Shakti and Goddess Power (Part 3 of 3)

Tantrikas[1] work with goddess energy through the use of: mantras – sacred sounds; yantras – “diagrams for working with the energies of life”[2]; mandalas – “graphic symbol[s] of the universe, specifically, a circle enclosing a square with a deity on each side”[3]; and, also through ritual practice.

To go into more depth on just one of the above-mentioned methods, a mantra can be considered to be: “… an absolute sound, having no conventional meaning, [that] work[s] on the body and the mind by virtue of [its] vibrational quality.”[4] Indeed, I’ve found very useful and profound to follow Sally Kempton’s recommendation of chanting the mantra shrim [pronounced shreem] to evoke what I understand to be the archetypal energies of the goddess Lakshmi.[5] Shrim (or any other mantra) can be spoken or chanted either aloud or silently. Moreover, mantra repetition can form part of a formal daily meditation practice, or it can be used in response to events that occur in our daily lives. For example, whenever my rational mind begins to churn never-ending fearful or self-bashing thoughts round and around in my head like a washing machine, I find silently chanting shrim and connecting with Lakshmi to be an excellent method for bringing the nose-diving personality back onto an even keel.  Continue reading

Authentic spiritual practice

Quote

“From the highest source of tantric authority we learn […] ‘To worship it, become it’ […] Without this ‘becoming’ there is no worship. There is no worship without. Worship without is a rite; it becomes a mere ritualistic form. The only worship, like love, must be a continuous, penetrating and merging flow of energy from within, from within to within. ‘Becoming it’ is the first demand for a successful prayer. It is the soul in shape. This is at the root of our worship of deities. […] It may be Kali, Mary, Buddha or Jesus. Unless a prayer makes the devotee ‘become’ it, the prayer has failed. It is like reciting a cook book in order to appease hunger.”

Quote from Bhattacharya, B. (1988) The World of Tantra. Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers Pvt. Ltd: New Delhi, p.215.

Quote featured in “She Who Is Unto Herself”

Using the fruits of meditation in daily life

Meditation had brought spirituality to the forefront of Joy’s life. The results of her spiritual practice echoed throughout the day. It implied a state of consciousness and being that she endeavoured to work on at every moment. This brought with it a level of objectivity and detachment that was enabling her to more often observe and direct her thoughts, words and actions in everyday situations.

No longer being compartmentalised as a mere relaxation technique, meditation had gradually taken on more and more significance. It had become the channel through which Joy set the tone for her day and for her life. She now deemed her life to be a spiritual experiment. Meditation and contemplation of spiritual matters were for Joy a bridge to another – unseen – world. She could glean meaning about the significance of day-to-day living from that world which wasn’t physical.

To use the fruits of meditation in daily life was something Joy felt was intrinsically important. She became almost nauseous whenever she met people who purported to actively practise a spiritual or religious path, but who in daily life systematically acted and spoke with bigotry, intolerance, racism and other forms of selfishness. Continue reading

Some thoughts on sacred sexuality

I join the camp of those persons who have come to the conclusion that our sexuality is for much more than conceiving a child, although at a certain point in our lives that might be the major purpose. I believe sexual energy, when correctly understood and worked with, has the potential to be an important part of our spiritual learning on the physical plane, not least because the states of consciousness we’re capable of attaining during and after a sexual exchange are so much more subtle and significant than our ordinary state of awareness. By joining together at the level of heart, body and mind, lovers can access the Infinite. This is one of the goals of a tantric sexual union, which is something much more encompassing than the mere satisfaction of lust or the release of pent-up sexual energy. “Sex must not remain sex; that is the Tantra teaching. It must be transformed into love. And love also must not remain love. It must be transformed into light, into meditative experience, into the last, ultimate mystic peak.”[1]

Andre van Lysebeth suggests that human beings have two sexual poles: the species pole located in the genitals, which is associated with the urge for procreation that’s visible in many life forms, not just humans; and, the individual pole located in the brain, which is specific to the human race. [2]  By connecting at a heart-level with our lover, we can bridge the gap between the species (body) and individual (mind) poles: Continue reading

What’s the definition of Tantra?

From my research, I came up with the following translations and conceptualisations for Tantra, which are used also by other authors/seekers in addition to the ones quoted here:

“The term ‘Tantra’ is derived from the Sanskrit root tan for ‘expanding’. Tantra, therefore, means ‘that which expands awareness’.”[1]

Tan means to expand, while tra means to liberate. So Tantra describes itself as an expansion of the knowledge and practice that liberates us from suffering.”[2]

André van Lysebeth uses the word Tantra “to refer to a body of millennia-old doctrines and, above all, practices” and suggests that one meaning of Tantra is “the instrument to expand the field of ordinary consciousness in order to reach supraconsciousness, the root of one’s being and the wellspring of unknown powers that Tantra seeks to awaken and harness.” [3]

One of the definitions provided by Georg Feuerstein in “Tantra: the Path to Ecstasy” is that: “…tantra is the ‘expansive’, all-encompassing Reality revealed by wisdom. As such it stands for ‘continuum’, the seamless whole that comprises both transcendence and immanence, Reality and reality, Being and becoming, Consciousness and mental consciousness, Infinity and finitude, Spirit and matter, Transcendence and immanence, or, in Sanskrit terminology, nirvana and samsara.[4]

In his list Feuerstein could have included the terms Shiva and Shakti, which are implied in all the pairs he mentions – transcendence (Shiva) and immanence (Shakti), Consciousness (Shiva) and mental consciousness (Shakti), etc. Continue reading

Embraced by immanent divine love

I’ve discovered a point of consciousness inside me that is forever content, blissful, trusting and at peace. This is what I understand to be heart energy. I can access it at any moment; it’s only difficult to find when my rational mind is working overtime. In my experience, this energy seems to have two locations – in the area of the heart chakra, as expected, and also in the area of the third eye chakra. Perhaps these two energy centres are very intimately connected, so if one is energised it naturally stimulates the other? This point of consciousness brings calm in any situation if I can access it. It causes my body to stand erect – straightening my spine; and at the same time, it relaxes my muscles. It makes me take a deep breath and smile. As well as absorbing this heart energy, I can also radiate it outwards to others through the power of my intention, and for this reason, it enables me to remain open to people I interact with, irrespective of whether the relationship is good or bad. It is, I believe, a quality of being which is spoken of – albeit in different ways – by many religious and spiritual traditions. Tapping heart energy and then holding your intention to radiate it out of your third eye chakra is referred to by some energetic practices of Eastern origin as smiling through your third eye. Continue reading

Take the time to breathe

In Western societies dominated by the illusion that each person should be busy every second of the day, continually striving to get more – money, status, possessions – or to get sufficient – enough money to pay the bills – it can be easy to forget to enjoy the moment and give thanks for what’s going well in our lives. Modern day technology has the potential to free up human time; however, technological advances might well have made us busier, instead. I’m sure I’m not the only one to have experienced a sinking feeling in my stomach when, on returning to my office after a short holiday, I’ve found my in-box brimming over and, at the same rate at which I’ve replied to a pile of emails, new ones were already coming in. It can be difficult to step outside this busy way of life, not least because of the expectations and requirements that we might be under to perform in a certain way and at a particular rhythm. All the same, even short pauses of some minutes throughout the day to step outside the treadmill of life in order to breathe and focus inwardly is very empowering and can restore a sense of positivity even in the midst of chaos and deadlines.

Excerpt from “She Who Is Unto Herself”.