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Tantra Yoga and Neotantra

From: (nagasiva)
Newsgroups: alt.magick.tyagi,alt.religion.sexuality,talk.religion.misc,talk.religion.newage,alt.magick.tantra
Subject: Tantra Yoga and Neotantra (a comparison) (was Peace and Tantra)
Date: 22 Mar 1999 13:01:36 -0800
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49990322 IIIom om krim namah kali

#> Can Tantric sex be used to produce peace? 

"Kavi/Tzimon Yliaster" :
# "Tantric sex" is one of five sacraments used in pancamakara, 
# and also in some other lesser rites (always in combination 
# with other practices, such as homa, mantra, dharana, etc.).  
# Without these other elements, sex isn't Tantric sex.  

this is the orthodoxy of Tantra Yoga, and I wish it well, but
I would like to contrast neotantra with it briefly here of the
style of various New Age and Hermetic weirdos.

where in orthodox Tantra Yoga there is much emphasis on form
and definition, neotantra does not describe the form in which 
'tantric sex' must occur. instead the FEELING and the RESULTS 
are more integral to the ascription of 'tantric'. there is
much more of a 'chaotic' or individually-driven emphasis to
neotantra than to the sometimes stodgy and tradition-bound

neotantra operates on more broad-minded and revolutionary
principles than conventional 'Left-Handed Tantra' (in a classic 
Indian rather than Hermetic sense, typically actually including 
sexuality rather than the erotic imaginings of its alternative) 
or 'Right-Handed Tantra' (the conservative and orthodox Tantra 
Yoga establishment which eschews physicality). these latter two
are typically described as taking place within a very structured
and restricted rite that Kavi (Tzimon Yliaster) has correctly
described as 'pancamakara', sometimes translated as the "(rite
of) the five 'm's", whereas neotantra pays a greater degree of
attention to the dynamics of the individuals involved and how
the participants perceive and interact with each other.

# ...I'll frame my response in terms of this, and shift the
# question a little bit.  Thus, can the practice of Tantra 
# produce peace?

this is the typical Tantra Yoga response: shift the discussion
away from sexuality per se in favor of ambiguous mystical
practices which can (often) only be instructed by gurus of the
recommended traditions. neotantra has 'instructors', but it
has admirably avoided the problems (and advantages) of the
'guru-chela relationship', and it tends to acknowledge that
SEXUALITY, which is often claimed even by Indian tantrics to
be the 'most fruitful arena or tool for liberation', is the
central element of importance in neotantric activities. that
the orthodox choose to dissuade people from associating tantra
with sex demonstrates important distinctions between New Age
and Hermetic novelties on the one hand and older Indian
originals on the other.

# ...yes.  Over time, the practice of Tantra will lead to peace
# for the individual who practices it.  Theoretically, if 
# everyone practiced it, it would probably produce peace on 
# a large scale, as many individuals themselves found peace.  
# This is, of course, a theoretical situation.  In reality, 
# very few people practice Tantra.

here is another element of division between neotantra and
conventional Tantra Yoga. Tantra Yoga is a skillset of
disciplines and practices which are engaged by the elite under
the direction of the 'experts'. this skillset is described as
'practised by very few people', and there is sufficient
diversity of opinion as to make possible the obscuration of
pointers to essential elements beyond a few dogmas.

neotantrists, on the other hand, often state that tantric
practices are engaged ALL THE TIME by ordinary human beings,
but usually without the needed emphasis or proper attention
to yield their liberating qualities. the techniques for
the tantric experience are easily available for anyone who
wants to learn them, and many do indeed try them out a
little, but few persist in them sufficiently so as to come
to experience the full extent of their power or apply them
in many areas of life, extending their understanding of
what 'sexuality' and 'practice' can include to their 
outermost limits.

