Tag Archives: Love

Tantra Series: Part I: What is Tantra?


For most of the past 10 years I’ve been searching for an answer to the question: What is Tantra?

How does one write about a secret without spoiling the whole thing? It’s nothing! It’s everything! It’s the yin of the yang. It’s the inner reality beyond the five senses. Tanta is intuitive and emotional. The heart is an infamous symbol of Tantra. Tantra is the mystery of a mystery.

To say someone knows Tantra suggests only that they know a mystery; and how much can anyone know a mystery? Tantra is the secret of a secret: ones own hidden knowledge and hidden potential, which, once released to the light and shared with others looses some of it’s power and potency. Everything about Tantra is subtle. Tantra is often portrayed as a dark goddess who can be the epitome of a woman scorned. Tantra teaches us that all of our relationships are about give and take; nothing comes for free. If we want something from Tantra then we will surely have to give something up. If we do not give appropriate gift, Tantra will make us pay in her own way. Everything can be seen in this light of relationships and it’s that power of our relationships with things that Tantra seeks to harness. Things in themselves have no power and it’s the strength of our relationship with things that allows us to harness their power. This is why Osho can say that the measure of our spiritual progress can be seen in the quality of our relationships.

Tantra is about getting what we want. This is one of the very difficult prerequisites for Tantra; we have to know what we want. To know what we want we have to also know who we are. As long as there is any confusion about these things, then there is very good chance that we will eventually meet a wrathful, vengeful Tantra. She has many names: Tara, Kubjika, Kali, Tripura Sundari; in the west she would be some aspect or other of Mather nature. She has a face for every person, but no matter how nice she comes to you, she’s always incredibly dangerous and can turn on a person for the slightest infraction.

Admittedly, this danger is the attraction; the risk is the romance. People who are stable and content in life have no attraction to Tantra, because Tantra is change and volatility. This is why she stays underground, in the shadows and depths of the heart. Tantra is about transformation. We have to die before we can be reborn. Tantra is a death cult, a secret society that turns everything on it’s head; countering even intuition.

When we talk about Tantra, western people think of sex and the chakras, while people from the east think of black magic. Tantra is all of this. Purity is internalized to overcome physical impurity. All is one but we see it and understand it as two; a world of multiplicity. Fear and taboo become some of the most powerful tools of Tantra. Sex and fear becomes means of transformation and catalysts of higher knowledge.

Like the great Ravana, we must cut off our own heads and offer it to the gods in order to understand Tantra. Tantra is part of the mystic traditions; it’s broad and mysterious, operating at an energetic level, permeating all things. Some say that Tantra deals with how we use things; it’s that relationship between us and things. Tantra is about Devi worship; worship of the divine feminine, Mother Nature in all her aspects. Desire to gain power or overcome fear are perhaps the most popular paths of Tantra.

Tantra is dangerous for too many reasons. All of which can be summed up as ignorance. The primary ignorance is that we do not know who we really are. As long as a person thinks they are an individual, then Tantra cannot be effectively learned or practiced. As long as we think we are separate and free we will remain forever bound. As soon as we relinquish our freedom to Devi, then we become truly free.

In many way’s Tantra looks at the world in a very pragmatic way in which everything is merely an instrument for us to fulfill our desires and our life’s path. However, this is speaking from a universal perspective rather than a subjective perspective for we too are an instrument of divine order. As many advaitans will point out, there is only we in this universe, there is no ‘I’ or ‘you.’ Those who do not understand this spread terror around the world in the name of their faiths. From a mystic perspective, duality is the original sin; division is the world of demons while everything that supports union is of the heavens. Truth, of course is one. Ultimately, God is one, though there are many names; but nature too is singular, though there be many names and many objects. The universe and the purpose is singular, everything is dependent on everything. The whole world exists and comes into being thru the mystic energy of our own hearts; there is no division.

