Tantra, Gateway to Ecstasy

Bhairava Vijñana Tantra is an ancient teaching revealing an existence-affirming, life-enhancing path to self-realization: disentanglement from the causes of suffering and their results. It is a way of life leading to extended states of ecstatic consciousness and being.

All sentient beings avoid suffering and seek pleasure—life is being in search of perfection. A space of awareness comes into being, accepting form and risking suffering, only because there is also a chance to experience ecstasy.

Life has value and meaning when there is ecstatic experience. Without ecstasy, life seems dry and meaningless. When all hope of ecstasy fades, the organism seeks death and a fresh round of becoming. Regular experiences of ecstasy are required for health and satisfying life.

Self or ego blocks ecstasy. Ego and ecstasy are never seen together. When ego is there, ecstasy is elusive or inauthentic. Real ecstasy can occur only when self is gone.

Paradoxically, ecstasy is the fulfillment of self; yet, ecstatic consciousness is selfless. There is something in ecstasy that transcends ego, leading to realization of authentic being—that transcends even being, leading to realization of unconditioned emptiness.

Art, music, dance, eroticism, yoga, meditation, religion, entheogens, the search for transcendental knowledge—expressions of ecstasy are the foundations of civilization. Each art a vast field in itself, when combined as Gateways to Ecstasy they become even more powerful openings into dharma.

But we must be careful to experience and facilitate ecstasy without creating dependency. The concentrated experience of ecstasy must be balanced and buffered by deep knowledge and equally intense meditation and detachment. Discipline is necessary to prevent degeneration of tantric practices into mere sensuality. Dependence or clinging to the means of self-realization is a danger, because ecstasy involves intense pleasurable feelings. Actual remission of suffering must not come at the price of independence and individuality.

The art of ecstasy requires great discipline to get the ego out of the way without harming it. There are many such disciplines, both drawn from the great and ancient spiritual cultures and found in people’s everyday lives. Bhairava Vijñana Tantra contains over a hundred such disciplines, handed down from time immemorial and reflected in the teachings of all authentic spiritual paths.

The most powerful ecstasy comes from realization of nothingness—unconditioned emptiness or non-duality. Thus the greatest practitioners of ecstasy in all cultures have been the radical meditators and renunciants. Nothing can shake the view of one who sees primordial emptiness everywhere and in everything.

Bhairava Vijñana Tantra is not ordinary science or religion. It is the science of becoming, of attaining whatever being you desire, of experiencing perfection in an imperfect world.

Lord Śiva’s instructions to Devī in Bhairava Vijñana Tantraare not different from the instructions of the Buddha. The exalted state of Śiva is identical to Nirvana, the unconditioned non-dual consciousness also called enlightenment, moksha, disentanglement, release, extinction of self, etc.

The living Tantric tradition of Bhairava-yoga avoids falling into the trap of religion by recognizing and celebrating all aspects of human life as possible paths to realization. After all, if the ultimate is all-pervading, it is within everything, whether approved by conventional religious morality or not. Therefore the duality of pure versus impure, religious versus irreligious, moral versus immoral are not part of Tantra’s map. Tantra’s focus is on finding gateways to transcendence and ecstasy, everywhere and in everything.

Significantly, Śiva’s replies to Devī’s questions are not at all philosophical but focus on methodology. He does not attempt to describe transcendence, but to give the way, the path of practice that reveals it.


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Dev Jacobsen

Musician, author and yogi, developer of Palingenics.

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