Tantra is a Sanskrit word meaning warp or weave, which alludes to the invisible web of interconnection that is our universe, just as a cloth is woven out of countless interlacing threads into one unified piece. In our day to day ordinary consciousness we are under the spell of Maya, illusion, and are unable to see the unity, and that there is no true separation here. Everything is connected and in relation. There is an Arabian proverb that says, if you cut a blade of grass, the entire universe quivers. However, we have lost our capacity to recognise this mysterious connection.
Tantra acknowledges this interconnectedness. It is a science of correlations that offers many technologies that only make sense in light of this understanding of the warp of the universe. If I put my body in a certain position, I can experience profound universal love. If I focus my mind in a specific way, I can vibrate on an entirely different frequency and attune myself with the most beneficial forces out there in the cosmos.
Tantra is a way of understanding the universe and of understanding yourself. Tantra says, Know yourself and you know the universe. Know the universe and you know yourself!
Tantra is not only about sex!
By honouring that everything is connected, the metaphysics of the Tantra of India and Tibet is thus related with many different systems and practices, including, Astrology, Astronomy, Cosmology, sacred rituals, music, dance and architecture, colours, sounds, alternative medicine, chakras, pujas and many many more. Tantra is not only about sex, as many believe. It is interesting that this is such a widely held misconception when only 5-10% of the traditional texts on Tantra refer to sexual practices.
Tantra is actually a very big umbrella, covering many different spiritual paths that suit different temperaments. Kundalini Yoga is a Tantric path, as are Hatha Yoga, Laya Yoga, Mantra Yoga and Nidra Yoga, to name a few.
Sexual Tantra is just one small part of Tantra, and it is included simply because the Tantrics experimented and recognised the power of the sexual energy as a valuable tool for spiritual realisation.
Tantra is characterised by the use of energy
Tibetan and Indian Tantra introduced the concept of Shakti, the energy of the universe, or the manifested principle. Most traditional spiritual systems, such as classical Buddhism and Vedanta, choose not to deal with energy, whereas Tantra is characterised very much by practices that utilise the energies available to us. Shiva, the unmanifested consciousness, and Shakti, are equally Divine, and seen as two sides of the same coin. Instead of denying Shakti, like most spiritual traditions, Tantra embraces Shakti and we can therefore make use of the different energies that manifest here.
The sexual energy is a potent force we can work with to accelerate our evolution, if we do not get lost in sexual desire, but instead use it as a tool for transcendence.
Tantra reveres the Feminine
In Tantra, Shiva is considered the masculine principle and Shakti the feminine counterpart. The feminine is honoured and revered just as much as the masculine. Shiva and Shakti are in an eternal dance of love. They are the dual aspects of the same one consciousness, appearing as separate and yet ultimately united through their perfect love.
Tantra recognises that it is easier for most people to be aware of the manifested part of the universe and therefore Tantric technologies work with the body, emotions, colours, mantras, the breath and so on. In this way, we reach the ultimate consciousness, Shiva, through the manifestation, Shakti.
Tantra is a world-embracing and life-affirming path
The Ascetic spiritual paths choose to deny the world as a way to ensure detachment in this life. Worldly desires lure us away from our spiritual goal. There is a Buddhist teaching that advises us not to build a house on the bridge. None of us are here permanently, yet we tend to live as if we are, creating endless attachments through our dreams and desires.
Tantra acknowledges the impermanent nature of life, yet chooses not to be fearful of the world. Don’t build a house on the bridge, but why not make the bridge beautiful and enjoyable while you’re here. After all, this world is precisely the place where we discover transcendence. We can view it as a sacred and holy playground, rather than something to be shunned and feared as an evil temptation that isn’t even real.
Tantra is a path of Self-realisation
Just like other spiritual systems, the ultimate goal of Tantra is liberation. Tantra says this entire universe is Shiva, pure consciousness or awareness. The goal of human life is to remember this, to come to know ourselves as Shiva. If we choose to engage in sex, yoga classes, healing practices, or anything really, we should never lose sight of the true purpose of life. If we enjoy the pleasures of this life, we should always direct our pleasure towards spiritual evolution. Pleasure should never be a goal in itself.
Sexual Tantra, therefore, is also a path to self-realisation, not a path of pleasure.
Left hand vs Right hand sexual Tantra
There are two distinguishable paths of sexual Tantra. The left-hand path uses physical methods of sexual union. Right-hand Tantra uses only symbolic and meditative methods. The right hand path is more idealistic. Although such practitioners recognise that both masculine/yang and feminine/yin energies exist within every human being, they consider that they can balance and unite these energies within themselves, in a non-physical way.
The great Yogi, Ramakrishna, had a purely symbolic sexual path with the Goddess Kali, whom he loved so intensely she is said to have manifested before him. When Christian nuns take their monastic vows, they receive a ring symbolising their marriage to Jesus. It is possible to to be fulfilled by such a mystical union, but realistically the average person feels the need for physical sexual union. The Tantric Yogis of India and Tibet acknowledged that this is how it is in this age. Left-hand Tantra is inferior to right-hand Tantra, but more fitting for the average modern spiritual seeker who may struggle with faith and spirituality in a world where true spiritual aspiration is rare.
Left-hand Tantra can eventually lead to right-hand Tantra. Every person needs to be honest and realistic about what is possible for their evolution in this life.
Spiritual Tantra and Magic Tantra
Left-hand Tantra can be further divided into spiritual Tantra and magic Tantra. If you practice Tantra for the evolution of your soul, that is spiritual Tantra, in which the sexual energy is invested in your spiritual transformation. Yet, the sexual energy is also an incredible power of healing and regeneration. It can be used as a tool to influence the manifestation, which involves various occult practices. This is known as magic Tantra, which should only be practiced by those who are also true spiritual seekers, and never to influence anyone unethically.
Agama Tantra Training
At Agama Yoga school we teach left-hand spiritual Tantra. Our Tantra workshops are rich in foundational knowledge to ensure that aspiring Tantric practitioners do not get lost in Tantra through a misunderstanding of the true goal of this path.
Join our upcoming Tantra workshops to dive deeper into this profound path and learn some excellent Tantric technologies which you can practice for the rest of your life to truly evolve and know yourself.
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