Mysticism and Science: Radical Reason


Sometimes inspiration can come from the most uninspiring source. I was given a Bible a few days ago. He was a nice Christian Baba in Port Hardy. His talk of spirit and divine powers of healing along with the wild look in his eye has led me to the conclusion that he was a kind of Christian mystic. I wasn’t prepared to be rebuked for following the devils path when it came out that I followed yoga and Indian philosophy. The last thing I expected was to be told to believe what he believes because he is right and the rest of us are wrong. At the heart of his argument, of course, was great ignorance not only about what I believe, but what Hindus and Muslims believe (for it seemed to me that he initially equated yoga with Islam). In any case, he at least correctly identified me as a seeker of spirit.

He spoke about a few of his own moments of doubt, which of course reminded me that Jesus also had his doubts as he was spread out on the cross wondering why his father had forsaken him. Perhaps I’ve also asked this questions a few times recently. How is it that someone with such great blessings is forced by the hand of fate to live hand to mouth in some of the most isolated backwards parts of this earth. Of course as I write this I also have to acknowledge that I quite like such places, but I’m rarely there for the joy of being there; and perhaps I have on occasion chosen the place, this does not mean I have chosen the circumstance. In honesty, however, we have to accept that even our choies are guided by that same powerful hand of fate since the place from which the choice initially arises is that same place from where the most unexpected occurrences of destiny arise.

Doubt is generally a result of not receiving the fruits that we think are our due. “I’ve done what you’ve asked,” we cry out to the heavens, “why have I not received the fruits of that activity?” We doubt because suddenly cause and effect doesn’t seem to be working how we think it should. It’s like expecting that when we germinate a whole bag of seeds that every one of them will sprout to give equal fruit, when what we actually find is that each seed is slightly different in itself as well as finding a slightly unique piece of ground to inhabit. It’s like a fallacy of the sun which we see rise every day taking this as proof that it will rise again tomorrow. Meanwhile it’s postulated that sometime before sunrise of some long distant tomorrow the sun is likely to either explode of burn itself out. What happened yesterday cannot be proof of what will happen today.

This is the kind of hard logic that is followed by mystics! We’re often considered unreasonable when in fact it’s often the most reasonable people who have built up their knowledge upon a most unreasonable basis. I can hear the choir of reason singing out for me to be more reasonable as it’s unlikely the sun will disappear before tomorrow. But if we follow this logic thru to tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow, then tomorrow will certainly come someday. So, we get “primitive” people worshiping the rising sun; ushering a new day with praise for the elements of fire, earth, air, and water while those who are being more “reasonable” in following modern customs are waking up to go to work, worshiping their bodies with various chemicals and synthetics before heading out the door to consciously pollute the elements of our existence for some “higher cause” of “managing the unmanageable” as they seek to save the world by using the very reason which is destroying it.

But I suppose if’ we’re truly reasonable then we cannot condemn people for their karma and before the end of the day we have to accept that even this earth which seems to be condemned by our karma has it’s own karma. Of course there is nothing wrong with suggesting that people be the change they wish to see in the world, nor do I wish to discourage those environmental crusaders from their fight, but we should not have great expectations from our activities. Some fights will be won while others will be lost, we will not get one thing that we don’t have coming to us, nor will we lose anything that is not owed by us. The job of a crusader is to crusade; the job of a protector is to protect, the job of a writer is to write; it is not our job to expect results from these activities.

It’s seems that the older I get, the more I get this sense that I am the centre of the universe. Of course it doesn’t help that everything seems to arise from from within myself, even those holes that seems to come over me like a storm have obviously been dug by me very slowly over a longer period of time than the ones I can easily recognize to have dug myself. If karma were instantaneous I don’t suppose it would take long before it took care of itself and washed the world clear of it’s toxicity; but then there would be nothing and since I cannot even contemplate such a fate, I have to assume it would be a bad thing though I doubt anyone would notice. As barber shop philosopher recently said, it’s not illegal if you don’t get caught. Such logic, which, if followed, suggests that the tree does not in fact make a noise if there is no one there to hear it.

