Relation Between this World and the Absolute Reality - Tantra

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Bede Griffiths begins with chanting.




I'd like to begin this session with a Sanskrit chant which is often used at any assembly. It means, more or less, let us enjoy together, let us share together, let us shine, tejas, let us splendor together, let there be no conflict among us. We're going to talk this morning about the Tantra, and yesterday we were speaking of


Vedanta, and Tantra is the opposite movement, quite distinct from Vedanta, which grew up the time a little after Christ, and permeated Hinduism, and modern Hinduism is very much a combination of Vedanta and Tantra. For convenience, I'd like to divide Hindu history into three periods, or four periods, of one thousand years. The Vedic period is 1500 BC to 500 BC, and that covers the Rig Veda, the Brahmanas, the Vinayakas, and the Upanishads, which come about 500-600 BC. And then the second period, that was the period of the Aryan invasion. This is the normal view, people dispute it today, but it holds, I think, still. These Aryan people, akin to the Greeks, Latins, others, invaded India in the second millennium, brought with them the Sanskrit language, the traditions of the Vedas, and the Vedic


sacrifice, and settled in North India. And there, for a thousand years, that Vedic tradition was developed. And then they began to spread through South India, right through the whole continent, and the Dravidians, the Aryans and Dravidians, again it's rather general, but Dravidians are the inhabitants of South India, the Tamils, where I am. They began to mix. And Hinduism is this wonderful blending of two opposite traditions. It so often happens. It's the meeting of opposites that creates something new. And so in the next period, 500 BC to 500 AD, you have the meeting of the two traditions. It's the period of the epics, the Ramayana, the Mahabharata. It's the period of the darshanas, the philosophies, the basic principles of philosophy were worked out. And it's the period of the laws, the ashras, which organized Hindu life up to the present.


So this was the meeting of those two traditions. And then in the next period, 500 AD to 1500 AD, you have the flowering of the Hindu culture, you see, all the great creative works come forth then. The Doctors of Vedanta I was mentioning yesterday. And that is the period of the tantras. And that is when the Aryan religion of the north encountered this Dravidian religion of the south. And what characterizes this is the worship of the mother and the whole feminine aspect of religion. And that is what I want to explore a little today, because the tantra stands for all this feminine aspect of religion and the worship of the great mother. And this worship of the mother comes probably from Mesopotamia, as you know, in the earlier millennia of 4000 BC, 3000,


there was this, the mother goddess was dominant, but it's a matriarchal society. And the Aryans were a patriarchal society. And so the two opposites. And this Dravidian religion of south India, which may have been all over India, many people think, you see, that it was in the north and that the Aryans pushed it down to the south. But at any rate, now, where I am in Tamil Nadu, the Tamils are almost pure Dravidians. They're quite different from the northern Aryans. And though, of course, a mixture has taken place, varying degrees, all over India, and still in Tamil Nadu, the mother goddess is the prime object of worship. In all our villages, we will have, and in towns, we will have a temple of the mother, the Devi. Mariamma is her name, usually. And very curiously, she's become the goddess of smallpox.


I suppose, you see, smallpox was a terrible scourge in the villages. And there was nothing you could do against it. And it was the mother who brought the smallpox, and the mother alone could cure it. And so smallpox, and I'm afraid even chickenpox today, is regarded as a touch of the mother. And, interestingly, I visited a Brahmin house in our village once, and they had a prayer corner, as they usually do, and there were all the gods and goddesses, which they worshipped, and in the centre was a picture of a little girl. And I asked what this was, and they said it was a girl who died of smallpox. She'd been touched by the mother, and she'd become a kind of saint, you see. This is village religion, but it's really very instructive, you see, how this whole mother-worship of the earth, and then this encounter with disease and so on, all this is part of this religion of the mother.


So, this Dravidian religion has this basis in the feminine. And this calls us, I think, to reflect, you see, on the place of the feminine in our religion. And we have to accept the fact that Christianity and Judaism springs from a patriarchal culture, you see. It was a later culture. The earlier one was matriarchal, and now this is patriarchal. And that is why the only image we have of God is a masculine image. And when you reflect on it, it's an extraordinary thing, isn't it? You see, the father I named is masculine, the son I named is masculine, and even the Holy Spirit, which is masculine in Latin, spiritus, is conceived as a he, you see. And that is very extraordinary when you reflect on it, you see, because obviously God is both father and mother, and neither father nor mother is a sex, obviously.


But in Hinduism, you see, somewhat developing, God has always been both father and mother. And in the Rig Veda, even, you get these hymns where God is addressed as my father, my mother. And that goes right through the Hindu tradition. And I feel that today we need to recover this feminine image of God, you see, because God is both mother and no less than father. And there is a point of insertion of this feminine aspect. I mentioned it in my book, The Marriage of East and West, that the Hebrew for spirit is ruah, and ruah is feminine. So always the spirit in the Old Testament has a feminine name, you see, ruah. And in the Syriac tradition, to which I belong, for a time, as I said, our word for ruah was practically the same, ruah.


