the pathless path of Tantra, some common pitfalls are:
Emulating the enlightened condition
In California, they master the enlightened laugh
and the enlightened stare. Elsewhere in the West, it is all
about keeping the face as still and unmoving as a Buckingham
Palace sentry, or as close as they can get. In the East, it's
deeper, more substantial, but basically the same. Exercising
to sit silent as the Buddha, forcing a compassionate attitude,
a happy disposition, disciplining the mind into silence, re-conditioning
sexuality into enlightened patterns of behaviour and
The Buddha was not born to a life of celibate
silent contemplation, but had many years living in a thoroughly
worldly way before even beginning his conscious seeking.
Training youngsters, or even young adults into
parodies, pretences, performances of spiritual looksgood isn't
really that helpful in terms of producing an enlightened humanity.
The movie Samsara makes this point, beautifully,
and eloquently, even in subtitles.
Sometimes, perhaps, logical idiocy is involved.
Very logically, to initiate disciples into Renunciation with
three sharp blows to the penis, severing all relevant nerves,
and doing significant general tissue damage gives the Initiate
a great start if the objective is to overcome all sexual craving
The problem is of course the ego-fascination
with the outward appearance. The temptation to emulate and
display the marks of enlightenment. Buddha was asked
about these marks by Subodhi, a very advanced student
of his. Buddha’s response: "The true mark of the Thatagata
is the no-posession of no-marks". If that is tricky to
understand, do not be at all embarrassed. Subodhi was a very
advanced student indeed.
Addiction to technique: Keeping the training
This is a slightly risky teaching. It can easily
be misconstrued. The ego can use this legitimate warning to
excuse all sorts of avoidance of useful practice. Do guard
a bit against that. This is not an excuse to keep your practice
This is also not an endorsement of the popular
modern teaching that technique is all bullshit. Many
techniques are valuable indeed, leading to valuable insights
and supportive encouragements. It's worth working deeply with
a technique – deep enough to get the knack, the feeling,
for what the technique teaches. Be sure to get the real lesson
which the artificiality of the technique draws your attention
And then, yes, discard the technique.
Not as in throwing away the technique, though
… just that you now live with the awareness the technique has
given you. You now access what the technique teaches, but more
directly, more immediately.
Think of techniques as the training wheels on
a child's bicycle. They are a great help for the kid getting
the feeling of riding, and taking a first ride or two. Once
the child is actually riding, however, the training wheels
are no longer helpful and quickly become a hindrance. They
need to come off. Real bicycle riding then happens.
When it comes to sexual technique, this warning
goes double. There is an extra intensity that ego brings to
matters sexual. More of a tenancy to hang on to achievements.
For example, a position and pressure that blocks
the ejaculatory reflexes is great to explore, but an absolute
dead-end if the technique is perfected.
Mistaking Satori for Samadhi
I apologise to the Oriental cultures who's words
I mismatch, brutalise and misuse. This is the way us users
of the English language absorb words, changing the meaning
as required. It's not going to stop.
Here are two terms I use incorrectly, and redefine
more or less thus:
satori: A flash of light in
the darkness. A moment of profound insight, deliberately, accidentally
or fortuitously created. There are many flavours of satori.
A building has many windows. Each provides a view, perhaps
overwhelming in it's depth and implications but in a way, partial
An old story that illustrates this involves blind
men encountering an elephant. One describes the elephant as
being like a whip, another describes it as being like a tree,
and so on. Each has encountered the elephant, has had a moment
directly experiencing it, knows far more about the elephant
than was known previously … but does not know the whole elephant.
Although they may be remembered long and their
lessons are true, satori, in and of themselves, are brief.
Life changes inspired by them, however, tend to be more permanent.
Samadhi: Literally "together
with the Divine", means living in the deepest possible
empathetic responsiveness to existence. Samadhi includes the
noticing that this has always been the case, that I have
been doing nothing at all and that which is life itself has
always been the doing of the living that I call me.
Paradoxically, in a way, it seems I have been pretending that
this is not the case. This applies to everyone, just they are
pretending to not know, or are just not noticing. Samadhi is
the indescribable. Literally beyond that which language can
describe, it is the holy grail of mystics, devotees, renunciants,
disciples, seekers and king-makers. It's the indescribable
experience – unending, unbeginning, that Lao Tzu, Nanuk, Jesus,
Osho, both Krishnamurtis, Ouspensky, Eckhart Tolle and others
write so beautifully around and about. The whole elephant.
Sometimes techniques derived from what seem to
have been involved in the happening of Samadhi are useful for
inducing Satori too. Samadhi, however, cannot be evoked or
caused by any technique. It requires an openness, a submission,
a yielding of unimaginable proportions. The egoic view is indeed
transcended … but not by being convinced or argued
of an idea.
