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  Chapter 2 B

Hinduism and Tantra

“Tantra reinforces inter connectedness, not separation,. It is not a judgemental science, as experience teaches us about ourselves and others. self knowledge as with Ancient greek philosophy, is important

( Zoraida Catalina Perez-Haddad,  Tantra : A Brief  Explanation/Exploration , http://www.bellydancemersey.co.uk ( Articles ,  from  the Living out Gods and Goddesses  section)

“Tantra is a way of being  or seeing  or living, incorporating the “male’ and ‘female”  aspects of personality, respecting men and women’, being karmically aware of one’s behaviour, thoughts and attitudes to each other”

(Perez-Haddad ibid)

“(They) concluded that  Tantra  was the ‘culmination of all Indian thought; the most radical  form of  spirituality  and the archaic  heart of aboriginal India”( http://www.dolllsofindia.com, The Role of Tantra in Hinduism and Buddhism , Priya Viswanathan).

A Brief Introduction

‘Tantra” simply means  weaving, stretching, expanding or extending, from the Sankrit ” tan” ” stretch   weave, extend, and the ” suffix ‘tra’, instrument, in more detail, we have the linguistic roots, “tanoti” to stretch and trayati” liberation” say http://www.dollsofinida.com (Viswananthan.)

It is probably best described as paths or philosophy which seeks to find unity in everything one does, sees or hears, learns or experiences, in order to have a far more profound understanding of life. To have freedom, I would way, from fettered  thinking and actions, Real liberation.

The weaving and expansion reference is indeed using experiences of life, to build up deep and spiritual awareness of life, One would therefore taste and savour life to the fullest and be in the moment, to be truly alive. This is what many philosophies and paths already state.

The origins of Tantra

Hinduism is considered by many scholars and researchers, to be the third largest  and influential religion in the world, after Christianity and Islam, say http://www.religioustolerance.org . It is not certain, where the origins of Tantra have come from, and therefore are lost in the midst of time. It could have evolved from a practice of initiation amongst tribal clans, or a ritual commemorating the fertility f the land, with Mother Earth and the Sun Father, as explained in the first chapters of this project ,  making sex a ritualised act,  therefore giving sex many levels: procreation, pleasure and a means of liberation ( ibid)

Another school of thought suggests tantra came out of protests against the Hindu caste system, in an effort to ask that spiritual quests be accessible to the lay person, and not just the priest ( Perez-Haddad) , Tantric practitioners , who aim for liberation ( or transformation of personality, mind and spirit)  try to go beyond ‘physical orgasm to reach higher forms of ecstasy, Here , the participating couple are spiritually ( drawn) to each other, and often  lock themselves in a long static embrace, well after the act”, says http://www.dollsofindia.com

It may have originated in the very early centuries (CE) of India, was absorbed in th e Hindu pantheon, at the end of the Gupta period. Tantra practices are found in both Hinduism and Buddhism, which we will explore briefly. Tantra has also influenced both Sikhism and Jainism 8 http://www.dollsofindia.com) I want to point out what Tantra encompasses, and what it is, and what it isn’t.  There are  myths and misconceptions about it.

Within Hinduiam, Tantra, at its very heart, focuses on the worship of the Goddess Shakti, the Sacred Feminine, in the Hindu pantheon ( http://www.dollsofindia.com). Hindu Tantra sees the universe as a divine stage with Shakhti and the male god Shiva play out and engage in life ( http://www.dollsofindia.com) , Tantra is meant to work with the very many rituals and practices that could help yo achieve the grace and wisdom of Shakti, weave one’s way out of ignorance, achieving true liberation and transformation ( ibid). finally, the goal is immortality, say http://www.dollsofindia.com.  Added to this, the tantra practitioner ( tantrik) already sees the universe as a manifestation of the creative force.

“The seeker then attempts to make himself or herself a medium to channel that energy, thus attaining liberation in human form” ( http://www.dollsofindia.com)

When Buddhism spread to South East and East Asia, it helped to evolve Tantra within these areas, too.

