The Definition of the Word Tantra
Buddha’s teachings include both sutras and tantras. The sutras present the basic themes of practice for gaining liberation from uncontrollably recurring problems (Skt. samsara) and, beyond that, to reach the enlightened state of a Buddha, with the ability to help others as much as is possible. The themes include methods for developing ethical self-discipline, concentration, love, compassion, and a correct understanding of how things actually exist. The tantras present advanced practices based on the sutras.
The Sanskrit word tantra means the warp of a loom or the strands of a braid. Like the strings of a warp, the tantra practices serve as a structure for intertwining the sutra themes to weave a tapestry of enlightenment. Moreover, tantra combines physical, verbal, and mental expressions of each practice, which braid together creating a holistic path of development. Because one cannot integrate and practice simultaneously all the sutra themes without previously training in each individually, tantra practice is extremely advanced.
The root of the word tantra means to stretch or to continue without a break. Emphasizing this connotation, the Tibetan scholars translated the term as gyu (rgyud), which means an unbroken continuity. Here, the reference is to continuity over time, as in a succession of moments of a movie, rather than to continuity through space, as in a succession of segments of pavement. Moreover, the successions discussed in tantra resemble eternal movies: they have neither beginnings nor ends.
Two movies are never the same, and even two copies of the identical movie can never be the same roll of film. Similarly, everlasting successions always maintain their individualities. Furthermore, the frames of movies play one at a time, with everything changing from frame to frame. In the same manner, moments in everlasting successions are ephemeral, with only one moment occurring at a time and without anything solid enduring throughout the successions.
There are many benefits to achieve through a practice that includes Tantric techniques, and the effectiveness will, of course, depend on the individual person and what they already bring to the table, so to speak. A person or couple who has done some kind of activity in the personal growth arena may have a head start on the person who is just beginning to delve into the more interior aspects of life.
Most Westerners will only investigate the sexual aspects of Tantra, though the richer areas involve great personal evolution through consciousness. The sexual aspects give us practices that teach us focus and consciousness using sexuality as the vehicle. People will likely come face to face with some of the esoteric aspects in their practice of the techniques, though. These will be fringe benefits they won’t consciously undertake but that they will feel the affects of.
The word Kundalini is derived from a Sanskrit word ‘Kundal’ meaning coiled up. It is the primordial dormant energy present in three-and-a-half, coils at the base of the spine in a triangular bone called the Sacrum. The Latin name ‘Os Sacrum’ suggests that it is a holy or sacred part of the body. The ancient Greeks were aware of this and therefore they called it the ‘Hieron Osteon’, noting that it was the last bone to be destroyed when the body is burnt, and also attributed supernatural powers to it. Egyptians also held this bone to be very valuable and considered it the seat of special power.
In the West, Sacrum is symbolised by the sign of Aquarius and by the Holy Grail, container of the water of life.
The Kundalini, which is to nourish the tree of life within us, is coiled up like a serpent and therefore it has been called, ‘The Serpent Power’. It has been described in great detail in the Upanishads. Kundalini Yoga is supposed to be supreme in all the Yogas. Guru Vashistha asserted that Kundalini is the seat of absolute knowledge. The awareness of the presence of this primordial energy Kundalini within the human body was considered by the sages and saints to be the highest knowledge. The Kundalini and Chakras have been vividly described in Vedic and Tantric texts.
This column is dedicated to exposing myths about love-making and presenting little known techniques from the Tantric arts to encourage the full-flowering of female sexuality, that the healing of Woman, Man and Gaia may be realized —
Heaven on Earth now!
Tantra, from the Sanskrit word for fabric, is an ancient term that embraces a wide range of ideas and practices variously associated with Harrapan, Hindu, Buddhist and Taoist belief systems. In its broadest sense, tantra refers to a spiritual path that seeks direct spiritual experience through meditation, the use of ritual sacraments and sometimes, ecstatic sexual practices.
In essence, the physical world is seen as reflecting the greater cosmic order, and enlightenment is taught to be as readily attainable by direct experience of the material world as by the practice of monastic asceticism. Tantric yoga teaches that spiritual unity with the divine can be achieved in union with a partner. The physical act of love thus becomes, both figuratively and literally, an act in which the dualities of spirit / matter, mind / body and self / other are transcended. Perhaps the finest expressions of this longed-for state of blissful transcendence occur in the Yab-Yum (male principle-female principle) drawings that abound in tantric art, here represented in the Amitayus (Buddha of Long Life) and Kuntozangpo (Primordial Buddha) images.
