A long time ago in a galaxy called the “Buddha-verse”, there existed a world where the Goddess ruled. This was the world of Tantra. The core of these teachings reveal that we are each a microcosm of the universe and everything mirrored in our reality is a macrocosm of what is going on within us. For this reason, tantric’s revere and nurture their emotional, spiritual, and physical bodies. Tantra is the yoga of the heart.
“We are each a microcosm of the universe and everything mirrored in our reality is a macrocosm of what is going on within us.”
From the traditional tantric view, the Goddess (often referred to the Divine Mother) 1, gives reverence to both male and female powers. Tantra affirms that God and Goddess go together, support each other, and should be worshiped together. The couple agrees to individually embody the archetypal energies of a male and female deity.
According to the tantric world view, we are all male/female by nature. In the womb our bodies are androgynous for a certain amount of time until the soul entering the body makes a choice as to which sex would serve it best.
Plato wrote there are three types of souls: Man, Woman, & Androgynies. Man is attracted to man and woman are attracted to women. Androgynies are what we would call heterosexuals in our current times. The Brhadaranyaka Upanishad describes androgyne as a male and female heterosexual but other scriptures and icons describe them as one bi-sexual body whose real power lay in their feminine attributes. 2
In Tantra, the cosmic consciousness is feminine and embodies feminine qualities. These include psycho-spiritual receptivity, compassion, and the energy of consciousness.
The masculine force is the manifestation of will, drive, and control. Tantra views the feminine as the embodiment of spiritual wisdom, with the male being the embodiment of physical wisdom.
Female energy holds the power to see through the illusions of the mind. It is the feminine energy that is the Shakti, or power-source. The Shakti is the direct access to the universe for her mate. (In Tantric practice you do not have to be a literal female to become the Shakti. It is understood there can be a female soul found within a male body and that a male soul is sometimes born in a female body).
This view is quite different from the distorted patriarchal Christian or Judaic perspective we live with now. I say distorted because there was a time when all religions honored the Goddess and believed that without Her blessings, they were powerless. In Tantra she was the Shakti, in Sufism she was the Fravashi. In the Middle East, Al Lat, the Goddess of the Moon, became Allah.1
According to The Book of Jasher, a nine foot ancient scroll intentionally left out of the Old Testament, the Jews worshipped the Goddess Asherah long before the had ever heard of Jehovah.3 Jesus called Mary Magdalene, “Apostle to the apostles”, “the Divine Mother that knew all”.4
Internationally acclaimed author and tantric scholar, Miranda Shaw, revealed some astonishing research with reference to the woman behind Shakyamuni Buddha. In her book, Passionate Enlightenment: Women in Tantric Buddhism, she states that he received his spiritual enlightenment during tantric sex with his wife in their palace. Only then did he renounce his kingdom and become a homeless wanderer in inspire people to take up the spiritual life.5
“(Buddha) received his spiritual enlightenment during tantric sex with his wife in their palace…only then did he renounce his kingdom…to inspire people to take up the spiritual life”
So when did this schism between the God and the Goddess occur? Apparently not until what the Hindus call the Kali Yuga (the current world age). It was written there would be a time when male energy would fall out of alignment with his female counterpart. Just as we are born of a woman’s body, the Gods and Goddesses confess they were also born of a feminine consciousness. The universe is the embodiment of the feminine principle…just as Mother Earth is. Feminine energy is creative, win-win, caring for future generations (using only the resources needed); that embodies an awareness that humans are not the only species on earth, nor a superior one.
A damaged male energy system is competitive and hoards resources. It is aggressive, entitled, and often demonstrates little empathy. Each of us has both the male and female energies within us. The kind of world we create for ourselves reflects the balance of these divine energies in our daily lives.
Why? Remember that whole microcosm/macrocosm belief system I mentioned above? We are living in two worlds right now. We have one foot in the old male energy systems and one foot in the new feminine energy that has awakened.
The old, male world is dying. It is fighting back like a bully child throwing its weight around. In the US we see it reflected in a government run by a misogynist that is using an office to benefit a gluttony of greed. We see it in the elimation of food for the poor and our old, not caring for the infirm with millions losing health care. We see it the theft of Social Security from the people who paid into it in good faith.
“The old, male world is dying. It is fighting back like a bully child throwing its weight around.”
This dying energy reveals itself in the attempted destruction of our National Parks, The National Endowment for the Arts, and Public Television. We see it in the assault on the EPA that protects our natural resources. Ending Planned Parenthood, an organization that gives affordable healthcare to millions, is not about abortion: it is about disempowering women. This energy endangers our entire planet and all her species, so that 1% of the world can control others. It is a vampiric energy, not a loving one.
Tantra clearly defines and honors the male and female energies. In American society, those roles have become muddled. So what can Tantra teach us about our masculine/feminine roles in today’s world?
The first step would be to honor the God/Goddess in ourselves. See our bodies as a temple for a visiting deity. What must we do to prepare this house for its sacred guest? Holding an image of the sacred within us sets a resonance for our life. Seeing that sacredness in others sets another resonance. When you treat all beings in your life as a visiting holy being, it brings out the very best in them. Treat the partner in your life this way and the results will be astonishing.
Featured Image – Detail: Bond of Union by M.C. Escher, Dutch 1898–1972. Original lithograph in the National Gallery of Canada
1. Walker, Barbara G. The Secrets of the Tarot, Origins, History, and Symbolism. Harper San Francisco. 1984↩
2. O’Flaherty, Wendy Doniger. Hindu Myths. Middlesex, England: Penguin Books Ltd., 1975↩
3. From a lecture presented by Sir Laurence Garner, Kt St GM, KCD, author of Bloodline of the Holy Grail, at The Ranch, Yelm, Washington, 30 April 1997↩
4. Pagels, Elaine. The Gnostic Gospels, New York:Random House, 1979,p.22↩
5. Interview with Craig Hamilton, What Is Enlightenment, Issue 13, Spring/Summer 1998↩
Parts of this article originally appeared in an article entitled:“A Tantrik Occasion” in the Dec. 1999 issue of GC Magazine in Dallas, Texas. ©1999–2017 Uriél Dana