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Tantra Visualization & Meditation

A Tantra Day Dream… You are sitting by a silently flowing stream in the countryside. It is spring and life is wet and green? Resting on a rock, the sights and noises of the streaming water start to work their mysterious way into your nervous system.

Gradually, with the simple repeating of the water’s song and the harmonious appeal of the natural environments, the thousands of electronic impulses of your brain begin to discharge into the tension-absorbing air.

All of the issues, problems and projects, which had actually filled your mind to breaking capacity begin to disappear. There is nothing to attempt to determine now, absolutely nothing to choose.

The flowers calmly console you with their perfect peace and harmony. The fresh air tingles in your lungs and your head ends up being clear. You feel somehow sedated, as if the forces of nature have actually conspired to put you to sleep – to put you at ease.

The wind massages your body with caresses of coolness as the sun unties your muscles with permeating warmth.

There is absolutely nothing to do, no place to go and nothing to think of. Just lie back and take in the tranquil vibrations which stream into every part of your being, whispering, “be at peace, relax my buddy, all is well now”.

A scrumptious sleep falls upon you; not really sleep however a half-conscious-half-sleep state, in which the trees, sounds and breeze start to come within and combine with all of the thoughts and feelings. It is as if the door of your mind has actually been opened and all of those perceptions, conversations and actions lying unresolved, floating at numerous depths in the sea of the mind begin to float upwards and outwards.

Truth now is a mix of the external and inner.

The peace and security of being in the womb of nature permits us to give up to the wind, water and sun, while the earth-draws out our stresses and disappointments. We swim semi-consciously at the level where the conscious blends into the unconscious.

We dance in our sea of consciousness, sometimes floating approximately the surface capturing the feeling of the breeze, or the warmth of the sun. Then we dive downward into a stream of upward floating ideas, images, sounds – all the removed refuse from unsettled problems and worried stresses.

We see them as they float by and then dive much deeper sensing by now there is something at the bottom of the sea, which is appealing to us.

Sometimes we get captured by an upward floating sensation of concern, bitterness, an attachment or an image, and before we know it, we are at the surface area again believing, wondering, worrying, being rocked by the waves of accessory.

However the dance goes on, we start to sink once again, for by now we see that we can not really dive since diving is too intense – there is too much effort – we get connected too easily on upward floating trash.

We naturally find out the dance of the water, sinking, viewing, letting go, being continued the vertical currents of fresh water from the depths of our awareness, like a seagull with wings spread moving the air currents streaming versus it without a motion, without an effort, letting the air do all the work.

By this time, we are no longer worried about where we are going. We have gone beyond the levels of stress release, previous wreckage of old memories, traumas, relationships and failures.

The water becomes very clean, extremely still, very tranquil.

We are coming to the source of our life current, the spring of pure awareness. Our consciousness is restored as we have cleared the way for a burst of fresh energy to stream up cleansing the sea of consciousness, restoring the mind, giving new life to every cell of our brain.

If we do not become enamored by the experience of light, by the happiness of this energy which charges through our system, then we might sink a little much deeper into the vast nothingness from which the spring of life circulations.

Here there is not even energy; no body, no mind, no light, no sound – absolute nothingness – overall vacuum – just remarkable prospective un-manifest Divine Consciousness, from which all life and material development flows.

Coming Back to the Surface

The noise of chirping birds greets you as you slowly drift to the surface area. The branches dancing in the wind wave “hello”. The noises of bugs buzzing and water splashing salute you with a “welcome back buddy, you become part of us now”.

It takes a while to keep in mind where you are. You were just gone 20 minutes, but it appears you have actually been in this spot all your life. The mind is clear, renewed and in today.

There is absolutely nothing to take however do off your clothes and swim. Have you ever been to this quiet stream in the countryside?

The majority of everybody has – either to a stream, river, mountain, forest, or sea. And how well and revitalized we feel when we return. In some way whatever is more alive, more unified.

It might not take long, nevertheless, to discharge all that energy and clarity. When again we become upset, nervous and bored.

Can we go to the stream every day? It definitely would be great, and life would be much less complicated. Of course for most of us it is totally unwise in terms of time, cash and availability of such locations – specifically to those of us who live in the city.

Well, Mother Nature has a trick for us. We do not need to go anywhere at all. The stream of life, that location of peace and source of harmony, strength and understanding – lies best inside every one people.

