Tantra: A Path to Freedom
It is a common misperception to think of Tantra as an erotic act or supposition. Tantra is much grander than this one aspect of our human sexuality. Certainly, as Tantra is all encompassing, it is inclusive of sexuality, but to think of Tantra as defined as the erotic is erroneous. In our modern day context I believe it is helpful to think of Tantra as the ability to see the bigger picture. With that said, Tantra has many meanings. A few follow below, my urging would be to choose the one you resonate with most:
- To weave
- To see the tapestry
- To experience it all
Choose any definition you like and you have "the richness of the spiritual experience & the fabric of everyday life coming together to create a single vibrant tapestry" as explained by Rod Stryker in his book "The Four Desires". Further, it may be helpful to think of Tantra as a Path. A pathway to freedom. A pathway to becoming your own true self, to serving your highest good. The belief is that we are all limited by certain things we come into contact with in our lives, young and old, and of course the in between. It could be our limited perception, our environment, our diet, our energetic state, our finances and the culmination of our beliefs based on all that has preceded. Therefore, Tantra is the practice that we put to use in order to overcome these inherent limitations, whether learned or passed down from our ancestors.
The literal translation of Tantra is comprised of two Sanskrit words "Tan" which means to expand or stretch and "Tra" which translates as that which protects. In this way, Tantra as a means of practice or spiritual path is "that which allows us to safely expand or grow beyond all limitation". Here we can employ our daily practice of yoga; asana, meditation, pranayama, self-discipline, compassion towards the self and others as our pathway to freedom.
I recently finished reading a book by Sena Jeter Naslund "Adam & Eve" in which the protagonist is charged with transporting a sacred text that would forever change the literal translation of the book of Genesis "In the beginning there was God..." to offer up a new, more expansive, and more inclusive idea of the beginning of our origins:
"In the beginning, there was something and there was nothing. When they connected, there was everything. And it was everywhere."
I think this explanation, as abstract as it may be, is helpful to contemplate as we think of our existence as a human species and our seemingly inherent need to be special and unique. Perhaps we are not, perhaps we are simply part of a bigger whole, a single strand in a vast magic carpet, riding back to the stars from which we came. Perhaps we are here to enjoy the fullness of all that this earthly experience has to offer. We only need be reminded that this is our birthright and our purpose. And one day we will become dust. Take heart that one day we will be nothing and in this way we will be one with the divine.