On December 22, 2012 Tantra Illuminated began to ship. This highly anticipated first book by Christopher Wallis, is a must have for the yoga practitioner. The book is being published by Anusara press, and is available for only $30.00 plus shipping.
You Can Order The Book HERE!
Excerpt from the new book, Tantra Illuminated:
What is Tantra?Mind-expanding philosophy and arcane rites, pantheons of fierce goddesses embodied in mystic syllables, energy diagrams that map the many dimensions of reality, visualizations of power centers within the body, gestures that express the purest forms of consciousness, nectarean experiences of the sheerest ecstasy, wielders of supernatural power, and concepts that challenge the fundamental norms of ordinary society: these are just some of its features. In short, it is a world that encompasses the entire range of human spiritual and religious activity, from the most elevated and sublime contemplations of our inner nature to the strangest of superstitions. (The fact that we’ll be focusing on the former should not be taken to mean that the latter did not exist.) Some people today are interested only in the high philosophy of the Tantra; others in the purely practical techniques;others are curious about the entire historical picture.
Whoever you are, to fully delve into this world, you must not only relinquish any notions of what you think Tantra is, but also some of your deeply-held assumptions about reality itself. Otherwise, you will never be able to truly understand this alternative worldview. Any alternative worldview can function as a critique of the status quo view on reality in our society, but for it to do so in a real and productive way we must—at least temporarily—lay open to question even the fundamental principles by which we create interpretations of phenomena; in other words, we must question the very frameworks with which we create a world for ourselves to live in.
An Orientation to Tantra
Shri Yantra by Ekabhumi Ellik
“Tantra“ is now a buzzword in the modern Western world. We see it on the covers of popular magazines and books, usually linked with a vaguely suggestive and titillating notion of some kind of superlative sexual experience. Though almost everyone has heard this word, almost no-one—including many people claiming to teach something called tantra—knows anything about the historical development of the Indian spiritual tradition that scholars refer to as “Tantra.“ What these academics study as “Tantra“ bears almost no resemblance to what is taught under the same name on the workshop circuit of American alternative spirituality.
In this book we simply present a comprehensive overview of the original Indian spiritual tradition that was articulated in Sanskrit scriptures called “tantras“ (which is where the name came from). Why would this be of interest to modern Westerners? There is one outstanding reason: millions of Westerners are today practicing something called “yoga,“ a practice which, though much altered in form and context, can in fact be traced back to the Tantrik tradition.
Given the widespread terminological confusion, I ask you as the reader to simply clear your mind of whatever you think you know about Tantra, however valuable that knowledge may or may not have been to you, and start afresh. In this way, I have a chance to effectively orient you to the original Tantrik worldview: a way of seeing and understanding reality that can challenge and illuminate you to the deepest levels of your being.
Yoga is a living tradition profoundly influenced by the Tantra, yet has forgotten much of its own history. There is a new wave of work by scholars who are also practitioners, and whose goals are to rediscover and reintegrate some of what has been forgotten, clarify the roots of many ideas and practices that are floating around (thereby grounding them and enhancing their richness), and chart clearly the vast and varied landscape of Indian spiritual thought, with a view to what it can contribute to our lives today. For it is certainly the case that most 20th century teaching and writing on Indian thought was either exciting but incoherent and ungrounded (the practitioner context) or systematic but dry, boring, and insipid (the academic context). It’s time to rectify that; and no Indian tradition has been more misunderstood, relative to its deep influence on global spirituality, than Tantra.
You may wonder what the phrase “classical Tantra“ refers to. It distinguishes our subject matter from the later Hindu Tantra and haṭha-yoga traditions, and also from modern American neo-Tantra. The classical Tantra that we here treat is associated with a specific religious tradition, the religion of Shiva-Shakti, also known as Shaivism, the dominant religion of India in the medieval period. But there is also the important category of Buddhist Tantra; the practices of Buddhist Tantra which are not found in earlier non-Tantric Buddhism were directly adopted from the classical Shiva- Shakti Tantra. Furthermore, many of the spiritual teachings of Buddhist Tantra that are not found in non-Tantric Buddhism (such as those of Dzogchen) are virtually indistinguishable from the nondual Tantric teachings.
You Can Order The Book HERE!
About Christopher Wallis
Christopher was introduced to Indian spirituality at the age of six and initiated into the practice of meditation and yoga at sixteen. While traveling around the world in his early twenties, he felt an inner inspiration to study, teach, and practice Indian spirituality and meditation as the focus of his life. He now has over 20 years of practice, and has been studying and teaching the tradition full time since 1997.
His degrees include a B.A. in Religion from the University of Rochester, an M.A. in Sanskrit from U.C. Berkeley, and an M.Phil. in Classical Indian Religions from the University of Oxford. He also pursued graduate work at U.C. Santa Barbara, and is currently finishing his doctoral dissertation at Berkeley on the traditions of Tantric Shaivism. He received traditional education at yoga āshrams in upstate New York and India in meditation, kirtan, mantra-science, asana, karma-yoga, and more. He currently teaches meditation, yoga darshana (philosophy), Sanskrit, chanting, and offers spiritual life-coaching.
His goal in teaching is to balance accuracy with accessibility, profundity with clarity, and intellectual integrity with heart-expanding inspiration. Students note that his combination of rigorous and thorough knowledge with profound love for the tradition is a rare gift.
Christopher is the Founder and Head Faculty of The Mattamayura Institute, offering a deep practice wedded to deep learning through workshops, intensives, immersions, and online classes.
His teachers, mentors, and gurus, in chronological order, include: Swami Muktananda; Gurumayi Chidvilāsānanda (diksha-guru and mula-guru), Paul Muller-Ortega (Shaiva Tantra and Classical Yoga); Douglas Brooks (Shakta Tantra); Alexis Sanderson (Shaiva and Shakta Tantra and Sanskrit); Marshall Rosenberg (Nonviolent Communication); Somadeva Vasudeva (Shaiva Tantra), Dharmanidhi Sarasvati (Tantrik Yoga); and Adyashanti (Meditation).
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