What is meditation? It is nothing more than visiting this stream daily. Merely it is the sinking dance into our sea of awareness, releasing the submerged tensions and coming to the point of inner stillness where

We are coming to the source of our life current, the spring of pure awareness. Our awareness is restored as we have cleared the method for a burst of fresh energy to stream up purifying the sea of consciousness, restoring the mind, offering new life to every cell of our brain.

You were just gone 20 minutes, however it appears you have actually been in this area all your life. Can we go to the stream every day? The stream of life, that place of peace and source of consistency, strength and understanding – lies best inside every one of us.

Beyond God Lies the Universe of Tantra

Any mind capable of conceiving an entity greater than its own must at least realize that that entity’s conception was imagined by it. It is in the imagination of the human mind that the supernatural entity God is created.

Level 4

Tantra places our popular idea of God at level 4 in the hierarchy of Tattvas. In ‘Tantra Illuminated,’ Christopher Wallis explains the concept of personal deity and provides a beautiful elaboration of the 36 Tattvas. In this context, beyond Level 4 – at Level 3 – is the super-conscious mind that starts demonstrating its separation from the idea of an external deity or an external God. God is irrelevant at this level because the Tantric mind (at Level 3) has transcended Level 4 – it has transcended God!

Level 3

At level 3, our consciousness is elevated to realizing that any deity or God is an act of individual Self Expression. It begins to separate the idea of God and Universe. In my words, it begins to realize the omnipotence of the universe – over the omnipotence of God – because even God needs “space” to live in! But at this level, “‘I’ also realize that the universe is inert, lifeless, and meaningless in its vast sterility. If not for the matter within it, its vastness is futile. And if not for an ‘I’ to acknowledge it, its absoluteness is incomplete!”

My ‘Self’ gives ‘Expression’ to the universe!

Religious people cannot accept such ideas simply because they won’t let themselves. Attaining Godliness itself can be rather scary, so they can’t – and won’t – let themselves imagine the possibility of consciousnesses beyond godliness. But Tantra goes further to state that any being can attain or experience this kind of consciousness at Level 3.

Though human beings are the smartest creatures we know, I will not state that only humans can attain this level. This may seem sacrilegious to many, but anyone who has a pet cat will know what I’m talking about! Whether accidently, or through the practice of Tantra Yoga, most higher-order animals can achieve this level of Godliness. It’s not surprising therefore to see Animists worshipping flora and fauna as deities!

Ancient Egyptians worshipped cats; even today, there are many who do. Here is a link to the Temple of Bastet: http://www.catmuseumsf.org/egyptcats.html
Couldn’t help myself with that side note on cats :) 
The deeper we go into our mind, the farther we go into the universe.

However, religious people too are quite smart! They argue that God cannot be imagined and is beyond any creature’s imagination. They don’t seem to realize the flaw in that logic: how can anything exist in the unimaginable?! But their counter argument is that God is an idea (or a reality) posited in the unimaginable! That is why blind faith is the only excuse for belief in God! But that is their problem!

Such a concept – by definition – puts a limit to our conscious experience and restricts our consciousness from expanding into other dimensions. Tantra does not allow that! Having gotten rid of the need for a ‘God who created the universe,’ or any God for that matter, the Tantriks had to unravel the mystery of the apparent infinite universe. And they did exactly that!

The next post will be on the 36 Tattvas of Tantra.

Problem of God… and Tantra’s Solution

There are too many problems with God. Let’s look at them quickly:

There are too many Gods!

Some religions like Hinduism have too many gods. Some Hindus are embarrassed by it, so they like to state that the different gods are merely manifestations of Brahma, Vishnu, or Shiva. This is the inescapable Holy Trinity of Hinduism. But the fact remains that Hinduism has too many gods and to consider all of them omnipotent taxes even the most devout and religious Hindu devotee.

There is only one God!

The idea of a single God became necessary when too many gods led to disunity among human communities. Such unifying ideas were explored even among ancient Hindus, because people worshiping Vishnu and those worshipping Shiva considered each other as different religious groups. This is not hard to imagine. I live in Shillong where the different denominations of Christianity are – for all practical purposes – apparent as different religions.

