by Octavio Salvado.
Where have all the role models gone? Where are the radiant examples of individuals showing us that success in the inner world does not have to obliterate success in the outer world, or vice versa? Tantra’s message is Simple. Both are possible.
Tantra is two things, a life affirming philosophy that views the world as a living expression of the sacred, plus a potent set of methods providing the exact means to experience this philosophy. The ultimate goal of Tantra is to live an extraordinary life, inner and outer both.
According to the tradition, this is achieved through the skillful and willful integration of three separate yet interconnected ideas: Bhoga (Fulfillment), Apavarga (Freedom) and Bhukti (Accomplishment).
In other words, to fulfill our ultimate potential as human beings we must delight in our human lives in a way that’s connected to our highest self and from that place breathe life into meaningful ideas that serve the world.
Bhoga is often defined as the desire for material, or worldly fulfillment. It speaks to the inherent desire to feel pleasure and enjoyment. There are many paths that deny this and try to suppress it.
Tantra sees it as an inescapable part of being human. It states that by meeting this desire with self-awareness, the glory of the soul can be experienced in daily life adding much richness and meaning to it.
Tantra does not support reckless or indulgent behavior. It does not support promiscuous sex, open-relationships, or recreational drug use. This is something we in the West have made up to give ourselves permission to sanctify our general lack of inner resolve. It is much easier to stay engaged in our lower tendencies when we pretend those tendencies are somehow ‘Yogic’.
For this reason, Tantra can be described as a kind of razor’s edge. Many Yogis fall from that edge, or slice themselves in the dance. The number of sexual lawsuits against ‘Gurus’ and international Yoga teachers is a sad and disgusting example of this.
Tantra invites us to enjoy the body and delight in the world from a place of unwavering spiritual discrimination. We should always be asking ourselves ‘who is driving the bus in this moment?’, because the soul will never steer us wrong. When we celebrate life in this way, we give credibility to Yoga, instead of dragging its name through the mud.
Desire, when well informed, is also a powerful tool for spiritual evolution. In fact, without a borderline obsessive desire to evolve beyond our limiting patterns, we simply won’t. The shakti, or power held within those limitations will continue to restrict our forward momentum like a riptide pulling us out to sea.
Apavarga means liberation from these lower tendencies and a subsequent anchorage to the higher Self. Although Tantra invites us to delight in the human world, it also provides an exact set of methods for transcending the limitations of the body and mind allowing us to experience absorption into that which transcends both.
Tantra does not view Bhoga and Apavarga as being in conflict with one another. Instead it views them as major aspects of living an integrated and extraordinary life. The weaving of our human ability to thrive in the world and our spiritual ability to live in constant remembrance of who we are represent two thirds of the tapestry. Yet there is one more crucial thread to living an exalted life – Bhukti.
Bhukti translates to ‘accomplishment’. Tantra does not support shying away from worldly success in the name of spirituality. When Krishna demands that Arjuna rise from the floor of his chariot and pick up his bow to fight, this is Bhukti.
Understanding our soul’s grandest vision and bringing that vision to life is at the core of Tantra? What is your hidden gift? And will achieving that goal bring more light, more healing, more meaning, knowledge and joy to the world? If the answer is yes, then you have a spiritual obligation to exhaust every last resource you have until that dream is a manifested reality. The Gita again reminds us, “Life and death are not nearly as important as HOW we live. In the end, only Dharma gives our lives meaning.”
Tantra is not for the fickle or faint of heart, it demands that we utilize all of our intrinsic power and self-knowledge to overcome struggle and undoubtedly the ambush of inner and outer criticism to accomplish great things in the world. In this way we both serve the world and honor our soul’s innate glory and magnificence.
Believe that both are possible; inner and outer success. If we are not experiencing this, then either we have misunderstood the teachings, our methodology is inadequate, or we are not investing enough effort into our study and practice. Either way, our destiny is where it has always been – in our own very capable hands.