Is it possible to teach an authentic tantra in the West

topic posted Fri, December 28, 2007 - 7:04 PM by  Achalanatha
This is directed pretty specifically to Shambhalanath and Kulavadhuta Satpurananda - any anybody else who would like to comment of course, but i know those two by reputation.

Do you think that there is any way to teach an authentic god-conscious tantra in the west, given the enormous burdens of materialism and monotheism which seem to harden the culture so much to any sense of "look, things are fine, why don't you just get on with your own life?" which, hm, one of the hallmarks of a certain kind of with-it-ness which is often found among people who know what they are doing.

In other words... can it be done? Have you guys had any success with getting Westerners to lighten up?
posted by:
Los Angeles
  • I have found many people successfully teaching authentic forms of Tantra in the West. Remember, however, that I may have a broader definition of "authentic" than others.

    • Namaste, S.

      Well... I'm not talking about specific cultural tropes - if somebody wants to work with satan buggering mary as their rough parallel to yer shiva/shakti pairing (isn't that basically satanism in a nutshell?) I see no reason that it shouldn't wind up in the same fundamental liberation.

      **In theory**.

      In practice, I see a lot of people wandering around in the astral humping things, a tiny number noodling around in the causal... but who's actually attaining? I'm not seeing evidence of western adepts even though there's an enormous amount of activity. The Mahendranathi crews are extremely quiet (which is probably a good sign) with the exception of the INO which is making the same screaming-grinding-NO! noise it's been making for years.

      What's the block? Where's the folks who've been working the practices for a bit... and just settled?

      Are they around, and just below radar? Or has all this good stuff fallen on deaf ears, or hit other cultural blocks which shorten the force, and keep people from getting to the Everything Is Fine position or even higher states.

      You know what I'm saying?

      My own guess is that the cultural blocks and resistance are just too fierce, or that the systems needed to be adapted more deeply to run.... but I don't know. I'm speculating (obviously.)

      • Sorry, let me rephrase one point:

        I'm not seeing evidence of *groups* of western adepts. Individuals, sure, no doubt about it - but I'm not seeing any signs of stabilization of awake communities.

        make more sense now?
        • Look a little closer. I happen to be standing in the middle of a group of adepts. However, "adept" in your vernacular may have a different meaning than in mine.

          To me, an "adept" is someone who recognizes his or her own hand in creating his or her own environment and takes responsibiltiy --and control--of such. This person must also possess a sense of the wonder at All that is, and a recognition of gratitude to something larger than him/herself (i.e. the Universal Current, the Tao, the Great Ancestors, or the Deity of your choice) for being the background on which we all operate.

          The problem is that not all humans use the same vernacular, even tho we have written dictionaries to help correct that issue. There's always going to be someone who sees things a bit differently, and that makes it difficult to create communities that work in one solid direction. Difficult, but not impossible. More like "improbable."
        • I don't know if there will be "groups" in the sense of an ashram or a community. Rather, I would contend that there are, and will increasingly be, what Hakim Bey called the T.A.Z.: Temporary Autonomous Zone. I suggest that people should read Bey's book on the subject.

          The concept is that people will work on their own, in communication with each other, or in very small groups. Then, at various times, they will come together for a short time. This satisfies both Western streams of individuality and what I would contend is our innate need for tribal experiences and socialization.

          Already this is seen in various Pagan Festivals and, of course, aspects of the Burning Man Festival. There are others, too.

          The traditional, modern, and authentic teachings of Anandakapila Saraswati (Dr. Jonn Mumford) and Sri Mahedranath Maharaj by way of members of AMOOKOS and WNO, as well as the teachings found in the NAMASTE organization are examples of these. While the teachings of Osho go beyond Tantra and focus on certain aspects of Tantra, they, too, are authentic. Various Neo-Tantric teachers, although limited in what they teach to center on Tantric sexuality, also have groups that work this way.