Judaism, Christianity, and Islam have the same origins, yet their differences are omnipresent in our world. Their monotheism ranges from “a single god” to “worship of a single god.” The meaning is simple: some monotheists acknowledge the existence of many gods but worship only one, because their god is a “jealous god” forbidding his devotees from worshipping any other god. The shifting of beliefs from many gods to one and back to many has happened over thousands of years and will continue to happen. This only highlights the fact that eventually the idea of one god becomes boring!

Maybe there’s a God!

These are the agnostics: the card-carrying members of vague religious beliefs. Personally, these are people who have not thought much about god, or don’t care enough to explore either way, or are simply – as yet – undecided. I have no clue where they stand on the idea of god. I guess each has – or does not have – an idea of god.

There are too many Definitions

Steven Weinberg won the Nobel Prize in 1979 for his work in Quantum Physics. He is an atheist who stated the following in his book ‘Dreams of a Final theory’: “Some people have views of God that are so broad and flexible that they will find God wherever they look for him… like any other word, the word ‘God’ can be given any meaning we like. If you like to say that ‘God is energy’ then you will find him a lump of coal.”

Since there is no objective exploration of the existence of god, HIS omnipresence is an attribute of arising from the different views of different people. No wonder god is everywhere you look!

And then there is no God!

Atheists are boring people who lead rather insipid lives. There is neither heaven nor hell for them, and they go about their lives without enjoying the beauties and wonders of the universe. Of course, I’m kidding! But atheists do ignore the consciousness that gives rise to ideas of god, and the different manifestations of ‘god’s manifestation.’

Tantra, places God at level 4 in the hierarchy of consciousness. In my next blog entitled, “Beyond God,” I will elaborate on this level from a psychological perspective.

Balanced, Relaxed Asanas

Sthirham, Sukham Asanam! (Sanskrit) means that all asanas (yoga postures) should be done in a balanced and relaxed manner. Stated differently, one must have balance and be relaxed when doing any asana. It is important to “have” balance and that is acquired by being conscious of it. It is also important to “be” relaxed and that too is obtained by being conscious of one’s state of being!

Balance is not merely achieving proficiency in the yogic position or posture of an asana; it is ensuring positioning of the body with the appropriate breath. Take a simple yogic exercise as an example: touching your toes while standing. In this asana, you have to raise your hands over your head and bend down to touch your toes.

1. Raise your hands straight over your head while taking in a deep breath

2. Bend forward and down – slowly exhaling – and touch your toes (do not bend the knees)

3. Hold this position for a couple of seconds

4. Straighten up inhaling again

5. Relax by lowering your hands and breathing normally

The balance here is achieved by ensuring that you don’t bend your knees when you are trying to touch your toes and continuing to breathe as instructed. The instructions for this posture would be as follows:Raise your hands straight over your head while taking in a deep breath. Coordinating the breath with the movements required for a particular asana is the balance that the statement Sthirham, Sukham Asanam! talks about. But there is more! How does one achieve relaxation in a physically contorted – and often painful – posture?! The answer is simple: To achieve any kind of relaxation there can’t be any pain; some amount of discomfort is OK – and even recommended – but there can’t be any pain.

This is also achieved in a simple manner by doing the asanas slowly – very, very slowly. This ensures there are no sudden or jerky movements that may cause spasms or sprains. But what is simple to do is also simple not to do. And that is why one sees Yoga being performed like aerobics!

T’ai Chi is also like Yoga; it too is “meditation in motion.” Performing yoga in a slow, deliberate manner acquaints one with one’s own body. Close your eyes while doing Yoga; do the asanas slowly, and you will feel as if you are “talking” to your muscles and joints. Different asanas require different sets of muscles but in all of them you are also breathing in the right manner. In some postures, you are required to continue breathing in an apparently uncomfortable and contorted position. This is to help one attain relaxation and normalcy even in difficult positions.

I suffered from Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) in my right hand for many years, and when I sat to mediate in Sukhasan (sitting cross-legged on the floor), my entire right hand would go numb. I decided that with each breath I took I would imagine blood gushing into my right hand and with every exhalation I would imagine that my right hand has relaxed. Over several weeks, my right hand stopped becoming numb, and eventually I was rid of my CTS.

