There are two ancient concepts – together they are believed to make up the essence of life. These concepts are Tantra and Sutra. Kama in Sanskrit just means ‘sex’. Tantric sex could therefore be called Kama Tantra, but people don’t usually call it that. (Warning: don’t go visit the website by that name unless you want to see lots of ads for sexy things not-tantra but definitely kama without the sutra!)
Tantra refers to the ‘loom’ and the principle of ‘weaving’ whereas Sutra’ refers to the principle of ‘thread’, ‘scripture’, or ‘teaching’. In ancient eastern religions such as Buddhism or Hinduism different religions favored one side or the other and this caused a lot of confusion throughout history.
Yoga, for example, as it is practiced today is a Sutra. You have one teacher in the front of a room shouting out postures aloud and a group of people moving into those postures. As he or she calls out the name of the posture the students move into the posture. As she is doing this the teacher is showing people what that posture is. For most people, yoga ends with the class and people return back to their normal lives. People spend years studying it – moving into various postures – and through practice they get better at it – but they RARELY move it further into Tantra. This is a shame.
In contrast, a Tantric yogi, closes his eyes and just moves and next thing you know he is standing on his head in a lotus posture! That’s the big difference! He’s not thinking about it – and what he does is never the same twice! Many modern teachers confuse this principle when describing Tantra. This is why Tantra is referred to my many as ‘The Lightning Path’ It is not really a path all but it is like lightning. You never know where it will strike and it never strikes the same place twice.
If you wanted to add Tantra to your Yoga, how would you do that? Simple. After you’ve learned your postures, clear out your mind and go talk a walk in the woods, beach or even in your own bedroom – anyplace where you can be alone and inspired. At first try to recall your yoga postures and move into them with your eyes closed. Each week practice this more. Then after a period of time just breathe and see if your body moves into those postures on its own without requiring your conscious remembrance.
Another example is the basket weaving. This is a traditional metaphor for undetanding Tantra. If you are weaving a basket, you use a lot of ‘threads’ or ‘sutras’ (literally teachings, scriptures or threads of knowledge when applied to concepts). The threads in and of themselves are not the basket. Nor is the basket the process of weaving. But yet you can’t have a basket without the elements of the thread and the skilled practitioner who DOES the weaving. But the practitioner is not the weaving – the practitioner is just trained in how to weave the threads into a basket.
You can take someone and teach them how to weave, but what if they don’t have the right materials?
You can also take someone and give them thread and instructions but will that make them a weaver? No.
You must give them the thread and show them how to weave and then through practice they will learn how to weave a basket. This is the distinction between Tantra and Sutra that even the most experienced ‘Tantra educations’ do not understand or if they do, they wouldn’t be calling what they do ‘Tantra’
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