Open Secrets of Tantric Yoga
This is a short note about tantric yoga.
In tantric yoga, there are three aspects of practice: external, internal and secret.
External aspect refers to techniques used, such as singing of mantras or prayers, doing visualisations and mudras, or performing breathing exercises. These are all ”ways to come in contact with” but with what? With the internal and secret. External, as the name suggests, is the most external aspect of tantric yoga. Without internal and secret, tantric practice is entirely insufficient. External practice should always be understood as a way to come in contact with the internal and secret because then and then only it serves a purpose.
This can be compared to learning how to use a machine or a gadget, like a smart phone, for example. To be able to make calls with it, send messages or use the social media, we first need to learn what to do, where to go, what to press and what not to press. To use a phone, we need to know the basics to be able to use it. When we know the basics, we no longer need to keep studying the basics. We can make phone calls, send messages and do whatever we like with this simple knowledge. Knowing the technical basics allows us to use our phones in a way that meets with our needs. We might see how our friend uses his phone in a much more technically elaborate way, knows shortcuts and whatnot. Fancy and more evolved tricks can be done but learning of the basics meets with our needs perfectly.
This is a perfect analogy of tantric yoga. In a similar way, we should know from the beginning what is the primary purpose of tantric yoga. That purpose always is to know ourselves without dualistic confusion. This very point, by the way, always without exception, makes the nonphysical bodies of ours, namely awareness and mind, more important than the physical body, in the context of removing self-based delusion.
The way how tantric yoga accomplishes this is through various tantric exercises that are always learned from a valid teacher, often with empowerment. We learn how to pronounce the mantra, the meaning of the mantra, mudras for different mantras, different visualisations, how to use our breath and so on. Some tantric methods, such as Pemako Buddhism, use relatively simple techniques. Our mantras, visualisations, mudras and breathing exercises are all very simple. However, these practices meet with our demand of clarifying the natural state and becoming fully enlightened buddha in this life, perfectly. Some other styles of tantra might use much more elaborate techniques. Simple or elaborate, the main purpose is the same.
For a beginner, who is still learning the basics, lots of repetition is the way. Repeate the mantra a lot so that little by little you become to know or to feel the guru or the deity behind the mantra (without repetition). Through repetition, we learn the basics of tantric yoga. We come to understand the principles, how it all works. It is important to do as many repetitions that is necessary but mere repetition as pastime has no purpose.
External technique should always lead out of the technique, to felt sensation which is the internal aspect of practice. If we keep repeating when there is no need for it, we'll postpone undrstanding and relief coming to us.
Internal aspect of tantric yoga means to become aware and work with energy and the energy body. External technique is like using a telephone and typing in the number. After typing of the number, you wait for the phone call to be answered. You don't keep typing the number over and over, endlessly and pointlessly. So, after you type the number, guru in guru yoga or deity in deity yoga, picks up the phone. You might have been doing the external practice anything from one second to an hour but eventually you are to stop making the call and shift into receptive and attentive mode. You shift from talking and doing, to being, feeling and receiving. At this point you drop the mantra, the visualisation and so on. You begin to feel the energy of the guru or deity. You feel it with your whole being and take it in. In this way, you unify your whole mind and body that is marked with samsaric traits with the energy or blessing of the tantric practice. Then you simply keep feeling it, you ride the waves of blessings that come to your samsaric body from the perfectly enlightened archetypes of the mind, deities or nonphysical gurus. You take it all in, you feel it in muscles and bones, in your whole body and aura.
When practicing internal tantra, you mingle and blend with the guru or the deity. You unify with it, so that not a trace of your habital self remains. In order to accomplish this, you need to surrender. At least, you need to relax. If you don't relax or are not in receptive mode, you won't notice anything because the blessings stay outside of yourself. Guru yoga is practiced in all major religions by hundreds of millions of people everyday, so you don't need to worry or be afraid. If you can't relax because you're scared or are traumatized by bad human relationships, understand that the guru is not someone who has bad intentions. The sole purpose of gurus is to offer their assistance and help us out from existential pain and trauma. They are healers and liberators, so don't worry. You can take all the time you need to relaxing and opening up, no one forces you. If you have this problem or are simply sceptic, you can simply be curious about it and you'll feel something. If you stay shut, however, the guru cannot and will not force in.
