Do shakta embrace the profane. [October 2004]

Omprem

Excellent post. In it you say, "By embracing as sacred the things that orthodox society might consider profane, we begin to chip away at our own prejudices and assumptions. We move beyond the objectification impulse 'This is me. This is mine. That is she. That is hers. She is female. I am male. They are poor. I am rich. I am this color. They are that color. I am of this clan. They are of that clan.' ... All the easy differences by which our lower natures define who we are.

As the orthodoxies that bind us fall away, we begin to realize just how limiting our body-identification can be."

Could you expand on how 'embracing as sacred the things that...[are] profane' leads to moving 'beyond the objectivication process'. Does not intelligence, confidence, diligence, humility and an inner sense of self, all of which are part of the so-called ascetic appoach of Shaivism, lead to the same thing? Why is it necessary to embrace the profane and run the risk of being a tamasic prisoner of the senses and passion? What is it about the psychology of a person that leads him/her to Shaktism?


This is not an argumentative question but a request for more clarity.

Kalipadma

I think it should be emphasized that Shaktism and Tantra are two different paths, with some overlap. Tantrics "embrace the profane" to effect changes in consciousness. For Shaktas, some do and some don't.

Many Shaktas are simple, mainstream Hindus who love and revere the Divine Feminine as the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Some Shaktas also embrace Tantric concepts.

My Shakta practice is NOT particularly Tantric. I would argue that my Wiccan practice IS Tantric.

Detective_Mongo_Phd

My experience is yes, the Deities in general, being so long lived, and seeing with our eyes, are also more worldly-wise than humans, and not subject to shock.

Childofdevi

This "embracing the profane" is only for very advanced sadhakas IMO and that too it is one of many options for them; the classic treatise on tantric sadhana, Mantra Mahodadhi describes the daily observances and restrictions for a sadhaka and foremost is strict brahmacharya.

How can you explain someone who has no control over the sex impulse (which is the overwhelming majority of mankind) to effect changes in consciousness by embracing the profane; it is no different from a habitual drunkard trying to overcome his weakness by drinking more and more; for the most part I think these self-acclaimed tantrics are only having a good time, with no serious magickal advancement.

malyavan_tibet

So what is your practice?.

This is like saying in the mornings i practice the left path and in evenings I practice the right path :-).

or

From 9-3 i am a strict vegetarian, and from 3-10 I eat special beef imported from kashmir.

Omprem

"From 9-3 i am a strict vegetarian, and from 3-10 i eat special beef imported from kashmir."

LOL. A very attention-getting analogy.

I think that you may have presented a diet that many spiritual aspirants will be only too glad to embrace as it entails little sacrifice or even change but gives them the right to say that they rigorously follow a specific diet sadhana.

Devi Bhakta

Namaskar, OmPrem and Kalipadma:

I'm answering you both together to avoid repetition -- because your comments lead to different aspects of a single response:

Kalipadma wrote: "I think it should be emphasized that Shaktism and Tantra are two different paths, with some overlap."

I don't strictly agree. Or rather, I would phrase it differently.

TANTRA is not a path, it is an array of tools or METHODOLOGIES that can be applied to many paths (in practice, usually Hindu or Buddhist). The Tantras, i.e. Tantric writings, do not exist to expound any particular religious philosophy (although one or another sectarian bias may be discernable). They are INSTRUCTION MANUALS for performing certain time-proven methods discovered by various sages.

SHAKTISM *is* a path. As one of the four major divisions of Hinduism, it subsumes a great number of sub-sects and approaches, all of whom share the Shakta characteristic of revering Devi as Supreme Deity. the major two being the way of Kali and the way of Sri. Some of these sub-sects are know only to their members; others, noteably South Indian Srividya, are widely known and discussed, though still secret in their ritual details except to initiates.

So it is really incorrect to say "Shaktism and Tantra are two different paths, with some overlap."

TANTRA, it it theorized, is rooted in pre-Vedic -- prehistoric for that matter -- religious ritual. It is widely accepted, by even some of the most conservative Hindu satgurus, that TANTRA gave Hinduism many if not most of its practical techniques -- including hatha yoga, mantra, yantra; certainly nyasa, probably most aspects of pooja.

Kalipadma wrote: *** Tantrics "embrace the profane" to effect changes in consciousness. ***

Actually for TANTRIC practitioners, some do and some don't.

