In this blog series, we look at the nature of human experience from the perspective of Tantra. We also consider how this perspective can contribute to our mental health as well as towards cultivating enhanced spiritual experience. Tantra, in our present time, we believe, should be developed in a relationship with psychology and other contemporary disciplines.
As you will learn from this blog, and our websites (russillpaul.us and schoolofmantra.com), such an approach is not typical of traditional Tantra. It is more in keeping with what we offer and develop in our Yogic Mystery School. We must also affirm that our school practices and teaches many aspects of traditional Tantra, specifically through mudras, mantras, meditation practices, visualizations, and rituals.
I hope that at students in our school will share their insights on these blogs and that others, those new to Tantra, as well as those who have some knowledge of Tantra, will consider some of the incredibly powerful programs we have developed online. Regardless of the call to action after reading this blog, you are invited to think deeply, and, hopefully, perceive differently.
1. How much of your experience is experience?
In the mid-nineties, when I was teaching at the University of Culture and Creation Spirituality in Oakland, CA, I would begin my courses on Tantra with this question: “How much of your experience is experience?” When students become aware of how much their experiences are diluted by the type of content and activity typically going on in their minds, they are more receptive to studying methods of Tantra that require a devoted application.
A good example today is the way most people are often recording photographs and videos of their vacations to share with others. I found myself doing this on vacation, too, but I would repeatedly catch myself and make sure the difference registered in my consciousness sufficiently.
When we look through a camera lens, and our mind is racing about what we would tell others about that particular experience, or the emotion we would have when we shared it with someone in the future, we are not taking in that experience in the now. A camera captures a poor representation of what is unfolding in the totality of our senses and our mind. Smells, for instance, cannot be achieved by the camera.
When we are on our annual pilgrimage in India, and we just completed our 22nd pilgrimage here, we tell our group of pilgrims not to take pictures in a temple until our prayer, chanting, and ceremonies finish. We often see westerners snapping photos all the time, and the quality of their consciousness is very different from what is registering on those who travel with us. The camera places a layer of separation between the subject and the object. Tantra is a process that seeks to remove, reduce, or carve a path through these layers of separation.
Do you realize that when you have an experience, whether it is meditating or eating a peach, your thoughts, emotions, projections, and other mental activity is consuming large quantities of consciousness? Because of this heavy consumption, a good deal of awareness is siphoning off. Imagine the quality and scope of your experience if 100% of your attention and awareness is directed exclusively towards that particular experience.
Humans place a high value on experiences. In Tantra, human experience is a form of knowledge, a knowing. We often associate the word “experience” with something purely subjective, something we, the subject, “experiences” passively. And knowing is something objective since our ways of knowing are typically through observation, analysis, comparison, focussed on an object. Sure, the self, the subject is involved, but we do not sufficiently consider the state of the subject or the mode of knowing.
Tantra is a path that takes a lot of the detail available in human consciousness into consideration. With Tantra, we learn to know both subjectively and objectively at the same time, and we learn to experience in ways that a fuller and more luxurious than our typical manner of experiencing or experiences. Most people are unaware that their thoughts, projections, analysis, and comparisons are mostly distracting and diluting from their experiences instead of contributing and enhancing them.
Of course, you are going to want to know how we develop our practice. Real Tantra takes time and application. If you try to learn Tantra through your analytical or linear brain, that is a very superficial approach. Nor is our path one that is hedonistic, or teaching sacred sexuality. Our Tantric path, inspired by what is known as Sri Vidya, is a sophisticated gnostic path. It comes with a profound cosmology and theology that requires engages our mind, body, and senses. And we study states of consciousness, the structuring of the self, and how consciousness behaves in various circumstances, in addition to many esoteric practices.
If you are serious about studying Tantra with us, you can take a look at our courses at russillpaul.us or schoolofmantra.com. If you are unsure about how to proceed, or if you are interested in one-on-one private coaching, let us know, and we will follow up with you.
In the meantime, you can begin practicing Tantra by observing your mind, your emotional life, your states of consciousness, your energy flow, your relationships, and related areas such as your work, your finances, your satisfaction in life, food habits, and sleep patterns. Our approach to Tantra is holistic and considers all aspects of life and health.
Watch the video to prepare for the next part of this blog series.
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