Last week the Tantra-in-Texas Meetup finally put together a presentation that addressed the questions of beginners as well as more seasoned practitioners.
The first section was led by Shakti devotee Paul Garza. Garza knows his stuff, having spent several years at Delhi University (Uttar Pradesh, India) in the 1970s, then graduating from California State with a MA in Indian Religion and Mythology. Garza's erudition, patience and good humor were put to excellent use. He explained the major 'goals' of Hindu Tantra - principally 'Moksha' or liberation - as well as some of the essential practices. The group queried him on the finer points of terminology such as 'Maya' ("Is Maya the same thing as 'delusion'?" No, he responded, the word for delusion in Sanskrit is 'Moha' and is solved or healed by 'Viveka' or discrimination. There is, on the other hand, no known cure for Maya. Hurrah!).
The second section was led by Yours Truly, the Tantra-in-Texas organizer. While I am familiar with several forms of Tantra, I am an unaffiliated Tantrika (neither Karezza, Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish or Sufi). Most of the second discussion was focused on the future of Tantra, how its traditional rituals are evolving through contact with Western values, and what a Tantra-on-Purpose might achieve.
Like any good Westerner (or as my Indian friend Asha points out, anyone born near the West), I have a certain respect --bordering on reverence-- for goals, focus and measurable achievement. How can practices that lead to the immeasurable outcome of spiritual freedom be reconciled to such ambition? My view is that this reconciliation takes place within the Tantrika him/herself, as the experience of desire is reorganized and refined through Tantric exercises. Little by little we deliver what we consider measureable realiities into the embrace of infinity. The trick with Tantra is that the process is thoroughly reciprocal - as the apparently contained and nameable is suddenly swept up by its irrepressible Other.
After the explorations of Tantra past and future, we moved a little closer to the contemporary views of neoTantra. I introduced the group to a website I had discovered called 'One Tantra' - a community of Tantrikas and teachers from a dozen traditions. 'One Tantra' is a membership site, but they have a large area of free content. One Tantra also sponsors a quarterly publication -- TantricNEWS. 1/3 gossip, 1/3 philosophy, 1/3 health, TantraNEWS features a series of videos titled "Tantra Is..."
We ended the meeting viewing one of them, a short rhapsody given by a Tantrika named 'Lauren' who couldn't seem to stop wiggling when asked her definition of Tantra. Well... See for yourself:
*** The upcoming Tantra in Texas Meeting welcomes another special guest speaker! And come back soon for more on May activities, lamas, swamis, pujas and rituals!
*** Mysti Easterwood (writing as Eleusis D), is Prima Boborina for Tantra for Bobos! a septameron of Essays on the basics of Tantra.