What is Tantra?
Tantra means liberation through expansion. It is a spiritual path for attaining enlightenment or union with the divine.
The word "tantra" has Sanskrit roots which give the sense of a weaving together of polarities and energies to expand consciousness through moving energy.
Tantra and its relative yoga are associated with Indian spiritual traditions but tantra’s origins are in ancient universal experiences predating all forms of organised religion. It comes from prehistoric people’s concern over fertility and creation and their connections with the creative energies of the universe. In England, monuments like Stonehenge are all that remain of this era. Around the Mediterranean there are discoveries of small Goddess figurines (see Roots of Tantra in Prehistory). Within religions such as paganism there are clearly connections and in other religions, often hidden connections such as for example in Sufism (Islamic mysticism) and Kabalah (Jewish mysticism). Tantra appears within the Hindu tradition, in yoga; particularly Kundalini yoga’s techniques for using energy, in Buddhism; particularly its Tibetan forms and in Taoism.
Because tantra is a mystical tradition it is very hard to define. In essence tantra is transformation and can be linked to alchemy: the transformation of the everyday into the divine. It is a spiritual science and the Hindu and Buddhist scriptures known as tantras give instructions on a wide range of topics including science, astronomy, and rituals. The tantric texts include dialogues between the cosmic couple Shiva and Shakti; male and female tantric adepts.
The central methods of tantra all include some way of transforming energy to aid spiritual evolution and a practice of becoming the God or Goddess. This can be done entirely as an internal practice (as it usually is practiced within the Tibetan Buddhist tradition) involving detailed visualisation, sitting meditation, breathing and ritual. Or it can be done externally using a partner. This explains why some modern books on tantra are very much concerned with sexual practices and others don’t even mention sex in the index! In either form the aim is the same: union with the divine. What can certainly be said is that tantra is affirming of the body, the senses and sexuality. In the tradition of sexual tantra, sometimes called the Left-hand Path, the body is experienced as the temple of the divine and the bridge between heaven and earth; spirit and matter.
Tantra is a practical science, tested over thousands of years in the laboratory of human experience by yogis, mystics Tibetan Lamas and ordinary householders and monks. It is likely that the split into sexual and non-sexual forms is connected with the rise of patriarchy and its putting down of women and the rise of monasteries which then wrote down texts so that real spiritual and sexual practices were changed into symbolic forms. Such texts can be read on a number of levels and are therefore hard to understand.
Transcendence is commited to supporting the exploration of the rich variety of tantra as a spiritual path. All Transcendence workshops use safe, powerful and effective methods from traditional tantric practices (which were often only for the circle of initiates) as well as methods from modern psychology. All workshops are ethically run by couples in commited monogamous relationships who actively follow the tantric path.