Tibetan thangka paintings are two-dimensional images of multi-dimensional worlds that depict the many deities and their various spheres of influence. Beautiful artworks in their own right, they also serve, to the initiated, as mnemonics that map the esoteric coordinates of the physical, psychological and spiritual planes. Authentic transmission of the truths hidden within these images was only assured, over time, by the codification of complex symbolic systems handed down by generations of dedicated artists. Underlying each sinuously swirling image is a mathematically precise grid defining the exact arrangement of every element in the composition. Each angle, each colour. each object, fulfills its predestined place in a grander design, and the glory of the creation of expression lies in cleaving as closely as humanly possible to an ineffable ideal.
“Tantra Is the Science of Transforming Ordinary Lovers into Soul Mates”
Tantra is one of the greatest treasures that is—lying there, unused. The day humanity uses it, the earth will become aglow with a new love….This very earth can be paradise….It is impossible if you depend on nature. It is very, very possible if you depend on Tantra. —Osho
Recently a new friend, Vibha, who has been an Osho devotee for many years, was kind enough to share some thoughts on tantra with me. I’ll supplement our dialogue with quotations from Osho’s discourses, which she generously furnished.
M: How do you define “tantra?”
V: Tantra is a mystical experience born out of the union between man and woman. It is an opportunity to open to energy rising up through your body and to experience merging with the Divine. It is a doorway into cosmic oneness. Tantra offers methods to open the chakra system to a vertical flow of energy and to grace descending and permeating our lives.
Tantra is a way of accessing your natural potential to love and be loved in a balanced and blissful way. Sexual union is a door provided by nature to access an ecstatic state of being. The science of tantra offers methods to open that door with sensitivity and intelligence allowing you and your lover to journey together on a transformational path of ecstasy.
If you remain aware you will come to know that sex is not just sex. Sex is the outermost layer, deep inside is the love, and even deeper is prayer, and deepest is God himself. Sex can become a cosmic experience. Then it is Tantra. —Osho
When all the seven centers (chakras) of a man are in tune and in harmony with all the seven centers of a woman, then you have found a soul mate. Tantra is alchemy; it can transform your centers. It can create a rhythm and harmony between you and your beloved. It is love at its peak. —Osho Read the rest of this entry »
Questions and Answers about Tantra and tantric practices
Lets Talk Tantra?
Clarifications and questions about Tantra compiled from some of the many interviews and briefings given by Dawn Cartwright on the subject
Q: Are these the correct definitions of Tantra: is it about total communication between couples that allows them to give and received deeper pleasure. It is a 5,000 year old spiritual practice that grew out of Hinduism and Buddhism with the belief that followers should focus on the here-and-now, and experience every part of life to the fullest –including sexual gratification?
Dawn: Tantra is a spiritual practice that dates back over 5,000 years. Tantra blossomed, as a kind of spiritual revolution, from ancient Hinduism and Tibetan Buddhism. This revolution centered around the sensuality of life, taking the more puritanical practices of the old Hinduism and Buddhism to a place of greater aliveness through the inclusion of sexual practices and the admittance of women onto the path. Tantra began to be seen as the path of pleasure, and the sexual union between man and woman as the highest meditation possible. Today, many couples experience the rewards of this millennia old practice of Tantra as these meditations and lovemaking techniques lead them to deeper intimacy and greatly increased sexual pleasure.
Q: Would you say then that Tantric lovemaking is about partners being naked in every sense of the word–it’s not only a physical connection, but a spiritual one as well, with the goal being mutual pleasure that lasts as long as you’d like it to?
Dawn: Tantric lovemaking opens the partners to one another on every level; sexually, intimately and spiritually . . . yes . . . making them naked and beautifully vulnerable. It’s in this state that couples are able to really experience the passion of being fully seen and met and they find the desire and capacity to extend the connection into hours of loving, creating a deep sense of bliss between them.
The Tantric massage will make you feel as if you are in a trance, where physical boundaries dissolve, time disappears, worries and problems no longer seem important, or are forgotten altogether.
