Saturday, October 07, 2006

Tantra and the Nondual

There are many ways we can describe tantra in both practice and result, but I think it's unassailable to say that the ultimate goal of tantric sadhana is the realization of our nondual truth. This is not a thought, idea, feeling, impression, sensation or state of any kind. It's an ongoing, direct and experiential revelation, like knowing you're alive.

This fact makes it natural to introduce the nondual into a discussion of tantra. One may consider the nondual perspective and yet accept the fact that we swim in an ocean that is the Mahashakti. In fact, we could even talk about a nondual shaktism, one where everything is Ma, including the world and us, as one body in constant change, transformation and motion.

This was Ramakrishna's approach. "Shiva and Shakti are like fire and its power to burn, or like water and its wetness." It's pretty much impossible to take one of those away from its mate, leaving you in the nondual. However, you can consider the two as separate as well. So Shiva becomes Brahman, which supports the entire universe while at the same time being each of us individually and eternally. Right here, right now, closer than our own breath lies Shiva in our own hearts.

And Ma is just every single thing else: us as individuals, the world, the entire manifest universe. That's who we're dealing with ALL the time, because Shiva is completely out of it in nirvakalpa samadhi.

So, you are left with Ma as the container of your life, as well as the actor behind all action, yours, others' and the world's, while Shiva lies in your heart as the heart of who you are, completely uninvolved in anything else but being who you are.

Now Ma is omnipotent. Everything happening at once to anyone anywhere at anytime, ever. So why would you even consider the idea that you could do something to Ma with magic, when who you really are is Shiva in samadhi. The one who would be accomplishing magic is the illusory sense of ourselves as individuals. If tantra's goal is bringing folks to their nondual truth, why would you extend the delusion of yourself as an individual by playing magician?

Ramakrishna likened magic powers to a prostitute who is covered in human excrement. That's how superfluous they are to the endeavor of coming to an understanding of our nondual nature.

I admit that as individuals, we've all got to do something, sometime; and that truly, the nondual makes not a bit of difference in anyone's life unless they know it experientially. Or it makes ALL the difference, take your pick.

So, you can ignore it altogether and go about your business and live a happy life and die peacefully. This includes practicing magic. And I understand the value of magic in terms of helping to initiate personal transformation. But that's just another way of looking at how Ma is doing it all. We can think we are performing rites and spells and believe these bring about change to our liking, or not. But ultimately and always, Ma is doing it all.

In this light, magic is a layer we drape *over* Ma. Why does that layer need to be there? It only seems to tie us up in being individuals who practice magic and may help to prevent us from finding ourselves as Shiva. If Ma's doing it all, what me worry?

I realize I'm come off as an insufferable know-it-all whose position is intractable, and that's not too far off as a description. But I believe with all the cells in my body that *anything* you imagine that will bring you closer to truth, does, eventually. It's not what you practice, it's how you practice it. Sincerity is the power plant of sadhana, whether or not you practice magic.

But in the end, it all comes back to the same thing. It's just a matter of whether you want to consider that you aren't who you imagine yourself to be, or if you want to keep imagining yourself as a magician, tantrika, sadhaka or whatever.