The point of satori , the glimpse out of a window,
is that it shows you, beyond all argument and inner dialogue,
some aspect of the Dharma, the truth as it is. This
can provide the necessary urge to get on with the
path as such. Satori, in other words, exist to tempt us to
the paradoxically impossible but vital attitude of non-seeking
I don't think anyone is going to be agreeing
anytime soon on what exactly defines and constitutes these
levels of experience and moments of deep perception. As with
everything apparent in existence, there are no true boundaries.
Sometimes it seems Samadhi happens, then it is lost after some
months. A cluster of deep Satori are noticed as Satori, but
in the Ashram's Buddha field, the general peacefulness, Samadhi
may have happened, and slip by unnoticed for a while. Some
Satori can be quite powerful and may last a while, only fading
in their qualities of presence and immediacy after some time.
As a rough guide, if you've had an illuminating experience,
the implications of which imply great change for your life,
that is satori. Get on with those changes. Do not announce
yourself just yet as the Avatar of Existence's Core Essence
and World Teacher, the One Essence of Beingness, the Centre
of Suchness, JC2, etc.
… not quite yet…
If you have had varieteous satori experiences, have purged
(or had life exhaust, drain you of) your anger, have gone completely
through the depths of your suffering and negativity, have felt
and allowed within you many extreme emotions and sensations
without closing up, without shutting down your awareness … and
then you seem to have been in the feeling, the glow of satori
for a while, some months, perhaps … then you probably
would not be reading this. If you are as described, and are
reading this in spite of the probabilities involved, go right
now, research Bodhisattva and arahat (alt
spelling ahrat), then make up your no-mind.
Sense-addiction is just something most tantrikas
just have to get through. Regrettable, perhaps, especially
as working through this can look unfortunately undisciplined
Dakinis do have capabilities that can be extremely
addictive and imprinting. Powerful psycho-surgical instruments
indeed, looked at one point of view. Essential leverage to
move your stuck and settled ego-constructs, looked at from
Addicting others, for whatever conscious or unconscious
reasons can be quite cruel. Being addicted can be a time and
energy consuming trap.
As a student tantrika, it's therefore wise to
approach the Dakini with caution until you can trust her intent
(not that you can discern her intent, just that you trust it)
and her capacity (just that it is apparent and beyond your
As an adept, a Tantrika with some skill, it's
wise to be careful (full of caring) when it seems appropriate
to use powerful techniques. For all concerned.
Imprinting goes deeper and is more primal than
addiction. Addiction is largely a matter of strongly reinforced
habitual mental associations. Imprinting is more like what
happens when the crocodile hatches, sees the lawnmower, and
fixates on it as mommy from then on. Nature has set
the body-mind of the baby croc up to imprint the image of the
first object of suitable size and speed as mommy,
and to accept no substitutes from that moment forth.
There are human equivalents to imprinting. Not
as hard-wired as in the baby croc, but pretty powerful nonetheless.
Some aspects of our cultural training set
people up for imprinting type experiences. Most of our culture's
romantic stories centre on a couple's mutual imprinting of
each other. Psychopathically fixated, even into death, like
the well known love-lemmings, Romeo and Juliet. Seekers, particularly
Tantrikas do have to face and move through all illusion, even
Note: The lawnmower isn't the croc's mommy.
What you are imprinted to is an illusion. The most fundamental
commitment of a seeker is to truth. On the path, a willingness
to become completely dis-illusioned is implied, and required.
The temptations of Siddhis
There was once a Teacher once who found he
could manifest intricate objects at will.
In his early days of teaching, it seemed
to him that this unusual ability must have been given to
him in order for him to impress a large number of seekers
… to dazzle them onto the path, under his loving direction.
It worked that way for a while, but, the
more he exhibited this ability, the more it receded. Working
intermittently, or only when the vibes were right. Complex
objects became impossible, and he manifested dusty ashy stuff.
Later on, the Siddhi completely gone, so
as not to disappoint, he would just fake the ash.
Really, the less said about the sweeties,
gifts, powers and other misnomers for these apparent
abilities the better. Many teachers downplay these phenomena
as much as possible, for good reasons.
There are basically two categories of Siddhis,
though most fit into both categories to some degree.
Natural human abilities and senses, which are seldom
Dowsing is a good example of this category.
It's a real, verifiable ability, yet very few people can do
it and most people couldn't be taught to do it. Some healers
and some martial artists display unusual perceptive abilities,
others exhibit an ability to affect life energy in the body
– helpfully or harmfully, according to training and inclination.