Ruah was the spirit. And in the early Syriac, Christian Syriac literature, they speak of our mother, the Holy Spirit. That was in the first, second century. After that, the masculine takes over again. But we have a feminine base there. And the other one is the chokmah, the wisdom of the Old Testament. And that also is feminine. And in Greek, sophia is feminine, and Latin, sapientia, is feminine. So there is a feminine word for God, you could say. And in the wisdom literature, you know, this wisdom is seen playing before God, and she issues out of the mouth of the Most High. She is truly a feminine aspect of God, you see, that chokmah. So we have in our Christian tradition a feminine aspect of God, but it's never hardly been developed. In later tradition, there are indications.


The most famous, of course, is Julian of Norwich, the English mystic, who speaks of Jesus as our mother in a most touching way, and sees him as feminine. And, of course, we must always remember that these things are never separate. Every being is both masculine and feminine. It's a question which is dominant. And there is obviously a very feminine character in Jesus. And also, one should remember that in the Old Testament, Yahweh is a very masculine God, but he also has his feminine side. A mother may forget her child, yet will I not forget thee. And perhaps the main difference between the father and the mother is the father stands for conditional love, and the mother stands for unconditional love. You see, Yahweh's love is always conditional. If you obey my words and keep my commandments, then I will be God to you, and I will care for you, you see. But it's always if. And the father has to challenge the child.


You see, the child has got to move out from the mother, face the world, and the father challenges the child. And so there's always a condition in his love. But the mother is unconditional love. In India they always say when the father beats the child, he flies to the mother and she consoles him, you see. And so there is this aspect of unconditional love. And I think today we feel more and more the need of God as unconditional love. All the obstacles to God are on our side. God is not angry, God doesn't punish, and so on. We refuse his love, and we bring on ourselves the punishment. We bring on ourselves this suffering. But God himself is unconditional love, always seeking the love of man. So there is obviously a place for unconditional love in the Godhead. And the father is both father and mother. We can always address God as our mother. And then, as I said, Julian speaks of Jesus as our mother,


and Jesus has the feminine side. The son is also a daughter, in a sense. And it's interesting, you see, the wisdom is the feminine that comes from the mouth of the Most High. She is the word that comes forth as feminine. And in the Rig Veda, the Vak, the word, is feminine. It's a beautiful concept, very like our Logos, but it's a feminine figure, the Vak. And now we come to the Holy Spirit. And this is where I feel our theology really could develop in a very interesting way, if we were trying to see the Holy Spirit as, in particular, the feminine aspect of God. That the word is masculine, normally, is the expression of God's knowledge, and the Spirit is feminine, expression of God's love. And in the Syriac tradition, as I remember it, we spoke of the Holy Spirit as receiving from the Father and the Son. And to me, the character of the feminine is receptivity.


The male is active, and the female is receptive. And it's not a mere passivity, it's an active passivity, you see. That is receptivity. And this, of course, links up with the Chinese concept of the yang and the yin. And I thought you might be interested. Fritjof Capra, in his book The Turning Point, listed the characteristics of the yang and the yin in the Chinese tradition. And I think it may help us to see how they stand. And these are the characteristics he gives. The yang is masculine, the yin is feminine. The yang is expansive, the yin is contractive. The yang is demanding, as I said, you see, conditional. The yin is conservative. The yang is aggressive, the yin is responsive. The yang is competitive, the yin is cooperative. The yang is rational, the yin is intuitive.


The yang is analytic, the yin is synthetic. Obviously, there are two sides of the human nature, two sides of the brain, really. And both are necessary. But in our Western culture and in Christianity, we've developed the yang. And now we've reached the limit of the yang. And the Chinese say when the yang reaches its limit and it has to go to the limit, then spontaneously the yin begins to take over. And I think we've reached that point, you see. Our culture has developed more and more the yang to the absolute limit. The whole scientific, mechanistic civilization is a product of the yang taken to its limit and now the yin is moving in, you see. And we're moving into the more feminine age, the age of spirituality. And, you see, when we say that the spirit is receptive, I think we can apply it in the godhead, really. You see, the spirit, the father sends forth his word and the spirit receives that word of God,


as it were, into her womb. She receives that word and she returns it in love, you see. She is the receptive aspect in the trinity. And then in creation, the spirit is that part of receptivity. You see, when Mary was to conceive a child, the Holy Spirit overshadowed her. And so she became receptive of the word, you see. And for all of us, as we open ourselves, the Holy Spirit, we become receptive of the word of God. And in the beginning of creation, we're told, the spirit of God brooded over the abyss. And she brought this receptivity into matter so that it could receive the word, let there be light, you see. The word comes and the chaos becomes a cosmos. But the spirit is the part of receptivity. So that is the feminine aspect in God and its presence in the whole creation, you see.


