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..:: Tantra II ::..

"The Right Hand Path"

By

Alan Schneider

 

            The Right Hand Path of Tantra is the true method of attaining Ascension in the Spirit through the practice of the Yoga lifestyle. In order for this path to be understood, Yoga itself must be understood, not merely as a methodology of physical practice, but as a methodology of spiritual transformation.  

            Arguably the first record of Yogic practice is Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, probably composed in the sixth century B.C.  This is the source of the “Eight Limbs”, or methods, that define the Yoga lifestyle. These are: 

            1)  Yamas – moral restraints consisting of nonharming, truthfulness, nonstealing, chastity, and greedlessness. 

            2) Niyamas – s – self restraints consisting of internal and external purity, contentment, austerity, study, and devotion to God. 

            3)  Asanas – postures which are specifically designed to render the practitioner resistant to the effects of dualistic thought processes and physical expressions.

            4)   Pranayama – breathing techniques designed to focus consciousness, produce vitality, and extend life. 

           5)   Pratyahara – suppression of sensory responses to stimuli, thereby supporting detachment from the material condition. 

            6)  Dharana – concentration on a selected spiritual object or process to the exclusion of everything else in the environment, thereby enabling recognition of spiritual manifestation. 

            7) Dhyana – transcendent meditation characterized by unification of consciousness. 

            8)  Samadhi – spiritual ecstasy experienced in the state of complete non-dual awareness of God. 

            The Sharada-Tilaka-Tantra (a Right Hand text) adds to the Eight Limbs in certain key areas: 

            1)  Yamas – additionally include compassion, rectitude, patience, stability, and moderate consumption, and replaces greedlessness with cleanliness.  

            2)  Niyamas – additionally include sacred tradition, charity, worship, acceptance of the holy teachings, modesty, discernment, mantra recitation, and ritual offerings.  

            3)   Asanas – particular stress placed on the cross-legged Lotus Posture for spiritual attainment and practice. 

            4)    Dhyana – focused meditation on a specific Deity. 

            5)   Samadhi – deep contemplation of the unitary identity of the personal mind (ego) and God. 

            The discerning reader may note here that the Tantric additions to the Eight Limbs tend to render Patanjali’s system more ritualistically determined by incorporating elements that, taken as a whole, are much more literal in their scope and application. The original tenets of the Eight Limbs could be practiced by a spiritual hermit living in isolation in the jungle quite effectively – the Tantric additions are social modifications geared toward group involvement and practice, making them ideal for a temple or ashram environment.  This hints at a fundamental shift in emphasis from a small group of relatively isolated practitioners to large numbers of students in popularized social settings. Tantra was streamlined Yoga for the “masses”, as opposed to the privileged classes. It is perhaps not surprising that this interpretation eventually progressed to the Left Hand Path of direct sexual involvement and expression – an ultimate statement of mass appeal, but so diluted with prurient interest that its effectiveness as a spiritual practice became very questionable. 

            The focus of spiritual development in both Right Hand Tantra and Kundalini Yoga has remained spiritual ascension. Some more detailed observations regarding this process would be in order at this time – the following discussion will provide this  additional information to the reader.  bsp;

            The Kundalini has been characterized as residing in a dormant form in the First Chakra, Muladhara. (2) The conditions that will activate this dormant condition into manifestation are still not well understood today. Certain kinds of spiritual or environmental stress are almost unquestionably involved. Environmental stress here includes psychological factors as well as financial, social, or physical ones. The spiritual factor is frequently the discovery within the individual consciousness of a void of meaning affecting many areas of life – such a void is generally quite uncomfortable and generates an ongoing search for “the solution” to this troubling condition.  Personal Karma  is also felt to be a factor by many “authorities” (i.e. Seers, Gurus, and Yogis) – we tend to awaken to the Kundalini when we are in Karmic readiness for the experience, having passed through the required sequence of sufferings in previous incarnations to have attained the requisite level of awareness for Kundalini functionality. The practice of any Yoga may be a factor – the  intentional (or inadvertent) stimulation of Muladhara by certain Asanas can awaken the Kundalini. A trauma occurring at a critical stage in life can also supply the needed jolt to achieve the activation event. What this all boils down to is that God knows when we are ready to begin the journey back home, the journey of Ascension, and sends us His message at that time through the Kundalini activation event in whatever form it may take. 