OmPrem wrote, *** Could you expand on how 'embracing as sacred the things that ...[are] profane' leads to moving 'beyond the objectivication process'. Does not intelligence, confidence, diligence, humility and an inner sense of self, all of which are part of the so-called ascetic appoach of Shaivism, lead to the same thing? ***

"Embracing the profane," I think, for most people, evokes the (in) famous panchamakara or 5-M's -- which break any number of Brahminical taboos, including consumption of alcohol, consumption of meat, and engagement in sexual intercourse (not necessarily within marriage or traditional caste limitations). Some cults, like the Aghora, go even further, ritually consuming excrement and cadaver flesh and whatnot; all for the end of spiritual realization.

[I'd add here that this kind of actual Tantric ritual intercourse has extremely little in common with the faddish "Tantric Sex" now commonly marketed in the West, and increasingly in the East. I'd hasten to add that I have nothing against this fad -- if it makes people happier and more sexually empathetic and gives them some fun and relaxation along the way, I'm all for it. But it should not be confused with actual Tantra or its practices.]

But in real Tantra, which corresponds pretty much exactly with real life, sex is what it is for most of us in real life. Important, fundamental -- but just one aspect of our total existence. Tantra is not primarily about "embracing the profane." Like everyday life, it's about work, duty, vigilance. It's about japa, pooja, cyclical and calendrical observances. It's possible to go "all the way" in Tantra without ever touching the "5-M's." Some do, some don't.

Kalipadma wrote, *** For Shaktas, some do and some don't. ***

True enough, IF by Tantra you mean only "embracing the profane," and I did not intend to use the term Tantra in that way (although I realize, in re-reading my original post, that I was imprecise on this point, and could have been misconstrued).

BUT, overall, I would stand by my original statement that Shaktism is, in the vast majority of cases -- certainly more than in any other school of Hinduism -- Tantric in nature. You would be hard-pressed to find any devout Hindu who doesn't use mantras; but an awful lot of Shaktas go much further into the Tantric toolbag than that. In fact. I'd go so far as to say that non-Tantric Shaktism is the exception rather than the rule.

But it may, in the end, be a distinction without a difference. Because Tantra borrows freely from the Vedas as well. For example, "openly Tantric" Srividya Shaktism is absolutely in love with Vedic fire sacrifices. Yeah sure, there are Vedic schools that swear up and down they're not Tantric; and Tantric schools that swear they're not Vedic. But in practice, it all goes in the soup to whatever degree in individual cases.

*** Why is it necessary to embrace the profane and run the risk of being a tamasic prisoner of the senses and passion? ***

As noted above, I do not think it is "necessary." As for the risk, true Tantric lineages require initiation for just this reason. The authentic guru is there in large measure to determine whether a given shishya will benefit from a given technique, or be put at spiritual and/or bodily risk by it.

*** What is it about the psychology of a person that leads him/her to Shaktism? ***

I am neither a Shakta guru nor a psychologist, so I am really not qualified to answer this question. However, I would note that the gurus of Shaktism teach that one does not choose Shakti, by is chosen by Her; and that it is ultimately futile to resist Her choice, once made. I would also note that the Shakta, by definition, tends to revere the Supreme Divinity in its manifest rather than its transcendent aspect. As all the Cosmos and everything in it is considered to be Devi, it becomes philosophically inconsistent to deny or reject any of it. When a shishya needs (and is psychologically and spirituallly ready) work in this area, the guru will carefully provide guidance as appropriate, with little reason to fear "becoming a tamasic prisoner of the senses and passion." As you may have noted in our Khadgamala Devis Series, the Shakta conquers the senses and passions not by denying or avoiding them, but by becoming them.

That's the best answer I've got; for now, anyway.

Aum MAtangyai NamaH

Detective_Mongo_Phd

Listen Childofdevi, you said,

How can you explain someone who has no control over the sex impulse (which is the overwhelming majority of mankind) to effect changes in consciousness by embracing the profane; it is no different from a habitual drunkard trying to overcome his weakness by drinking more and more; for the most part I think these self-acclaimed tantrics are only having a good time, with no serious magickal advancement.

