Arvindus

Contemplationam

Considerations on Tantra

  • Title: Contemplationam, Considerations on Tantra.
  • Author: Arvindus.
  • Publisher: Arvindus.
  • Copyright: © 2021 Arvindus, all rights reserved.
  • Index: 202107011.
  • Edition: html, first edition.

'Tantra' is an English loan word from Sanskrit referring to "any of numerous texts dealing with the esoteric practices of some Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain sects."1 In this sense the word is also used in Sanskrit when it refers to "a system of thought" or "a set of doctrines".2 In Sanskrit 'tantra' also refers to a loom or its lengthwise threads or to the weaven cloth therewith,3, 4, 5 and from there tantra is sometimes also understood as a web or a fabric.6 Other, less dominant, ways in which tantra is understood in Sanskrit is as a governance, an essence or a shortening.7 Sometimes 'tantra' is considered to be derived from the Sanskrit word 'tantri', meaning 'to explain,8 and as such tantra can then be taken to be an explanation. Compositionally 'tantra' consists of the words 'tan' and 'tra'. 'Tan' refers to an extension.9, 10 Sometimes also the word 'tanu', meaning 'body', is seen as root of 'tantra'.11 The second part of 'tantra', being 'tra', refers to a protection.12 So compositionally tantra may be understood as an extended protection or as a protected extension. Most of these meanings have a certain validity, as we shall see.

Now to understand tantra correctly a larger picture should be sketched. And the first lines thereof should indicate the duality of which both the cosmos and man consist, for both consist of the duality of spirit and matter.13 In the unification of these two on a cosmic scale creation as such comes to being, and on a human scale man as an individual soul.14, 15 Now such a unification of spirit and matter follows a cycle of involution, in which spirit is submerged in matter (the downward arc), and of evolution, in which matter is spiritualized (the upward arc).16 In the human cycle man has passed the turning point and is placed now somewhere halfway on the upward arc of evolution.17

So humanity as a whole is standing on the arc of evolution where matter is spiritualized. However every human individual has his own similar cycle.18 Within humanity the points of evolution of individuals may differ.19 At first the evolution of an individual progresses slow and more or less automatic under influence of the entirety of humanity, however in later stages, when the individual has ripened enough, he enters the spiritual path to consciously speed up his evolution, his spiritualization of matter.20

Now to this conscious spiritualization of matter two approaches are possible. The first approach takes spirit as the point of departure from which the matter of the bodies (such as the mental body, the emotional body, the subtle physical body and the gross physical body)21 is placed under its influence. This can be considered as a top-down approach and although slower than its opposite approach this method is considered more safe and secure. The opposite approach is the down-top approach. Here is departed from the matter of the body or bodies, which is manipulated to become receptive of spirit. This approach can give a faster spiritualization of matter, however it also is much more dangerous. For when one focuses on the manipulation of matter one may lose sight of its spiritualization as the goal. Losing sight of spirit one may get lost in the manipulation of the forces of matter and become a black magician.22 Another danger lurking in the down-top approach is that the manipulation of matter may arouse material forces that the bodies of the aspirant are not able to wield, leading to their destruction.23 In both cases the aspirant will have to repair the wrought havoc, leading to a serious delay of his evolutionary path. The parable of the hare and the tortoise may here be applicable.24

This above mentioned arousing of material forces has to do with the arousing of the so called kundalini fire, which regards the prime force of matter.25 This fire lies dormant in the lowest of the seven etheric centres of the subtle physical body, namely the centre at the base of the spine. The aspirant of the down-top approach will try to manipulate the awakening of the kundalini fire in that matter representing centre to let it flow along the spine through the five intermediary centres (the sacral centre, the solar plexus centre, the heart centre, the throat centre, the centre between the eyebrows) up to the spirit representing crown centre.26 This rising of the kundalini also happens at the conclusion of the path of the aspirant of the top-down approach, however in this latter case it occurs naturally and without much manipulation, and also in the latter case there is hardly risk of bodily destructions since the body then has become purified and refined enough through the influence of the spirit aspect to be able to conduct the kundalini fire.27, 28

