"In Wonders We Sail, Questing for the Answers in Veil"

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Non-Ritualistic Nature In Tantra

In all the practices described so far rituals play the key role, but tantric texts also describe practices that do not involve rituals and therefore do not employ external objects.These practices are purely meditative; rituals are replaced by internal, contemplative techniques.

For example because tantrics consider the human body to be a microcosm of the entire universe, tantrics who use meditative practices instead of rituals invoke the forces of nature within their own body instead of those same forces in external objects. The goal is the same: experiencing a state of oneness with those forces. Their ritual consists mainly of reciting mantras while concentrating on certain parts of their body.They do not use external yantras: their body is the yantra. Nor do they use fire rituals to propitiate the life-force: their own solar plexus serves as the fire bowl. With their powers of concentration they visualize the mind as a garden where all kinds of desires grow in the form of flowers - they can gather a flower of any color and fragrance for any particular practice.They offer their own ego into the fire at the solar plexus in place of clarified butter.

The scriptures that describe this kind of practice make a comprehensive and minutely detailed equation between the forces of the cosmos and the forces in the body. For example they pinpoint nine minerals, nine gems, and nine groups of herbs that correspond to the nine planets; ultimately these groups of nine correspond to the nine constituents of the human body: chyme, blood, flesh, fat, bone, marrow, seminal fluid, ojas, and jiva.

There is a third category of tantric practice that combines both ritual and meditation. Some tantrics may undertake the practice of the gayatri mantra, for example, in a purely ritualistic fashion. Then after completing a course of practice (which may consist of repeating the mantra a hundredthousand times, or eleven hundred thousand times, or 2.4 million times), they do a fire offering with sesame seeds and ghee while they continue to repeat the gayatri mantra.Then they go on to the next stage of the practice, which involves doing half of the daily gayatri practice while employing external ritualistic objects and the other half while meditating on the third chakra (the navel center). At this stage surrendering the ego to the fire element at the navel center replaces the offering of sesame seeds and ghee into the external ritual fire.At the third stage of practice they do not incorporate external rituals at all - the practice has become completely internal.


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