Tantra: The Left Hand Path of Love
The mysterious Tradition
To outline, even in a very general manner, the history of TANTRISM, would be totally outside of the purpose of this article. This lost Science comes from the Ageless Tradition of Wisdom of the planet Earth.
From time to time, great Masters have revived this Tradition, giving it a new impulse, as the requirements of the time imposed. Such a Master was ABHINAVAGUPTA, who lived circa one thousand years ago.
He was one of the greatest geniuses and intellectual giants that ever lived on this planet, a most brilliant TANTRIC Master of the highest spiritual attainment, a profound philosopher and metaphysician, an inspired poet and a subtle dramatist.
ABHINAVAGUPTA was a prolific writer; some twenty of his TANTRIC writings are still existing today, but a far greater number were lost. In his writings he revived practically all the major TANTRIC lines: TRIKA, KAULA, PRATYABHIJNA, SPANDA, KRAMA. Very few genuine information is left about most of them.
This article tries to outline, in an extremely general way, some basic ideas of this lineage. Even though the author has a rich personal experience in some of the practical aspects of TANTRISM, the intention here is not to expose a personal view, but to present the Tradition in its most pure form, without any kind of "western interpretations" that most of the time kill and destroy the authentic meaning.
YOGA and TANTRA form the primitive lode of the Indian spiritual tradition, a foundation deeply connected to universal philosophies. Much has been written and discussed regarding these studies, but due to their profoundness and hidden symbolism they remain opaque.
A secret throughout the centuries, TANTRA remains diffuse, mysterious and puzzling yet constantly present in the diversity of yoga techniques, especially in its Tibetan forms. With purposeful investigation, it presents a genuine science of man where cosmic forces mingle with physiology, psychology, magic and spiritualism.
TANTRA offers a practical, multi-leveled vision of the human being, a unified theory that explains the most intimate aspects of man's behavior which have evaded current research. A detailed, sincere study and practice of TANTRA would contribute to the enrichment of contemporary science and psychology in a manner not as yet conceived.
A Way for our Age
The disciplines of TANTRIC schools recognize in Kundalini the source of a mysterious energy -- an energy still not properly defined by modern science but of paramount importance for a complete spiritual emancipation.
If we add that the Ageless Wisdom defines TANTRA as the spiritual system best adapted to our era of KALI YUGA, where spirituality is declining even as man and woman are desperately trying to reintegrate themselves into a creative and spiritual cosmic center, we realize the significance of these techniques.
Today we are bound to an "objective" knowledge which is becoming more and more mechanical and inhuman. Abstract thinking is linked less and less to real life yet defines most of our activities. Therefore, it is absolutely necessary to practice TANTRA, a highly accurate, subjective knowledge which is accessible to everyone, through experience and verification.
The web of Love
The ultimate purpose of all forms of yoga is to indicate the way to fully integrate into the Objective Reality and realize an harmonious merging into the different levels of the phenomenal cosmic manifestation.
This is why, through different yoga techniques, the practitioner's consciousness is expanded and the superior perception aptitudes are amplified and developed to the utmost. These characteristics are common to all systems, TANTRA YOGA being no exception.
TANTRA envisions the Universe as an extremely complex, multi-dimensional web of invisible energies. This Science permits the controlled expansion of consciousness beyond the web of illusory appearances and thus liberates us from ignorance. TANTRA is also called VAMA MARGA, i.e.
The Left Hand Path, due to the fact that women, who are of lunar influence, negative polarity or the left, play an essential role in this Science. However, The Way which is recommended here is not at all made of negations or austerities as in most other spiritual systems, but of pleasure and beatitudes.
TANTRIC tradition puts forth clearly that the state of harmonious integration and spiritual freedom can be obtained only through direct experience and living of everyday life. The inferior levels of consciousness cannot be efortlessly controlled and surpassed unless fully and frantically, intensely and totally, lived in the whole plenitude of their power.
