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A Few Thoughts Regarding the Tantric Path
D. Yogini Padma Ushas Suryananda, other texts as cited

Although the methods employed by Tantric practice, the so-called Left Hand Path of Yoga, differ greatly from most "traditional" Hindu/Vedic methods, their purpose is identical.

Yoga means "yoke," implying not an onerous yoke forced on a work animal, but a yoke of union; a joyous yoke of the Atman, or individual Self with the Brahman--Universal Self. Although Hindu religion invokes all kinds of gods, demi-gods, semi-gods, etc., it's basically a *monotheistic* rel igion in the same sense that Christianity is--Brahman is called the One, the Unknowable. All other gods and goddesses are simply manifestations of It. Yes, "It," because Brahman is conceived of as neuter or androgynous. That is why the main Hindu Trinity of Brahma/Visnu/Siva are referred to as "aspects;" Creator, Preserver, Destroyer/Transcender.

The purpose of all Tantric ritual goes far beyond simple sex magick or better orgasms--although, recognizing the pleasures of the flesh and the potency of the act of love, these are certainly part of Tantra--but the true goal is the same as that of a celibate Brahmin or ascetic swami: union, merger, oneness.

People were created by Brahma/Saraswati with dualistic natures; thinking in terms of things, feelings, and forces only as they relate to one another: male/female, joy/sorrow, light/dark. This causes much grief, for humans often feel caught in a world and circumstances they have no control over. Many Yogis and swamis have solved this problem by withdrawing from 'the material world' physically, isolating themselves, practicing severe physical hardships to 'kill' their physical desires. The Tantras and their teachers recognize this world, as a realm itself, and as a gateway to other realms. They also acknowledge human nature, fleshly pleasures, and human emotions as valid. The Tantras and their teachers do not say: withdraw from the world. The flesh is evil. All is Maya. Rather, they tell the practitioner to seek with a sincere and pure heart for Li beration, enjoy the pleasures of the world you live in, always keeping the spiritual intent alive, and you will come to live in the bliss of Pure Being. "I and my father are one." "Thou art That."

Physical instincts, natural urges and actual needs, were installed in human beings by Brahma when he created them. Therefore, they cannot be thought of as 'evil' or something to get rid of. If you don't eat, you will die. So, rather than seeking to control your physical body through severe fasting and starvation, the Tantras teach that one must nourish the body, and *more importantly but less understood* that the act of eating can become sacramental in and of itself. Similarly, the repression of sexual desires may lead to eruption of the sexual energy in other ways. Although the Tantras do not condemn those who practice celibacy as a way of channelling the energy, they *do* say that the energy can be channelled during lovemaking as well. It is the intent that elevates the merely physical to the sublime.

Behind these thoughts is basic common sense: if you don't eat, you will die. If no one has sex, the entire human race will die. Rather than attempting to 'master the flesh' by punishing it or ignoring it, master it by using it as it was given to you, freely and naturally; master if by using it as a vehicle to spirituality. Without the "body" where would the "mind" be? How could anyone even think about merging with god if he had no body, no mind? The body is a temple, to the deity within. It can be used for worship. Do *not* despise the flesh or wish it gone. Believers in reincarnation as it applies to the law of karma may be said to be 'evil' even as they call the left-hand path evil and dark: for encouraging all to be celibate as they burn up their own karmas, they per se urge all to stop populating the earth, to refuse the non-realized soul another vehicle in which to work out his/her karma. What could be more selfish? "I got mine, so you abstain from anything fun and meanwhile, who cares if you work out your karma or not?" There is but a fine line between pleasure and Bliss, and Tantra recognizes both as valid. Partake of pleasure, realize Bliss.

The denigration of women by certain Hindu treatises is hypocritical and could also be called 'evil.' Only women are able to give birth. What could be more sacred than the act of creation? Thus, woman *is* Brahma. When she preserves the child, or the lover, or her place in the world, she *is* Visnu. And when she transcends mere being and knows the purity and grace of Being, she *is* Lord Siva. Sakthi and Kundalini are both thought of as feminine. As is water, without which all would very soon die. Honor each woman as divine Sakthi, and recognize the feminine contained within every male as well: the kundalini, the sakthi, the creative power without which none could continue.

It is often said "Within each yoni is a lingam." Physically, this refers to the clitoris; meta-physically, to the masculine powers within each woman. Truly we all have Siva/Sakthi within our bodily temples. Recognize, unite, be free from the pain of confusion!

Misunderstanding of Tantric Teachings

At one time, the Tantras and their followers were not secretive; they practiced and espoused their beliefs openly and honorably. Some misunderstanding was bound to occur at the outset, simply because the average Hindu had been taught to suppress the very things that the Tantras recommended as ways to liberation. So, with hypocritical contempt and attitude of superiority, Yogis sneered, calling Tantrists fools, bound for hell, revelers, misguided, etc. This attitude, unfortunately, exists in the modern western world, with Fundamentalist Christians, Catholics, Evangelical Christians, all sniping at each other and other sects. In Northern Ireland and the Middle East, religious contempt expresses itself through violence and death. Where is the Kalki Avatara, the Rider of the White Horse, who will destroy bigotry and evil, and transcend, opening the three realms? AUM KANG KALIKA NAMAH AUM.

While at first this religious or cultural bigotry took the form of simply looking down upon Tantrists, traditional gurus teaching their students to 'stay away lest you be tempted' and name-calling; with the Moslem invasion Tantrists were truly driven underground. These invaders were horrified, not so much by the sexual rituals, but by the elevation of the female principle. Temples dedicated to goddesses were destroyed; beautifully-crafted statues of Kali, Uma, Parvati, etc., were desecrated. Tantrists became more secretive and practiced 'underground.' And the British occupation brought with it more secrecy still: some practitioners allowed the invaders to read the sacred texts, and even to observe or hear about Tantric Sexual Union. Filled with horror and outrage, again, Temples were destroyed, Dancing Yoginis executed, Tantric Ashrams burned, and many jailed. No one knows how many original sacred texts were destroyed due to misunderstanding or ignorance or racial/religious prejudice. Is it any wonder so few really know Tantra today?

