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An Interview on Tantra
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That interview on tantra I promised to get ahold of Done by a close friend & one of our mutual teachers:

Interviewer: Alexyn Britt
Interveiwee : Tamar Kilpatrick

Interview with an Old White Guy on the Subject of Tantra.




A: Alright, we’re online recording. Please state your name and your purpose.

T: My name is Tamar Shaun Kilpatrick, and my purpose is to exist…existentially.

A: How old are you, Tamar?

T: 62, come June.

A: Now, we’re here because I understand that you are a tantra master, and if you would be willing, I’d like you to explain what exactly tantra is, for someone who has never heard of it before?

T: Okay. For someone who’s never heard of tantra before, back long, long ago, somewhere in the first century C.E., in India, people came up with the idea that there was more to the universe than originally assumed, and their desire was to find out more. Tantra was invented during this time period; although it was never introduced to religion until 300-500 A.D.
Now, tantra roughly translated comes from two words. It comes from ‘tanote’, which basically means like expanding, becoming bigger, and it comes from triata, which means…freedom, um…liberation.

A: So then the study of tantra is, if you combine the two, the study of liberating and expanding yourself?

T: Liberation through expansion.

A: So essentially, enlightenment or expanding consciousness?

T: Yes, very much so, yeah. The liberation it’s talking about is the liberation from mundane existence because they believe that a person is born over and over again on this planet until they become enlightened. When they become enlightened they can go into the bosom of Shiva, becoming allness, and the liberation they’re talking about is the liberation of the misery of having to live on this planet, over and over again.

A: So, is the practice of tantra one method through which one could reach enlightenment?

T: Yes. This is the assumption.

A: Assumption. Have you reached enlightenment?

T: I don’t believe that I’ve reached their definition of enlightenment, but I believe that I have reached Enlightenment, but I don’t know that I can define it, therefore I would not be able to prove it.

A: Are there a lot of things that defy definition within tantra?

T: Experientially, yes. Tantra, however, is an extremely diverse subject. It is inclusive of many different things. It didn’t come along as its own individual subject; instead it came up as one of the Vedas. But because of the fact that intrinsically the Vedas and tantra are contradictory, then the tantra has to be considered separate from the Vedas, even though that contradiction is what creates the Vedas and what creates tantra. Therefore the Vedas are the same.

A: What are the Vedas?

T: Technically they’re the angelic words, the words of the angels. They are written by humans but are inspired by holy people, the same as the books in the bible. They are the words of wisdom, the words of the ways of life, the words of how to get along after life, etcetera, etcetera, so there are many Vedas. And, there are many tantras also. Tantra is a little more… ritualistic than the Vedas.

A: There are many kinds of tantras?

T: m-hmm.

A: What kinds of tantras are there?

T: Oh, I wouldn’t be able to name them all, actually.

A: Can you give me a rough number?

T: No. I really can’t because tantra is so individualistic that even a rough number would be very difficult to give because its hard to say just how many branch-offs there have been. Basically, tantra’s been around for the last two thousand years.

A: So as a teacher, the tantra that you learned has been directly affected by your personal experience. Is the tantra that you teach also directly affected?

T: Directly affected by and fashioned by my experiences within tantra. Absolutely. Now, the idea of tantra is to use the mundane to reach the supra mundane, to be able to use your very body to try to reach your existential body. The idea is that everything is just a physical manifestation, a concrete manifestation of the ethereal, which is the consciousness of god. Therefore, everything being part of that consciousness is just, sort of a dream. The seat that you’re sitting on is a dream, the roof above your head is a dream. It’s a dream of god, and this is a concrete manifestation of that dream. We see it as a concrete manifestation. The idea of tantra is to use that consciousness of god, use the energies that create the patterns of that consciousness, allow those energies to flow through us, even those energies that are part of us, to bring us to a conscious level similar to god.

A: What do we use these energies for?

T: They can be used for many things. Some people use them for mundane life things, to try to give themselves a better life or whatever. Now, idealistically the dream of tantra is to reach a godlike state so you don’t have to come back here to this mundane existence. You can become part of the overall of god. So idealistically that’s what it should be used for. But you can use it not only for gaining control of your own supra Id, but you can also use it to gain control of the elements themselves. You have some 300,000 gods in the Indian tradition. The idea of tantra is to become a god. Basically you might say it’s like the sexual ritual itself, the acquirement of a sexual field of energy and the acquirement of a consummation field of energy, and the bringing all of this together to where its kind of like you’re making love to the gods and becoming one with the gods through the process of making love with the gods.

A: Now, to anyone who is listening, or reading this later your claims about becoming god are going to sound extremely arrogant.

T: Yes. So there I would like to identify that the claims of becoming god are more like the claims of being able to gain the attributes of a specific god. There are so many gods in the Indian tradition that no human being on the planet would be able to attain the attributes of all of them. Basically, you are using the powers of Shakti, which is where the energies come from: Shakti and Shakti’s dance with Shiva to create the universe, and you’re becoming one of these many gods. These many gods were created or made for the purposes of being able to master single, individual traits or abilities. An example would be the god Ganesh, whose abilities are to be able to remove obstacles or to place obstacles in one’s way to be able to help one in their guided path. You may need to stop yourself from going into 7/11 and contributing to this corporation because you don’t feel that this corporation should be there, so you would use Ganesh to create the obstacle in front of you to prevent you from being tempted to go into the 7/11.

A: Okay, um. So, this is a lot of religious background that I haven’t heard before, and in practice it seems like it doesn’t even apply. Apart from the religious aspect of it, how is this a genuine practice? I mean, how is it practiced and how can it be practiced as something separate from religion?

