Vigyan Bhairav Tantra

Tantra is an ancient path of self discovery. A meditation practice that centers around the wisdom of the body. For thousands of years seekers have found the techniques of Tantra to be empowering and liberating. A path with heart.

Of the 112 Tantric meditations, 6 of these address the spiritual aspects of lovemaking. Tantra includes sexuality as a part of the awakening process. Couples and singles find a great deal of support in deepening intimacy and openness in lovemaking through this practice. There can be a total transformation from repressed or blocked sexuality to free flowing authenticity and deep love in the realm of lovemaking.

The meditations and practices of Tantra were born, legend has it, out of a conversation between two lovers, Shiva and his consort, Devi, some 5,000 years ago. Shiva and Devi, entwined in a lover's embrace, were discussing the mysteries of the universe. Shiva, inspired by his lover's intense desire to know the meaning of existence, composed 112 sutras that were designed to give her the direct experience of how the universe came into being . . . a direct experience in her body.

Devi Asks:
O Shiva, what is your reality?
What is this wonder-filled universe?
What constitutes seed?
Who centers the universal wheel?
What is this life beyond form pervading forms?
How may we enter it fully, above space and time, names and descriptions?
Let my doubts be cleared!?
Shiva replies:
1. Radiant One, this experience may dawn between two breaths. After breath comes in (down) and just before turning up (out) - the beneficence.

2. As breath turns from down to up, and again as breath curves up to down - through both these turns, realize.

3. Or, whenever in-breath and out-breath fuse, at this instant touch the energy-less, energy-filled center.

4. Or, when breath is all out (up) and stopped of itself, or all in (down) and stopped - in such universal pause, one's small self vanishes. This is difficult only for the impure.

5. Attention between eyebrows, let mind be before thought. Let form fill with breath essence to the top of the head and there shower as light.

6. When in worldly activities, keep attention between two breaths, and so practicing, in a few days be born anew.

7. With intangible breath in center of forehead, as this reaches the heart at the moment of sleep, have direction over dreams and over death itself.

8. With utmost devotion, center on the two junctions of breath and know the knower.

9. Lie down as dead. Enraged in wrath, stay so. Or stare without moving an eyelash. Or suck something and become the sucking.

10. While being caressed, Sweet Princess, enter the caress as everlasting life.

11. Stop the doors of the senses when feeling the creeping of an ant. Then.

12. When on a bed or a seat, let yourself become weightless, beyond mind.

13. Or, imagine the five coloured circles of the peacock tail to be your five senses in illimitable space. Now let their beauty melt within. Similarly, at any point in space or on the wall - until the point dissolves. Then your wish for another comes true.

14. Place your whole attention in the nerve, delicate as the lotus thread, in the center of your spinal column. In such be transformed.

15. Closing the seven openings of the head with your hands, a space between your eyes becomes all-inclusive.

16. Blessed One, as senses are absorbed in the heart, reach the center of the lotus.

17. Unminding mind, keep in the middle - until.

18. Look lovingly at some object. Do not go to another object. Here in the middle of the object - the blessing.

19. Without support for feet or hands, sit only on the buttocks. Suddenly the centering.

20. In a moving vehicle, by rhythmically swaying, experience. Or in a still vehicle, by letting yourself swing in slowing invisible circles.

21. Pierce some part of you nectar filled form with a pin, and gently enter the piercing and attain to the inner purity.

22. Let attention be at a place where you are seeing some past happening, and even your form, having lost its present characteristics, is transformed.

23. Feel an object before you. Feel the absence of all other objects but this one. Then leaving aside the object-feeling And the absence-feeling, Realize

24. When a mood against someone or for someone arises, Do not place it on the person in question, but remain centered.

25. Just as you have the impulse to do something, Stop.

26. When some desire comes, consider it. Then, suddenly, quit it.

27. Roam about until exhausted and then, dropping to the ground, in this dropping be whole.

28. Suppose you are gradually being deprived of strength or of knowledge. At the instant of deprivation, transcend.

29. Devotion frees.

30. Eyes closed, See your inner being in detail. Thus see your true nature.

31. Look upon a bowl without seeing the sides or the material. In a few moments become aware.

32. See as if for the first time a beauteous person or an ordinary object.

33. Simply by looking into the blue sky beyond the clouds, The serenity.

34. Listen while the ultimate mystical teaching is imparted. Eyes still, without blinking, at once, become absolutely free.

35. At the edge of a deep well look steadily into its depths until - the wondrousness.

36. Look upon some object, then slowly withdraw your sight from it, then slowly withdraw your thought from it. Then.

37. Devi, imagine Sanskrit letters in these honey filled foci of awareness, first as letters, then more subtly as sounds, then as most subtle feeling. Then, leaving them aside, be free.

38. Bathe in the center of sound, as in the continuous sound of a waterfall. Or, by putting the fingers in the ears, Hear the sound of sounds.

39. Intone a sound, as AUM Slowly, As sound enters soundfulness, So do you.

40. In the beginning and gradual refinement of the sound of any letter, Awake.

41. While listening to stringed instruments, hear their composite central sound; thus omnipresence.

42. Intone a sound audibly, then less and less audibly as feeling deepens into this silent harmony.

43. With mouth slightly open, keep mind in the middle of the tongue. Or, as breath comes silently in, feel the sound 'HH'.

44. Center on the sound 'AUM' Without any 'A' or 'M'.

45. Silently intone a word ending in 'AH'. Then in the 'HH', effortlessly, the spontaneity.

46. Stopping ears by pressing and the rectum by contracting, Enter the sound.

47. Enter the sound of your name and, through this sound, All sounds.

48. At the start of sexual union keep attentive on the fire in the beginning, And so continuing, avoid the embers in the end.

49. When in such embrace your senses are shaken as leaves, enter this shaking.

50. Even remembering union, Without the embrace, Transformation.

51. On joyously seeing a long-absent friend, permeate this joy.

52. When eating or drinking, become the taste of food or drink, and be filled.

53. O lotus eyed one, sweet of touch, when singing, seeing, tasting, be aware you are and discover the Everliving.

54. Wherever satisfaction is found, in whatever act, Actualize this.

55. At the point of sleep, when the sleep has not yet come and the external wakefulness vanishes, at this point Being is revealed.

56. Illusions deceive, colors circumscribe, even divisibles are indivisible.

57. In moods of extreme desire, be undisturbed.

58. This so-called universe appears as a juggling, A picture show. To be happy, look upon it so.

59. O Beloved, put attention neither on pleasure nor on pain, but between these.

60. Objects and desires exist in me as in others. So accepting, let them be transformed.

61. As waves come with water and flames with fire, so the Universal waves with us.

62. Wherever your mind is wandering, internally or externally, at this very place, this.

63. When vividly aware through some particular sense, keep in the awareness.

64. At the start of sneezing, during fright, in anxiety, above a chasm, flying in battle, in extreme curiosity, at the beginning of hunger, at the end of hunger, be uninterruptedly aware.

65. The purity of other teachings is an impurity to us. In reality, know nothing as pure or impure.

66. Be the unsame same to friend as to stranger, in honor and dishonor.

67. Here is the sphere of change, change, change. Through change consume change.

68. As a hen mothers her chicks, mother particular knowings, particular doings, in reality.

69. Since, in truth, bondage and freedom are relative, these words are only for those terrified with the universe. This universe is a reflection of minds. As you see many suns in water from one sun, so see bondage and liberation.

70. Consider your essence as light rays from center to center up the vertebrae, and so rises "livingness" in you.

71. Or in the spaces between, feel this as lightning.

72. Feel the cosmos as a translucent ever-living presence.

73. In summer when you see the entire sky endlessly clear, Enter such clarity.

74. Shakti, see all space as if already absorbed in your own head in the brilliance.

75. Waking, sleeping, dreaming, know you as light.

76. In rain during a black night, enter that blackness as the form of forms.

77. When a moonless rainy night is not present, close your eyes, see blackness. So, faults disappear forever.

78. Whenever your attention alights, at this very point, Experience.

79. Focus on fire rising through your form from the toes up until the body burns to ashes but not you.

80. Meditate on the make believe world as burning to ashes, and become being above human.

81. As, subjectively, letters flow into words and words into sentences, and as, objectively, circles flow into worlds and worlds into principles, find at last these converging in our being.

82. Feel: my thought, I-ness, internal organs - me.

83. Before desire and before knowing, how can I say I am Consider. Dissolve in the beauty.

84. Toss attachment for body aside, realizing I am everywhere. One who is everywhere is joyous.

85. Thinking no thing will limited-self unlimit.

86. Suppose you contemplate something beyond perception, beyond grasping, beyond not being - you.

87. I am existing. This is mine. This is this. O, beloved, even in such know illimitably.

88. Each thing is perceived through knowing. The self shines in space through knowing. Perceive one being as knower and known.

89. Beloved, At this moment, let mind, knowing, breath, form, be included.

90. Touching eyeballs as a feather, lightness between them opens into the heart and there permeates the cosmos.

91. Kind Devi, enter etheric presence pervading far above and below your form.

92. Put mindstuff in such inexpressible fineness above, below and in your heart.

93. Consider any area of your present form as limitlessly spacious.

94. Feel your substance, bones, flesh, blood, saturated with cosmic essence.

95. Feel the fine qualities of creativity permeating your breasts and assuming delicate configurations.

96. Abide in some place endlessly spacious, clear of trees, hills, habitations. Thence comes the end of mind pressures.

97. Consider the plenum to be your own body of bliss.

98. In any easy position, gradually pervade an area between the armpits into great peace.

99. Feel yourself as pervading all directions, far, near.

100. The appreciation of objects and subjects is the same for an enlightened as for an unenlightened person. The former has one greatness: He remains in the subjective mood, not lost in things.

101. Believe omniscient, omnipotent, pervading.

102. Imagine spirit simultaneously within and around you until the entire universe spiritualizes.

103. With your entire consciousness in the very start of desire, of knowing, know.

104. O Shakti, Each particular perception is limited, disappearing in omnipotence.

105. In truth forms are inseparate. Inseparate are omnipresent being and your own form. Realize each as made of this consciousness.

106. Feel the consciousness of each person as your own consciousness. So, leaving aside concern for your self, become each being.