In a way, you could say that you let yourself be embraced and held in the presence of the guru or deity. When you do this it feels magnificient. It is like you're healed and liberated on cellular level. It feels like that because your usual sense of self that is filled with dualistic distortions and habitual mistakes, becomes illuminated and removed, and your true being comes forth.
That is a crucial point to understand, that in tantra, the guru and deities are practiced and worshipped, not for their sake but our own. The meaning is always to know oneself but in tantra because there are seemingly external beings involved, one can be confused if one doesn't understand that it's all done to know oneself, to become fully enlightened, for the sake of all sentient beings.
Guru or deity yoga is a type of transmission or re-establisment of your own completely wakeful being, in the place of your self-based confusions with myriad expressions. Mingling or unifying with guru or deity, reveals our true being and purifies the self-based notions from our subtle body. Mingling with the object of the tantric practice, removes dirt from our system, from the organs (chakras) and channels (nadis) of our subtle body. This takes time and repetition but each session brings a relief because it is so healing, supportive, loving and liberating. Tantric practice is pleasant and joyful by nature.
To be succesful in this, one really needs to understand that tantra is a lot about internal yoga, feeling the guru or deity. External technique is just a way to generate and to come in contact with the internal. For an advanced practitioner, external technique can last only a second and then in an instant she or he shifts to internal.
Depending on one's stage of purification or bhumi perfections in our 13 Bhumi Model, one either,
only generates the guru or deity without realising that the guru and deity is oneself as fully liberated being, or
generates the guru or deity, while recognising partially that the guru and deity is oneself as fully liberated being, or
recognises entirely that the guru and deity is oneself as fully liberated being.
From internal, the domain of the secret is entered.
Secret aspect of tantra is one's basic nature. This basic nature is lucid and aware in effortless manner. This basic nature that is also the secret aspect of tantra, is effortless natural presence, clear mindedness, sober, fresh and selfless existence. It is without contraction or duality because it is not a thing, or a self. This basic nature is the foundation of all existence. It is the bedrock of goodness and only good things grow out of it, in the form of thoughts, emotions and actions. Because it is entirely good and without contracted selfing, it is a very different kind of existence than samsaric existence. There is no contraction and thinking processes in terms of me and other. Simultaneously it cannot express itself in ways that hurt others. Our basic nature is liberating and the very reason why existential liberation is possible in the first place. Us humans and some other kinds of beings have the opportunity to recognise this basic nature of ours and through doing so, we can change. In this way we can become enlightened, through the process of transformation.
The purpose of yoga is to offer a way, techniques and methods, how self-based contraction can be removed and natural condition of peace, freedom and true selfless joy is re-established. The easiest way this can be accomplished is through tantric yoga, whether in the form of guru yoga or deity yoga. Again, guru or deity is not exercised for any other purpose than our own knowledge.
So, after external and internal comes secret, this basic nature, and in that there is no duality. All dualities such as self and other, or doing and being cease. We enter a world within us where there is no self-based views at all. There is only equalness, that is seen to be the same in everything. There is joy of deepest kind where there is no me claiming or attaching to it. Neither in this natural condition, there is pain or confusion. The whole samsaric engine that spits out sorrow, envy, jealousy, anxiety, depression, hate, panic, nervousness, dullness, fogginess, fear and distortion ceases to exist. In tantric yoga, there is no guru, because you have become the guru and there is no deity because you have become the deity. There is no contracted self or subtle distortions because the samsaric mind no longer exists, it has been released. Tantric practices enable this momentarily and over a long period of time, self-based notions are ground to disappearing dust.
In this way tantric yogas make the natural state or ourselves as buddhas appear. Our mind becomes clear like the sky, fresh like wild mint, joyous like children playing, strong like a lion and caring like a grandmother. This is who we are.
Kim Katami, 1st October 2020
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