We will begin by having you recline on your back with pillows under your head and a towel covered pillow supporting your hips. Your legs will be slightly apart, your knees just a little bent. Your abdomen, thighs, feet, toes, chest, nipples and fingers are then gently massaged with warm aromatic oil. Nothing will escape attention. Your energy flow is stimulated and senses awakened as your body’s sensitivity increases. According to Tantric ideals, your entire body will be massaged, including those particularly sensitive areas [for a more detailed explanation, click on "Lingam" or "Yoni" massage below]. Perceptions of sensuality and lust are located here, but these “intimate” areas are an important source of joy in life. You will feel relaxed, yet wide awake. You will be coached to breathe properly, as you sink into yet deeper level of relaxation. In this very loving ceremony you will be completely nurtured and pampered in the arms of your goddess, giving you a feeling of comfort and sense of well-being.
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I wish that practising was not
So different from preaching
john Godfrey saxe, Wishing
Purity is defined in many ways by those who purpose to know exactly what it is. Such definitions of purity are similar to definitions of sanity or normality. These states of mind have broad areas in which the individual may be different but still within the range of any required practice and function. Purity here is broadly defined as keeping strictly to the purpose stated. Thus, a person who wishes to join in the above rituals will need to keep the definitions, methods, focus, goals, openness, etc., in mind and not move away from them into the listed counter-indications. Moving away from the focus on the Tantra, the ritual, the Path, is impurity.
The rituals, the Tantra, the Path is as defined here. These are not Catholic rituals, nor are they Methodist rituals, and they cannot be Joe rituals. This is not Astrological Tantra, it is not Pranayama Tantra, and it cannot be George Tantra. It is certainly permitted for anyone who wishes to set up a Path of study based on Carol Tantra but that will not be THIS Path of study and will be a contamination that will prevent the effectiveness of this Path from coming forth. Until the student joins this Path and moves away from the past and from other Paths, they will be ineffective in their efforts and will contaminate those who are moving into purity.
What is Tantra?
The spiritual art of love…of connecting spirit with form. It is experiencing love through through the beauty of the earth and all existence. It is about acceptance, rather than deniel. It also embraces compassion…about truth within unconditional love…
What are its elements? Is Tantra a yoga?
Some call it Tantra Yoga. If we see yoga as union, then I agree. Others say Tantra is not a part of Yoga, which most people see as Hatha Yoga anyway, but rather an entire lifestyle. Many in the yoga community consider Tantra “something they would rather not deal with,” so to speak. So, in that sense it is not about yoga as practiced in America, unless that yoga teacher also embraces the openess an sensual nature of Tantra.
Is Tantra a religion, or a movement within religion(s), or is it entirely separate from religion?
Tantra is not a religion. It is a spiritual path. When religion enters, then barriers are drawn. However, some call Tantra a religion, although there is no organized body of thought or practitioners as such. Tantra cannot be encapsulated into a religion or dogma. Read the rest of this entry »
The Tantra attitude is the very being of Tilopa. You must understand first what the Tantra attitude is, only then will it be possible for you to.. comprehend what Tilopa is trying to say. So something.. about the Tantra attitude — the first thing: it is not an.. attitude, because Tantra looks at life with a total vision. It.. has no attitude to look at life. It has no concepts, it is not a.. philosophy. It is not even a religion, it has no theology. It.. doesn’t believe in words, theories, or doctrines. It wants to.. look at life without any philosophy, without any theory,. without any theology. It wants to look at life as it is, without.. bringing any mind in between — because that will be the.. distortion. The mind then will project, the mind then will mix — and then you will not be able to know that which is.
Tantra avoids mind and encounters life face to face, neither thinking, “This is good,” nor thinking, “This is bad”: simply facing that which is. So it is difficult to say that this is an attitude — in fact it is a no-attitude.
The second thing to remember, that Tantra is a great yea-sayer; it says yes to everything. It has nothing like “no” in its vocabulary, there is no negation. It never says no to anything, because with no the fight starts, with no you become the ego. The moment you say no to anything, you have become the ego already; a conflict has come in, now you are at war.
Tantra loves, and loves unconditionally. It never says no to anything whatsoever, because everything is part of the whole, and everything has its own place in the whole, and the whole cannot exist without anything missing from it.
It is said that even if a drop of water is missing, the whole existence will thirst. You pluck a flower in the garden, and you have plucked something out of the whole existence. You harm a flower, and you have harmed millions of stars — because everything is interrelated. The whole exists as a whole, as an organic whole. The whole exists not as a mechanical thing — everything is related to everything else. Read the rest of this entry »