, he who is constantly prepared for discerning the principle of Spanda, attains his own essential state or nature quickly, even in wakefulness.
22. Spanda is firmly established in that state or condition into which a person enters when he is excessively angry, exceedingly pleased or delighted, reflecting “what do I do?”, or running for his life.
23. Having taken hold of that supreme state of Spanda, a great Yogī remains firm by resolving “Whatever this Self will tell me, that I will do, certainly”.
24. By taking refuge in that supreme state of Spanda, both moon –i.e. apāna–and sun –i.e. prāṇa–meet together in the course or way of Suṣumnā, and by rising up through the upward path, and by even abandoning the sphere of the Brahmā’s egg, they both get finally dissolved –they come to an end.
25. Then, moon –i.e. apāna– and sun –i.e. prāṇa– get reabsorbed in that Great Ether. To the partially awakened one, that condition is like the state of deep sleep, and thus he remains stupefied. However, a Yogī who is not covered by the darkness of ignorance remains awakened and enlightened in that very condition.