            Once the Kundalini becomes active in Muladhara, it must first subsume, or assimilate that psychic center. The initial stage in this process is the ongoing practice of the Asanas used by any school of Yoga. The purpose of postural Yoga of any variety is to render the physical form suitable as a spiritual vehicle for the Atman, or Soul (in more familiar Western terms) as it rediscovers God as its source. This assimilation process at the level of Muladhara can be quite intense, requiring changes of employment, relationships, and religious venues to bring the material characteristics of the practitioner’s life into a sufficiently “auspicious” configuration supporting further spiritual growth. It is at this level that the considerations of Patanjali’s Yoga lifestyle become pertinent to the student as guidelines for ongoing progress. 

            As the Kundalini “rises” (nominally along the spinal column), the next psychic center to be encountered is Svadisthana, customarily associated with the genitalia, and the physical pleasure experienced in the sex act. It is at this level that Tantra can so often become fixated on Left Hand practice, temporarily stalling the progress of the Kundalini Energy along the Right Hand path. Human beings are frequently prone to this diversion, particularly in their youthful years, and may choose to follow the Path of the Householder as defined in traditional Hindu culture, by marrying and raising a family, thus placing Yoga in a lower priority. It is a significant part of the collective human Karma to produce offspring – Hinduism even holds this as one of our most sacred obligations – and, in the material sense, is the obvious evolutionary motive for our dual sexual manifestation. However, I must observe here that, once the Kundalini is activated and begins rising, the process can neither really be reversed, nor halted indefinitely, and will inevitably resume “Shakti’s Journey”. This also is our Karma, and the return to God is Mahadharma – our most important and sacred action in life, the motive for all existence. The attainment of Samadhi and God-Realization is the ultimate human achievement, and definitive spiritual goal during incarnation. 

            So it is that Svadisthana can and will be assimilated eventually, and this assimilation will be expressed in Right Hand practice, however enthralled with the Left Hand we may have been. Once this has taken place, an enormous amount of Kundalini is made available for the subsequent journey to Manipura and the Higher Chakras. 

            Manipura is the center associated with the naval point, and considered to be the focus of the “vital fires” of the organism, including the processes of digestion, absorption, and excretion, and that most significant “vital fire” seen in social operations in the world of Maya. It is here that we seek power and prestige in this final expression of the worldly illusion – external human society and culture. The individual who has mastered and assimilated Svadisthana will be profoundly empowered to operate to great advantage in Manipura, becoming a social leader as a captain of industry, a spiritual pundit, business manager, or civic authority of the community, the nation, or the world. At this stage of manifestation, the Inner Light of the individual has frequently become apparent to the others surrounding him or her as personal charisma that can be very captivating. However, an issue here is that this condition also appeals to the to the ego as an opportunity for social manipulation, and the Kundalini can be stalled and/or diverted to that end in Manipura. The result is the advent of a false leader who is really only motivated by personal gain – not Ascension. There are many, many accounts in the annals of Hinduism of even Gurus who fall prey to this phenomenon, callously exploiting their devotees for every manner of material advantage by the inappropriate use of their personal magnetism. As the ancient saying says ”Pride goeth before the Fall”, and megalomaniac power-hunger is the deepest pit of all! Let the Seeker be warned... 

            When and if the spiritual pitfalls associated with Manipura are successfully negotiated by the practitioner – by maintaining a humble, self-effacing, and reverent attitude toward all of creation – the Great Leap into the first genuinely transcendental center is possible – entry into the consciousness of Anahata, the Heart Chakra. It is at this point that the real work of spiritual growth associated with the ascending Kundalini Energy takes place, as we learn the most difficult lesson of compassion for all of the sentient creatures in this life of struggle and suffering – the Veil of Tears so often referred to in the Western spiritual tradition. And so often, it is... 

            At the Heart Center, we begin to experience genuine concern for the other beings of flesh around us, along with the awareness that we all are struggling with many of the same demons in this life – loneliness, ill-health, rejection, perhaps poverty, perhaps addiction, perhaps despair, and that this is the collective burden of everyone, not solely the afflicted. It is at the level of Anahata that we learn to reach out to each other, possibly for the sake of soliciting assistance, but much more significantly, to offer assistance as well. Anahata teaches us that we are all brethren in the spirit, and that unselfish love is the most beautiful condition that anyone can ever experience in this life. 