T: Well we find that when we open ourselves to different directions we become influenced by the direction that we’re opening ourselves to. Now the more energy we apply to that, the more of an effect we get from it. An example is: working out with weights can build muscles. The more you work out with weights, the more energy you put into it, the more muscular structure you are going to be able to build. It’s very similar here. In India, and in the many different regions where people came together to create this wonderful religion that they have, they believed that all possible traits of any of the gods already exist within you, that tantra helps you to bring those to the surface. It helps you to be able to empower those traits, those abilites.

A: So the gods become a medium of focus and a way to have a goal, but not necessarily a god the way a Christian might define god?

T: Exactly. Not as the Christians would define it, no. Now the universal energies in India are called the prana. There are many different suffixes and prefixes that can be put on the word prana, but the word prana itself means energy. So basically tantra is the use of energy, it is working specifically with energy. But there are many obstacles that have to be overcome by humans to be able to efficaciously work with energy. Most of those obstacles are our mundane existence, our mundane definition of existence. We see ourselves as solid human beings, we see ourselves as unable to attain certain goals because of our physical limitations. We think that’s the reason why we drive a car. Well, if you were to ask a guru in India “why don’t you own a car?” he’ll tell you its because “I can get anywhere that I want to go.” And if you sit there and ask him “are you going to mystically disappear here and re-appear there?” He’d say “Why would I need to do that?” If you ask him again, “well, how is it that you are going to go there?” “I will walk.” “But it will take you years!” “And they will be very pleasant years.” So a lot of the things that we consider as important and the things that we need to either value or devalue are the things that really all in the end are not of much value. If we take that into consideration we can take care of a large portion of our obstacles from being able to obtain this prana and from being able to control and weave it. This is a very important sub-structural thing to the development of tantra. Tantra cannot be taught by itself. It needs to be taught with other things added to it, which help develop that particular set of values that you need to attain to go where you need to go.

A: What are these extra things called?

T: Ah, well, in the attainment of tantra you are going to have your visualization of your deity, which is not necessarily your visualization of a picture or something like that, but more of a visualization of what your deity is; what your goal is. For example, thinking of Ganesh, we picture Ganesh with an elephant’s head. A mans body but an elephants head; the head being almost as big as the body itself. Why? Because we picture an elephant as being able to knock down trees, being able to clear a path through a jungle.

A: Ok, um, you’ve talked a lot about the idea of manipulating energy.

T: M-hmm.

A: -Learning how to grab a hold of your prana and redirect it to something of your own intent. So my question is: have you gained any interesting powers or abilities from this?

T: I don’t feel that that is information that I can really give you a whole lot about. I feel that I can see more, I can do more, but I cant specify to you, I don’t believe, because I don’t believe that it’s proper to do so. I believe that that would signify goals that would be relative to your mundane existence and therefore be destructive or anti-productive to the development of your tantra.

(Phone rings, interview pauses. Tamar leaves the room and returns with a mason jar full of milk.)

A: In many kinds of disciplines, in yoga, in martial arts, in anything that’s a practice, once you start doing it eventually there are certain things within the practice that become their own goal. So what sort of things within tantra can you relate to that? Are there areas within tantra you would want to learn specifically because you’re a tantric?

T: um, yes. Tantrary…um… tan…tra…tan-traric, which is a person who practices tantra…hard to pronounce, particularly when you’ve got a mouthful of milk, becomes its own entity after a while. Becomes its own entity with its own purposes, and it has three major purposes. The first one is the mantrum. The mantrum is the wisdom, the knowledge which comes from the tantra. You feel as though this is your seat you are sitting on, your backpack that you are sitting next to. You feel as though you are talking to me. These things you feel because you have the limited restrictions of the lower energy levels, you cannot see the consciousness of the all- energy which is around us, and you can’t see its patterns, all you see is its manifestations, its concrete manifestations relative to your limitations. As you gain more energy you gain more ability to sense energies that are outside of your normal self. So you start sensing things that are outside of your normal parameters and you gain new wisdoms from this; new insights, new understandings. Then suddenly this backpack is no longer actually a backpack; you are able to see something different, something new. A new connection. A new wisdom.
The tantrum is the philosophy. It’s also considered the ritual. The way we see things, the purpose behind those things, the understanding of those purposes. And then there is the yantrum.
The yantrum is the life course. This is where everybody gets confused because going into tantra is not going to the store, buying a pair of jeans, then going back into the same store later on wearing that pair of jeans. The idea of having gotten the jeans is to be able to go someplace: go to the place that you’re going to. Don’t return to the same place. Grow with the tantra. Grow with it, become something else. Change your quality of living. Get rid of the things that restrict your growth, enhance the things that encourage your growth.

A: How is tantra practiced?

T: Oh, that’s a good question since being I was just going there! There are several different breakdowns within tantra. Among those, like I said before, is the visualization of the deity. The visualization of what it is that you’re trying to bring up in yourself. There’s the mantras. The mantras are the series of things, the yantra, the mandala, the other things that are put together to form a ritual. The yantras themselves are the pattern, the design of the universal energies, how they come together to create certain relationships. So it’s a design. It may have lots of triangles in it, or squares, or different things like that. Each of these is showing you pathways of how things fit together. There’s the Mudras. The mudra is the way you hold your selfness. The way you pattern your mind within relationship to the tantra you are doing. There’s the asana, the way you hold your body in what you are doing. And then there’s the breathing. Now all these things come together. These are each one different windows which help you to attain the tantra. The tantra itself is its own enlightenment of all these things coming together. So basically you’re putting all these things together and you are creating a tantra. When you create a tantra, and you do it enough times, it becomes its own entity. Then you try to create another tantra, a tantra that goes further, and you keep trying to create these tantras. The aim, the ultimate aim, is called the ishta deva. The ishta deva is the becoming of a god. Not like the western tradition, but rather like the attainment of the wisdom knowledge base, the physical ability base, and the life source living base, which allows you to accomplish that gods ability.

