With the upsurge in spiritual interests, the practice of yoga, the desire to incorporate meditation into a hectic daily life and the increasing number of professional spiritual teachers, an undercurrent to this new era of humanity is the evolution of romantic love.
Although, many may not articulate or demonstrate evolved love nor even recognize its mutation. For this accelerated, improved model of love operates very differently from the factors of attraction and the common practice of romance and sexuality.
Still, mainstream yoga audiences are greatly attracted to the facade of what many western yogis refer to as “Tantra”, a term used for what they describe as a spiritual sexual practice. Actually, nothing could be farther from the truth. Tantra is not a sexual practice at all. Yet, many use this word to describe a type of intimate relating that incorporates greater awareness into sexual union. Many contemporary authors have used this term to introduce the concept of spiritual sexual intimacy and terribly misled the western audience and their understanding of the true meaning of tantra.
To understand the true meaning of tantra, we dive into the ancient Hindu teachings for how this term became the buzz word for sexuality. Then we can uncover the true, hidden meaning of tantra.
The original, ancient scriptures of tantra stem from a conversation that took place between Shiva and Parvati, his consort who sits on his left thigh depicted in many Hindu art images portraying these two archetypes. From the conversation that occurred between these two as it is written in many of the ancient texts, the term tantra became the word to describe sacred sensuality for the householder.
Only those residing in expanded state of awareness understood the elliptical meaning behind the stories imparted through these two archetypes of cosmic forces unrelated to any kind of sexuality.
For In the ancient Hindu philosophies, Tantra is monistic in nature, it is not dual as it often used to represent in sacred sexuality. Rather, the cosmos itself is unchanging, infinite, immanent and transcendental in nature.
Please do not misunderstand me, for utilizing these spiritual archetypes as the models for romance has its merits for initiating an understanding of mature loving.
For the householder or the contemporary lover, the dance of Shiva and Shakti represents the role of female and male much like how they are portrayed in the article I wrote here.
In the ancient tradition, there are two terms used to identify consciousness (Shiva) and self-aware consciousness (Shakti). The purpose of Tantra is to explain how these two aspects are actually one and the same. If they were two different aspects as the mind tends to view, then they reside in dualism, an attribute of the program or maya. However, when used to identify male and female forces in the program, it assists with understanding how the two forces of masculine and feminine, yin and yang operate in the space of duality working towards harmonic existence.
We learn how to balance this dualistic nature of these two forces, male and female, through the understanding of Ida and Pingala or Odic and Actinic forces. You can read more about these forces in this article (Odic and Actinic forces) and in this article (Integration of male and female forces)
In ancient Hindu teachings, the force of Shiva is used to portray the strong masculine energy that goes through a process of feminization in order to embrace consciousness. The man must become soft, compassionate, loving and nurturing in order to realize consciousness. This is not a natural state for the common man for he is often, pushed into the role of provider, protector and defender as his body is designed to be and a warrior who is aggressive, lustful and full of desire to dominate and control his immediate environment.
In the ancient Tantric tradition, Shakti or Divine Mother or The One Great Mother has the ability to free the individual from the constraints of the ego, ignorance, desire and all that binds the soul. This feminine power is what frees us from the cycle of karma and has the ability to erase the past, remove attachments and individualize a being, unifying integral forces inherent in the conscious being.
We view this cosmic divine feminine force through the teachings of the goddess Parvati for gaining power of manifestation, in Lakshmi for gaining wealth, in Saraswati for knowledge, in Kali for destruction of evil and the impetus for transformation. There are many aspects of the Divine Cosmic Mother represented in various sects of Hinduism as well as Buddhism, Jainism and other similar ancient religions. You can read more about the various aspects of Divine Mother here
In certain factions of Hinduism and Buddhism, we find The Mother Goddess as a compliment to the masculine gods such as Parvati with Shiva, Saraswati with Brahma and Lakshmi with Vishnu and so on. All of these archetypes hold a hidden message for how consciousness grows inside the human form in various ways unique to how one is designed to experience the integration of body with spirit consciousness.
In the ancient text, Devi Upanishad, Shakti is recognized as the ultimate reality and from her rises matter, consciousness, bliss and non-bliss and so on. She is also recognized as the creative power of Shiva in a few of the Upanishads, which are sacred, holy Hindu texts.
In this era known as “Kali Yuga”, a time of darkness on our planet, Shiva is the savior who initiates the golden age, therefore, the agent for transforming the human condition and leading a portion of humanity out of darkness and into harmonious, cooperative state of oneness. Masculine energy must be transformed in order for peace to be established on our planet earth. There has been too much war, greed, lack of compassion and ignorance. Shiva is real and is a cosmic force that we can rely upon to transform our aggressive, egoistic, ignorant nature into a higher state of consciousness.
In the teachings shared by my beloved Guru, Sri Nithyananda Paramashivam, he imparts that in order for a person to experience romance, they must feel as though the other is equal to them.
In higher states of consciousness, it is not possible to feel as though the other is equal because a conscious being can see where the problems rest inside of the other. They can see what is causing turmoil, challenging life experiences and the state of the emotional nature. The conscious person can see the whole person: the past of the individual, the possibilities for the future and the imbalances of the system physically, emotionally and spiritually. There is no way that a conscious person who is fully integrated of male and female energies, embrace another as an equal.
They are also aware of what happens to the mechanics of an aura when it is engaged in sexual union. It changes the condition of the subtle body greatly.
Instead, what operates inside the conscious being is compassion outside of a specific gender role.
This is the true practice of Tantra, integrated cosmic forces within while expressing deep compassion for the other without the influence of hormones or the social pressures of the program.
The true meaning of Tantra is expansion, not contraction and represents a state of oneness with consciousness.