            The lives of all the real Saints and Sages are literal statements of the power of the Heart in human affairs when it has been opened by the Kundalini, allowing it to blossom into the magnificent structure that God intended it to be. Hinduism teaches that the Atman – the Soul – begins in the Heart, and radiates outward from there to the whole world. At least in the case of the Sage, pure consciousness and innocence of motive are displayed in all personal actions, and hopefully these traits will also be displayed in the actions of others who seek Enlightenment as well. The open Heart is the first step to be taken toward all of the following Chakras, as higher consciousness becomes a living reality. One simply cannot say enough about the importance of this center – it is the spiritual pivot upon which existence rests and rotates. 

            If the Heart Chakra can be successfully opened by the practice of the moral principals of Yoga in this life, then the gateway is opened to all that is to follow – Vishudda, the Throat Chakra, Ajna, the Brow Chakra, and finally the Gem of Consciousness, Sahasrara, the Golden Throne of God. Let us briefly touch upon these three Superlative Centers. 

            Vishudda is associated with mantra chanting as the preferred method of demonstrating love for God, but this activity extends to all spiritual communication, including the spoken, and written word devoted to the sacred task of Enlightenment. The first expression of existence in Hindu cosmology was a vibration that subsequently expressed all of creation – the syllable OM. This is not merely a sonic vibration, but a visual and existential one as well. OM expresses the totality of existence to the person ascended enough to perceive its manifestation in the cosmos.  

            When the Ascending Kundalini reaches Ajna, opening that Chakra, the vision of the Holy Radiance is attained. The working process here is that of Yantra, or visual representations of the Divine Manifestation. This includes the many versions of the Chakras in all of the Hindu traditions, the extensive and varied depictions of Gods and Goddesses, Angels, and Saints around the world, and many more specialized designs constructed to define the Action and Presence of God manifesting on the material plane. Of these latter, the Sri Yantra is perhaps the best known example. In this depiction, the Holy Presence is shown as a complex pattern of interlocking triangles radiating forth from a central point as the expression of God accomplishing Creation through OM as the vibratory medium! The most important thing to remember about Ajna is that it is considered the essence of the Third Eye in Hinduism, an Eye that is all seeing because it looks into the Soul and witnesses God thereby. So we could say that Sahasrara can be “seen” through Ajna, using the Kundalini Energy to empower perception. 

            There is a difference of opinion among the aforementioned “authorities” regarding the last, and final step in the Ascension process. Some of the Seers claim that the Kundalini itself is powerful enough to carry the practitioner beyond the confines of his body into Sahasrara, located as it is above the head. Others say that the process stops at Ajna, where we must wait until we are sufficiently ego-free (in other words, capable of experiencing non-dual awareness) to be deemed worthy of the Presence of God, whereon eon He will come to us as the Manifestation of  Love at the Ground of all Being. I personally feel that this latter is the case – God must take us on the last stage of the journey, and will when we are ready. He knew when we were ready to begin the Kundalini consciousness journey, and He knows when we are ready to finish it. 

            The great Bengali Avatar Ramakrishna once observed that all faiths are equally valid as expressions of God. (1) The general consensus of interpretation regarding this comment is that the sincerity of the practitioner is the key to the outcome of any religious practice, and particularly the application of Ascension techniques. It is quite possible to achieve the Hindu level of Samadhi in any other tradition by the persistent individual who affirms a sacred life through daily practice and devotion to God. The author has encountered accounts of comparable states of religious ecstasy to Samadhi in Sufi, Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Daoist, Native American, ancient and modern tribal South American and African, and Zoroastrian traditions, to name a few. In every case, it was the sincerity of devotion and strength of faith that enabled the phenomenon to manifest. Hinduism simply has a long standing tradition of this type of transcendental experience of God as a major tenet of faith, and this generates a uniquely supportive cultural environment for spiritual exploration. 

            Another faith that has a similar capability to produce Ascension, although not necessarily as a primary foundation piece in its belief structure, is Judaism. The Jewish mystical tradition is referred to as Cabala (one of several alternative spellings), and has as its fundamental image, or Yantra, the Tree of Life diagram. I have achieved Ascension using this system, a Native American system of nature images, and Buddhist meditation techniques on three separate occasions in my life, but the last occurrence was Cabalistic, and the most complete. This took place in 1997 in Arizona, and was identified as a Kundalini process by my spiritual guide at the time, although I was working heavily with Cabala trance manifestation on that occasion. It is quite probable that the correct set of spiritual symbols (or archetypes, as Carl Jung called them) will produce Samadhi in conjunction with a supportive practice in any faith, even in the case of a wholly personal faith having no social underpinning whatsoever. Now, what that set of symbols will be for a given practitioner may be a quite esoteric consideration, but not at all beyond the realm of discovery for the determined investigator. 

