Tantrism: Red and White

Tantrism: Red and White

Q: Bamise writes: I have a couple of questions. I am not very ‘deep’ in Tantrism, so I know that there are many things I do not know about Tantra–could you explain what is White and Red Tantrism?

A: The short answer is that Red Tantrism is focused on sensuality and sexuality, while White Tantrism is more oriented towards a spiritual approach. There is also Black Tantra which is obsessed with power and its permutations, e.g., siddhis, manipulation, control, etc.

White Tantra

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White Tantric Tara

White Tantra evolved in a disciplined way from the more ascetic yogic traditions. Like many other yogas, White Tantra endeavors to transcend the ego through disciplined mental and physical practices under the guidance of a teacher. While containing aspects of many standard Yogic asanas, Pranayama, and doctrine, White Tantric traditions are often characterized by an accelerated approach. In essence, the practice of White Kundalini Yoga, Kriya Yoga, etc., is rather pushy and fast. “Evolution now!” might be its motto. This is attractive to Westerners, particularly Americans, as our world seems to be continually speeding up. On the other hand, this approach can also create a lot of arrogance, students and teachers being sure they are on the express train to enlightenment, and some pain and confusion as our egos are quickly challenged. In the East, this is counterbalanced by teachers and students surrendering to their Gurus and lineage, accepting the wisdom of the sages and consenting to be “mentored” by them. The difficulty in the U.S. is that we really don’t wish to surrender to anyone!

 

Red Tantra evolved as the “bad boy” of the Yogas. Seeing that yogic and even White Tantric approaches could create their own spiritual materialism, Red Tantra was created as a kind of yogic “shock therapy”. Having something in common with the Dionysian traditions of Greece, Red Tantra was the antidote to strict Hindu caste structure. Pujas often were orgiastic in nature, utilizing, among other techniques, sex, drugs, and wild dancing (Doesn’t this sound a little like our contemporary Bacchanals: Dead concerts and Raves?).

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Red Tantric Tara

Often one was forbidden to practice the sexual techniques with one’s own spouse, or even with another of the same caste. Ritualistically challenging one’s persona, social and ethical values, prejudices, expectations, resulted in the stripping away of one’s “comfort zone”, our usual ways of perception, intellection, and judgment. This could result in a state of Transcendence and Presence and an innate realization that we are more than our collection of socially conditioned responses, perceptions, prejudices, rules, and preferences. Like White Tantra, this approach has a certain built in aggressiveness and does require surrender to the teacher’s guidance to be safe and effective.

Tantrism is a Maha Yoga or Master Tradition. It is very ancient and many practitioners have conflicting judgments on what Tantrism is. Of course, this is because each practitioner has only a partial experience, perceptions, or concept of Tantrism. Teachers will teach from their experience, which is shaped by their perceptions and comfort level. It can be interesting to look at this in terms of the Chakra System and how we tend to get “stuck” or fixated at certain Chakra levels. As in most things, there are two sides to each Chakra. I will list here each Chakra’s issues (which can be a sort of wounding) and the compensatory desires associated with each. Starting with the lower 3 Chakras:

Chakra imbalance——————————————-attachments, what we seek:

First chakra
: f
ear of death ——————————- courage, abundance or money
Second chakra
: emotional pain————————– pleasure, ecstatic sex and sensuality
Third chakra: anger, violence, manipulation——————siddhis, power(self control)

The Higher Chakras are presumed to be the more “spiritual” Chakras. Perhaps this is a little more complicated than it may seem. We can easily become fixated at these higher Chakras as an escape from the world and our unresolved issues of the lower Chakras. Starting with the throat Chakra (5th):

Chakra imbalance——————————————–attachments, what we seek:

Fifth Chakra
: poor expression———————- creative self-expression, bliss, purity
Sixth Chakra: psychosis, cerebral escape————-psychic powers, harmony, intelligence, mental yogas
Seventh Chakra: atheism, disbelief, dogmatism, dilettantism—-transcendence, out of body travel, asceticism

Both the lower and upper 3 Chakras naturally seek to balance their closed and open (yin and yang, dark and light) aspects and also desire full balance or alignment with each other. In other words, evolution requires each energy center to be in balance within itself and with the others. Being fixated in the lower 3 Chakras means we are lost in the world. Fixation in the higher Chakras often means a rejection of the world. Neither is complete. Of course, this is just a summary and there can be an almost rococo complexity as the Chakras interact with each other and their imbalances and agendas.

By now, some of you may have noticed that we skipped a major Chakra. This is a case of perhaps saving the best for last. The Fourth Chakra, the Heart.

The Heart is the center where it can be most easy to combine and integrate upper and lower energies. The Earthly and Heavenly, World and Spirit, Transcendence and Acceptance. In my experience, this Chakra has its own unique balance within itself and in its relationship to the other high and low centers. The heart concerns itself with Unconditional Love, acceptance, forgiveness, and gratitude. This is a direct mixing of our human nature and our experience of the Divine. The heart is a sweet space in that it holds no judgements, gratefully accepts and forgives ourselves and others, and creates connection and loving support.

When not fully ready to open, the issue of the heart is “yearning“. Yearning for connection and Unconditional Love, on a human and Divine level. This yearning is a hunger so deep that we often throw ourselves into a search for its satiation or to be distracted from its persistent (though at times subconscious) desire. Since we have so little experience with Unconditional Love, we often mistake this yearning for other things and may cast about searching for them. Examples of “substitute yearning” can include sex, perfect partnership, intellectual and artistic distractions, money, power, obsession with success and our careers, spiritual dilettantism and dogmatism. We can also simply react with pain, fear, anger, depression, violence, self loathing, judgment and prejudice and a host of other distractions. On some reflection one can see that our social world really has many more of these other energies moving through it than true Unconditional Love. When our heart’s desire is frustrated or denied in some way, it seems we can easily perceive a lack of unconditional support for our precious hearts, and we quickly retreat to the agendas of the lower Chakras or the higher, or both!

We can read about archetypes of Unconditional Love in traditional scriptures (the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Tara, born of the tears shed by the Buddha in compassion, etc), and we can see some contemporary examples e.g., Mother Teresa, yet how can be manifest this principle within ourselves? Can we create through intellection and philosophy? Good works, right action, traditional spiritual practices, faith? Or is their another way? We invite your feedback.Copyright 1997-2009, Keith E. Hall. Inner-tranquility.com All rights reserved.

If you have a question on Tantra or the Spiritual Path in general that you would like to have answered, please email us your question. All questions submitted and answers given become the property of Jade Garden Tantra and Inner Tranquility, and are copyrighted by Rev. Keith E. Hall

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2 Responses to “Tantrism: Red and White”

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  2. admin Says:

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