107. This consciousness exists as each being, and nothing else exists.

108. This consciousness is the spirit of guidance of each one. Be this one.

109. Suppose your passive form to be an empty room with walls of skin - empty.

110. Gracious One, play. The universe is an empty shell wherein your mind frolics infinitely.

111. Sweet heartened One, meditate on knowing and not-knowing, existing and non-existing. Then leave both aside that you may be.

112. Enter space, supportless, eternal, still.

Dawn's Bio

Dawn Cartwright is a Tantric visionary, sacred writer, world traveler, and innovator in bio-energetic Tantra fusion. She discovered the path of Tantra by accident shortly after a period of life-changing mystical experiences in lovemaking more than twenty years ago.

Dawn's study and research is focused on the ancient and modern forms of Tantra, bio-energetics, and the actualization of human potential through sexuality.

Dawn received her degree in psychology from the University of California, Davis, and has had extensive training in Tantra, Yoga, Sexuality, Bioenergetics, Meditation, and Expressionistic Movement & Art. She has studied many schools of Tantra including Neo-Tantra, Shaktism, Kashmirian Shivaic Tantrism, Vaishnavism, Tantric Buddhism, Tantric Kriya Yoga and the Vigyan Bhairav Tantra. Dawn has had the honor of receiving these transmissions from some of the most acclaimed Tantric masters of modern times, Aditi Devi Ma, Christopher Tompkins, Margo Anand, Daniel Odier, Bohdi Avinasha, and Osho.

Founder of the Chandra Bindu Tantra Institute in Santa Monica, California. You can also find Dawn on Facebook and Twitter. You can read Dawn's blog on Elephant Journal. Dawn lives in Santa Monica, California.




How It All Began

It was one of those effervescent May mornings where the sun seemed to find its way into every corner of the world, and the world, adoring this undivided attention, lit up like a jewel in a store front window. The bed was tousled in a way that seduced both dreams and desires as crisp white sheets, feather duvets and soft pillows filled every edge to the brim and overflowing. My lover, a particularly striking and passionate Columbian man, pulled me into his arms and I sank into his chest and belly as our bodies emerged from the deep slumber that followed an evening of ardently arduous primal lovemaking.

My clothes lay shredded on the floor, my body was a tender map of our journey. Our loving the night before, dark and primordial, had spanned hours and lifetimes as he demanded from me the woman that I'd kept hidden from him. He entered me and then entered me again and again each time reaching a deeper and darker place within me, shattering pretense and laying me, at the last, utterly naked to him.

The morning was as bright as the night had been dark and the sunlight found its way into our bodies and every corner of the bed. The lovemaking began in that sleepy, subdued way where everything seems soft and wet and everything seems to melt into everything all at once. My lover, exotic in his beauty, arched above me and I took him in. I took him in in the mood of the morning, brilliant, strong and full. It was in this moment that I realized that everything had changed. That lovemaking, for me, would never be the same, ever again.

For, as he entered me, he entered my whole being. From the moment he touched me there was nothing in me that was not filled by him. It was as if the light around us was now streaming within us from his body into mine. I was flooded by the beauty of this man and something beyond the both of us. The cool air of morning gave sharp contrast to the heat between us and as I looked into his eyes I saw something so magnificent, so familiar, yet new. I saw the man beyond the man, the god, if you will, and, even though I had no context for this experience, I knew that I had encountered something so basic and true as to be absolute.

The atmosphere between us crackled with electric charge and all my senses were flooded with what could only be described as otherworldly sensation. I could see our sounds, hear the trembling of our bodies and I could smell the shift in our reality as it hit my fontanel with the impact of brimstone, some cosmic smelling salts conspiring to wake me up. There was a sound, something more like a shimmering, that brought our lovemaking simultaneously into a cellular and cosmic level and it was as if nothing had ever existed but this. I felt the world born within me, within every atom of my being.

We loved one another that morning suspended in time. And the beauty of it is just how simple that morning was to two lovers willing to see it, a morning like 10,000 other beautiful mornings. Simple and human and tender. A morning that had been waiting for us all our lives, that waits for each of us . . . to touch our hearts, give us a glimpse of freedom, of love, of This.

. . .

Life continues to gift me with spectacular "mornings" with "him" in all his glorious forms, and soon after this experience life gave me a teacher, even before I knew the word Tantra. This is where "it" began, that effervescent May morning that led me to now. The place from which I share with others who know the same potential in their love and way of living. Onto this path of Tantra.
The Science of Surrender

Dawn Cartwright has been teaching Tantra internationally since 1992 and is the founder of Chandra Bindu Tantra Institute, where individuals, couples and families are supported in reaching their ecstatic potential using the practices, meditations and techniques of Prasava Tantra.

Prasava Tantra is a way of experiencing Tantra and the Tantric energy field developed by Dawn over the last 14 years. Prasava is a Sanskrit word which means "Blossoming". It is Dawn's philosophy that tantra is a natural state of being, a state of being in the now, where ecstasy and Union are present. She believes that Tantra is an organic blossoming of body, mind and spirit that is possible when we are present . . . in the moment. Prasava Tantra is dedicated to providing the guidance, support and love necessary for those on the Tantric path to be here now . . . in the moment.

Dawn received her degree in psychology from the University of California, Davis, and has had extensive training in Tantra, Yoga, Bioenergetics, Meditation, and Expressionistic Movement & Art. She has studied many schools of Tantra including Neo-Tantra, Kashmirian Shivaic Tantrism, Tantric Kriya Yoga and the Vigyan Bhairav Tantra.

Dawn has had the honor of receiving these transmissions from some of the most acclaimed tantric masters of modern times, Margo Anand, Daniel Odier, Bohdi Avinasha, and Osho.

Dawn studied with Margo Anand, the author of "The Art of Sexual Ecstasy" for 5 years and was licensed to teach the SkyDancing Tantra method in 1998.

Dawn's interviews, talks and mini-workshops are informative and awakening, a wonderful way to learn more about the spiritual path of Tantra. She will enchant you into a deep place of self-awareness through her unique ability to reveal the sacred within oneself and to experience intimacy with all things. Dawn's approach to tantra is intelligently passionate . . . her style; fiercely loving. She is an inspiration to those with a desire to live life to its fullest.
A Waking Dream

Dawn Cartwright has been teaching Tantra internationally since 1992 and is the founder of Chandra Bindu Tantra Institute, where individuals, couples and families are supported in reaching their ecstatic potential using the practices, meditations and techniques of Prasava Tantra.

Prasava Tantra is a way of experiencing Tantra and the Tantric energy field developed by Dawn over the last 14 years. Prasava is a Sanskrit word which means "Blossoming". It is Dawn's philosophy that tantra is a natural state of being, a state of being in the now, where ecstasy and Union are present. She believes that Tantra is an organic blossoming of body, mind and spirit that is possible when we are present . . . in the moment. Prasava Tantra is dedicated to providing the guidance, support and love necessary for those on the Tantric path to be here now . . . in the moment.

Dawn received her degree in psychology from the University of California, Davis, and has had extensive training in Tantra, Yoga, Bioenergetics, Meditation, and Expressionistic Movement & Art. She has studied many schools of Tantra including Neo-Tantra, Kashmirian Shivaic Tantrism, Tantric Kriya Yoga and the Vigyan Bhairav Tantra.

Dawn has had the honor of receiving these transmissions from some of the most acclaimed tantric masters of modern times, Margo Anand, Daniel Odier, Bohdi Avinasha, and Osho.

Dawn studied with Margo Anand, the author of "The Art of Sexual Ecstasy" for 5 years and was licensed to teach the SkyDancing Tantra method in 1998.

Dawn's interviews, talks and mini-workshops are informative and awakening, a wonderful way to learn more about the spiritual path of Tantra. She will enchant you into a deep place of self-awareness through her unique ability to reveal the sacred within oneself and to experience intimacy with all things. Dawn's approach to tantra is intelligently passionate . . . her style; fiercely loving. She is an inspiration to those with a desire to live life to its fullest.
The Historical Origins of Tantra
a journey that becomes more exhilarating with every step

Stories of cremation grounds, skulls and shocking Aghori practices are the legends and myths of Tantra. 

 

Few realize that the classification of Tantra as a distinct religious system is a purely western construct, or that the study of Tantra as such began only recently, in the late 1800’s. While Tantra may be alive and well in the West, within India, Tantra is rarely heard of and, when it is, it is most often associated with the occult.

 

Early Study: Hindu Roots

 

Early western academics studying the history, culture, literature and language of India (Indologists) mistakenly believed the practices and convictions they found in texts called Tantra were different from other, more conventional, Hindu religious traditions. Today, anyone who has studied Hinduism, or has a friend who is Hindu, knows the spiritual traditions of Hinduism are complex and diverse, even within themselves.  Therefore, distinguishing any one practice or belief as purely Tantra is a nearly impossible task.

 

The very nature of Hinduism is both mystical and scientific. To understand Tantra, one must understand Hinduism. While there are also Tantra streams that are Buddhist, it is commonly believed that those, too, arose from Hinduism and, from there, developed into the Tantric Buddhism found in China, Tibet, Nepal and Japan. 

 

What follows is a tragically brief and completely subjective synopsis of Hinduism given for the sole purpose of laying some groundwork for the exploration of the history of Tantra. If you find yourself intrigued by the information, please dive deeper into this vast and colorful religion on your own to get the bigger picture. 

 

Three Main Elements of Hinduism: Brahman, The Vedas and Moksha

 

There are three main elements that compose the core of Hindu belief: Brahman, the Vedas, and Moksha. 

 

Brahman (not to be confused with the Hindu god, Brahma, or the brahmin caste) is the One Supreme Reality. Brahman defies description, yet exists as everything. The goal of Hinduism is to reach back to Brahman, the pure spirit of the universe. Brahman is beyond time and space; never began, will never end.

 

The Vedas are the oldest Hindu scriptures, composed of verses called mantras which were originally passed down from generation to generation as an oral tradition. The Vedas are considered śruti, which means “what is heard”, rather than smṛti, “what is remembered”. For this reason, it is believed that the Vedas are not a static collection of scriptures, but a living, growing, dynamic communication between the One Supreme Reality and man through sound and vibration.

 

Moksha is liberation from suffering and the endless cycle of death and rebirth. It is the return to Brahman, the realization of the Self as the One Supreme Being. The new-age spiritual term for Moksha might be “awakening”.