So why would the down-top approach give quicker results than the top-down approach? The answer is: Because man has so far spent the largest time in his cycle on the downward arc of involution, focussing on the matter aspect. This focus is still ingrained in his consciousness, and the aspirant of the down-top approach seeks to make spiritual use of the tendencies that are inherent to the matter of his bodies. And one of the strongest tendencies hidden in the body is that of reproduction. This sex urge is represented by the sacral centre, which is very closely related to the centre at the base of the spine,29 and the aspirant of the down-top approach makes use of the powerful present sex energies to attempt to awaken the kundalini fire. Manipulation of the powers of sex, of the urge to procreate, is thus often contained in the practises of aspirants of the down-top approach.

Above some important elements of the down-top approach were mentioned, and tantra follows such an approach. Tantra regards "esoteric practices" or a "set of doctrines" within the down-top approach. These doctrines consider the duality of the male spirit (Shiva) and the female matter (Shakti) and their basic unity, which union is symbolically sought after through the practise of uniting a male with a female human body.30 In this strife for unification the matter aspect, Shakti, regarding in man the body, is put central.31 Thus it can be understood why 'tantra' is sometimes though to be derived from the root word 'tanu', meaning 'body'. And in this practise the dangers are acknowledged. That is why it is said that the raising of the kundalini and the practise of tantra should always be done under the guidance and protection of an accomplished teacher.32, 33 This is what the compositional meaning of 'protected extension' may refer to. Trying in practise to make the kundalini rise the bodily consciousness is extended towards a spiritual consciousness under the protection of a guru. That this down-top approach, also known as the left-hand path (in contrary to the top-down approach, being the right-hand path), is sometimes considered as a shortcut towards the spiritual goal makes the application of the meaning of 'shortening' for 'tantra' also plausible.34

Now this working towards the raising of the kundalini is done in stages, one on top of another.35 And also in actually raising the kundalini the fire passes one centre above another. Somewhat similar sequences can be seen also in the traditional weaving of a cloth whereby one widthwise thread on top of another is added, and thus the relation between tantra as an esoteric practise and as a loom can be laid, and this also explains 'tantra' referring to a fabric.

Now as said is in tantra the urge to procreate used and manipulated in order to bring about desired results. Sex practises are part of tantric practises, and it is this part specifically that has caught the attention of Western seekers. These seekers have cut the sex practises out of their original esoteric context and introduced them in the Western world rather isolated.36 Thus Eastern esoteric tantra has in the West mostly degraded to the engaging in loose sex relations under the excuse of practising spirituality.

Now such a superficial engaging in loose sex relations is not advised for aspirants of the down-top approach towards spiritualization. Isolated from the original context the spiritual meanings get lost. In some way this is also for the good, for with that loss also the dangers connected with tantra practises are reduced. Conductive for spiritual progression these practises are not however. This goes not only for the down-top approach but also for the top-down approach. Aspirants of the top-down approach towards spiritualization are advised to abstain from both Eastern and Western tantra.