Thinking of this makes me contemplative and sad. AUM MANI PADME HUM. At this point in history, the knowledge is there and again may be had by any sincere man or women. NAMA SIVAYA!

To be fair, many Tantric texts were written rather allegorically or with symbolic language, Twilight Talk, so that the inner meanings behind the literal meanings were unable to be grasped by the ignorant. This was done purposely, so that any who studied the Tantras alone would either realize all three meanings of every text: the literal, the allegorical, and the mystical; or shake his/her head in confusion and say 'Get outa here, Jack.' Or words to the effect. The original writers--or transcribers, for those who believe that the words came directly from Siva/Sakthi--likely did not realize that their teachings could be corrupted and suppressed by this. I believe their intent was simply to separate the sincere from the curious. But they may in fact have realized the potential for persecution, much as Christ's apostles were said to have done, and gone ahead anyway, either with the idea that it didn't matter who called them evil, they would seek Liberation anyway, or even that this would be the ultimate test of sincerity: anyone looking for a simple excuse to eat meat, drink wine, and get laid is *not* likely to risk imprisonment or death for the sake of a good time!

The key to bhoga (pleasure) co-existing with or leading to Ananda (supreme Bliss) lies in the attitude of the practitioner. Proper attitude, or Will, can transform the mundane to the highly spiritual. Tantra is non-sectarian; recognizing and allowing any follower of any path or religious access to its *secrets* so long as that follower is sincere. In the words of the Tantratattva: "Spiritual Self-culture *must* begin from the beginning! External worship leads to internal worship. Internal worship purifies the mind. Purity of mind intensifies concentration and meditation. When meditation is ripe Samadhi ensues, and the Sadhaka (*practitioner, aspirant*) attains a last the highest Bliss."

The potential for growth is even recognized in those who would exploit the Tantric teachings as license for any and all acts of pleasure in and of themselves or those who use it merely as a form of sexual magick. The Tantratattva goes on to say: "From hankering after sensual pleasure or power in the form of money, fame, popularity, orgiastic sex, one gradually lifts his eyes upward and wonders about the pleasure and power of the unseen world. He longs for it, seeks after its acquisition. And when he obtains but the smallest morsel of it, he at once realizes the transity of worldly desires. He forthwith parts with them as a serpent sheds its dead skin."

If a Tantric practitioner decides to voluntarily become celibate, to concentrate on what he has learned through Sexual Union, this is honest renunciation. Krsna, in the Bhagavad Gita, says: "The abstinent run away from what they desire, but carry their desires with them. When a man enters reality, he leaves his desires behind him."

I want to emphasize that no distinction is made between the *white* Tantric practitioner and the *red* Tantric--white being a solo practitioner, and red being those who engage in sexual practices with a partner or partners; as certain other spiritual paths do. White Tantrics may practice *astral sex* or masturbation as a way to achieve Liberation and Unification through his/her own body; rather than in conjunction with a partner. Even should a Tantric practitioner decide to become celibate, he is *not* considered in any way superior to those who continue the process of spiritual evolution through Tantric Sexual Union. It is all a matter of the Will of the individual Self; and as long as the Will pursues evolution, evolution will be granted.

Ideally, each of us would learn the Sacred languages of the Sacred texts and translate for ourselves; however, that's not realistic for most people. It would, however, serve to reveal the meanings of such often-misquoted passages as "Having drunk, drink and drink again; having fallen, rise again and attain liberation." Translated by Englishman W.A. Ward in 1822, he fusses and fumes that Tantric thought teaches that drunkenness leads to liberation," when in fact the passage *clearly* describes this as an allegory for the 'drinking' of the drops of wisdom and the awakening of the Kundalini.

Ward and his contemporary, H.H. Wilson, condemn the Tantric texts, 'translating' the Panchatattva in the early 1800's full of ellipses, references to 'abominations' and 'orgiastic rites too terrible for civilized men to hear.' Having been entrusted with the texts by a Tantric Master, and having heard the spiritual explanations behind the literal practices described, these men nevertheless chose to focus on the sensation, at times even outright lies. The reasons for this could be two: (1) as any modern tabloid writer knows, sensationalism sells; and (2) the earliest English translations were compiled by puritanical men who believed themselves superior to women, non-Christians, and people who were not sufficiently white-skinned. These prudes held that the very lowest of their own cultural and religious practices were infinitely higher than the wisdom developed over centuries by Indian philosophers.

To be fair, in 1912, Sir John Woodroffe began to translate and publish English-language version of the Tantric Texts, taking trouble to explain fairly the meanings behind the acts. (Sir John, BTW, was held in high regard, and permitted to view Dancing Yoginis and Temple Dancers in private ceremonies; he found himself quite impressed, stating that the dances were erotically arousing yet left him with a strange feeling of peace and spirituality...!) He was able to recognize, as his predecessors did not, the compassion and egalitarianism of the Tantras: they were open to people of all castes, at a time when the caste system had been in place for thousands of years in India, they taught that all men and all women had equal capacities for enlightenment within themselves, and that the Tantras were guides for spiritual training, and *a* path to liberation, not in any way inferior to any other Self-Willed path choice.

Siva Bless him! and thank Kali that the physical realm has now at least reached a point of evolution when men and women of understanding may once again perceive the truth of the Tantras, follow the path, and attain enlightenment.


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