Jivan Kavyo’s introduction to the many Tantra workshops run in India by Westerners.
Tantra evolved as a system for self-realization in ancient India thousands of years ago. In fact, some of its roots can be traced back almost 6000 years to the Dravidian culture. This was a culture that flourished in the Indus Valley in what is now India. People were living there in a natural way and in a highly cultured society that was extraordinarily free and advanced. The colorful stories of multiple deities pointed to truths about the world and gave practical methods we can use to this day to help us grow and mature. These were the precursors to what later developed into religions such as Hinduism and Buddhism.
India is still an incredible place filled with magic and adventure for those willing to search for it, and the perfume of the spiritual flowering that happened in this country can still be seen in the sculptures, mantra practices and in all shop corners laden with religious icons.
However, what happens with most religions over time is that the living masters and communities that were inspired by them fall away and the rituals can become disconnected from their essential source, practiced merely as rote and without the deeper experience and understanding. In some respects India is not the free-living place that we would expect after reading about its origins in a more enlightened era in the past.
For those aware of cultural developmental maps such as spiral dynamics, it’s a fascinating place. It contains so many differing stages of emergence – a melting pot of western capitalism, tribal cultures, eco-communities and integral institutes – all vying for their voice to be heard in the hustle of that market place. The influences and expectations between the generations are hard to reconcile.
The respect between the sexes, between the principles of the masculine and feminine and love towards us as sexual beings has been lost. Most of you will be aware of the horrific stories of gang rape that emerged in Delhi with the death of Jyoti Singh in 2012 and the following outcry about this abuse. Situations that happen all too frequently in villages, which did not get much notice before, suddenly become mainstream news. And voices are being raised that this can no longer be tolerated. The Delhi event marked a turning point; what happened suddenly hit the consciousness of the Indian middle-classes, spread by social media; and such abuses are no longer going to remain unchallenged.
There is a huge work of integration that needs to happen, between cultures and ideas, repression of sexuality and resulting perversion, education and discussion around these topics. People are stepping up to that in their own ways.
There is a famous Zen koan which asks, “What is the meaning of Bodhidharma coming from the West?” At one level it relates to the teachings of Buddha travelling to China. It strikes me that these days one could ask, “What is the meaning of Tantra returning from the West” as the teachings and principles which have travelled from India to influence spirituality globally – especially from the work of modern mystics such as Osho – are now returning to the motherland mixed with cultural attitudes and wisdom from abroad, while western teachers offer Tantra workshops to Indians.
Tantra works on the principle of honouring the masculine and feminine, as lovers rather than in a battle of the sexes. Through the realisation that each individual contains both of these principles within themselves, regardless of physical gender, there is a chance that we start empathising and understanding each other. It helps expand our current identity and include more of existence and to find ways to honour and love that.
You might ask how a bunch of people who come together, have fun and connect with each other can make a real change. Is it not a little frivolous and self-indulgent in the face of the many problems in the world? This reminds me of how Rolando Toro, the creator of a system of human development called Biodanza, answered the question, “When there is so much suffering in the world how can one decide to dance?” His answer was, “How can one not! The dance is a profound movement that emerges from the most intimate parts of the human being, the biological rhythms of the heart, the organs and cells connecting us to the cosmic rhythms. We are all ‘dancing’ our lives; dancing connects us with one another on a basic and most natural level. All lasting social changes have to come from within, in connection with the world and in congruence with the laws of physics: gravity and equilibrium. They have to grow from health and strength, not from neurosis.”
Every winter there are a number of events in Northern India with this purpose in mind. From separate men and women’s workshops (13-16 November 2016) that teach the inner relationship to each gender before bringing them together in an honouring ceremony, to a full-blown Tantra Festival (18-23 November 2016), Retreats to Tantra Temples (29 November – 4 December), and Meditations from Ancient Tantric Texts (5–13 November 2016) and workshops on how to become a Master Lover (25-28 November 2016).
What a feast!
India gifted Tantra to the world, and now the world gently knocks on it’s door to return the wonderful so that people can learn to recognise themselves not as separate and warring but as part of a larger consciousness – the consciousness of the species.
Tantra: A Tale of Seekers and Sexploitation – the history of a spiritual movement that continually needs to remake itself – by Subhuti