The Way of pleasure
Perfection can be realized easily using the fulfillment of all wishes. The very same processes that for others could cause decay or death, venom or evil, can be used wisely and firmly for spiritual uplifting and transformed into a miraculous cure of the soul.
Another text says:
"If a man is a YOGIN, he does not enjoy sensual pleasures; while one who enjoys them cannot know YOGA. That is why the KAULA (a TANTRIC School) way, containing the essence of sexual enjoyment and YOGA, is superior to all paths. In the KAULA approach, sexual enjoyment turns into YOGA directly. What in conventional religion is considered sin becomes meritorious."
-- KULARNAVA TANTRA 2. 23
In the TANTRIC tradition, YOGA (union with God) is simultaneous with the frantic living of worldly delights, leading to the state of enlightenment through the supernormal powers (SIDDHIS), which are obtained through practical application of these special procedures. These powers serve a definite purpose in the way of attaining the Supreme.
The individual human structure and the outer macrocosmic manifestation, or Universe, are similar. Therefore all that exists in the Universe should also exist in a certain form and proportion in the microcosm, i.e. the human body.
The TANTRIC philosophy itself includes in its theory all the levels of the Universe and gives a paramount importance to astronomy, biology, parapsychology, anatomy, meditation, medicine, music, art and even sexuality. In fact, the sexual experience, considered to be a unification of the Everlasting Male (+) and Everlasting Female (-) principles, has a very important place in TANTRIC techniques and procedures which are often profoundly erotic.
TANTRA is a complex discipline, an accurate method and a profound analysis based on rational foundations, it is a Meta-Science dealing with the different aspects of the Supreme Consciousness and ways to experience it.
To understand the TANTRIC attitude toward sexuality requires a totally open mind and a reversal of perspective. Accustomed as we are by a puritanical mentality to seeing sexuality as a "sin" to be avoided and ashamed of (or, in any case, to keep it "secret" because of its "impurity"), we have all the chances to consider TANTRIC Love as being a defiant assault on conventional morality and thus to miss completely the tremendous spiritual value of such a perspective.
From this sacred perspective, sexuality is seen as re-producing at a smaller scale the continuous and beatific interaction of a Cosmic process which is manifesting the entire Universe from the Absolute Reality.
In this new vision, "sin" disappears (it never existed, anyway!), being replaced by pure beatitude and total love. Sexual union is thus a form of meditative discipline with profound psycho-mental and spiritual effects.
On the contrary, it is considered to be a veritable sacrificial rite. The male worshipper has an attitude toward the woman which is different from that of an ordinary person performing the sexual act.
The woman is transfigured into a living symbol and earthly manifestation of the Divine Mother of the Universe (PARA SHAKTI). Likewise, for the woman, man represents a vital embodiment of the Everlasting Male Principle (SHIVA).
The sexual beatitude raised at the transcendental level of an extraordinary psychic experience with a spiritual character reflects, then, the ineffable happiness of a subtle cosmic nature, known in YOGA as ANANDA (i.e., cosmic beatitude) and in TANTRA as SAMARASA (i.e., the savor of equality).
Returning to origins
TANTRA YOGA considers that the human being has an extremely complex body and mind. The usual consciousness of wakefulness is considered to be only a very small fraction of our native intelligence, fruit of a very long period of evolution and development of the human being.
The practitioner tries to follow the same road of evolution but in an opposite direction. He must go through all stages in inverted order and leave them behind, until he finds the starting point or the unique origin. This is logical if we realize that TANTRA considers the human being to be a summary of the Universe and therefore all the cosmic elements have their correspondent in the visible and invisible man.
The Diamond Body
Consequently, the TANTRIC way does not mean to run away in an alienating foreign spiritual universe, for the TANTRIC practitioner wants to take with him in his evolution all the structures of his body creating in this way the famous "diamond body," (VAJRAYANA) which is beyond the limitations of time.
The transformations that take place then consciously free all the potential of the human being. This has a positive repercussion on the body, considered as a unitary whole composed of visible (i.e. physical) and invisible (i.e. subtle) structures.
