We constantly seeking bliss, true peace, happiness, nirvana. Knowledge of this state of being lies deep within our every living cell. Bliss is our birthright. It is the home we are instinctively driven to return to in almost every waking moment. Tantra is the path of true bliss, which is beyond external circumstance.
Tantra is essentially a complex and holistic yoga, a spiritual path, and ‘The Art of Love.’ It is an internal science of harnessing the power of kundalini, which could be translated in English most simply as passionate and creative energy, for the purpose of supreme awakening.
In the ‘Left – Hand path’ of tantra, the human condition is embraced as a rare opportunity to awaken, it is not denied, avoided, or repressed. Our senses, desires, emotions, challenges, and hungers all present opportunities to be centered, generous, and compassionate, and vibrantly awake in every moment. Whether in dedicated practice and ritual or in the flow of ordinary daily activities, the practice is present.
Philosophically, this is not specifically a path of hedonistic indulgence nor of self-mortification (denial of repression of the senses). It is, above all, a path of deep, vivid, meditative awareness and yogic practice under many different conditions – everything from austerity, solitude, and purification rites to desire, pleasure, and the cauldron of intimate relationships.
A refined, healthy, strong, supple yogic physical vessel is intentionally cultivated as a foundation for the path in order to experience the highest states of being, to be master-artists in the giving and receiving of love, and to truly taste every morsel life can offer.
All pleasure, joy, and rejuvenation cultivated within tantric practice is directed and inspired by clear intentions, ultimately for blessing others with the energy, serenity, clarity, wisdom and sensitivity that may result. Every act of the tantrika is, at its very core, for the benefit of sentient beings. This foundational motive is the ‘wish fulfilling jewel,’ which can only emerge naturally, in your own time through the journey of deep, consistent practice.
This practice embraces totality in our selves and in all things. The full spectrum of the psyche is explored and faced consciously through art and meditation, and the naked underlying creative energy is utilized in conscious, creative ways. Dualities are dissolved both within and without ourselves. All polarities are balanced.
Some elements of traditional tantra yoga can include pranayam (breath work), secret or subtle-body (internal) yoga, meditation, yoga asana (postures), deity yoga, bhakti yoga (devotion), kriyas (cleansing), mantra (sound and chanting), puja and ritual, mudra, yantra (sacred geometry), yoga nidra, karmamudra (sexual yogas), and artistic expression.
This non-monastic, vibrant path emphasizes personal direct experience via devotion to the sadhanas (practices), rather than adherence to RIGID DOGMA. Indeed, tantra is much more than sexual and transgressive practices, although it can at times utilize passionate energy, intimate sadhanas, and conscious transgression in advanced practice. Though the senses are celebrated, the focus is on the complex internal and external meditation, not on personal gratification. Ironically, when selfishness is sacrificed and true compassion and absolute awareness are present, the highest bliss is possible.
Tantric practice is also known for it’s healing capabilities. Fruit of the practice can manifest as different degrees of healing emotionally, psychologically, spiritually, sexually, and physically. (This practice is not represented as a substitute for qualified medical care or diagnosis.)
The nature of your personal experience with tantra and the level of knowledge imparted to you will be entirely dependent on your personal intentions and how much time, energy, and devotion you put into your personal practice.
But tantra is impossible to define easily. If it seems mysterious, it’s because it is meant to be. Much information is guarded and is progressively revealed only as initiates become ripe for them, as in any progressive learning process dealing with powerful technologies.
Reading on the topic is recommended, but it can’t be your sole resource for learning. Traditional texts and canons are meant for initiates, and only as intellectual supplements to direct experience. They may seem like incomplete or incomprehensible esoteric poetry to the uninitiated. Aside from the coded nature of the literature, it is often marred in translation from the ancient tongue of a specific and isolated culture into English. Modern texts may be somewhat more accessible intellectually, but the tantric paths requires the loving, skilled, and knowledgeable transmission of a teacher to unlock the deepest meaning and to integrate the information into direct experience.
Countless schools of tantra, all with different treasures to offer, have manifested over thousands of years throughout many cultures. I have collectively gathered knowledge and experience from a multitude of traditions and teachers. Explore and enjoy!
“The practice of Candamaharosana
Will not be accomplished by asceticism.
As long as the mind is not purified,
One is fruitless & bound by chains of ignorance.
One who, possessing desire, represses desire,
is living a lie…
Therefore, one who desires the Supreme Attainment
Should practice what is to be practiced.
To renounce the sense objects
is to torture oneself by asceticism — don’t do it!
When you see form, look!
Similarly, listen to sounds,
Taste delicious flavors,
Use the objects of the five senses-
You will quickly attain supreme Buddhahood!
…When I teach avoidance of sexual union,
That is so that weak worldly beings will abandon it.
I teach whatever will mature worldly beings.
One & all will become Buddhas
By the dance of the magical displays of a Victorious One,
By various diverse methods.
In all the discourses & Abhidharma texts,
Women are disparaged,
Spoken for the sake of disciples of various capacities-
The real truth is taught secretly.
‘Why do the early disciples & others slander women?’
That is common to the early disciples & others
who live in the realm of desire,
Not knowing the path of liberation
That relies on women & bestows everything.”
-Sakyamuni, from the Candamaharosana-tantra
- Introduction to Tantra, Lama Yeshe
- Passionate Enlightenment; Women in Tantric Buddhism, Miranda Shaw
- Inner Tantric Yoga, David Frawley
- The Triadic Heart of Siva: Kaula Tantricism of Abhinavagupta in the Non-Dual Shaivism of Kashmir,
- Paul Eduardo Muller-Ortega
- Tantric Visions of the Divine Feminine: The Ten Mahavidyas, David R. Kinsley
- Journey of the Heart: Path of Conscious Love, John Welwood
- Bhagavad Gita: A New Translation, Stephen Mitchell
- Poised for Grace: Annotations on the Bhagavad Gita from a Tantric View, Douglas Brooks
- Tantric Quest, Daniel Odier
- Kundalini Yoga for the West, Swami Sivananda Radha
- The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, Sogyal Rinpche
- The Tibetan Book of the Dead
- The Art of Sexual Ecstasy, Margo Anand
- The MultiOrgasmic Man, Mantak Chia
- Jewel in the Lotus: the Sexual Path to Higher Consciousness, Sunyata Saraswati and Bodhi Avinasha
- The Sacred Prostitute: Eternal Aspect of the Feminine, Nancy Qualls-Corbett
- Meditation as Medicine, Dharma Singh Khalsa, M.D. and Cameron Stauth
- Dakini’s Warm Breath, Judith Simmer-Brown
- A General Theory of Love, Thomas Lewis, Fari Amini, and Richard Lannon
- Transfigurations, Alex Grey