Tantra: meaning and origin
Many people initially view the topic of tantra with some prejudices and not infrequently with a wrong image, since certain practices, for example from red tantra, are very much in the foreground in the West and are misused and passed on in some circles. However, tantra is an ancient and highly philosophical system with various currents and holds many exciting insights - in this blog post we will tell you what tantra is really about.
What is tantra?
How old tantra really is is not known to this day. However, the first origins of tantra can already be found in Hinduism and Buddhism. Although the early beginnings of tantra can be found as early as the 2nd century, its full development dates back to the 8th century.
The word tantra comes from the Sanskrit root "tan" meaning "to extend" or "spread out" and "tra" meaning "instrument". Therefore, Tantra literally means the "instrument for expanding" the level of consciousness from the ordinary to the extraordinary, with self-realization, the realization of the highest truth, as the ultimate goal. Tantra also means "loom" or "weaving", which is related to the fact that tantra teaches that the universe is a web where everything is connected and interrelated. Although the word tantra has many meanings, each has its own nuance, depending on the context, its most important definition: It is an instrument, a way to expand the level of consciousness . Tantra sees the universe as an interplay of consciousness (Shiva) and divine energy (Shakti), both are divine principles but are in fact the same thing. The goal is to come to the highest consciousness of unity. In order to open up to these higher levels of consciousness, many practices from Kundalini yoga (the yoga of energies) are used in tantra, for example, asanas, certain pranayama techniques, holding mudras (hand gestures) and bandhas (energy locks in the body) and the Concentration on the chakras.
With these practices, the dormant Kundalini energy, which is dormant in the form of a coiled snake in the area of the root chakra in every human being, should be awakened and open to the higher truth.
Difference of tantra to the classical philosophical systems of yoga
In the philosophical and practical system of tantra, there is not a single thing that exists that is not considered "divine."
This is the essence of tantric philosophy. All aspects of tantra have their roots in this vision. While the classic yogic philosophical systems are more about detaching oneself more and more from human attachments through regular Sadhana (spiritual practice) and thus attaining purity of mind and finally enlightenment, Tantrism forms an opposite pole: To the highest reality To experience, all experiences are included, emotional as well as intellectual and also the sensory perceptions. Every experience one has on one's life path is a chance to awaken from the illusion of the world. In this way you can carefully observe your feelings and reflect on them, recognizing the wisdom that lies behind them. No area of human life is excluded in Tantrism, such as sexuality and sensuality. And although practices for the healing awakening of sexual energy are more prominent today, they are not the core of tantra.
In tantra, the human body is not seen as the physical shell in which one experiences suffering and pain, but as a temple of the divine. Tantra teachings consciously include the body instead of wanting to permanently transcend it. Yogic practices should help you to get in touch with yourself in your complete wholeness in order to then open yourself up to the universal power of the cosmos.
“Tantra says accept yourself as you are. You are a great mystery of many multidimensional energies. Accept that and follow each energy with much sensitivity, with awareness, with love, with understanding. move with her! Then every desire becomes a stepping stone to go beyond it. Then every energy becomes a help. And then this world is Nirvana, then this body is a temple - a sacred temple, a sacred place." - Osho
The 3 Types of Tantra
White Tantra is all about the purification of the subconscious. There are many issues hidden in our subconscious that can be a hindrance to our life and our spiritual path. Through spiritual practice and yogic exercises (similar to Kundalini Yoga), these aspects of the self are illuminated and may be cleaned up. Thus we restore the flow of universal energy within ourselves. White tantra can be practiced very ritually, with various ceremonies or even pilgrimages, but even without elaborate rituals, white tantra is a spiritual path that serves self-knowledge.
The activation of the chakras and the expansion of consciousness so that the energy of Kundalini - Shakti can rise, are evoked in Red Tantra through sexual tantra exercises. In red tantra, sexuality is practiced as a sacred ritual between two people. A mindful, appreciative and respectful approach is the basis for immersing yourself in the practices of red tantra.
Black tantra is about manipulating and controlling people for your own ends. For this reason, black tantra is also assigned to black magic, since the highest goal is one's own position of power. For this, certain rituals are performed and yantras are recited to achieve selfish purposes.
In addition to the 3 different types of tantra, there are also some currents in which different deities are worshiped.
The Tantra teaching is much more extensive and complex than we can present here in a blog post. Basically one can say that in tantra everyone is given a lot of freedom for their own experience and development. Depending on the current, the use of sexual practices is not a must and an essential part are yoga kriyas (yogic purification exercises) and other spiritual and energetic practices. Tantra might even be more popular than other yoga traditions. Because tantra does not ask us to overcome our human life with all its feelings and to renounce everything, it invites us to consciously live out and accept our experiences.
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