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History of Tantra

Tantra refers to a series of esoteric Hindu books that describe certain sexual rituals and meditations. These ancient Indian books, over two thousand years old, were written in the form of a dialogue between the Hindu god Shiva, who is the penetrating power of focused energy, and his consort, Shakti, who represents the female creative force. The Hindu Tantras enjoyed sexual play and sexual union as an act of joyful celebration, as a demonstration of connectedness, as a symbolic affirmation of the unity inherent in a couple s relationship.

Tantra was eventually incorporated into Buddhism to form Tantric Buddhism, but in most cases the ritual sex was eliminated.

Definition: Tantra (Sanskrit: loom), tantric yoga or tantrism is any of several esoteric traditions rooted in Hindu and Buddhist philosophy. Tantra can be concisely described as the black sheep of Hindu yoga. Extolled as a short-cut to self-realization and spiritual enlightenment by some, left-hand tantric rites are often rejected as dangerous by most orthodox Hindus.

Tantra evolved into a number of orders (sampradaya) and diverged into so-called "left-hand tantra" (varma marg), in which sexual yoga and other antinomian practices occurred, and "right-hand tantra", in which such practices were merely visualised. Both groups, but in particular the left-hand tantrists, opposed many features of orthodox Hindu culture, particularly the caste system and patriarchy. Despite this, Tantra was accepted by some high-caste Hindus, most notably the Rajput princes. Nowadays Tantra has a large, though not always well-informed, following worldwide.

Buddhist and Hindu Tantra, though having many similarities from the outside, do have some clear distinctions. Scholars are unable to determine whether the Hindu or the Buddhist version of Tantra appeared first in history. Buddhist Tantra is always part of the Mahayana school of Buddhism, which has as main aim to help all sentient beings becoming free from problems (Dukkha), in order to achieve this aim, one should try to achieve Buddhahood oneself, in order to be the most profound teacher for others.

Tantric practices
Because of the wide range of groups covered by the term "tantra", it is hard to describe tantric practices definitively. The basic practice, the Hindu image-worship known as "puja" may include any of the elements below.

Mantra and Yantra: As in all of Hindu and Buddhist yogas, mantras plays an important part in Tantra, not only for focusing the mind, often through the conduit of specific Hindu gods like Shiva, Ma Kali (mother Kali, another form of Shakti) and even Ganesh, the elephant-headed god of wisdom (refer to the Ganesha Upanishad). Similarly, puja will often involve concentrating on a yantra or mandala.

Identification with deities: Tantra, being a development of early Hindu-Vedic thought, embraced the Hindu gods and goddesses, especially Shiva and Shakti, along the Advaita (nondualist Vedic) philosophy that each represents an aspect of the ultimate Para Shiva, or Brahman. These deities may be worshipped externally (with flowers, incense etc.) but, more importantly, are used as objects of meditation, where the practitioner imagines him- or herself to be experiencing the darshan or 'vision' of the deity in question. The ancient devadasi tradition of sacred temple-dance, seen in the contemporary Bharata Natyam is the example of such meditation in movement. The divine love is expressed in Sringara and Bhakti.

Modern Tantra may be divided into practices based on Hinduism and Buddhism, Indian and Tibetan, traditions. In America, Hindu Tantra is represented by a mutilated and extremely narrow-minded, sensationalist approach encompassing only a misguided thinking about "sacred sexuality," with little reference to its true practice. Traditional Tantrists say their practise involves much more than mere wizardy or sexual titillation: like the rest of Yoga (Hindu), it requires self-analysis and conquering of material ignorance, often through the body, but always through a pure outlook of the mind. 'Real Tantra' is about transforming one's sexual energy into spiritual progress, and has nothing to do with 'sex just for fun'. Those without a guru or lacking in discipline of the mind and body are unfit. It is telling that a Tantrica in West Bengal, a devotee of the Hindu goddess Kali, once said that "those most fit for Tantra almost never take it up, and those least fit pursue it with zeal."

For three Tantric practitioners (two well-known and one lesser-known), see the Dalai Lama (Buddhist), Shri Ramakrishna (Hindu) and Shri Gurudev Mahendranath (Hindu).

Dave's Comments
What was amazing to me is that many of the 20th Century sexual discoveries are the same techniques Tantra has taught for 2000 years but they are physical not a spiritual belief based on Hinduism. For example the G-spot is nothing more than the Sacred Spot of Tantra and the CAT (Clitoral Alignment Technique) is also this old. But with our society's sexual repression, it has taken us much longer to learn about our sexuality than in ancient days.

Tantra teaches good physical sexual skills and attitudes, but you can have the same skills and techniques without believing in cosmic consciousness, psychic energy centers (Chakras) and other Hindu beliefs as an excuse for caring intimate good sex skills.

I have tried Tantra therapists and all that deep breathing drives me to hyperventilation, not any relaxation. I just don't believe in the concepts which make no sense to me physically or spiritually. Sexual nerve endings that give pleasure and the skin enjoying caring touch and releasing endorphins I understand not spiritual energy points and third eyes all based on Hinduism told by various goddesses.

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