Consciousness and Tantra
Consciousness is a term you hear a lot in relation to Tantra. Tantrics believe that human beings are just miniature representations of the universe, and that therefore if you access your spirits by way of your senses through consciousness of yoga, meditation, and sacred love, you find the key that will unlock the secrets of godly wisdom. As a result, you will become a god or goddess. In other words, gods and goddesses are simply people who have recognized the cosmic potential within themselves and attained their fullest potential level of consciousness.
Thoughts on Consciousness from an Expert
Longtime Tantra teacher Al Link elaborates on the concept of consciousness:
Everything is consciousness. Consciousness is what we come out of and what we go back into. If we are diligent and determined, we can come to this realization while we are in the seemingly separate space of a body. We can become aware, not just with our minds, but with all aspects of our being, that everything is indeed one. Unlike many spiritual practices that suggest we must deny or escape the body to come to such an awareness, Tantra teaches that the body is a gateway through to awakening. Our desires are fuel for the fire of awareness. Our senses are the doorways through to perception. By being fully present — awake, alive, focused — in our bodies, we can tune in to the subtle vibration at the core of all life and know we are everything and everything is us.
Shiva and Shakti and Their Role in Consciousness
Tantra teaches us that the universe is consciousness. This consciousness is both masculine and feminine. Shiva, the masculine force, is solid and unchanging. It is possibility and pure potential. Shakti, the feminine force, is always changing. It is dynamic and creative. From her, all else springs forth.
Ancient Tantrics viewed Shiva as a powerful force in the universe (modern Tantrics still maintain this view). Shiva was often associated with death, or the ending of life's energy. Shatki was Shiva's consort, and provided feminine balance to the equation.
This is where the energy of kundalini comes in. The feminine force that is Shakti is called kundalini in the human body. Kundalini resides at the base of the spinal cord. It can be awakened through kundalini yoga asanas, meditations, and rituals. Once kundalini is awakened, we are provided with a life force beyond everyday understanding. It allows us to fully experience our spiritual as well as worldly lives, as the line separating the two becomes almost nonexistent.
Tantra tries to carry us beyond the dualities of masculine and feminine. By awakening our consciousness to ourselves, we awake our consciousness to the universe. We move beyond the dualities imposed by human minds. We move beyond the ego and for a moment, we experience pure bliss.
Subconsciousness and Superconsciousness
While we are on the subject of consciousness, it is fitting to discuss two other states of consciousness: the subconscious and the superconscious. You are probably familiar with the idea of subconscious actions. This is when we do something almost automatically, without really even thinking about it or perhaps without even knowing why we are acting this way. Subconscious actions are often based on instinct or intuition, rather than a long thought-out logical process. Our subconscious is also like our mind's safety-deposit box. This is where it stores memories, thoughts, and experiences — including those that we may not want to remember, and which we may in fact believe we have forgotten.
Then there is the idea of superconsciousness. As you can probably guess from the name, this is when you reach the ultimate level of consciousness — complete mental and spiritual clarity. This is a state of ultimate bliss, a place many Tantrics aspire to reach someday.
Osho and Superconsciousness
Osho was a well-known and controversial Indian spiritual guide and teacher of the twentieth century. He earned a reputation (and not necessarily a good one) as a sex guru after giving some speeches in the 1960s that dealt with sexual content that some conservative critics found scandalous. Some of his speeches served as the basis for a book called From Sex to Superconsciousness. In this book, Osho discusses the three stages of sex — physical, psychological, and spiritual — and offers advice on channeling this raw energy into the realization of ultimate consciousness.
One of Osho's most well known quotes is from Philosophia Perennis and goes like this: “If you have not explored your body, you will not be able to explore the soul. The methodology of exploration is the same, but begin with the body because it is the visible part of your soul. Start with the visible and then slowly move toward the invisible.”
Osho believed that when we repress our basic nature, sex takes root in the unconscious, creating an unnatural obsession. According to Osho, this psychological state has produced a mental sickness and widespread, unhealthy obsession within society today. Therefore, you might say that he considered sexual exploration and indulging your personal needs as a valuable contribution that you make to society and the world in general.
Some Tantrics believe that by mastering a state of consciousness a person can achieve amazing and unbelievable things — even traveling through time and space. They believe that as someone reaches the ultimate state of superconsciousness, he or she may be able to visit past lifetimes.