Yearning tirelessly to grasp the enigmatic silence and the fascinating mystery of the Cosmos, the TANTRIC practitioner becomes an integral part of this mystery in the bosom of which he absorbs and identifies himself.
For this, the external practice and the internal mutation are both indispensable because they make it possible to understand within themselves (through identification or SAMYAMA) the phenomena, leading to an authentic and sometimes ineffable understanding of the cosmic forces that surround us. Modern scientists are still making weak attempts to decode them, but for the TANTRIC practitioner these subtle forces are everyday realities.
Everything is Light
This multiple reflection lowers the frequency of the energy which then crystallizes in physical forms. Light frequencies are seen as different colors. Sound and color are related in the same way as are life and form.
Every color corresponds to a certain sound and vice-versa; every sound has its subtle energetic color-form. A MANTRA is a subtle mental sound that facilitates the attuning to the mysterious frequencies of the cosmic forces. When a MANTRA is uttered correctly (UCCARA), its color-form starts to manifest also in a degree that depends on the nature and intensity of the uttering.
SHIVA and SHAKTI
In the TANTRIC philosophy, every letter of the Sanskrit alphabet is a BIJA MANTRA (seed sound) which is associated with a certain part of the human body or, to be more specific, to a certain petal of the power centers (CHAKRAS).
This shows that the different parts of the human body are the manifestations of the different dynamic aspects of an Essential Energy known in TANTRA as KUNDALINI SHAKTI, an enigmatic and complex subtle power which lies in a latent form at the base of the spine.
TANTRA YOGA considers that the Ultimate Truth is easily attained through the beatific union of PURUSHA (the Spirit) and PRAKRITI (the Nature); or, in TANTRIC terminology, through the union of SHIVA and SHAKTI. SHIVA represents the pure passive Consciousness, the static aspect of the Ultimate Reality.
Relationships release Power
Any profound fusion of the complementary opposites, or reintegration of polarities into the origins of the whole, automatically brings a breakthrough into higher levels and leads to a gradual re-discovery of primordial spontaneity and unity (SVATANTRYA). This transcendency of opposites is a transcendency of the Cosmos because this movement abolishes the duality.
The frantic and complete embrace of SHIVA and SHAKTI merges them forever in a Unique Principle. And in the bosom of the Ultimate Reality reached in this way, there is no more SHIVA or SHAKTI, there is only UNITY, there is only ONE. All physical, biophysical and psycho-mental aspects of the Cosmos return to this Unity which emanates and reabsorbs them continuously.
The Life Chain
Life is ONE; all its forms are in a mutual relationship within the bosom of an extraordinarily complex and infinite WHOLE. Any kind of action from the part of any being, must automatically, through reflection, influence any other form on the same level of creation.
We are but links of an infinite chain. We are made of the same substances as that of stars and galaxies. We have inside ourselves the same energies and powers as the ideal Gods have. They lie only dormant, ready at any time to be awakened and used.
Consequently, the TANTRIC practitioners engage themselves in a continuous process of self-discovery and of discovery of the Universe at the same time.
They ask themselves: "Do we see and perceive the world the way it really is or only the illusory appearance? And in the last case, are we condemned to see forever only this illusory appearance, without ever attaining the Essential Reality?"
If a person could perceive the fourth dimension through the special capabilities which lie dormant in every human being, his or her vision of a stone, for example, would be completely different from that of an ordinary person.
More than that, a TANTRIC practitioner who attains the state of absorptive meditation (SAMYAMA) on the stone could see, feel and even hear the energetic vortexes of the apparently invisible electrons of the stone. Seeing with the eyes closed
In this respect, TANTRA claims that we must detach ourselves from all external forms in order to fully perceive that which the veil of illusion (MAYA) hides, and only then can we discover the Ultimate Reality and realize the complete freedom from the painful chains of ignorance.
Only by closing our eyes can we have an authentic vision. In the ultimate act of vision, the body, i.e. the totality of the energetic and physical structures of the human being, meditates exactly as the spirit does.
