This next bit is very difficult but mostly because of the prejudices that are programmed into us from an early age. If we want enlightenment we need a special type of energy to work with. Whatever I write here about tantra would be denied by those who work with it but most of them are working from scriptures they do not understand, scriptures passed down through the ages by many others. From what I see in them and from what I know from my personal experience of working without them I find them to be misleading at best. But the essence of tantra is secret and I think it suits the masters and mistresses of this to keep the secrets well hidden.
I cannot say that someone in the 21st century can open their eyes better or faster than those living 2500 years ago. Even if life was simpler then they were still living in a difficult world for this. What we do have on our side now is a certain detachment from the religious thinking that has so long clouded our judgement. One part of that has been to stop people even attempting to do this, another part to insist it is done in a certain way. But against us are the many charlatans who claim to have done it, written the book and opened the ashram. And of course some who really have achieved this state and wish to profit by it or feel that they need a host of followers to achieve their personal aims.
I would point to one in particular. First let me point out that his charitable work has been simply extraordinary. Take a look:
“Sathya Sai Baba founded a large number of schools and colleges, hospitals, and other charitable institutions in India and abroad, the total cost of which is usually estimated at Rs. 400 billion (US$9 billion). However, estimates as high as 1.4 trillion rupees (about US$31.5bn) have also been made” Wikipedia
He was a highly skilled conjuror famous for producing gold charms etc out of thin air. He came from a humble background and was considered an incarnation of Shiva. Although he was accused of various things including money laundering it was certainly not to pamper himself but to aid his work for the many suffering and poor people in his country. He died in 2011 and this is his will:
“I, Sri Sathya Sai of Parshanthi Nilayam P.O. Indian Inhabitant hereby declare as follows:-
1) I was born in the village of Puthaparthi District Anantpur and am at present 44 years old. I joined the school and gave up studies and dedicated myself spread Sanatan Dharma. I am unmarried and I left my parents house at the age of Twelve and have taken up religious order with saffron dress and I have no worldly/or family attachments. I declare that when I left parents’ place permanently and adopted Holy order with no intention to revert back. I relinquished all my right title and interest in the family property moveable and/or immovable whatsoever and wherever they may be and that I do not own and possess any personal property, wealth or estate. Whatever is given to me by my devotees is under my management, supervision and control as a Trustee to be used for public charitable purposes. This declaration I am making so that nobody can claim under or through me in the family properties, if any.” Wikipedia
Among his followers were famous teachers themselves and I have heard from some who met him who were by no means fools or gullible. But it must be said that among the criticisms is one that comes up time and again with gurus – sexual abuse. This brings up something that has to be mentioned. Many of the men and women considered to be enlightened, and certainly Sai Baba as he is called, were practitioners of tantra. Tantra gets a bad press as do tantric practices because of its relationship with sex. But in some ways sex has much to do with enlightenment. Perhaps because most of this was handed down over many generations and not understood it has led to abuse. Sexual abuse, bullying and deceit can never be part of the life of an enlightened person.
I can only relate here what I know personally and some will not like it but ‘like’ and ‘dislike’ are often the inhibitions to eye opening. First there are those who separated themselves from the opposite sex (monks and hermits) and even society so that they could rise above the temptations of the flesh, or that is what is taught about their particular practice and celibacy, still expected of many religious orders. I do not think this is necessary but suppression has a lot to do with tantric energy. On a very basic level consider this kundalini serpent they claim lies coiled at the base of the spine and whose energy they wish to release to the brain. If you think of it as a spring, suppressing it is how one stores energy and under normal circumstances such a spring may work a clock gradually releasing that energy in a controlled fashion. This is how our body works with its chemical processes. But one can also release that spring to eject something very fast and powerfully. An air rifle would be a good example. That can be dangerous but it is also a way of temporarily experiencing a rush of energy to the head. Some drugs do this for example and then leave one feeling worn out for days. Athletics is again under the microscope for thit. LSD does this too with all the dangers attached to it.
