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Tantra in the West: Western Mystery Tradition

Subject: Tantra in the West: Western Mystery Tradition (the Occult)

"The supreme power, it was argued, is TOTALITY, and, as such contains all aspects of reality, even those which seem contradictory to one another.  The Absolute is at one and the same time (or, rather, outside time - eternally) 'good' and 'evil', dark and light, knowable and beyond knowledge or any other comprehension or apprehension.  The very interplay of these contradictions is the web of reality; without the eternal opposition and union of the polarized forces - the Yin and Yang of Taoism, the Shiva and Shakti of Tantra - nothing would exist, whether its nature was physical, emotional ('astral'), mental, or spiritual."
Tantra for Westerners, p. 38.

"The phrase 'left-handed' in relation to Tantra of a type involving physical sexuality is an unfortunate one in an occidental context; it is very easy for a European or North American to make the false verbal transition from 'left', via 'sinister', to 'evil.'  Those who have made such a transition have often been led into a serious misunderstanding of the historical development of tantric techniques, assuming that right-handed Tantra is 'authentic' and 'pure', the 'real Tantra' of which left-handed Tantra is some sort of illegitimate derivation.  Some, who have included distinguished members of the Theosophical Society, have even gone so far as to regard left-handed Tantra as a form of black magic,..."

"Such beliefs are against all the historical evidence.  Not only do left-handed techniques predate 'substitute worship' of right-handed Tantra, BUT THE POLARITY THEORIES WHICH ARE ACCEPTED BY ALL SCHOOLS OF TANTRA SEEM TO HAVE BEEN DERIVED FROM OCCULT RITES AND EXERCISES INVOLVING PHYSICAL SEXUALITY.  In other words, the methods employed by practitioners of left-handed Tantra have not been invented as a result of deliberate or accidental misunderstanding of some 'pure' tantric theory.  On the contrary, tantric theory has come into existence as a result of efforts to draw some sorts of philosophical/cosmological conclusions which would satisfactorily explain the RESULTS of left-handed practice.

"This is not to say, of course, that there have never been cults derived from left-handed Tantra which can be regarded as analogous to the black magic of Western tradition.  There is, in fact, evidence that such cults have existed in the past, and that some of them still exist at the present day.

"Characteristically such cults have exhibited an obsession with death, and have celebrated rites which combine such elements as coprophagy, anthropophagy, and abnormal sexual practices....

"Whether such rites do, in fact, still take place is uncertain.  People tend to attribute all sorts of amazingly unpleasant activities to the members of secret religious groups, and just as in medieval Europe the hamless Waldenses were believed to indulge in incest, murder, and the worship of Satan, so in northern India at the present day left-handed tantrics are sometimes alleged to carry out ceremonies involving human sacrifice and cannibalism.

"But while many of such allegations can be safely dismissed as malicious fantasy there can be no doubt that they are based on a substratum of reality.  Certain sects which can be regarded as having a tantric derivation, or, at any rate, having been influenced by Tantra, have in the past practised murder on a very large scale.  The most notable of these was the notorious robber-cult of the phansigars, 'deceivers', the Thugs, who adored Kali as an incarnation of Shakti, celebrated rites with a 
worship in which those who tasted a consecrated coarse suger believed they experienced 'the embrace of Kali', engaged in ritual strangulation of those whom they robbed.  Undoubtedly of tantric origin were the Kapilakas (worshippers of Chamunda, another avatar of Shakti) who still survive at the present day and in the past certainly practised both necrophilia and human sacrifice - a treatise held in high regard by some members of this cult proclaims that 'by the sacrifice of three men the Goddess is happy for a lakh of years'.

"It might be thought that such bloodiness would be alient to the gentle philosophy of the Buddha, but similar death-orientated derivatives of Tantra seem to have been widely practised in pre-communist Tibet.

"Some of these cults undoubtedly practised human sacrifice, a feature of the shamanistic Bon religion which dominated Tibet until its population was largely converted to Buddhism in the ninth century.  There is littel doubt that there has been a considerable cross-fertilization between Tantra and Bon, and its seems likely that at least some of the more death-obsessed Buddhist tantric cults adapted Bon techniques to their own purposes."
Tantra for Westerners, pgs. 95-96.

"Crowley called Shakti by the name of Nuit, the Egyptian star-goddess...  Shiva he called by another Egyptian name, 'Hadit'.  The 'concrete incarnation' of Shakti was called 'Babalon' by Crowley, that of Shiva he called 'the Beast', a name which he specifically applied to himself..."  Tantra for Westerners, King, p. 74.

"The 'dark side of the moon' aspect of the realm of images occultists term the astral plane is a reflection, glamorized and often deceptive, of Kali - the destructive side of Shakti.  The mastery of the 'dark side of the moon' is therefore one way of apprehending the nature of this aspect of Shakti; those who attempt to attain such a mastery and fail fall victims to the destructive powers of Kali.  This is usually a psychic rather than a physical process; the 'dark side of the moon' 
becomes master instead of servant and a process of ego-inflation follows.  Such an inflation is almost an occupational disease in Western occultism.  At its worst it can lead to a pathological condition in which the sufferer is unable to cope with the stresses of everyday life; he or she believes himself or herself to have reached a high state of spiritual advancement, or to be the recipient of revelations from the gods, or even to be a 'Secret Chief' or 'Master'." 
Tantra for Westerners, King, p. 61.

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