# ...the first stage of Tantric practice (called "pashu") 
# is most often marked by conflict and struggle.  All 
# conflict is bondage, and the word "pashu" itself means 
# "bound" (literally, a "pashu" is a domesticated, or bound, 
# animal... from the same root as "pasha", which means a 
# noose or tie of some sort.).... vira.... divya....

Tantra Yoga appears to rest upon a cosmological system of
linear progress, taxonomized in a biased and anthropocentric
way. this system of assessment is sometimes used to roughly 
and crudely marginalize perceived competitors (e.g. "he 
appears to be in the Dog stage") and engage self-justification. 
the simplicity of the assessment-system is overlooked for its 
merit-badge and 'spiritual advancement' qualities.

neotantra sometimes becomes infested with this mentality on
account of its penchance for using as much of the raw material
as it can find valuable from traditional sources to achieve
its ends. if a model is helpful, then it is used, and otherwise
discarded (much like in Chaos Magick and the wider magical 
traditions out of which it has grown). 

however, one of the downsides of this once-valuable model of
spiritual development is that seldom are the debilities of
those who masquerade as the supposed goalstates described in
any detail. for example, some will identify with the 'heroic'
or 'divine' (pasu, divya respectively) conditions because it
satisfies their yearning for points, achievement, conquering,
authority, and many other dominating, hierarchic states of

at their best, neotantrists understand that the three classes 
which Kavi/Tzimon describes as a system of attainment are
better understood as three conditions of maturity which would
benefit from differing styles of discipline or activity. just
as people learn differently, so also do we find connection
and need to be addressed differently if we are to blossom as

more often, however, these are left behind as a useless
classification scheme that has too much room for abuse.
instead a variable range is ascribed to each individual as
to their capacity of 'heart-centered devotional loving',
and we are all students together assisting one another
without strict identification schemes of attainment.

# Finally, when all of the conflicts have been overcome, 
# the third stage is reached.  In the divya stage, there is 
# no longer an "I and other" relationship to the external world.  
# All apparent opposites and differences have been overcome.  
# Peace is achieved through the realization of fundamental unity.  
# To the divya, all things are the same.  This is a state
# called "jivanmukti", which means "liberation within life".  
# Peace comes as a result of there no longer being any opposition.

this is another fundamental distinction between Tantra Yoga,
which typically extends outside the conventional bhakti or
devotion-related paths, and neotantrics. apologists for the
former typically describe the path in terms of adventure,
heroism, overcoming obstacles, and the elimination of the
opposition as in a war.

neotantrists will usually avoid such ascetic and oppressive
language in favor of connecting, compassionate, and joyful
terminology (sometimes to the extreme of 'white lightedness'
in New Age circles) that seeks not resolved undifferentiation
(the goal of many ascetics) but instead a flowing dance of
dynamic embrace and of fluid movement where identity varies 
considerably from specific bodies to complete diffusion.
a more important difference, however, is that neotantrists
tend to steer clear of the exalted goalstates described by
countless Tantra Yogis -- 'states of jivanmukti', 'moksa',
etc., though this is certainly not always the case.  the
emphasis is instead upon learning to be satisfied for a
moment and then for longer and longer. this could easily be
considered a kind of gentle movement toward personal
liberation, but without ignoring all the steps between
how most of us experience life and any potential exaltation.
instead the concentration is on improvement and the path,
rather than on possibly unreachable or fictitious fancies.

'finding peace' is a very good example of this. in Tantra
Yoga as Kavi/Tzimon describes it true and lasting peace
in a 'Tantric' framework is only achieved at the end of
a complicated journey involving complex relationships,
potential conversion to alien cosmological paradigms,
and faith in a number of metaphysical premises that are
disputable by the rational investigator.

to the neotantric the mindset is unimportant. you can keep
your worldview intact if you like and develop something
that conforms to your standards while you learn real,
physical and psychological techniques that will help you
to form a deeper, more satisfying relationship with the
world and with those who are important to you (inclusive
of yourself). if you want to try to do something else
beyond this, all the better!

