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Tantra, Tantric Yoga, or Kundalini Yoga is an ancient philosophy and practice linking sexuality and consciousness that has appeared in widely separated times and places. It has cropped up in different forms in India, Tibet. and Mexico as well as in the writings of the alchemists and mystical Christianity and in theosophy.
Its central idea which seems to have occurred independently to a large number of early thinkers and spiritual adventures is that the body contains a number usually seven of physio-psychic centers that may become suffused by a current of, quote sexual end quote, energy that leads to an expansion of consciousness or enlightenment. Although there is a lush variety of symbols in the various traditions, we can identify a common core of beliefs.
In Tantra, as in most forms of sophisticated mysticism, there is a fundamental belief that the human spirit and body are united with the cosmos. It can be stated in several ways:, as below comma so above; deeper in is further out; the microcosm reflects the microcosm; every level of hierarchy of being can be found within humans; the human mind is a hologram of the universe.
In the concrete symbolism of religion, this belief is frequently presented in a pictorial way of showing how the human spine with its seven ascending centers of energy, or chakras is analogous to the seven story cosmic mountain. Mount Meru, Mount Sinai, Mount Analogue. This mountain spine forms a world pole (axis mundi), uniting the lower realms (Hades, the unconscious), Middle Earth, (the everyday world of the ego) and the heavens (the ideal but unseen structures, powers, and presences that underlie and inform all visible reality). Each of the seven centers of the body vibrates with his cosmic counterpart. We tune into different levels of reality.
Physical/mental/spiritual illness results from any blockage that prevents us from communication or resonance. Health is being full bodied, allowing the entire range of cosmic rhythms and intentions to inhabit and harmonize the various physio-psycho-spiritual systems within the body. The story of how we move from disease to health is identical with the account of the ascent of consciousness and the metamorphosis of heroes. We become home by becoming citizens of each of the seven kingdoms of love.
The tantric consensus is that there is a single primal energy, spirit consciousness that flows through all of the time of cosmos and informs each person the path of maturation, enlightenment or transformation involves allowing this power which is called Kundalini or serpent power in the east, to rise up the spine and infuse each of the centers in tantric imagery. The food that nourishes the nervous system during the elevation of consciousness is the seminal fluid in men and the erotic fluids and the sexual fluid streams of the hollow channel in the middle of the spine, (the sushumna), and floods each of the chakras until it reaches the brain, at which point enlightenment occurs with the accompanying ecstasy as a concentrated energy (called variously prana chi Holy Spirit, libido or orgone), passes through the chakras it purifies the body and mind and reunite sexuality and spirituality.
Among some scholars and esoteric experience, there is a tendency to take the symbolism so literally that it makes nonsense out of Tantra. Much of the interpretive literature discusses quite seriously whether there really is a channel in the spine through which sexual fluid might arise. Such literalism misses the point. The most valuable thing we may learn from tantric symbolism is a vision of how heroes may be transformed of how sexuality matures, of how desire expands, of how motivation changes in the course of an authentic life journey.
Consider for instance, the symbolic meaning in the image of the sexual fluid as a fuel of consciousness. It is a fact of science as well as an abiding mystery that the intention and history of the entire evolutionary processes carried in the genes and chromosomes that flow together with the union of sperm and ovum, whatever nature or God is trying to create the this long drama of evolution is implicit in our drive to reproduce the sexual organs do respond to the entire symphony of being, there is an intentionality at low C purpose a meaning a direction encoded within a request for pleasure.
If we understand eros in its fullest sense, we may discover in sexual experience an impulse that may guide us in the unfoldment of consciousness. Perhaps our deepening desire is our surest path towards the sacred. Why should it be so startling to suggest that the Cortex, a late comer in the evolutionary story, might eventually fully understand the cosmic intention that is programmed into the sexual fluids? (Might the image of the kundalini serpent winding its way up the spine being intuitive prefiguration of the helix of the DNA?)
We make best use of tantra if we play with its symbolism. I suggest that the seven chakras are symbols of different stages of life and the philosophies and erotic practices that accompany them. The Kundalini symbolism is an early development psychology. Each chakra represents an orientation to life that is appropriate to a certain stage of the pilgrimage of the psyche. These stages in their correlation to the progression of consciousness and the transformations of the ego suggested in this work are as follows: