WHAT IS TANTRA?
by Mahasatvaa Ma Ananda Sarita PhD, co-founder of the School of Awakening, based in the UK. She is author of Divine Sexuality and co-author of Tantric Love
Tantra is an art, a science, a spiritual path and a lifestyle. It is a Sanskrit word which means, to weave, to transform through methods, and to transform poison into nectar. The basic concept of this life approach is that each human being is a reflection of the entire cosmos. By entering inside one’s own subjective being with a witnessing consciousness, all aspects of the body / mind and emotions are revealed in their refined potential. The refined potential of every human being is divine. Therefore, in Tantra, the whole person is accepted as divine.
COSMIC CONSCIOUSNESS THROUGH THE SENSES
Each aspect of being human can become a door to expanded consciousness. You can begin the Tantra path from wherever you are right now. If you have anger, you can learn a method for discovering the tremendous potential for spiritual awakening contained within that energy. If you are feeling sexual, this quality becomes a key to open all the secrets of human energy. In fact, with Tantra, each sensorial experience offers a door to cosmic consciousness.
ORIGINS OF TANTRA
The origins of Tantra are probably as old as the human race. However, as a teaching, it was first recorded through the scriptures of Shiva, a Tantric Master who lived between 5-7000 years ago in India. He has given to the world 112 methods of meditation which use each aspect of the human experience as a door to spiritual awakening. His life approach embraces sensual love between men and women as an integral part of the spiritual path. He has revealed the importance of an equal balance between male and female principles.
GOD AS HALF MAN HALF WOMAN
A depiction of God according to Tantra is Ardanareshvara, half man, half woman. In Shiva temples throughout India the object of worship is a stone carving of the female genitalia which cradles a stone carving of the male genitalia, symbolizing, among other things, the importance of the balance between feminine and masculine principles. The name given to the male genitals is Lingam, meaning wand of light. The name given to the female genitals is Yoni, meaning sacred place.
MAHAMUDRA: ORGASM WITH THE UNIVERSE
Spiritual awakening according to Tantra is called Mahamudra, which means ‘The Great Gesture’ arising from the experience of orgasm with the universe. The way to reach this sublime state is through the art and science of Tantric meditation. These methods have always been passed as a direct transmission from a Master. In other words, the power of the teaching is contained not in the written word, but in the oral and experiential ambience created with the presence of one who has realised Mahamudra. The practitioner of Tantra imbibes it and is transformed. This transformational process is experienced as a remembrance of one’s essential nature.
In our modern world Tantra is experiencing a renaissance. However, since people have very little idea of exactly how to interpret it there is a tendency to make an unrecognizable stew containing a little of everything. There is also a tendency in our Western world to focus almost exclusively on the sexual interpretations of Tantra. This is a natural reaction due to the fact that we are just emerging from centuries of sexual repression. When more people have experienced the benefits of Tantra as a life approach this need to focus almost exclusively on the sexual aspect of it will become more balanced.
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