Shiva-Shakti Tantra, The Yoga of Presence
Tantra is the spiritual teaching that is the backbone of our yogic practice. It is an art and science dedicated to removing our perception of separation between the objective world of our individual identity and the subjective world of Spirit. Tantra is a Sanskrit word that has many distinct but basically related meanings. On the mundane level it means “web” or the “woof” of a weaving. More esoterically, the name Tantra means that which expands the knowledge bringing us into closer harmony with the source of creation—Shiva—and the power of its manifestation—Shakti. “Tan” means to expand, awakening the connection to the goodness of life; “tra” means anything used to accomplish this expanse and heart opening. As such our tantric practice is to use the power of manifestation to know the oneness of all things created by a supreme consciousness as it dances to the pulse of its own outpouring creativity.
This life-affirming philosophy compels us to be fully present in the moment, and as such, to create an intimate relationship with the reality we are experiencing. The Shiva-Shakti Tantra embraced by Anusara Yoga compels us to explore its many facets with an unceasing child-like wonder and delight so as to create spontaneity, freedom and ease. It is a spiritual path for householders to follow—as opposed to renunciates—that teaches liberation in life, not from it, that there is no mistake in the conditions of our life, but rather, opportunities for revelation, self-discovery and refinement. We are invited to be present in all aspects of life as a way to flow with the divine pulse of nature’s power—Shakti—and expand our awareness of our union with Supreme Consciousness—Shiva. It is all about every-day living and how we bring wonder and passion into our lives as an expression of an unfolding awareness of our own divinity and a sense of delight in the here-and-now.
The following is an abbreviated list of the key teachings behind Tantra and our yoga practice. These points have been gleaned from the books Desire, The Tantric Path to Awakening, by Daniel Odier; Tantra, The Path of Ecstasy, by George Feuerstein; The Doctrine of Vibration, An Analysis of the Doctrines and Practices of Kashmir Shaivism, by Mark Dyczkowski; as well as from the teachings I have received in person from my teachers John Friend and Paul Muller-Ortega. The practice is all about being present to the totality of life as an ecstatic and vibrating manifestation of Shiva-Shakti consciousness pulsing with the expansive vitality of creation. It is about awakening to our highest identity as part of the Divine; it teaches us to shift our self-perception from the limited isolated self to the unlimited highest Self flowing within, around and from us.
- Consciousness is absolute nature, it is the source, the objects of creation and a supreme force that not only permeates everything but also precedes it; it is uncontained and absolute freedom. Our practice is to aim for full awareness of this consciousness and maintain an unceasing presence to how we are intimately connected to it through all aspects of our life. This is the artistic dance of being present to reality and our role as co-creators in it.
- Tantric Yoga is the seeking of liberation by overcoming contracting views of our true nature which block and limit our creative potentiality. As we seek spontaneous freedom, harmony and grace grow within us and are expressed from the inside out. The contractions eventually are perceived as tools for liberation, and though they initially may be painful, processing through them has great rewards by enlivening our senses and capacity to feel.
- There is an ever-present consciousness that tremors with a vibration in all things (Spanda); it emanates and renews the world. Explore your true nature that is this consciousness with “naked awareness”, a non-clinging openness that is neither grasping nor rejecting the objects of the senses.
- Live in intimacy with the Self—the presence of spirit in all aspects of being—and the heart will vibrate in harmony with the Absolute.
- Accept the body wholly. It is more than its physical image, it is spaciousness beyond limits. We are given a body for the process of reintegrating our physicality, mental body, emotions and spirit nature all into one harmonious being, and as such come to know ourselves as so much more than any one aspect. Our body and life circumstances are a gift.
- Live as though each and every contact of the senses with the world is an unending love affair. It is all about letting consciousness emerge in the body in a more and more refined way, and about being in tune with the world according to one’s desire, creativity and love.
- The true nature of desire is to disappear in the intensity of its search. Desire is a force that can flow from our hearts in a continuous stream and shower over reality. It is the “I Am” of being which is the sole delight of the divine made manifest. As such, we can strive to create a perception that holds “I am the source of desire, I am its path through space, I am its outcome.” With this effort we may come to realize that everything is alive with the same consciousness that created myself. It is one tremoring vibration of this reality and I am an intimately part of it.
- Discover your own completeness. There is nothing that is not Tantric, or the process of expanding wisdom and consciousness awareness. Each time that you are what you are doing, what you are feeling, what you are perceiving, you are practicing the yoga of Shiva-Shakti Tantra.
- Don’t cut off anything that makes you human; reunite the totality of the person by being present to reality and taking it to its highest level. Tantra is a path with neither negation nor transcendence. Our desire and passion is to find absolute freedom, love and plentitude without being bound, so be mindful of what binds you and what sets you free.
- Experience liberation within the ordinariness of the everyday for it is an expression of the divine. Nothing is trivial anymore, consciousness is in everything, and as such, everything is the source of our fulfillment. Our passion and desire become expansive and all-embracing as we release our dependence on their fulfillment from a singular source.
- Finding fulfillment in the enjoyment of the mundane throughout the day is the source of freedom from object-dependant desire. Let activity flow from consciousness as it extends out from your authentic self and finds pleasure in being present to the world. The most banal and ordinary things within your every-day experience can be the greatest source for achieving peace. They have the potential for building your sense of connectivity to the world around you and the pulsing vibration that brings it into manifestation.