A: Who is god?

T: You. You are god. You are the building block to all things that ever were or ever can be.

A: Mmmm… So, I’ve talked to some people and they have mentioned that there are different levels in tantra?

T: Yes.

A: What are these levels, how do they relate to the tantra?

T: these levels are different groups of experiences that everyone gets as they go through tantra. They start out with smaller experiences, but your experiences become greater, they become more complex. They become more patterned. Everybody will have some types of experiences. If you sit cross-legged too long your legs will fall asleep. That’s an experience, but, everybody gets different experiences there. But there are groups of experiences that are defined, that everybody reaches if they continue to practice, and those experiences are almost exactly the same, over thousands of people. Gurus have been through all of those experiences. They’ve been through all of them, they understand them, they know what those experiences are and they know what they mean. The interesting thing is that once you’ve gained one these experiences you find that you have gained some new abilities that are relating to your environment. So these are like levels of ascension. You don’t just step on the top rung of the ladder, you take one rung at a time.

A: How many of these levels are there?

T: In my tradition there are eight levels, but there are many staircases, so upon having reached that eighth level you’re going to go to another staircase. So its like flights of stairs, eight levels per flight. Yeah. Eight levels per flight. That’s pretty good, I like that! I’m gonna have to remember that!

A: (laughs)

T: Now, I think I want to make it perfectly clear that western tradition had no basis of comparison for the tantric experience. When tantra came into the western world, it was noted that tantra gave a lot of instant gratification to certain types of things, including sexuality and it became a highly sexual art in the western world. A lot of people study tantra, or some variation of tantra in order to increase their sexual experience.

A: Does it?

T: It can, yes. It can increase every experience. It can change the taste of water. Now, there are many different styles of tantra, as I had discussed earlier because there are many different traditions that incorporated tantra. Among those traditions, although there is a certain amount of sexual relationship that is being approached, a certain sexual type of relationship between you and your goal, hardly ever is sex actually brought into the picture. There is one sect of tantra, the, uh, vamamarga tantra, which uses a normal sexual activity. But they do so not for the attainment of sexual gratification. Now, the practice of the vamamarga is not uncommon in other forms of tantra. This tantra devotes itself in that direction. It does actually use sexual penetration, it may have even come from tribal rites of ascension, way back long ago. What it does is it uses the biochemical changes that we go through when we become sexual: when we do sexual things. When certain parts of our bodies are stimulated it causes biochemical reactions which can help to accentuate the experience of the tantra.

A: But this is not the tantra that you teach?

T: This is not the tantra that we teach.

A: Now, you mentioned that every person has a specific experience as they go up in tantric levels. Can you tell me any of those experiences?

T: No.

A: Why not?

T: I cannot tell you those experiences because to tell you those experiences prejudices you in a direction towards those experiences. So you will have a prejudice either to experience that or to not experience that before you even get into the tantra. It is better that you have no idea what it is you are doing. But it is good to talk about your experiences with those who have been there. Then, when you have gotten to a place where you are experiencing one of those experiences, other people will be able to tell you “yes, that’s what I experienced too.” And then you will understand your ascension.

A: Is it dangerous?

T: It can be. There have been reported cases of different mental and physical problems coming from unguided use of tantra and kundalini.

A: Like what?

T: Well, even to the point of death. Supposedly someone had a heart attack because they raised their energy levels up and they were in the process of having a heart attack and they couldn’t experience the heart attack, so they therefore were not able to take care of themselves. There are other types of experiences, like different forms of paranoia, different forms of schizophrenia that that can be gotten from unguided tantra. Tantra is not something to think of as a yoga type experience that you bring home with you. Now, there are many things we use to try to help a person level back out after tantra. Among those, grounding excercises, yoga, what we call tantric yoga, which is a yoga that uses the tantric energy and helps you to get it out of you because excessive tantra energy inside of you is like drinking one hundred cups of coffee and then sitting down to watch television. So it’s not something that’s necessarily good for you. It does get your heart rate going faster, and it can cause people to go into comas or seizures. These are things that, if you look on the internet you can find some of these warnings, matter of fact.

A: Okay, cool. Is there anything else you’d like to add?

T: Yes, as a matter of fact there is. I feel that people need to remember that the tantric masters had to go through a lot of teaching to get to a point where they had experienced the things they had experienced, and that if a person wishes to examine tantra they should find a master and they should study under that master until the master feels that they are ready. They should not try to go off on their own. I feel that tantric energy, someone who is full of tantric energy is so full of a wonderful feeling of love around them that it can create dependencies. I feel that someone who is educated somewhat in tantra can actually cause people to become dependant on them, which can cause mental problems in some people. It can cause some dependencies that can become uncomfortable to the person who is using the tantra as well as uncomfortable to the person who doesn’t. People have tried using the tantric energy for many different things. They’ve tried using it to pick up girls. They found that the girls would never be able to trust a man again, and that the girls would bug them to death, even stalk them, because of the tantric energies. Girls have done the same thing with men. We have a lot of life available to us. Let us not waste our life, throw away our life, in trying to abuse everything that comes near us. When someone gives you a rose, very seldom do you crumple it. You take care of it; try to make it last as long as you can. You have one life on this planet. You don’t know when you are going to die. This is your moment. THIS is your moment. Open your eyes. Breathe in deep and smell the air around you. Taste everything, absorb it into your mind. Become one with your moment, and this, this is what we’re after. Unity.

