The Inner Meaning of Aum Tryamabakam
This is the first in a series of posts exploring the meaning of mahamritanjaya mantra, which we chant at Monday night Shiva bathing, and the process of Shiva bathing. Actually, I gave this talk in my dream last night.
Tryambak means having three eyes. These three eyes are the three ways of perceiving the world. Two of these eyes correspond to the Relative view and the third to the Absolute view. The right eye is that aspect of the Relative view which splits the world into its components, analyzes, judges and compares. This view corresponds to the left brain and to the pingala, the solar channel and has an objective character. It is also seen as the masculine view and relates to the planet Mars, which carries the sword of separation. This view is crucial to our correct understanding of the relative world. For example, we would need this view to conduct business, negotiate a loan, organize an office and many necessary functions. However, this view does correspond to the tamas guna or mode of ignorance. So beware of the root poison of hatred and aversion when you are using this view. We need good judgement but not judgementalism, critique but not criticism, discrimination but not prejudice.
The left eye is that aspect of the Relative view which is holistic and intuitive. It takes a subjective, symbolic and emotional view of world, seeing the connection between things. The left eye has a creative and playful perception. This view corresponds to the right brain and to the ida, the lunar channel. It has a feminine characteristic and also relates to the planet Venus, which holds the mirror of reflection. We need this view in order to write poetry, play with children or participate meaningfully in rituals and ceremonies. Yet this view does correspond to the rajas guna or mode of passion. Think of the moon card in Tarot. This view can deceive us and lead us astray though excess subjectivity just as surely as the right eye’s view can distort reality through reductionism and fragmentation. When you are using this view, watch out for the root poison of desire which can carry us away and leave us lost and bewildered.
Between the two is the Transcendent View of the Third Eye. The Third Eye does not reveal the phenomenal world with its multiplicity of forms. That is the job of the two eyes. This is the ‘single eye’ which ‘fills the whole body with light’ as Jesus said. This eye cannot see the relative world; it perceives instead the vast expanse of reality. It is connected with the third ventricle of the brain—the Inner Space—and with the sushumna or central channel. This view does correspond with the sattva guna or mode of purity, because we need to move into purity and go beyond ignorance in order to access this view. Yet the transcendent view by definition transcends the three gunas, all of which are part of the phenomenal world.
Tryambak is not an external being but our own true nature when our third eye is activated to see the Transcendent View and our two eyes are purified to see the relative world without aversion or desire. Jiva is Shiva; the personal self is the supreme self. By attaining the state of the Three Eyed Shiva, although we may still have to endure disease due to karma, we will spontaneously heal all illnesses due to stress and confusion. This is the blessing of mahamritanjaya mantra.