Mind-expanding philosophy and arcane rites, pantheons of fierce goddesses embodied in mystic syllables, energy diagrams that map the many dimensions of reality, visualizations of power centers within the body, gestures that express the purest forms of consciousness, nectarean experiences of the sheerest ecstasy, wielders of supernatural power, and concepts that challenge the fundamental norms of ordinary society: these are just some of its features. In short, it is a world that encompasses the entire range of human spiritual and religious activity, from the most elevated and sublime contemplations of our inner nature to the strangest of superstitions. (The fact that we’ll be focusing on the former should not be taken to mean that the latter did not exist.) Some people today are interested only in the high philosophy of the Tantra; others in the purely practical techniques;others are curious about the entire historical picture.
Whoever you are, to fully delve into this world, you must not only relinquish any notions of what you think Tantra is, but also some of your deeply-held assumptions about reality itself. Otherwise, you will never be able to truly understand this alternative worldview. Any alternative worldview can function as a critique of the status quo view on reality in our society, but for it to do so in a real and productive way we must—at least temporarily—lay open to question even the fundamental principles by which we create interpretations of phenomena; in other words, we must question the very frameworks with which we create a world for ourselves to live in.
An Orientation to Tantra
Shri Yantra by Ekabhumi Ellik
“Tantra“ is now a buzzword in the modern Western world. We see it on the covers of popular magazines and books, usually linked with a vaguely suggestive and titillating notion of some kind of superlative sexual experience. Though almost everyone has heard this word, almost no-one—including many people claiming to teach something called tantra—knows anything about the historical development of the Indian spiritual tradition that scholars refer to as “Tantra.“ What these academics study as “Tantra“ bears almost no resemblance to what is taught under the same name on the workshop circuit of American alternative spirituality.
In this book we simply present a comprehensive overview of the original Indian spiritual tradition that was articulated in Sanskrit scriptures called “tantras“ (which is where the name came from). Why would this be of interest to modern Westerners? There is one outstanding reason: millions of Westerners are today practicing something called “yoga,“ a practice which, though much altered in form and context, can in fact be traced back to the Tantrik tradition.
Given the widespread terminological confusion, I ask you as the reader to simply clear your mind of whatever you think you know about Tantra, however valuable that knowledge may or may not have been to you, and start afresh. In this way, I have a chance to effectively orient you to the original Tantrik worldview: a way of seeing and understanding reality that can challenge and illuminate you to the deepest levels of your being.Read More»