          • Hm. Ok, I've dealt with the INO and, as far as I can tell, it's not that. I don't see any stable group of people who actually know what they're doing. Which isn't to say that Mahendranath didn't have the goods - I've spent a good bit of time with Shri Lalita Mataji, and clearly the old man was the real deal. Can't speak for AMOOKOS, haven't had much contact with that, although Mogg Morgan, Phil Hine etc. are clearly capable practitioners. And Mike Magee's work speaks for itself.

            So the individuals are there.

            Is NAMASTE active? I hadn't heard anything about it in Quite Some Time, just some old docs on the net...

            And, yes, I'm a big fan of Bey's work but the stabilization of life outside of the circle is kind of more what I'm trying to get at with this question. I'm pretty comfy with the TAZ concept, and have spent a decent amount of time in such environments... but that stuff has always existed, even in the Indian context.

            Do you think it can be stabilized, at the more conscious levels, outside of a TAZ, in the west?
            • Whether or not it "can" be is a secondary question to whether or not it "should" be.

              If all humanity is akin to the Human Body, and all individuals are like "cells" in the body, then those of us who are seeking conscious enlightenment must be more than simple skeletal cells or organ cells that have a set place and path in this Universe. We must be the cells that are moving and changing, like blood cells, endocrines, neurons, and other more active tissues.

              If you pull that analogy further along, (yeah, I stretch analogies like bubblegum) the active cells, the blood and fluids, do the most damage when they hold still for too long. Neurons must be in constant contact with new neurons in the brain to keep entropy at bay. Endocrines must go from one place to the other or they cease to be useful.

              If those of us who are working on achieving conscious enlightenment make a hefty attempt at stabilization and growth, we may be doing the race/planet/Universe more harm than good. The Temporary Autonomous Zones allow for us to communicate without stagnating. I'm wondering if a larger central stablized entity wouldn't become entropic anyway?
      • "I'm not seeing evidence of western adepts even though there's an enormous amount of activity."

        Tantra was going on in India for how many thousands of years? And in the west, what? at most 50 years?

        You need to give it time to become established enough in the mind of the community as a whole. Its only just starting to do that now. Tantra is only at the very first tentative steps of being taken on by the early adapters as a genuine alternative to other forms of spiritual enlightenment and healing. Its nowhere near being all that well established in the mind of everyday Joe and Joan Citizen in the street.

        And we also need to take into account the difference in culture. In the west the attitude has largely been that spiritual practice is mostly cerebral play and kept to a respectable Sunday morning. Religion might have been spoken about as an important thing, but really it always came second to industry. So, there is a cultural mindset that needs to be overcome first.
  • First of all you have to define what is in fact authentic tantra.
    There are many different interpretations, which in itself makes it hard to distinguish the authenticity in the teaching. Then within each interpretation there are different paths and beliefs. I would recommend a visit to They offer Tantra training, Tantra Massages, and a multitude of various other activities involved with Tantra.
  • There is an authentic God conscious Tantra being taught in the west by the Avadhutas and Avadhutikas of Ananda Marga, I have searched many places in India and did not find a path of Tantra that seemed as authentic to me, of course it is there, but I did not find it until I came back to the USA and met them, that is just my experience, and my Gurus liila
    • real authentic tantrik teachers and Gurus are coming to the west to teach westerners who are ready, and some are being initiated by the grace of the Guru... that is about all that can be said, without being arrogant, for I'm just a westerner who knows that I can't teach an ancient authentic tradition from a far away land that I was not born into, at least not in this lifetime...

      when someone calls God from their heart, God answers the call through the Guru ...

      an authentic Guru knows the nature of the mind, they know where you're in your sadhana, they know who is ready to receive and who is not, they know all of your thoughts and actions, or they are not the Guru.

      and the west is changing, it is destined to become more like the east, while the east is actually becoming more materialistic ...

      Om Shanti ~ Shanti Om
      • Unsu...
        It could be that whatever we might hope is "authentic tantra" is actually a noble and hopeful projection with the best of intentions unto persons and experiences, whether Indian or Homegrown, that is simply unwarranted and/or non-existent.