Sexual energy is surprisingly powerful. We can see in our society that some cannot control it and it drives them to crime. We can see in our society how advertisers and the entertainment media use it. It is in some ways all we are made for. Many species work entirely to reproduce and die as soon as they do. Birds have attractive plumage because of it. Discounting such a basic energy is like shutting one’s eyes. I would compare this energy source with fire, oil and nuclear power. Mankind discovered fire aeons ago and then the power of steam. That is what powered the industrial revolution as it is called. Oil opened up even more possibilities and nuclear energy is poised to enable remarkable breakthroughs for the human. But they come at a cost and with great danger. We are seeing the costs of overusing these energy sources already and they may yet destroy us. But I would not be typing on a laptop but for this knowing that someone on the other side of the planet can read this almost simultaneously. It may not be as beneficial as we think but it is faster and really that is why enlightenment may be possible in a much shorter time span now, but also why it may not do us much good.
I should mention two Ancient Egyptian gods who may be one in fact. In that language they did not write vowels and we have to guess them. In the past Egyptologists tended to use the letter ‘e’ for most of the missing vowels unless there was good reason to think otherwise. The two gods Amen (Iman, Amun, Ameen) and Min are both often portrayed with an erect penis. They compare with Shiva in India who is often represented by a penis too. This tends to be written about as part of a fertility cult which is understandable but not the case. The Maypole for example and even the obelisks of Egypt are traditionally considered to be symbols of this cult. But Amen was considered to have created the world by masturbating. This gets less press than most Egyptian subjects and the statues with erect penises are seldom on display, or have been broken deliberately, but this is where we find the hidden roots of Tantra. And this is what has to be tackled in an adult way because what we call sexual energy is an essential part of Ancient Egypt, Enlightenment and even Clairvoyance. We need to breathe, we need blood pouring through our lungs and bodies and we need this sexual energy. But all of those physical processes also underpin our spiritual lives and bodies.
Let us start off by looking at some of the writings on this subject which are completely misleading. First the wasting of semen as it is called is revealed as a deadly sin in the bible which leads to this:
“Have mercy on your holy soul and stop blemishing it with the sin of wasting semen. Take heed of what the kabbalah says and stop committing this sin of wasting semen.
Wasting semen is one of the most severe sins that a Jew can commit according to the Kabbalah. A person who has a practice of wasting semen and masturbating cuts himself off from all spiritual light….”
“It is not recommended that men masturbate, as the sperm are abandoned souls that become demons.”
Contrast with this:
“ There are depictions of male masturbation in prehistoric rock paintings around the world. Most early people seem to have connected human sexuality with abundance in nature. A clay figurine of the 4th millennium BC from a temple site on the island of Malta, depicts a woman masturbating. However, in the ancient world depictions of male masturbation are far more common.
“An Ancient Greek krater from the 6th century BCE of a satyr masturbating”
“From the earliest records, ancient Sumer had a relaxed attitude toward sex, and masturbation was a popular technique for enhancing potency, either alone or with a partner“.
“Male masturbation became an even more important image in ancient Egypt. When performed by a god it could be considered a creative or magical act: the god Atum was believed to have created the universe by masturbating to ejaculation, and the ebb and flow of the Nile was attributed to the frequency of his ejaculations. Egyptian Pharaohs, in response to this, were at one time required to masturbate ceremonially into the Nile“.
“The ancient Greeks had a more relaxed attitude toward masturbation than the Egyptians did, regarding the act as a normal and healthy substitute for other forms of sexual pleasure. They considered it a safety valve against destructive sexual frustration. The Greeks also dealt with female masturbation in both their art and writings. One common term used for it was anaphlan, which roughly translates as “up-fire”.