And every human being is feminine in relation to God. That is tradition of all mysticism, practically, because we all have to be receptive of God. And therefore, we first of all, as I said, the spirit in us is a point of receptivity. You see, the psyche is a part of activity, but at the point of the spirit, we are receptive of the Holy Spirit. And therefore, everyone before God is receptive, is feminine. And today, I think, you see, we're learning more and more how to discover the feminine aspect in our nature. And every man, don't forget, and every woman is masculine and feminine. We all have both characteristics, but in the man, the yang, the masculine aspect is dominant, and the yin, the feminine, is late dormant, and the other, the woman, the feminine is dominant, and the other is polar opposite to it, you see.


So always we have to unite the polar opposites. But we are discovering this need of the feminine. And of course, in the church, it's become a very serious problem that we see more and more how entirely masculine the whole structure of the church is. And we're trying gradually to find a place of the feminine in the church. And this point, starting with the Trinity, you see, what has happened in the Catholic Church, of course, is all feminine aspects have been centered on Our Lady. And that is why there's such tremendous devotion to Mary in the church, and particularly, you know, in India and places where the mother... You see, in India, God is more mother than father. And the devotion of Indian Catholics to Our Lady is overwhelming, you see. In fact, it's almost absurd. If you go to an Indian town and ask for the Catholic Church, it's called the Madakovil, the mother temple. It's amazing.


So, all this feminine aspect, the feminine archetype, is realized for us in Mary. Well, that is a great blessing, and it means that that feminine power has been in the church all the time, and it's still a tremendous grace for us. But it's not sufficient. You see, the reason why St. Thomas Aquinas and the scholastics would not allow feminine in God was because they thought the feminine was purely passive. And there is no passivity in God, you see. God can't be simply passive to something else. But, of course, the feminine is not merely passive. It's an active passivity, you see. It's a receptivity, which is a higher form of action, in a sense, you see. So that there's no difficulty in allying that God himself is feminine, you see, as well as masculine. And it's essential that we should do so because it's not sufficient to see the feminine in a creature, however beautiful and perfect that creature is.


The feminine is in God himself, you see. And we have to discover that feminine aspect in God. So that is rather our Christian attitude to this. In India, as I said, this feminine aspect of God was particularly in the Dravidian and the South Indian, and gave birth to this tantra. But the two united, and the typical Hinduism has a really marvelous union of the masculine and the feminine, the Aryan and the Dravidian, and that took place, as I said, in this millennium between 500 A.D. and 1500 A.D. The origin of the tantra is very obscure. Like most of these things, you can't say exactly when they arose. But it seems to have been a... I think it arose from this tradition of the mother worship, and particularly concerned for the body and for matter and for nature.


You see, in the Aryan tradition, the concentration was all on the spirit and the psychological development, how to receive the spirit. But matter was of very little importance. In fact, it's very revealing, as Tom Skarupa mentioned yesterday, that in the early tradition of yoga, you have two principles, purusha and prakriti. Purusha is consciousness, spirit, and prakriti is nature, matter. And the object of yoga at the beginning was to separate purusha from prakriti. You had to separate your spirit, your consciousness from matter, from the body, and become a pure spirit. And then the body dropped away. The idea was prakriti collapses altogether and disappears, and only purusha remains. Well, that's a very one-sided religion, you see. And so the tantra came to correct this one-sidedness. And it was a very ascetic religion, too. And by the way, this applies both to Hinduism and Buddhism.


Tantra emerged in the early centuries of this era and penetrated both Hinduism and Buddhism. And it's very difficult to say which was first. Actually, it seems that the earliest tantric text we have is a third-century Buddhist text. But it doesn't mean that it originated as in Buddhism. But what it does mean is that there was a new movement of discovery of the mother, the feminine aspect, and of the power, the shakti, in the body, in matter, in nature. This is the great discovery, this shakti, this power in nature, in matter, in the body, you see. And these people were called siddhas. And we still have them in Tamil Nadu today, these siddhas. And they have these powers, these psychic powers, you see. We'll go into that a little more. The tantra is very much concerned with the psychic powers. And that is why it's had a very bad reputation


because it concentrates on matter, the body, and on sexuality, you see, which is a function of the body, of nature. And in its later developments, this sexual aspect became very dominant. And in the 17th, 18th century, it had an extremely bad reputation. And there's always that sort of mark on it. It's a dangerous path, this tantra. Incidentally, I don't know whether you know, that the man who made the tantra known and made it respectable was Sir John Woodroffe, an English judge in Calcutta. And he was a Catholic, actually, but he spent most of his life in studying the tantric texts and was the first person to publish them and to translate them. You can still get them here. He wrote under the name of Arthur Avalon. And he did a pioneer work which still remains fundamental, actually. So the tantra emerges from this siddha,


this discovery of nature, of matter, of the body, and of these paths. And what they said was, that by which we fall is that by which we rise. As we fall through our bodily nature, our appetites, our desires, and emotions, and so on, so it's through the body, through the appetites, through the desires, that we have to return to God. You have to use your body and your senses and your feelings as a way to God. And this again, you see, has great importance for us because Christianity underwent much the same development, you see. We had originally, obviously, its very rich and masculine family in the New Testament, wonderfully together. But as it emerged into the Greco-Roman world with its patriarchal and its masculine character, the masculine element, the yang, was emphasized.


