Tradition, Tantra and the West

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obnoxion
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Tradition, Tantra and the West

Postby obnoxion » Sat May 13, 2017 1:59 pm

Transmission of teaching, and the authenticity of Tradition, have been a long-standing concern for me. But, after finding a spiritual refuge in such a young teaching us ours is, I have spent much thought on the vitality of spontanous spiritual forms, in contrast to unroken traditional lineages.

In the Western World, unbroken lines of esoteric teaching are hard to find. Some say we used to have them, but not anymore. Arthur Versluis, however, says that Western esoteric traditions demonstrate ahistorical continuity: Their teachings are preserved in writing and in pictorial representations. These material media play a part in preserving esoteric lineages, that my slumber for centuries, and then suddenly a new disciple, or a new school will emerge, that places its teaching to that lineage.

This resonates with the Jungian notion, that religion cannot be destroyed, because it will emerge from inside of men again and again. But it also resonates with Tantrism. (As a side note, such authorative figure of an authentic Tantric Traditions as Lama Thubten Yeshen considers the Tantric to be the most suitable form of spirituality for Modern West).

There is also an idea of Tantric teaching being "asambradaya", that is a-sambradaya, or different from "sambradaya", which could be translated something like a traditional religious system that is formed by a succession of teachers and pupils. In contrary, Tantric teaching (not unlike Tantric realization) is sudden and spontaneous. One could say that it emerges fully armed, like the Virgin Goddess from the forehead of Zeus.

Now, in many ways I see SoA as a Tantric entity. I see in it a spiritual resemblance to the fermentating atmosphere of graveyard ascetism of India (culminating during the millenial centuries, that is, between 900 - 1100 AD), that produced such Nondual traditions like Tantric Buddhism and Kashmir Shaivism. But I also see SoA to be Tantric in the sense of it being sudden, spontaneous and quite unexpected.

There are many more parallels, for example, our elevation of Satan could be compared to how a minor ferocious charnel ground deity like Bhairava became a transcended absolute in Kashmir Shaivism, and a similar process of Herukas ("blood drinkers") and Dakinis (supernatural flesh-eating witches) in the case of Tantric Buddhism.

So I would say that in relation to the concept of Tradition and the question of Lineage, SoA represents ahistorical continuity that is typical of Western Esoteric Traditions; and SoA represents a sudden or spontaneous teaching, typical of Nondual Tantras.

EDIT: Made some essential additions and corrections.
One day of Brahma has 14 Indras; his life has 54 000 Indras. One day of Vishnu is the lifetime of Brahma. The lifetime of Vishnu is one day of Shiva.
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Nefastos
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Re: Tradition, Tantra and the West

Postby Nefastos » Tue Nov 28, 2017 1:33 pm

I think that the reason why your thoughts have not gained any responses is because no one has anything to say against them, and also, nothing very important to add. I would like to say, nevertheless, that I much appreciate your enlightened view on the subject(s).

In one of his letters (August 22, 1882) the theosophical master Koot Hoomi says "With an enemy one has to use either equal or better weapons". He refers to tantric sects, which the early theosophy saw as the ultimate evil – as we have recently discussed in the Mahatma Letters reading group. So who is pulling the nose of whom, and having the last laugh? Or both? Are these different schools actually the same, wrestling in love like Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu? – For certainly it seems that either the "tantrics" or "theosophists" have now truly got hold of the "equal weapons" and are using either the smokescreen or the screen of light for everyone's benefit in the Dark Age of Kali. Juggling with sharp weapons is grantedly dangerous, but if and when such weapons must be put in some use, this might be just the one.
Faust: "Lo contempla. / Ei muove in tortuosa spire / e s'avvicina lento alla nostra volta. / Oh! se non erro, / orme di foco imprime al suol!"
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Smaragd
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Re: Tradition, Tantra and the West

Postby Smaragd » Sun Nov 25, 2018 5:13 pm

I've been pondering the importance of lineage lately because some buddhist practices I feel close to and one I got introduced to by someone from a Vajrayana lineage, place the higher principles in to their incarnated masters, making the principles easy to visualize. Although some years ago I would have thought this a bit naive, I now kind of like how it weaves ones views of the spirit in to the manifesting world. That said I feel it's important to see those principles also in more abstract way to be able to use them other ways than by mimicing certain models. Although guruyoga can't be reduced to just mimicing the forms, now that I think about it.