Notes
  1. Encyclopædia Britannica Ultimate Reference Suite, (CD-ROM), Encyclopædia Britannica, Chicago, 2015, Tantra.
  2. Sadhu Santidev, Encyclopaedia of Tantra, Volume 1, Cosmo Publications, New Delhi, 1999, p. 3.
  3. Oxford English Dictionary, Second Edition on CD-ROM (v. 4.0), Oxford University Press, 2009, Tantra.
  4. Monier Williams, A Sanskrit-English Dictionary, Etymologically and Philologically Arranged, With Special Reference to Greek, Latin, Gothic, German, Anglo-Saxon, and Other Cognate Indo-European Languages, The Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1862, p. 362.
  5. Note 2.
  6. [Master] E.K., Symbolism of the Scriptures, Overseas Messages - IX, Kulapathi Book Trust, Visakhapatnam, 2019, p. 158.
  7. Encyclopaedia of Tantra, Volume 1, p. 3, 4.
  8. Ibidem, p. 4.
  9. Notes 3, 4.
  10. A Sanskrit-English Dictionary, p. 361.
  11. Encyclopaedia of Tantra, Volume 1, p. 4.
  12. A Sanskrit-English Dictionary, p. 387.
  13. 'Ageless Wisdom, Triplicities in Man', Index: 201308292.
  14. Ibidem.
  15. 'Contemplationam, Sex: Human Reproduction, Mystic Enlightenment and Cosmic Creation', Index: 201003081.
  16. 'Ageless Wisdom, Cycles', Index: 201403131.
  17. Ibidem.
  18. 'Ageless Wisdom, The Egoic Lotus', Index: 201305241.
  19. 'Ageless Wisdom, Classifications of Humanity', Index: 201404081.
  20. 'Contemplationam, Human Evolution and the Planes', Index: 202008091.
  21. Note 13.
  22. Alice A. Bailey, ' The Light of the Soul', in: Twenty-Four Books of Esoteric Philosophy, (CD-ROM, Release 3), Lucis Trust, London / New York, 2001, Book II, Sl. 10 / indic. p. 113-233. "2. Mahavidya.—The great magic knowledge. It has degenerated into Tantrika worship. Deals with the feminine aspect, or the matter (mother) aspect. The basis of black magic. True maha-yoga has to do with the form (2nd aspect) and its adaptation to Spirit and its needs."
  23. Alice A. Bailey, 'A Treatise on Cosmic Fire', in: Twenty-Four Books of Esoteric Philosophy, (CD-ROM, Release 3), Lucis Trust, London / New York, 2001, indic. p. 982-996. "If a man's bodies are not sufficiently purified and their atomic vibration is not sufficiently high, he is in danger of over-stimulation when brought in contact with the forces of nature, and this inevitably entails the destruction and disintegration of one or other of his bodies. At times it may entail the destruction of two or more, and when this is the case, it involves a definite setback to egoic unfoldment, for it requires, in such cases, a much longer interval between incarnations, owing to the difficulty of assembling the needed materials in the sheaths."
  24. 'The Light of the Soul', Book I, Sl. 22 / indic. p. xvii-113.
  25. 'A Treatise on Cosmic Fire', indic. p. 183-185. "Kundalini is likewise the fire or force of matter, […]."
  26. 'Ageless Wisdom, The (Human) Centres', Index: 201909091.
  27. 'A Treatise on Cosmic Fire', indic. p. 101-104. "The more refined and rarefied the form, the better a receiver of prana will it be, and the less will be the resistance found to the uprising of kundalini at the appointed time."
  28. Alice A. Bailey, 'Letters on Occult Meditation', in: Twenty-Four Books of Esoteric Philosophy, (CD-ROM), Lucis Trust, London / New York, 2001, indic. p. 128-130. "Therefore is the emphasis laid by all wise Teachers everywhere on the Path of Purification, which must precede the Path of Illumination. They lay the emphasis on the building in of spiritual faculty before psychic faculty can be safely permitted; they demand service to the race every day throughout the scope of life before a man may be permitted to manipulate the forces of nature, to dominate the elementals, to co-operate with the devas, and to learn the forms and ceremonies, the mantrams and the key-words, that will bring those forces within the circle of manifestation."
