‘Jāla’ in Sanskrit has rather variegated meanings. We take it to mean “net, network” in the sense of a system of connections. They serve as a label for structuring our Doctrine. Each particular jāla goes in parallel with another and all of them are interconnected. ‘Jāla’ in Sanskrit also means ‘cobweb,’ which moreover implies a good analogy: the fibers of the cobweb are not only interlinked, but also radially lead to their collective center—to the Teaching.
Sādhanajāla is the connection of the śikharin with our Doctrine by means of sādhanā, which in plain words means that he or she practices sādhanā according to the teacher’s instruction. The sādhanā has a grading structure according to the adept’s preparedness and level of knowledge. Topics on sādhanā (and beyond) are available in the corpus Teaching.
Every particular sādhanā is based on one or more so-called types of sādhanā. They are treated in the article Types of sādhanā. Furthermore, sādhanās can be distinguished from the point of view of being practiced as exercises or as advanced techniques of building and constructing (for example a maṇḍala), whether they are practiced individually or in a group. These differences are the main topics of the article Facets of sādhanā.
Sādhanā must be practiced somewhere, thus śikharajāla focuses on sites of spiritual practice. The characteristics and possibilities of these places are dealt with in the article Sites of sādhanā. The word ‘śikhara’ itself is thoroughly elaborated in the article On the term śikhara. Śikharajāla is concerned only with topics around the place of practice, it does not discuss human relations and problems of coexistence in those places—they are captured by the corpus Rules.
A śikharin is a practicing follower of our Doctrine. Who is or is not a śikharin, what kind of classes of śikharins do exist and what the differences are between them, is described in depth in the article Pre-classes and classes. Alternatively, from the viewpoint of stages of life of a śikharin, the issue is brought forward by the article The śikharin’s three stages of life. The word ‘śikharin’ itself, and why do we use it instead of ‘yogin’ and the like, is elaborated in the article On the term śikharin.
A śikharin receives his or her sādhanā either from the śikhara itself (i.e. from its teacher) or one of its kulas (i.e. from the teacher of a particular kula). The significance of kula, its members and its teacher, are illuminated in the article Kula, kulin, kulācārya.
Kālajāla is connection with the Doctrine via the time (kāla) we devote ourselves to sādhanā. Āsana exercising is not taken into account in this perspective. As a beginner the adept needs to focus on his or her daily practice, that it is regular and lasts for example one hour. It is always by far more important to build up a similar kind of habit rather than engage oneself in one-time and sporadic power-performances. An advanced adept dedicates, beside daily routines, an entire day weekly only for sādhanā. Some of the higher practices cannot be accessed without such devotion.
Although kālajāla is a good indicator of a high level of dedication, we need to be cautious not to automatically equate such zeal with advancing in mystical life itself. Being capable of meditating uninterrupted for a long time does not naturally mean we are ready for acquiring higher practices. These are different categories. This is likewise true for other jālas as well. As they all intermingle, rather than excel in one particular jāla, we should harmonize all to a sufficient level.
Bhāvanajāla is our being’s (bhāva) feedback from sādhanā (or bhāvanā—a complex of advanced mystical techniques). We can discriminate between three basic levels.
On the first level adepts have no visible/sensible feedback from sādhanā, or it is negligible. On this level discipline is being built, and overall faith as well as enthusiasm in progress is strengthened. Invaluable help is given here by a kula, a group of similar-minded kulins having the same zeal.
On the second level an adept already senses prāṇic flows. By concentrating on specific places in the body, he or she not only has local sensory feedback, but—in the framework of the microcosm—also diverse karmic perceptions begin to appear, including abstract visual patterns and/or vaguely connected feelings. Flashes, colors, localized warmth and excitement can arise, primarily as a result of the mind being shifted along the nāḍīs and colliding with karmas residing there. Nonetheless, lucid images are rather the domain of the next level.
