Tantra – an authentic and integral spiritual path

I guess I’m not the only spiritual aspirant to have spent years trying to negate my physical body. I think my Catholic upbringing was the first instigator of this self-denial. It was followed, in later years, by my assuming an almost ascetic-like belief in the need to cut myself off from all my bodily instincts, feelings, etc. if I wished to progress in any substantial way along the spiritual path. The result was that for many years I suffered an eroding sense of detachment, which bordered on alienation, from my physical form.

“Most of the world’s religious and mystical traditions separate heaven and earth into two irreconcilable realms, thereby forcing humans to choose one and forfeit the other. The hedonist who cleaves to the sensory gratifications of earth is condemned as a sinner and denied a berth in heaven, while the ascetic who aspires to heaven is revered as a saint but deprived of the sensual pleasures on earth.”[1]

What I’ve come to realise is that detachment is different from non-attachment. The latter is an important tantric practice. In contrast, detachment, can lead to a cold and lonely place, where living life on the physical plane is a bit like treading water i.e. being fearful of really engaging in life or exploring what it means to be a human being. Having experienced that state of mind and body for a couple of decades, I was left feeling totally unmotivated and with little sense of joy in my day-to-day routine; as if I couldn’t wait for the whole game of life to be over.

Eventually, I decided to try a bit of a U-turn i.e. to stop being so damned detached and to, instead, dive fully into the experience of being a spiritually-engaged human being in a physical body. The aim was, and is, two-fold: firstly, to anchor as much of my transrational (spiritual) consciousness in my body as I can, and; secondly, to become more aware of the consciousness of my physical form, right down to the cellular level. From the broadest to the minutest manifestations of consciousness. The plan is to discover and palpably experience all facets of my being so that I’m no longer stuck in the no-(wo)man’s land of the never-ending, babbling voice in my head.

Tantric practices are very much concerned with consciously experiencing what it means to be human, with awareness and non-attachment, so that a spiritual transformation is possible. Tantra is an integration of body, mind and spirit. It rejects no facet of physicality; therefore, it is an authentic and integral spiritual path.[2]

Sam Red, 26 June 2015

[1] Reid, D. (1995) The Complete Book of Chinese Health and Healing. Shambhala: Boston, pp.37-38.

[2] The idea here differs from the “Integral Yoga” proposed by Sri Aurobindo, who vehemently rejects many aspects of the human nature. See: Sri Aurobindo. (1993) The Integral Yoga. Lotus Press: Twin Lakes.

11 thoughts on “Tantra – an authentic and integral spiritual path

  1. to be so heavenly minded that we are no earthly good . . . sorta negates the meaning to experience life in the first place . . . no?

    THIS is our playground . . . why sit in the shadows and salk like a pouty child when this great adventure is still ongoing?

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    • Thanks, I agree. Did you ever see the film Samsara (2001) about a Buddhist monk, called Tashi, who tries to leave his monastic life for “mundane” existance? That movie kind of sums up the spiritual-physical “dilemma” confronted by many spiritual aspirants.

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    • Yes, you’re right, and actually I would put the figure at 99%, which is why I decided to research and write about Tantra. I have a new book out round September time. It is written from a “generalists” perspective – i.e. I’m no Tantric adept – aimed at trying to dissolve the Western illusion that Tantra is synonymous with eroticism. I’ve very much enjoyed learning about the spiritual path proposed by Tantra. Andre van Lysebeth’s book “Tantra – The Cult of the Feminine” is one of my favourites. I also much enjoyed Georg Feuerstein’s “Tantra: the Path to Ecstasy” and B. Bhattacharya’s “The World of Tantra”. Of course Osho’s “Book of Secrets” is filled with wisdom.

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