15 Oct 2015

Where Sound Meets Vibration: the Meaning of ‘Tantra’


A while back I wrote a short blog on the what Tantra is and isn’t, and I’d intended several follow-up essays of my own on the subject. The reason those have been slow in coming is that I have been immersed in studying and meditating and trying to understand it all myself. I don’t claim to be an expert on anything, but more like a voracious reader of everything I can get my hands on about a topic that intrigues me. With ‘Tantra’ it can be hard to find authentic and focused writings in English, though many more resources have become available over just the last few years. So, what I will do, instead of attempting to re-write the wheel (excuse the mixed metaphor!), is to share segments of what I am reading with you.

For today, here is a segment from Jonathan and Andi Goldman’s book Chakra Frequencies: Tantra of Sound, where they define the word ‘tantra’ and place it in context with their study of where sacred sound meets the modern scientific understanding of vibration.


The Meaning of Tantra

chakra-tree-with-rootsTantra is Sanskrit, the ancient language of the Hindu tradition. As in other sacred languages such as Hebrew or Tibetan, there is frequently no one single meaning that can be applied in translation. Thus tantra is often translated as ‘continuum’ or ‘unbroken seam’ and indicates a flow of consciousness from ignorance to enlightenment. The world also translates as ‘web’ or ‘warp’ and encompasses all that is. Tantra represents the interconnecting energies between all things in this and other planes of existence. Other words used to describe tantra are: leading principle, essential part, model, system, framework, doctrine, rule, theory, scientific work, order, chief part, authority, science, mystic works, magical formulas, means, expedient, stratagem, and medicine.

The etymology of tantra points to the combination of two words – tattva and mantra. Tattva is the science of cosmic principles, while mantra refers to the science of mystic sound and vibrations. In the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, tantra is sometimes referred to as ‘Secret Mantra’. This may be to distinguish it from Western concepts of neotantra. A definition of ‘Secret Mantra’ from the Tibetan Buddhist standpoint is as follows: ‘Secret’ indicates that these methods should be practiced privately; ‘mantra’ means ‘protection for the mind’ and often utilizes sacred sound to provide this. Thus the function of ‘Secret Mantra’ [or, Tantra] is to enable us through the use of sound to progress swiftly through the stages of the spiritual path by protecting our mind against ordinary conceptions.

AlexGrey11ChakraIndeed, one of the highest levels of tantric practice involves resonating and harmonizing oneself with sound. This is done in order to enhance and energize our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual essences. Hindu and Tibetan Buddhist tantra both stress the power of sound. Sound, in fact, is the basis of much tantra – through working with advanced sound techniques, tantric practitioners are able to harmonize themselves in body, mind, and spirit.



8 Oct 2015

Kashmir Shaivism & Tantra


The following is an excerpt from the 2011 imprint of Freedom from the Web of Karma by Acharya Premananda (Swami Ganeshananda). It’s from the introduction written by Magne Bråten:


Kashmir Shaivism is a central philosophy of Tantra. In my view, it presents the best description of how everything hangs together, and it is a manual on how to have direct spiritual experience without having to blindly believe in every word that is written. It also describes much of what modern science has discovered: that matter is not solid but coagulated energy. It tells us that energy is Shakti, meaning Consciousness in a moving state; that it is a frequency; and that it requires an observer. It says, among other things, that Shiva is Pure Consciousness, and the world is both a reflection and a projection of Shiva Consciousness.

Every individual soul is also identical with Shiva, because each soul is made of the same substance: Consciousness. The difference is only in degree of purity and limitation. Impurity is simply a lack of wisdom (ajñāna). Lack of wisdom creates the feeling of separateness, or duality, which becomes an experience of being locked into egoic reactions. We do not see the larger unity; everything is experienced through a limited egoic perspective. In contrast, the feeling of unity is wisdom (jñāna). This is liberating because everything is experienced as One Self. Separation is dissolved; unconditional love remains.

Kashmir Shaivism is not based on a philosophy of opinions. It is a tradition of direct experience, meaning that it is the recorded descriptions of the higher experiences of yogic practitioners. The tradition describes strategies (upayas) for experiencing awakening and liberation.



“Kashmir Shaivism is not a religion.

It is a philosophy open to those who have the desire to understand it;

hence, for its study there are no restrictions of caste, creed or colour…”


-- The Kashmir Trika Foundation