The adept already has apparent feedback on the third level, which comes hand in hand with the delight from exploring the inner esoteric space. This is no longer just about observance of discipline, this is a mystical life of adventure and even fun. Here prāṇic flows are strengthened and aroused by śakti, a distinguishable inner mystical energy. Everything begins to boost to life. This can be a stunning as well as a very dangerous revelation, because thoughts and feelings are being enlivened to an extent where they can be disturbing if our conscience is not clean. That’s why there is an utmost need to keep the ādhāras of the maṇḍala at their proper locations, otherwise by the power of śakti they can be uncontrollably loosened, forming separate entities-creatures. This is just a step towards schizophrenia or fallible magic. But a śikharin can skillfully deal with it with the right maṇḍala sādhanā and with ‘Faith in the Higher.’ There can be deep insights to ‘other worlds’ or to the depths of our own soul. A śikharin thus envisions the maṇḍala as a gate to esoteric life which is otherwise hidden.
In summary, the first level is about keeping uninterrupted discipline, the second level is characterized by consciousness and prāṇa, and the third level is about śakti, the heart and our very being.
Transition from the first to the second level, while systematically practicing sādhanā, is usually smooth. If the second level is reached, it tends to maintain itself, and not fall back—which, of course, can happen if we abandon our sādhanā. The transition from the second to the third level is ideally smooth as well, but because of diverse karmas (or paribhāvas) and other inclinations, it can also be an unforeseen step change. For this unexpected shift, the śikharin must be prepared with a Palace for the Goddess already built up. The third level, after some time, tends to fall back to the second level, which is good because the śikharin can progress forwards with a ‘sane’ mind and prepare for the next ascent. He or she needs time to get accustomed to the new ‘reality.’ Going there and back between these levels is the very basis of mystical experiences. A permanent third level is rather an exception; a śikharin on this level has no willingness to engage in the ‘normal’ world anymore, because what is experienced ‘inside’ is incommensurably fuller, greater, wider, and full of divine presence. Such a śikharin is an ekamuni.
Adhikārajāla entitles the śikharin as an authority (adhikārin) in some particular area, for example on exposition of our Doctrine, on leading and supervising a specific maṇḍala sādhanā, etc. In our example such an ahkikārin can be an authority on exposition of our Doctrine but not inherently on meditation, for which he or she needs a different empowering (adhikāra). Without adhikāra, the Doctrine cannot be transferred. A kulācārya is always an adhikārin who passes on the Teaching to his or her kulins according their spiritual engagement.
Adhikārajāla establishes formal hierarchy. Hierarchy is important; it is a defined structure where everybody knows his or her place. Hierarchy as such is not about putting ourselves above others; on the contrary, it is about responsibility for others and being accountable, too.
Mālajāla is interconnection of the pupil with his or her teacher on the basis of rosary or mālā. It comes with a special mantra, mudrā, visualization, particular finger-position while moving on the beads, etc. It has levels. Only those who have found a very strong relation to the teacher, who breathe for our Doctrine, are invited into this jāla.
Mālajāla is a potent bond. The śikharin is expected to practice the mālā life-long, at least two times daily, in the morning and before sleep. High practices presuppose initiation into mālajāla.
We need to distinguish between the mālajāla described above and a more common practice with mālā that anybody can do without initiation into mālajāla. Such a common mālā-practice, although it has its mantra, mudrā, etc., too, is not the same. Mālajāla is unique to our school.
It is expected that those who embrace mālajāla devote themselves to the Teaching by heart.
Hṛjjāla is interconnection of the hearts (hṛd) of the teacher and pupil. Hṛjjāla cannot be practiced; it is in essence the pupil’s attitude towards the teacher, what his or her feelings are and how much he or she is capable of opening up the heart. It cannot be faked, paid for or play-acted. With mālajāla the pupil is engaged with the teacher on a deep level, but it does not come inherently that he or she is capable of opening up the heart.
The most hidden inner esoteric life cannot be shared without hṛjjāla.