 

What Classifies Tantra As Tantra?

 

Those of you already familiar with Tantrism will see, even in this short description of the most basic elements of Hinduism, the great similarity between Hinduism and what we know today to be Tantra.  So, what is it that makes Tantra, Tantra?  Here are a few points that define Tantra.  Even among these, there is great overlap with Hinduism in general.

  • Tantrics believe enlightenment is possible within one lifetime, while the practitioner is still alive.  This is known as Jivanmukti.  Within Hinduism, enlightenment is seen as a process that takes many lifetimes.
  • Renunciation is not a requirement to attain Moksha within Tantrism. Householders, i.e., those with wives, husbands, children, homes and careers, can aspire to Jivanmukti.  Within Hinduism, the aspirant either becomes a renunciate early in life, or lives the life of a householder and waits until later in life, after children are grown and career goals satisfied, to begin the spiritual journey toward Moksha.
  • In Tantrism, there is no discrimination in terms of caste or gender.  In most Hindu sects, spiritual study is reserved for men and then, only men within the brahmin caste.
  • Tantric practices revolve around the harnessing of a power, called Shakti, that is both human and cosmic.  Tantricas form a relationship with this power and learn to channel it through their bodies to realize their goals, both spiritual and mundane.  The modern day, western name for this energy might be “kundalini”.
  • The guru is an extremely important part of Tantrism.  The guru is the teacher who is also the deity and the student as well.  This is a wonderful example of the Tantric precept that the universe folds in on itself, the sacred and mundane are one and the microcosm is the macrocosm.
  • Ritual, a set of actions performed for their religious significance and power - is the most basic definition of Tantra.
  • The use of mantra (sacred sound), yantra (sacred geometry) and asana (specific body positions) are key elements of Tantra.
  • Diving into worldly desires and engaging in forbidden activities - eating of meat, drinking of alcohol and ritualized sex, etc. - as means to attain spiritual liberation.
  • Direct experience of the ultimate through life experience as opposed to representational understanding of the ultimate through conceptual truths.
  • The practitioner is the deity, the deity is the practitioner.  Another example of microcosm, macrocosm and non-duality, there is no separation between the deity and the practitioner.

Tantra Timeline: The Goddess Cults

 

It is impossible to mark the beginnings of Tantra without highlighting Shaktism and the Goddess cults.  Evidence of the Goddess cults date back to the Upper Paleolithic period: “The earliest example of an Indian mother goddess figurine dates to the Upper Paleolithic. Found in the Belan Valley near Allahabad in Uttar Pradesh by the late G. R. Sharma, the image is made of bone and is carved in the round; in shape it resembles a harpoon. On the basis of carbon 14 determinations, it has been dated between 23,840 (plus or minus 830 years) B.C. E. and 17,765 (plus or minus 340 years).”  (Katherine Ann Harper & Robert L. Brown, The Roots of Tantra)  

 

Colorful stones with natural triangles upon them were also found in the same area and appeared to be of the same era.  These stones were the early predecessors of the most sacred of all Tantric yantras, the Sriyantra, the Goddess in geometric form.  

 

Owing to the fundamental significance of the temporal (fertility) and the spiritual (Shakti) of the feminine, it is likely these cults existed even before the Upper Paleolithic period and certainly before the Vedas - perhaps since the very genesis of human existence.  

 

The most important text in Shaktism is the Devi Mahatmya, composed in the fourth century, C.E.. Here, for the first time, ". . . the various mythic, cultic and theological elements relating to diverse female divinities were brought together in what has been called the 'crystallization of the Goddess tradition.’” (C. Mackenzie Brown, The Devi Gita: The Song of the Goddess: A Translation, Annotation and Commentary)

 

Three Streams of Tantra: Shaktism, Shaivism and Vaishnavism

 

There are three major streams of Tantra: Shaktism; the path of the Goddess, Shaivism; the path of Shiva and Vaishnava; the path of Vishnu (Krishna).  The Shakta tradition, as we have just discussed, is most likely the womb from which the other two streams emerge.  Shaktism can be traced back to the Upper Neolithic period.

 

Tantric Shaivism, itself, divides into two streams.  The first being “the right current”, Shaiva Siddhanta.  Shaiva Siddhanta is dualistic, followers believe that The One Supreme Reality and man are two different entities.   The second, “the left current”, is non-dual and is referred to as Non-dual Tantric Shaivism.  The Vijyana Bhairava Tantra, a chapter of the Rudrayamala Tantra, is a key text of the Trika school of Kashmir Shaivism (a Non-dual Tantric Shaivism school of Tantra).  Shaivism can be traced back to the early fourth and second centuries, B.C.E.  The birth of Tantric Shaivism can be traced back to the fourth and fifth centuries, C.E.

 

The most well-known Vaishnava Tantrics are the Hare Krishnas.  The Hare Krishna path is the Bhakti path, the path of devotion.  Vaishnavas cultivate a relationship with the One Supreme Reality as the beloved.  Vaishnavism can be traced back to the fourth century, B.C.E.

 

Tantra Timeline: The Tantras

 

The first Tantric scriptures date back to the fourth century, C.E., though it is commonly believed the Tantras were very much alive as an oral tradition hundreds, if not thousands of years before.  Tantra rose to it’s height of popularity in India in the ninth or tenth centuries and faded nearly completely out of existence late in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries.

 

This is a timeline of some of the well known Tantras.  “Tantras”, in this case, refers to texts illuminating spiritual philosophy and practice.

 

Mahavidya Tantra . 4th century, C.E.

 

Rudrayamala Tantra . 8th century, C.E.

 

Laksmi Tantra . 9th or 10th century, C.E.

 

Kularnava Tantra . 10th century, C.E. 

 

Kalivilasa Tantra 

 

Kalikapurana . 14th century, C.E.

 

Kamaratna Tantra 

 

Mahanirvana Tantra 

 


Neo-Tantra: Modern Day Tantra and Osho

 

Today’s surge of popular interest in Tantra comes to us via the Indian philosopher and mystic, Osho.  In the early 1970‘s and 1980‘s, Osho delivered several talks on “The Tantra Vision”.  These talks revolved around the Vijyana Bhairava Tantra and the lives of the ancient Tantric masters; Tilopa, Naropa, Marpa and Milarepa.  

 

At the Osho ashram in Pune, India, experiential courses were created where individuals could explore Neo-Tantra; a combination of ancient Tantric practices and modern day human awareness techniques.  

 

Closing: Inspiration

 

I hope this brief summary has inspired you to dig deeper, to discover Tantra for yourself.  It is a journey that becomes more exhilarating with every step.

 

“The ultimate goal of human life, according to Tantrism, is to internalize the cosmos and unify the inner vibrations with the outer.”  Lina Gupta, The Roots of Tantra

 

 

Bibliography

 

Harper, Katherine A., and Robert L. Brown. "The Roots of Tantra." State University of New York Press, n.d. Web. 31 Aug. 2012.

 

Wallis, Christopher D., and Ekabhūmi Ellik. Tantra Illuminated: The Philosophy, History, and Practice of a Timeless Tradition. The Woodlands, TX: Anusara, 2012. Print.

 

Srinivasan, A. V., “Hinduism”. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley, 2011. Print.

 

Osho. "Meditation, the Science of the Inner: The Osho Experience." Meditation, the Science of the Inner: The Osho Experience. Osho, n.d. Web. 02 Sept. 2012. www.osho.org.

 

 

Never Ending Journey
a postcard from bali . 2008

I feel loved. And for the first time in my life, I feel my feet on the ground, giving love a place to land. I feel the sweet sad joy of knowing my life will end someday and how much more precious it is, because of that.


Bali, for me, is love. Love the way it happens when life is simple and lived in nature’s rhythm. Love is this aliveness I see and feel everywhere. Even the air has a fertile fragrance . . . jackfruit . . . frangipani . . . coconut wood . . . rosters . . . dogs . . . humans . . . the wet dark smell of the rainforest . . . the sharp scent of the Bali Sea.


Contrast will make the tragic beautiful. I’ve been a tourist when it comes to love. Visiting exotic places, taking photographs and collecting keepsakes. I don’t think I’ve ever taken up residence anywhere, never let myself grow roots. Never given love a place to land. And all that restlessness I experienced in India? Some part of me waiting to exhale, longing for the end of the journey, so I can rest, simply be? Well, here in Bali, in all this beauty, I have come to realize . . . the journey never ends.


The seeking must. The journey never will.


I think it hit me my first morning here, as I stood at the crest of an endless valley carved with rice terraces, what it must be like to live in one place your whole life. To give yourself to the hoeing, planting, clearing, hoeing, planting, clearing of the land. Night into day into night. Moment to moment, year to year, generation after generation. No excitement, no big plans, no fame, and certainly no fortune . . . at least no fortune that could be measured in bank balances or property values. I felt the never endingness of it, the anonymity. It terrified me and I gave myself to it, completely.


I gave myself to the rice fields, the way I’d give myself to a kiss. I gave myself to the sun and it’s heat. The wind and the sea. I gave myself to my tiredness and my longings without looking for their resolution. I gave myself in conversations where the tourist in me would prefer to be right; instead I listened to the rightness of my lover’s view and felt free. I felt love. I’ve stopped moving, I’m standing still. I’ve begun to forget myself, and love has a place to land. The more I give myself the more there is to give. I never expected this, I am in awe. Never ending.


I learned the meaning of devotion that morning and in these days since. I’ve begun to say yes. To everything. And with each passing day I’m learning more and more how to slip into one moment becoming the next, and I feel my heart open to the sweetness, never endingness, of love. A sweetness that comes, not at the end of the journey, but at the end of believing there’s some place to go. In that place where I’m not his most special love, I am one in the many. How happy I am in the loving. And I feel such relief, such peace, knowing I’m interchangeable, giving up the drama of imagining I’m unwanted, admitting to myself I belong. Stepping down from the clouds, walking on the earth. Landing. A tourist no more.


My days will pass, if I am lucky enough to remember this lesson learned in Bali, one into the next until I die. May I meet my death in obscurity. In love. Giving myself, never ending.

How to Fall in Love . . . in 10 Easy Steps
learn all over again how to fall in love

whether you are single or in a long term relationship, every moment brings a new opportunity to fall in love. rarely do we take advantage of this generous gift of life, even though most of us know it exists. it takes balls to be someone who rediscovers love every moment through the act of loving and i happen to think it's how we're all meant to live.

