Yoga and Tantra form the primary basis of the Indian spirituality. Many things have been written about these Spiritual Traditions, but due to their depth and hidden symbolism, they remain largely unknown to the West. Being concealed along the ages, particularly Tantra remains diffuse, mysterious and enigmatic.
Alike all genuine Spiritual disciplines, the goal in Tantra is to reach the supreme happiness and the ultimate Truth. Yet Tantra takes a very distinctive and unique approach in this direction.
Many forms of Yoga are rooted in the Vedanta philosophy. Generally speaking, from this perspective the world in which we live in is considered an illusion which must be surpassed in order experience the transcendent reality. The true reality is defined as that which does not change; yet as this Universe is constantly changing, all that was “real” for a moment finally changes, and thus only represents a partial reality having no lasting value.
The Vedanta philosophy leans towards a more ascetic approach towards life and spirituality. The world is something to be renounced, and our worldly desires should be transcended by rejecting and denying them for they can only lead to a temporary happiness based in something that is ephemeral, and that ultimately will lead to suffering and ignorance. Thus, the hermits and ascetics devote themselves to discovering the Supreme Absolute by turning their backs on the world and retreating from it.
On the contrary, although Tantra accepts the fact that what we perceive as reality is largely illusory, in the Tantric vision, the world in which we live is a multi-dimensional & magical reality, a reflection of the divine. Hiding in front of our eyes within the profane, is the sacred. And so, Tantra does not turn its back on the world but embraces it.
Tantra is a way of acceptance, pleasure and bliss. It does not reject or struggle with the elements of life in order to dominate them by force, but instead accepts the desires (even if they are coming from the lower levels of consciousness) and uses them, giving them a spiritual direction, in order to transcend them. They cannot be easily overcome if they are not fully and frantically experienced.
“No one can achieve Liberation only through difficult and tormenting practices; Liberation may be also achieved through conscious satisfaction of all desires” – Kularnava Tantra
The key is in the conscious awareness and the direction we give to our desires. Tantra is a group of practical techniques (not only erotic ones) whose success is based upon the personal experience acquired in daily life and how we can amplify our consciousness in all aspects of life. Our very hedonist desires based upon the principle of simple and immediate satisfaction are Tantra’s dynamics to generate an expansion of the consciousness until the mystical experience is reached.
The body as a temple
Many spiritual traditions reject the physical body in order to achieve the union with the spirit. They believe that matter is an obstacle in their pursuit. In Tantra we do not repel the body, we do not mortify it, we do not condemn it in any way, we do not even ignore the body but instead we use it in such a way that it becomes an extraordinary tool for us in the spiritual journey. The body becomes our temple, a place of worship. The reasoning for this is based upon one of the fundamental spiritual laws of life which has a very important place in Tantra..…
The Law of Correspondence states that the human being is a miniature copy, an exact replica of the entire Universe. The human being is called a microcosm, and the Universe the macrocosm. This principle means that we are living in a holographic universe where the part is in the whole, and the whole is reflected in each of the parts. Everything is the epitome of all. This truth has been expressed in many traditions, perhaps most famously when Jesus has said “I am in the Father, and the Father is in me”.
This truth manifests at all levels of manifestations. It implies that we can realize a superior knowledge of the surrounding reality by realizing a superior knowledge of ourselves. From this perspective, the body together with the invisible subtle energies surrounding it, offer gateways through which we can connect (through resonance – read more) with any aspect of the universe.
“Know yourself and you will thus know the Universe, together with its hidden forces” (Inscription from the frontispiece of the Delphi Temple).
“What is here (in your being’s microcosm) is everywhere (in the macrocosm or universe). What is not here is nowhere” (Tantra Sara).
Start from where you are!
An important idea in Tantra is that the spiritual quest starts from where we are now, meaning where our consciousness predominantly is. If most people would ask themselves the eternal question Who am I, most would describe themselves starting from their body and the personality. Analogically speaking, this is as though we would identify ourselves as the single branch on a tree without knowing that we are the whole tree with all its roots, not to mention that we are part of a forest! Yet this is where the consciousness of that person is, this is what we identify ourselves as being. So, Tantra says start from there! Become hyper aware of the body and its sensations, the energies animating it, and use the five senses to expand the consciousness.
This attitude is different from some Yogic paths like the Jnana Yoga tradition, in which the yogi is encouraged to constantly and exclusively identify with the essence of his being (as pure consciousness) and proclaim ‘I am that’, a practice that requires intense lucidity and concentration that few people can perform to obtain real transformations.
Tantra is the Spiritual science of energy
Tantra conceives the universe as a complex and multidimensional texture of invisible energies, an ocean of light.Everything is in vibration. The entire universe is composed of structured energy and everything connects through resonance.
We explore the world through our five senses but the signals we receive from the external environment through these senses are very limited, representing only a small spectrum of what actually exists. Analogically it is like we have a remote control with 100 channels but we are using only 2. Many types of energies exist that we are not aware of (infrared, ultraviolet light).
Our body, our emotions, our thoughts are all forms of energy. What makes the difference between them is the frequency of the vibration. Everything affects our own global vibration frequency (the food we eat, the words we say, the thoughts we think). Our states of consciousness are dependent on the vibration frequency of our energetic system.
In Tantra we aim to increase our overall energy frequency, increasing the beneficial energies, expanding the aura (which has no limits). As the aura expands, the consciousness becomes more refined and elevated. Tantra aims at awakening us to the entire spectrum of (beneficial) energies and it uses many modalities to achieve this.