--But I must add that being Brahmachari is somewhat also like being unconscious

Kalipadma

Well, Omprem, as I am not an initiated Eastern Tantric, I cannot speak for them. So let me apply your question to the "tantric" practice of Wicca (of which I am an initiate):

[Omprem asks:] Could you expand on how 'embracing as sacred the things that...[are] profane' leads to moving 'beyond the objectivication process'. Does not intelligence, confidence, diligence, humility and an inner sense of self, all of which are part of the so-called ascetic appoach of Shaivism, lead to the same thing?

Yes, of course it does. But there are many different paths to Enlightenment.

Why is it necessary to embrace the profane and run the risk of being a tamasic prisoner of the senses and passion?

I think Wiccans argue that the senses and passions are doorways to enlightenment. That by breaking minor, socially imposed taboos, we see the System from the outside (Witches were the European equivalent of people who had "lost caste" -- hence their reputations as "evil" and outside society), which enables Witches to understand how it really works.

What is it about the psychology of a person that leads him/her to Shaktism? [or to Wicca?]

I think Witches are born, not made. It's an awareness of oneself as an outsider constrained by society. It's a love and respect of Mother Nature (what Hindus call Prakriti). It's an awareness of Magic, the ability to affect change through application of Will. It's the awareness that we are all fragments of the Divine, and that society's judgement of what is good or bad is all relative. There is no one right way. The only law is, Harm none, and do what you will.

Does that help at all?

Yogaman wrote : I think it should be emphasized that Shaktism and Tantra are two different paths, with some overlap. Tantrics "embrace the profane" to effect changes in consciousness. For Shaktas, some do and some This "embracing the profane" is only for very advanced sadhakas IMO and that too it is one of many options for them; the classic treatise on tantric sadhana, Mantra Mahodadhi describes the daily observances and restrictions for a sadhaka and foremost is strict brahmacharya. How can you explain someone who has no control over the sex impulse (which is the overwhelming majority of mankind) to effect changes in consciousness by embracing the profane; it is no different from a habitual drunkard trying to overcome his weakness by drinking more and more; for the most part I think these self-acclaimed tantrics are only having a good time, with no serious magickal advancement.

The Panchamakara ritual is aimed at strict Brahmin practitioners, who break societal taboos to lose caste in Tantra.

Tantra "works" if you are abtaining from alcohol as a Brahmin, and drink wine in Tantra Chakra. It does not work if you are an alcoholic.

When Westerners eat meat, drink wine, partake of fish and grain, and flirt with the other gender, they are not practicing Tantra, they're enjoying a McDonald's Happy Meal! The taboos for Westerners to break would be more like, not buying an SUV for your next car, or wearing unfashionable brands of clothes to a job interview...

jaimaa1008

Omprem wrote : Could you expand on how 'embracing as sacred the things that...[are] profane' leads to moving 'beyond the objectivication process'. Does not intelligence, confidence, diligence, humility and an inner sense of self, all of which are part of the so-called ascetic appoach of Shaivism, lead to the same thing? Why is it necessary to embrace the profane and run the risk of being a tamasic prisoner of the senses and passion? What is it about the psychology of a person that leads him/her to Shaktism? This is not an argumentative question but a request for more clarity.

May be its an understanding or quest for the "holy" in the sense of "whole-ly " Kali's image with one hand holding the sword, the other the severed head and the other two hands showing the gestures of vara abhaya,is an example that comes to mind.

May be that is why there are mantras where the opposites are made to merge in the whole. Example, dharmaya namah/adharmaya namah, jnanaya namah/ajnanaya namah,vairagyaya namah/avairagyaya namah etc. Tantra being a bold atempt to grasp the totality, cannot but have a concept of the sacred which is the total, existence/nonexistence? itself.

It is so sacred that it can swallow the profane and makeit sacred, like Shiva drinking the deadly poison, thus enabling the practioner to say Shivoham! At least this is how I see it.

Omprem

"But I must add that being Brahmachari is somewhat also like being unconscious."

The main purpose of Brahmacharya is to sublimate the sexual shaktis into a spiritual shakti called Ojas and to use that shakti to attune the consciousness to the higher wisdom of the major chakras. One eventually attains the highest consciousness of Brahman

Thank you for sharing your Wicca beliefs. They seem to be well-thought out. And Wicca is certainly a viable path.

I can see the value of " breaking minor, socially imposed taboos, [to] see the System from the outside". This is one of the main techniques of adolescents in attempting to gain an understanding the world and their place in it. On a more advanced level, as in Wicca, it can have great value. Being an outsider is one way to move toward objectivity and detachment. But this still does not show how "the senses and passions are doorways to enlightenment. " Any more comments on that?

