Tantra: Theory and Practice

Introduction: exorcising the ghosts of science.

This paper aims to render the innermost mysteries of tantra coherent and sensible to a modern anglophone reader. The subject of tantra is one of great curiosity to the modern mind, however before we begin exploring it, we must first acknowledge that tāntric thought is a completely different system of knowledge, from how we as inhabitants of the 21st century are accustomed to thinking. Most of us now inhabit consciously or unconsciously a secular scientific modernist worldview. Since Darwin proved that humans descended from apes, it has not been possible for the western world to be religious in the same way it was before. The scientific worldview appears to us to be natural, that it somehow gives us a ‘true’ picture of reality. From this position one may easily slip into the fallacy of assuming that all other knowledge systems that don’t apparently coincide with the present state of scientific knowledge are all essentially false. Contrary to the disciplinary divisions in western knowledge of science, art and religion, one would have to emphatically assert that tantra is not a science, religion or art in the western sense of the terms. Rather, tantra is art, science and religion all at once. I would like to preface my discussion of tantric theory and method with a very brief discussion of the limits of science in particular and human discursive knowledge in general.[1] Continue reading

Women in Religion and the Birth of Patriarchy

In this note I want to compare the evolution of patriarchy in the abrahamic and brahmanical traditions and argue that religious assertions of male superiority were instrumental in creating the institution of property and constituted some of history’s earliest moments of primitive accumulation.
Further I will explain how the tantric tradition corrects certain critical flaws in the previous brahmanical tradition.
In a hunter gatherer culture there can be no property (or very little, limited to small movable objects). Whatever property exists is constantly undercut by the threat of violence. While it was possible for people to rob each other, accumulation of robbed property was difficult as these cultures survived by being light and mobile. Robbery developed from the same roots as hunting, both founded on the creation and use of weapons. As these robbers would get more successful they would eventually hit the pastoral stage when they began to rob and accumulate human and animal slaves. Once we make the move to the pastoral stage, there is a significant amount of property which needs to be controlled and herded. So then comes the question of who will inherit the herd ? Once settled agriculture begins the question of inheritance becomes one of critical importance. Continue reading