By Prem Nirav
Tantra is often understood as the web of life in which the Divine connects all beings and things—in this world and in all galaxies and universes, in manifestation and beyond. Tantra can allow us to integrate life into spirituality so that we live in peace and harmony with ourselves and those around us. In essence, Tantric rituals came about because certain teachers or gurus of vision found coincidences and correspondences between nature and themselves. Tantric rituals harness the elements of the Universe through the process of action.
All is Divine
Just as a scientist mixes ingredients to generate chemical reactions during an experiment, so too does a Tantric utilize different elements when performing a ritual.
For example, earth, herbs, ashes, fire, and water are common ingredients in Tantric rituals. In fact, a Tantric sees the entire Universe as a unified field of energy and recognizes that everything in it—living or not—has a field of energy around it and through it which we can tap into and harness. This understanding comes from the knowledge that the essence of everything is universal Divine Consciousness. From the stones on the ground to the trees in the forest, from insects to humans, everything has the spark of the Divine. So, Tantra and its rituals become a vast playground for the curious to discover all the divine qualities in the Universe and tap into these energies. Moreover, when we open this vision to devotion and the inter/transpersonal qualities of these energies, we find that these elements are those of divine entities that we can directly access.
Thus, much of what Tantric rituals have for us is in the worship of deities. Connecting with such universal beings helps bring about change and harmony in our lives. It helps clear the way so we can move forward on our spiritual path without facing seemingly endless distractions and obstructions. Tantra teaches us that we are already divine—as is everything in the Universe. It is only that our diamond has mud on it. So, we have to clean it to allow it to shine in its full splendor.
The Outward Reflects the Inner
The last element in Tantric ritual worth mentioning here is that the outward reflects the inward.
This means that when we perform a puja (act of worship) on a deity, this outward act is done for an inner purpose. A ritual performed in adoration of a deity (of a specific aspect or quality of nature) is actually directed towards that aspect of our inner selves. This is true for all Tantric rituals and helps us resonate with virtuous qualities such as vitality, healing, love, and harmony. It also helps us steer clear of difficult human qualities such as jealousy, envy, greed, and pride. In this way, ritual helps us resonate with positive qualities, as we have these energies “on our side,” and divine entities support us in keeping away the negative. Therefore, while we still need to walk the path towards enlightenment, we can do so unfettered by the difficulties of life.
Thus, our spiritual path can be harmoniously integrated into love and humility by linking the manifested with the non-manifested. For some people (perhaps many), it is a necessary modality towards their process of awakening. Perhaps the most important point is that as we become clearer vessels for love it is outwardly expressed as compassion. In becoming truly altruistic towards everyone and everything, there is a genuine, heartfelt understanding: the Divine in me recognizes the divine in you. Namaste.