Diogenes, speaking in jest, credited the god Hermes with its invention: he allegedly took pity on his son Pan, who was pining for Echo but unable to seduce her, and taught him the trick of masturbation in order to relieve his suffering. Pan in his turn taught the habit to young shepherds.”Wikipedia
“The process began when Atum appeared on the mound and gave rise to the air god Shu and his sister Tefnut, whose existence represented the emergence of an empty space amid the waters. To explain how Atum did this, the myth uses the metaphor of masturbation, with the hand he used in this act representing the female principle inherent within him. He is also said to have “sneezed” and”spat” to produce Shu and Tefnut, a metaphor that arose from puns on their names. Next, Shu and Tefnut coupled to produce the earth god Geb and the sky goddess Nut, who defined the limits of the world. Geb and Nut in turn gave rise to four children, who represented the forces of life: Osiris, god of fertility and regeneration; Isis, goddess of motherhood; Set, the god of male sexuality; and Nephthys, the female complement of Set.
Theban theology claimed that Amun was not merely a member of the Ogdoad, but the hidden force behind all things. There is a conflation of all notions of creation into the personality of Amun, a synthesis which emphasizes how Amun transcends all other deities in his being “beyond the sky and deeper than the underworld”. One Theban myth likened Amun’s act of creation to the call of a goose, which broke the stillness of the primeval waters and caused the Ogdoad and Ennead to form. Amun was separate from the world, his true nature was concealed even from the other gods. At the same time, however, because he was the ultimate source of creation, all the gods, including the other creators, were in fact merely aspects of Amun. Amun eventually became the supreme god of the Egyptian pantheon because of this belief ‘ Wikipedia
‘Amun-Ra was considered to be the father and protector of the pharaoh. The Theban royal women wielded great power, and influence and were closely involved with the cult of Amun. Queen Ahmose Nefertari (the Great Wife of the Pharaoh Ahmose I) was granted the title “God’s Wife of Amun” with reference to the myth that Amun created the world by masturbation. This title was then granted to the Great Wife of every Pharaoh in recognition of her role in the state religion of Amun. The female Pharaoh Hatshepsut went one stage further and specifically stated that Amun had impregnated her mother (in the guise of the Pharaoh Thuthmoses II, her father). Thus she established her right to rule on the basis that she was his daughter. ‘
There are many similarities between Amun/Atum (Adam?) and Shiva. And between Thoth/Set and Shiva. Thoth and Shiva for example are both depicted with a crescent moon. If we look at the culture that predated India:
“Many Indus valley seals show animals but one seal that has attracted attention shows a figure, either horned or wearing a horned headdress and possibly ithyphallic figure seated in a posture reminiscent of the Lotus position and surrounded by animals was named by early excavators of Mohenjo-daro Pashupati (lord of cattle), an epithet of the later Hindu gods Shiva and Rudra. Sir John Marshall and others have claimed that this figure is a prototype of Shiva…
The Tantras, composed between the 8th and 11th centuries, regard themselves as Sruti. Among these the Shaiva Agamas, are said to have been revealed by Shiva himself and are foundational texts for Shaiva Siddhanta..…
Shiva’s form: Shiva has a trident in the right lower arm, and a crescent moon on his head. He is said to be fair like camphor or like an ice clad mountain….
He is depicted as both an ascetic yogi and as a householder, roles which have been traditionally mutually exclusive in Hindu society…
However, In the Nath tradition, Dattatreya is recognized as an Avatar or incarnation of Shiva and as the Adi-Guru (First Teacher) of the Adinath Sampradaya of the Nathas. Dattatreya was at first a “Lord of Yoga” exhibiting distinctly Tantric traits
…Dattatreya is one of the oldest deities. The first reference to this deity is found in epics like Mahabharata and Ramayana. In Mahanubhav panth Dattatreya is worshipped as the Supreme Lord who wanders the earth taking different forms. Similarly, in the Dattatreya Upanishad, which is a part of the Atharva Veda, he is described as being able to appear in the form of a child, madman in order to help his devotees achieve moksha, liberation from the bonds of worldly existence. Even today He is believed to appear before yogya purush (men and women who have cleansed themselves and are worthy of moksha).
