2.3 PATH OF LOVE

Tantra just means method; so we may call it the yoga of how things work. I do not mean here yoga as a special system of Indian metaphysics such as that expounded by Patanjali. I mean yoga in its general sense as any practical methodology based upon metaphysical precepts.

The things with whose workings tantra is concerned are, of course, the consciousness of being human. In this regard tantra shares common ground with many other spiritual disciplines and many philosophies.

Tantra teaches not only the usual instruction book methods, but more importantly attitude. Tantra concerns itself more with attitude, rather than any specific practice or set of practices.

It is quite true that there are specific practices and specific schools of tantra. These are instruction book methods. They have their place and it is important to learn what they have to say. But the most significant point about tantra is the attitude it demands and expounds. Remember that attitude determines what you do with your knowledge.

Methods and techniques mean little without the right attitude. If you get hung up on technique or on any specific practice, you will miss the point of tantra. The basic method of tantra is simply being open minded and refusing to hang onto any method. It is a sense of wonder and innocent exploration. It is an opening up. This reflects the tantric attitude.

Tantra also affirms all life and its physical manifestations. Tantra revels in being alive and utilizes that very excitement for conscious growth towards maturity.

Tantra does not condemn physical existence or anything that arises from that existence. Tantra rather accepts all experience as part of life whose beauty and wonder exhibit a marvellous multiplicity. Hence, tantra shares nothing in common with those disciplines that negate the physical and advocate chastisement of the body.

Neither does tantra teach that the spiritual life is something different and of a more exalted and holy nature than the physical. In tantra, all is holy, all sublime. The physical and the spiritual are not two experiences but only two ways of looking at the same experience.

Like modern science, tantra asks the question how? Tantra and science are primarily concerned about how things work. For both tantra and science the question why? is less important. Not unimportant, but less important.

Philosophy and religion, on the other hand, ask why? Why are things the way they are? For philosophy why? is the most important question and how? is less so. Thus philosophy differs from tantra and science in the emphasis on the how? and the why? of existence.

Tantra is more like science than philosophy. Tantra does not avoid the why? of existence - neither does science - but the how? is primary to tantra and the why? only secondary. The why? and the what? and the where? and the when? that are the paramount questions for philosophy and religion are only relevant to tantra in so far as they help to answer the question how?

To understand philosophy you need only a certain degree of intellectual acuity. If you can understand its language, its terminology and its concepts, then you can understand philosophy. Nothing else is required.

In religion even less is demanded of you because if you can not understand all you need to do is believe. In fact, for religion belief is more important than understanding. For religion, belief is paramount. What you believe is less important than simply that you believe.

You do not have to change who you are to understand philosophy or to believe the teachings of a religion. You do not have to become someone different. You just have to do a bit of mental juggling.

But to understand tantra you need to change. Unless you become someone different you can not understand what tantra has to say. This is because tantra is experience, and not just mental juggling.

Unless you open up yourself and become receptive to the experience it is not going to happen. If you just remain closed and rejective you can not expect the experience to happen. You must allow it to happen.

When you approach something from the philosophical or religious point of view all you do is talk about it, think about it, learn about it. Even though all this may be interesting, from the tantric point of view it is not enough. How many wonderful and ennobling philosophies have you read about and admired? They remain only beautiful words in a book unless you actually live them.

Likewise, how many religions teach beautiful, wonderful and noble truths about human relationships only to have them totally ignored by the people who claim to believe those teachings? How many Christians experience compassion and concern for their fellow human beings and how many express only narrow minded bigotry and intolerance?

That is why tantra demands more. Tantra demands the real experience of something, to know it, not just to know about it.

For example, if you are thirsty a chemistry textbook describing the physical properties and qualities of water will not satisfy your thirst. You may find it fascinating to learn all kinds of interesting things about water but you still thirst. Until you actually drink water and thereby know it your thirst is not quenched.