Many things can distract you from establishing a connection with your body: uncomfortable clothes, noise, other people, etc. But the most distracting things are those that many experts actually recommend. One of those things is counting! Counting while doing an asana is most distracting because it keeps the mind engaged with the mind and not with the body. Counting up to a certain number to help do the asana or holding a certain posture for a certain interval of time is helpful for beginners, but the sooner one gets rid of this practice the better.

At any given moment of time, the Yogi should be aware of his mind, his body, and his surroundings. To achieve this state, the practitioner should try and connect with his muscles, bones, tendons, organs, nerves, veins, capillaries… And a time will come when the body begins to speak and your mind will be trained to listen. Till then, remember: Every Asana must be relaxed to achieve a Balance between Mind, Body, and Breath!

A Tantrik’s Universe

As a practitioner of Tantra, I was fascinated by the sentence: “Existence, Knowledge, Infinite is Brahman.” I came across that sentence in a book entitled Brahma Sutra (an analytical anthology of all the Shlokas of Vedic and Hindu religions). And it captured my imagination, because the author stated that universal truths permeate the mindscape of ‘Intelligence’ waiting to be discovered by any serious and interested seeker. In essence, the statement meant that no one person has discovered these truths and that they don’t lie in the ownership of any one authority.

How beautifully that fits into the philosophy of Tantra: The serious seeker of knowledge can discern these truths spontaneously! Fired by that encouragement, I decided to mediate on that sentence to discover its meaning for myself. Given my scientific bent of mind and my meditations in tantra, I wondered what each word meant in isolation and how each idea connected to the other to give rise to such an amazing sentence.

Existence
I dealt with this word literally in its most obvious manifestation: I need to exist physically to be able to ponder on it. (Remember the definition of Tantra? So my body must exist!) Also, on the psychical level, my “I” has to exist to be able to explore the notion of existence. Nothingness too has some relevance here but I shall delve into that when I connect these different words meaningfully. In summary, the sentence does not exist if my body is non-existent and if my “I” doesn’t exist!

Knowledge
I need to have sufficient knowledge to even consider embarking on such an endeavor. Leaving aside any kind of anthropomorphism, let’s say that all vertebrates are so equipped. (I have no qualms about accepting that even some non-vertebrates are capable of doing so in their own way.) However, in the case of simple creatures (amoeba is one such example), though they exist, they cannot contemplate an utterly infinite ‘Infinity.’ It’s not enough to merely exist; one must also be equipped with contemplative abilities.

Infinite
As per my understanding, Tantra does not regard infinite as ‘infinity’ – the mindless, physical expanse of the universe. ‘Infinite’ is the adjective form of Infinity. It describes the endlessness and vastness of space. And it is also symbolic of never-ending time! (In future essays, I shall introduce the concept Tantric Time to better explain this endless space-time continuum.) Therefore, infinite is the sensation of an ever expanding, untiring and timeless expanse of the vast, vast, vast space-time continuum.

Brahman
I interpret this as a play on the words Brahmin and Brahmand. Without alluding to the Hindu caste system, a Brahmin is one who is wise and knowledgeable. The word Brahmand is simply the Sanskrit word for the infinite universe. While the first three words are building blocks, the meaning of the sentence climaxes in this last word Brahman.

How does this happen?
I exist, and my “I” can see the endlessness of the universe. I need the universe for my physical survival and to entertain me with its endless mysteries (besides the hope of meeting superior alien beings). In return, my consciousness — especially a tantric one — gives the universe its attributes: endless; timeless; having multiple-dimensions and time-warps; creating wondrous patterns and strange loops; providing sustenance to other life-forms and intelligences; and being the most important requirement for the simplest or strangest fabrications of the mind.

The universe not only ‘needs’ me to acknowledge its existence but also to create it. I have the power with my nothingness to destroy the universe. Nothingness (Zero) is my tool to negate the existence of Infinity. Nothingness is not a vacuum occupying some space in this vast Space – it is Nothing!

Infinity is a paradox seemingly bound by 8 alphabets or by the sum of our knowledge. Yet, it is endless because we are aware of our ignorance. Similarly, nothingness too is a paradox rendered meaningless by our attempts to define it by 4 alphabets ‘Zero’ – or even less – by the symbol ‘0’!
Zero survives in the mind which occupies space in the universe. Yet the same zero destroys the universe by its nothingness. Plainly put, when my tantric consciousness ends (I die), I descend into nothingness but not before taking the entire universe with me.