of much Western interpretation of Eastern understanding and
methods suffers on account of the extreme differences of environment,
culture, language and attitude in the East.
The early Westen tantrikas were brave explorers and did their
honest level best to communicate what the had found. More than
that, they made as much as possible out of what they had learned.
about or (very rarely) from personal experience of a single
school’s initiation ritual, they interpolated connections to
other things oriental that they had picked up along the way.
They were often very clever, and their interpolations were
often right. Sometimes, they were flat out wrong, and every
now and again, their ideas amounted to ridiculous silliness.
It can be very difficult to separate an understanding or a
practical method from a cultural background which one is having
to learn at the same time. Rituals, methods and meditations
are almost inseparable from the cultural environment. Their
effectiveness often requires a pattern of thinking or a relationship
to information that is almost impossible if one has not been
a child in that culture.
difficulty is multiplied when a seeker
returns to the West as a teacher. Let us guess that it has
taken five years to take on his Guru's culture, and four years
to make some significant progress on his own path.
He has had experiences that are very difficult to communicate
to his homies. He faces a tricky dilemma: Should he create
a miniature version of the culture he studied in … Perhaps
he should teach the Eastern language, or at least many key
words … Does he need to teach the legends, myths and Deity
systems? … What about the particular dietary restrictions,
hygiene methods, social and/or shamanistic drugs? Perhaps the
precise exercise routines, the philosophy or the chanting are
absolutely vital, essential to progress, and, until invstigated,
Over time … considerable time, and with many students basically
being experiments, our hypothetical teacher has the possibility
of pruning the non-essential and finding ways of making his
understanding more accessible to seekers of his culture.
This situation is certainly getting easier these days. Seekers
in the West travel more, and many have parents and friends
from older generations who endured the consequences of these
difficulties and developed some discernment. In some ways, foreign is
not as foreign as it used to be.
South African seekers have been fortunate with this situation,
on account of South Africa's physical location, halfway to
Eastern, African and Western cultures are strongly
represented here by large permanent populations that are strongly
in touch with their roots. Especially (en)during the apartheid
years, there was very little integration of culture. Very little
heat on the melting pot indeed.
urges and insistent love of truth automatic to seekers
generally made them opponents of apartheided. They were interested,
on many levels, to understand and relate to the cultures they
were apartheided from. They were made very aware of the ugliness
and stupidity inherent in the governing principles and attitudes
of the ruling faction of the Afrikaans tribe.
A seeker has to break with her culture. Not that she has
to become its enemy, just that she has to become able to distinguish
between cultural assumptions and truth. The exploitative and
incestuous threesome of Church, State and Business was as blatant
and unapologetic in SA of the 1970’s as in America of the new
millenium. It is easier to make that personal break with one’s
cultural way when it is also a moral imperative to do so!
Since the miraculous bloodless revolution and the dawning
of the New South Africa, the Rainbow
Nation, South African seekers have had a much easier time
of things generally. The wonderful (at least on paper) new
Constitution has removed much of the shadow of illegality
that apartheid imposed on free thinkers and others of a non
state-religion inclination. The country has eleven officially
recognised languages and many South Africans speak more than
half of these fluently.
Because of these factors, or possibly for no particular
reason at all, South African seekers have a relatively easy
time becoming trans-cultural – able to connect with and learn
from many cultures without being owned by any of them, especially
the one they were born into.
At any time, several teachers, students or friends of this
school are in India, Sedona, Cologne or wherever there is teaching
and/or learning to be done.
South Africa's seekers are in the main, sincere and strong
in intent. Owing to the immense practicality required for life
in South Africa (One has to respond to situations of all sorts as
not as they, according to rules, should
be) seekers here tend to have pretty good bullshit filters,
and are mostly immune to the Emperor’s
New Clothes syndrome.
The many visiting teachers of everything from Reiki to Rolphing
can confirm that running groups, retreats and workshops with
South Africans is a delight. The sincerity with which they
engage and their commitment to learning, once they are clear
that you indeed have something worthwhile to teach, is deeply
South Africa has several teachers in the area of sacred sexuality.
Two of the most venerable have a lot of nervousness around
publicity, but have been quietly making a difference in many
lives over the last fifteen or so years.
Osho tantra groups continue to be available here.
Through the 1980’s, a particularly powerful and loving facilitator
of these was a South African, living in Germany. The most recent
was in November 2009, facilitated by the lovely Halima.
South Africa has a few notable spiritual exports. Isaac
Shapiro and Leslie Temple-Thursdon are probably the best known,
and we love their work. Isaac's way of teaching the philosophy
of Advaita is unique and accessible. Leslie's mind-processing
techniques are powerful, yet simple to use.
At this school, the Dakas, Dakinis and Rahasya run a comprehensive
programme of individual sessions work, short courses, workshops
and retreats in and around Johannesburg, Cape Town, and gorgeous
For seekers interested in Tantra, and especially for seekers
who have had a good taste of the teachings available
around the world, South Africa is, at the moment, a very, very
special place to be indeed.