Tantra accepts desire as the primary driving force of the human soul, because it is the same one which caused the appearance of the Universe. Consequently, Tantra does not ask its followers to give up desire. Other spiritual traditions recommend avoiding desire, even suppressing it. However, such an attitude will only bring you to shackles, therefore it would become an obstacle in attaining higher states of consciousness.
The adepts of such doctrine try to overcome desire through asceticism or through burning the seed of desire in the fire of knowledge, so that it cannot grow. The result is paradoxical: in order to get to the state in which all desire disappears, you should have a very strong one – the desire to be without desire.
Tantra treats desires as natural, based on the idea that as long as we have a physical body, we will still have desires. Our sense organs are like windows for desires to get inside. It means that desires are created beyond our attachment to sensorial “food”.
All desires have a physical basis as a large number of electro-chemical impulses. The more we try to suppress them, the stronger they will become. Desires activate hormones. A large concentration of these substances in the blood can create a chemical disturbance or disease.
Desires are directly connected to the six psychic centers known as chakras. While energy follows its natural course through different chakras it stimulates hidden desires which make a person move continuously from one desire to another.
The constant presence of desire awakens both body and interest towards the object of desire. Most desires center on the physical body and its comfort. People become slaves to their instincts. This is the most common and gross part of some personalities who become victims of agitation, loneliness, excitation, anxiety, dissatisfaction, selfishness and misery.
All religions and sciences that want to perfect human behavior try to solve these problems by pleading for the practice of certain abstract principles such as pure love, truth, compassion, benevolence, patience, self-sacrifice, altruism and forgiveness. However, we need practical methods to apply these principles. We cannot be happy only by knowing these ideals exist. We have to do something to become wise and happy.
Desires do not belong to the self or individual consciousness; they are connected to the main six chakras and can be classified in accordance with them. Chakras represent the place where the five subtle elements are manifested: akasha (ether or space), “air”, “fire”, “water” and “earth”. Their source is the subtle aspect called ” MAHAT ” (the cosmic mind).
In order to transcend desires we have to transcend these elements. This is only possible by waking the latent energy within us ( KUNDALINI ), situated at the base of the backbone.
We will now examine the relationship between the six chakras, their elements and different desires. The seventh chakra is situated beyond desire. Humans who have fully activated this level are enlightened.
- MULADHARA – the area of the perineum – “earth” element – desire for security, physical comfort, biological necessities and shelter;
- SVADHISTHANA – the sexual (genital) area – “water” element – desire for family, procreation, sexual impulses, and fantasies;
- MANIPURA – the solar plexus – “fire” element – desire for immortality, longevity, name, fame, power, authority, and fortune;
- ANAHATA – the cardiac plexus – “air” element – desire for good-heartedness; devotion, altruism, compassion;
- VISHUDDHA – the carotid area – “ether element” – desire for purity, knowledge, and divine beauty;
- AJNA – the middle of the forehead – “mahat” – desire for self-accomplishment and enlightenment;
In his book, “Secrets of Tantra”, Serge Hutin compares different attitudes to that of a Tantric: “There are, on one side, people who eat and drink without thinking of the immediate consequences of their excess; these people are prisoners of their intemperate actions, of their unleashed cravings. You can compare them to junkies who cannot free themselves from the terrible physiological and psychological slavery they have become accustomed to.
On the other hand there are people who become experienced gourmets without falling into alcoholism and avarice, who know how to appreciate refined dishes. You can’t mistake the man who is a passive slave of his passions, completely incapable of controlling them, with the one who knows how to be a gourmet, even of sensuality.”
Although Serge Hutin’s way of exposing things is not one of the happiest ones, we can see that “experienced gourmets” are those elevated spirits who can understand and apply the Tantric principles and manage to get to supreme detachment directly through a harmonious lifestyle without having to avoid it but to integrate into the universal harmony, into creation.
Rajneesh enlightens us with his profound vision on how to transcend desires:
“The common mind destroys itself through its own desires. Yoga says, stop the desires; fight against desires and become part of that ‘you’ who is beyond desires. Tantra says to be aware of your desires. Don’t fight them. Move through the desire maintaining a profound consciousness. Thus you will transcend it. You are part of it and yet you are not. You go through it yet you stay on the outside.
Accept yourself no matter what. Be aware of what you are. When you fight, your ego is present and will manifest strongly. The more you fight, the stronger your ego will be. If you win, you will reach the supreme ego. Tantra says: do not fight, so there will be no possibility for the ego to appear. If we do not understand Tantra then there will be a lot of problems because to the common mind if there is no fight then there must be a weakness and then we will become afraid.
For example, you are angry. Tantra will never tell you not to be angry. It says be angry from the bottom of your heart, BUT be aware. Tantra is not against anger but it is against spiritual sleep, spiritual unconsciousness. Be conscious and be angry. This is the secret of this method. Your anger turns into compassion if you are conscious. So Tantra tells us not to approach that anger as your enemy because it carries with it the seed of compassion.
The same energy that awakens anger may be converted into compassion, if you direct it correctly. If you win the fight against this energy you will be a ‘dead man’. You will not manage to transform it into compassion by fighting it. There won’t be anger because you suppressed it, but there won’t be compassion either.
So be a friend to all energies that have been given to you. Receive them, as you should; be happy that you have anger inside, that you have sexual impulses, that you are greedy. Be grateful because they are hidden sources that can be transformed and then sublimed.
The seed is small and insignificant, even ugly at the beginning. But when it wakes up and flourishes then it becomes beautiful. Do not throw the seed away because you will also throw the flowers that might come with it. You cannot see them yet; because they have not manifested in the way that you could see them. But they are there. Therefore grow the seed into the flower.”
Of course this does not mean we should get angry each time we want to be compassionate. The example is meant to help us understand the fact that everything in the process of creation can be transformed.
By rejecting anything that surrounds us we do nothing else but deny a reality that has been given to us and which, regardless of our denial, will manifest strongly. The essence of Tantric teachings is the sublimation and transformation of these energies into elevated forms of manifestation like compassion, love, help and knowledge.
The main elements of these inner energies are awareness and consciousness in each moment. True inner feelings are the adequate answer to each stimulus, action or exterior energy.