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Tantra, Vama Marga, The Left Hand Path of Yoga, all terms deemed for a theory of consciousness, a transcendentalist thought that unifies the physical, mental, psychological, emotional, spiritualism, even mysticism. It is a form of Yoga, which means yoke of the union. The basic teaching of tantra is to harness sexual energy and the union of different levels of consciousness to obtain “oneness” with God. Although there are many gods and semi gods it is “monotheistic” religion for it is a manifestation of Bramahn, the unknowable. Tantric embraces all with teaching in non-attachment. It is birth, death, wealth, poverty, beauty, joy, tantra is All.
Tantra arose during the Pala period between 8th-12th century. It initiated as a protest movement by lay people who desired to return to the classical Mahayana Universalism whom were distraught by the sudden changes in which priest was given privileges. Mahayana explained by Dogen Zenji following the Soto tradition states “To Study Buddhism is to study yourself. To study yourself is to forget yourself. To forget yourself is to be illuminated by a myriad of the worlds.” The lay wanted to “reform against ecclesiastical privileges and arid scholasticism and sought to forge a religious system that was more widely assessable and socially inclusive.”
Tantra gained much support from the royalty. It was even added to the curriculum of monastic universities such as the Nalanda, Vikramasla, Odantapur and Sompur. Because both Hindus and Buddhist attended these schools, Tantra became incorporated into their religion. At this time the tantric philosophy was a very open and accepted view. However it was to due to Hindu beliefs and Christianity influences that tried to suppress it and with the Moslem invasions, Tantra was driven to secrecy. Many temples featuring the female Goddesses, in which in tantra are elevated, were destroyed, texts were burned and tantrics were executed and thrown in jail. Tantric philosophers rebelled in order to embrace the five Pancamakras which were viewed as forbidden pleasures. They are the maithuna, (intercourse), madya (liquor), mudra (beans), mamsa (flesh) and matsya (fish).
Tantric is derived from the Sanskrit roots signifying the body since it relies heavily on bodily activities. Every letter in the Sanskrit alphabet is a Bija Mantra, a seed sound, it is an association with a part of the body, or the Chakras, which is the central power. Tan, the Sanskrit meaning to “extend, expand, spread, continue, spin out, weave, to put forth, show, to manifest”( HYPERLINK http://www.tantra.com/mission/douglas.html www.tantra.com/mission/douglas.html ) shows a cosmic weave of energy. In this there is a symbolism of “stretching,” to extend the faculties of humans, “rope,” to secure one to the deities, “harp,” for music and philosophy, “interiorness,” for the secrecy of the doctrines and “loom,” suggesting the 2 cosmic forces of male and female woven through the fabric of the universe. The male considered to be the positive polarity and the female the negative polarity, together these cosmic forces form a union of “oneness.” These forces provide a physiological, psychological, mystical, and spiritual, vision of a “unified theory of consciousness.” Joined together in a sexual union is one of the bases of this philosophy. The female whom is viewed as the passive, lunar, and negative is viewed as the Yin. She is the earthly manifestation of Para Shakti, the Divine Mother of the Universe. The male whom is a positive, energy is the Yang, see that the embodiment of Shiva the Everlasting Male. The reaction between the two that takes place during sexual intercourse performed under the tantric philosophy intensifies mental capabilities and the power gives both partners a state of the absolute beyond their expectations, taking them to another level of consciousness.
Sex can be viewed as a religious sacrament. It is a gateway to enlightenment to the divine. Due to puritanical ideals, sex is viewed as a “sin” to be avoided, shamed or kept secret behind closed doors because of its impurity. However in tantric philosophy this is not the case. The end result of sex is a form of creation, by uniting the sperm and egg together forming offspring humans come close to the deities. In this view, sin disappears if there was “sin” to begin with, for in the tantric philosopy there is no such thing as sin. Love, sexual union and the energy surrounding it replace the sin. For it was Brahman, according to this belief, who created man, and as a result of this creation gave humans, desires, needs, gifts, and urges. His creation is not a sin, therefore cannot sin.
