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Tantra, Left-hand Path, etc.

From: tyagi@HOUSEOFKAOS.ABYSS.COM (xiwang mu)
Newsgroups: alt.magick.tyagi,alt.magick.tantra,alt.religion.buddhism.tibetan,talk.buddhism,alt.pagan,alt.pagan.magick,talk.religion.newage,
Subject: Tantra, Left-hand Path, etc.
Date: 29 Feb 1996 11:16:27 -0800
Organization: Portal Communications (shell)
Lines: 267
Message-ID: <4h4u2b$>
Reply-To: tyagi@HOUSEOFKAOS.ABYSS.COM (xiwang mu)
Xref: alt.magick.tyagi:6923 alt.magick.tantra:767 alt.religion.buddhism.tibetan:6786 alt.pagan:147250 alt.pagan.magick:233 talk.religion.newage:48748

49960217 NULatix [reposted from thelema93-l@HOLLYFELD.ORG (Thelema93-Listserv)]

|What Tantra has to do with [Thelema] deals with the western misconception it.  
|Such as it all being nothing but a cultus of sex magick.  

Perhaps you are misconstruing Thelema in the same way you perceive others
misconstrue Tantra.

|Tantra and Thelma [sic] are mutually exclusive of each other.  But when 
|Ali heard about it he did some study on it and made it fit into his 
|system of magick.  Thus comes about the western misconception of the system.

This says nothing about what Tantra *is*, or even what it might include
besides sexual focus (of which we know there is some even from academics).

I think that without saying much more about what each of these (Tantra/Thelema)
are to you, then you have made a nonstatement or one which cannot truly
be understood by these words alone.  If you'd care to elaborate I would
enjoy this.

|>Come to think of it isn't a good amout of tantra entirelly sepparate from

Depends on the tantra.  There are many varieties of tantra to be found in a
number of cultures, from Buddhist (Vajrayana) to Hindu (tantra yoga) to the
more modern and syncretic or sex-obsessive cults (Western Occultism and
New Age Seminars such as are offered by the Human Awareness Institute and
more controversial intimatic organizations), not to mention parallels and
offshoots like taoist alchemy).

|>From my understanding the sexual tantras are only a part of the entire
|>teaching in spite of our focusing on that part.

You appear to be focussing on Indian texts (usually called 'Tantras')
and their relevance to yogis.  Not all tantrics share the value of these
texts, nor the strict adherence to their assessment being the traditional
and textual doctrines (e.g. some think of 'the Tantras' as a more mystical
body of texts akin to the esoteric notion of 'the Book of the Law (Torah)').

There is a reason that sexuality is an area of focus, since it is a very
important part of natural human psychology, a deep and mysterious psycho-
spiritual 'pressure point' out of which we may come to know ourselves and
our socialization more acutely.  Anything dealing with basic biophysical
issues (consumption, excretion, sexuality, sleep, etc.) will have a greater
yield in engaging unusual or challenging disciplines to transform the way
these manifest or appear to the conscious mind (especially if symbolism is
in some way utilized, which is the language of the unconscious mind).  This
is perhaps just as true of the process of breathing, which appears to 
operate between the autonomic and volitional nervous systems, while perhaps
less central to ecstatic experience.

|My understanding of it is that Tantra means "Web", 

See alt.magick.tantra.  There have been many contributing etymological
influences on the term 'tantra', from those which stress syncretism or
expansion ('weave', 'net', 'web', etc.) to those more extreme.  The problem
comes of trying to specify 'what a word means', when essentially Humpty
Dumpty laid the whole system out in Carrollian (Lewis!) prose, though I
tend to like the first if not the trio mentioned above.

|and refers to the system of energy in the body (including the kundalini). 

That is a popular Indian way of looking at the term, yes.  Apparently there
is quite a bit of enthusiasm about ascetic chakric maneuverings, for various
and sundry purposes from the mystical to the magical.  I don't know if the
Buddhists (mostly Tibetan/Vajrayana or Japanese/Shingon) feel the same way
about the term or related practices, though I know that some Western 
Occultists and New Age orgs (like OTO!) take up this body-energy paradigm 
(even the Taoists like Chia find the meridian/chakra energetics to be 
important to a mysticism of sexuality).

|Any yoga that works through this system of energy (including the common 
|hathayoga) is considered "Tantra".

That is much more expansive than I've usually heard described.  Typically
I have heard 'tantra' incorporated into the yogic taxonomy (perhaps by
rigid or crazy traditionalists like Vivekananda) as a sort of hierarchy,
laying out in a pictoral form along the chakric spinal cartography.  I
provide an example (not sure of its orthodoxy) below:

	RAJA Yoga	syncretic, focussed upon the Crown Chakra or in
		        some variations upon a holistic approach
	JNANA Yoga	largely ascetic, knowledge-based; the most popular
			to Western religious students it seems 
			(e.g. Sri Ramana Maharshi)

	MANTRA Yoga	intonation and trance-states leading to infusement
			into whatever subtle essence is prevalent within
			the metaphysic of Indian choice (e.g. Patanjali)

	BHAKTI Yoga	polar, focussed upon the heart and emotional
			ecstasis (e.g. 'Hare Krishnas')

	KARMA Yoga	directed service in the manifestation of devotion
			through the works of charity and politics which
			have gained its practions fame (e.g. MKGhandi)

	TANTRA Yoga	sexually-focussed, but not always literally;
			a mastery of the bodily energies appears central

	HATHA Yoga	more bodily an approach (external, in asanas or
			bodily postures, stretches, perhaps some work
			with chakras, but on a more practical level or
			on that of 'exercise'

This sets up a structure which I have always found compelling in the
understanding, generally, of yoga:

	Raja   - Crown/Overhead 
	Jnana  - 'Third Eye'/Forehead/Pineal
	Mantra - Throat 
	Bhakti - Heart
	Karma  - Diaphragm
	Tantra - Genitalia (sometimes navel)
	Hatha  - Base/Perineum

The root 'yug', 'to yoke', is usually used as an instructional wrt the
purpose for the above approaches (especially among the more ascetic).  
It is similar in the some ways to how 'religio' among syncretics is 
connected with 'relinking'.  That is, it is a linkage to a mechanism 
whereby we may come to re-establish our connection to Paradisio or the 
Blessed Realm (whether that be the present experience or some fantastic 
and satisfying Otherworld).

|The sexual tantras seem to be of particular interest to the Western mind,
|however, obsessed as we are.