            The symbolic key in my case was the Tetragrammeton, the so-called Unpronounceable Name of God, nominally portrayed as YHVH in the related literature. Over a period of some months, I had been studying this expression with the intention of learning as much as possible about the Name, its spiritual history, and the potential effects of expressing It in some form on the consciousness of the practitioner – myself in this case. This investigation included several intervals of meditation on the sequence of letters involved, including Mantra chanting using that same sequence. What I now know is that the outcome of all of these procedures was cumulative over the period in question, and was building up what was certainly at the very least a Kundalini-like potential, predominantly in my personal unconscious. The eventual result was the spontaneous release of that potential in the form of a full Ascension experience over my Christmas vacation in 1997. 

            What was God like as a personal presence, rather than an abstract concept? The Presence that I contacted was almost exactly like the depiction of the Chakra Sahasrara in appearance, with the exception that what I saw was a Being composed of living light, not static material. After passing through a series of preliminary visions that I now understand were examinations of my consciousness on successively more subtle levels, the world of form simply dissolved, revealing the splendor of the Thousand Petaled Lotus – Sahasrara – floating in the Primal Void. This “structure” was the sole occupant of the Void, and seemed to be expanded to cosmic proportions in all directions, but still was paradoxically perceptible from my perspective. There was still some sense of dimensionality present, and I had a perception of the expanse of Sahasrara as I drifted toward it, drawn by some type of attractive force. Although I had no sense of my body, I nonetheless had a profound sense of observation through vision at this stage of the experience – Sahasrara was an immense manifestation that dominated my entire state of being, whatever that state may have been. 

            As I literally floated through the Petals of Light surrounding the Lotus, I had the unmistakable impression of contacting the Angels of the Heavenly Host as intelligent forms of expression, of literally passing through their Individual Minds as I traveled along, drawing ever closer to the Heart of the Lotus of Divine Manifestation. I heard an indescribably beautiful chorus of thousands of adoring voices singing in Praise of God in an Angelic language that I did not recognize, but still somehow understood. The Heart of the Lotus I was approaching was the Essence of God, located at the very center of Sahasrara, and appeared as a ball of intense white light, surrounded by a golden halo – a really incredibly beautiful vision of the Divine. After passing through the Host of Light, I was dissolved into some kind of essential consciousness, a consciousness of innocence and grace, and was absorbed into the Heart of the Lotus, literally drawn into the Mind of God, and allowed to experience the Pure Divine Essence therein. 

            That essence was the most profound expression of unconditional Love and acceptance that I have ever experienced. I was completely enveloped in a field of White Light and Absolute Love that seemed to extend forever everywhere. It was the most incredible, delightful, blissful condition imaginable! It was grace and peace beyond all grace and peace – the unequivocal state of the non-dual manifestation of Love and Light. I have never known such utter and complete joy and contentment as that which I experienced in the Presence of God – it was the Ananda, the Bliss, of Samadhi, as Shakti finally reunited with Her beloved husband in Heaven.  

            I floated in that state for an indeterminate length of time – if it could be said that I was experiencing time at all – before passing briefly into another state of consciousness that was like ike no-consciousness-at-all – the Primal Void – and then found myself standing in my living room on Christmas morning! And all of this incredible sequence of higher and higher perceptions of greater and greater profundity of expression began with a meditation focused on YHVH on Christmas vacation! Such is the power of the Name. Believe me, I know there is a God...  

            So it is that, by following what were essentially Yogic and Right Hand Tantric practices which activated the Kundalini Energy, I was able to stand in the Holy Presence and experience full Ascension into the Light. I believe that this Light is of the same quality and significance for all human beings everywhere, and always will be, and that we can have access to the Source of All Love and Light by practicing love and compassion among each other while still present in the carnate form  here on the material plane of expression. All it takes is a little faith and a lot of determination!


                                          
- With Love, Alan -

                                  (CR2007, Alan Schneider)

 

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