The Radiance Sutras is an uplifting, joyous book; a must-have for anybody who is interested in spirituality, meditation, and personal growth.
Set as a conversation between the divine Shiva (Bhairava) and Shakti (Bhairavi), the Vijnana Bhairava Tantra is 112 contemplative meditations that will allow you to peer deeper into the world and the hearts of those around you. In The Radiance Sutras Lorin Roche brings the Vijnana Bhairava Tantra to new light, and new eyes.
Jack Kornfield, author of A Path with Heart, speaks of The Radiance Sutras with love. “If you love Rumi, Hafiz, The Tao, if you love words dancing out of the mystery, welcome to The Radiance Sutras: these are among the most profound and luminous verses you will ever read.”
And Jack is right. Each chapter is more breathtaking than the last. Lorin’s intrepretations are profound, yet lighthearted. Serious yet fun. Fresh yet timeless. Lorin succeeded in making the Tantra more accessible, and available in English. The book is called The Radiance Sutras for a reason: every verse is more radiant than the last.
I asked Lorin to tell me how he became interested in meditation, which is ultimately what led him to create this book. Here is Lorin in his own words.
Lorin: One day in 1968, when I was a freshman at the University of California, I signed up to participate in a brain-wave biofeedback study. Learning to control your brain waves by looking at flashing lights sounded interesting. Also they paid more than I was making mowing the greens at a nearby golf course. Due to the flip of a coin, I was selected to be a control subject in the study, meaning that I received no instructions whatever; I was just hooked up with electroencephalogram (EEG) wires stuck all over my head and left in total darkness and total silence, in a soundproofed room in the physiology lab, for two to three hours at a time, every day for several weeks.
At the time, I had never heard of meditation. Not knowing what else to do, I simply paid attention to what was going on. Gradually my senses opened up in ways that I had no words to describe. My sense of self melted into the dark. I merged with blackness and infinity and entered a world of spacious peace. Space itself seemed to be made out of harmony.
Walking out of the lab each afternoon, I felt refreshed and wonderful. It was as if my entire previous life had taken place in a mild sleep state, and now I was fully alert. It was as if I had never seen the world before, and everything alive seemed to glow, especially the trees. I began to appreciate every detail of light, every touch of air, every sound, with extraordinary clarity. Light itself seemed soluble, an elixir I was drinking in through my eyes and the pores of my skin.
I would have been astonished, but the intensity was balanced by a magnificent serenity. I was drenched in moving peacefulness. The perceptions seemed natural—this is the way the world has always been—but I had been too oblivious to notice.
I was delighted. The feeling was similar to the peaceful joy of surfing, but more intense and steady. I felt like myself, but this was a self I had never spent time in before. I was very much in my body, aware of the current of life flowing through me, and at the same time I could feel an extended sense of touch reaching out in all directions. I was in love with existence.
The experiment continued for weeks. I enjoyed going to the lab each afternoon and sitting there in the dark for hours, then walking out into the light and discovering a new world. I got used to living in this free and open state in which I just breezed through tasks that previously had been chores.
I noticed that even taking calculus tests was easy; my mind was lucid, and I could remember a formula that I had glanced at the night before, then derive its applications right there during the test.
The heightened sensing and superb functioning lasted for a month or so after the experiment was over. It was a continuous and self-maintaining state. Then it started to fade away, and I missed it.
The physiology lab seemed like an interesting place, and I needed a job, so I started to work there. At a meeting one afternoon, a female graduate student read from the Vijnana Bhairava Tantra, just a few lines of the conversation between Shakti and Shiva. Her words vibrated in the air with brilliance. After the meeting was over, I asked her about it. She handed me the book, a paperback copy of Zen Flesh, Zen Bones by Paul Reps. It was open to a page:
Radiant one, this experience may dawn between two
breaths. After breath comes in (down) and just before
turning up (out)—the beneficence.
As the breath turns from down to up, and again as
breath curves from up to down—through both these
Or, whenever inbreath and outbreath fuse, at this instant
touch the energyless energy-filed center.
My favorite verse is generally whichever one someone is reading to me. I love listening to other people read the Sutras, whatever they are moved by. Currently my favorite one, that has been whispering to me, is #9 – The senses declare an outrageous world.
When I turned in The Radiance Sutras manuscript to Sounds True, I just surfed and slept and made love to my beautiful wife Camille for three months, and took a breather from writing.
Then in October I suddenly said to Camille, “Oh, so THAT’s what I have been doing the last 27 years! (pointing to a copy of The Radiance Sutras).”
I realized that pretty much every waking moment since 1987 was taken up with one aspect or another of the Sutras – developing the language of meditation experience, interviewing meditation practitioners who are engaged in one or more of the 112 techniques, examining the layer of sensuous imagery in the Sanskrit of the text.
Most days, the last 27 years, I have gotten up before dawn and walked around chanting the Sanskrit of the text, simultaneously wondering how to put it rich and evocative music into the English language.
You can get your copy here on Amazon.