The very old treatise TANTRA TATTVA says that only the man who sees everything as being within himself sees the Truth. The Unknown and the Mysterious surround us everywhere, inside and outside ourselves.
Realizing this, the TANTRIC practitioner must resort to the perfect, practical knowledge of the subtle energies which are latent in every human being and which can be awakened through proper techniques.
These energies are the vehicle for the Spirit, freeing it from the hallucinating shadows of ignorance. In this new state the human body becomes the modality of experimentation and of return to the primordial Androgynous unity -- the Lost Paradise.
TANTRA Science relies upon the practical realization of its teachings. Here we are not dealing with endless talking and argumentation but instead with engaging ourselves fully and thoroughly in an exceptional practice which can lead the practitioner to Freedom, Pure Existence, Super-Consciousness, Beatitude and super-normal powers (SIDDHIS).
The SAHITYA TANTRA advises, "Start the practice under the surveillance of a TANTRIC initiate. If, after a certain time, you do not obtain any positive results, then you are free to quit."
However, it is necessary to stress here that the TANTRIC practitioner develops and perfects his SIDDHIS only for the purpose of raising himself at the level of the Supreme Being and from there to fuse eternally with the Absolute.
The SIDDHIS have no value per se; they are only a modality. But all these powers cannot be obtained by only talking about TANTRA, for tireless practice and direct experimentation only can lead to such unusual achievements. About this, there is no doubt.
The Libido -- thirst for Unity
Another aspect which is important in TANTRA YOGA is that the libido, when manifested as sexual drive, is not at all considered to be only sensuality but, at the innermost levels, as the soul's ardent yearning for spiritual perfection.
n this way, re-born as a genuine Androgyne of the Secret Tradition -- magical child of SHIVA and SHAKTI -- the Individual Spirit will have access to the highest levels of Consciousness. The magnetic Woman, the electric Man
In multiple ways, she attracts, absorbs and stores subtle energy which remains latent. When connected in a proper way with the male electric, dynamic and positively charged subtle energy (YANG), the female energy undertakes a complex alchemical reaction and thus the couple generates an energetic power station. This is very easy to verify.
Certain TANTRIC techniques enable the practitioner to verify that the bioenergetic differences of polarity between man and woman are energized to the highest extent through the love play and that a mutual exchange between these two forms of energy (YIN/female, YANG/male) takes place during sexual intercourse in which the two partners harmonize themselves on multiple levels.
Performed in the TANTRIC way (successive orgasms without ejaculation) these unions can intensify and develop the latent extra-sensorial capacities and the mental power of both partners beyond any expectations.
Retention -- the untold secret
Traditional texts say semen contain consciousness as the ova contains primordial creative energy. Here the point is to return to the practitioner the enormous amount of raw sexual energy contained in semen and in the correspondent female orgasmic emanations in such a way that this subtle energy may be sublimated and its efficiency used for higher purposes, i.e. psycho-mental and spiritual.
Being in perfect physical, emotional and mental health is a must for approaching any of the sexual practices of TANTRISM. Modern civilization leaves integrity, so we need to open up and to re-learn to experience as intensely as possible our senses. While it is true that cultivating the sensory awareness, here being included different techniques of amplifying the sexual pleasure and of opening up to experience deep sexual orgasm, can be a useful preparation for TANTRA, these incipient techniques are not TANTRA yet if they are not accompanied by a total, yet effortless, control.
The Science of the ancient Sages (SIDDHAS) teaches that the sexual reproductive power (the Life Force) can be transmuted into superior forms of energy called OJAS and TEJAS. The practitioner causes his seed to rise up to his crown center (SAHASRARA), where it becomes transformed into SOMA, the Nectar of Immortality. Through the TANTRIC procedures, the semen is took over by the lymphatic system.
The transmuting of the semen's energy into OJAS and TEJAS does not take place only in men. Women who practice TANTRA YOGA realize the transmutation of that energy which produces the ova and the menstrual cycle. These energies are transformed into OJAS and TEJAS exactly as in the men's case.