These gifts are basically just the same as walking,
or writing a limerick (refined western poetry form somewhat
similar to but more eloquent than haiku). Skills that you're
unlikely to develop on your own, without examples to learn
from. There are linkages, connections of tendency, that Science
is now starting to glimpse between specific behaviours in childhood
and later skills potential.
An example: Some children are hurried through
their crawling stage by spending lots of time upright in walking-rings.
They walk sooner than babies that are free to crawl. This may
be gratifying to parents who watch charts and graphs of normal development,
very concerned that their child should be advanced.
It is also likely to result in difficulties later on with learning
reading and writing. Some therapists who work with children's
dyslexia know this and use crawling as a therapy, with significant
Some Tantric Practices switch on, enable or sensitise
generally unused modes of perception. Others increase the capacity
for (unresisted) sensation and some seem to rewire automatic
and involuntary reactions. Most of this work depends on the
perceptive abilities and intent both student and Dakini.
Screwing with Newton or the world view
attributed (unjustly) to the old fellow.
Manifesting, altering an object's physical properties,
levitation, tricks with time and space and other super-natural
seeming phenomena seem to require a separate category because
they are far enough from our own experience that they seem
really, really unlikely.
Many meditators have stories of journeys that
involve driving far beyond a vehicle's fuel range. Mountaineers
have survived physically impossible situations more than once.
People have won lotteries or other gambling endeavours on the
encouragement of a dream, or a feeling for numbers. Smugglers
of banned books have prayed to various deities for and have
received mysterious protection from the scrutiny of surly
border guards … there are many stories of these kinds
In the culture's schools, however, 100+ year
old western physics and chemistry is taught
as fact. This results in some siddhis being regarded as more
unbelievable and more likely to be called unnatural, impossible,
or miraculous. Western Science unfortunately has a long history
of ignoring misfit (aka fortean) data, instead of analysing
it, and getting on with their supposed thing of hypothesising,
testing, theorising, experimenting …
Most of these weirder gifts probably, in truth,
belong in the previous category. Just, they seem to defy the
common understanding of reality.
Please note: Neither of these categories
of Siddhis have anything to do with spiritual attainment.
All of them can be developed or faked, even though
some require training that starts at age 3 or so and others
require huge pain or physical trauma to activate them, then
years to develop conscious control.
Some are just abilities you can cultivate. Some
come and go as one moves on one's path. Do not be concerned
by them or get hung up on them. Note: It is considered spiritually
immature and quite rude to get others hung up on admiring your
Jesus' healing Siddhi, for example, was
something he chose to use on occasion, being a compassionate
man, but he was always at pains to cover up a bit and encourage
the fellow to attribute his healing to the Temple, and not
mention it had anything to do with Jesus.
His disciples descendants however, reported the
incidents many years later, far from the supervision of anyone
who had known the Master. Christian missionaries then focused
on these miracle stories – in clear defiance of their master's
expressed intent – as being a hot USP,
an unarguable claim to spiritual superiority. This did not
play well in spiritually mature cultures like India.
Tantra is known for siddhis and some schools
made the acquisition and development of siddhis their whole
focus. The relics of that idiocy survive, and currently are
having a tough time with an Indian TV programme, "The Great
Siddhis, both awakened natural abilities, and
the more freaky, weird and inexplicable, sometimes frightening
ones are just by-products of your awareness increasing. They
are more or less accidental side effects which can be beneficial
and useful sometimes, perhaps. It's not useful to get hung
up on them. Putting your energy into exhibition of them is
not useful to anyone and pretty much brings your path to a
grinding halt. Also, in this modern age, so many siddhis are
anyway almost pointless. For example, cellphones and camcorders
work better than telepathy or clairvoyance ever did.
Entrancement, esoteric TV
There are all sorts of entrancing visions along
the path. Enjoy, but do not misjudge their significance. Occasionally
insights from the between here and the ultimate spaces
can be really helpful but there are endless realms of nothing-particularly-relevant out
It is worth heeding a warning I had from Sw.
"Just because something can get itself channeled doesn't
mean it is compassionate, benevolent, or even intelligent."
Even when visions, lucid dreams, astral traveling,
akashic record perusing and such are relevant, their only value
is that relevance … what they encourage you to … the
difference you make in the real, inspired by that relevant
Visions, psychic readings and such are sometimes
very useful pointers on the path. Sometimes they are really
direct, literal, unmistakable …
A few years ago, a Dakini of this school passed
through a time of confusion. In the midst of this confusion,
getting out of her car at the mall, she asked for a sign.
Looking directly in front of her, covering construction work,
was indeed the requested sign: "Please be patient. Undergoing
Just watch out that you don't get trapped, obsessive,
or dependant on these things, particularly as a way of having
"meaning" in your life. Living is far more important
than what living means. TV, even esoteric TV