# The dedication required to reach the divya stage is 
# very great, and only a few people make it according to 
# what I've studied and heard (I've obviously not reached 
# this stage myself, nor, I would hazard a guess, has anyone 
# else who is reading this right now).  For the overwhelming 
# majority of those who are currently practicing Tantra, 
# and who have practiced it in the past, and who will practice 
# it in the future, there is an increased peace... but not
# total peace.

again, especially among apologists (I have rarely heard from
active yogis in the field), the Tantra Yoga process is an
extremely difficult and rare one to engage. the vagueries
described and the mysterious beatitudes lauded are usually
beyond the experience of even those who presume to point to
them or hint at what they mean. if we are skeptical we will
begin to wonder whether ANYONE has achieved them and how
such an assessment could be reliably made.

neotantrists, on the other hand, tend more often to shy away
from assessing ANYONE's 'spiritual state', being content to
engage their own process and understanding that there are
simply too many differences between people and possible
goalstates people may choose to set up such a rigidity.
instead, descriptions tend to be more reserved and humble,
down to earth and gentle in their content (e.g. 'increased
sensitivity', 'greater degree of self-awareness and an
enhanced erotic appreciation').

# It should be remembered that the practice of Tantra itself 
# arose with the advent of our current age, the Kaliyuga.  
# Kaliyuga is the age of conflict, in which peace is hard-won.  

while I find it important to use the temporal scale of my 
own interpretation of the Kali yuga (this being year 4999),
I recognize that neither does everyone believe in such a 
paradigm nor should they, seeing that it is quite possibly
a valuable metaphor rather than anything ontological. it
may be valuable for devotees of Kali such as myself to find
value in Last Epoch cosmological schemes, but the martial
flavor of the 4,320,000 year yuga cycle (the Kali or 'Black'
Age being the most recent and of only 432,000 year duration)
falls flat when we are told that 'different yugas make 
different activities more spiritually fruitful than others,
and that the Kali yuga emphasizes the material and crude 
activities such as sexuality and aesthetic indulgence as
liberative in quality'. somehow it becomes clear why 
neotantrics place a greater emphasis on love and connection,
enjoyment and indulgence than the typical apologists for
Tantra Yoga who characterize it in terms of 'overcoming the
base appetites' and 'winning conflicts'.

# It is said by the Tantras themselves that they have arisen 
# as a "Veda for the Kaliyuga"... a means by which all people 
# can achieve wisdom in an age of conflict.

I suppose that this is one of the more important elements of
difference between neotantra and Tantra Yoga -- that the latter
appears to derive its authority from sacred scraps of paper
written by men taking on the authority of gods. neotantrics
by and large avoid or play down the role of deities in their
practices, and this is probably because most are not really
spiritually benefitted by engaging them. in the West a 'god'
is typically described in dismissive terms and doing things
like fucking with or identifying with "*the* God" is just
downright blasphemous. it is small wonder that in Western
culture deity-work is overlooked, avoided, or reserved for
the adventurous or religiously open-minded.

instead of 'Tantras' within the neotantra community there
are real books by real authors (many women!) who are often 
still alive. some neotantrics place their material online for 
the benefit of all. many seem to like to combine business with 
pleasure and make a living off instruction within the seminar 
and lecture circuit. those whose texts become popular are 
sought out and in some cases critically reviewed. no single 
body is cemented into authority, regarded as ultimate in its
content, or (usually) presumed to derive from specific deities.

as a whole neotantra seems to be simultaneously bereft of
the benefits and problems of antiquity. its syncretic and
eclectic style, emphasis on simple pleasures and the
benefits of eroticism are a pleasant change of pace from
the usual ascetic and elitist religiomystical achievement-
schemes. on the other hand, its lack of any kind of pyramidal
authority structure makes possible the usual fakery and
charlatanry that accompanies any new or diverse system of
knowledge and skill.

blessed beast and nama kali!
emailed replies may be posted; cc replies if response desired

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