TANTRA: The Path of Shock and Surrender

The path of tantra is perhaps the most misunderstood of all spiritual practices. In “Rivulets of the Absolute,” the birth of all yogic methods are explored in detail. Revealing their ancient roots as to where, how, why and by whom they came into being provides the keys to truly understanding them. From this enhanced perception it is much easier to sift through the innumerable distortions that abound in spiritual circles today. These misinterpretations, while largely innocent in their intent, tend to not simply confuse people but rather bind them more firmly in the very factors they wish to transcend.Long before recorded history and the various religions we know of today, humanity inhabited a vastly different world. Devoid of the fragmented manner of living which is considered normal today, humans interacted with life in a more pure manner. They were good and simple people. Their desires were few, the stresses of everyday life even less. In these times known as the Satya and Treta yugas (ages) life was slower and more integrated with the earth than we can possibly imagine. Their measure of time was nothing like we today experience an hour, a day or a year. Because of their simple nature and expansive involvement with the passing of time, they rarely felt anything akin to today’s commonplace factor:  stress. The relatively few incidences in life that offered them the opportunity to feel the sympathetic nervous system spike would be relegated to something like stumbling across a tiger while wandering in the forest. Because life flowed in this way, they were naturally inclined to follow the path of yoga. Having few responsibilities they would have easily adapted to yogic disciplines and austerities.How we live these days is an entirely different matter. The current age, known as the Kali yuga, is marked by innumerable conflicts and constant stresses. We have the opportunity to experience the uptake of the sympathetic nervous system many times each day. As Siddha Healer Pal Pandian once told me, “Today everything is a tiger! A man drives to work in heavy traffic, argues with coworkers, fears for his job, eats food too quickly, avoids his boss…even coming home should his wife be upset with him, she too is a tiger!”  What Pal was pointing out to me is that the way we live is not only different from ancient times, but because of this we have different inherent tendencies. Being caught up in a multifaceted world with many layers of demanding responsibilities, few of us would have the natural mindset of a yogi. We have our own existential qualities wrapped in the outer entanglements of countless worldly layers. This very contrivance of current living lends itself to the path of tantra.Tantra can best be defined as “web of fabrication.” This web consists of all our mental, emotional, physical involvements, habits and latent tendencies. The act of fabricating these projections into the web of our own construction occurs simply by living our everyday lives. While it may seem negative or a hopeless case to escape from limitations arising from living in an ordinary fashion, herein lies the beauty of tantra:  these self created and self perpetuating limitations of repetitive projecting hold within themselves the key and the very energy to transcend them! The Tamil Siddhas were the first to explore and develop the many yogic paths and did so in the far distant past of pre-history. Having created and mastered all the paths, the Tamil Siddhas view and utilize them as a blended whole. This means They have never separated them into distinct disciplines. Since that time the many systems that the Siddhas brought forth have spread globally. Due to this each of them can be seen to have become an isolated teaching when practiced outside of the Siddha clan. Today there are individual paths of tantra and each of the many yogas. Utilized in this isolated manner it is quite easy to find a teacher of yoga or tantra willing to give initiation into their path. What they have to offer is then given to any and all that come to them. The problem with this approach is that each person has a distinctly individual nature and so will have particular needs. Giving the single practice, whether a meditation practice, breathing technique, or yogic/tantric initiation to all is rather limiting.For instance it is quite easy to find those who propound to be teaching tantra and further, state that there are two paths, the left hand and right hand. Even more misleading are those who pose as teachers or even “gurus” of the left hand path and claim it to be one of sexual and other sensual practices. This is not only inauthentic but also grandly delusional. They are not teachers of anything other than their own limitations and perversions. What they claim to teach is in no way tantra. Focused on sensual pleasures these “teachers” lack the essential component to guide anyone:  penetrative vision. This quality can only be found in the Sat Guru (perfected Master).In fact there is no separate left hand and right hand path in ancient Siddha tantra. Every human psyche contains the twin aspects of feminine and masculine. Everyone requires the maturation of the aspect they are identified with, for only then can they embark on the journey into the other deeply hidden and rejected psychic aspect. Furthermore, the significant proportional mix of masculine-feminine may vary from person to person. This speaks to why tantra, and indeed all authentic spiritual instruction, requires specific application to each individual. Unfortunately, today we see people being causally given the same techniques in group settings. While there is nothing wrong with this approach, it will rarely lead them to ultimate goal of such practices:  sensing the ever basic thread of pure, undisturbed Consciousness.As originally practiced by the Tamil Siddhas, both the left and right hand paths of tantra intersect and weave together. Left hand path is the one that gives sudden and strong shocks to the seeker, while the right hand path is one of soothing deity worship. Both should occur for the aspirant over the span of his tantric practice. Their combined aim is to destroy the conditionings in which we “live.” Usually we think our identity are these many layers of conditioning. Never deeply questioning and inquiring into our ingrained and habitual responses to life, we fail to realize that Consciousness is our innate reality.Transcending the layers of our psyche is undertaken in tantra by encountering the totality of both our individual unconscious as well as the collective unconscious. This is no simple or quick undertaking regardless of what some like to proclaim. It is a journey. This journey of tantra begins with a milieu, an environment created by the Guru. The speciality of tantra is that over time this milieu can be felt in one’s everyday life flow. Simply by living our daily routine the alternating experiences of shocks (left hand) and surrender (right hand) that compose the journey called tantra, we naturally fall into the always and ever present reality of Consciousness.-Stephen Grissomwww.siddhavasihealing.com