The Radiance Sutras (1992 version – it’s been revised somewhat and is now in print)
One day The Goddess sang to her lover Bhairava,
Beloved and radiant Lord of the space before birth,
Revealer of essence,
Slayer of the ignorance that binds us,
You, who in play have created this universe
and permeated all forms in it with never-ending truth.
I have been wondering . . .
I have been listening to the songs of creation,
I have heard the sacred sutras being sung,
and yet still I am curious.
What is this delight-filled universe
into which we find ourselves born?
What is this mysterious awareness shimmering
everywhere within it?
What are these instinctive energies
that undulate through our bodies,
moving us into action?
And this “matter” out of which our forms are made -
What are these dancing particles of condensed radiance,
Are they an illusionist's projection?
What is this power we call Life,
appearing as the play of flesh and breath?
How may I know this mystery and enter it more deeply?
Beloved, my attention is ensnared by a myriad of forms,
the innumerable individual entities everywhere.
Lead me into the wholeness beyond all these parts.
You, who hold the mysteries in your hand -
of will, knowledge and action,
Reveal to me the path of illumined knowing.
Lead me into joyous union
with the life of the universe.
Teach me that I may know it fully,
realize it deeply,
and breathe in the truth of it.
The One Who is Intimate to All Beings said,
Beloved, your questions require the answers that come
through direct living experience.
The way of experience begins with a breath
such as the breath you are breathing now.
Awakening into the luminous reality
may dawn in the momentary throb
between any two breaths.
The breath flows in and just before it turns
to flow out,
there is a flash of pure joy -
life is renewed.
Awaken into that.
As the breath is released and flows out,
there is a pulse as it turns to flow in.
In that turn, you are empty.
Enter that emptiness as the source of all life.
The life essence carries on its play
through the pulsing rhythm
of outward and inward movement.
This is the ceaseless throb, the rhythm of life -
terrifying in its eternity, exquisite in its constancy.
The inhalation, the return movement of breath,
The outgoing breath
We breathe out the old air, the old thoughts, the old feelings.
These are the two poles
between which respiration goes on unceasingly.
Between them is every quality you could ever desire.
As the breath turns from in to out,
and again as the breath
curves from out to in -
through both these turns, absorb intensity.
Enter these turning points
In the play of respiration and expiration,
Where the rhythms of life transform
Into each other.
Breath flows in, then surrenders to flow out again.
In this moment, drink eternity.
Breath flows out, emptying, emptying,
Offering itself to infinity.
Cherishing these moments,
Mind dissolves into heart,
Heart dissolves into space,
Body becomes a shimmering field
Pulsating between emptiness and fullness..
In any quiet moment when you are breathing,
the breath may flow out and pause of itself,
or flow in and pause of itself.
There experience opens into an exquisite vastness
with no beginning and no end.
Embrace that infinity without reservation.
Dive into it, drink deeply of it and emerge renewed.
Follow the path of the radiant life force
as she flashes upward like lightning
through your body.
to the perineum, that bright place between the legs,
to the crown of the skull,
and to that shining star-place above the head.
Notice how this living electricity becomes ever more subtle
as she rises, radiant as the morning sun
until she streams outward from
the top of the head into all-embracing gratitude.
Thus become intimate with the life of all beings.
Or trace the river of life that flows through you,
the luxuriously rising energies,
Gradually kissing each of the centers along the spine,
Savor each particle of color along the way.
Enter each area tenderly, loving as you go
and then finally, gently
dissolving in the crown of the head.
Let your attention glide
Through the centers of awareness along the spine
with adoring intent.
There is a song to each area of the body.
Listen to these sounds resonating in sweet vortexes,
long rhythmic vowels.
Ah . . . .
and Eee . . . .
Hummmm . . .
resonating on and on.
Listen to these as sounds,
then more subtly as an underlying hum,
eventually as most subtle feeling.
Then diving more deeply,
expand into freedom.
