The following is an excerpt from the 2011 imprint of Freedom from the Web of Karma by Acharya Premananda (Swami Ganeshananda). It’s from the introduction written by Magne Bråten:
Kashmir Shaivism is a central philosophy of Tantra. In my view, it presents the best description of how everything hangs together, and it is a manual on how to have direct spiritual experience without having to blindly believe in every word that is written. It also describes much of what modern science has discovered: that matter is not solid but coagulated energy. It tells us that energy is Shakti, meaning Consciousness in a moving state; that it is a frequency; and that it requires an observer. It says, among other things, that Shiva is Pure Consciousness, and the world is both a reflection and a projection of Shiva Consciousness.
Every individual soul is also identical with Shiva, because each soul is made of the same substance: Consciousness. The difference is only in degree of purity and limitation. Impurity is simply a lack of wisdom (ajñāna). Lack of wisdom creates the feeling of separateness, or duality, which becomes an experience of being locked into egoic reactions. We do not see the larger unity; everything is experienced through a limited egoic perspective. In contrast, the feeling of unity is wisdom (jñāna). This is liberating because everything is experienced as One Self. Separation is dissolved; unconditional love remains.
Kashmir Shaivism is not based on a philosophy of opinions. It is a tradition of direct experience, meaning that it is the recorded descriptions of the higher experiences of yogic practitioners. The tradition describes strategies (upayas) for experiencing awakening and liberation.
“Kashmir Shaivism is not a religion.
It is a philosophy open to those who have the desire to understand it;
hence, for its study there are no restrictions of caste, creed or colour…”