Tantra: The Path of Ecstasy by Georg Feuerstein is a powerful read because it educates the Western reader about the true practice and philosophy of tantra. Feuerstein is not shy in busting myths and paints a very holistic picture of the philosophy. The fact that he dedicated an entire book to the subject indicates that he truly believed it had a powerful influence on Hinduism and Buddhism. He writes:
“The paucity of research and publication on the Tantric heritage of Hinduism has in recent years made room for a whole crop of ill-informed popular books on what I have called ‘Neo-Tantrism.’ Their reductionism is so extreme that a true initiate would barely recognize the Tantric heritage in these writings. The most common distortion is to present Tantra yoga as a mere discipline of ritualized or sacred sex. In the popular mind, Tantra has become equivalent to sex. Nothing could be further from the Truth!” (xiii)
So what is tantra?
Even after reading the book, I’m still discovering the heart of tantra. It’s definitely a complex philosophical system with unique practices and points-of-view. At the very essence, tantra does not make a distinction between the world we live in (samsara) and some space of enlightenment (nirvana):
“No longer are things seen as strictly separated from one another, as if they were insular realities in themselves, but everything is seen together, understood together, and lived together.” (44)
In other words, there is no where to go and there is no where and nothing to transcend because it’s all here right now even in all its suffering and ugliness. For these reasons, tantra approaches the body in a different way than several classical yogis:
“Tantra’s body-positive approach is the direct outcome of its integrative metaphysics according to which this world is not mere illusion but a manifestation of the supreme Reality. If the world is real, the body must be real as well. If the world is in essence divine, so much be the body. If we must honor the world as a creation or an aspect of the divine Power (shakti), we must likewise honor the body. The body is a piece of the world and, as we shall see, the world is a piece of the body. Or, rather, when we truly understand the body, we discover that it is the world, which in essence is divine.” (53)
If you haven't already done so, sign up here to receive my creative confidence playbook for women as well as the latest wisdom articles in your inbox (all free).