Rest the attention easily in the forehead,
in the eye that is made of light.
Follow the flow of breath outward from there
into the spaciousness before you.
Tenderly permeate that spaciousness.
Awakening attention notices it is on a bridge,
outside the little house of the skull.
Extending not only outward, but upward,
into the radiant space above . . .
Set free to travel the bridge, the small self
enters a radiant omnipresence.
This it remembers, and knows as its truth.
Gradually the luminosity of that truth
fills the body to overflowing
as it rises through the crown of the head
into a shower of light.
Embrace each of your senses in turn,
Seeing as being touched by light.
Hearing as immersion in an ocean of sound.
Tasting as enlightening.
Smelling as knowing.
Touching as electrifying.
Then leave all these behind,
and be intimate with the unknowable.
Whenever the attention rests on anything -
on the emptiness of space,
looking at a vast blue sky,
when looking on a wall
or some wonderful person,
let that attention gradually be absorbed into itself,
so that the one who is paying attention be known.
Inside the skull there is a place
where the essences of creation play and mingle -
the ecstatic light of awareness
and the awareness of that light.
The divine feminine and masculine
sport with one another in that place.
The light of their love-play illumines all space.
Rest in that light
and gradually awaken into the steady joy of
that which is always everywhere.
There is a current of love-energy that flows
between Earth below and the Sun above.
The central channel of the spine is the riverbed.
The streaming is as delicate and powerful
as the tingling touch of lovers.
radiance arches between the above and the below.
The whole attention resting in the nerve,
tingling delicately in the center of the spinal column,
tracing that current between earth and sun,
become magnetism relating all the worlds.
Lift your hands, and with a thought, let the hands become
magical weapons, divine shields
that turn aside all the energies of the outer world.
Spread the fingers over the eyes,
covering the ears
the nostrils, the mouth,
and abandon yourself to the space inside you.
Enter the vital energies thus contained within.
As the charge builds,
lovingly and fiercely
plunge into the inner centers.
As the surge of light-substance rises
follow it up into the space between the eyebrows
where it breaks out as an orgasm of light.
The light that sparks into being when the eyes blink
is witnessed by the single eye between the brows.
That eye is the place where the elements merge -
all the elements of your being.
Consider how lightly the eyelids touch the eyes
with each blink.
That lightly, place the fingers over the eyelids,
and become aware of the space between these two exquisite centers of seeing.
There is the singular eye, which sees into a different world.
With this eye, you can see very well
by the light of the inner fire.
The fire that is always flowing up the channel,
the medial channel of the spine.
Enter the core of any spark of that fire.
Be rooted in your heart, connect even to the tips of your hairs,
and attend the birthing of the light within you.
Bathe deeply in that ocean of sound
which is even now vibrating within you,
permeating the space of the heart.
The ear that is tuned by rapt listening
learns to hear the song of creation.
First like a hand bell,
then subtler like a flute,
then subtler still as a stringed instrument,
eventually as the buzz of a bee.
Entering this current of sound, the Listening One
forgets the external world, and becomes
absorbed into internal sound,
and then absorbed in vastness
like the song of the stars as they shine.
Hum a sound,
such as ahhhhh . . . uuuuuuu . . . mmmmmm,
or hreeeeemmmm, or eemmm,
or even the sound hum itself.
Bathe in the sound with infinite leisure . . .
As the sound fades
into an imperceptible hum,
it will carry you
into the hum of the universe.
Think of any vowel, they are all delicious.
Savor that sound with reverence,
attend to where it comes from within you,
and where it goes to when it fades away.
Discover what gradualness is.
Learn to relish each minute variation.
As you feel the full range of sound, layer upon layer,
the power of sound
will teach you the power of being.
Listen with total attention
to the sounds of stringed instruments.
When performed with grace,
each note appears to rise out of eternity
and disappear back into it.