The single head for Dattatreya can be explained if one considers the Tantric traditions which prevailed in India about 1000 years back. It was Gorakshanath who changed/removed the aghori traditions and gave the Nath sampradaya the acceptable civil form it has today. Dattatreya may have been a very powerful sage existing before this time, and over the centuries he acquired a divine status. It has been argued that the three heads came later, in the last 900 years or so’ Wikipedia
If you hear of tantra now it may well be a very recent derivative called tantric massage, sold as a sexual service. It is intended to be a communion where the male takes the form of an Indian God and the female a goddess. But in its derivative and somewhat crude form it is a sexual massage. In genuine tantra that would be arousal with no release with the intention of storing this priceless energy for use in one’s spiritual work. But as sex for sale it is merely a slow arousal that allows a powerful release. Sex was important to the ancients. Although the Kama Sutra is not particularly ancient it describes an art that is.
Sexual energy is very powerful and surges through all our senses. It is like a flood tide and if its original purpose was procreation it can also power other things. The moon moves our oceans and causes tides and if we harnessed that energy we would have raw electrical power. It is a reasonable analogy. You need raw power to do the work required to achieve enlightenment whatever it is.
We have to push our thinking and feeling. It is easy to look at something and then to look at something else without much thought. It is easy to watch TV for hours without thinking too deeply about anything. But consider the difference if for example you are reading a book to try to find a quote somewhere in it. It requires more work. Or reading a book that requires translation. Or reading something you have to learn by heart.
I was walking with the dogs yesterday and passed a tree with three small birds in it. We stopped and watched them. There were two male bullfinches with magnificent pink chests and one female. They seemed to be collecting nesting material from the tree. I do not often see these lovely birds but I needed to look harder. This is because I study what adepts call the language of birds. Sometimes they have a message for us perhaps from the local nature spirits. This is a place which humans have long regarded as sacred. It is only a very small example but what I am trying to explain is how we have to look deeper to open our eyes and work at it constantly. It can be exhausting and we need whatever energy we have stored to do that.
“In mythology, medieval literature and occultism, the language of the birds is postulated as a mystical, perfect divine language, green language, adamic language, Enochian, angelic language or a mythical or magical language used by birds to communicate with the initiated…….” Wikipedia
It is a struggle sometimes to remember our dreams but if we can do that through our tiredness it is very rewarding.
I will go into more detail on all of this but will finish this for now with a quote extracted from a fairly representative work on tantra just to show you how far away my thinking is on this subject. It is interesting but it is confusing too. There are many writings on the subject and many tantric sects. How many understand what they are writing about and how many are just regurgitating what they have been told I leave you to contemplate. This site was just at the top of the Google list for ‘tantra enlightenment’ there are another 537000 sites listed.
“ Tantra is a concept of philosophical totality. It is a teaching of deep spiritual profundity and a vehicle that facilitates enlightenment here and now regardless of circumstance, status, gender or understanding. The ordinary experience of everyday life is transformed into the enlightened expression of the mind. The world that presents itself to the senses is not in error at anytime regardless of the nature of its manifestation. All is useful. Enlightenment is not dependent upon the changing of circumstance, but rather upon the penetration of phenomena with the developed wisdom of a mind freed of the tyranny of dualistic thinking. Whereas early Buddhism presents spiritual development in terms of ‘leaving’ the familiar for the unfamiliar, tantra emphasises that it is exactly through the ‘familiar’ that enlightenment is attained. What initiates this transformation of the ordinary into enlightenment is a chosen sadhana, or ‘spiritual method’, one which can consist of virtually any method whatsoever, relevant to the karma of the practitioner. The method serves to focus the mind through developed Buddhist concepts but in such away that offers a dynamic opening of the mind to the true empty nature of phenomena. The difficulty of the chosen method acts as the spiritual force that breaks through the haze of the deluded mind. As the true nature of phenomena is empty – there is not a single place or circumstance that is not a representation of the enlightened state. Delusion separates the practitioner from the direct realisation of this truth. Reality – as emptiness – can be accessed from anywhere in phenomenal existence. Position in this context is of no consequence. It is the method – sadhana – which will vary in definition and content from practitioner to practitioner according to individual karmic requirements. The sadhana takes the practitioner through the apparent delusive mind to the empty essence beyond. Although these sadhana can be very elaborate and consist of layers of explanation, these explanations themselves exist within the world of dualistic thinking. Sadhana can be very direct and to the point and consist of little unnecessary intellectual verbage. The tantric movement appears very much to be a development from Mahayana Buddhist thought, which is itself an elaboration of Buddhist philosophy as found in the Pali Canon and the Sanskrit Agama. A careful examination of key Buddhist texts suggests that tantra, as a distinct aspect of Buddhist practice, is the product of the development of philosophy and spiritual experience over-time, and that despite how different its outer appearance may seem – when compared with other, more conservative Buddhist schools – it is in fact in many ways a logical consequence of the extension of the concept of ‘sunyata’. The school of tantra – i.e. ‘Tanrayana’ – represents a culmination of creativity within Buddhism that began with the Lord Buddha himself. The acknowledgement of the importance of the ‘depth on interpretation’ of the Buddha’s teaching is very important. Tantra is note a later distortion of Buddhist thinking and practice, but rather a sublime manifestation of the karmic consequences of the Buddha’s Turning of the Dharma Wheel in ancientIndia. The ripples emanate outwards throughout time bringing the teachings to innumerable beings afresh with each new generation. Tantra is the consequence of the Buddha’s compassionate teachings, whereby people of different mentalities and abilities were taught the Dharma according to their existential need. This process did not change the Dharma or nullify its timeless, universal truth, but rather demonstrates that wherever wisdom of this kind manifests – compassion must always be its companion and that although practice can occur in isolation, it can also occur within spiritual partnerships. Whatever the case, it is true that at the very least, the individual must acquire the teachings in one way or another that is dependent upon the efforts of other – even if those efforts appear indirect and of no obvious import. A book, for instance, must be written, published, sold and acquired, thus creating a long list of contributory stages and individuals who fulfil the work itself. A teacher must be educated – this simple requirement enlists the help of many, many others, before knowledge can be truly said to ‘belong’ to the teacher. A student who retires from the world does so because his economic and social circumstances allow him such a choice of action. Often, the practice of tantra obviously involves either the direct or indirect assistance of others and is not a movement away from the familiar structures of early Buddhism.
Tantra (तन्त्र) is a Sanskrit term that translates literally as ‘weave’ – but more specifically refers to the ‘weft’ of a loom, or the horizontal threads that are ‘weaved’ through the lengthwise warp threads. Indeed, the Sanskrit term ‘tantravaya’ refers to a ‘weaver’. The term ‘tantra’ can also be used to refer the ‘thread’ that is actually ‘weaved’, and is related to the Sanskrit term ‘tanti’ (तन्ति) which translates as a ‘cord’ traditionally used to tether calves. Furthermore, the verbal root ‘tan’ is defined as to ‘stretch’, ‘expand’ and ‘extend’. This description of a practical handicraft has become adapted to describe a specific practice that links the practitioner to his teacher, to the Buddha, and to the goal of enlightenment. There is a common ‘thread’ that weaves its way through time and space, and which also links the practitioner as existing in the deluded sphere, to that of the unconditioned enlightened sphere. Tantra as a method appears to be an elaboration of the Mahayana teaching that suggests that ‘samsara’ – the deluded world – is identical to ‘nirvana – the enlightened world. Enlightenment is immanent ‘here and now’, and that by necessity all things exist within enlightenment itself……..”