Born in India 5,000 years ago, Tantra is a holistic approach to life that embraces all aspects of the human: body, emotions, relationships, mind and spirit. It is an art of loving oneself, others and life as a whole. Its specificity is to cultivate vital energy, in full awareness, through various practices ranging from dynamic to meditative, individuals, in couples, in groups.
The origins of Tantrism
Tantrism designates a set of texts, doctrines, rituals and initiation methods dating back several millennia. Its foundations are found in the Vedas, Indian sacred texts and in Buddhist texts. There are many schools of Tantra and as many practices, codes and rituals.
Tantra, a spiritual path
Tantra is a way of unfolding our consciousness, which positively includes sexual energy as a gateway to the Divine. It is a spirituality anchored in the body and a real art of living in the present moment, at the heart of the relationship with the Self, the other and the environment. It embraces all the experiences of life, to make it an experience of consciousness. In Tantra, it is said that the state of Samadhi or awakening is already present in us. It is enough to lift the veil of ignorance that prevents us from fully savouring it ...
The absence of dualism and the ego
The view of the world in tantra is non-dualistic. The notions of "material" and "spiritual", of "profane" and "sacred" meet and intermingle harmoniously in the reunified, complete Whole. The Universe is based on opposing qualities, and denying or rejecting any part of them upsets the balance and distorts the view of the whole. The ego feeds on “I like this and I don't like that”. Accepting duality is also accepting to go beyond this limiting representation of “me-I”, this illusion of believing oneself to be separated from the world and others (parts of Self). This invites us to experience the Union of opposites, the middle way, like a drop of water melting into the ocean.
The cosmic union of the sacred couple
To begin with, the union of the divine energy and the consciousness is indivisible. For the sake of explanation, tradition has pictured it as a couple, that of the god Shiva and the goddess Shakti. This couple represents the sacred figure of the balance between the feminine and the masculine where Shiva assumes the static aspect of consciousness while Shakti represents the dynamic aspect (energy). Hence, Tantra often places the feminine/masculine relation and polarity at the heart of practices.
Despite the Western view of Tantra (often impoverished, distorted and limiting), it is in no way limited to only sexual dimension, even if it encompasses and transcends it. Vijnana-bhaïrava Tantra ("Tantra of Supreme Knowledge"), one of the oldest Shaivite texts, presents a set of 112 techniques or meditations aimed at expanding consciousness. Of these only 3 focus on sexuality. And for some schools of tantra, there is no need for sex, only meditation (mindfulness) allows access to Awakening.
It is true, however, that other currents of tantra consider the conscious sexual act as a practice which can lead to supreme knowledge. The physical body is here a gateway to meet the divine. Freed from its tensions, as the practice progresses, it becomes a wonderful tool to refine the 5 senses and transform our consciousness. However, the practices and rites proposed are not rules to be followed, rather exercises to promote a receptive state and an anchoring in the present moment.