Radharani

---Or what a profane seek in shakta?

It is fine to be a Master....a master of what?

Master what you see....where do you look?

Master of what you feel...Where is your desire?

Master of what you aspire...what is your belived?

To be a true master, one must master his human nature, after is Divine nature.

So on what are you working, your human or divine nature?

childofdevi

Detective_Mongo_Phd wrote : --But I must add that being Brahmachari is somewhat also like being unconscious

RJ: it is unconscious only if this is an act of suppression or repression (many brahmacharis avoid women altogether, this IMO is not all brahmacharya); when the desire is SUBLIMATED, that person becomes a superman; all modern saints are in agreement on this.

The greatest tantric saint of modern times, Sri Ramakrishna makes special mention of brahmacharya and says that 12 years of perfect continence(in thought word and deed) results in the buddhi nadi to the brain opening, and that person gets a photographic memory. Now Ramakrishna is the only one to have mastered the essence of all 64 tantras.

I am not enjoining on everyone to be brahmacharis (we all know how disastrous this is going by the sexual exploits in various ashrams); all I am saying is that when the sex-addict rushes to take up tantra under the guise of spirituality, he will be well advised to follow celibacy to have control over his mind; the Kularnava states vamachara can be practiced only by one who has absolute self-control

The Panchamakara ritual is aimed at strict Brahmin practitioners, who break societal taboos to lose caste in Tantra.

This seems to be an invention mostly of western "schowlers" and leftist indian academicians. Some genuine practitioners also say this partly apologetically; in the Devi Gita, the mother says that She alone created the vaidika and tantrika paths, so what is the need to break any taboos. All that can be said is that the 5M is a very powerful ritual which truly only an adept can gainfully practice and has little to do with breaking taboos ( just my opinion).

Vimalananda(from Svaboda's works) gives a very eloquent description of a certain type of sadhana which is done under the influence of alcohol (very few people are capable of doing this sadhana); various substances have useful psychotropic properties (tea being one), fish and meat have their own unique properties; of course a pasu type sadhak gets no benefit from doing such things and performing the 5M does not mean that the performer is not a pasu.

Tantra "works" if you are abtaining from alcohol as a Brahmin, and drink wine in Tantra Chakra. It does not work if you are an alcoholic. When Westerners eat meat, drink wine, partake of fish and grain, and flirt with the other gender, they are not practicing Tantra, they're enjoying a McDonald's Happy Meal! The taboos for Westerners to break would be more like, not buying an SUV for your next car, or wearing

This would come more under the category of "tapas" more like fasting during Lent etc; before even external taboos need to be broken, considerable work needs to be done on the inner self. 5M remains the same for westerners and non-westerners and has little to do with breaking taboos.

The commonly done Shodasa/panch upachara pooja would make it seem that the items offered are for the deity; while it is good to cultivate this attitude, it goes much beyond that. The 5 upacharas are an external form of bhutashuddhi; gandham/incense for instance balances/nourishes the earth element and an extremely vata type individual(who is usually deficient in the earth element) benefits from the smell of incense (the sense of smell is the indriya associated with the earth element). 5M is a far more complex ritual and we cannot say it is merely breaking taboos.

Of course these are all just my opinions...:-)

radarani

Childofdevi wrote : the Kularnava states vamachara can be practiced only by one who has absolute self-control

So with the absolut self control, why to practice what?

Lili Masamura

The point of Brahmachari is to dedicate and focus one's energies to spiritual attainment and not detour them into other channels. If you are physically abstaining from sex but still constantly thinking about it and fantasizing, you might as well just go back to it! No matter how long you sit with a piece of window class held over paper, you will never start a fire! But when all the energies are gathered and focused by a lens, which points all the sun's rays at a single spot, fire follows rapidly! God is only interested in sincerity, and God cannot be fooled!

Yes, the point of the whole exercise is to consciously "traumatize" the mind by "going against the grain" in some way in order to shake its established order, but in a RITUAL context, to allow the power of God to descend into oneself through the "cracks" you have created in your established reality. For instance, Ramakrishna Paramahansa was made to sit in the lap (or she sat in his lap)of a naked yogini to receive his Tantric initiation. He was catapulted into samadhi! But if he had been a lecherous profane priest, it would have had exactly NO effect at all!


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