Tantra is a spiritual and philosophical tradition that originated in ancient India, dating back to around the 5th century AD. The word “tantra” comes from Sanskrit, and it can be translated to mean “weave”, “loom”, or “warp”. The underlying concept of tantra is that all aspects of existence are interconnected and interdependent, and it emphasizes the importance of using practices and techniques to integrate these different aspects of life.
This definition of tantra was offered to me by ChatGPT and I found the translation from the Sanskrit something that finds some echo in me. For some reason, some years ago I felt the urge to learn to weave. This urge was related to a kind of call to learn fundamental techniques for survival in case of some kind of worldwide catastrophe that would take us back to less technological times.
I bought three different models of loom. One to create decorative pieces, another to create rugs, and a third to create textiles. Prabhupada Swami says that we should create self-sustaining communities. For this reason, years later, I donated two of these looms to the community where my spiritual master develops his social project. The other one I donated to a brazilian indigenous community, where I also taught them how to use the tool.
The word “weave” is often used in a spiritual context to describe the interconnectedness between each of us, as if we were connected to each other within a large spider’s web, or invisible net that somehow links us to each other in thoughts, feelings and actions. And what is the element that connects us all? What makes this connection possible? Although we are individuals, with our own experiences over many lives, there is something (or someone) connected to each of us that accompanies us, life after life.
Prabhupada Swami defines this entity as a part of God, an atom of God, that dwells within each of us and is there always available to offer God’s presence with all its qualities. This little witness within us is known as Paramatma. I find this concept so beautiful because in my view it is as if God is constantly updating himself and is ready to offer accurate answers to each of our problems. Exactly as ChatGPT has been demonstrating in the last months. However, Chat GPT has a model limited to a certain time, from when the model was created. But Paramatma is always there, showing since time immemorial a technology that is even nowadays inconceivable.
Although the philosophy of Tantra encourages the use of the senses for the individual’s connection with the world around us, Prabhupada Swami, shows the power of conclusion of the Vaishnava philosophy when he explains that the senses are limited and that they are more connected to the material world than to the spiritual world. Therefore, we must not rely only on the senses to connect with the divine.
On the other hand, Prabhupada also explains that both the material world and the spiritual world are God’s fields of action. That is, the material world, despite having limitations, is as sacred as the spiritual world and when a person becomes self-realized, (s)he does not care whether (s)he is in the material or spiritual world. Both are places of service to the greater good. Some people who have misunderstood the philosophy believe that the spiritual world is some kind of playground that one goes to, after earning enough credits in the material world.
While this is indeed possible, the idea of having credits means that eventually the credits will run out. Just like money. When there are no more credits, then you have to do something, some work, so that you can accumulate more credits. This is not an idea propagated by Prabhupada. According to him, ideally, a person should not even have credits or debts when leaving the material world. In this way, there is no possibility of resetting these credits on some intermediary planet between Earth and the spiritual world.
I admire the idea coming from Tantra that the body is a temple, a holy place, just as Jesus also preached. I like the idea that sex is also sacred. This idea seems more appropriate to me than considering sex as something dirty, or with the sole purpose of procreation. However, Tantra’s conclusion that we are all one is not supported by Prabhupada. According to him, merging with God’s energy is indeed possible, but maintaining individuality is also possible and is a higher liberation than merging with God’s energy.
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