And in the fathers of the desert, you see, you get this extreme asceticism, and this enmity with the body, suppression of sex, you see, and the diminishing of the feminine also. And so we've inherited a somewhat unbalanced tradition. It's only gradually now, really, that we're recovering the value of the body and the place of sexuality in the human being as an essential integral part of our being, you see, which you can't get free from, which you have to either reject if you want to, but then it becomes a negative force, or you can indulge it, or you can sublimate it. It can become a power of energy of life within you. And so we are slowly, I think, today, recovering. But in the past, I can't think of any time when sex has been seen as a means of union with God.


And that is the tantric tradition, you see, that through the union of the male and the female, we come to the experience of God. And I think for Christian marriage this is extremely important. So many people still think that sex is something rather degrading, we have to accept it's the only way you can have a child, but you just have to bear with it. But the idea that in marriage you are called, the man and the woman, to unite in intercourse, and through that union of the male and the female, physical, psychological, and spiritual, we realize ourselves in God. You see, that is a genuine Christian vision, but it's hardly ever been taught as a rule. So in Christianity we've got this very masculine, dominant character, and we're gradually today recovering the feminine and the tantric aspect, if you like. And so many methods now of meditation are emphasizing the place of the body, aren't they?


In yoga, of course, it's obvious. We start with the body, and by training the body, you influence the mind. The mind is affected by the body. And for many Christians today, many Western people today, that is the only way in which they can find a balance, a harmony. We overdevelop the masculine, analytical, scientific mind, split it off from the feminine, the intuitive, the physical being, and we get a schizophrenic nature, you see. We're divided, and you get all these terrible repressions which people suffer from. It's very interesting that Tony Domeno, who wrote that book, The Song of a Bird, is one of the leading spiritual guides in India today. He started a course for sadhana, and it was meant to be a course of spiritual guidance and discipline, but he found that practically everybody, mostly priests and nuns who came to him, had so many psychological problems,


so many blocks in their unconscious, that it became a psychological course. He couldn't get on to the spiritual until he'd removed the blocks. And that I find again and again, you know. We have to recognize that the human being is physical, psychological, and spiritual, and you cannot work through one alone. It's no good thinking that the spiritual can do everything. There are graces given sometimes in the spirit, which heal the body, which heal the soul, but they're comparatively rare. And normally, unless you can get a certain psychological balance, you won't be able to realize yourself spiritually, and your psychological balance will depend a great deal on your physical balance, you see. So we have to treat ourselves as this composite being, and we must always be concerned with our body, with our soul, our psyche, and bringing the body and the soul under the guidance of the spirit. But you cannot neglect any one aspect, you see.


And we had, as I say, this very ascetic tradition in the Father's deep sense that you mustn't go to the extreme in this. As St. Benedict, of course, canonized that. For him, discretion was the rule, really. And so in our Benedictine tradition, we've always had this discretion, but we've not yet had a positive aspect to the body, even to work, you see. St. Benedict says, idleness is the enemy of the soul, so you must do some work. But work is not really a remedy for idleness. Work is the means by which we contact the nature, the world around us, and creatively transform the world, you see. So work is a yoga. It's a means of transforming ourselves, transforming the world. And so we've not yet fully, you see, integrated the body and work into our tradition, and that I feel we have to do today.


So this is the path of Tantra, you see, this discovery of the feminine and the mother, the discovery of the body and its powers, and how to transform the human being through the powers of the body, you see, and of nature. That is the path of Tantra. And... Now, in this vision of Tantra, the chief place is played by the Shakti. And in the earlier tradition, you see, the Supreme God, in that second period after the Vedas, with the epics, Ramayana and Mahabharata, Shiva and Vishnu become the principal form of God. And they're both masculine, you see. And so there was a strong masculine element in the earlier tradition. And with the Tantra came the idea


that the Shakti, the power, the feminine aspect is more important. And it developed simply into religion of Shaktism, of the worship of this mother energy, the mother nature, the energy and nature in the body, in the feelings, you see. So it reverses that movement. And Shaktism is one of the schools of Hinduism and in that it's entirely mother worship and entirely Tantric methods. And we have a very interesting community of Hindu devotees near to our ashram and they're all women. They were founded by Swami Sivananda and he wanted... Actually, you know, feminine communities are not too common among Hindus. And this was a... can develop its own way and I think an important one. But normally it's not Shakti alone, it's Shiva and Shakti. And Shakti is seen to be


the complement of Shiva. Shiva is consciousness and Shakti is power, is energy. And as Tom Skarupala showed us yesterday, in the Kundalini tradition, the Shakti, the divine power, is seated at the base of the spine. It's coiled up like a serpent at the base of the spine and it has to rise through all the chakras until it meets Shiva, the pure consciousness, and then the total transformation of the human being takes place, you see. And that is the Tantric tradition. How to awaken the Shakti, allow her to ascend so all our feminine characteristics are developed and then it meets with Shiva, with the pure consciousness and the transformation takes place. And this is the practical discipline of Tantric yoga, you see. In fact, the yoga itself is largely a product of Tantra, you see. It came in at this time and was developed into various yogas. The main heart of yoga is really Tantra


