Friday, October 9, 2009
What Is Tantra?
Tantra is a metaphysical concept involving a whole class of knowledge from India and Tibet. It means that approach to the Universe which uses energy, the body, the manifestation, so in Tantra you find the things which are body-oriented, energy-oriented, chakra-oriented and, why not, life-oriented.
While many forms of Yoga as well as many of the older religious trends of India and Tibet and the East are very much ascetic, others are not life-oriented but more escapist, trying to escape from this reality, to reach nirvana and leave this this world. Automatically, the Tantric forms of Yoga are world-oriented, body-oriented. So Tantra is first of all a metaphysical name showing a certain category of knowledge, a certain philosophical approach to the body and the world. And from this are derived all the Tantric forms of Yoga. There are Tantric forms of the Yoga of India and there are Tantric forms of Yoga of Tibet. Among them we find Hatha Yoga, Kundalini Yoga, Laya Yoga, and all the energy forms of Yoga. In particular, in modern times, some Westerners, when they say Tantra, refer to Tantra more as the sexual part of Yoga because, yes, automatically when you have forms of Yoga that are body-oriented, then one starts taking into account the sexual function as well. Exactly as when we think about our body we, for example, take into account what we eat, and there are a lot of dietary prescriptions within Yoga to fulfill your goals faster and easier. Exactly as you are taking into account the positions of the body – and there is a lot of knowledge in Yoga concerning the positions of the body – exactly in the same way the yogis could not fail to notice that sex is a very powerful force of nature and if you harness it properly it can give amazing results. If you don’t harness it, it may happen that it controls you as it is happening with most people who live under the influence of this instinctual power that controls their lives. So Tantra, or the Tantric Yoga-s, contain a very peculiar branch which has been a bit over-advertised because of its sexual spectacular nature, and unfortunately because of that it has been falsified and turned into just some cheap hanky-panky. However, there is a branch of Tantric Yoga which deals with a sexual technology of self-development. And the essence of it is that by controlling your sexual functions in a special way you can actually develop yourself mentally, spiritually, psychologically, you can heal, you can control your states of emotions, and all kinds of other wonderful things become possible through that.
In Sanskrit, the word Tantra literally means “warp” (on a loom) or “extension.” It proceeds from the verbal roots tan-, “to stretch, to expound,” and tra- “to save,” which give further hints at its other possible meanings. Warp – you may have heard this expression on “Star Trek” – refers to a texture or fabric of the Universe, an invisible net that connects the Universe. This name is quite weird – why should Tantra be called warp, the science of the warp? Because yogis consider that everything is connected with everything. The Universe is a kind of holographic structure, and this is illustrated sometimes in beautiful proverbs such as, for example, the famous Arabian maxim, “If you cut a blade of grass, the whole Universe will shake.” Although we cannot see that the blade of grass is linked to the whole Universe, in a certain way it is. Thus, the science of Tantra is actually what we would call a Yoga of systems. It is a holistic science that views everything as an interrelated element of a system.