Not only to the West.  There may be many within Indian culture who 
(biasedly?) say that the tantric approach (and they intend to relate its
connection to sexuality and licentiousness or 'facility' it seems to me)
is 'the easiest available during the Kali Yuga', by which they mean of
course this last phase in a cyclic disintegration and destruction.

|> What Tantra has to do with T deals with the western misconception it.

Ben Burch :
|Mutually exclusive in what way?  

Enoch23 may be interpreting 'Tantra' as more of a taboo-breaking
enterprise than even some Indians (if one considers the entirety of
both right- and left-hand paths).  There are tantric yogins, for example,
who deny that tantra is antinomian (counter-cultural, challenging societal
mores/customs/laws), and assert what I would characterize as a right-
handed view which places praxis into an hierarchy whereby physical
sexuality in rite ('maithuna'; 'may tuna?' :>) is seen as a 'beginner's
method', gradually substituted with symbolic meditations (what some Western
occultists would call 'astral work').  I tend to think they merely take
the less controversial for the more advanced and desire the simplicity of
social consensus to 'make them right'.

| in America, the sexual aspects of tantric practice are the focus, 

I think that is reasonable, given the preponderence of focus upon
independence and puritanical self-denial.  Pleasuring ourselves and
our kin may lead to all sorts of challenges to the social givens.

|...the woman I know who teaches
|it (Content, campmaster of the Scarlet Woman Oasis in Austin) certainly
|teaches the whole system, with lots of focus on paranyama and asana
|(did I spell those right?).  

Pranayama (roughly 'breathwork') and asana (bodily postures/stretches)
are emphasized in Western Occultism also (see AC's Book Four Part I).
I'd be interested to hear of her explanations for how these breath and
bodily activities fit into the 'whole picture', whether she relates
them to 'enticing/controlling the Kundalini' or if she explains it
in more psychoanalytic or mythological (Thelemic?) terms.

|In any case, the *mechanics* of Tantra should fit into almost any 
|system, even if the dogma does not.

If tantra were only one system I would agree, but unless one takes
'the mechanics of tantra' to be a particular thing (which you seem
to) then we are left asking what you might mean.  Also, I'm unsure
what you think you have left if you toss out the dogma.  

|Am I missing something?

Aren't we all?  Aren't you glad?

Jeffrey Smith :
|...Left Hand Tantra cannot exist in a Thelemic context, since 
|it utilizes use of what we accept as forbidden (like Sabbatai Zevi and 
|his blessing "who permits the forbidden") to bring about enlightenment.  

I wonder if it is 'forbiddenness' in the sense of social approbation
manifested within one's own psyche which is at issue here or merely
that which is repressed, avoided, due to cultural norms.  This latter
would explain some of the more extreme and 'disgusting' practices
that are contained within some tantric paths (involving excrement or
cremation grounds).  

|But in Thelema, nothing is forbidden or prohibited per se;  

Nothing may be prohibited, but certain things definitely are repressed,
and I think these may be culturally and personally *valuable*
repressions given the times in which we are living.  Contact with and
experiment with such taboo things as mentioned above, even while they
are not explicitly 'forbidden', seems to me intensely powerful.  Just
because *within (some) Thelemic society* there aren't accepted social
prohibitions (a topic of some controversy perhaps for another thread),
this doesn't mean that the Thelemites don't themselves live within a
society that conceals (occults) a great deal of its animalistic,
id-oriented qualities (all of which go into creating the Jungian 
'shadow', from what I understand as I slowly become accustomed to these 

|if we accept something as forbidden, and then go against that prohibition, 

I don't think our acceptance while our surrounding culture rejects it
is in the least bit complete.  That is, I think the quality of 'accepting
something as forbidden' may require a greater coerciveness and
restriction upon us than we may be able to bring to bear within a
socially permissive context).  When are we really accepting it?  What
does it take to have something be or feel 'forbidden'?  Could I self-
impose a rrestriction and have the same effects?  I *do* notice a
momentum which builds up within certain disciplines encouraging their
continuation.  If I accept them long nough do their alternaives become
'forbiddings'?  Or must this quality of forbiddenness arise from outside
ourselves, within our family or culture during our earliest developement?

|we are simply annulling the prohibition, not violating it.

Not sure about that.  I think psychic momentum can be accrued which
might be at least *comparable* to such forbiddenness.  The violation
of a self-imposed prohibition is of course of a different character
than doing so with one imposed from an external authority which I had
heretofore accepted.

|That is a technical point, however;  I do not see any integral 
|contradiction between the two.  Tantra, of either path, is just 
|another yoga.

It seems to me that the central principles of Thelema work for some
renditions of tantra and not for the more conservative and/or
traditional (socialized?) tantras.

xiwang mu
To ensure my response CC all public replies to email (READ alt.magick.tyagi) 
(emailed replies may be posted) *

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