What is Tantra? How does it work?
The Tantric work is a results oriented path, but one must do the work. It is surprising that many who just want to do “their own thing” often chose to call their spiritual approach tantric. I could think of many other spiritual terms(and indeed no spiritual term seems imperative) which would give greater “freedom” than “tantra”. This is because of all paths, tantra is uncompromising about doing the work, and at the tradition level is highly structured and formulaic. I suppose that many, of less serious aims, like to identify as tantric because of the life embracing elements which for some means that they have “spiritual cover” for the banalities and indulgences of their lives. The Kaula brings the Awareness and Energy (as assimilated and expressed in the Tantric work) to bear upon the external environment, and it is through those realized “terms” that the life process is embraced. When the life flow reaches a level of accord(or absorption) with the Ishta then “ones” actions/interactions, even if conventionally considered of a “mundane” quality, become profound and a true embodied expression of the “art” of Tantra. But again, this process comes from the sadhak doing the actual work of Tantra, and without this work, any “taking up” of presumed tantric postures, attitudes, and iconography will remain a contrivance at the level of fetish.
Having received the diksha and sadhana from a qualified source, there are certain suggestions that will help the sadhak move nicely on the path. Most fundamental is consistency, which often takes the form of deciding what sadhana one will do and how much will be done, and not deviating from this. Inherent in this is an even more vital principle than just what is provided by the sadhana itself. This is the establishment of Will and the principle of integrity to that Will(and integrity to ones Word). It is very important to the establishment of the profound dignity of the Deities that one is “becoming”, and that one feels that one has this integrity of aim. The establishment of unshakable Will is the ground for real power. Having this integrity will also make the sadhak take him/herself seriously. If the person does not establish Will and integrity(all grounded in sincerity of course), then it will be difficult to take oneself seriously(and therefore one cannot take oneself as Ishta seriously). One has to conquer the voice within that knows that you are “just an asshole”. While we often view self deprecation, and its associated quality of “not taking oneself seriously” as endearing; for the purposes of Tantra this quality “as a reality” must be destroyed. Then one can break on themselves and others in a true spirit of “lightness” and playfulness(actually the energy of the Deities will often have these playful aspects) if this is consistent with ones “flavor”.
Now if the serious Tantric(having now taking him/herself serious in consistent work and integrity) has associations(friends etc.) where that associate projects a certain image of the person which is energetically binding(as patterns are) and inconsistent with ones true nature(that the sadhak seeks to properly internalize and express), then one should drop the associate like a bad habit. Once one has some power, they can impose it on the patterns of relations, but one would likely be unable to do this at the start. In case this is unclear, I am suggesting that you not associate with old friends much. (This represents my view, which is admittedly uncompromising, so one shouldn’t be put off of Tantra if they don’t want to do the work using my standards.) Either way though, even if you still hang with the friends, at a certain level of the work, either they will begin to see you properly or you will find it untenable to be around them. In general, the sadhak should give no identity for others to grasp and “pin down”. If the sadhak is a “dead man” already then this would be the case anyway.
My advice for success in Tantra, at least initially, is to not talk about your work or spirituality at all. Be a secret sadhak through and through, and really come into your own heart and sincerity. This approach will avoid distraction and “spiritual materialism”. Come into “identity” with the Ishta and Pitha, and not an identity as a “spiritual” person or whatever appealing concept of individualized specialness one would indulge. There will certainly be a uniqueness to the expression of the Ishta and your life, but don’t “express” this until it is largely a spontaneous expression. Let the seeds grow. Let the energy work for you, instead of blowing it in orgasmic displays of “love” etc. Be frugal and let things be firm before expressing things and talking much. Besides the living current which transmits, gives confidence, and protects that is inherent in the traditional lineage based Tantra; there is also a means of accountability which would preclude one from publicly engaging before one is ready.
There is really no moral code or prescribed ways of being(or not being/or not doing) for the Kaulas other than following the dictates of power. This means being sensitive to where power is gained and where power is lost. The sadhak of subtle intellect would avoid those actions/behaviors/engagements/attitudes where they feel a loss of power. There is no concrete “form” that this would take, and this would not be concerned with the various conventions of moral code, or even common sense rationality. In my experience, the loss of power(wrong action) has more to do with the attitudes behind a certain behavior then the behavior itself. This means that the expression of profanity can be in accord, while an expression of “love, compassion, and bliss” can be a “wrong action”. What all this means to the new sadhak is that they should be conscious of the close and organic feelings of where power is gained and lost. As one progresses, things become very clear and one gets what is called the “instant karma” effect, whereby it becomes bodily evident when one has “stepped in it”.
The one thing that I have noticed from my associations with some aspiring Tantrics is that many lack the commitment and seriousness for success. Tantra is an advanced form of spiritual sadhana, and the potential sadhak should be progressed to a certain level of maturity and subtlety. While most claim that they are serious and sincere, when ANYTHING is asked of them they often balk. There is no willingness for any inconvenience let alone sacrifice. While the successful Kaula gives up the very life breath to This, many are not willing to give up anything, and often put “conditions” on the various courses they would take. I cannot relate to this, as the fire is consuming in the sadhak, and one must jump like a tiger upon every opportunity that presents itself. Nothing is owed to you…..Please internalize this…nothing is owed to you. And just because one want to know something doesn’t mean that it should be given to you forthwith. If you want to be a true Kaula then there must be a true investment of time, patience, and determination. There must be the investment of your life. May your very life be the bali offering to the Mother that consumes flesh and blood.
In Summary of the “tips”
1.Find a dynamic and living stream of Lineage
2.Decide(the Guru helps decide) what is to be done and how much it is to be done and do not deviate.
3.Break all ties that energetically bind one to past or burdensome identity and identity patterns.
4.Don’t talk about your work
5.Become sensitive to what actions/behaviors/attitudes weaken you.