Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Tantric Principle

The Tantric Principle was discovered by the Bodhisattva Saharaj. During his own training with a Buddhist master, he had finally attained a deep level of enlightenment and his teacher one day acknowledged his enlightenment. But Saharaj said, "No, I am not yet enlightened, something is missing." The teacher laughed and said, "I have had many students claim to be enlightened when they are not, but I have never had one claim to be unenlightened when he or she is!" Saharaj then wanders around the world to relax from his meditative efforts and to get some fresh impressions of life. He meets a woman called Dakini Arrow who he becomes fascinated with and with whom he eventually falls in love with. He notices that the main yoga that Arrow does is to do everything with great concentration. Arrow is mainly just living a simple worldly life, renouncing nothing at all, but simply living in the moment with deep concentration. During their sexual love making, Saharaj completes his enlightenment and at the same time discovers the "tantric principle". Stated in words, it is that "you can only transcend the things that you first accept". He saw that the path has been slow, stressful, and difficult because so much of what we are has been condemned, rejected, and repressed. It makes the struggle with who and what we are to be very arduous, take a very long time, and be very complex. It makes the whole spiritual path into an unnecessary war with ourselves. He found that once we accept ourselves as we are that this whole struggle falls away and then the path becomes easy, rapid, and peaceful.

Tantra has been associated with a kind of super sexual yoga where you can become enlightened through making love to someone. But Tantra is more than just using sex to become enlightened, it is about accepting everything as it is. The reason why sex has been emphasized in Tantra is because sex has been the most deeply rejected aspect of the spiritual life. Most of Hinduism and Buddhism has raised celibacy as the higher ideal to live. Many spiritual teachers have taught that having sexual desires means that we are in a lesser state and in deep bondage. Although Judaism, Islam, and Christianity allow sexual expression more room in our lives, all of them limit sex in some way: Judaism by only allowing sex at certain time, Christianity by only allowing sex in marriage, and Islam by having courtship by monitored by a chaperon. Taoism has been better about accepting sex, because it is nature oriented and believes we should be in accord with nature. But even Taoism has taught ejaculation control and introduced a kind of tension into the love making process. Perhaps a few of the Polynesian islands were very innocent about the whole sexual journey, but in modern times it seems everyone has been infected by condemning sexual attitudes through the communication media that links us all together. Many psychologists have felt that the condemning of such a powerful natural biological energy as the sex drive has lead to a deep neurosis and has caused the emergence of all the complex sexual elaborations, some of them very painful and traumatic, that sometimes dominate human consciousness.

The Buddha had taught that enlightenment happens when the three poisons of the mind have completely ended. These three poisons are craving, negativity, and delusion. Some teachers have assumed that craving and the desire are the same, and therefore have taught people to completely extinguish sexual desire. This is only slightly easier than trying to extinguish hunger for food and probably just as unnatural and unhealthy. Craving is like an addictive restless desire. It is easy to tell when it is present. Desires can peacefully arise and fall away in consciousness, but cravings have an obsessive, compulsive, and fixated quality. They can be seen to be a cause of sorrow and stress. It feels stressful to just feel them. Delusions have been associated with not seeing reality as it is. This is due to us projecting our mental beliefs on reality. The deepest cause of delusion is the "delusion of self". This is living from a mentally constructed self, a set of conditioned thoughts, and always looking at life through this lens. When we resume our true identity as radiant awareness, this delusion starts to end. Condemnation, more than the other two poisons, is based on not accepting life as it is. Condemnation attacks what is and makes us angry, afraid, and depressed. At first we are angry and try to change what is. We might be able to change some of what is happening, but we eventually find things that we cannot quickly change. We then try running away from them and seeing if we can live without them being around. But then we find that there are things in life that we cannot run away from and then we get depressed. The three poisons feed each other and strengthen each other. Condemnation turns desires into cravings. When we are into a craving, we do not accept life as it is, but only see that we either have what we do not want or want what we do not have. We then have all kinds of delusions about who we are, what we want, and what makes us happy.

When I was enlightened, I felt a deep sense of freedom to be whatever I wanted. Behind this sense of freedom was a kind of deep acceptance. There was also a feeling of "emptiness". This feeling is hard to explain. It feels like crystal clear empty space. There is a similar feeling when you look at a lake with no algae and can see the bottom everywhere. There is a feeling of floating and "no self". The mentally constructed self has a heavy and tired feeling to it, because there is a subtle strain of constantly thinking this self into existence. When we release this very unnecessary burden, there is a feeling of lightness, floating, and ease. You feel like you are everywhere and nowhere at the same time. All the complex neuroses are seen to be like a fever, like a compulsion, and like something that drives us. All this comes to an end, there is nothing driving us anymore. We are relaxed. There is nothing we even have to achieve, nothing to prove, and nothing to do. Of course, in saying this, our neurotic mind will ask, "Then how can we live? What will make us get up in the morning?" We are so used to being driven to do that we have a hard time understanding the simple freedom of enlightenment. We simply get up in the morning. There is no demon pushing us to get up anymore. We just might not get up in the morning. We just might enjoy sleeping in. Behind all this is a lighter motivation which is simply accepting and loving life as it is. Our neurotic mind is very fear and survival oriented. Perhaps millions of years of evolution has deeply conditioned our cells so that we freeze whenever a bush rustles for fear of a predator leaping upon us and making us its lunch. This deeper issue, this "clinging to self", this survival obsession, is why we cannot totally relax and just be. This is why, although Buddha was an immortal that he taught the inevitability of death. He wanted people to face their clinging to self and just let go of it, using the acceptance of impending death as a lever to bring up the issue. When the clinging to self is released, then life can be easeful and death is no big deal. This is an important release even for immortals, because physical immortality needs to have a foundation in not clinging to self and not clinging to survival. Fear makes things too serious and causes us enough stress to wear us out. We cannot really attain physical immortality while being run by this fear. There are some alcoholics who seem to live a long life, I suspect, because they get some relief from this fear driven clinging to self and life. But the strategy, while giving some relief, does not resolve the core issue and go beyond it completely. It ultimately breaks down and causes them to age and die.