Tantra is  not a religion, but a collection of practices and rituals  which the tantrik uses to attain spiritual ( and also material) goals , using “prana” ( Sanskrit for breath or spiritual energy)

The tools that Tantra uses are yoga ( asanas and postures, breathing techniques and meditation) mantras ( chants and visualisations) mudras ( gestures to help mind and body control)   http://www.dollsoindia.com

mandalas and yantras (geometric /diagrammatic shapes , representing the forces of nature, to help achieve spiritual and magical powers

So, Tantra did not come out of the Hindu  Vedic/scripture traditions. Certainly, many staunch Hindu followers  see Tantra as rather anti Vedic/traditional. Therefore. Tantra is only found comfortably in these particular Hindi traditions: The Shakta, Shaiva, Vaishnava, Sharauya and Ganapatya sects,

What Tantra is Not

“Although Tantra is better known in the West…. it is still misunderstood. Tantra has been purely seen as ( sexual) therapy, rather than something that comes from holism”(Perez-Haddad)   There are religions and paths that endorse or encourage celibacy, as one of its requirements for spiritual quests. But Tantra does not (Perez-Haddad)

Tantra. adds Perez-Haddad, is not hedonism, nor a short cut to sexual orgies. even if i has been tailored to meet Western needs. Such use of the aforementioned myths of Tantra, could lead to  emotional and psychological damage; it requires knowledge, self knowledge  and spiritual awareness, with many using, the chakra system to create emotional and psychic balance within.

Altering Consciousness and Sacred Sex

Due to its holistic perspectives, Tantra can alter consciousness for the better, and does not, says Perez-Haddad, necessarily conflict with other spiritual paths, since  ‘its message is of acceptance; love and seeing the whole picture”( ibid).  Tantra asks  that you take responsibility for one’s thoughts, actions, sexual actions, and karma. Tantr is a lifetime of study,  not a quick fix or quick journey.

With regards to sexual tantra rituals, as well , as the non- sexual rituals, we have

Tantra Vanagamarga. which may have been found in early Hindu Tantra. and was used to increase awareness. During the course of meditation, the tantrik would identify themselves with a specified goddess, and see themselves in a sexual courtship leading to sexual consummation. In fact, eve today, many male tantriks  can and do view their female partners as goddesses ( http://www.dollsofindia.com)

Added to this, with the sexual bliss that followed, the practice worked this out , as the basis to pursue  divine and spiritual union  and heightened awareness

Vanamarga has been developed to also awaken th e so-called serpentine/coiled energy of kundalini , from the spine to the crown ( chakra) area, to start the process of personal and spiritual transformation ( http://www.dollsofindia.com)

“Regular practice of kundalini awakening in the fashion, it is believed, gives rise to the Samadhi state, wherein  both the participants dissolve completely in a unity of pure cosmic consciousness”. evoking an individualised /personalised Shakhti=Shiva energy inside.

Tantra Vamachara  sees sexual intercourse as a way to access insight into the ‘functioning of the very universe” ( http://www.dollsofindia.com)

The influence of Woodroffe ( Sir john, 1865-1936,British  lawyer and scholar) . He is considered to be the founding father of Western tantra tradition and education, promoting it as a holistic system of practices , as well as helping destroy the old entrenched dominant ( European) view that sees was “essentially base and only related to worldy and bodily pleasures” ( http://www.dollsofindia.com)

Buddhist Tantra

. Buddhist Tantra will be quickly looked at.   Tantra tradition in Buddhism uses it as a vehicle to gain godhead/divinity or Buddha hood.  Vajarayana, as it is known,  used a very highly coded and symbolic text, ‘twilight language” to keep it secret.  Due to its secretive nature and select membership, it is quite a strict path, and followers must have a guru to guide them very carefully, and only, to achieve Buddha hood. Failure to have a guru with one, can make it a dangerous path, emotionally and spiritually ( http://www.dollsofindia.com)  Accuracy and commitment is needed, to make sure the follower is safe and protected.  Vajrayana is being preserved , while,  it is practised in Tibet.

  Conclusion :

To conclude,  because Tantra is essentially about striving fro holism and spirituality, as well as finding enlightenment, knowledge, seeing the creative force of the universe as manifestation of power and transformation, everything becomes sacred and important. Thus sex is  sacred, not just a physical act.

” Sex is sacred, since life is sacred, as is the universe. Tantra is both intimate and erotic” ( Perez-Haddad)

Reference

 

 

Course Texts

BSY Group  Tantra Course ( lesson 9)

Meridian College,   Chakra healing

 

Tantra references

 

Forster  M, Manual. J,     The Spiritual Teachings of yoga

 

Kuriansky , Judy. The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Tantic Sex

Simson, Liz, Chakra healing

http://www.dollsofinia.com , The Role of Tantra in Hinduism and Buddhism ( Priya Viswanathan)

 

http://www.religioustolerance.org

http://www.bellydancemerseyside.co.uk  ( two articles ) :

The Ecstacy of the Soul by Paula Staunton

Tantra: A brief Explanation/Exploration by Zoraida  Catalina Perez-Haddad

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Posted September 1, 2016 by zoraidagitana1965 in Uncategorized

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