 

perhaps we need to learn, all over again, from scratch, how to fall in love . . . in 10 easy steps.

 

1. make a list of all the personality traits of all those past lovers who turned out to be "wrong" for you. narcissistic, emotionally unavailable, peter pan, daddy's girl, needy, possessive . . . some of these may top the list. make the list, then burn it. if this is how you've been seeing the world, then guess what, this is how the world exists inside of you. get over it. make the list and burn it, free yourself. stop avoiding people because they're "unhealthy", once you're in love everyone suddenly appears to be - human.

 

2. get up in the morning and start the day like someone who loves him or her self. give yourself time for some internal maintenance. what do you love to do when you wake up in the morning on holidays? do you take a walk? have a bath? make love? spend some time reading? have an extra cup of tea? what ever it is do it for yourself every - yes - every - day. start the day like a lover and you'll find life suddenly feels a whole lot like a honeymoon.

 

3. look people in the eye when you speak to them and when they are talking to you. let people in. making eye contact is very intimate and it's a clear communication to life that you are open to intimacy. at first looking into another's eyes may feel like too much, perhaps even overwhelming. take it slow . . . begin by relaxing your body, especially your face, feel your feet on the ground and don't forget to breathe. let the experience of making eye contact be one of ease - don't try too hard or you'll end up looking like a goldfish at feeding time.

 

4. stop taking yourself so seriously. 99.9% of the people you'll meet have lived through some tragedy or another in their lives. that's life. your past has absolutely no bearing on your love unless you decide that it does. remember, tantra is sincere but never serious. the trials and tribulations that we've all faced make us even more loving once we've picked ourselves up, dusted ourselves off, and plunged back into life with a naked heart.

 

5. enjoy your body. we all feel more like loving when we feel good about our bodies. sometimes, all it takes is a swim in the ocean to make me feel absolutely besotted. whether it's a yoga class, making love, five rhythms dancing, working out in the gym, or slathering jasmine scented lotion all over yourself, find a way to feel your body come alive every day.

 

6. smile. right now. don't you feel more in love already? smile often, and for no reason.

 

7. open up to the world around you. when you eat something, take time to taste it. one meal each week, eat only for the sake of tasting. when you look at something, really see it. notice the exact shade of blue in the evening sky. smell the scent of your best friend's skin next time you hug him or her. touch yourself. how does your body feel? listen to the sound of the wind in the trees and give yourself time to get lost in it. when you open to the sensual the sensual opens in you. life becomes absolutely irresistible and so do you.

 

8. make a list of all the things you want to get from a relationship and burn that list too. a relationship is not a sears catalog at christmas time. if you are wanting a partner to share your spiritual journey, get a guru. falling in love is about two complete people coming together to be absolutely alone and absolutely one at the same time . . . it's about facing your aloneness, not curing it.

 

9. be honest. tell the truth. take the risk that some people will like what you have to say and others won't. stop riding the fence of mediocrity and be who you are. you're a glorious work of art in progress, let it show.

 

10. stop looking for someone to love you. fall in love all by yourself.

How do I get started?
this world we inhabit yet rarely touch

Something extraordinary happens when all structures are erased. Somehow, it's only then that the true self within us emerges and we experience, for the first time, the limitless potential we carry as human beings. We see the mind-blowing truth of this world we inhabit yet rarely touch. 

 

My work is designed for those of you who feel ready to take a life altering leap into everything you ever dreamed and feared was possible. To be revealed in structureless, often empty-filled moments of truth.

 

. . .

 

It's not uncommon to feel drawn to the exploration yet feel unsure about how to begin. Here's a short guide to my programs to assist you in taking the next - or your first - step.

 

If you are new to my work, I highly recommend beginning with "Be Fully Alive", my foundation workshop. You will learn specific tantric meditations and techniques that will create a framework for tantric practice and living a tantric life. Don't be fooled by the term, foundational, however. My work continues to deepen with my own personal experience of Tantra. Every program that I teach, I teach for the first time. You will find that even the most sophisticated Tantricas attain new insights and awakenings in these workshops as well.

 

If you also enjoy weekly class work and the depth that comes with consistent practice, I recommend "Sex Actualization". This class would better be described as a catalyst group for breaking through patterns that may have limited you to your full potential in the realm of sexuality and intimacy.

 

For those of you who have worked with me over time and have a sense of Tantra and the spontaneous format of my work, you don't want to miss "No Limits" - even if you've participated in this program before. "No Limits" is an advanced weekend, a deep dive into the limitless expanse of absolute Tantra and a celebration of our remarkable international community.

 

And then there are the decadent pleasures of exotic getaways paired with in depth tantric practice as in "Sacred Sexuality . How We Love". As you'll read in the testimonials below . . . enroll with caution . . . life will change for you in a dramatic way after these retreats . . . deeper intimacy, more creativity, and dynamic opening physically, emotionally, spiritually.

 

If you're still wondering, it may be a good idea to book a private session with me to explore your dreams and desires and to take another step toward living the life you are capable of.

 

Feel free to contact me.

 

Testimonials . . . 

 

Absolutely Heart Opening. The first time I met Dawn I intuitively knew that my life was about to go through a magnificent transformation. We met together first for two of her long weekend workshops in Denver and they were delightful and awakening in so many ways. Then came Ireland...

 

I am still processing the tremendous changes that have happened inside of me after what I experienced in Ireland. All of it was magical and perfect. Dawn has a very special gift for being able to hold safe, sacred space for the deeply profound work that we do together. She drew together the perfect group of people and lead us through a lovely journey of heart and soul. Each step built on another in such a perfect way. 

 

We cried, laughed and loved together in a way that I had never known before. Such truth among us. Such vulnerability and strength revealed in a way that all of us were quite amazed. Tears of release and tears of joy. I remember looking at everyone as we gathered to leave on that last day and everyone was so much brighter and clearer that it moved me to tears. 

 

I went to Ireland because I noticed that some piece deep inside of me was afraid to go. This piece of me was met in such a gentle and nourishing way and then led with a sweet hand to the land of freedom within. 

 

I absolutely recommend Dawn's programs to anyone who is ready to do the profound and deep work of healing and awakening. Love is our truest nature and she helps us remember the way there. A.F. . Denver . Colorado

 

Authentic. Dawn’s authentic vulnerability, coupled with her empathetic guidance and intuitive, practical wisdom, is the perfect soil in which to sow the seeds of your personal transformation, and blossom both spiritually and physically. Her residential workshops have been milestones in my life. I love her, and I highly recommend her. P.B. . Dublin . Ireland

 

Richness and Love. I am so glad that I went to Ireland with Dawn. It was an amazing experience for me. The close knit community allowed for many layers of resistance to pleasure to release. I exposed places of pain in my body and have set them free forever. The week was full of deep exercises and loving exchanges with others. Dawn masterfully teaches how to BE love, experience it and let it grow. It is challenging to put this experience into words, however if I were to sum it up in 2 words - RICHNESS & LOVE! M. M. H. . Ashland . Oregon

 

Unique and Powerful. There is always something special about a workshop with Dawn. Whether you are new to Tantra or more experienced, her love and respect for the subject and for the people in her workshops simply shines through. Her Tantric path, Prasava (blossoming) focuses not on the sexual as an end-point, but sexuality as a bridge to awareness, self-love and transformation. Where others end, Dawn begins. Most importantly, I resonated with what Dawn teaches, I have always felt nurtured and supported with Dawn whether it is in her Be Fully Alive, the Endless love or her advanced Fragrance of the Lotus certification programme. As a result, Dawn’s workshops have been places where I could fully explore what it meant to be myself, to challenge my judgements and preconceptions, to explore what it meant to be male and to connect deeply with myself. The results have been life changing and life affirming, I have grown as a man and as a human being and am moving to realise my potential, my spirit and my soul.

 

It’s is no surprise then than that when Dawn announced she was re-visiting Ireland after two years for the 2012 Solstice, I sat up and took notice. Her week long retreat in the Wicklow mountains offered so much: The wonderful food, wonderful teaching and a chance to go deeper, to explore. It was also the perfect excuse for myself and my wife to take time out and reconnect, we had been working very hard and a week’s immersion seemed like the ideal way to do so. From the moment we walked into the Agavanah Holistic Retreat Centre we felt cocooned in the Tantric experience. This became so much more than an exercise in reconnection between myself and my wife. One of Dawn’s skills is in allowing the group to connect and gel and it was in evidence in this retreat: singles and couples, men and women of different ages all came together. There was something truly special about it, we were moving towards the 2012 Solstice and Dawn skilfully and respectfully took us inwards and downwards from our heads into our bodies. We explored the Pelvis, and for me this was powerful enabling me to connect to deep parts of me to see with my inner eye, my direction and the spaciousness I held within. It opened for me the possibilities and future directions of my sexuality, my compassion and my ability to love without expectation or attachment.

 

The connection between Myself and my partner grew: we moved closer, deeper, watched the clear night skies wrapped in each other. We opened to what Dawn offered, surrendered to it and it brought us so much joy and understanding. It reaffirmed our feelings and our love, it challenged us to go deeper, to surrender and in doing so it allowed us to open new paths and grounds for exploration. The evenings were filled with music and laughter, little ceremonies and songs, people brought instruments and we enjoyed impromptu concerts and fire ceremonies. 

 

The group, as a whole, moved together supporting each other and being supported by Dawn, who in taking us on a journey to the 2012 solstice and its promise of renewal did the same with the group. We explored personal boundaries and it was wonderful to watch people grow and develop, open and expand. Nurtured we grew together, these people from all over the world: America, Canada. Europe and Ireland sharing laughter, tears, sadness and joy. Becoming intimate, not sexually, but emotionally with the others and forging friendships that simply are just are, with no expectations or outcomes. One day, two days, or for the whole retreat, people entered and blended with the group. We moved into the stillness of the solstice, the quiet, bonded and on the morning under Dawn’s guidance we were renewed: Ecstatic, Blissful. It is hard to describe what it was like to watch this growth in the people we were with to share a journey, to witness and be part of such transformation. But that is Dawn’s Tantra, that is what makes it so special: its indescribable beauty, an experience never to be forgotten and an exploration of Tantra that is unique and powerful. M. S. . Portlaoise . Ireland

 

 

 

Diaries of a Traveling Tantrica
a postcard from new zealand

Arrow straight roads slicing flat green pastures right through the center make me feel as if I'm gliding between mirrors suspended in clear blue space. Tremendous mountains emerge dramatically, almost perpendicular to the greenness below, furthering this illusion of a world split in two. Small towns line the road from time to time; a simple line of shops on either side, fronted by dusty verandas, reminding me of the wild, wild West at home. Many towns appear vacant, no people on the streets, yet it is always like this in New Zealand as the population is only 4 million, there is more space than people, much much more.

