Tantra: A Technology for Transformation

Reference: Inner Engineering: A Yogi’s Guide to Joy by Sadhguru

The following is an excerpt from the above book by Sadhguru:

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Tantra: A Technology for Transformation

Today, there are many practices associated with the occult sciences masquerading as spiritual processes.

Let us say I am in India and you are in America. I want to send you a flower, but I am not willing to take the journey that Columbus took. If I make this flower suddenly land in your lap, this is occult. There is nothing spiritual about it; it is just another way of handling the physical dimension of life.

In India, we have many sophisticated occult processes. There are people who can just look at a photograph and make or break a person’s life. They could ensure that the person contracts some ailment that the body could not customarily have acquired in such a short span of time. These occult practitioners can also create health, but unfortunately many of them use their ability in other ways, as there seems to be a better market for these negative talents. In any case, whether it is employed for ill health or good health is beside the point. The use of occult toward any self-oriented goal is inadvisable.

The yogic tradition is filled with stories of the great yogi Gorakhnath. Some say he lived in the eleventh century, but there are many accounts that date him much earlier. He was a disciple of Matsyendranath, an illustrious yogi in his own right. Such was his level of attainment that Matsyendranath was often venerated as a reincarnation of Shiva or Adiyogi. The lore tells us that Matsyendranath lived for about six hundred years. This need not be accepted literally or discarded as hagiography either. It essentially indicates an exceptionally long life span and the tremendous awe with which this iconic figure was regarded.

Gorakhnath became his disciple, and he adored and worshipped his master. Gorakhnath was all fire and intensity. Matsyendranath saw too much fire in him, and not enough restraint. Fire burns through many things, so Gorakhnath started burning through the walls of ignorance, and suddenly he had enormous power. Matsyendranath saw that he was running a little ahead of himself, so he told him, “Go away for fourteen years. Don’t stay near me. You are imbibing too much from me.”

This was the hardest thing for Gorakhnath to do. If Matsyendranath had said, “Give up your life,” he would have done it at once. “Go away” was something he could not bear. But since that was what his beloved master demanded of him, he went away.

For fourteen years, he counted the days and hours, waiting for the moment when he could return. The moment the period was over, he came rushing back. When he came, he found a disciple guarding the cave where Matsyendranath lived. Gorakhnath said, “I want to see my master!”

The yogi who was guarding the cave said, “I have no such instructions, so you had better wait.”

Gorakhnath flared up. He said, “I’ve waited for fourteen years, you fool! I don’t know when you came here. Maybe you came here the day before yesterday. How dare you stop me!”

He pushed him aside and went into the cave. Matsyendranath was not there. Gorakhnath came back and shook the disciple and said, “Where is he? I want to see my master now!”

The disciple said, “I have no instructions to tell you where he is.”

Gorakhnath could not contain himself. He used his occult powers, looked into the disciple’s mind, and identified where Matsyendranath was. He then started heading in that direction. His guru was waiting for him halfway.

Matsyendranath said, “I sent you away for fourteen years, because you were beginning to become occult-oriented. You were losing sight of the spiritual process and beginning to enjoy the power that it gave you. When you come back, the first thing that you do is use occult to open up your brother disciple’s mind. Another fourteen years for you.”

And so he sent him away again.

There are many stories about Gorakhnath making forays into this forbidden realm, and Matsyendranath punishing him again and again. At the same time, Gorakhnath evolved finally into the greatest disciple that Matsyendranath ever produced.

This is how the practice of occult in has always been treated in the yogic culture. It was never treated with respect. It was seen as a way of misusing life, of encroaching into areas where you should not. It was practiced only by certain types of people obsessed with power or money.

At the same time, occult is not always a negative thing. It has earned this reputation through misuse. Occult is essentially a technology. No science or technology is intrinsically negative. If we start using technology to kill or torture people, then after some time we think, “Enough of this damn technology!” That is what has happened to occult. Too many people misused it for personal benefit. So, generally on the spiritual path, occult is shunned.

What is often referred to as occult is broadly what we know as tantra. In the current understanding in society, tantra is about using very unorthodox or socially unacceptable methods. But in its classical sense, tantra simply means “technology.” It has nothing to do with unbridled sexuality. It is important to make a clear distinction between the occult kind of tantra and spiritual tantra. These two were divided as “left- hand tantra” and “right-hand tantra,” and are completely different in nature.

Left-hand tantra involves various rituals which may seem weirder than weird to many. The left hand is very external; you need materials and elaborate arrangements to make it happen. Occult practices, generally referred to as left-hand tantra, gave people powers to communicate across distances, to appear in two different places at the same time, and use energies to their own benefit and to the detriment of others. Right-hand tantra is more internal; it is about enabling you to use your energies to make things happen. You use all the simple aspects of life as a subjective science to turn inward and do something with yourself. The left-hand tantra is a rudimentary technology and more available to the uninitiated, while the right-hand tantra is highly refined and only available through powerful initiations.

Tantra is a certain capability; without it there is no spiritual process. If you have no tantra in you, you have no technology to transform people; all you have are words. Words can be inspirational and directional, but not transformative. A scholar cannot be labeled a guru. Without a technology for transformation there is no master. So there is no guru without tantra. Today there are too many people claiming to be gurus, but all they are doing is rehashing the scriptures. A true guru’s work is to overhaul the entire human mechanism from acquired cyclical patterns of karma toward its ultimate possibility. It is like a mechanic’s job, removing karmic warts! If there is no tantra or technology in him, you cannot call that person a guru.

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Comments

  • vinaire  On April 20, 2021 at 11:12 AM

    Tantra: A Technology for Transformation

    (133) Occult practitioners can create ill health or good health by mysterious means.
    (134) Occult is just another way of handling the physical dimension of life; there is nothing spiritual about it.
    (135) The use of occult toward any self-oriented goal is inadvisable.

    NOTE: Hypnotism may qualify as an occult practice.

    (136) Occult is essentially a technology. It is shunned because it has been often misused.
    (137) Occult practices, generally referred to as left-hand tantra, gave people powers to communicate across distances, to appear in two different places at the same time, and use energies to their own benefit and to the detriment of others.
    (138) Right-hand tantra is more internal; it is about enabling you to use your energies to make things happen. You use all the simple aspects of life as a subjective science to turn inward and do something with yourself. It is highly refined.

    (139) Tantra is a certain capability; it is a technology to transform people; without it there is no spiritual process.
    (140) Without a technology for transformation there is no guru; a scholar cannot be labeled a guru.
    (141) A true guru’s work is to overhaul the entire human mechanism from acquired cyclical patterns of karma toward its ultimate possibility.

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