By Pandit Rajmani Tugnait
Courtesy & Copyright Himalayan Institute
As a subject Tantra always fascinated me. I wanted to read about it but knew nowhere to go. I was fortunate to be gifted a book by a friend. What is life without sharing? Here are excerpts from the book for you. Content is verbatim. Short form for Tantra is T. The piece has five chapters-
2. The Living Science of Tantra – covers introduction to T, my own quest, world of T, forbidden T and highest forms of knowledge.
3. Where T still strives - gives us the names, locations & importance of the 17 tantric shrines throughout the country.
4. Finding the Way In - includes distinctive features of the three schools of T ie kaula, mishra & samaya. Further kaula is divided into left and right hand schools.
The book has four more chapters i.e. The First Initiation, Mantra, the Second Initiation, Yantra, the Third Initiation, Chakra Puja and A Practice for Seducing the Forces of Matter & Spirit. After going through them I realized that their contents are very complex coupled with too many diagrams / pictures demonstrating how certain practices need to be followed. So in my wisdom have not reproduced them for you. However, if you like to read more, buy the book email payal sehgal: [email protected].
Excerpts from Foreword by Deborah Willoughby. It is the problem of seeing that lies at the center of misunderstanding that swirls around tantra. We cannot comprehend what we are seeing when we look at T until we enlarge our view of the reality because the tantric vision is radically different from ours. Accomplished Tantrics round the world see the world and everything in it as an indivisible whole – as a tangible manifestation of the Divine Mother. Where we see duality – young & old etc a tantric adept sees One. The Divine Mother is not the world, she is the world. Indeed She is the entire universe, and to see any difference between the individual self and Her or between Her and any natural force or cosmic influence is misperception.
Most of us would react with a ‘I know’. But unless we actually experience the world as a vibrant, seamless manifestation of the Divine Mother – if only for a moment – there is no meaningful way to ‘know’ what the tantric masters see nor to understand what they do. As long as this unitary tantric version of reality is a matter of intellectual understanding only it will continue to be misunderstood, misinterpreted and misused. And if we take our dualistic version of reality, paper it over with a simplistic formula (everything is sacred, nothing is profane) presto! We have the exploitative sexual practices that have so sensationalized and misrepresented tantra in the West. This further complicates the challenge of seeing tantra – we have to be able to separate the popular view of tantra as an amalgam of black magic & sexual practices from the ancient & elegant philosophy of tantra that skillfully demonstrates how to use the objects of the world as a means of spiritual unfoldment.
The ancient view of T is veiled in mystery, and the only way to penetrate this veil is to patiently cultivate the ability to see the universe the way tantric masters do. How is someone who is grounded – as we all are in the West – in a thoroughly dualistic world to cultivate a unitary version? How do we see what we do not know how to see? The tantric vision springs from various sources – knowledge of scriptures, contact with tantric shrines, and a systematic course of disciplined practice among others. The dilemma is that it is difficult to assimilate one in isolation from the rest.
So how to begin? Few of the key scriptures are available in translation, even if you do, you will not be able to glean practices from it, for it is an insoluble principle among the adepts that none of the more potent practices is ever set down in its entirety. A crucial piece is always missing, one that can be supplied by a master who will consent to teach it only to a fully qualified aspirant.
How to find a master? As we shall see in chapter 2, one time honored way is to make a pilgrimage to places where they are likely to be found – the famous shrine to the Divine Mother at Kamakhya, for e.g. Unless we know what to look for all that we may find there are animals being sacrificed and an occasional group of seemingly intoxicated people. Or worse, we may find ourselves attracted to practioners of black magic and sorcery (who are often found at such places) because they match our illusion of a how a tantric master looks & acts.
Prepared students will have few such illusions – which brings us back to the question of preparation. As with all forms of yoga, the key is practice. But what practices and where to find them? Besides the scriptures we need a teacher. Without the ability to distinguish genuine from fake, a tantric practioner from a tantric pretender, there is no way to begin to find our way from the realm of duality through the mist of misunderstanding that veils the true tantric vision from our eyes.
Obviously what is required is any entry point – a map of the territory & some clues about where to look, how to see, and how to soften our gaze so that the appearance of duality begins to melt away. This slender volume is that portal – a doorway to the experience of living tantra.