This is kinda how magic works. Magic and miracle are not opposed to reason, they merely follow a more radical reason then most “reasonable” people follow.

The fellow who gave me the bible spoke of listening to spirit and doing it’s bidding as a way of discovering the truth of the what he described as the conduit to the father which was left by the son (Jesus) when he died on the cross. This conduit is the holy spirit. The father, the son and the holy ghost all seemed to out there somewhere in the air perhaps and it spoke to him directly telling him what to do. He didn’t seem to think that there should be anything between this voice of god and himself. He criticized my use of astrology for discovering the future despite our discussion the day before about various means of coming to the same place and the various paths taken by the many great men who have walked this earth before us. Since he follows the Christian path I was not surprised to hear that he believed love to be the only true path to god; but since I thought him a mystic, I was surprised to hear that he believed all the other paths (science, breathing, activity) to be paths to hell.

We often seek to contrast spirit and reason but there is no true distinction. Spirit perhaps delves a little deeper and doubts a little more leaving behind the many “reasonable” assumptions (like the rising sun) that allow us to take the very world we depend on for granted while we get on with the practical activity of getting by in this world, but the truth is that no true scientist can ignore these things any more than the mystic. The profound sense of doubt drives both to go in their respective directions and in the end they come to the same sense of awe that can’t be named or categorized or described to anyone who has not witnessed such awesomeness. Both will agree that at the heart of this universe is a mystery that can only be experienced thru that sixth sense that was once described to me as sentiment.

Of course every path has a language of it’s own. Every culture has it’s own word for god just as every culture has it’s own word for people. How many times have I read some account of traditional people whose word for themselves means, quite simply, “the people.” If we go back into history far enough there is little need to distinguish these people from those people because it’s unlikely there were any other people. People are people where ever you go. This is a kind of radical reason that few can follow. Instead they see these people as being different from those people, and suddenly all people are not created equal so that it seems other people are not people at all. This is another misuse of reason if it can still be called reason at all.

“Show me” is what the scientists and the mystics say while those trumpeting the supremacy of “reason” are busy telling them how things are. When I talk about mysticism, magic, miracle, spirit or the gods of this or that many people think I’m speaking a language other than reason. Many of these stories are descriptions of how people experience the world, facts are something else entirely. The only true facts are actually tautologies; most of what we consider facts are merely probabilities, hypothesis’, or agreements about the way things are when in fact, even the facts are in a state of flux making them capable of contradicting even themselves.

I never felt any competition of beliefs between myself and the fellow who gave me the bible. It never occurred to me that his belief or description of his experience of this life might be wrong, but I did feel disrespected. I felt like he saw me as less of a person than himself which suggest that perhaps I wasn’t a person at all in his eyes but rather some object top be conquered in brought into the kingdom of Christ. It’s these sorts of beliefs that I find completely unreasonable; contrary to anything I’ve ever experienced and contrary to the doctrine of love so much touted by the followers of Christ. So for the sake of love, for the sake of all that is good and holy and true in this world, let us all try to be just a little more reasonable, perhaps then some space will open up for true magic to happen.

Varanasi, India. 2009.

November 2009
Varanasi, India

In a cold guest house room beside the Ganges. Me and Joseph the Swede are wrapped in blankets, playing chess, smoking charas.

“I can’t keep going on like this. broken heart after broken heart. it’s not fair to me or to them or to anyone that has to listen to me.” I said with a smile. “I figure there are only three choices for me when it comes to love and relationships: I could become a monk and lock myself away somewhere, hide front the women of the world; or I could just get married. Make a pact with some woman to make it work. Maybe some simple Indian girl to make a life with, I could marry that girl in Delhi I told you about. Or, I can just keep on keeping on repeating other maddening waves of love and heartbreak. This is not what I want, but becoming a monk and suppressing all that passion isn’t the way either, and first I have to find a woman to marry me; which is kinda what the whole cycle is about…..

