What is Tantra?
'The Union of Shiva & Shakti: Awakening Consciousness and Energy'
There are a lot of misunderstandings about what Tantra is and why it is a sacred and spiritual path to awakening. Below is an article written by Marilynne Chophel, which beautifully captures the pure essence of Tantra and the depth of the inner journey and enquiry it can take you on.
'Tantra is an ancient system, born in India around 5000 B.C. Tantric art has captured the images of the Hindu god Shiva and his consort, the goddess Shakti, in ecstatic union.
Shiva is recognized as the embodiment of pure consciousness, and Shakti as the embodiment of pure energy. The Hindus believed that through uniting with Shiva, Shakti gave form to his spirit and created the universe. In this view, the universe in all its manifestations, as an act of love.
This is the meaning of the yab-yum images found in Buddhist iconography where male and female Buddhas are in union. These pictures, or thankas, are not literal. They represent inner realization and the union of the male and female energies, of skillful means and wisdom, bliss and space. It is our awakened state expressed in its most dynamic, ecstatic form.
The relationship between Shakti and Shiva is the dance of consciousness and energy experienced within each of us, regardless of gender.
Your inner Shakti is your lifeforce energy. The essence of feminine and yin energy. From this essence comes forth wisdom, beauty, playful energy, spaciousness, ability, creativity, and power. Shatki is the Great Mother and matrix of creation and all manifestation. She is the power that weaves the universe and manifests in all forms. The perfection of wisdom. The tangible manifestation of energy through the body and the senses.
Your inner Shiva is your unique embodiment of awareness and consciousness. Known as "lord of the dance," Shiva is the essence of masculine and yang energy, the manifestation of presence, purpose, and skillful means. Shiva is the Great Father, with ultimate compassion for all beings. He represents transcendence, detachment, bliss, and the way to ultimate liberation. Shiva is silent, eternal, the consciousness that dwells beyond time and beyond death, in the eternal now. Your inner Shiva is that ever-present neutral awareness that compassionately witnesses all experience, and embraces all of life as expressions of the Divine.
Together in union, Shiva and Shakti merge and create the universe in all its manifestations. Experienced in each of us, this is a union of male and female energies, the direct experience of skillful means and wisdom. You can open to this joyful dance between Shiva and Shakti, experienced as two aspects of your self, and reflected in all living beings as pleasure, beauty, happiness, and aliveness.
Balanced and integrated, our inner Shiva and Shakti experience life as a dynamic whole. We move forward with clear vision, yet we are willing to trust and flow with whatever life brings us. As we become more whole, our need to look outside of ourselves for love falls away. We can experience the sweetness of this union of our inner masculine and inner feminine. From this place we can create more harmonious relationships and more joy in our lives'.
By Marilynne Chophel