This brings us to the challenges of syncretism, if not Tantra, in the West. One can feel drawn to so many ways of practices and religions in their spontaneous attitude, that it becomes a mess, while in the traditional ways one usually have certain set of practices, like the guruyoga etc., that you keep knocking the ground until you get through. There's not so much danger to just sweep the surface when you've got only one hole to dig in to.
The syncretic mess is also very beautiful if one is able to slowly place the important pieces together in to one holistic mandala. There's also tons of symbols and myths pointing in to slightly different things and it might look like a mess, but I guess you keep the most important pieces in the middle and when the time comes you feel like, for example, being pierced by the Javelin of Longinus you've got that myth in your backpack to find your way through. And afterall this broken mirror of ahistorical continuity can shine light in ways that takes a lot more time to reveal in traditional setting. In the lack of a safe lineage the thirst might guide one faster into the depths of the symbols and thus their vitality, ecspecially in a collective like ours where there's others doing the same thing and sharing their cups. Where as the humble follower of a tradition receives the practices and may take quite some time to understand even the near surface levels of their symbols, but just keep on knocking through. But this is just a very narrow view I've witnessed in my limited sights in to the traditional lineage.

It would be interesting to know more about Vajrayana and ecspecially something about their initiation system.
This is interesting because I'm comparing here the SoA as a now-a-days kinda spontanic Tantric entity in the West, with a bit more left-handed emphasis & Vajrayana as a uncut Tantric lineage with less left-hand emphasis reaching to the West. SoA also has this sort of a "Kaula" influence, like Kashmir Shaivism, in it's syncretism as there's some overarching ideas the lodges as "kaulas" work with according to entities and practices they feel drawn to. The differences become finer and thus more revealing, so it might be fruitful to study Vajrayana.
obnoxion
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Re: Tradition, Tantra and the West

Postby obnoxion » Thu Dec 13, 2018 1:54 pm

Smaragd wrote:
Sun Nov 25, 2018 5:13 pm
I've been pondering the importance of lineage lately because some buddhist practices I feel close to and one I got introduced to by someone from a Vajrayana lineage, place the higher principles in to their incarnated masters, making the principles easy to visualize. Although some years ago I would have thought this a bit naive, I now kind of like how it weaves ones views of the spirit in to the manifesting world. That said I feel it's important to see those principles also in more abstract way to be able to use them other ways than by mimicing certain models. Although guruyoga can't be reduced to just mimicing the forms, now that I think about it.
Placing the higher principles in the incarnated masters is a lovely philosophy and practice. But after a decade of agonizing over the problem of lineage, I have found myself to be too much of a Theist to despare over it. Anyaway, I am more attuned to the long-haired family men at the beginning of Tibetan lineages than the ways of monasteries.

Unlike in the Buddhist Tantras, I found from the Hindu Tantras a much stronger emphasis on Devotion, and that suits me much better. The Devotional Songs of Utpaladeva's Shivastotravali are especially important to me.

When it comes to syncretism, I have found gems of equal value from a Tantic Treatise and a Symbolist Painting. But I think that the term bricoleur would be better suited than syncretist. The term is by Levi-Strauss originally, but I see in it what is essential in both Poetics and Shamanism. For me this is founded on the realization that the pan(en)theistic God is so radically available and intimately close, that it is pointless to think if there is God, but only to contemplate on the qualities of the self-evident Divinity. There is actually a very interesting book by Ebrahim Moosa called "Ghazali & The Poetics of Imagination", where Moosa argues, among other things, that al-Ghazali was s bricoleur.
One day of Brahma has 14 Indras; his life has 54 000 Indras. One day of Vishnu is the lifetime of Brahma. The lifetime of Vishnu is one day of Shiva.

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