5.6
July 9, 2010

Why I Love Tantra.

I love Tantra because of its no-BS spirituality. I love Tantra because it’s about walking your spiritual talk.

I also love Tantra because of its rich, ancient history. The prehistoric landscape of ancient India contained two separate rivers, one Vedic and one Tantric. The Vedic stream supplied the world and the Indian continent with philosophy and religious rituals, while the Tantric stream supplied yogic practices and Tantric meditation.

Through the parallel flow, as well as the occasional commingling of these two rivers, the rich cultural and spiritual heritage of India became a reality.

I love Tantra, because it has not only shaped the world of yoga and Ayurvedic healing, but it has also influenced a whole tapestry of cultures and wisdom traditions throughout the world, including Buddhism, Taoism, Chinese medicine, and even Greek and Celtic culture and mythology.

In the old days, Tantra became known as Taota in China. Over time, this Chinese version of Tantra metamorphosed into Taoism.  Tantra has also been linked to the Dionysus cult in Greece by eminent Indian scholar Alain Danielou, who, among others, claimed there was once a Tantra-oriented civilization that stretched from Spain to the river Ganges.

I love Tantra because it is a comprehensive body-mind-spirit tradition that includes the practice of physical yoga exercises, devotional dancing, mantra meditation and chanting, breathing exercises, visualization techniques, sacred cosmology and even alchemy and holistic medicine.

This comprehensive tradition is often referred to as Tantra Yoga. Yet most Western books on this subject today inform us that Tantra is simply some form of esoteric sexual practice.

Indeed, most of the writings on sex-tantra have been lifted straight from the pages of the Kama Sutra, a Hindu text on lovemaking, which is neither part of Tantric nor yogic literature.

Not surprisingly, more and more people are searching for a more authentic and holistic experience of Tantra. This search was reflected in the article “Tantric Sex” in O: Oprah Magazine, where its 14 million readers learned that Western Tantra has been “overly sexualized.”

I love Tantra because it is about finding balance in all aspects of our lives. In its essence, it is about seeing and realizing that everything we do can become a sacred, spiritual act, including sex.

As yoga writer Vimala McClure reminds us, Tantra is not just the yoga of sex; Tantra is the “yoga of everything.”

So, while Tantra signifies the various, ancient yogic paths and their particular history, the practice of Tantra—a Sanskrit word that literally means the practice that leads to spiritual liberation—can also be loosely characterized as the universal quest for union with God in all the world’s wisdom traditions.

I love Tantra, because, Tantra simply means spiritual transformation, the path to inner liberation. Irrespective of religion, the spirit of Tantra is reflected in all genuine spiritual practice. For Tantra is not based on religious faith or belief; it is based on empirical practice.

I love Tantra, because Tantric yogis embrace both unity and duality, both wholeness and opposites. They have realized that these opposites dissolves in Brahma, in Spirit, and that the inner essence of all life and all things is bliss and love.

That is why Tantra is often called the path of ecstasy, or the path of love.

The Essence of Tantric Spirituality

I Love Tantra because of its notion that everything is Divine. This essential realization—that every form, particle or atom of this universe has an inherent capacity to reveal the Divine. That everything is, at its core, God, that is the essence of Tantra.

I love Tantra because of its no-BS spirituality. Tantra realizes that there is no free spiritual lunch. We must engage in a sustained spiritual effort (sadhana) in order to realize this inherent Divinity. No weekend seminar in Hawaii will give you instant enlightenment!

No-BS spirituality means that in order to experience sacredness in everyday life, we must practice spirituality—hatha yoga, meditation, prayer and chanting—diligently. We must walk our spiritual talk. It’s that simple.

In other words, daily spiritual practice is essential in achieving results on the path of Tantra.

I love Tantra, because it signifies a spirituality that is vigorous and fearless, a spirituality that encourages and enables us to overcome limitations, phobias, worries and egotistical tendencies head-on.

I love Tantra because of its alchemical use of energy, its ability to transform desire into bliss, and violence into peace.

For the Tantric understands that all dualities, all conflicts and opposites, all forms and energies are different expressions of God that ultimately dissolve in a state of nondual unity and peace.

I love Tantra for its adherence to nondualism; its ability to see the oneness of everything. In India, both Tantrics and Vedantists are nondualists—they both believe in the Oneness of existence—however, where the Tantrics see the world as Divine, the Vedantists see it as an illusion.

It is perhaps this holistic and practical attitude—that Divinity is everywhere and that sacredness can be realized anywhere—that makes Tantra so appealing to contemporary seekers. At least that is why I really and truly love Tantra.

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