“…… Maybe that’s why I get so upset about it all: because I realize I have no control over it. All this love and loss is out of my hands. But there has to be something I can do. Some way to make it all flow easier……” I was exhausting myself with my monologue.

Joseph was staring at the chess board.

He’d been all over the world loving and leaving women. He doesn’t have a clue what he’s doing. Trying one thing and another and going back. His girlfriend had just left India to go back to work, he was staying on for a couple months. All was good between them, but the future of course was not at all clear.

He was (still is) into meditation. Silent retreats, morning routine…… Cursing himself always as he tries to get something more from meditation; always rating the meditation abilities of the meditator: himself and the others in the groups he partakes in silence with.

All these comparisons are the hardest things to drop. Imagining the inner life of another person and longing to have an inner life comparable.

Most of us just want the kind of house or car or job or lifestyle or friends or lovers or wives that other people have.

Others want the peace and tranquility they see in others, or the assertiveness that they admire, or the creativity that allows some to shine.

We are rarely good enough as we are.

Joseph stayed on for about a month and our conversations and chess playing continued. I had kind of isolated myself aside from him and the the guest house and a couple restaurants. I was just keeping to my practice, studying the Gita, and beginning to strike upon a deeper understanding of duty and sacrifice. After a couple months I was like an old man sitting at my desk studying, reading, writing for most of the hours of a day. Shawls wrapped around me to protect me from the cold damp fog of Ganga in the winter. I was as focused and monkish as I’ve ever been. I was even practicing postures to promote celibacy and restraint.

And then Claire arrived at the guest house….

She arrived and took me away from everything I was doing. It was about three days later before I noticed. It was festival season in Varanasi. It’s always festival season. We were running around town like children: taking pictures of Muslims butchering buffalo for Id, watching as midnight pashmina deals turned into opium deals. I remember the bells ringing that never seemed to stop, everyone celebrating and praying and coming together to fill Kashi beyond its holy domain.

We came together in strange way. After being inseparable for a few days. The youngest brother of the guest house came to me and said that they’d overbooked and asked if Claire and I could share a room for a couple days. It was a crazy thing to request. I asked Sanjay about it and he didn’t want any part of the request, but he admitted the were over booked.

This was the strange sort of ‘set-up’ that brought us together. A few days later we were heading west on the train.

She had energy this girl. She wanted to see everything, explore. We would wander thru neighborhoods and the people would be out of their homes laughing like crazy at the way she played with the children and her camera. Her smile and joie de vivre was infectious. I was certainly infected with it. I’d almost completely forgotten who I was. I was following under her spell. It was wonderful.

But it was also too much for me. My energy was sapped. We got to Bhundi she fell ill first and spent an couple days in bed and I followed right behind her, sinking into the large comfortable room we’d found. And then, as if all of a sudden we were going to the door together and I was giving her a passionate kiss good bye. She returned the kiss, but none of the passion, ran down the stairs to the rickshaw the was waiting and flew back to France.

Three weeks had passed since I met her, I found myself completely at a loss. Heartbroken. More than all of that, all my focus had been kindof geared towards knowing better than to allow this to happen to myself. A three week affair ending in my broken heart couldn’t have been a starker reminder that all this talk and thought and suffering I did about my fate with women was just talk….. Bullshit. I wasn’t going to do anything about anything.

Compression of Love

Broken hearts and broken dreams
loves lost and loves caused
Suffering and suffering and suffering in the hearts and minds and bodies of all
The pain we feel and the remedies we find
The guilt of happiness and the heroism we feel for all that we know
for all that ties us, one to the other
Our separate lives…. entwined…..burdened by our bonds

How is it that we cannot see that the joys and sufferings of others are really our own?

The expanse of loneliness vs the compression of love

When you love everyone, there is no place for the love of just one

When you feel the joy and suffering all, there is no distinguishing the suffering of one
When all is lost, everything is there to be found
This is the expanse of loneliness and the compression of love