Wikipedia defines tantra as:
Tantra, also called Tantrism and Tantric religion, is an ancient Hindu tradition of beliefs and meditation and ritual practices that seeks to channel the divine energy of the macrocosm or godhead into the human microcosm, in order to attain siddhis and moksha. It arose in India no later than the 5th century CE, and had a strong influence on both Hinduism and Buddhism.
To me Tantra is the weaving together of the ordinary and extraordinary, the sacred union of flesh and spirit, divine and material, earth and sky, sun and moon, male and female. It is the acknowledgement of the mystical presence in the everyday, mundane experience. Tantra is saying yes to all of experience and accept that every other living being and manifest thing, functions as my teacher.
Now to most people, you say tantra and they think about sex. Anyone who has been reading this blog lately should not be surprised to hear that, in my opinion, tantra is not about sex. Sexuality is just one of the ways one might practice tantra.
Central to the tantric tradition is the idea that in the beginning the energy of the universe was split into two, masculine and feminine and that all energy, all creation, all that is alive exists in this polarity between the two.
The tantric tradition also explains the longing, yearning of all to reconnect, to reenter this androgyn state of oneness, no longer masculine and feminine but pure being.
Energy and energy centers
The energy, the life force in each person originates in the lower spine and can through meditation, yoga and sublimation rise up through the seven energy centers (chakras) of the energy body. These energy centers govern different aspects of life, like survival, sexuality, willpower, love, emotions, intuition and spirituality. Each center functions as a gateway to the divine source through that which it governs.
As energy rises through the spine these centers can activate and bring balance and deeper resonance into these areas in our lives. As we learn how to draw energy from the earth and the lower centers upward refining the energy into love, intuition and connection with the divine, our lives become more connected to the divine source. AS we learn how to draw the divine light down from the crown to the lower chakras purifying and balancing these centers our lives gain fullness, richness and vibrancy.
Tantra and sexuality
So where does the sex come in then? In tantra love making is one of the ways (and considered the most potent way) to raise, circulate and sublimate this life energy. Tantra is one of the few spiritual traditions that have combined the sexual and spiritual and kept the sexual sacred and infused with heart, love, beauty and, well, sacredness.
In tantra love making becomes the practice of spirituality, the worship, the supplication, the prayer and the direct experience of the divine as we move from personal to transpersonal lifted on the currents of the divine eros, through all our energy channels, straight to the divine connection to the source at the crown.
There is Tibetan tantra, Hindu Tantra, Buddhist tantra, ancient tantra, modern tantra, new tantra, shamanic tantra; because tantra in itself is not really a religion, it is a philosophy, a spiritual path, a tradition born in hinduism but has been incorporated into buddhist and other traditions.
Why not into the Christian tradition?
We find this concept of polarity built into the Christian scriptures. The tetragrammaton (the name of god that can’t be spoken) consists of a male and female part. When man is created in god’s image they are created male and female. The name of god in the old testaments alternates between male and female images where the power and glory of god is female and the consciousness of god is male mirroring the hindu concept of Shiva/Shakti. The most potent images of polarity are visible in the primordial images of Genesis one with the consciousness of god drawing out creation from the depths of the abyss.
The concept of divine life force as energy is present in the form of the holy spirit moving in us and most prevalent in the charismatic movement of Christianity where the shaking and falling, tongue speaking and laying on hands not only mirrors but for the one experiencing it (at least this is my experience) the baptism of the spirit and the rising of the kundalini are identical spiritual and energetic events.
I can also see how Jesus is the manifests many of the tantric principles. In the Christian tradition Jesus is the paramount example of the divine human. The one who walks with the spirit and dances with the stars. As I see it Jesus manifests and embodies the most central tantric truth the weaving together of the ordinary and extraordinary.
Most importantly the end game of the biblical narrative is the sacred union of the divine and his bride (god’s beloved creation). The picture of the wedding as the culmination and consummation of god’s love for creation and all of us, god’s beloved is highly suggestive and in the end an image of the sacred union between the divine and human the ordinary and the extraordinary, the earthly and the heavenly, the lower and the higher, the spiritual and the physical.
A tantric Christianity is a celebration of life weaving together and bringing into sacred union the physical and the spiritual. Recognising the the divine energies that move in us and through us, moving through life and through the world in sacredness and in love. Cultivating and sublimating, refining the energy and allowing it to flow through us towards the other recognising in that connection that we are already one, that the duality and the polarity is an illusion and that it is in the sacred union that life begins, grows, prospers and flourishes.