EXPLORING THE FUNDAMENTAL DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE MODERN WESTERN VERSIONS AND THE ANCIENT EASTERN VERSIONS OF YOGA AND TANTRA...
In relation to Tantra...
There are many reasons why people get very lost when studying Tantra without adequate guidance, either because the symbols and practices have deeper layers of meaning, or because different teachers have such varied and even contradictory approaches.
Something is missing...
There is so much missing from the current teachings on Tantra and Yoga that the modern versions are like caricatures of the original traditions.
This is natural in the world we live in.
The truth is...
It's not easy without insightful guidance to truly understand the ancient teachings.
Is it the teachers' fault or the students' fault?
There is generally more interest in sex and in looking fit than in profound self-discovery, self-Realization, or cultivating conscious connection with the Divine.
We tend to be looking to Tantra and Yoga to satisfy mundane desires and for symptomatic relief from our suffering and from our insecurities.
We don't even think of looking there for the ultimate answer to inner peace.
And yet this was the whole point of the ancient traditions - to provide teachings and practices that lead to true Liberation.
In ancient times, teachers wouldn't dream of teaching students the inner practices of Yoga and Tantra, just 'for fun', or for 'fitness'.
This is one of the key differences between the ancient and modern versions of Tantra and Yoga.
So this has even influenced the trainings - the Tantra teacher trainings and Yoga teacher trainings that we find today.
In the process of making Yoga and Tantra easily available to more people, the teachings have become more and more 'diluted'.
This is the direction modern Yoga and Tantra have gone.
So while Western Yoga-lovers and Tantra-lovers may be happy about how Yoga and Tantra have spread around the world, we find that Indians and even Western practitioners who are familiar with the 'traditional' or 'authentic' systems are calling for a reform and a return to the ancient system.
It's not just about being 'traditional', it's about practising and passing on the teachings in a way that transmits the full potential and power of Yoga and Tantra.
This is why I refer to the typical modern systems as 'Gym yoga' and 'Bedroom tantra'.
Ok, so the practices and teachings have changed...
But are the practices effective anyway? - you might ask...
To some degree.
Certainly people are finding benefits from practising the 'pop' forms of Tantra and Yoga.
There are many sincere and talented teachers, and these are undoubtedly a source of help and inspiration to their students.
Most of us need to move and stretch more, so modern forms of yoga, if taught with attention to individual needs, can be very therapeutic.
What concerns me is that if students are seeking Liberation, or even just looking for some understanding about the deeper teachings of Yoga and Tantra, most teachers are totally unprepared to give guidance in these areas.
It seems that many, maybe most, teachers of Yoga and Tantra are not even making their students aware that there is a deeper purpose and application of the practices, beyond the gym and the bedroom.
A vast number of practitioners are totally unaware that these deeper and broader dimensions exist.
So, believing that they are already being taught everything there is to know about Yoga and Tantra, of course they are not receiving effective guidance in these deeper areas.
The Buddhists say we should make the most of this incarnation, as an opportunity for Enlightenment - for Liberation.
Here we are today with so many students of Yoga and Tantra on the threshold of the Liberation teachings, not realizing that this is the original context of the Yoga and Tantra practices.
The more spiritually-minded practitioners who study deeper often do discover the Liberation teachings such as Advaita eventually. Unfortunately instead of finding the bridge between Advaita and their practice of Yoga and Tantra, they often will leave behind the Yoga practice, or think that the Liberation teachings are too abstract or 'advanced' for them.
It is precisely the re-union of the three traditions: Yoga, Tantra and Advaita, that clarifies the full power of each, and actually makes each more easily accessible in its fullness.
I hope you will be inspired to explore deeper and to find the insights and support you need.
We will be happy to assist with anything that we can.
- Peter Littlejohn Cook