The whole freakin’ Universe
In Christian theology, there are two primary ways of conceptualizing God — God is either transcendent, a higher order being that comes before the world. Or immanent, a living spirit dispersed through all the matter of existence.
The tantric lineage which has its origin in Tantric Shaivism and worships Shiva as the primary deity traces back to 3000–1500 B.C.E.
The main tenet of Tantric Shaivism is that this so-called dichotomy between the transcendent and the immanent is an illusion, that both appear true from a given a certain perspective, but that the true nature of reality will always remain hidden because our human brains simply cannot grasp the time and space in their totality.
Mystics of all the religious traditions tend to agree at this point. Even some secular thinkers, such as Einstein, more or less agree. Here’s his postulate about the wave-particle duality of light:
It seems as though we must use sometimes the one theory and sometimes the other, while at times we may use either. We are faced with a new kind of difficulty. We have two contradictory pictures of reality; separately neither of them fully explains the phenomena of light, but together they do.
Now replace the word “light” with “money,” “sex,” “power” or any number of potent concepts that collectively stick in our craw. That’s tantrism in a nutshell.
In practical terms, the tantric path stipulates that anything you try to deny from your experience will essentially haunt you via its absence.
History is littered with human societies and sects that have tried to remove sex and money from the human equation (not to mention immigrants, ethnic groups, people of other religions). Many believed and still do, that denial, abstinence and poverty are the path to enlightenment. You can understand why, looking at all the time and energy people spend chasing sex and money, how just a fraction of that energy diverted to other activities could have a positive effect.
The Shakers, for instance, were incredibly industrious — responsible for a large part of the New England economy despite their limited population. They believed their super-strength was fueled by abstinence. They were probably right.
The tantric position is that the places of taboo (usually associated with our “base” human nature, the material world, and the feminine) are the greatest teachers, because how we treat them can reveal so much about how we treat ourselves, but also, that such teachings must be kept hidden because they are beyond hazardous for the untrained adept.
Shiva, Lord of the dance, is the primary archetype of the tantric path. In his dance between matter and spirit, Shiva creates enough space around him to hold an object of attention without obsession. In fact, Shiva has so much space in him that he can create worlds.
This summer, I got a farmshare from a local farm where I live. It was great to get fresh vegetables, flowers and herbs every week, but then, at the farmer’s market, I had a realization: I really like to choose. I am a choosing creature.
Imagine me fondling eggplants and you get the picture. It’s such a sensual, abundant material experience to hang out at a farmer’s market.
I don’t want my reality premade, prepackaged or pre-selected for me. I want to select it, appreciate it and add value to it. It’s the same way I feel about life.
I’d like to suggest that this is why the dance metaphor is so apt — because it involves the engagement of an aesthetic rooted in appreciation — an understanding at some deep pre-cognitive level of the awesome relationship between matter and spirit that we cannot fully explain.
And if the Universe is THAT abundant, then why do we fail to believe it can provide for our puny needs? Why do we keep beating the drum of not-enough, of lack, when we could be fondling eggplants and ogling planets and having a grand old time here on Earth?
I don’t know the answer, but that’s a question to get you up in the morning!!!
What I do know is that it is possible to loosen up the space around our most rigid thoughts, the ones we erect to keep out those things we think we cannot handle, as well as those we deem ourselves unworthy to receive, and to let much more fun, love and abundance into our experience. We are all worthy of that.
So perhaps in a place of stillness, the next time you quiet your mind, you might find there an invitation to the dance.
Keep on groovin’
See you next week.
Erin Marie Sickler
Life, Creativity & Mindfulness Coach
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