Tantra has been much misunderstood, particularly in the West. Tantra is about expansion of consciousness, & liberation of energy.
The liberation of energy starts with the blocked energy within our mind, body, & emotions being freed, then the energies of the more subtle realms start to reveal themselves as the more subtle aspects of our being become more manifest & leads to the awakening of our own Divine energy, the great kundalini. But this is not all: as we progress, we also become conduits for the cosmic energy. All of this is a process & it all takes time.
With the expansion of consciousness, we start by simply becoming more aware, &, as we progress, the hidden powers of the mind manifest, & we eventually come to the Higher Consciousness that is inside each of us. Sometimes this is referred to as the 3rd eye. It is here that the true hidden personal power of tantra truly flowers.
Because tantra also involves the hidden world of the unseen, the unheard, the unknown, & the mysteries of the gods & goddesses. And, with tantra, we find ourselves aiming towards the gods & goddesses. Tantra is a process which leads us there. Tantra is also believed to mean "to weave". What is being weaved? The mysteries of our own psyche, the mysteries of this planet, the mysteries of the gods & goddesses, the mysteries of the cosmos. The dance of energy & consciousness on all levels.
Tantra is a process which recognises that we each have a starting point, & that we are also living a life; we are not living a reclusive life, we have a destiny in an incarnation which also must be fulfilled. And in this context, tantra does also include sexual practices. Unfortunately this has given tantra a bad connotation, as, both in the West & in India, the word tantra has been used unscrupulously in a sexual content. And so much misinformation has been "given out" regarding sex, in the name of tantra.
In the tantric texts are techniques to take us on our journey to the divine. Tantra also recognises that we need to have means to go on this journey: the techniques are to provide a vehicle. The techniques include ritual which also use the senses & aspects of nature, & invoking the gods & goddesses; sound (in India the sounds are called mantra); geometric symbols (yantra); circular patterns (mandala); intent, or, the power of the mind.
So, tantra is potentially very powerful. In India there are tantric sadhus (spiritual renunciates) who can & do transmit spiritual energy just by touch & mantra. There are also tantric shamans who perform rites to provide blessings, or to cast a spell. Some can cast a curse. The "bad" tantriks also use trapped beings to help them with their spells & curses, which is how so-called 'great' tantrics & gurus can manifest: it is by enslavement.
The world of duality, of consciousness & energy, day & night, darkness & light, good & bad, are all recognised as existing, in tantra. In reality, for the majority of us it is a joyous path, full of wonder & awe.
23 April 2016
As someone whose Path is yoga, & who is a yoga teacher, I know that integrity is the most important attribute to have. If we have integrity, even when we make mistakes, it is way easier to deal with the after effects, & to be able to sleep with ourselves at night.As a yoga teacher, over many years, I have seen some yoga teachers scrambling for fame & fortune, promoting truth & peace, yet ignoring integrity in their words & actions. Then, invariably, there is an outcome at some stage, whereby things just stop working out. Students leave, other yoga teachers keep away. It is so sad to see, as yoga is not supposed to be about fame, power, money & although I always knew that it was not good to base one’s life as a yoga teacher on these, it was not until I decided to keep away from dodgy “yogis”, stop doing public classes, disassociate myself from bad organisations, it was not until then that I, paradoxically, began to actually make decent money teaching yoga. So strange, as I had also decided to go back to my firm conviction that being a spiritual yoga teacher (which I am), is not about money, & I already knew that being a spiritual yoga teacher is not all about oneself. It was a big decision, as yoga was my livelihood. It still is. It was just amazing how, that big decision of integrity within teaching, changed my circumstances. I had always been conscientious about integrity, but that bit was clearly missing. And I was resolute about my decision. Ever since, I have constantly been turning down requests for me to take public classes & seminars for yoga groups. And it feels right to do so. I have “done my time” there with public classes & teaching seminars at this & that yoga gathering.
Many years ago, when I was living in an Ashram, training & working hard, the spiritual energy was building up inside of myself, when I made a momentous conscious decision of integrity. I have never, ever, forgotten the exact moment, the exact time, exactly what was happening, when I made the best decision of my spiritual life: I decided to never, ever, go after power, nor to use it to get my own way nor to get what I wanted, nor to use it to benefit me in any way. NEVER!! EVER!! And I have resolutely stuck to this. (Luckily I wasn’t after power, fame, nor fortune, either)
Rather than talking “truths”, concepts, observances & conduct, rather than promoting peace, love (actually I write about all of these, so this is ironic!!!), to live with integrity is far more powerful spiritually. I know that when we live with integrity it is far more rewarding than fame, power, money. It feels better!! Intuitively it feels better. It also feels better in our mind, in our heart, in our gut. These three aspects: mind, heart, gut, are so important for our psyche, & in yoga, we are dealing with our whole psyche. It is worthwhile to remember this.