Religiously speaking, in the Chakarapuja, an example of a tantric ritual is when, a priest anoints cannabis which is taken by both the male and the female. After having intercourse with a young girl, retaining the semen that was produced, the congregation drink it. The ceremony ends with a ritual copulation with the recitation of mantras, which are incantations. Through the use of mudras, which are symbolic gestures, this ritual although may seem disturbing is indeed a facet of tantricism, although it is not the only one. Tantra seeks to prolong the art of love making rather then dissipate it. This takes years of mastery and guidance under a guru. One must purify, and master the mind before one can find true absolution in sexual energies. The science of it relies upon the practical realizations of what it teaches. Learning freedom, a pure-existence, super-consciousness, and super-natural powers also known as Siddhis. It is an individual practice in which one raises himself up to the level of a supreme being. It is learning to seek with a pure heart for liberation, enjoying the pleasure of the worlds, and keeping a spiritual being within awakened. It is a path to learn how to transform energy. “Sex is the path to liberation. Sex is a path to enlightenment. Sex is the path to the King/Queendom of God/dess. Sex is not the only path, the best path for all of us but definitely a powerful one.” (Stubbs, chapter 4) The practitioner seeks with a sincere and pure heart liberation an enjoyment of the pleasures of the world we live in, always keeping the spiritual intent alive and living in the bliss of a pure being. It brings the most intense form of emotional experience while within the flesh of a human being. This energy that sex produces which stirs up the Kundalini, the “fire snake” supposedly at the base of the spine. It is an energy, which focuses at the base of spine and travels up to the highest portion of the head. Through messaging this energy awakens causing not only a mental stimulus but also a physical and emotional as well. These are often felt as tingling, vibrating, buzzing, prickling, stinging, itching, burning or crawling sensations on the body. Stirring up this energy needs control and through the teachings of tantric philosophy and practice, this spiritual force can bring one to another plane of consciousness. It is through yoga exercises, prayanama (breath), meditation, one learns to harness and transmute powerful energy for healing an rejuvenation of the spiritual development enriching the human experience and attaining a conscious alone and in a sexual union. In the Kundali Yoga it raises sexual energy to higher chakras, or centers of spirituality within or without the body. It transforms it into spiritual development for a higher level of consciousness, healthy balance, physical, mental, emotional, and sexual life.
The orgasm which not only is a physical and emotional release of energy it is the end product of this sexual union with an ejaculation. In the tantric philosophy, the orgasm is a “beatific state of consciousness and canceling of ego, with profound harmonizing, relaxing regenerative effects” (www.tantra.org/lefthand.html) It is viewed as an opening of psychic energy and powers are heighten during an orgasm. But the tantric philosophy explores more of prolonging the ecstatic state rather then having an ejaculatory orgasm. For it is viewed that ejaculation is a loss of spiritual power. “The Yogin who can protect his Bindu (semen), overcomes death: because death comes by discharging the Bindu, and life is prolonged by its preservations.”(Hatha Yoga Radipika III, 89) This poses an interesting contradiction within the philosophy. If an ejaculation causes fertilization which in a sense is creation but yet it causes a loss of spiritual energy and viewed as a form of death, does this cancel out each other so that the act itself is nothing? But to explain this would need to explain the difference between an ordinary orgasm verses a tantric orgasm. With an ordinary orgasm there is an out burst exploding energy lasting only a short time within the physical body, there is a dependency, the woman is passive and the man is in control, movements are chaotic, exhaustion, fear of pregnancy and the experience becomes less and less fulfilling. However compared to a tantric orgasm, there is an inward bust of energy, that last forever as one gets closer and closer to Gods. The feeling is all around, the women is in control, non movement, a detachment, no fears due to semen restriction techniques, and a state of euphoria that grows each time rather then diminishing. So because on can have complete control over the body. It is up the individuals whether fertilization should take place.
The scientific aspect of an orgasm is that it is viewed as biofeedback training. It is a technique using a normally automatic bodily response to a stimulus in order to acquire voluntary control of that response. This one pointed out in a study done by John C. Lilly in the 1950’s. In his research of the brains of monkeys, he found that there are four points to the brain of monkeys in which he wrote about in his book entitled “Center of Cyclone.” The four linear points are erection, ejaculation, orgasm, and “master switch” which encompass all three. Tantric focuses on expanding and prolong the biologically regulated contractions that an orgasm would produce. There are two types of Tantric practitioners, the white and the red. White practitioners focus on masturbation and achieving liberation over his or her body through astral sex, through solitary practice. Red practitioners engage in partner and/or group activities. Celibacy is a renunciation, for it gives the practitioner concentration to focus on what he/she learned in a sexual union. They seek to focus and channel their energy in a nonsexual way into other areas of being. All though these celibates are not condemned in the tantric philosophy it is indeed a belief that only through lovemaking can energy be harnessed. In Tantric belief it is the woman who are elevated up. Because only women can give birth she is the creator, the Brahman. Caring for the child preserving the life for it she is then Vishnu. She is Shiva when transcending through her being with grace. Even the Kundalina and the Sakthi, which is the counterpart of the Gods particularly Siva that is the power, drive, and force within a person, are viewed as feminine forces. One school of Tantric is the Vajra Yogin, she is the female who chooses her own path eating and selecting her own consorts all from outside the system, “she is not a women given power by men, she is a women with her own power.”