Taboos & Kaula Tantra

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Kaula Tantra is characterized by tantric practices which are performed within a community. Tantra means “expansion-liberation”, and kaula means “family” or “community” – the community can be open or closed, and typically there may be a core, inner circle in which more esoteric practices are performed amongst members. One of the practices of such an inner circle is to address and perform actions which may be considered taboo within certain populations, demographies, cultures, religions, etc. The purpose of this is that through the acting out of these taboos, the stigma of the action is removed in the mind of the practitioners. (Such actions may need to be repeated a number of times before the stigma is completely removed.)

Why this and how does it relate to Tantra?

The presence of a stigma implies that there is a the manifestation of a given unsavory reaction in the mind of the individual whenever the taboo in question comes into his or her consciousness, whether as witness or participant of the action, or perhaps only in conversation. First of all, that unsavory reaction is, in a very direct way, draining the well of energy of the individual, that which may otherwise be utilized to promote one’s own projects. The reaction is a distraction from the individual’s resolve and focus on that resolve, hence limiting growth and not allowing for expansion and liberation.

As well, the reaction is a symptom of the existence of a samskara–a latent impression in the subconscious mind–acting as the gravitational center around which a vortex of a karmic cycle is created. It is these cycles which deter the consciousness away from awareness of union with and identification with the Infinite, Absolute, Formless, Nameless, Ineffable Divine.

In short, by addressing taboos within a community in which one feels safe letting down one’s guard from the criticism of family, friends, society, or any other group, one is in initiating a healing process which will bring him closer to self-realization and divine life.

Some good questions to ask yourself to help identify your own taboos and samskaras:

  • Am I critical of others?
  • Am I judgmental?
  • Do I use the word “problem” in my speech patterns?
  • Do I have a concept of “right” and “wrong”? (Realize that anything that is considered “wrong” in one’s mind is essentially causing a negative reaction every time that the thing in question becomes manifest in the sphere of existence of the individual.)
  • Do I have a concept of “good” and “bad”?
  • Do I see the world and society with a vision of a hierarchy? Do I think I am better or worse than anyone? Does one person’s situation in life indicate his meriting or not meriting of otherwise “universal” equality?
  • Do I consider my own world view as having more value than anyone else?

If you have answered yes to any of these questions, then this can be used as an indication of where to begin your search of samskaras to dissolve.

Durgananda Saraswati recommends that practices associated with dissolving samskaras and ending karmic cycles should be performed by advanced practitioners under the guidance of a guru or qualified teacher.

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