Tantra says to drink water is to know water. Reading a book about water is not the same as drinking it. This is fairly obvious. Yet when it comes to our personal experience of living, we all tend to delude ourselves into mistaking the chemistry textbook for real water.

We do it something like this. Take the tantric statement "God is love." We find no philosophizing here, just a plain and unambiguous statement of the how? of existence. It could not be simpler or more straight forward.

Yet, if you are content merely to philosophize then in your mind you will be asking why? and not how? As a consequence, you will not see "God is love" as a simple statement of how? but as a philosophical premise. You will see it not as unambiguous and simple but quite the opposite.

If you see "God is love" as a mere philosophical premise, you will next begin to elaborate. By many various logical arguments you will begin to multiply the possible ramifications that naturally follow. That is why the statement is not plain and simple for you but one that is loaded with delicious ambiguity.

You may then go on to develop your many arguments into several different schools of thought on the subject. Each school of thought can then go about convincingly advocating its own particular viewpoint as valid and all others as invalid, a very paradoxical but philosophical situation.

From the tantric viewpoint this is all nonsense. It may be interesting and fun but it is nonsense all the same.

As long as you realize it is only nonsense and indulge in it playfully there is no harm done. After all, tantra teaches that among other reasons we are also here to enjoy being alive and that enjoyment takes many forms. But if you do not realize it is nonsense but instead take it all seriously then you are mistaking the textbook for the real thing. Just like thinking a chemistry book is real water.

Tantra says: to know God, "whom we can not see,"17 you will first have to know love. To know love, you will have to love. You have to be in love. You have to become love, to let love transform you by its power.

There is no philosophy here, just experience, the how? What you think or believe does not matter. The experience of love will change you. If you just allow the experience of love to happen you will change. You can not remain the same as before. The moment you love, the instant you experience love, you are a different person. The old you has become a new you. The power of love has transformed you.

But the transformation of love can not happen just by reading a book, or attending a discussion group. The transformation of love can not happen by taking a course, or listening to a sermon, or sitting alone in your room fantasizing about it.

For the transformation of love to happen you will have to encounter another human being. You will have to become open and receptive. You will have to become vulnerable.

Otherwise love can not happen and it is nonsense for you to imagine that it can happen. Love requires openness, receptiveness and vulnerability. Nothing else will do.

You may find the experience of love frightening just because it is unpredictable. Beforehand, you can not know just how it will turn out. You can not know before who you will be afterwards, only that you will be someone different.

You have to take a chance with love. You have to risk the unknown and stop clinging to the comfort and the security of the old you. This is often difficult. You need courage.

But to philosophize, to know only about love, is easy. You risk nothing reading a book or attending a public discussion. You risk nothing hearing a Sunday sermon, or taking a course, or sitting in your room alone and day dreaming. You risk nothing relating to another person in a superficial and shallow way. Finally, you take no chances on an unpredictable outcome. If matters start to get uncomfortable you can just walk out. No big deal.

You can remain imprisoned within the old you. You can remain safe and comfortable in the assurance that you will not change. You will not have to bother getting acquainted with a new you. You will not have to change your way of living or your way of thinking because another person has entered deeply into your life.

There are no surprises. But there is no love either.

Many people who call themselves a Christian claim to know God. They claim to know about God and to love God. In all sincerity many people make the statement, "I love God."

But from the tantric viewpoint such a statement is meaningless. This is because the fundamental teaching of Christianity says that God is love and not the mere object of love.

I hope you can see the difference. If you can not please read it again. "God is love" is tantra and it is not philosophy. It is most emphatically not theology. It is a straight forward and totally unambiguous statement about the how? of existence.

You can not know love by reading about it in a book. You can not know love by going to a lecture about it. You can only discover love in the act of loving. That is the how? of love.

If you objectify love, that is if you make it into an entity named "God" with whom you can form a relationship, then God becomes a mere psychological projection. If you are busy loving your own psychological projection that is just narcissism. Just the same as loving your own image in a mirror.