because it works through the body primarily. But it has been, of course, linked with Vedanta, with the total tradition, and the tradition has become a total way of spiritual life, but it has its roots in the Tantra. But Kundalini yoga is the specific Tantric yoga and that consists in recognizing the Shakti, this energy, and in transforming the energy. And now I think it's very important, you see, that we recognize now that the whole creation is a field of energies and our body is a particular structure within this field of energies. And we have to learn how to relate ourselves, our physical being, with the whole field of energies in which we are living, you see. And that is why they say that Padmasana has such power. Unfortunately, I cannot do Padmasana. I came to it too late, I think. You have to become rather young. But if you sit in Padmasana, the belief is you put yourself


in tune with all these energies, you see. You are now open to all the powers of nature around you. And actually the Mooladhara, that's the root chakra at the base of the spine, is our point of communion with all the physical energies of the universe. And most people have lost touch with their Mooladhara, you see. They're all living from up here. You see, from the age of three or four very often, we are stuffed now with information forming our minds and so on and neglecting the body. Of course, sport and other things help to develop that aspect, but we don't go deep enough. And very few discover the Mooladhara, the source where we're linked with the whole physical energy of nature. We're linked with the stars, you see, with the planets, with the whole earth. We have this correspondence and we have tried to become aware of that. And that is when the Mooladhara awakes. And then the next chakra, the Swadhisthana, is really the sex chakra, the life chakra.


And there we're related to all the life energies in plants, in animals, you see, the whole sex energy throughout the world. And this is one of the problems of Tantra, you see, because in most people the sex energy is overdeveloped. Particularly in our culture, we've overdeveloped it. It's totally unbalanced. And so when you begin this yoga, you can get an uncontrolled sex energy. And that is a real problem for many people, even for many gurus. As you awaken the energy, it gets channelized into that chakra and you can't control it. And that's why they say you should not do this tantric yoga without a guide, without a guru. Because you awaken tremendous energy, tremendous power, and you may not be able to control it. And you see, it can lead to a psychotic state, you see. People awaken this tremendous energy and they haven't learnt the discipline of control and they just freak out, you see. They're lost. So it is a very dangerous path.


And yet I think we have to follow it, you see. We cannot neglect sex anymore. You see, in our religious life we rarely talk to so many ones. You enter the monastery, the convent, you've no more sex left. You've gone beyond it. But of course you haven't. You're there. And either you suppress it and it becomes negative and causes all the problems which we experience, or you indulge it and you live a sexual life, or you transform it. It's how to transform the sexual energy. And brother Amodas, you know, in his latest book, I don't know if you know yoga, Jesus, Yesu Abba Consciousness. Yesu Abba is his mantra and he uses that to transform the consciousness, transform the energy. And he goes into this Kundalini Yoga and shows how the energy can be transformed. As I say, it is a difficult and a dangerous path and yet I think we have to take it. You cannot leave sex aside any longer.


It has to be transformed. So as the energy rises into the sex chakra, it has to be, all of this is done under control. And that is why I think the Jesus prayer or some mantra, you see, you use your mantra to descend and that mantra should be the control so that as the energy rises, it doesn't simply break out, it is gathered in and centered, you see. And so you pass through the Swadhisthana to the Manipura, the emotional chakra, the navel, the belly, the whole, the hara, they call it in Japan. And that again is tremendously important, you see. As we rise up, we discover this whole emotional world. We're all living in this emotional world tied to our mothers. You see, most people have tremendous problems with their mothers, especially in the West, I think. Well, you have divorce and so many problems like that.


The child loses that link with the mother and gets disorientated and then terrible problems arise from that. But we should have this link with the mother, with the father, with family, with friends, extending right through the world, you see, the whole emotional complex. We're all involved in it. We're not isolated, you see. We're being affected emotionally by other people, by our past, you see. Everybody knows today how your relationship with your mother at birth and in the first two or three years, especially the first five years, is fundamental for your whole future, you see. That's your emotional characteristic is determined at that period. Fortunately, and don't let's forget it, the spirit can transform an emotional complex. You're not fated by it at all. It can be resolved, but it's very difficult. It's a deep emotional complex which has been formed. So there is our Manipura and we have to try to open that chakra to this power


of the spirit, you see. How to open it to the power of the spirit? We speak now, don't we, the healing of memories, how the spirit can descend and penetrate all these chakras and heal these complexes, heal the wounds which we've suffered from our childhood onwards. And then beyond the Manipura you have the Anahata, the heart chakra. And that is the chakra of the affections, of the will. Emotions are fluctuating and changing. The will is more steady and stable. And many people find that the best chakra to concentrate on. It's the center between the head and the other part of the body. And we can center ourselves in the heart. And that is perhaps the best way. The yoga of Patanjali speaks of meditating on Vishnu in the heart. And Saint Teresa spoke of Jesus in the heart. And the whole devotion to the sacred heart is very significant in that way.