 

A gentle climb up bare mountains, these bald peaks crushed together somehow expose even more space and expanse-of-nothingness in their rawness. The mountains part and an alpine meadow appears, more green edged with the sharp upturn of higher mountains. And there, in the midst of this meadow, stones. As if the walls of some ancient castle inhabited by giants long ago has come tumbling down . . . some stones seem to hang in mid-air, others stack one upon the other, and it's only once I've walked up to touch them, that I see how truly enormous they are, the stones of Castle Hill. (You, yourself, may have seen these stones recently as they provide the landscape for the battle scenes in the flim, "Narnia".) Like so much of nature here in New Zealand, I'm awed by the vastness of these stones, the feeling of their power, the sense that they existed long before I was born and will be here long after I'm gone, their wisdom. I relax in their embrace and I deeply open to all that I am.

 

Love is like that; vast, powerful, eternal and wise. Love often inspires within us a feeling of awe - at least in the beginning, or as long as we are getting what we think we want from love - until the power of love demands that we die to the superficial and enter the realm of the absolute. Where there is a fullness that cannot be touched, that is not dependent upon behaviors or circumstances a love that purifies and inspires. A love in which one relaxes and deeply opens to all that we are.

 

Thank you, New Zealand for all the love . . .

Diaries of a Traveling Tantrica
a postcard from pune

i'm a month now in pune, india. having completed teaching the final module of the fragrance of the lotus tantra teacher's training, i am spending almost all of my time at osho's ashram in koregon park. the ashram has changed dramatically since i was here 4 years ago . . . softer somehow, and more restful. the new buddha hall is a giant pyramid on the meera side of the campus, the old buddha hall's tent has been taken down and this beautiful space is now used for zen archery, chi kung, painting groups, dancing and much, much more. i've done 23 consecutive days of dynamic meditation (6:00 am) and yes, it has changed me, i feel open and receptive, full of creativity and very, very alive. i love kundalini meditation in the afternoon and white robe with the live music is a time when i can feel osho very strongly.

 

2 weeks ago i attended a death celebration at the ashram. a sannyasin had died early that morning of natural causes and his wish was for an osho-style celebration. hundreds of us gathered in buddha hall on the wednesday afternoon. there was live music and ecstatic dancing. the energy grew and grew as we awaited the arrival of the man who was to be celebrated. he was being carried on a bamboo chaise from the hospital to the ashram and it took sometime for him to arrive. as we danced the energy became more and more powerful. i found myself laughing and crying at the same time. the ecstasy that we were experiencing was truly mystical, it was as if each of us was being lifted by a force of love within us. at last, our beloved one arrived, and was placed on a platform in the center of the pyramid. at this point, the energy really went wild. so much love and so much celebration of life. the sannyasin's birth family was there around him, he was covered with beautiful flower malas, his face the picture of peacefulness, he was blessed and appreciated as we danced and sang. and then, at the peak moment, as the energies reached their highest point and we were all shouting the words to the song; "alive! alive! love is overflowing!" Showers of red rose petals were thrown into the air and onto the body of this beloved. my heart exploded, and i believe we all dissolved at that moment . . . the drummers led us all out into the ashram along with our beloved one and we marched, danced and walked down to the river, to the burning ghats. hundreds of us in procession and all in such a feeling of celebration. when everyone had arrived at the burning ghats, the beloved was placed on the ghats and covered with wood, soaked in fuel and ceremonially ignited by a member of his family. again, we danced and sang as we held vigil down by the river. life had never looked so precious and death had never seemed so friendly as it did to me that day.

 

in india, among the indians, life is truly lived in the moment, there's no planning, no tomorrow, there's only now. india is teaching me more about what is real than anything else ever could. and there is such ecstasy in the now, so much ecstasy.

 

love & namaste, dawn

Diaries of a Traveling Tantrica
a postcard from ireland

i'm in ireland 5 weeks now and life is moving slowly . . . slowly but intensely. the oldness i've often felt here is seeping in as it never has before in earlier trips and i am confronting layers of oldness within myself. oldness and regret, depths of seeing the life i've constructed so carefully to fit a picture of how a life . . . should be. a life made from smoldering desire, hidden pain, ancestoral fear and, most of all, sweet innocent hope. a cold wet, colorful autumn seems the best cauldron i could choose for this facing of the past and i can tell you that i honestly do feel . . . already . . . the promise held in the death of winter . . . the emergence of the spring to come. death as 'one who knows' never seemed more attractive, i'm nearly starved for it.


never before has my feeling of the power held in my sexual body seemed more significant, never has pleasure seemed more sanctified, never have i felt the realness of this path of tantra the way i feel it right now, here in ireland. the workshops have focused themselves toward the program i will teach this weekend, sex magic. i am realizing that all of sex is magic . . . timeless space where truth is revealed. mysteries of the universe penetrating our genitals, making their way into our hearts . . . where, at last, we are stripped naked of the lies we tell ourselves about what it means to live a fulfilling human life . . . we are opened to pleasure that goes beyond the temporal and we are humbled by love that shatters our tentative sense of self.
 

the meditations and practices have ripened for me, i am finding myself taking far more risks in the groups and i'm being met each step of the way in this new terrain by my students. all of us, myself included, are learning how to surrender, how to 'be' when everything inside us is screaming to fill the silent space with 'doing'. i am experiencing myself as the lover, as the beloved, and i am finally, gratefully, learning what it means to be the loving.
 

gorgeous pitch black night skies heavily laden with lustrous fattened stars . . . windy walks in swirling autumn leaves . . . slumbery moments lying on the woolen rug in front of a woodburning stove . . . sharing stories, dreams and wonderings . . . gazing into hazel green irish eyes . . .


love & namaste, dawn

The Non-Linear Heart
rediscover love every moment through the act of loving

most of us, at one time in our lives or another, have given our hearts completely. we've loved. foolishly . . . passionately . . . we've been slaves to love and captains of it too.


there may have been times when we've been tempted to be "rational" about loving. we've criticized ourselves for falling for "unavailable" people, for "loosing" ourselves in the relationship, we've judged ourselves for being "blind" and we've vowed never to make the same "mistake" again. we criticize and judge ourselves because we've been taught that love and relationship are the same thing.


or maybe we criticize and judge ourselves because it's much less painful than facing the truth.


the truth is, love hurts.


so while we're in that relationship where "foolish" passions are flowing, we are opening, excited, full of life, we are feeling as if we're the ones who have discovered love; while we are falling . . . suddenly, we panic. we want some reassurance. we want to know that we are not fooling ourselves once again. we want to avoid pain.


we want to control love.


and you know what? we couldn't pick a better place to do it. the western culture is jam packed with solutions for those of us who feel love has gotten out of control. hell, half of barnes and noble is dedicated to shelves of books that are guaranteed (in 10 easy steps) to make us better at loving. we can even take classes that teach us to be pragmatic about love. at nearly every turn there's someone or something ready to tell us how to manage it.


the worst thing you can do is teach an artist how to paint.


you know exactly how to love. the more foolish, the better. the bigger the risk, the more blind. the more you are willing to make another "mistake" the more you will push into the limits of love and meet it. you see, it's so much easier to make love about the relationship. then it feels as if we can do something about it. it's so much easier to avoid the heartbreak that is necessary for love to take us over by being pragmatic, following the rules and measuring our experience against what is "acceptable", than to face being free. than to take responsibility for being someone who rediscovers love every minute through the act of loving.

What Does Sex Have To Do With Tantra?
invite the abyss within

Tantra is an ancient path of meditation with roots in both Hindu and Tibetan Buddhist spirituality. It is called the "Royal Path" because, in ancient times, Tantra was the spiritual path taken only by those who had mastered all other paths. Tantric writings date back over 5,000 years and are still used in many modern meditation teachings today.


Of these writings, perhaps the best known is the Vigyan Bhairav Tantra. The Vigyan Bhairav is a Hindu Tantric text which consists of 112 meditations designed specifically to center, to bring the meditator to a single point of focus, that point being this moment, and this moment only. It has been said that Tantra is the fast track to enlightenment by virtue of the sophistication required to practice its meditations. It is the Tantric's ability to surrender to the paradox of duality in every moment that hones him or her to the sharpness of adeptdom.


Of the 112 Tantric meditations given in the Vigyan Bhairav, only 3 of these are sexual meditations. So, why the focus on sex in Tantra?
 

Why are so many Tantric explorations begun in the sexual realm? If Tantra is a science of meditation that includes all of life and living, why do the teachers of modern times bring so much emphasis to the sexual aspects of the path?
 

It's true that Tantra views every facet of human experience, including sex, as potential for personal transformation and self-actualization. For the Tantric, life is a meditation. Every activity . . .eating, drinking, breathing, dancing, making love . . . can be entered into with awareness, bringing a quality of meditation into even these simplest of acts. Yet, the emphasis given to sex and sexual ecstasy within Tantra today is cause for much controversy. Yes, sex is a basic human experience; in fact, none of us would be here without it, but isn't all the focus on sex in Tantra today just a hedonistic indulgence for spiritual gluttons?

 

Truly, sex is a very important part of human life for the purpose of procreation, but sex as meditation? What does sex have to do with Tantra?
 

Because Tantra finds its momentum in surfing the abyss created by duality, what better more challenging - abyss than that of yin and yang? That chasm between action and receptivity? The basic duality of being alive. And what better place to dive in and experience it all than in sexual orgasm? No other human experience demands such a tenuous balance between focused activity and total surrender. And there is such power in it, so much of life and death in it. To enter this moment with total awareness, to taste the orgasm as meditation, is to invite the abyss within . . . to experience the chasm fully. Intimacy with reality brings to the meditator the direct experience of oneness. Not oneness as a concept.