Narcissism makes it impossible to know love. To have the capacity to love another human being you must first be able to love yourself. But narcissism is pathological self love. It is the same thing as mistaking the chemistry textbook for real water.

True knowledge of love can only come from loving. To make love into a psychological projection named "God" will not do. To make love into a philosophical or theological premise which can be dissected and analyzed will not do.

Mental dissection and analysis are merely knowing about something. They enable you to avoid the real thing itself. If you do not want to do something, then you talk about it. Your talking about it substitutes for doing it. You can say to yourself "I am talking about it," or "I am thinking about it." Thereby you can pretend that you are actually doing it.

To make God into a mere object of love is the way you avoid the real experience of love itself. You are merely talking love, not doing love.

The viewpoint of tantra says that doing is knowing. Tantra says that doing is the only knowing. Anything else is just knowing about. Until you actually do something you can not know it. You may know about it and you may ask questions about it, but your questions have no answers until you do it. The doing supplies the answers.

The questions you ask show not only what you do not know, but more importantly where you are and who you are. The questions you ask reveal the state of your awareness of the fullness of consciousness and degree of self realization. This is simply because questions only occur to you when you are ready to answer them. Until then you already know it all and there are no questions for you.

Philosophy tries to answer your questions directly by telling you all about whatever you are asking. But from the tantric point of view no real knowledge can come this way but only phoney knowing about.

Real knowledge can be gained only by doing. So tantra does not give you the answers you seek directly. Instead tantra shows you where you are and who you are. Tantra reveals the where? and the who? that is asking the question and it shows you how to attain the answers to your questions for yourself.

Tantra can do nothing more. In fact, no philosophy, no religion and no science can do more, even though they may think they can. Only you can answer the questions you are asking.

No one else can breathe for you, or eat for you, or sleep for you. You have to do these things for yourself. So too, you have to realize who and what you are for yourself. In the realization that occurs you will then answer your own questions.

The full process of being human is described in the Apocalypse. You are encountering yourself. What you are encountering is not a narcissistic projection. You are not encountering some externalized entity "out there" some place beyond outer space that you can call God.

You are encountering the who and the what that is really you. For this encounter to occur, for this experience to happen, you have to do more than merely philosophize or believe in some religion. You have to open up. You have to become open and receptive and take a risk. You have to plunge into the unknown.

You have to know love. Then you will begin to understand and to know yourself.

Until you know love and allow yourself to be transformed by its power, the experience I am talking about can not happen. You are only fooling yourself to think otherwise.

Love is the key to the kingdom locked inside each and every one of us. Each one of us must set it free for ourselves. Just like eating, sleeping and breathing, no one else can do it for you.

That is what christianity is all about, nothing more and nothing less. All the philosophy and theology, all the doctrines and morality, all the ritual and worship of official Christianity are nonsense. They are all just the official way to avoid the real thing. They are the way to talk love instead of loving. They are all about politics and manipulation. They are all about preventing you from making the real discovery that will set you free. They are all about keeping the churchmen in charge.

Love and sex turn out to be the big secret that is not really all that secret. Deep inside somewhere, perhaps in our heart of hearts, we have always felt that there had to be something more than we have been told about ourselves and about our sex.

There has always been a quiet and soft spoken voice whispering about something magical and hidden within. Something powerful enough to carry us across the mysterious inner sea that surrounds and limits us, that separates us from each other. So there is! We need only grow up a little to find it.

For the many of us who have begun to outgrow our childish "image of the beast,"18 which is nothing but the anthropomorphic projection of love called "God" by the orthodox, the message hidden in the Apocalypse beckons to the still hazy yonder shore.

"But strong meat belongs to them that are mature, even those who by reason of usage have their faculties exercised in the discernment of both knowledge and ignorance."19

The conqueror is the doorway to perception. Passionate love opens us up to the ultimate human adventure.

Click here to continue
Click here to return to beginning of this chapter
Click here to go back to previous chapter
Click here to return to table of contents