Tantra (Sanskrit: तन्त्र "weave" denoting continuity), tantricism or tantrism is any of several esoteric traditions rooted in the religions of India. It exists in Hindu, Bönpo, Buddhist, and Jain forms. Tantra in its various forms has existed in South Asia, China, Japan, Tibet, Korea, Cambodia, Burma, Indonesia and Mongolia. David Gordon White, while cautioning against attempting a rigorous definition of tantra, offers the following working definition:

Tantra is that Asian body of beliefs and practices which, working from the principle that the universe we experience is nothing other than the concrete manifestation of the divine energy of the Godhead that creates and maintains that universe, seeks to ritually appropriate and channel that energy, within the human microcosm, in creative and emancipatory ways.

There are a number of different definitions of tantra from various viewpoints, not all of them necessarily consistent. Robert Brown notes that the term "tantrism" is a construction of Western scholarship and that:

It is not a concept that comes from within the religious system itself, although it is generally recognized internally as different from the Vedic tradition. This immediately makes it suspect as an independent category.

Rather than a single coherent system, Tantra is an accumulation of practices and ideas which has among its characteristics the use of ritual, energy work, the use of the mundane to access the supramundane and the identification of the microcosm with the macrocosm. The Tantric practitioner seeks to use the divine power that flows through the universe (including their own body) to attain purposeful goals. These goals may be spiritual, material or both.

A practitioner of tantra considers mystical experience or the guidance of a Guru imperative. In the process of working with energy the Tantric has various tools at their disposal. These include yoga—to actuate processes that will yoke the practitioner to the divine. Also important are the use of visualizations of the deity and verbalisation or evocation through mantras—which may be construed as seeing and singing the power into being; identification and internalisation of the divine is enacted—often through a total identification with a deity, such that the aspirant "becomes" the deity, the Ishta-Devata.


Source: Wikipedia.org
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This definition is part of a series that covers the topic of Tantra. The Official Guide to Tantra is Al Link and Pala Copeland.

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Al Link and Pala Copeland, the Official Guides To Tantra