What is Spirituality When You Take Away Love & Light?
there's nothing like meeting yourself

what if my experience is not always loving and what if there are times when i feel absolutely filled with hate?


shame?


grief?


disgust?


terror?


madness?


lust?


as a society, we've been conditioned to look good, to have the "acceptable" attitudes and emotions, never to say "no", never to say, "i don't like it", never to admit that we feel like shit, never to go against the grain in anyway - including, and almost passive aggressively, not along our spiritual path.


sure, we take workshops on getting in touch with our anger, our grief, our shadow, our darkness, etc., we get sessions where we beat on pillows with inflated baseball bats and scream like primates in padded rooms (comfortably air-conditioned, of course) and it feels good! don't get me wrong, some of these workshops and sessions are truly digging into the real - far too many, however, focus on releasing these "negative" emotions, getting rid of the uncomfortable feelings - making it all better. as if there was something wrong with feeling feelings that are other than love and light.


you know, for me, there's something really interesting about those so called negative emotions;


they're pure.


your hate is unadulterated by the media. you don't have hallmark cards defining your hate, there are no movies idealizing it, no fashion designers dressing you in clothes to attract it. it's virginal. perhaps your hate is actually closer to your true essence than your love? less conditioned, less practiced and less contrived . . . what if hate is a whole lot closer to love than the societal brand of "love" we've all been brought up with?


what if love has become so polluted, so conditioned and conditional that it's no longer trustworthy? what if we've learned the game of performing love and light and, in the process, screwed ourselves royally? no wonder there are so many of us depressed, lost and unfulfilled - in the process of trying to live up to an ideal of love and light we've abandoned our sensitivity and turned our backs on our passion.


what if you gave up on trying to feel "better"? sounds dangerous, right? what if you respected yourself enough to feel all your emotions - totally? what if the biggest part of you lives within those "unacceptable" feelings that have been whitewashed by the cosmic awareness movement and what if that part is your power? your beauty? your sexual openness?
 

maybe all this focus on love and light has really been another way for you to bang your head against the yoga mat trying to live up to someone else's idea of enlightenment? what about diving deep? where nobody can go but you . . . inside . . . into the darkness . . . into the mystery.
 

in someways it's a like climbing everest, it's a huge risk. not everybody who sets out on the journey makes it and the way is full of peril, pain, loneliness and challenge. so, why do it?
 

because there's nothing like meeting yourself.
 

nothing like it.
 

because, when you finally meet yourself, you discover a place inside that has always been intensely alive. will always be intensely alive. a place that cannot be tainted or tarnished by family, society, religion, abuse, repression, neglect . . .
 

suddenly, you're no longer a spiritually lopsided, springloaded, new age angelic basketcase . . . you're really your own person - not my version of your own person - not hallmark's version of your own person -
 

you're original.
 

you find that life has texture, it's interesting. and so are you. life becomes an adventure, something definitely worth getting out of bed for in the morning. and not because you are now comfortable. not because everything's rosy. it's because everything is - well, it's all on the table. and that 15 megatons of internal pressure caused by trying (said with clenched jaw and grinding teeth) to live "in love and light" has been released. you are free. you are raw, naked . . .
 

and your heart? this is the big bonus. your heart is open. no longer a made for tv version, but the real thing.
 

your attitude about feeling like shit changes . . . you feel the edges of one of those "negative" emotions and you get excited. you get excited, and you stay with the feeling. you face it without trying to mask it, act on it or collapse into it. you meet it. you're excited because you know some part of your aliveness is surfacing. some part of the mystery is calling.
 

to be seen . . .
 

in the light
 

and


loved.

Sexless and the City
you'd think we'd all be making love almost constantly

with so much talk about sex, so much thinking about it, and so many advertisements literally dripping with it, you'd think we'd all be making love almost constantly.


or at least once a month . . .


according to a recent article published by Newsweek Magazine 15 to 20% of married couples have sex 10 time a year or less. The psychologists who did the research said that these results are not accurate (how many people, when surveyed, want to appear sexless? there's a tendency to exaggerate on the positive side) so it's likely that that yearly number is even lower.


hey, it gets worse . . . individuals who are not married have sex 6.9 times per year less than their married counterparts.


eek.


there are many reasons given for the sexless condition of our lives; stress, resentment, lack of time, low libido, work, kids, etc.. the hectic nature of our 21st century lives often makes making love look like a waste of precious time and reduces delicate body surges of sexual arousal to the level of nonexistent. we wonder why the most sexually attractive are drawn to younger lovers who still have time in their lives for sex, while we squeeze one more appointment into an already insane week of "getting ahead".


it's convenient to make this state of sexlessness all about stress, resentment, lack of time, low libido, work, kids, etc.


it's also convenient to make it all about sex.


it's not.


it's about our bodies, pure and simple. it's about being human. it's about experiencing our time here on the planet with the added joy of intimacy; not just with another, but with ourselves as well. touching and being touched, loving and being loved. knowing that life's about the journey, not the destination.


because we've chosen to believe that "the one who dies with the most toys wins" we've created a lifestyle that emphasizes performance and achievement while neglecting the needs of the human body. even our workouts and yoga classes have become places where we demand perfection from our bodies rather than feeling them, where we sculpt the body rather than inhabit it. we've lost our connection to the subtle sensations of attraction and closeness because we no longer live in our bodies, we're afraid to.

Conception
a postcard from a tantric ashram in india . august 27 . 2007


"i want to know more." he spoke to me through the lives we'd spent together before. as he spoke, my womb surged in my belly, as if she'd been waiting for this moment since the beginning of time . . . then time itself took a breath, waiting for my answer.


he stood in the shadows, his raven curls kissed by the moonlight in a way that was, at once, both seductive and ominous. this was the man of my dream. only days before, in the french-india village of pondicherry, i'd seen him, this dark, luminous man. he had promised me of our meeting, "i will have you" he'd said in the dream, and even then, in my slumber, he'd set my body and soul aflame with his promise.


i said, "yes", before i'd even realized i'd spoken, as if "yes" spoke me instead.


we moved swiftly along the darkened paths of the forest our bare feet hardly touching the earth, the wind began to stir, lifting us, nearly flying, to the top of the mountain, to the shivalyam . . . a temple dedicated to the sacredness of the penis . . .


* * * * * * *

 

i am writing to you from a tantric ashram in a remote part of india. i felt my awareness shift even on the journey here, for as we drove deeper onto the mountain roads my world transformed, luscious green, cool and quiet, in great contrast to the dry intense heat and intense noise i'd experienced so far in india. just an hour outside the city, i could feel the pace of life suddenly shift to a slowness that seemed to me to be, timeless.


the grass huts we passed on the drive blended into the earth and forest around them. in the early morning hours, i would often see fires burning within and imagined the simple breakfast cooking there; idly with coconut chutney and hot cups of chai.


women gathered at wells along the road, each carrying at least one large water jug made from brightly colored plastic; red blue, green . . . the colors rivaled only by the saris worn by the women themselves; red, blue, green, lavender, yellow, orange. stanzas of their morning gossip seemed to leap into my taxi and the rhythm of the melody came from the glass bangles and silver anklets they wore.


men urged yoked pairs of oxen toward the fields for their morning's work. the eyes of the cattle, huge and liquid, exuded all the sacredness of their favored position in hindu spirituality, their horns forming halos high above their brows, often making the shape of a heart. some of these cows wore bells on the tip of their horns, tinkling the sound of puja and prayer with every step.


as we turned into the entrance to the ashram it seemed as if the forest opened, then closed behind us, for i did not see the entrance as we approached and, looking back, could not discern the opening from the trees all around the road. i remember wondering if i would find my way out, should i need to, then quickly forgot that brief concern for my independence as we followed the winding road to the ashram. i'd been told cobras lived in these forests and, perhaps it was only my imagination, but i was certain i could feel their regal surveillance as i entered their domain.


the soft, quiet, feeling of the drive gave way to total silence as we approached the ashram gate. it seemed as if the very earth stood still in this place. nothing moved and there was no one in sight even today, on the eve of guru pournima, the grand festival about to take place. my driver got out and pushed the gate open . . .


. . . it was then that i saw her. the sri meru temple, a massive three-dimensional sri yantra, surrounded by 108 sky clad dakinis. the sri yantra, the shape of the human body in geometric form, the most sacred of all tantric symbols, literally, the mystical blueprint for all that we experience and call "life".


i stopped breathing . . . and was breathed by her. my heart stopped beating . . . and i felt my body merge with her. yet, somewhere, near the surface, a small bit of myself clung on and i felt myself resist the urge to laugh in a fit of madness as threads of my cultural reality dissolved into the silence all around me. the driver dropped my bags outside the temple and i was taken, guided now, to meet the guru who had created this tantric oasis.


guruji sat on a simple bench outside the ashram, surrounded by what looked like family. his followers were gathered around him sitting as close to him and one another as possible, 6 or 7 on benches intended for 4 or 5, each with a contented grin on his or her face, bodies soft and quiet. a feeling of welcome all around. guruji reminded me of a jolly santa on holiday as he sat there, rosy cheeks, round belly, beautiful white beard flowing down onto his white shirt. his doti; white, feet; bare, he welcomed me before i even met his eyes, a warmth filling me as i came closer. i bowed at his feet in namaskar and the feeling was that of water on water, my river coming home to the ocean. sheer love and peacefulness.


my guide took me on, up the mountain, to the kamakhya peetham and sivalayam. everything happened so fast.


the door to the kamakhya peetham was open. i assumed, naturally, that this temple was always open and it was only in the coming days that i learned that the door is always locked and that special permission was needed to enter. today, the door was, not only unlocked, but standing open. i gasped as i entered. on the floor beneath my feet a woman's yoni, the petals of her labia, the entry to her womb were carved in stone, nearly 5 feet in length. her thighs, also carved in stone spread out to fill the temple, side to side. emerging from her vagina, the tip of a penis, wet and flowing, rose toward the sky. i felt my being pierced with intense recognition.


i knelt down beside her, caressing her thighs and she moved softly, quietly, undulating under my touch. i felt my dna come alive in every cell as codes and sequences were activated by this meeting. something of the woman in me receiving messages timed for this moment since birth. there was a knowing, too, that these messages were not for me alone, i felt them connecting me to a remembering inside every woman. i felt blessed and adored. i felt divine and at home. i wept and wished never to leave, yet, at the same time, i knew it was not my destiny to remain, at least not now, not yet.


my guide took me further up the mountain, to the top of the sivalayam, the shiva temple, containing a shiva lingham, a penis carved in stone. on the top of the sivalayam i could see for miles. i was enchanted by the strange and mysterious shapes of the mountains all around. steep cones and large forms like sleeping giants, all covered with dense, vibrantly green foliage, it looked to me like a land that time had forgotten, a place where time had never existed, even now. i knew and i know it is a magical place, where mother earth has taken form, lives and breathes as these mountains.
 