So the heart chakra is the great center in which we can, in our meditation, we can focus on the heart. Then comes the Vishuddha, the throat chakra. And this is the chakra of speech, of song, of poetry, imagination, you see. It's where we're rising up towards the intelligence. And that's been very much neglected, you see. It was a tremendous place for music, for song, for poetry, for drama, for ritual, gesture. All these things come out of this chakra, you see. And in our liturgy, we do develop that to some extent. And I think it's very good the way music is developing in all these liturgies here in America and in India and elsewhere. And there's a great future in that. But tremendous much more to be done, you see, to develop music, develop poetry, develop painting. You see, the mandala is one of the great features of tantra. I didn't mention the mantra. It's the most important, perhaps.


And that is the sound, you see. And by the way, I brought this with me. I don't know whether you know Lama Govinda's Native Meditation and Multidimensional Consciousness. It's one of the best books I know on Tibetan Buddhism and of the whole philosophy, really, of tantra. And he speaks there of the mantra as primordial, archetypal sounds. Before speech arises and we articulate, there are these sounds, you see. Aum is one of the great ones. But there are many others. And he says these are archetypal, primordial sounds which root us in the original human consciousness, you see. And so they have tremendous power, these words, these sounds. And that is one of the ways of tantric meditation, to use these sounds. And then the next one, as I said, is the yantra, or the mandala, these pictures. And in Tibetan Buddhism,


in particular, they make tremendous use of visualization. You visualize the different Buddhas and you place yourself in relation to them. And there again, Lama Govinda has a marvelous chapter on the different Buddhas and the different forms of wisdom. And it brings out exactly what I was trying to say yesterday about the movement in the Godhead. I don't know if I can find this passage, which is... I think I probably can. Sorry. I should have marked it. Never mind. I recommend it simply. He brings out marvelously how there is a dynamism in the ultimate reality. You see, the Buddhism, particularly Tibetan Buddhism, never denies the world.


On this level of merely dualistic thinking, of course, you've got to go beyond that. But when you get to the unitive way and discover, you discover how all this dynamism of creation is in the void, in the sunyata. You see, it's not a static state but a dynamic state. And so the whole movement of creation is present in the ultimate reality. He brings that out marvelously. And so they use, as I say, this visualization to center yourself, to relate yourself to all the different cosmic powers. And there again, perhaps it's worth mentioning in Hinduism, the function of a temple. You see, when a Hindu goes to the temple, it's not for congregational worship or anything like that. It's for a darshan of the Lord. And the idea is that the supreme reality is at the center of the temple. And you have to go round different shrines


and courtyards of the temple to discover the center. So you start, you go through the gopuram, that is the gateway. And that is full of images of the gods and all the things. You see, and you're just leaving the outer world to go into the inner world. And the first thing you do is to bathe in the tank. You wash yourself, you purify yourself. That's the purgative way. And then you enter the temple and interestingly, the first thing you do is to break a coconut at the feet of Ganesh. Ganesh is the elephant god and his function is to remove obstacles. And originally, he was the one who put obstacles in your way. And you had to propitiate him to take the obstacles away. But as so often happens, he gets reversed and he's the one who removes obstacles. So you break the coconut and the symbolism of that is the coconut has this hard, rough shell and inside is the sweet milk, you see. And the rough shell is your ego,


the outer world. And you break your ego, your outer self, and within is the sweet nectar of divine life, you see. You're opening yourself to the divine. Then you go around the courtyards of the temple visiting the different shrines and these are all the cosmic powers. You see, the gods and goddesses are the cosmic powers, they're all powers of creation. That is why there can be millions of them because they're all the different powers of creation all subject to the one supreme Shakti, you see, who is manifesting through all these powers. And so you go around the shrines and you relate yourself to the cosmos. You see, your body and your soul are putting yourself in harmony with all these powers, these energies in the cosmos. And eventually, and that is the illuminative way, you see, of passing through all this. And then you come to the inner shrine and there you have the lingam. And the lingam, of course, is really the male organ and undoubtedly it stems from this Kabirian tantric tradition where sex is holy, you see.


Sex is seen as the power of God in creation. And the lingam and the yoni, the male and the female organ, are depicted at the center of the temple, you see. And it's very deeply meaningful, you see, it's the source of life. You're coming to the source of life and they are the symbols of it. But for the modern Hindu, the sexual element is very much diminished and the lingam really stands for the formless Godhead. You go around the shrines and God with form, many arms and legs, and so on. But when you come to the inner sanctuary, the lingam has no form, it's just a roughly carved stone and that is God without form. So you've gone beyond form, you enter into the inner center of your own being, your psychic center, and there you encounter the Godhead itself beyond form. So, you see, to visit a temple can be a tremendous creative experience. It should be. Of course, for many it's not that at all, but that is the deep meaning of it.