Posted on: 2011/3/5 0:53
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Re: An Interview on Tantra
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This is excellent! I especially like his explanation of the universal energies, the Prana.

Posted on: 2011/3/5 1:28
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Re: An Interview on Tantra
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Most impressive.. i read this earlier today i have to admit im surprised by the lack of response to this thread. The ties with people you will build by continuing with interviews as such will serve you well and be educational to others as well.
thank you for taking it upon yourself to do this...
now that you have showed some capacity in such a degree of course i am looking forward to more as i am sure so are others.

Posted on: 2011/3/5 21:22
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Re: An Interview on Tantra
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Tempest, I believe you misread this. I didn't write it, a friend of mine did.

Posted on: 2011/3/5 23:01
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Re: An Interview on Tantra
Master
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indeed i did ... impressive none the less ... lol
my apologies..

i skipped passed the first part and dove straight into the interview.
Quote:
If I could get access to an interview done with one of my other teachers regarding tantra would anyone be interested in reading it?

this is where my assumption stemmed from..
at any rate having very little knowledge of the subject this article proved very educational to me.
thank you for sharing it with us..
*bows*

Posted on: 2011/3/6 19:23
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Re: An Interview on Tantra
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No worries teach, stuff happens. I thought it was a neat interview so I decided to share it. He's also working on an in depth essay that corresponds to the interview, one he's finished writing that I'll see if He'll let me share that as well.

Posted on: 2011/3/6 20:33
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Re: An Interview on Tantra
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The Essay connected to the interview & sort of a re-posting of the actual interview done by my friend & fellow student Alexn Britt & our teacher Tamar:

It can Change the Taste of Water
Alexyn Britt
3-3-2011



A Peculiar Old Man

It is early afternoon and I am on my way to interview an old man. This particular old man has a very unusual life story- he has dedicated the latter part of his life to teaching and counseling. He does not discriminate between people and he does not charge money, yet he is there to counsel anyone who asks: in the morning, daytime, even the middle of the night.

I met Tamar just over four years ago, in the winter of 2006. I could have met him a couple of years earlier- all the pieces were in place, but I was still too dogmatically Christian to hear anything he would have to say. As it happened, I met him right when I needed to. Tamar, you see, is not just a counselor. Tamar is a self-proclaimed wizard. He defines wizard as “a person who is wise”, and in the years that I have known him he has earned that title and maybe a bit of bragging on the side. This man actually practices what he preaches.

Tamar’s apparent lack of hypocrisy is the reason I began to study under him after the initial meeting. There was something there that I couldn’t quite put my finger on, something that fascinated me and yet defied explanation. At the time my curiosity was tempered by a skepticism rooted in a deep arrogance and insecurity. I was twenty years old and just beginning to learn I didn’t know everything, and I didn’t like it one bit. I think that at the time I felt a kind of competition with Tamar: maybe if I could beat him at his own game I could prove to myself just how smart I really was. Of course, I have never been able to best him in anything but drawing, and as the years have gone by I have changed much.

Tamar holds classes once or twice a week on mysticism. The classes generally revolve around four subjects: Ancient history, Energy work and Reiki, tantra, and comparative religions. I found myself generally bored by everything except Reiki and tantra, and ended up spending most of my focus there. Soon, even Reiki drifted out of focus as I began to experience some very abnormal things within tantra. Slowly, as time went on and the blinders were painfully torn down, a new picture began to emerge. Tantra was more than just a meditation; it was a gateway to kinds of experience that exist totally outside of the normal realm of everyday life.

Today, I will interview this old man, partly because I don’t know of anyone who can explain it better and partly because through his answers I will better be able to understand which of my own experiences I can open up and present to you, my reader. The actual interview measured nearly nine pages of back and forth dialogue. Here, I have edited it down in a way that both serves my purposes and does not lose the main points. During the interview, I have placed all instances of my own commentary in parentheses and italics. I wish to offer my own opinion at times to clarify points I believe can be expounded upon.

I step up to the door of the old house. A smattering of tall pine trees in the yard don’t quite hide its sagging crossbeams, and you can’t lean on the eight foot 6x6 acting as a pillar on the stoop. In the yard are some weathered indoor chairs that ought to smell worse than they do. Guarding the front door is an ashtray surrounded by more cigarette butts than it holds, and guarding the ashtray is a black-eyed cherub. I have never stepped up to this door and not looked into its eyes; I have never ceased to feel like it will come to life at any time and suck me into its pair of little black beads. I knock on the door as a formality and enter before anyone inside responds.

Tamar is excited about this interview, he has even prepared himself a list of one word topics on the side of an oddly folded yellow piece of paper that fits well with the general scene. I always imagined that a wizard would be something like a Zen master, minimalist and aloof. Tamar is neither. His room is cluttered with computer parts, his bed smells faintly of body odor and not at all of cigarettes; which is extremely odd, considering he is smoking one cigarette as he rolls another. There are jars about the room, random instruments, shelves of movies and a flat screen TV, an ashtray that is usually abandoned in favor of the nearest jar, a cluttered altar devoted to sex, two bird cages, two mostly green parrots, various kinds of clothing, a hook on the ceiling that I helped the old man install by squeezing myself into his dirty, hot, pink-fiberglass, claustrophobic ceiling space and drilling a hole through it, and a space heater.

I flop down on his bed. We chitchat. Eventually, we begin. In order to sound correctly official, I say: “Alright, we’re online recording. Please state your name and your purpose.”

“My name is Tamar Sean Kilpatric, and my purpose is to exist… existentially.”

