by Kathryn Ryder from Tantric Massage Guide
Tantra manipulates the materials, energies, and limited awareness associated with the human body, to help the practitioner realize the unlimited consciousness that permeates all space, time, energy, and matter.
There are many methods in Tantra.
Some use complicated rituals of dramatic actions using ritual objects to lead the mind to a particular feeling or awareness (Kriya Tantra).
Some tantric methods use no external objects, but still rely on physical technique to move energy and awareness in the body – prime examples are Tantric hatha yoga, and the sexual rituals called Maithuna.
Tantric Hatha Yoga uses physical techniques (postures, breath awareness, internal breath pressure, spinal manipulation, hand and body gestures, internal muscle contractions, pressure on the various external pressure points called marmas).
These same physical methods are shared in some varieties of Tantric Maithuna (love ritual or union), with the added ingredient of sexual, emotional, and spiritual arousal.
Other methods use intentional, patterned movement of the consciousness through the body to harness and control the jumpy cognitive “monkey mind”.
For example, in Tantric Kriya Yoga, the practitioner moves his or her awareness along specific meridian pathways (nadis) in order to achieve more calmness of mind, along with and internal control of prana (chi or vital breath energy).
Control of internal energy and placement of awareness allows the practitioner to modify his or her consciousness and emotional state at will, as well as claming the mind enough to achieve meditative samadhi (absorption), and, by adding additional techniques from other systems, or simpley abiding in naked awareness, Realization.
Hindu Kriya Yoga is analagous is practice and purpose to the Taoist systems of internal Qigong called Nei Gung.
In Tantric Laya Yoga, also known as the yoga of kundalini, the tantric uses the resonant frequencies of the various parts of her energetic or physical anatomy to “tune in” to new, different, or more precise “bands” or wavelengths of consciousness, often using auditory tools (mantra), visual tools(yantra), and anthropomorphized principles (devata) to amplify and fine-tune her awareness and energy.
Laya Yoga principles can be used individually, in a loving couple, or in a practice group or sangha.
In internal martial arts like kalaripayattu, tai chi, hsing-yi, baguazhang, hoshinjutaijutsu, and pencak silat, the external (physical) training and internal (breath, energy and mind) training, mirror each other, similarly producing awareness of aspects of the mind, energy, and physicality that are ignored or overlooked by the normal person.
There are many more methods and schools within Tantric practice – but they all intersect and build on each other…and they all rely on experiences provided by the practice itself, not on book learning, to deliver increased awareness of the nature of humanity and the nature of consciousness.
If you truly practice and understand the view, principles, and methods of any complete esoteric method, from any full system, in any culture, when you really investigate any other system, you will see how things fit together in the broader spectrum of tantric practice.
You will also see that if you wish to cut away all attachments and prejudices, to really free you mind from limited concepts, there are as many cultural prejudices in the esoteric arts as in any other field.
The truly universal personality will want to leap over these prejudices, ultimately leaving behind even the ideas that enabled the practitioner to travel inwards towards freedom.
There are wonderful esoteric tools and traditions in all of the major religions and spiritual traditions of the world.
Because of early human migrations and later the trade and cultural exchange along the silk and spice routes, every one of those traditions has absorbed practices from every other- nothing is, or can be, ethnically, culturally, or religiously “pure”or separate – Archeology is showing us over and over that everything culturally distinct will ultimately mingle with, share fractals of, or reflect everything else, or die off entirely.
Tantra would say thet the root or base of all these memes (ideas, thought forms, or concepts), permutations, traditions, and individual plinters of consciousness is the same ineffable primordial onsciousness behind and within everything, beyond name, beyond concept.
The esoteric traditions are merely systematic methods to experientially realize and live in full awareness of that primordial consciousness!
If you begin esoteric practices – yogic, massage, sexual, meditative, scientific, shamanic, or otherwise – take each principle or method you learn, practice it, play with it, experiment and explore it, and fit it and its experiences into the bigger whole!