Going deeper into tantra, a fascinating ancient science and philosophy of life. Part One: Shiva / Shakti – the polarities of the masculine and feminine.
The one thing I would say, is really learn from the basics up and feel the symbolism. To me, tantra is about deep and absolute connection and presence to what is; a path to a deeper connection with the self, spirit and with a partner. It is a journey of all the senses working together in a merging of the heart, mind, body and spirit. And an understanding of the energy that runs through everything that exists. For this post I am going to focus on polarities; the feminine and masculine, working together in divine harmony.
As I was writing this, I really started to think about how the world has changed since these principles were put in place and how so much more comes in to play. I have tried to put in pointers below, but I feel it is great to know these philosophies – feel their deep context and resonance – and adapt in the modern world to how it works for you.
Yin / Yang
This Chinese Philosophy Yin/Yang symbol feels to be the most simple way to explain polarities. Yin represents the feminine essence, the negative, the dark. Yang represents the masculine essence, the positive, the light. They work together in the same way electricity is conducted via the negative and positive working together. As the sun works with the moon. As the day works with the night. It is their magnetic and distinct properties that make them work together.
“Yin and yang cannot be separated: their mystical rhythm, their subtle interchange is the basis of life and the entire universe.” (Natha Yoga school)
In tantra, the embodiment of the masculine and feminine energies is Shiva and Shakti. In Sanskrit (ancient Indian language), Shiva means “the beneficial”, he represents the eternal masculine archetype, the cosmic father, who is strong, active, self confident, protective, stable, objective and realistic. He is the consciousness behind the matter. In Sanskrit, Shakti means “power” or “energy”. This energy is available everywhere; it is the energy that makes plants, animals and human beings grow, it keeps the planets in their orbits.
Shakti is the energy, the source of diversity; but Shiva is he who directs and controls this power, which without him would be blind and destructive.
I will try not to make sweeping generalisations, but if I do, note they are from my experience, learning and perception. Everyone is different and you can choose what resonates with you. In the modern world, women are more independent (which isn’t a bad thing), we also work more masculine jobs and we toughen ourselves in order to survive. It may or may not be through this, but in general, we are less in touch with our feminine essence; nurturing, compassionate, inner and outer beauty and harmony, sensuality, spiritual connection, intelligence, the power to love.
Many men I have encountered are also less in touch with their masculine potential. Maybe in part due to women becoming more masculine and the balance interplay evening out. The natural essence of men is of consciousness, to be the hunter / provider, to be goal orientated and to go out to battle – that battle can be a career aim, or a mountain to climb… Shiva is the awareness that gives rise to effortless control. Shiva is a man fighting for his principles to the end. He clarifies these principles for himself and sticks by them. Shiva’s true nature is freedom itself. Thoughts and experiences come and go, he is always the witness to them. His true nature as consciousness is unaffected by experience.
One of the most amazing things I learned through tantra is that women are CRAZY. Yes. It’s funny as in my experience we hide a lot of our craziness as we feel we have to be strong and not show emotion. But, we are emotional beings and should let it flow when needed. Men are supposed to be the conscious force that doesn’t waver when we bring them our dramas, nor get caught up in them. They are the logical left brained individual, that can solve the problems our emotional right brain either can’t solve, or which it creates. Women love drama. And we also love to test men.
“Every moment of your life is either a test or a celebration. The same is true about every moment with your woman, only doubly so. Not only is her simple existence a test for you, but one of her deepest pleasures in intimacy is testing you, and then feeling you are not moved off course by her challenge.
The most erotic moment for a woman is feeling that you are Shiva, the divine masculine: unperturbable, totally loving, fully present, and all-pervading. She cannot move you, because you already are what you are, with or without her. She cannot scare you away, because you already penetrate her in fearless love, pervading her heart and body. She cannot distract you, because your one-pointed commitment to truth will not bend to her wiles. Feeling this hugeness of love and freedom in you, she can trust you, utterly, and surrender her testing in celebration of love.
Until she wants to feel you as Shiva again. And then the testing will begin anew. In fact, it is precisely when you are most Shiva-like that she will most test you.” – David Deida
It is the electricity of the polarities that bring us together and create harmony.
If you are in a relationship, it is good for both of you to try work on your respective feminine and masculine qualities, so you can ensure the spark that pulsed when you met, is always there. I think it is important to spend time away from your partner, so you can charge up your feminine / masculine energy. Men need to spend time with men – take their tops off, beat their chests and growl in a forest somewhere (sorry, I have it in my mind that men would be happy doing this!), and women need to spend time with women, doing what women do (have a chat and hug trees!)… To ensure the mysterious force of attraction is alive within you.
If you spend 24 hours a day together you will just merge and the polarized attraction would be lost.
There are also the unconscious inner archetypes to work with (look again at the Yin / Yang image – the black dot within the white, the white dot within the black) – within every thing there contains the seed of the opposite. As Jung pointed out, women have their inner masculine (the animus) and men their inner feminine (the anima), these too need to be honored.
We are in ourselves the whole and we find another whole to make even more magic happen. Two separate wholes come together to make two wholes, merging in magic. Not two halves to make one whole – you should not be looking for someone to complete you in any way.
And also, thinking about same sex relationships. I cannot speak from experience and the classes I attended didn’t really go deep on this. But from observation, I would say there would be subtle interplay and balance going on between the two polarities individually. Each individual would maybe have a strong aspect of the feminine and masculine within themselves and create harmony in this way. Or, one would maybe outwardly project the masculine and the other, the feminine (and this could change all the time).
The feminine masculine polarities.
|Shakti – the cosmic mother||Shiva – the cosmic father|
|The moon||The sun|
|Yoni – the internal sexual organ||Lingham – external sexual organ|
|Right brained half / left body half||Left brained half / right body half|
|Practical /Earth connection||Abstract / Absorbed in thoughts|
|Intuitive / emotional||Rational / Logic|
|Contains energy||Discharges energy|
|Gives sex to obtain love||Gives love to obtain sex|
|Sees the details||Has the overview|
|Sees the possibilities||Shows the direction|
|Embraces what is||Focuses on the goal|
|Essence is limitless love||Essence is free consciousness|
*List obtained from the Natha Yoga school, Iceland
You can only account for and work on your own polarities. It would be great (and trust me, I have done it) to think – oh, but he needs to do this, etc. But all you can do is work on yourself, you can’t change anyone else, and nor would you want to change someone if they do not want to change themselves. It would make everyone unhappy.
For myself, I would say I can be quite masculine, this was especially prevalent in my teens and early 20s and through living in a city. I literally had to be masculine to survive and I built up many walls to hide my delicate, feminine self. Since working with tantra I have found my inner feminine power, and there is a lot of it! It’s kind of like finding your inner goddess and channeling that.
If you feel out of balance in yourself, it would be worth finding what works for you to find inner equilibrium. If you feel you need to embody more masculine qualities, seek and find what would help you to achieve this balance, the same for feminine (you can take inspiration from the above). If you wish to attract a mate, you have to be at your own true and fullest potential, which means doing things for yourself, not someone else. The most important thing is to find what works for you; we are all unique little beings and will attract that which is in resonance with our own unique qualities.
Whether you are female, yet have strong masculine qualities, or male and have strong feminine qualities, whether you are gay or straight. When the moment is right, you will find the opposite that is in resonance with your energy.
Balance is a strong key of life. To find the tools that help you understand and achieve balance is a blessing to be found.
Everything is energy and we are in a great dance.
Natha Yoga School, Iceland
Kaivalya Yoga Ashram, Guatemala
A great book to start is Jewel In The Lotus
This post was written by Kim Booth