By the way, Tamar is almost 62. He has a four inch white beard that feels longer, long white hair on his head that feels shorter, and a way of looking at you dead in the eyes that makes you suddenly feel as though you are a very stupid and very curious twelve year old. He oozes authority. Then, abruptly, he likes to stop oozing authority and say something silly in a very serious way. He is his own comedic relief.


The Interview

“Now, we’re here because I understand that you are a tantra master, and if you would be willing, I’d like you to explain what exactly tantra is, for someone who has never heard of it before?” I ask.

“Okay.” He replies. "For someone who’s never heard of tantra before, back long, long ago, somewhere in the first century B.C.E., in India, people came up with the idea that there was more to the universe than originally assumed, and their desire was to find out more. Tantra was invented during this time period, although it was never introduced to religion until 300-500 C.E.

“Now, tantra roughly translated comes from two words. It comes from ‘tanote’, which basically means like expanding, becoming bigger, and it comes from ‘triata’, which means…freedom, um…liberation." I can tell he is having a difficult time getting the right word here.

“So then the study of tantra is, if you combine the two, the study of liberating and expanding yourself?” I ask.

“Liberation through expansion, yes.” He says.

“So essentially, enlightenment or expanding consciousness?”

“Yes. The liberation it’s talking about is the liberation from mundane existence because they believe that a person is born over and over again on this planet until they become enlightened. When they become enlightened they can go into the bosom of Shiva, becoming all-ness, and the liberation they’re talking about is the liberation of the misery of having to live on this planet, over and over again.”

“So, is the practice of tantra one method through which one could reach enlightenment?”

“Yes. This is the assumption.”

“Assumption?” I ask. “Have you reached enlightenment?” I have never asked him this before. I’m not sure why. Maybe I took it for granted one way or the other, but before now I never thought to ask.

“I don’t believe that I’ve reached their definition of enlightenment, but I believe that I have reached enlightenment, but I don’t know that I can define it, therefore I would not be able to prove it.” He says, after some thought.

(Any time we learn something new it’s a form of enlightenment, right? But “Enlightenment” as it is generally understood is some kind of transcendent state wherein the enlightened individual is totally aligned with himself or herself and with the universe. Perfect peace. Lasting awareness. Of course, there haven’t been a lot of individuals in history that have become truly enlightened, so we don’t have a lot of information. If we want to know what It’s like, we’ll have to figure out how to get there ourselves. Luckily, at least within the subject of tantra, such as it is, there is a guide. There are many things that defy definition within tantra. Similar to how another language might have a word for something that we do not, language in general does not have words for many of the experiences. If it did, the closest might be the verb “grok” used in the novel Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein. Although it almost takes the entire book to explain it, it roughly means being able to become so open that you can experience something from the point of view of that thing and yourself completely. Tantra is a very difficult thing to teach for this reason: how do you teach something unexplainable?)

“As a teacher, the tantra that you learned has been directly affected by your personal experience. Is the tantra that you teach also affected by it?” I ask.

“Directly affected and fashioned by my experiences within tantra. Absolutely. Now, the idea of tantra is to use the mundane to reach the supra mundane, to be able to use your very body to try to reach your existential body. The idea is that everything is just a physical manifestation, a concrete manifestation of the ethereal, which is the consciousness of god. Therefore, everything being part of that consciousness is just sort of a dream. The seat that you’re sitting on is a dream; the roof above your head is a dream. It’s a dream of god, and this is a concrete manifestation of that dream. We see it as a concrete manifestation. The idea of tantra is to use that consciousness of god, use the energies that create the patterns of that consciousness, allow those energies to flow through us, even those energies that are part of us, to bring us to a conscious level similar to god.”

“What do we use these energies for?”

“They can be used for many things. Some people use them for mundane life things, to try to give themselves a better life, or whatever. Now, idealistically the dream of tantra is to reach a godlike state so you don’t have to come back here to this mundane existence. You can become part of the overall of god. So idealistically that’s what it should be used for. But you can use it not only for gaining control of your own supra Id, but you can also use it to gain control of the elements themselves. You have some 300,000 gods in the Indian tradition. The idea of tantra is to become a god. Basically, you might say it’s like the sexual ritual itself: the acquirement of a sexual field of energy and the acquirement of a consummation field of energy, and the bringing all of this together to where it’s kind of like you’re making love to the gods and becoming one with the gods through the process of making love with the gods.” (If you get that last part, please tell me?)

“Now, to anyone who is reading this later your claims about becoming god are going to sound extremely arrogant.” I point out.

“Yes. So there I would like to identify that the claims of becoming god are more like the claims of being able to gain the attributes of a specific god. There are so many gods in the Indian tradition that no human being on the planet would be able to attain the attributes of all of them. Basically, you are using the powers of Shakti, which is where the energies come from: Shakti and Shakti’s dance with Shiva to create the universe, and you’re becoming one of these many gods. These many gods were created or made for the purposes of being able to master single, individual traits or abilities. An example would be the god Ganesha, whose abilities are to be able to remove obstacles or to place obstacles in one’s way to be able to help one in their guided path. You may need to stop yourself from going into 7/11 and contributing to this corporation because you don’t feel that this corporation should be there, so you would use Ganesha to create the obstacle in front of you to prevent you from being tempted to go into the 7/11.”

“This is a lot of religious background that I haven’t heard before, and in practice it seems like it doesn’t even apply. Apart from the religious aspect of it, how is this a genuine practice? I mean, how is it practiced and how can it be practiced as something separate from religion?”