Tantra, by the way, did look addictions differently. While traditional Buddhism would be solidly against alcoholism, Tantra has had a more accepting view of having an addiction. Since every craving we have is really an addiction, many Tantric Buddhist teachers and Sufi teachers would rather have us look at the addictions that we have and understand them, rather than to fight them, repress them, and create more addictions to take the place of the ones that we have. There is a reason why desires become cravings. It has to do with wanting to repeat a pleasurable memory in order to not feel pain, with forming a sense of self through thinking, and with extending our mental powers further. Animals have less trouble with all this, because their reasoning power is more instinctive. Humans woke up one day with a cortical brain, saw their own mortality and vulnerability, feared death, and started clinging to self and life. It has in some sense caused us to build tools and weapons, dominate all other animals, and even extend our lifespan. But behind all this has been a stress and a sorrow that we will eventually fail and die, that all our loved ones will die, and that we will lose everything that we cherish. There is a subtle movement within our minds and emotions about all this. It takes some time to feel it and understand it. This subtle movement of sorrow is fairly continuous. It is like a river always flowing, but it sometimes is felt very strongly, like riding the rapids, and sometimes is quiet and underground, when it pours into a hole and flows beneath the surface. Krishnamurti tried to talk about it, communicate about it, have people tap into it while in conversation or exploration with him, and shift their whole energies about it before even walking out of the lecture hall. But it does represent a powerful shift in consciousness, ending a movement of energy that has been running humanity for perhaps as long as 4.5 million years. The curious thing is that we cannot really go back to just being fairly happy instinctive animals. I think when people get drunk they are taking a kind of cortical vacation back to the happy instinctive animal phase. What this means is that enlightenment is about going forward to another state. Paradoxically, as the Taoist say, "the path of return is the way forward". We go back to what we have been eternally, which is radiant awareness, before we even had bodies, but we add something. It is a kind of knowing what we have been. We fuse the knowing component of consciousness with the being component of consciousness.

There is a kind of nonacceptance of who we are and kind of striving to be what we think we are not that runs us. It seems to emerge in childhood when we are condemned by our parents for doing bad things and when we try to become good people. This feeling of I am bad and I must strive to be good is behind our education system. Later on, when we try to get a job, we have this same feeling that we as we are is not enough, that we must get even more education and experience to be qualified for a job. This leads to a feeling of unworthiness, of not measuring up, and an attachment to being successful. I think behind this is why a lot of successful politicians and religious leaders seem to get caught in sex scandals. In sex, we have another cortical vacation from this tortured success driven movement of consciousness. It can be even deeper than this, too, because when we are loving another and being loved, there can be the energy of being accepted as we are. It is coming from the other person and blessing us, and we are taking it in. This is also why even the inflection of disapproval from a lover can impact upon us so deeply and throw us into a tail spin. In love, we are very vulnerable. We are naked. Clothing covers our self shame about who we are and it is gone. We are hoping to be accepted and do not want to be rejected. We are going to be sensitive to the slightest condemnation and it is going to hurt. Unfortunately, even if our lover wants to totally accept us, he or she usually cannot. We have a subconscious mind that is filled with a lot of repressed stuff. When we are intimate with someone, it is all going to come up and surface. It has to come up. We repress by pushing what we do not want to feel into muscle tissues and then tensing them into chronically tight regions. The deeper we go into sex, the more our muscles get flooded with energy, open up, and relax. All the emotions that are stored inside are going to come up to consciousness again. All our condemnations are going to surface and be felt within the relationship. There may be an attempt to limit and control the sexual experience so that its full potency does not happen and we are safe from some of the stuff that we are holding inside us.

Understanding all this, a loving sexual relationship can be used as an enlightenment process. I do feel that instinctive animal sex (lunar sex) is one path, and it is more than okay, our species depends on this to birth new members of itself, and that there is another path where it is used to birth our selves or enlighten us (solar sex). But even if either path is not used, because our life circumstances to do not create these possibilities, for whatever reasons, the Tantric principle of acceptance can operate and enlighten us now. This is because the Tantric principle is the opposite of the second mental poison of condemnation or negativity. Paradoxically, we can accept our condemnations (rather than trying not to condemn) and the condemnations will start to unravel on their own. This makes the path about present centered awareness, acceptance of what is, and letting go of craving and clinging. These three things working together form a new triad of energy that is an antidote to the three poisons of the mind.

2 comments:

  1. Will, thank you for the great clarity with which you present the information here. I'm not a student of Buddhism but I've always been struck with whatever bits of wisdom I've come across.

    This post resonates very deeply with me. I am bookmarking it for daily reading for some time to come, because there's too much to absorb in one or two readings.

    With very deep gratitude, I applaud your words.

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  2. Dear Jeane, thank you for your thoughts. I checked out your own blog and found it heart warming too. I found your RV lifestyle fascinating, since I moved into a mobile park and am spending $700 per a month to maintain. The park I am in has 3 community gardens and a small garden attached to my lot where I am planting many medicinal herbs like lavender, rosemary, pineapple sage, chocolate mint, oregano, and chamomile (so far). Helping plants to grow and meditating have a similar feel to them. They connect one to a silent landscape of beauty where things just grow and change with a little care.

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