The word Tantra: is Sanskrit and literally means, "a continuum, or unbroken stream [of energy]."
The term Tantra refers first (1) to the continuum of vital energy that sustains all existence, and second (2) to the class of knowledge and practices that harnesses that vital energy, thereby transforming the practitioner.
Tantra is primarily known in two forms:
- from India; related to Hinduism
- from Tibet; related to Buddhism
Each have their own scriptures, schools, traditions, and practices, which vary widely. And, in spite of the opinions—and financial interests—of many people, the term Tantra is not immediately synonymous with sex, spiritual powers, or materialism.
For thousands of years the teachings of Tantra had been protected and isolated in order to preserve their purity and to protect the naive from harming themselves. Now that much of Tantra has been made public, it has been completely disfigured by the passions, desires, and ambitions of misguided people. The vast majority of teachings of Tantra have degenerated completely and are now dangerous. One should study extensively before taking on any teachings or practice of Tantra. This has been emphasized by all truly authentic traditions of Tantra:
Tantra Yoga had been one of the potent powers for the spiritual regeneration of the Hindus. When practised by the ignorant, unenlightened, and unqualified persons, it has led to certain abuses; and there is no denying that some degraded forms of Saktism have sought nothing but magic, immorality, and occult powers. - Swami Sivananda
Genuine Tantra is an exceptional method of purifying the consciousness of all egotistical elements: lust, pride, envy, gluttony, laziness, etc., but it is not easy or accomplished overnight, and requires great temperance, intelligence, education, and dedication. Real Tantra depends completely on robust and perfect ethics.
[Buddha] Shakyamuni did not teach that people with loose ethics will succeed in Tantra. That is not the way leading to the city of nirvana. How could these evil churls succeed in Tantra? How could people with loose ethics go to the upper realms? They will not go to a high rebirth; they will not have supreme happiness. - The Manjushri Root Tantra
Success in Tantra is determined by the ethical discipline that leads up to it.
There are many varieties of Tantra, but they can be classified in three types: White, Grey and Black. These are differentiated by examination of the results they produce.
- White Tantra: those schools that produce beings who are clean of all egotistical desire, anger, lust, envy, etc. Such beings are known as Buddhas, Masters, Angels, Devas, etc.
- Grey Tantra: those schools who want to be White but do not renounce Black methods. They are caught in the middle.
- Black Tantra: those schools that produce beings who sustain and develop the causes of suffering, namely lust, anger, greed, pride, etc. Such beings are called demons, sorcerers, Maruts, Asuras, etc.
This website is solely concerned with the scriptures and techniques belonging to White forms of Tantra.
Why is Tantra misunderstood?
This is because one the most elevated aspects of tantrism has a special relationship to sexuality. In other words, while it does not form the totality of its content, the sexual act itself is a genuine aspect of tantrism.
Traditionally, Tantra was taught in secrecy, only to the disciples who advanced through rigorous training of the mind. A fundamental prerequisite would always be complete Chastity, something normal for any true monk or Nun. Reaching the stage of Tantra meant that one had mastered not only the foundational methods of spiritual discipline, but more advanced ones as well, and was prepared for the highest or most secret teaching. It is important to understand that, historically, the lay or ordinary people were never taught tantrism.
Why is Tantra necessary?
Sexual union provides a continuum of energy within the tantric practitioners which cannot be duplicated by any other means. This is why, without sexual union, certain types of spiritual realizations are impossible (see Solar Bodies). However, because sexual union is a tremendous area of temptation, such practices have always been forbidden by all but the most elevated students.
So, the real reason that sexual intercourse has its place within Tantra is that there is an authentic spiritual function to sexuality. Let us be clear though: desires such as lust do not have any place in spiritual pursuits.
All the functions of sex have an element of creation:
- Procreation: creation of physical bodies
- Pleasure: the creation of desire
- Psychogenesis: the creation of a spiritual nature
We can see that the first two types are the only functions understood and experienced by the common man and woman. White Tantrism is the only form of tantrism that works exclusively with the third type as its goal. We must also understand that it is not simply the physical union which is important, but the forces of love which must also be present.
Quotes about Tantra
"The Tantric student must be endowed with purity, faith, devotion, dedication to Guru, dispassion, humility, courage, cosmic love, truthfulness, non-covetousness, and contentment." - Swami Sivananda
"The passions which bind may be so employed as to act as forces whereby the particular life of which they are the strongest manifestation is raised to the universal life. Passion, which has hitherto run downwards and outwards to waste, is directed inwards and upwards, and transformed to power." - Mahanirvana Tantra
"In general, all systems of highest Yoga Tantra's completion stage involve the preliminary process of controlling the vital energies..." - Tsongkhapa, founder of the Gelugpa school of Tibetan Buddhism
“In the view of Tantra, the body's vital energies are the vehicles of the mind. When the vital energies are pure and subtle, one's state of mind will be accordingly affected. By transforming these bodily energies we transform the state of consciousness.” - The 14th Dalai Lama