(Although I have used elements of ideas that are represented by different gods within my own tantric practice, I had always thought of it as being similar to choosing which book to read or how to edit an essay. It mainly comes down to personal choice and an attempt to assert some control over the experience. Actually, in practice it might be more closely related to choosing between kinds of hallucinogens, if one considers that the actual effect of using the representation of any given god or goddess is psychological in nature.)

Tamar lights another cigarette. “We find that when we open ourselves to different directions we become influenced by the direction that we’re opening ourselves to. Now, the more energy we apply to that, the more of an effect we get from it. An example is: working out with weights can build muscles. The more you work out with weights, the more energy you put into it, the more muscular structure you are going to be able to build. It’s very similar here. In India, and in the many different regions where people came together to create this wonderful religion that they have, they believed that all possible traits of any of the gods already exist within you, that tantra helps you to bring those to the surface. It helps you to be able to empower those traits, those abilities.”

“So the gods become a medium of focus and a way to have a goal, but not necessarily a god the way a Christian might define god?” I summarize.

“Exactly. Now the universal energies in India are called the prana. There are many different suffixes and prefixes that can be put on the word prana, but the word prana itself means “energy”. So basically tantra is the use of energy, it is working specifically with energy. But there are many obstacles that have to be overcome by humans to be able to efficaciously work with energy. Most of those obstacles are our mundane existence, our mundane definition of existence. We see ourselves as solid human beings, we see ourselves as unable to attain certain goals because of our physical limitations. We think that’s the reason why we drive a car. Well, if you were to ask a guru in India “Why don’t you own a car?” he’ll tell you its because “I can get anywhere that I want to go.” And if you sit there and ask him “Are you going to mystically disappear here and re-appear there?” He’d say, “Why would I need to do that?” If you ask him again, “Well, how is it that you are going to go there?” “I will walk.” “But it will take you years!” “And they will be very pleasant years.” So a lot of the things that we consider as important and the things that we need to either value or devalue are the things that really all in the end are not of much value. If we take that into consideration we can take care of a large portion of our obstacles from being able to obtain this prana and from being able to control and weave it. This is a very important sub-structural thing to the development of tantra. Tantra cannot be taught by itself. It needs to be taught with other things added to it, which help develop that particular set of values that you need to attain to go where you need to go.”

(The intentional breaking down of personal values is incredibly important if one is to pursue tantra. Thinking something is a certain way can blind you to the reality of it. For example, recently I was on my way to a friend’s house. I had been there many times, but had never walked there. Upon reaching the area where her home is, I began to walk up and down the blocks, looking at each trailer in turn to see if it was hers. I called her to ask which one it was and she told me it was by the mailboxes. I thought she also said something about it being number 45-something. I was standing in front of 19, so I kept walking. I went through the entire area with no luck, circled around and tried again. Finally, after a half an hour of being lost I called her again and she directed me around the park until I finally arrived…at number 19. I had passed it twice before- I thought it was supposed to be a certain number, and I had remembered it in a certain directional orientation. Her car was even parked right there. My expectations literally blinded me from seeing what was there. This sort of thing happens very often in the every day lives of almost everyone. It happens in relationships and it happens at work. Seeing what one wishes to see is the general cause of narrow-mindedness and bigotry. This is not an easy thing to get around, and even a lifetime of practice doesn’t guarantee that it won’t happen. Breaking down values leads to new perspectives, and if you can see farther you have more options. Having more options directly leads to an increased sense of freedom.)

(Phone rings, interview pauses. Tamar leaves the room and returns with a mason jar full of milk.)

“In many kinds of disciplines, in yoga, in martial arts, in anything that’s a practice, once you start doing it eventually there are certain things within the practice that become their own goal. So what sort of things within tantra can you relate to that? Are there areas within tantra you would want to learn specifically because you’re a tantric?” I ask.

“Um, yes. Tantrary… um… tan-tra… tantraric, which is a person who practices tantra… hard to pronounce, particularly when you’ve got a mouthful of milk, becomes its own entity after a while. Becomes its own entity with its own purposes, and it has three major purposes. The first one is the mantrum. The mantrum is the wisdom, the knowledge that comes from the tantra. You feel as though this is your seat you are sitting on, your backpack that you are sitting next to. You feel as though you are talking to me. These things you feel because you have the limited restrictions of the lower energy levels, you cannot see the consciousness of the all- energy which is around us, and you can’t see its patterns, all you see is its manifestations, its concrete manifestations relative to your limitations. As you gain more energy you gain more ability to sense energies that are outside of your normal self. So you start sensing things that are outside of your normal parameters and you gain new wisdoms from this; new insights, new understandings. Then suddenly this backpack is no longer actually a backpack; you are able to see something different, something new: a new connection; a new wisdom.

“The tantrum is the philosophy. It’s also considered the ritual. The way we see things, the purpose behind those things, the understanding of those purposes. And then there is the yantrum.

“The yantrum is the life course. This is where everybody gets confused because going into tantra is not going to the store, buying a pair of jeans, then going back into the same store later on wearing that pair of jeans. The idea of having gotten the jeans is to be able to go someplace: go to the place that you’re going to. Don’t return to the same place. Grow with the tantra. Grow with it, become something else. Change your quality of living. Get rid of the things that restrict your growth, enhance the things that encourage your growth.”

“How is tantra practiced?” I ask, hoping for a direct answer.

