Retracing Prakriti's Evolution back to Purusha
Purusha is often translated as "cosmic man" or "universal spirit."
In Tantra, as in Sankhya, Purusha represents pure consciousness, unchanging, infinite, and passive.
While Purusha is passive, it's also the essential witness of all experiences.
In Tantric technology, we recognize one's own consciousness as a reflection of the cosmic Purusha
can lead to profound experiences of unity with the divine.
Prakriti can be understood as nature or primal material energy.
It's dynamic, ever-changing, and responsible for the creation of the manifest universe.
Prakriti is the divine feminine power (often equated with Shakti) that dances to give form,
substance, and experience to the passive witness, Purusha.
In her myriad forms, Prakriti is the energy that our study of the Tantra works within through rituals and meditations.
The Kundalini Shakti, often sought to be awakened in Tantra, manifests this primal energy.
The interplay between Purusha and Prakriti is central to the Tantric experience and knowledge.
Seen as a cosmic dance between consciousness (Purusha) and energy (Prakriti).
This union results in the manifestation of the universe and all its phenomena.
Many of our Tantric practices, whether meditative, ritualistic, or otherwise,
aim to harmonize the energies of Purusha and Prakriti within the practitioner.
By understanding and experiencing their balance,
we as students of Tantra, aspire to expand beyond dualities, realize our own divine nature,
and potentially attain moksha or liberation.
"Mahat" translates to "great" or "universal."
It is the first principle to evolve from the unmanifest Prakriti.
It is cosmic or universal intelligence.
The macrocosmic intellect forms the basis for the microcosmic intellects in individual beings.
Mahat is an aspect of pure Sattva (harmony and purity),
and it's the principle of intelligence that governs the universe.
"Buddhi" can be understood as "intellect" or "understanding."
The individual's discriminative faculty can differentiate between the eternal (formless)
and the transient (form).
Depending on one's karma and experiences,
Buddhi can be influenced by
Sattva (purity), Rajas (activity), or Tamas (inertia).
A Buddhi dominated by Sattva is clear, insightful, and oriented toward truth,
while one dominated by tamas may be clouded, confused, or deluded.
In the practice of yoga, sharpening and purifying the Buddhi is crucial.
A clear Buddhi can discern the real from the unreal, leading to spiritual wisdom and liberation.
Ahankara is a foundational concept for us to know in the realm of Tantra and Yoga.
Derived from two Sanskrit words: "Aham," which means "I" or "self,"
and "kara," which denotes "maker" or "doer."
Taken together, "Ahankara" can be translated as "I-maker" or the principle of ego or individuality.
Based on the three gunas (fundamental qualities) of Sankhya philosophy,
Ahankara can manifest in three forms:
Sattvic Ahankara: The pure form, which identifies with the soul and inner truth.
Rajasic Ahankara: The active form, which identifies with actions and
drives desires, ambitions, and attachments.
Tamasic Ahankara: The inert form, which identifies with the body and material existence,
often leading to delusion and ignorance.
"Rajasic" is derived from "Rajas," one of the three gunas (fundamental qualities or attributes)
elucidated in Sankhya, Yoga, and Vedanta traditions.
The concept of the gunas provides a foundational understanding of
the nature of reality, matter, consciousness, and their interplay in these traditions.
Sattva: Represents purity, clarity, and harmony.
Rajas: Symbolizes activity, passion, and dynamism.
Tamas: Stands for inertia, darkness, and lethargy.
Sattva is purity, balance, light, clarity, and harmony.
It's the quality of tranquility, peace, and the inherent goodness of the soul.
Sattva through the lens of Tantra
Embracing All Qualities
Unlike other spiritual paths that might advocate for the exclusive cultivation of Sattvic qualities,
Tantra acknowledges the existence and importance of all three gunas.
Tantra often emphasizes the transformation of energies rather than their suppression.
This means that rather than trying to eliminate Rajas (activity) or Tamas (inertia),
Tantra seeks to transform and channel these energies for spiritual purposes.
The Role of Sattva
In Tantric practices, cultivating a Sattvic state can be an incredible tool.
A Sattvic mind is calm, clear, and reflective, merging well with more
expansive practices and realizations.
That said, Sattva, from the Tantric perspective,
isn't an end but rather a conducive state that supports deeper explorations.
Beyond the Gunas
Ultimately, the goal of our Tantric path could be to expand beyond all limitations,
including those of the gunas.
This means that while we might cultivate Sattva for certain practices or phases of our journey,
the ultimate aim is to go beyond Sattva, Rajas, and Tamas,
realizing the pure, unbounded consciousness, which is the essence of Tantra.
From the Vedic and Tantric perspectives, the cognitive senses,
commonly known as the "Jnanendriyas" (organs of perception or knowledge),
are crucial aspects of understanding human experience and the process of perception.
They allow individuals to interface with the world and gather sensory information.
Here's an exploration of the Jnanendriyas from these perspectives:
The ancient scriptures of India, particularly those aligned with the Sankhya philosophy
(like the Bhagavad Gita and some Upanishads), describe the Jnanendriyas as
Shrotra - Ear, responsible for hearing.
Chakshu - Eye, responsible for seeing.
Ghrana - Nose, responsible for smelling.
Rasana- Tongue, responsible for tasting.
Tvacha - Skin, responsible for touch or tactile sensation.
Each Jnanendriya interfaces with a particular "Tan Matra" (subtle element).
For instance, the eyes (Chakshu) interact with the subtle element of form/color (Rupa),
resulting in the experience of seeing.
While these senses are tools for gathering worldly knowledge,
they can also become gateways to higher knowledge when trained and refined through spiritual practices.
This idea is reinforced in texts like the Upanishads, where deeper,
spiritual "seeing" or "hearing" is often mentioned.
To progress spiritually, one must develop control over these cognitive senses,
preventing them from being easily swayed by external temptations.
This is a recurrent theme in scriptures like the Bhagavad Gita.
Embracing the Senses
Unlike some ascetic paths that might encourage complete withdrawal from sensory experiences,
our practice of Tantra emphasizes fully embracing the sensory experience as a pathway to the divine.
The world is not an illusion to be renounced but a manifestation of the divine to be engaged with.
Many Tantric rituals involve deliberately engaging the senses,
using sights (like Yantras), sounds (Mantras), touch (Mudras),
and even taste and smell to elevate consciousness.
In Tantra, we do not suppress the senses but practice transmuting sensory experiences.
By changing one's relationship to sensory inputs and deepening one's awareness,
what was once a mere sensory experience can become a profound spiritual insight.
In Tantra, we understand that Deities are associated with different senses.
For example, Goddess Kali's tongue sticking out can symbolize
the transformative power of taste and speech.
We also understand that each sense organ corresponds to specific
energetic centers or channels in the subtle body.
Engaging the senses can influence energy flow
(often referred to as Kundalini) through these centers.
In both Vedic and Tantric perspectives, while the cognitive senses are tools for worldly experience,
they also have the potential to be instruments of spiritual realization.
The key difference often lies in the approach:
Where the Vedic path might emphasize control and mastery over the senses,
Tantra emphasizes their transformation and elevation to access higher realms of consciousness.