Integrity also accelerates our spirituality. It’s quite simple really: there is just more space for the spiritual energy to move around in & grow in intensity, & there are less mental/emotional blockages clogging our mental/emotional realm of our psyche, so our consciousness also has more room to grow & expand.
2 April 2016
Tapasya is often interpreted as penance. And, in this context that I shall be talking about here, these penances are spiritual practices, or, the techniques of mental, emotional, physical growth that we use to develop, release & grow, our own Highest aspects.
The purpose of this penance is to raise, or increase, the inner energy. This energy is somewhat like a fire, it is hot, & it burns away impurities within us.
These impurities can be to do with the physical body: in this case, burning away some of the tendencies to be prone to certain ailments. These ailments & illnesses are to do with the current genetic DNA, past life severe illnesses such as the Black Death epidemic, famines, wars, tortures, past life genetic DNA, & past life repetitive illnesses & traumas that affect a particular part, or aspect, of the body.
And, importantly, tapasya often manifests as physical “illness” as in fevers, sweating, dizziness. As though one actually does have a serious illness.
The impurities are also to do with mental &/or emotional tendencies, both of which are also stored in the body memory. The basis of these tendencies can be present life, however, much of it will be to do with past life trauma. Trauma blocks energy, whether we are aware of having experienced that trauma, or not.
So, tapasya affects us with purification of our body, the contents of our mind, & our emotions. Tapasya cannot be psycho analysed, nor analysed into “getting better”, & affirmations & visualisations are too trite to work on tapasya. Tapasya affects us on a far deeper level than we can imagine, & when we are experiencing it, we just need to “ride the tempest”. Because it does pass.
With each bout of the tapasya heat “illness”, one’s mind becomes clearer & clearer, the emotions become steadier & steadier, the body becomes stronger & stronger on a mental/emotional resilience level, & all of these are then less affected by present day trauma.
Of course, as very human beings, we are, by our very nature, by our very incarnations, prone to react to trauma. This is an important part of the human experience & need not be denied. For, these very painful experiences are trauma aspects of life that we are predestined to experience, & these experiences bring us wisdom, understanding, & caring. Qualities which are part of our Higher Being.
It would be naïve to assume that “being” spiritual; “being” nice, caring; “doing” yoga or whatever path that you are following, that any of these will magically transport one into a majestic Higher Being. No, spirituality, & life itself, do not work that way. We learn & develop through experience.
And, it would also be a mistake to think that yoga is the only way to achieve tapasya cleansing. There have always been ancient hidden paths, such as the deeper hidden knowledge still practised by monks in China, & by the Maori Tohungas in Aotearoa (New Zealand).
In any spiritual system, our deeper aspects, they are stirred up, & with this stirring, a lot of karma, physical, mental & emotional, it just leaves us. It is beyond intellectual or psycho analysis.
Over 40 years ago, I met & (briefly) learnt off Dr Swami Gitananda. He said that it was healthy to burn our impurities through “illness” (tapasya), & that yoga aspirants should not think badly of this happening. I know that in many yoga circles that it is considered “bad” to experience tapasya, & that to do so, means that you are not physically healthy, & in other yoga circles it is considered that one has “problems” (mentally & emotionally), if someone gets sick with tapasya heat. Both of these attitudes & beliefs are spiritually ignorant.
Part of the tapasya experience is not only the burning of deep impressions within our whole psyche, but also the moving of a more intense energy than what we are used to. This energy, it can swirl, the chakras can spin powerfully, both at a more intense level, the heat & sweating continues until the energy has stabilised.
This stabilising is an important part of the process. It leads to the energy being “established”, becoming permanent, until, of course, it increases again with the next experience of tapasya.
And, tapasya often keeps going at a smaller level, in meditation, when the inner heat arises. I always get students “to be aware of the effects of the practices” at an experienced level, at the end of meditation, before opening the eyes, as it helps the energy from that experience to be stabilised. And after Yoga Nidra, I do the same, to establish the expansion of consciousness that occurred in deep relaxation.
This will help with the ongoing, & necessary, process of tapasya, in a subtle & very easy way. And, although we will still have times when the tapasya fires rage, we can manage these dramatic happenings by having a small sadhana (spiritual practice) that keeps our inner fires burning at consistently growing levels, & we gradually adjust to the smaller rises of energy & the corresponding expansion of consciousness.
Because this expansion of energy is also an important part of tapasya. The levels of energy & levels of consciousness, they grow, side by side, & part of the experience of the heat, the dizziness, is also us adjusting to the more expanded, far grander, level of consciousness that accompanies it.
Tapasya is different from getting colds or viruses. These relate to other aspects of life.