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Tantra is the physical, mental, and spiritual path that connects all paths. Think of it as a systems approach to spiritual science.

Compared with most spiritual traditions, most forms of tantra are notable for being primarily focused on personal growth and empowerment and less interested in soteriological concerns like mokṣa, salvation, karma, or the afterlife.

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Tantra: from the Sanskrit tantram, literally "loom, warp," hence "groundwork, system, doctrine," from tan "to stretch, extend," from PIE root *ten- "to stretch, extend" (see tenet). Online Etymology Dictionary

The path that connects all paths.

Esoteric paths of transformation.

One meaning of "tantric" is "based on the tantras," a variety of traditional texts and teachings mostly concerned with ritual technique. In many ways, looking at original texts from the First Millennium, tantra was thought of as a kind of practical spiritual technology, not as a religion, which explains why it was adopted by so many different religions.

In Hinduism, the opposite of "tantric" is "vedic," referring to the mainstream Hindu traditions that are based on the great sagas known as the Vedas and the later scriptures in the same tradition. Vedic traditions emphasize caste and purity, while many tantric traditions were open to all castes, even those considered "unclean," and practiced rituals that involved "impure" substances and actions.

In Vajrayana (or "Tantric") Buddhism, the opposite of "tantric" is "sutric," referring to the texts and teachings known as the Sutras, most of which were written in the 1st through 5th centuries, before most of the tantras were written. However, this distinction is not clearcut and often leads to some confusion, because the Tibetan monastic traditions, in particular, are heavily sutric, but still claim to be tantric for historical and traditional reasons.

Most vedic and sutric sects and religions are ascetic, aimed at escaping from this world and from what they believe is the illusion of reality that chains us to samsara, the endless cycle of rebirth. They aim to do this through purity, self-denial, proper ritual and behavior, and the annihilation of fear, desire, pleasure, and all other emotions.

Tibetan monastic Buddhism is one example of this. These sects claim to be tantric, but they are in fact mostly sutric. They typically restrict tantra to a tiny elite who have spent decades as celibate monks mastering the sutras. Only then do they have access to tantric rituals and "secret knowledge," which has been repurposed as a way to achieve "enlightenment" and become a Bodhisattva or Buddha.

Similarly, Vedic religions generally teach that asceticism and self-denial are necessary for spiritual progress, and that the ultimate goal of spiritual progress is achieving "liberation," which means liberation from the cycle of life itself. Even if they claim to be "tantric," or to incorporate tantric elements, the tantric rituals they use have been entirely transformed and repurposed toward this goal of abstinence and "liberation."

By contrast, most tantric traditions with authentic roots are simply not interested in liberation, Buddhahood, or the afterlife. They are focused instead on personal growth and empowerment and on creating a better life in this world.

As part of of the focus on personal growth and empowerment, many tantric sects believe that sensory pleasure is not something intrinsically bad, but can instead be a source of energy and motivation that, if properly channeled, can make us stronger and more effective in our lives. In classical terms, most tantric traditions are Dionysian, not Apollonian or ascetic.

Also in contrast with many vedic and sutric traditions, most tantric sects believe that this world is real and that it's the only one we have. Theistic nondual tantric sects typically believe that the ultimate godhead IS the world and all living things, so you do not need to "seek" god or connect with god, you ARE god – and so is everyone and everything else.

Beyond these classifications, it's important to remember that although there are tantric religions – with theological beliefs that vary widely – tantra itself is not a religion. It is an approach to learning, understanding, and acting in this world and becoming a better, stronger, more effective person.

"A person who, irrespective of caste, creed or religion, aspires for spiritual expansion or does something concrete, is a Tantric. Tantra in itself is neither a religion nor an 'ism'. Tantra is a fundamental spiritual science. So wherever there is any spiritual practice it should be taken for granted that it stands on the Tantric cult." Prabhat Ranjan Sarkar

















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