Purity in Tantra

From the Aghore branch of Tantra it’s clear that common impurities like shit, menstrual blood, drugs, alcohol, death and other filthy tamas things like are not in themselves impure from a Tantric perspective. Nothing can be impure in itself since everything is, in its essence, divinely pure consciousness. But it’s because of this notion of purity that Tantra gets its reputation for sex, drugs and rock’n’roll.

This is also why sex, drugs and rock’n’roll people are attracted to Tantra since it’s a philosophy that cleans up their act without them ever having to do anything. And this is of course where Tantra goes wrong. Pretty much every scripture, Tantric or other wise, agrees on at least this one thing: objectification of the elements will bind you to those elements. But according to Tantra, objects in themselves are pure and perfect, it’s our relationships with those objects are lacking in purity.

My acupuncture mentor makes the example of a couple who are having relationship problems. Neither of the individual people is the problem, but rather the relationship that’s the problem. Both people are perfectly capable and whole in themselves, they could very well have a good relationship with someone else, just not you. This does not mean you are flawed of they are flawed, but rather the relationship which is not in balance. This is why I cringe when relationship councilors tell people to stop blaming the other and look at themselves. It’s better to look at the relationship that’s going on between the people, otherwise we continue to be blinded by the forms (the bodies, the personalities, the thoughts and all those things which, by their impermanent nature, are known to be binding).

The most common advice in Shaivistic Tantra is to merely to put your awareness in the middle of two things. To the space where there is no subject or object, that’s the space they call pure subjectivity. But this pure subjectivity isn’t an excuse for selfishness and shitty relationships, as this would be work karma.

That space between everything that the Buddhists call emptiness, the Tantrics fill with consciousness and action similar to the living landscape as seen by the traditional Native American eye. Be aware of seeing rather than the objects seen. Be aware of being aware rather than on the objects of awareness.

Bhagavad Gita essentially says the same thing when it teaches focus on the action itself rather than the fruits of action. This is meant in every sense of action, not merely in the narrow sense of profiting from your action. The fruit of the action of seeing, for example, is the object that is seized by your sense organs.

To give an example of how our mind and senses seize upon objects and drop them again, think about entering a room to find your misplaced keys. Your senses seize upon the key rack, but they’re not there, so your eyes and mind drop it and pick up the space on the desk, that is dropped and your eyes seize upon the jacket you wore last night. These objects cloud the pure awareness of seeing, thinking, experiencing. The object is the impurity, leave that thing and focus your awareness on the pure action of seeing. Do that with all the 36 elements and their objects. Think of it as consciousness games.

Without this sort of pure awareness, you can consider yourself bound. This being the case, Tantra can be no excuse for the life of sex, drugs and rock’n’roll, though you can still blame your karma.

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