  29. Alice A. Bailey, 'Esoteric Healing, A Treatise on the Seven Rays, Volume IV', in: Twenty-Four Books of Esoteric Philosophy, (CD-ROM), Lucis Trust, London / New York, 2001, indic. p. 168-189. "c. The sacral centre is therefore closely related to matter, and there is a flow of energy between three points in the lower part of the human body:
    1. The spleen, the organ of prana or of physical vitality coming from the sun.
    2. The sacral centre, the predisposing agent towards physical generation.
    3. The centre at the base of the spine which (until the will aspect is aroused in man) feeds the life-giving principle, the will-to-live, to all parts of the human frame."
  30. Dr. David Frawley, Tantric Yoga, and the Wisdom Godesses, Lotus Press, Twin Lakes, 2003, p. 40.
  31. Note 1.
  32. Alice A. Bailey, 'A Treatise on White Magic', in: Twenty-Four Books of Esoteric Philosophy, (CD-ROM, Release 3), Lucis Trust, London / New York, 2001, indic. p. 587-597. "The second point I would touch upon is that all this deeply esoteric work must only proceed under the direction of the skilled teacher."
  33. Robert E. Swaboda, Aghora, At the Left Hand of God, Brotherhood of Life, Inc., Albuquerque / Sadhana Publications, Bellingham, 1999, p. 12.
  34. Ibidem.
  35. Swami Krishnananda, Essays in Life and Eternity, The Divine Life Society, Rishikesh, p. 68.
  36. Tantric Yoga, and the Wisdom Godesses, p. 21, 23.
Bibliography
  • 'Ageless Wisdom, Classifications of Humanity', Index: 201404081.
  • 'Ageless Wisdom, Cycles', Index: 201403131.
  • 'Ageless Wisdom, The (Human) Centres', Index: 201909091.
  • 'Ageless Wisdom, Triplicities in Man', Index: 201308292.
  • 'Ageless Wisdom, The Egoic Lotus', Index: 201305241.
  • 'Contemplationam, Human Evolution and the Planes', Index: 202008091.
  • 'Contemplationam, Sex: Human Reproduction, Mystic Enlightenment and Cosmic Creation', Index: 201003081.
  • Alice A. Bailey, 'A Treatise on Cosmic Fire', in: Twenty-Four Books of Esoteric Philosophy, (CD-ROM, Release 3), Lucis Trust, London / New York, 2001.
  • Alice A. Bailey, 'A Treatise on White Magic', in: Twenty-Four Books of Esoteric Philosophy, (CD-ROM, Release 3), Lucis Trust, London / New York, 2001.
  • Alice A. Bailey, 'Esoteric Healing, A Treatise on the Seven Rays, Volume IV', in: Twenty-Four Books of Esoteric Philosophy, (CD-ROM), Lucis Trust, London / New York, 2001.
  • Alice A. Bailey, 'Letters on Occult Meditation', in: Twenty-Four Books of Esoteric Philosophy, (CD-ROM), Lucis Trust, London / New York, 2001.
  • Alice A. Bailey, 'The Light of the Soul', in: Twenty-Four Books of Esoteric Philosophy, (CD-ROM, Release 3), Lucis Trust, London / New York, 2001.
  • [Master] E.K., Symbolism of the Scriptures, Overseas Messages - IX, Kulapathi Book Trust, Visakhapatnam, 2019.
  • Dr. David Frawley, Tantric Yoga, and the Wisdom Godesses, Lotus Press, Twin Lakes, 2003.
  • Swami Krishnananda, Essays in Life and Eternity, The Divine Life Society, Rishikesh.
  • Sadhu Santidev, Encyclopaedia of Tantra, Volume 1, Cosmo Publications, New Delhi.
  • Robert E. Swaboda, Aghora, At the Left Hand of God, Brotherhood of Life, Inc., Albuquerque / Sadhana Publications, Bellingham, 1999.
  • Monier Williams, A Sanskrit-English Dictionary, Etymologically and Philologically Arranged, With Special Reference to Greek, Latin, Gothic, German, Anglo-Saxon, and Other Cognate Indo-European Languages, The Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1862.
  • Encyclopædia Britannica Ultimate Reference Suite, (CD-ROM), Encyclopædia Britannica, Chicago, 2015.
  • Oxford English Dictionary, Second Edition on CD-ROM (v. 4.0), Oxford University Press, 2009.