(Mckinney) The “Yoni” which is the Sanskrit word for vagina is the female’s “sacred space”, or “sacred temple.” This is a center of much respect and love and to master the Yoni is to worship the woman by bringing her up to a high arousal state. A saying in tantra is that “if the pinky is in the anus, middle finger in the Yoni and thumb on the clitoris man is “holding one of the mysteries of the universe in the hand.” ( HYPERLINK http://www.tantra.org/yoni.html www.tantra.org/yoni.html ) Tantric considers the world to be a magical reality. This is a contradiction to the Vendanta, which states the universe is an illusion or Maya, the Goddess which allows seeing energy pattern in the physical world. They accept the Vedic principals and are no way against the Six Darshanas, from the Astika tradition. It is through Shiva and Shakti that brings absolution of eternal essential realities. Shiva, “the supreme spirit”, “Lord of Withdrawal” that possesses the three Shaktis, powers, Ichha (will), Jnana (knowledge), Kriya (doing). Shakti is the total manifestation, the universe. She gives a secret form of invisible energy which gives Shiva the power to manifest. In a sense, it is then that Shakti and Shiva are inreflexion of male and female, when in discovery of the cosmic correspondents they achieve Kaivalya. Kaivalya is a permanent autonomy and transcendentalist self mastery. Visualization plays an important role. Raising up the imagination to a level where it becomes truth takes practice. With control of breathing, meditation and mantras, which are words with power, the gods and goddesses in sound form, one could tap into the creativity and into the consciousness. Masters of tantric have focused on this and worked on the inner vision for perfection. In this search of perfection, there are two paths taken. One, viewed as submission, which is an open introspection of ideals that flood the mind, and the other as stimulation of visualization which is seen as a dominant view. This two-fold path sums up the universe in a contradicting way of expansion and contraction. Prana, which is the Sanskrit word for breath, is the life force and energy. “Breath is Life. He who controls breath controls life. When the breath is controlled, the mind is controlled. When Prana is met and conquered, one gains ascendancy over death.”(Prana Upanishad) Breath control in the tantric path is important. It prevents physical and emotional damages that may be caused during the sexual union. “By meditating on the breath during lovemaking one should seize the life-force of the other with the life-force of oneSelf and bestow the life force of oneSelf on that of the other.”(www.tantra.org/pranayam.html) This exchange binds souls together which is almost reminiscent of the Christianity “till death do us part” philosophy. The tantric practitioner seeks to take with him the evolution of all the structures of the body. This is known a Vajrayana or diamond body, It is beyond the limitations of time which transformations take place consciously free of all the potential a human has. Composed of both physical structures that are both visible and invisible the practitioner absorbs the mysteries as one identifies self. Through this identification or samyama it leads to the understanding of the surrounding forces. A question that the practinionar ask onserlf is “do we see and perceive the world the way it really is or only the illusory appearance? And in the last case are we condemned to see forever in this illusory appearance without ever attaining the Essential Reality” This is another dimension of thought which makes tantra a very philosophical religion. The practioner aims to absorb this state to see with the closed eyes, detaching self fully from the perception that one possessed in the illusion of reality. Tantra Tatva says “only the man who sees everything as being within himself sees the truth.” Mysteries are surrounding us and the practitioner must awaken through proper techniques the subtle energies within the human being. Karezza, which means touch or caress, is another aspect of tantra, this was created by Alice Bunker Stockham. It refers to the non-religious aspect of Tantra. She traveled to India to find the secrets of the orgasm without the religious aspects of Asian. This was a basis of the tantric practices in America, although it wasn’t until the sexual revival of the 60’s and 70’s that tantra really took form in America. Her quest was to prove that if men can obtain fulfillment in an orgasmic state woman can too. She was a feminist and freedom fighter for woman and started the ideal of tantric. This leads to tantrism in America. The US constitution states that there is a quest for “life liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” Tantric paved the wave of sexual happiness and excitement. It was a celebration of life and the joys of sex. Although it is not deep-rooted in the philosophies such as it is in the Asian region, it is still a practice that is on the rise. It is viewed as a fresh, new, innovated form of study to awaken and heighten sexual awareness for some to focus upon their bodies and their sexual experiences. It is especially a money-making industry. For there are now schools, lectures, and conferences one can attend that range in the price of $50-$1,500 for a session and lesson in tantra to better a couple’s sexual life. However is this actually Tantra? No, for it is a practice that takes years to master. A one-hour lecture will not produce this study which can take some a lifetime to master. The Americans also have the stereotypical view that the Karma Sutra written by Vatasyana, is the only source of tantric philosophy. This is a book that explains various positions that a couple can experience in a sexual union. This book is an extremely popular book that has been re-released numerous times. It is in a poetic form that explains positions. In conclusion Tantric is a religion, it is a philosophy, an art, a lifestyle, a belief. It is a science that extends the mind in thought and reason. Through the sexual union, it brings one closer to enlightenment and directly the conscious to the Supreme Being. It is a genuine form of Yoga which is a celebration of sexual energies, and experience taking it on a whole other level of thought. Although western traditions try to stereotype or kill the importance and true meaning of this secretive religion, it is a pure philosophy, which does indeed go back to the root of us being sexual beings as Sigmund Freud with his psychoanalysis once said. “As sexual beings, we have within out ability to raise that energy within ourselves and use it to directly experience alternate or mystical states of consciousness.