“Oh, that’s a good question since being I was just going there!” Tamar says. “There are several different breakdowns within tantra. Among those, like I said before, is the visualization of the deity. The visualization of what it is that you’re trying to bring up in yourself. There are the mantras. The mantras are the series of things, the yantra, the Mandela, the other things that are put together to form a ritual. The yantras themselves are the pattern, the design of the universal energies, how they come together to create certain relationships. So it’s a design. It may have lots of triangles in it, or squares, or different things like that. Each of these is showing you pathways of how things fit together. There are the Mudras. The mudra is the way you hold your selfness. The way you pattern your mind within relationship to the tantra you are doing. There’s the asana, the way you hold your body in what you are doing. And then there’s the breathing. Now all these things come together. These are each one different windows that help you to attain the tantra. The tantra itself is its own enlightenment of all these things coming together. So basically you’re putting all these things together and you are creating a tantra. When you create a tantra, and you do it enough times, it becomes its own entity. Then you try to create another tantra, a tantra that goes further, and you keep trying to create these tantras. The aim, the ultimate aim, is called the ishta diva. The ishta diva is the becoming of a god. Not like the western tradition, but rather like the attainment of the wisdom knowledge base, the physical ability base, and the life source living base, which allows you to accomplish that god’s ability.

“You mentioned earlier that people feel that reality is a certain way because they are restricted to the lower energy levels.” I begin.

“Yes.” Replies Tamar.

“What are these energy levels and how do they relate to the tantra?” I ask.

“These levels are different groups of experiences that everyone gets as they go through tantra. They start out with smaller experiences, but your experiences become greater, they become more complex. They become more patterned. Everybody will have some types of experiences. If you sit cross-legged too long your legs will fall asleep. That’s an experience, but everybody gets different experiences there. But there are groups of experiences that are defined, that everybody reaches if they continue to practice, and those experiences are almost exactly the same, over thousands of people. Gurus have been through all of those experiences. They’ve been through all of them, they understand them, they know what those experiences are and they know what they mean. The interesting thing is that once you’ve gained one these experiences you find that you have gained some new abilities that are relating to your environment. So these are like levels of ascension. You don’t just step on the top rung of the ladder, you take one rung at a time.”

(He says just one rung at a time, but that isn’t quite accurate since the intensity and the after effects of the experience seem to stack exponentially to a crazy degree. Upon attaining the first and second levels, I felt that little had changed. Upon arriving at third, several layers of skepticism were utterly blown away. Upon attaining fourth, I found myself unable to relate to people for nearly two weeks. Upon attaining fifth I called up Tamar and asked him why in hell he would do something like this to people! I felt like Neo in the original Matrix film when he is told the truth about reality and the first thing he does is vomit.)

“How many of these levels are there?”

“In my tradition there are eight levels, but there are many staircases, so upon having reached that eighth level you’re going to go to another staircase. So its like flights of stairs, eight levels per flight. Yeah. Eight levels per flight. That’s pretty good, I like that! I’m gonna have to remember that!” Tamar laughs and then continues. “Now, I think I want to make it perfectly clear that western tradition had no basis of comparison for the tantric experience. When tantra came into the western world, it was noted that tantra gave a lot of instant gratification to certain types of things, including sexuality and it became a highly sexual art in the western world. A lot of people study tantra, or some variation of tantra in order to increase their sexual experience.”

(I think that this also occurred because the actual physical practice of tantra is extremely sensual. The human body is covered in nerves. The physical act of tantra is about exciting those nerves as much as possible. It is easy to see then, how someone with a western set of values could have seen it as sexual.)

“Can it actually increase sexual experience?”

“It can, yes. It can increase every experience. It can change the taste of water. Now, there are many different styles of tantra, as I had discussed earlier because there are many different traditions that incorporated tantra. Among those traditions, although there is a certain amount of sexual relationship that is being approached, a certain sexual type of relationship between you and your goal, hardly ever is sex actually brought into the picture. There is one sect of tantra, the, uh, vamamarga tantra, which uses a normal sexual activity. But they do so not for the attainment of sexual gratification. Now, the practice of the vamamarga is not uncommon in other forms of tantra. This tantra devotes itself in that direction. It does actually use sexual penetration; it may have even come from tribal rites of ascension, way back long ago. What it does is it uses the biochemical changes that we go through when we become sexual: when we do sexual things. When certain parts of our bodies are stimulated it causes biochemical reactions, which can help to accentuate the experience of the tantra. But this is not the tantra that we teach.”

“Now, you mentioned that every person has a specific experience as they go up in tantric levels. Can you tell me any of those experiences?”

“No.”

“Why not?”

“I cannot tell you those experiences because to tell you those experiences prejudices you in a direction towards those experiences. So you will have a prejudice either to experience that or to not experience that before you even get into the tantra. It is better that you have no idea what it is you are doing. But it is good to talk about your experiences with those who have been there. Then, when you have gotten to a place where you are experiencing one of those experiences, other people will be able to tell you “yes, that’s what I experienced too.” And then you will understand your ascension.”

(I would like to butt in here to point out that although this is a bit disappointing, it’s absolutely true. I asked this question because I knew Tamar would answer this way and he words it the best. I would also like to add that these experiences are literally indefinable. The very act of trying to define them puts them into a frame of reference, and that screws everything up. For example: imagine that you have just seen the most beautiful specimen of human being on the planet. You wish to describe this person to your friends, but nothing you say quite communicates why this person was so beautiful to you. You write books of poetry, but people bring their own meanings to it. You do a painting, but it lacks. The only way for you to properly explain the experience is to physically take your friend to see this person, but even then, to really explain it right they would have had to be you in that moment. Since being that tantra is a very elusive study, creating an environment that allows people to experience the same thing independently of each other provides each person with the confirmation that yes, this was a real experience.)

“Is tantra dangerous?” I ask.

“It can be. There have been reported cases of different mental and physical problems coming from unguided use of tantra.

“Like what?”