* * * * * * *


. . . nearly midnight, we climbed to the top of the temple and looked out over the valley and mountains bathed in platinum, shining silver in the light of the full moon. the guru pournami full moon. the metallic sheen of the strange mountains and valleys added an otherworldly quality to an already mystical night. he asked me about my life, my work. he wanted to know about the loves i had known, the pains in my heart, then he took me, my spine against his chest and he held me, suspended in air atop the temple in the stillness of the night. he touched the secret points on my body, along my spine and across my hips, awakening an arousal that felt both hot and cool, wild and serene. he touched my face, my lips, his caress was slow and masculine. i felt my mind let go and my body take over as secret channels were unlocked within me and more pleasure rose to the surface, feeding the woman in me and igniting her hunger as well.


his words were gentle and sure . . . "feel a ball of energy in your muladhara, your womb, allow it to grow in intensity as you feel it." my body surged with joy as i surrendered to his guidance, experiencing myself safely held as i opened to more . . . "feel the ball of energy move from your womb to your svadhisthana, your clitoris and labia. let yourself go completely." my arousal became a wild fire, taking on a life of it's own under his hand. "now, the manipura, your belly." my belly began to tremble, then convulse, tears flowed from my eyes, and i felt like a she-cobra shedding her skin as my past fell away in the moonlight. "allow the ball of energy to travel now, to your anahata, your heart." warm and pleasant, full and blossoming . . . these were the sensations in my heart. "now, to your vishuddha, your throat." my spine began to undulate, serpent like, but the waves were up and down, against gravity, my pelvis curling back toward my head, my chest opened to the sky, as waves of ecstatic pleasure took my body and remade it, smoothing out all the pains, fears and doubts of my past, making me new again - and open - completely open. "breath the ball of energy into your third-eye, your ajna." more waves, softer now. "and then to your sahasrara, your crown." stillness.


he took me in his arms and held me, one hand against my heart, the other on my sacrum and it was then that i entered some parallel world where only nothingness existed. he and i were one and i could feel, i could sense, that this had always been the case, always was. i knew myself through him and i was him and we were, together, the perfection that is known only when nothing at all exists. an instant later, or was it hours, he turned my body to face him and took my hands in his. "do you know who brought you here?" "you did." i replied. "no." he said, "i am a catalyst in this process, i am not the one who brought you here. it is guruji who brought you here." his words were another raw awakening that took me beyond my western romanticism of our experience. i knew he spoke the truth, that our time together had purpose, but was not my destination, something else lay in store for me. "i will talk with guruji and ask him if we can be initiated into the kalavahana together." i was excited and afraid and i will admit to you all right now, still nursing my disappointment that it was my spiritual awakening that was underway here at the ashram, not a romance novel happy-ending where i meet my beloved in the shadows of a tantric temple deep in the remote forests of india. i know, from years of loving this path, that tantra will demand that i break every attachment, even my attachment to having my own family and lover, if need be, to take me to a place inside myself where i live, every day, in that place of nothingness. still, i was excited about the prospect of receiving the kalavahana, an initiation that would activate seeds of consciousness in my body, laying the final groundwork for my awakening.


the next afternoon, i was participating in a class on massage, when a dear friend arrived at the door to take me to guruji. there was no time to prepare, to adorn myself, or even to shower. i was wanted in the temple - now. i was whisked away to a secret room in the meru temple, behind the deities where pujas were underway, to the place where guruji, my dark lover and two tantric priestesses awaited me.


my body and emotions trembled with anticipation, the air around me was electric. 108 secret syllables were chanted to me as 108 secret chakras on my body were touched with flowers. the kalavahana is a ritual that brings the divine mother alive in the human woman, brings shiva, the divine male, alive in the human man. i was shown the secret mudras and felt each one unlock doors within me. i repeated the verses that were recited to me and i became a living deity. my dark lover lay himself at my feet in namaskar. i gave him pleasure, with my touch and words as we entered, together, once again, the nothingness from which we'd come. our destinies, in this lifetime, complete.


as i stepped outside the meru, a light rain began to fall, and a scorpion, at least 5 inches in length, crossed my path. my initiation had just begun.


* * * * * * *


something you must know . . . each time i've tried to write and speak about the initiations and rituals i received during my time there, i have found it nearly, if not totally, impossible. i met mystical beings, saw parallel worlds, was initiated into, what i can only begin to understand as the most secret and rare of all tantric ceremonies and i cannot, not even me, the writer, write clearly about some of them. it is as if a mystical seal has been laid upon my consciousness, seeds planted and kept safe for their germination. yet, i know that a part of this process demands that i do share and that the sharing will happen in it's own sacred time. what i can tell you, is everything i experienced there, at the ashram, and with guruji, came as confirmation of all that i have searched and longed for in my life.


some of you may feel drawn to these experiences and ask yourselves where to begin, what i can tell you is this . . . trust your attractions, trust your sexual pull and trust your desire for pleasure. follow the longings of your heart and keep your heart open to new experiences, every moment. as guruji said, "don't ever name anything, because once you name it, you become attached to it" . . . once you have decided what something or someone is in your life, you have stop discovering the newness, you have closed the door, to a small or greater extent, to the infinite that everything contains. life, and everyone of us, is created, anew, every instant, that's the bindu, the point of conception, the center of the meru, the beginning that begins every moment.


* * * * * * *


i am able to tell you this one last story, one more of the mystical moments i experienced just days ago . . .


. . . while still in pondicherry, at the beginning of my trip before going to the ashram, i had another dream. in this dream i met a man who sat on the ground. he handed me three stones. the first was "man", the second was "woman", the third was "conception". the first two stones were engraved with the words, "man" and "woman". the third stone was actually a small jeweled ganapathi, ganesh, made in red and black lacquer, set in gold.


one night earlier than i was set to leave the ashram, guruji told me to go. he said i was to visit a place where he kept a second home, before leaving on my flight the following day. i didn't want to leave him and realized, in an instant, he would always be with me. i wept with relief as he spoke what i already knew in my heart, yet had not even imagined.


as i said my goodbyes a beautiful friend who had been my closest confidant, one who had given me one of my most powerful initiations, who had loved me while urging me to go beyond what i believed was possible, took me into her room and gave me a gift to protect me as i re-entered the world. as she handed him to me i knew, as if it had happened forever, what she held hidden between her palms.


there, was the jeweled ganapathi, exactly as i'd seen in my dream weeks before.


conception.


life creating itself anew in every moment.

I Will Have You
a postcard from india . july 25 . 2007

India is teaching me a great deal about Tantra. I am having dreams of it. In my dream two nights ago, I met a beautiful dark man with raven curls and shining black eyes, a tattoo of crimson flowers slithering up his spine. He said, "I will have you." During the day yesterday it became clear that "he" is Tantra, and even more simply, he is life . . . and all that it implies. I can feel his embrace even now.

 

Last night, my dream showed me that Tantra is simple, that the mysteries of life and love live right here, in the moment. Tantra has nothing to do with judgments of any kind, it has only to do with facing what is, as it is, in every case . . . melting away all my walls and barriers. Tantra has nothing to do with moving energy, energy moves by herself. The question is, am I willing to step away from all those distractions, including spirituality, that take me away from the nakedness of this moment, as it is, right now? This morning, in the embrace of my dream, I can feel I have no choice, actually, and I feel exquisitely blessed.

 

I look forward to sharing these simple mysteries with all of you, very soon.

 

With love from Pondicherry, Dawn

Softly Undoing Me
a postcard from india . july 24 . 2007

india is softly undoing me. oh yes, i wish i were one of those people who feel they've come home when they're here, that they've returned to the mother and all that. me? i'm going quietly insane. 

 

again. 


this is my third visit to india, my first outside "meditation resort india" (pune). now, to be fair, i have made some progress. the last two times in india i went very loudly insane. kicking and screaming all the way. this time it's a bit more gentle. 

 

i could feel the beginnings as i stopped over in bahrain on my way to chennai. i'd never seen arabic people in traditional dress en mass before. regal, proud and astonishingly beautiful. at home and powerful in this stark place. one woman as tall as myself, maybe even taller, like a princess from arabian nights, gazed out of her elaborately embroidered burca with dark almond eyes. she stared intently at my shoes. i became aware, suddenly, that the black evening sandals proudly displayed red toenails. sensual. naked. exposed. woman. i felt proud and brazen at the same time. experiencing myself through her gaze in a way i had never felt myself before. something taken for granted, brought into sharp focus. startling how the absence of something (the nakedness of a woman's body in the arabic culture) sharpens one's awareness of that very thing. 

 

we boarded the flight for chennai late that night, already i am in india. sitting with two men from chennai, the fun begins. one of them is sitting in my seat. i show my ticket and am met with a blank stare. i say my seat number and the man across the aisle tells me that there are two tickets for that seat. i ask for the attendant, who arrives to sort out the situation and, when she asks for his ticket he pops into the open seat, his seat, and shows his ticket. 


what just happened? 

 

ok, so the three of us settle in for the flight. very soon after take off the film begins, a bollywood classic, i believe, for everyone seems to know the plot by heart. my seat mate feels it's very important that i see the film and wants to make sure my headphone jack is working properly. it doesn't, i say it's ok, he insists that i use his jack as he's already seen the film and doesn't need to hear it. i don't have the heart to explain to him that i don't need the jack because i don't understand hindi. ok, i did try but that began one of those round and round conversations that i can get into in india all too often (more on those later), so i decided to hold my headphone plug into the jack for the duration and enjoy the hindi. we're all watching the film together - everyone on the flight - and there's the feeling of being in someone's living room as we all laugh and cry with the tragically separated lovers (standard bollywood plot). my seat mate takes care that all of us in our row have water, pillows, that our seats are comfortably reclined, everything we need to be happy. There it is, that feeling of family that india does show me - every time. 