As a result, the menstrual cycle becomes scarce or even disappears completely, and the ovulation process slows down or even stops. Nevertheless, when the conception of a baby is desired, the energies are permitted to accumulate at the pelvic area, the ovulation returns to normal and the menstrual cycle appears again.
The magical spring
Even at the level of ordinary sexual experiences, the couple sometimes has the strange and powerful feeling that sexual intercourse releases a tremendous energy inside the human psyche. Frequently superior and nostalgic truths can be inferred in this state.
Pedro McGregor in his famous PSYCHOSEXUAL SYNTHESIS confirms the TANTRIC teachings concerning sexuality. Our burning sexual or emotional beatitudes are nothing other than a degenerated mysterious enthusiasm.
This enthusiasm is materialized, therefore limited, absorbed and inert. It is logical to consider that a conscious change in our sexual behavior and in our most intimate attitudes could act as a magical spring, releasing truly super-human energies in the same way that a controlled mutation in the intimate structure of the atom can release a tremendous amount of nuclear energy.
Therefore, another important characteristic of the Tantric Way is that spiritual growth is realized through extreme intensity of energy (SHAKTIPATA) spontaneously born during the frantic living of intense emotions, including both sexual and non-sexual emotions.
"In order to penetrate into the Supreme Reality, everything that is at hand is to be considered as a modality; because, as the TRIKA system puts it, the human being must not submit to any restrictions (in order to attain the Supreme)". -- A secret TANTRA text
When controlled and directed by a lucid mind, this paramount intensity of the extreme emotions creates the instantaneous welding of all levels of the human being (physical-sexual, emotional and mental-spiritual) which are normally disconnected and therefore acting independently.
Thus, the practitioner becomes aware of the inner abyssal power that lies within himself and starts to bring it to the surface. The transcendence of the inferior levels of consciousness is realized through an exceptionally frantic living of every moment of everyday life.
In the act of lovemaking the couple embodies the dyadic wholeness of the Supreme. TANTRIC sexual union resonates with the very foundational energies of the Universe: it captures, magnifies and re-directs the essential Cosmic Power of Life. It is therefore not by chance that sexual intercourse brings the most intense emotional experience that the human being can have while in the flesh.
Therefore TANTRA uses it predominantly to create that overwhelming unifying energy.
The erotic impulse stirs up the KUNDALINI energy so that it can rise, through the subtle duct of power along the spine, to the highest center of power above the head. This process renders the adept immortal:
-- HATHA YOGA PRADIPIKA, III, 87
-- HATHA YOGA PRADIPIKA, III, 89
In this vision, intercourse becomes a genuine cosmic process at the level of the unified microcosms of the couple, who tries to reproduce the cosmic union of SHIVA and SHAKTI, i.e. of Consciousness and Energy.
"In YAMALA or VIRA-YOGINI tradition [[[Tantric schools]]], there is physical union (SAMGHATTA) between VIRA (the male) and YOGINI (the female). The purpose is only to stimulate NITYA-ANANDA (the eternal beatitude) by means of the contact of the sex organs. This contact gives intense delight [for the body and spirit].
-- A text by ABHINAVAGUPTA
Thus, intercourse serves a purpose much superior to that of sensuality. This precise analogical correspondence leads to a profound intermixing between the level of the chaotic multiplicity in which we live and the Unique Macrocosmic Reality.
A double purpose
The violent explosion of ejaculation and of correspondent female orgasmic discharge acts at inner levels as a harmful release of vital subtle fluids and represents a serious loss of power, making it impossible to use the purified sexual energy (OJAS).
Therefore the spiritual ascension is immediately stopped.
This is why all TANTRIC treatises put forth the necessity for man and woman to control and even completely eliminate ejaculation.
Here, the purpose is double: to retain seminal fluid (conserve energy and achieve higher states of sexual pleasure, enabling the man to fully satisfy his woman and himself) and to transmute its energy (acquire magical power and achieve expanded levels of consciousness). The effect is cumulative.