“Well, even to the point of death. Supposedly someone had a heart attack because they raised their energy levels up and they were in the process of having a heart attack and they couldn’t experience the heart attack, so they therefore were not able to take care of themselves. There are other types of experiences, like different forms of paranoia, different forms of schizophrenia that that can be gotten from unguided tantra. Tantra is not something to think of as a yoga type experience that you bring home with you. Now, there are many things we use to try to help a person level back out after tantra. Among those, grounding exercises, yoga, what we call tantric yoga, which is a yoga that uses the tantric energy and helps you to get it out of you because excessive tantra energy inside of you is like drinking one hundred cups of coffee and then sitting down to watch television. So it’s not something that’s necessarily good for you. It does get your heart rate going faster, and it can cause people to go into comas or seizures. These are things that, if you look on the Internet you can find some of these warnings, matter of fact.”

“Okay, cool. Is there anything else you’d like to add?”

“Yes, as a matter of fact there is. I feel that people need to remember that the tantric masters had to go through a lot of teaching to get to a point where they had experienced the things they had experienced, and that if a person wishes to examine tantra they should find a master and they should study under that master until the master feels that they are ready. They should not try to go off on their own. I feel that tantric energy, someone who is full of tantric energy is so full of a wonderful feeling of love around them that it can create dependencies. I feel that someone who is educated somewhat in tantra can actually cause people to become dependant on them, which can cause mental problems in some people. It can cause some dependencies that can become uncomfortable to the person who is using the tantra as well as uncomfortable to the person who isn’t. People have tried using the tantric energy for many different things. They’ve tried using it to pick up girls. They found that the girls would never be able to trust a man again, and that the girls would bug them to death, even stalk them, because of the tantric energies. Girls have done the same thing with men. We have a lot of life available to us. Let us not waste our life, throw away our life, in trying to abuse everything that comes near us. When someone gives you a rose, very seldom do you crumple it. You take care of it; try to make it last as long as you can. You have one life on this planet. You don’t know when you are going to die. This is your moment. THIS is your moment. Open your eyes. Breathe in deep and smell the air around you. Taste everything; absorb it into your mind. Become one with your moment, and this, this is what we’re after. Unity.”

With this, the interview has ended. I spend some time afterwards considering his words. Although I have heard almost all of this before, I am constantly surprised at how much my understanding changes over time. He is right- He really never does just talk to one person or say just one thing. Maybe it’s impossible for him to do otherwise. I’ve seen him teaching classes where he will talk directly to one student while three others are shifting around in their seats because they know he means them also. You never know what trick he’s going to pull out of his hat- but you can bet that every time you see him he’ll spout some kind of terrible pun with a terribly straight face.

As a person who reads closely, you will have noticed that the subject of tantra and the manner in which I have written about it is very “new age”. (In part because it claims that tantra is a path to enlightenment, and in part because it alludes to certain kinds of experience that it goes out of its way not to describe.) Although this essay spans almost eleven pages, not once do we describe in detail the methods one would use to practice tantra.

Like you, I would have lumped this essay directly into the new age category.

I would ask you to consider, for a moment, that these ideas are not new age ideas; they are in fact very old ideas. What is new is the level of public awareness and acceptance. Less than a century has passed since we have burned witches for exactly this kind of knowledge, this kind of idea. Yet these ideas do not go away. Perhaps, as the world turns, it is time for mankind to begin exploring the validity of old things. Perhaps it is time to begin looking at our selves the way we look at our technologies, sciences, and fashions. Perhaps it is finally time for our eye to notice that we are in fact a part of the world that we live in. Perhaps it is time that we stopped looking only at what we want to be and become aware of the absolute grandeur, no, perfection, of what we are.

Until we can see our own reflections and refuse to shy away; until we can stop judging the moles on our noses and the nose hair and the shape of our eyes; until we can look in the mirror and see ourselves with wonder, having broken down our values and preconceived notions, until we finally become disillusioned, we will continue to victimize ourselves. Sometimes in life there are deep things in the simplest of teachers. Sometimes things are not as they seem. Practicing tantra is not a system. It is not a way to get laid or acquire power. It is a path.

You have all heard it said that love is deeper than any emotion, stronger than any sword. This message is repeated in films, books, and cliché’s. Yet, how often do we truly pay attention? How often do we notice the absolute perfection of the dish you are washing, the toilet you are scrubbing, the ice cream cone you are enjoying, or cat litter you are scooping? How often do we pause in order to stop contemplating and deciding things about our environment? As children we learn to form definitions of what we see. Tantra is learning to deprogram our autopilot responses and once again see things for the way they exist outside of them. Maybe dishes are more than tools and toilets are more than shitholes.

The practice of tantra is just that- a practice. It is the practice of choosing to experience in order to learn the nature of love. It is the practice of choosing to love in order to learn the nature of experience.

Posted on: 2011/3/10 22:49
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Re: An Interview on Tantra
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I can recommend on the subject of tantra the books:
"Ecstasy Through Tantra" by Dr. John Mumford, and more so: "Modern Sex Magick" by Donald Michael Kraig. Both books are excellent resources on the subject, especially from a beginners standpoint.

Posted on: 2011/3/11 4:29
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Re: An Interview on Tantra
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The Tantric yogi, who can live married with children, a
completely ordinary life, but at the same time play with the world as
an ornament of awareness, is really something! To recognize all
appearance as the ornament of your own wisdom nature and to live in
the bliss-mad realm of freedom where all perception is delight: That
is the goal of Tantra.

Posted on: 2011/3/16 23:18
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Re: An Interview on Tantra
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... a strangely relevant response from a BOT.

Posted on: 2011/3/17 0:00
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