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Tantra is an ancient sacred practice that was originated in India, China, and Nepal. First Tantric scriptures were dated to the 5th century of the Common Era.
The word Tantra is often translated as "expand" or “what extends knowledge".
The word Tantra comes from Sanskrit and is derived from two words, tattva, and mantra. Tattva means the science of cosmic principles, while mantra refers to the science of mystic sound and vibrations.
Tanyate vistaryate jnanam anemna iti tantram. Tantra also means the scriptures that spread the light of knowledge.
We can say that Tantra is the use of sacred knowledge with a purpose to gain enlightenment.
Teun Goudriaan, a Professor in the Department of Oriental Languages at the University in Utrecht, Netherlands, and author of many books on Tantra, describes tantrism as a "systematic quest for salvation or spiritual excellence by realizing and fostering the divine within one's own body, one that is the simultaneous union of the masculine-feminine and spirit-matter and has the ultimate goal of realizing the "primal blissful state of non-duality."
Tantra is a spiritual practice – a path to expanding one's consciousness, enlightenment, achieving nirvana, living in bliss. Disciplines of meditation, breath-work, and yoga. The practice of harnessing energies, enhancing one's life and well-being.
Tantra is a way to connect to yourself and the Universe, tap into your inner power, heal self on all levels: mental, emotional, physical; learn to connect with a partner on the deepest levels, improve relationships, improve love-making skills; heal sexual dysfunctions for both – men and women; finding the kind of sexual pleasure you wouldn't know otherwise; live in bliss.
Tantra teaches you to accept full responsibility for your health and life. See yourself as a whole being – mind, body, and spirit. See any illness or condition as a lesson and learn from it. Address a problem, not symptoms. Let go of what doesn't serve. Release all emotional blocks. Find balance and harmony.
I would also add that Tantra is the Magical tradition, sorcery that is based on the understanding of this world, this reality; the understanding of the law of cause and effect.
The Tantric scriptures, in a way, are a manual to life that is explaining how life works; explaining the natural laws. It’s like: if you do this – this may happen. If you want this to happen – you need to do this.
To this day, many people believe that Tantra is black magic. Traditionally, the word Tantrica is used to describe a black magician. And here, in the US, people think that Tantra means sex orgies. Not that long ago, I have invited Tantiricas for a meet-and-greet. A few women and one man attended. I was surprised to see a man, I've never met a male Tantrica. Asked him to introduce himself. He said, he is new to Tantra, but really curious and came to participate in Tantric sex... after a long pause, all women exploded with a loud laugh. As I said, Tantrica is a black magician. And here he is in a room with three black magicians asking for sex. Don’t remember when last time I laughed that much. Ignorance can be bliss, but it can also become a death sentence.
However, Tantra is one of the most important Indian traditions, representing the practical aspect of the Vedic tradition. The main deities worshipped are Shiva and Shakti. The most vigorous aspects of Vedic traditions evolved as an esoteric system of knowledge in the Tantras. The Atharva Veda is considered to be one of the prime tantric scriptures.
How is Tantra different from any other yoga?
This is the only yoga that doesn't celebrate celibacy. Most of the yoga practices were originated in monasteries and were meant to be practiced by monks. Tantra is the "household" yoga that can be practiced by regular people and integrated into any family lifestyle.
There are many forms of Tantra:
Hindu Tantra. Kama Sutra. Originated in the temples of India.
Buddhist Tantra incorporates Taoist traditions and philosophy. Spread through India, Nepal, and China.
Taoist Tantra focuses on the tradition of ejaculatory control.
Western Neo-Tantra - American and European adaptation of Tantra. Combines Tantra, Yoga, Kama Sutra with Western modalities like Somatic Therapy, and massage.
Ipsalu Tantra focuses on activating Kundalini and reaching enlightenment.
Quodoushka originated from ancient Native American traditions: Mayan and Toltec. This tradition teaches that sexuality represents our soul, and sex aligns the four directions: North, East, South, and West. Quodoushka teaches reaching full-body orgasm through fire breath.
Authentic Tantra must possess "four complete purities" - four Secret Mantras. Authentic Tantra is the path to transcendence.
Four Secret Mantras of Tantra:
1) Complete purity of place;
2) Complete purity of body;
3) Complete purity of enjoyments;
4) Complete purity of deeds.
How can you benefit from practicing Tantra?
Your body is your Temple.
You have to take care of your Temple and treat it with respect. Tantra teaches how to take care of your body through yoga, meditation, breathwork. Tantra teaches you to accept and love your body.
In Tantra, every man is a God and every woman is a Goddess. When a man and a woman choose to be together, they are creating a sacred union. Every woman is a Goddess and embodies all that is feminine to be honored and worshipped. She is a lover, seductress, healer, and nurturing mother. She must reveal and embrace all the layers of her being to be honored. Every man is a God, the embodiment of many roles: a provider, protector, and a symbol of power. He must embrace and be honored for all these parts.
I want to close with what Osho said: "Tantra is the highest form of love".
" Tantra is the total surrender, or letting go of all mental, emotional, and cultural conditioning, so that universal life energy may flow through you like a river without any effort. It is a letting go to a universal oneness... To love. When fear is removed, Tantra remains".