So, the... Sorry, where was I? Yes, the mandala, visualization, all this ritual like that, you see, all that is part of this tantric development. And you see, the Hindu temple is part of this tantric development. The Vedic religion, there were no temples. It's quite a surprise to realize, you see. There was a Vedic sacrifice, an altar, and it was built in a courtyard of a house or a palace, and there it was a symbolic altar at the center of the universe, and it was a fire sacrifice. But this temple worship and the gods and goddesses came from the Tradition, you see. And that has now taken over all over India. So, you use this, all these methods of raising the energy, you see, through symbols, through mantras, through mandalas, through ritual,


all these are methods of transforming the energy, you see. And our ritual of the mass, you see, should be, and is to some extent, Jung, you know, wrote an interesting little article once, the transformation symbolism of the mass. And the mass should, you see, have that power to transform. Our Roman liturgy has cut things away so much that it rather lost that power, but the Oriental liturgy still has it very strongly, I think. And that is what I feel we have to develop today, you see. We have to allow this liturgy to develop and become a tantric liturgy, a method of transforming a human person, you see, in the encounter with Christ. So, that is the... The energy rises through all these levels, I have got the flow chakra, and then it ascends to the Ajna chakra here. And that is the Buddhi, that is the light of intelligence.


And the Buddha is the enlightened one, you see, this is the enlightened point. And many concentrate on that point between the eyebrows. You can concentrate on the heart, or you can concentrate here. And that is the focus of intuitive wisdom. It's not rational knowledge, it's the focus of intuitive wisdom. And at that center, you have this intuitive awareness of God and of the world. So that is the awakening of the pure intelligence. And then finally you come to the Sahasrara, the thousand petal lotus of the crown of the head. And that's where we're open to the infinite, you see, and that is the crown of all. And the chakra, the energies come through all these chakras. Each... They're said to be like lotuses, turned down. And as the energy comes up, they all turn up, you see. So your Mooladhara, your Swadhisthana, your Namipura, your Nahata, your Vishuddha, then your Anya chakra, all turned up, and now the thousand petal lotus


is the flowers at the height of your being. And you're now open to the Holy Spirit. And I think for a Christian, it's perhaps easier to reverse the process. We don't think of the Holy Spirit at the base of our spine normally. We think of it as a descending from above. And I found this in Sri Aurobindo years ago, and I've always, in my prayer, I always have that sense of waiting on the descent of the Spirit, you see. You're trying to open all your being to the descent of the Spirit. So the Spirit descends upon the Sahasrara, and that would be the spiritual energies. And I would like to link that with the uncreated energies of the Orthodox tradition. You know, it's very interesting. They say that God himself is beyond everything, but God's action in the world through the Holy Spirit is through these uncreated energies. It's really God present,


active in the soul, you see. And that is where the Holy Spirit acts in us, the uncreated energies that are awakened in us. And we are, as I said, in pure contemplation, it's the action of God in us, we're open now to the uncreated energies which come down from above and transform our Sahasrara. And then it descends to the Ajna Chakra, and we get this illumination. Reflecting on the Bible, the Gospel, on Christ, Church, we have this illumination, this light comes to our mind. And that is the spiritual transformation, you see, coming down from above. And then it descends to the Vishuddha Chakra, and it awakens our imagination, our poetry, music, and we can have a creative poetry, you see, coming from that. And also painting, sculpture, all these things will come as the Spirit gradually informs that Chakra. And then the Heart Chakra, the Chakra of Love, obviously a transformation takes place,


the love becomes total spiritual love. And then only, you see, as it comes down through the higher chakras, it enters into the emotional, we begin to experience emotionally, and finally into the Sex Chakra and the Muladhara, the Root Chakra. And that way, you see, a spiritual control is found, so that the lower chakras don't break out on their own. You see, the danger is, as I said, the Sex Chakra can become dominant and break out, and the Emotional Chakra, you see, for many people, and that's the danger of the charismatic movement, that their emotions take charge. But this would exactly apply to the charismatic movement, you see. It is opening yourself to the Holy Spirit and allowing that power to come and transform from above. So, I would think that would be a Christian way of expressing it, but both are valid. You can either think of the Shakti rising from beneath and transforming the person,


or descending from above and transforming the person. And that's a point, perhaps, I should emphasize, that in all this, it's always a question of polarities, opposites. And we always tend to choose one of the polarities and neglect the other, but always you've got to have what Nicholas of Cusa called the coincidentia oppositorum, the coincidence of the opposites. It's so difficult to be both masculine and feminine, you see, and to be subjective and object, and to unite all the opposites together. But that is what we have to do so that actually in prayer, the rising up to God, the Trinity beyond, is also the descending to the depths of your being and finding the Holy Spirit at the depth of nature of the whole creation, you see. There are two opposite movements which unite. So there we have the transformation of energy, you see, through these various symbols. And now I'd like to


relate this to the philosophy of Sri Aurobindo, who I find the most interesting modern Hindu philosopher and spiritual guide, in a sense. And he, with one of his achievements, he united Vedanta with Tantra and also introduced the idea of evolution. That was something new in Hinduism, of course, very like Theo de Chardin in the church. In fact, books have been written on Aurobindo and Theo de Chardin. And Aurobindo's view is this, you see, that God is Satchitananda, being, knowledge, bliss. And this being, knowledge, and bliss involves itself in matter. The matter of the universe is involved by Satchitananda. God, the Holy Spirit, we would say, is present in matter from the beginning. The Spirit rooted over the chaos, you see. And the Holy Spirit is present in the matter.