For this purpose, at peak moments, the couple's attention must be focused to simultaneously control the breathing (by making it calm and relaxed), the mind (by focusing it upon a unique object) and the semen (through rhythmically contracting and relaxing the pelvic floor muscles).
This procedure acts simultaneously upon the three basic levels of the human being -- the physical, the emotional and the mental -- creating a perfect harmony between them. Thus, sexual intercourse becomes a genuine love meditation. "Stay with the fire of the beginning"
Sexual therapists are starting to encourage couples to focus more on the process of lovemaking rather than on the end result, i.e. ejaculation. A secret TANTRIC treatise says:
The fundamental error couples make, due to ignorance and bad habit, is to believe that ejaculation and orgasm is one and the same thing and that ejaculating is the peak pleasure for a man and woman. There is nothing more false. Orgasm and ejaculation
The most important differences between an ordinary orgasm with ejaculation and TANTRIC successive orgasms without ejaculation are illustrated in the following comparative analysis:
(with ejaculation) TOTAL SUCCESSIVE ORGASMS
Explosion (outward-bursting energy).
Implosion (inward-bursting energy). The erotic energy sublimates and is transmuted in ever more refined forms of energy which are gradually accumulated in the depths of our being, producing extremely refined and intense states of pleasure and expanded consciousness. The intensity of the following sexual acts increase constantly and do not diminish in the end.
Beyond time, lasting indefinitely therefore is contiguous with Infinity. Ocean-like state of beatific fulfillment felt by BOTH man and woman as a shared feeling of happiness and joy of living which expands the perception of pleasure.
The two lovers become gradually aware of the God(dess) within. Man can share woman's multi-orgasmic capacity without losing the erection.
The other "disappears" due to the spontaneous transfiguration.
Limited sexual availability due to the exhaustion which follows ejaculation. This leads gradually to a state of permanent fatigue and drowsiness which can manifest as instinctive repulsion for the other or as lack of self-esteem.
Unlimited sexual availability making possible an overwhelming erotic experience of a paramount intensity which can last eight to ten hours without interruption --providing that BOTH man and woman perfectly CONTROL the sexual energy. The erotic vitality of the couple amplifies leading to a clear state of inner power and of complete sexual fulfillment.
Attachment, selfish desire, possessiveness and jealousy. Detachment, desire transcended into fulfillment, leading to a state of peace with oneself and of tender happiness which overflows to other human beings as love and compassion.
Due to the complete transmutation and sublimation of the sexual power, the psycho-mental potential is increased leading to the awakening of paranormal powers (telepathy, clairvoyance, etc.). A state of overwhelming euphoria grows gradually, opening the couple to positive, affectionate feelings.
Dramatic increasing of vitality leading to the shortening of the need for sleep and awakening of the creative imagination and lucidity. Man's virility and woman's pluri-level multi-orgasmic capacity awakens and amplifies to the highest extent, leading to ever more fulfilling sexual experiences. The dynamics of the couple decreases with time and desire transforms quickly into habit.
Monotony kills the desire and the relationship becomes ever more trivial. The dynamics of the couple is enriched every day with new and amazing discoveries of the other's inner world and, through reflection, of one's own inner profile.
Desire transforms gradually into genuine and pure love, a feeling rarely known by humans and which grows constantly, fed with new and unexpectedly delicious experiences. Habit cannot survive due to the hyper-intense and spontaneous living in the ever-changing present.
Due to the enormous intensity of this union, the consciousness of both partners develops and fuses, at the beginning between themselves and later with the Cosmic Consciousness. The indescribable beatitude then felt embraces all things and beings.
All that still subsists is a never-ending thirst for unity, only a Lover and a Loved-one. TANTRA is a genuine and exceptional form of YOGA which puts sexuality in its right place, recreating the missing spiritual dimension of the sexual experience.
At the same time, through the surprisingly links established among apparently heterogenous phenomena and scientific facts, TANTRA opens the road toward infinite horizons, where many extraordinary discoveries wait for the tireless practitioner.