 

a few hours later the plane begins it's decent into chennai. everyone wakes up from the bollywood induced slumber and cranes his or her neck to see the lights of the airport. everyone. yes, everyone. almost as if our eyes could bring us on the ground just that much faster. before we touch down cell phones are turned on and the second the rear wheels hit the ground passengers are out of their seats, overhead bins open, hand baggage gathered and there's a surge to the front of the airplane for disembarking. a second or two later, the front wheel touches and we begin the taxi to the gate. the flight's over, why are you still sitting in your seat? the door opens, at last, and . . . 

 

splat, we're off the plane. 

 

hired a taxi, off to pondicherry for a few days of relaxation and shopping! stop outside the airport for petrol. we're greeted by four, yes four, attendants who assist us in fueling the car, then are carefully directed back onto the highway by yet another attendant waving a lighted wand like those used to park the airplanes at the gate. now that's full service. 

 

well, i've been here nearly a week and have been working on my own travel guide for india. here it is, i hope you'll find it useful next time you visit . . .

 

dawn's travel tips . india 


getting around 
driving any vehicle, or being a passenger in any vehicle in india, is a lot like getting off the plane in india. it's a surge. with lots of horn blowing, bell clanging and squeaky toy sounds. every red light is like the line up at the indi 500 . . . engines roaring and vehicles straining for the green. the moment the green appears, the sound of the horns and blowers reaches a climax and the entire block of waiting traffic surges forward at full speed in every direction. lanes lines are for decoration only and it's not unusual at all to see trucks, cars, motorcycles, rickshaws and bicycles barreling down the "wrong" side of the road at break-neck speed. i've finally realized that all the horn blowing and squeaky tooting operates like sonar on a bat, giving each driver a sense of his location in the pack as he accomplishes seemingly impossible feats of intricate traffic negotiation. what's amazing is that you almost never see an accident - and - as a pedestrian, you'll never be run over as long as you walk directly where you want to go. oh, i forgot to mention that in india, you don't walk on the sidewalk (it's too lonely up there) you always walk in the street (adds to the fun). important to remember, as a pedestrian, never to hesitate or change direction suddenly. the drivers' sonar has you placed for passing within 4-6 centimeters and your uncertainty could set a whole new cacophony of horn blowing, bell ringing and squeaky toy tooting into action, thereby throwing off the balance of traffic for a radius of at least a hundred kilometers. 


negotiating a fee with your rickshaw driver 
at the tourist office i was informed that any local rickshaw fee should be no more than 30 rupees (about 75 cents). when hiring a rickshaw always ask the driver if he is familiar with where you want to go, ask the rate, and make sure you have small change. this way you: #1. avoid taking the scenic route, #2. avoid negotiating the rate after the journey (usually results in a 100% increase in those cases), and #3. avoid paying 100 rupees for a 30 rupee fare simply because you don't have small change. i'm so good at this, let me tell you about my rickshaw experience last week after shopping. it was late at night and i'd just finished some prime shopping along nehru street. hailed a rickshaw, gave him the name of my hotel and asked the rate. he said 19 rupees. time to negotiate! i said 30 rupees. he countered 19 rupees. i said 30! he smiled to me in the sweetest way and said, ok, 25 rupees. it took me half the way back to the hotel to realize that i'd just negotiated the fare up, not down. just a little quick on the old negotiating trigger there, dawn. world traveler, yes that's me. 


making arrangements . for anything 
whether you are making arrangements for a tour, or having your laundry done there's an art to doing this here in india. first, it's important to note that many people (see petrol station above) are needed to make, let alone complete, any arrangements you may wish. this is where the round and round conversations come in too. here's how it goes. at the hotel front desk . . . i'd like to hire a taxi to go to the temple at tiruvannamalai. madam, you wish to go to tiruvannamalai? yes. madam where do you want to go? i want to go to tiruvannamalai. when do you want to go, madam? tomorrow. where do you want to go? at this moment, the bell boy arrives. madam is going to tiruvannamalai. when? tomorrow. hotel manager makes a phone call to inquire about a taxi. at this moment, your last 3 rickshaw drivers appear. what time will the taxi arrive for madam? we are waiting for confirmation. bell boy asks, madam, are you going to tiruvannamalai? yes. hotel manager says, i will call you in your room with the rate for confirmation. ok. i walk into my room, 2 meters from the hotel front desk, the phone is already ringing. the hotel manager is on the the line, madam, you wish to go to tiruvannamalai? yes. tomorrow? yes. the rate is 2,250 rupees. ok, yes, i agree. thank you madam. 2 hours later, phone rings. madam are you confirmed that you are going to tiruvannamalai tomorrow morning? yes. next morning, 8 am, time taxi is scheduled, i arrive to the hotel front desk. i am ready for my taxi. hotel manager . . . you booked a taxi? yes. when? last night. where are you going? 


;) 


about an hour later i was packed safely away in my taxi to tiruvannamalai by my hotel manager, bell boy and last 3 rickshaw drivers. happily and safely on my way. 


visiting the temples 
the temples of india are colorful, intricate and mysterious. they are filled with exotic priests conducting beautiful pujas for the many devotees who visit each day. on my first day in pondicherry i entered the temple nearest my hotel and began to wander from deity to deity taking it all in. as i approached one of the grandest places in the temple i found several people gathering at the doorway and a priest in the midst of some lovely preparations. i stood back from the door, to be out of the way, but the kind people motioned me forward, inviting me to take part in the ritual that was about to begin. first, the priest offered everyone a sip of holy water. it all happened so fast, before i knew it, i was drinking this holy water and rubbing it on my head while visions of tour books strictly prohibiting the drinking of any water other than bottled water in india flashed in my head. i'll be fine, i'll be fine, was my holiest of holy prayers just then. wait, we weren't finished with the ritual yet. next, we were all given a small handful of fresh mint to eat. i tried to pretend that i was eating it, but couldn't get away with that one. the priest, vaguely resembling my mother, stood there and watched me while i really ate the mint. ok. i'll be fine. i began to feel a powerful energy in me and all around me. (the energy of the temple deities?) or (the beginnings of dysentery?) i'd soon find out. i sat quietly next to a man who was chanting, just to take in the intense vibe. it was wonderful. meditating had never been easier - wow - stillness. opened my eyes just a few minutes later to see that i was about to take part in yet another glorious ritual, happening just one meter away from where i was sitting. the priest came to each of us with the burning camphor lamp so that we could receive the light into our eyes and hearts. then, he touched our heads with the lid of the silver dish, nourishing our souls. next we sat and he gave us prasad, food from god. fresh fruit, then rice. this time, i just couldn't manage it. i pretended (yes, I admit it) to take one bite then saw a woman across from me give her portion to her husband and took my cue, giving mine to the woman seated next to me. as i was leaving, a lovely man approached me saying, "another one, very cautious". yes, yes, i admit it. well, it will be different next time! that following day in my hotel room i made a plan. while brushing my teeth with my sonicare toothbrush, one foot on the mothball that had been rolling around on the floor, the other resting near the edge of my indian toilet (a hole in the ground with traction grooves), i made a decision, i know what i'll do at tiruvannamalai! i will avoid going near any of the priests! this way there'll be no holy water, mint or prasad issues to deal with. right. off to tiruvannamalai! later that afternoon, there i was, in tiruvannamalai. extraordinary. nine intricately carved towers, one for each of the openings to the human body (i think i may have upset the balance of the hindu faith when i mentioned to my guide, who was completely unaware, that the female body actually has 10 openings. let's see what happens in hinduism over the coming months). tiruvannamalai is over 1,800 years old and was built around an even more ancient temple, which has been standing for over 2,500 years. breathtaking, and so powerful that my senses expanded and morphed, everything seemed to be happening around me and inside me at once. i was slowly exploring this magnificent temple, keeping a safe distance from any priest, holy water, fruit or rice, when . . . 


lo and behold . . . 


a beautiful, sweet, loving young pregnant woman dressed in a soft green sari walked up to me and gave me her prasad. 


a portion of rice mixed with broth and spices in a bowl made from pressed coconut leaves. 


i could hear the laughter of god among the tinkling bells of the priests. 


i ate the prasad with all the love it was given . . . i knew then, for certain, it was . . . food from god. 


head nodding 
last one. i almost forgot this, probably the single most important travel tip for traveling safely in india - head nodding. this one's tough in the beginning and until you've mastered head nodding, you will find you're getting loads of things you didn't realize you were asking for, and not getting lots of things you've tried desperately to procure. the moment i arrived to my hotel in pondicherry the bell boy asked me if i'd like something to drink. yes, i'll have a sweet lasi. he nods his head side to side, as if to indicate "no". i say, oh, i can't have a sweet lasi? yes madam, would madam like a sweet lasi? i say yes. he nods his head side to side. i reply, there are no sweet lasis? he nods his head side to side. would madam like a sweet lasi? (asked with all the patience of job) i reply, please bring me a sweet lasi. head nods side to side. i surrender. close the door. my sweet lasi arrives just a few minutes later. whew. so remember, head nodding side to side means . . . yes! 


i'm in india a week now and the softening is just beginning to really happen. the brittle shell of my carefulness and self-imposed separateness is dissolving. i'm beginning to enjoy myself, and india is beginning to share it's leela with me; the play of life. today, i found myself smiling, not to gain favor or to get anything, smiling just because i am happy. india is smiling back at me. as i arrived back at my hotels after my daily aryuvedic massage, the hotel manager was hiding my room key between his hands. as i asked for it, he revealed it like a magician with great playfulness and a big white toothy smile. after my shower i went down to the restaurant for my thali, only to find it too late for the lunch menu. my waiter suggested many other afternoon snacks, but nothing sounded good to me and the thali was not available . . . seconds later it appeared . . . the best thali i've ever had in my life. this time i was the one smiling from ear to ear, which brought me more and more and more thali until i was bursting at the seams and in my heart, surrounded by at least four smiling waiters as i ate. the more joy i feel, the more joy i see in every indian person i meet. it's something like that sonar. we're connected. there's only 4-6 centimeters between us all, at most, and when i allow myself to feel the joy of simple things, i find i'm not alone. i find myself basking in a joy that's shared by everyone in this big surge of life, in full force, in every direction. 


india. 


i feel like i've come home 

 





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