And matter evolves through this power of the Spirit, of the Godhead, which has work in it. Matter evolves into life. And then life develops, plant forms, animal forms, and so on, until you come to the human being. And of the human being, life emerges into consciousness. The same power of Satchitananda is at work as Sat, and then as Chit, you see. And so our human consciousness develops, and we are now in a state of mental consciousness. And that is a transitional state. We're in mental consciousness, and we're moving to supermental consciousness. And the whole of our work in life, really, is a transformation of our present level of consciousness, which varies, of course, in different people. We're all at different levels, but we're all being called to go beyond the mental consciousness to the supermental. And that is the call today, you see. Most Christians and Catholics are living on the mental consciousness. God and grace is something beyond,


and they seek it and so on. But they conduct their lives on the level of the rational, mental, scientific, analytical, the Yang consciousness, you see. And the other consciousness, the deeper consciousness, the psychic consciousness, is hardly developed. But the danger of this Is there time? It's a bit... It's almost time. So we mustn't go on too long. The danger of this is that we have to pass through this psychic world. As you open yourself to these powers, these energies, they open to you the whole of the psychic world. And that, as I said, is both good and evil. There are angels and there are demons. So it's a difficult path. And that's why, as I say, this is a difficult way, and needs a guide, really. And yet, we must be prepared for it. Because after all, in the Middle Ages, you see, all these angels and demons were not illusions at all. The fogs the desert saw, the devils around them all the time.


And these are psychic forces, you see, which are there, and they have to be faced. And in Christ, we can overcome all the demonic forces, and we can cooperate with the angelic forces, and we can rise to union with him. So we have to pass through that psychic world, and then we come to the union with God himself. Now, what interests me in Aurobindo is this, that he said that this, the supermind, is not only man rises to the supermind, but the supermind descends and raises mankind. This was a new vision for India, really. And he believed that the supermind would descend on Aurobindo Ashram, and it would be a new stage in evolution for humanity, passing from the mental consciousness to the supermental. And it was meant to radiate out from Aurobindo Ashram. But it didn't happen, you see. Twice they waited for the descent of the supermind.


Once in 1926, I think it was, and once again in the 1940s. And something happened. There was a sort of power that was generated, but it wasn't what they expected. And they believed that when the supermind descended, it would transform the body. And Aurobindo and the mother were trying to transform their bodies. They thought they would not die. When Aurobindo died, they said he decided to go on ahead to assist the process from another world. And the mother stayed on. And she lived to be 95. But at last she also found she couldn't transform the cells of the body, you see. And they believed that this would be, as I say, a cosmic phenomenon. A new stage in evolution. This force of the supermind would be released, and mankind would be open to a new form of consciousness. But what I maintain, and I've been having a long correspondence with one of the disciples of Aurobindo at Aurobindo Ashram, is that this happened at the risk...


...transformed. The cells of his body were transformed. And that gross body became a psychic body. A subtle body, you see. And I think the appearances of Jesus in the resurrection were in a subtle body. You see, it appeared and disappeared. The doors were shut and he came in. It was a subtle body. But then he didn't remain in the subtle body. At the ascension, he passed from the subtle body to the spiritual body, which is beyond time and space and causality, beyond the whole creation, you see. So, in Jesus, this transformation of matter into spiritual body was achieved, you see. What Aurobindo and the mother were trying to do, Jesus had already done. But this disciple of Aurobindo is very indignant that suggests it ought to be done before, so there's no need for Aurobindo to try to do it. But then, the next thing is, you see, the disciple of Jesus, through the resurrection, brings down the supermind, transforms matter,


and he releases that power. And the descent of the Holy Spirit is the descent of the supermind on humanity. It becomes a cosmic power. As the disciples receive the Holy Spirit, that presence is now present in the world as a transforming power. And the church is the place where this transforming power of the Spirit is present to transform our nature, to transform our bodies and our souls. And when we celebrate the Assumption of Our Lady, we're saying that in her, this transformation has taken place, but it's going, as Father Jim was reminding us, to take place in all of us, that power has been released in the universe, you see. But of course, it meets with resistance in the church, and gradually we've almost forgotten it, and the church rationalizes her theology, and we get stuck in canon law and so on, and the power of the Spirit almost disappears. But now it's being revived, you see. We're rediscovering this Shakti, this power of the Spirit, to transform the body, to transform the soul,


and to create in us this spiritual body, this final state of oneness with God, in the body and the soul, you see. We're not discarding body and soul, we're transforming them in the Spirit. So that, I think, is the vision of the future. So I think you can see how the Tantra really has a message for us as Christians, and a message for the whole world. And one we all need very much to learn, because I still find it difficult to make that change, to transform from the mind and the head and all that aspect of being the yang, and to discover the yin, discover the feminine. And of course, women must lead the way to rediscover this way of Tantra.