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Introduction to Tantra
Tantric Buddhism employs the urgent energies of agony and ecstasy, lust and hatred, paranoia and greed to transform our confusion into enlightenment.
Tantra is radically positive insanity. Tantra is the hot blood of kindness. Tantra conjures with the electricity of being: the shimmering voltage that crackles ecstatically between emptiness and form. Tantra is the alchemy of transformation by which we re-create ourselves limitlessly according to the kaleidoscopic pattern of moments that comprises our experience.
Tantra is the short path of Buddhism – the direct line to the summit. Mountaineers on longer paths circle around the peak weighted down with the safety equipment of codified philosophy and ethics. Tantra scales the vertical face without oxygen. The climbers ascend naked. At the peak they find liberation: freedom from domination by conflictive emotions, customary rôles, and constricted expectations. They climb quickly; but sometimes, they fall.
To read more about Tantra and transformation, start with our essay ‘An Uncommon Perspective’. You can learn much more about Tantra by exploring other parts of this web site.
(If you came here looking for information about Tantric sex, you may be disappointed – there isn’t any. But you might be interested in our teachings on Tantric romance.)
The Aro approach to Tantra
Aro is a non-monastic tradition. In Tibet, Tantra was mainly taught to monks who were able to devote all their time to religious practice. A style evolved that required years of theoretical study as a preliminary. Elaborate, hours-long rituals were the main practice. These rituals consisted primarily of chanting texts. This form of Tantra is effective in monasteries, but not always so accessible to people with families and jobs.
Fortunately, Tantra as it originated in India was practiced by people from all spheres: farmers, prostitutes, kings, beggars, merchants, musicians, housewives, and industrialists. Their methods of practice were diverse and suited to their individual circumstances. This tradition was preserved by a minority of Tantrikas in Tibet. Aro is a lineage in this tradition.
Tantra in Aro is highly ‘essentialised’ – meaning that it lacks unnecessary complexity. The original core of each method is practiced without the elaborations found in the monastic tradition.
Aro Tantric programmes
Our recommended reading list has many books on Tantra – several by Aro Lamas.
Spectrum of Being is our course of evening classes concerned with the transformation of the five elemental neurotic emotions into the corresponding five elemental enlightened wisdoms. This is a central practice of Tantric Buddhism.
Wearing the Body of Visions is another course that teaches two additional key practices. These are self-arising and Lama’i naljor. Self-arising is the practice of visualizing oneself as a Buddha. Lama’i Naljor is the method of uniting our minds with the enlightened minds of the Buddhas. The course includes an empowerment ceremony that is the prerequisite for these practices.
Wearing the Body of Visions – the practice of self-arising as a Buddha
Heart of the Sun & Moon – romantic love as a profound Buddhist practice
The Terrifyingly Compassionate Gamester – the relationship with the vajra master – the heart of Tantra
Sky Weaving – the craft that magnetises neuroses, fears and obsessions and releases them in their pure, enlightened forms
Dream Yoga – practices of clear light, lucid dreaming, and illusory wakefulness for finding luminous awareness in every moment of the day and night – whatever our state of consciousness
The Method of the Mahasiddhas – the means of integrating Tantra with everyday life
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