When the music ends,
stay with the echo of the music
reverberating inside you,
and as the reverberation fades away into silence
go with it.
Lightly begin a sound,
saying it audibly,
and then gradually, less and less audibly.
Continuing thus, it eventually sounds only internally.
Listening to the sound as it goes on resounding within,
let it continue as of itself.
Then it becomes just a thought, a remembered hum.
Then as even the echo of that hum fades away,
be intimate with the silence that is the home of all music.
The emptiness of space permeates the body
and all directions simultaneously.
Space is always there,
already there before your noticing of it.
What we call space is a presence that is a more solid foundation than the firmest granite. Space is permission to exist and worlds within which to express.
Without thinking about it,
without forming mental images of it,
rest in this vast expanse
and become friends with infinity.
to the space below the body
and the space above the body,
as emptiness itself.
If you can tolerate the nothingness,
the ecstatic energy of that emptiness will surge
through you and carry you
into the world beyond all thought.
Consider vast spaciousness as permeating
above your head, below your tailbone,
and within your heart simultaneously.
In this, find complete freedom to exist.
Forget all of your ideas about the body -
it's this way and it's that way.
And just be with any area of it,
this present body
as permeated with limitless space.
Drenched in freedom.
Contemplate the constituents of the body -
muscles and blood and breath and bones
as made out of radiantly dancing emptiness.
Consider the body as permeated with
the essence of the universe, the unendingly generous givingness of space.
Practice this and life will reveal to you
the wonder of becoming steady
in the radiance that is consciousness.
Attend to the skin
as a subtle boundary containing vastness.
Enter that shimmering and pulsing vastness,
discover that you are not separate from anything there,
and there is no other,
no object to meditate upon that is not you.
The One Who is at Play Everywhere said,
There is a place in the heart where everything meets.
Go there if you want to find me.
Mind, senses, soul, eternity, all are there.
Are you there?
Enter the bowl of vastness that is the heart.
Give yourself to it with total abandon.
Quiet ecstasy is there -
and a steady, regal sense of resting in a perfect spot.
Once you know the way
the nature of attention will call you
to return, again and again,
and be saturated with knowing,
“I belong here, I am at home here.”
Answer that call.
Put the attention into the luminous connections
between each of the centers throughout the body.
The base of the spine and the top of the skull,
The genitals and the heart!
The heart and the throat,
the throat and the forehead,
the forehead to the top of the head . . .
Attend to the current of relationship
electrifying, ever-pulsating, richly textured,
between each of these and every other.
Then attend simultaneously to resonance of all with all.
Enter that glowing net of light
with the focus born of awe
and even your bones will know enlightenment.
Return again and again to savoring
the space between breaths.
Learn to delight in each momentary turn.
Rest the attention in your blessed core
as you practice this,
and continually be born into a new and fresh world.
Live continuously for a few days
in the meditation,
“I am immersed in the flame, the flame of Life.
The universal fire flows through me without resistance.”
Step into that fire fully, wholeheartedly,
starting with the toe of the right foot -
and then surrendering everywhere.
Only the not-self, which doesn't exist anyway, is burned.
Your essence will emerge renewed in the flame,
for it already is flame and knows itself as flame
since the dawn of time.
See the entire world as being consumed by flames.
Stay steady and do not waver
as the flames devour everything.
As the objects of the world all dissolve into light,
the subjective world emerges as infinite.
Experience the substance of the body and the world
as made up of vibrating particles,
and these particles made up of
even finer energy particles.
Drifting more deeply,
feel into each particle
as it condenses from infinity
and dissolves back into it
Noticing this, breathe easily
with infinity dancing everywhere.
Lying in bed, with the gentlest of breaths
centered in the forehead,
fall in to the center of the heart
as you fall asleep.
Thus fall into freedom as you dream.
on to Shakti and Shiva's Conclusion
“This is my favorite text of all time.” —Shiva Rea
The Radiance Sutras now in print. You can order it here: