“Nothing exists that is not Divine. Everything is everything. There is nothing but Oneness.” — Shiva Sutras 3.30 & 3.31
Let me first clarify that Tantra is not sexual rituals, neither magic alchemy. It is a vast science that encompasses wisdom from Ayurvedic medicine, Yoga philosophy, Vedanta, Jyotish astrology and spiritual practices. The ultimate goal of Tantra is to systematically utilize all of the methods to help us to create a life that is richer and more complete.
The word Tantra comes from the Sanskrit word tan which means “to expand,” and tra, which means “instrument.” Therefore, Tantra means the “instrument to expand”, to the level of consciousness to be limitless.
But how to achieve so? According to tantric literature, every one of us has two parts — Shiva and Shakti. Shiva is the Consciousness and Shakti is energy. Everything is simply the interplay of Shiva and Shakti. Shiva is where no thought is present, no sensation is present and no sense of individual self is present; a path to achieving oneness. On the other hand, Shakti is the life force energy and we use this energy to do our daily activities, to digest, to breath, to move and so on.
Tantra techniques teach us to balance the Shiva and Shakti, to achieve a deeply sensual and intimate conscious participation with whatever it presents, however seemingly banal. The simplest of acts whether it be walking on the earth, listening to music, drinking a cup of tea, or having sex can be elevated beyond the mundane act and reach a higher level of consciousness.
Tantra would use multiple tools and techniques to help us elevate our awareness of limitless potential. For example, using the simplest of asanas, one can stabilize the pelvic floor, strengthen the sacrum, and increase flexibility and stability in the spinal column. Pranayama serves to energize the solar plexus, and meditation can help us improve concentration and achieve union/merging with the Infinite. In addition, Tantra also uses the various energy centers in the body known as the chakras to intuitively access the elements, sometimes through manipulation of the body or breath. For example, in Hatha yoga, we use the body through asana (postures), pranayama (control of vital energy), and mudra (gestures, attitudes) to open chakras. The goal is to engage the higher chakras and remove negative emotions including anxiety, depression, shame, ego, and so on.
Philip Smith described Tantra as —
‘The feeling of being alive and at one with everything. This is connecting with the Divine. And the important thing to develop is the sense that this sacred experience is available in all instants’.
If you liked the article, feel free to share and like. In the next series, I will write more details about the different exercises that one can do — including on Ayurveda.