  • Unsu...
    The western experience of relating to a teacher or teaching seems to lack the sort organic structure that many enjoy with gurus and teaching in India. The process of understanding and growing often happens more from being with the teacher and teaching, than by simply going to some teaching. The process seems very contrived in the west, the seminar from 3 to 6, the satsang on sunday and teaching on monday. How can this compare to sleeping next to a guru, going for your morning shit together. The meeting of sincerity and wisdom in the temple of love and being. This is not to suggest that the teachings should be conveyed and taught here, but rather that we should look at the way all relation and being together takes place in the west.
    • Unsu...
      I agree with this:

      "rather that we should look at the way all relation and being together takes place in the west."

      • We are in mash up post modern times all is blending,.
        Something in me yearns to be in that temple devoting my life, self, body and being to tantra, but that is not the way for me right now. There is something to be said for bringing the teachings into everyday life in the west, whether we live in a community, alone, city, country, whatever the set-up.
        And naturally we should look at the way we relate to each other in the west - just look at the havoc caused by the illusion of separation.

        I am not separate from you. My head is not separate from my body. The outside is not separate from the inside. There is no divide but that's where the learning is. Mind the gap.
        • Anandahaze says: "Mind the gap."

          Ha! This reminds me of when I went to Singapore to receive Highest Yoga Tantra empowerment. I was meditating a lot emptiness and one day while riding the MRT I heard the recorded voice; "Now arriving at Dhobi Ghaut Station, please mind the gap." (referring to the train platform) and I was acutely aware of how people were caught up in the separation of inside-outside, self-other, and so forth. It became my walking mantra for the week; "Please mind the gap..." to try to stay subtle and aware myself.

          Thanks for the reminder!
        • "I am not separate from you. My head is not separate from my body. The outside is not separate from the inside. There is no divide but that's where the learning is. Mind the gap."

          The universe is comprised of one surface. One great contiguous surface. Our ability to contemplate, navigate and manipulate it depends on our ability to witness in more than three dimensions.

          Thanks for providing the reminder of this truth that I needed today.

      • you make some very important clarifications in your post Mazu..

        my feeling is that the Guru is not just a teacher - that has been my experience, having studied with the most amazing western mystery school teacher for many years... and I don't feel that they can be compared, they aren't comparable... just like being eclectic is a choice, but it is not practicing an ancient tradition ... a teacher may be able to teach you a few tricks that you didn't already know ... a Guru is One with the source of all...and not just in an intellectual we can say we are all One, but is that our Reality 24/7?

        ~ Om Shanti ~
  • There is no meaning to authenticity - there is no absolute Truth

    There is no teacher - there is no teaching - we all are seekers

    There is no meaning to tantra - the threads, the weavers, the weaving are but images of the same

    There is no West... nor East, nor North, or South... directions are merely limitations of our perception and search for framework

    So the question - Is it possible to teach authentic Tantra in the West - is essentially meaningless... however, its being devoid of meaning, makes it profound...

    - Ananth Tantri
  • Unsu...
    there are many variables to be considered when assesing if someone is fit for being an adept

    preivous karmas with a teacher,
    sincerity to achive enlightment
    the ability of the guru and so on

    and not all gurus are trained to teach the western minds
    I have seen some teachers work on the westerners very well becuase they know where their minds are at

    it depends

    its hard to make generalizations

    but there is definitely a conditioning going on in the western culture on a collective level which makes it more challenging
    for most people
  • It is possible to be humble

    It is possible to love

    It is possible to feel

    It is possible to be kind

    It is possible to achieve

    It is possible to let go

    It is possible to die

    When all of these possibilities exist... why dwell on hypotheticals and debate impossibilities...

    Teachings, teachers, paths, traditions, symbols, ideologies are all over rated... what use is the clanging of jewels and necklaces to a naked corpse...

    Run every morning... take a sip of the crisp delicious air... and retain a kind loving thought in the mind whenever possible... nothing else matters, has ever mattered, and will never matter !

    - Ananth Tantri