Tag Archives: purity

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.

The Maya of Tantra

An Individual who, (though) desirous
of doing various things, but incapable of doing them due to his innate impurity, (experiences) the supreme state (Parma Padam) when the disruption (ksobha) (of his false ego) ceases.” ~ .9 Stanzas on Vibration. Translated with Intro and Exposition by Mark Dyczkowski.

The tantric perspective of Maya has been the focus of several of my past blog entries. Most people in the west recognize the concept of maya from Buddhism or Vedanta philosophies. Following these modes of thought, maya translates as illusion. The path of these philosophies is a path of negation (neti neti/not this not that): to distinguish the real from the unreal. They say that only god is real and everything we recognize in this world as real (the objects of the mind and senses and such) are not real. Such objects arise only through the illusion of maya.

Tantra accepts maya to be just as real as god himself. Since god consciousness permeates everything completely and fully, then every object of the mind and senses is, is a sense, equal. Rather than being a force of illusion, it’s a force merely of ignorance.

Ignorance is of two types that need to transform into knowledge in Tantric path:

1. Ignorance regarding our true self
2. Ignorance of the attachment to thought constructs and psychological impressions.

Tantrics must purify what is impure in themselves. The impurities of humans are threefold:

1. Karma is the first impurity we must polish to purity. Karma in this case can be described as the imprint that is left in the mind when we perform action out of attachment or desire. This is why so much yoga is focused on releasing desire and attachment. Rather then think of karma in terms of good or bad, think of it in terms of making karma or not making karma for yourself. Only by relinquishing the desire even for good results can we release ourselves from the karmic implications of our actions.
2. Once we have started to effectively deal with the part of ourselves that is guided by karma, we can begin to see maya for what it is: a kind of necessary limitation. In many ways, it’s these apparent limits are what set the stage for the human struggle against self and nature. They are also the veils that keep us from recognizing our true godly nature. The characteristics of divine nature are fivefold. 1. Omnipotent, 2. Omniscient, 3. Satisfied, 4. Eternal, 5. Free. Maya too is fivefold in it’s actions to obscure each of these characteristics: 1. Power appears limited, 2. Knowledge appears limited, 3. Desire motivates us, 4. We have the linear experience of time, and 5. We are subject to cause and effect.
3. And finally, after we have effectively and fully understood these lessons in our hearts, we are ready to fully purify our perception and cleanse the final impurity (or rather the original impurity) and bring our dual focus into oneness. We see clearly and spontaneously that all is one and that god is everywhere in equal measure. Duality ceases.

Everything in the tantric’s path involves divine grace; nothing at all can happen without it. The very will underlying all action is said to be equal to the will of god. For tantrics, the motivation for action comes from the desire only for self-recognition, liberation, and god consciousness. A tantric cannot say for instance that he is taking action to recognize his true flow of consciousness. we are rather gods in human form seeking the god in ourselves. There are four ways that such grace descends upon us to give us the will and desire for self-seeking (but these I’ll go into another time).

Too many misguided tantrics these days superimpose the spiritual laws of tantrism onto material life. Nothing is prohibited and nothing is enjoined. The path of Tantrism they say, is unlimited; we can do anything. This is true only in spiritual life when we have overcome our mundane desires and attachments and when the goal is union with god consciousness. To say everything is allowed and then run off to fulfill desires for sex or material possession or power over people is not the path of Tantra.

I once sat with the owner/instructor of a yoga studio. She was telling me about some of the yoga styles and studios available in the relatively small town. She mentioned the Tantric studio that was around the corner from her own presumably more orthodox. She complained that people were going to Tantra because Tantra allows them to keep doing whatever they want (eat, drink, party, have sex, and pretty much continue to follow their most base instincts). As she told me this, she sipped on her beer and chewed on her hardy beef burger.

I wasn’t surprised by her misconception of Tantra, and it wouldn’t surprise me if the studio was indeed teaching such a path devoid of knowledge. Nor did the fact that she was eating meat and drinking beer phase me until she made this statement. Every persons path to higher consciousness is their own, what is important is that we follow our own rules. Only by recognizing and following our own rules will we make spiritual progress. If we believe the orthodoxy that drinking beer and eating meat will dull our consciousness, then it most assuredly will. On the other hand, we truly believe as many tribal cultures believe, that eating meat will bring us in union with the spirits of higher consciousness than eating meat in this way will most assuredly raise ones consciousness.

There are two kinds of worship in this world: inner worship and outer worship. These days the majority of people are focused on outer worship, Outer worship will bring only outer fruits. If you really want to practice yoga, you mush focus intently on inner worship.