Art & Antiques

Subversive Spirituality

THE SANSKRIT WORD tantra is nothing if not evocative, even if most of what it evokes is inaccurate. For Westerners, it is inevitably linked with sex, especially the notion of special techniques for the enhancement of sexual pleasure. For Hindus, on the other hand, it tends to connote black magic and horror. But the reality of tantra, an ancient and still-living tradition within Hinduism and Buddhism, is far different.

Derived from a root meaning “to weave” or “to compose,” tantra originally signified an esoteric text containing instructions for initiates and came to mean, by extension, the set of principles and practices expounded in those texts. The metaphysics of tantra is based on the belief in the manifestation of consciousness in the world as power and on the polarity of male and

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