Tantra Talks – 3: What is Self-realization?

A summary of this talk is given below in English

Consciousness in humans is already in a  developed state compared to other living beings. But looking at the human race in general, we can see that the degree of expansion of consciousness is not the same for everyone. In the field of education, we can see a range of students –  there are those who study in kindergarten schools, in high schools,  in universities, as well as those who do research and post-doctoral research.  It is none of their faults or shortcomings that they are in their respective levels of studies;   It is just that they are all in that particular stage in their learning process. In the same way, the degree of consciousness one is bestowed with at a particular point in time is no one’s fault.  It is just that they are at that particular stage in their evolutionary process. However,  it is the duty and responsibility of everyone to expand their degree of consciousness;   this expansion of consciousness is the inner purpose at the core of everyone’s life! That is the inner spiritual goal for everyone. In addition to this inner goal,  there may be many other external physical goals. None of that is a hindrance to achieving the ultimate inner goal of expansion of consciousness – it should not be. That is why Jesus Christ had said, “What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?”   Thus, a man has two goals. One, the inner spiritual goal of expansion of consciousness; Two, the other material goals of physical external life, such as the goal of leading a good prosperous and healthy living. Both these goals are like the two wings of a bird. A bird can only fly with two wings. Both goals must be maintained and fulfilled at the same time. Otherwise, what’s the point of gaining the whole world and losing the soul, as Jesus said!

Although everyone is born with a minimum level of consciousness required for human birth, human beings do not necessarily have the same level of consciousness. There are those who are born with a very high degree of consciousness by birth. They are called ‘Bodhisattvas’. Gautama Buddha is a ‘Bodhisattva’. It is a fact that not everyone exhibits the same level of consciousness in our daily lives. If there are 30 students in a class, their ability to understand things will be at 30  different levels. Darwinian theory of evolution is defined in terms of the evolution of the physical body of living things through a process of natural selection. In other words, the Darwinian theory of evolution is about the evolution of the hardware. Just as a computer has both hardware and software, everything in the universe is a combination of hardware and software. Some hardware can be seen with our eyes. Examples of gross hardware that we can see include materials like trees, rocks, thorns, oysters, elephants, sheep so on, and so forth. Some hardware is not visible; They are invisible. Examples include magnetic field, gravity feed, electric field, air, wind etcetera. They are not all visible to us;  however,  we know they exist.

For all the hardware, visible or invisible, there is software embedded within itself. That software is consciousness. It is the software that determines and limits the capabilities of a piece of hardware. In other words, an appropriate level of hardware is created for each version of the software. DOS was the operating system software on “Acorn”, the first personal computer released by IBM in the 1980s. Today’s Windows 10 operating system software will not work on that “Acorn” computer. For that, “Acorn” hardware needs to be upgraded a lot. Darwin was dealing with such hardware upgradation. What we are talking about here is software upgradations. Our physical body is the hardware; the consciousness housed in our physical body is the software that empowers and runs it. Our existing version of consciousness, which is akin to the software,   should be developed as far as the hardware called the body allows. Only then can we abandon this limited hardware and use another superior hardware. Who should do that upgrade of consciousness? We have to do it ourselves. At the time of death, when this hardware is discarded,  what determines our next level of hardware is the level of our consciousness reached. We need to understand that there is no purpose in our life other than the  ‘evolution of our consciousness’. ‘Evolution of our consciousness’ means our own evolution since we ARE consciousness. 

The process of realizing the fact that we are not this body but we are consciousness empowering the body and realizing that our purpose in life is to expand this consciousness and undertaking the efforts and succeeding in our efforts to expand our consciousness is called  “Self-Realization” or “Enlightenment”. In short, certain practices in Tantra are the super “highway” or “jet plane” to self-realization. Self-realization transcends all caste, creed, ethnicity, and national differences; Self-realization is possible for anyone born as a normal human being. It is not the monopoly of any religion. 

Then two things became clear from what had been said so far; That is, there are two aspects to our life that we must not overlook; they are spiritual and physical or in other words metaphysical & physical. However, generally during the course of our life,  we tend to pay attention to only our physical or material aspect of life. We do not usually recognize that there is a spiritual or metaphysical aspect of our life. That is one reason why our consciousness does not develop. Physical aspects of our lives are extremely limited. The physical part of life is like that little tip of an iceberg in the ocean. It is akin to the large unseen part of that iceberg that our spiritual aspect remains.  We know that 87% of an iceberg remains submerged and unseen in the ocean. Self-realization is discovering and expanding that unseen, submerged part of our truly phenomenal existence.  

If you take ‘spirituality’, ‘consciousness’, and  ‘self-realization’  as religious topics because of the word “spiritual”, you are mistaken. These topics are as universal in nature as the practices of yoga and pranayama are; these topics can benefit all people of all religions. Moreover, as self-realization develops, our outlook on life becomes deeper and wider, and we can come out of the barriers of religion and become a truly universal citizen. I would like to share a fact that I was initiated into meditation by a gentleman of Arab descent. What more proof would one need to realize that spirituality transcends race and religion! 

A notable feature of Tantra is that there is no contradiction between spirituality and materialism in Tantra. Considering the two sides of the same coin, Tantra does not dictate a contradiction between the two. If those who are immersed in materialism are excommunicated for spirituality, or those who are immersed in spirituality are told that materialism is forbidden, the evolution of consciousness will be impossible for beginners holding on to both spiritual aspirations and materialistic desires. Therefore, Tantra has offered practices in a very systematic way, for everyone on all walks of life for developing their consciousness.  Here is the relevance of Tantra. Tantra gives each set of people with different curriculum exercises or action plans according to their level of consciousness. That is the reason for this great diversity of practices seen in Tantra.

This diversity seen in Tantric practices is one of the reasons why so many misconceptions about Tantra persist. Tantra is believed as  “Sacred Sex”   by many in the Western world. This is not only the case in the Western world but also in the Eastern world to some extent. If you ask some others what Tantra is, they will tell you that Tantra is a form of temple rituals such as ‘pushpanjali’  or shodasa cultural practices such as sacrificial offerings so on and so forth. For some others, Tantra can evoke a picture of a man wearing a garland of skulls with his body covered in ashes, drunk and intoxicated, sitting in the graveyard with a woman in the middle of the night. But the core Truths of these practices are far from what we may think at first glance.

The tools of Tantra consider the mental state of the average man, who lives under the constraints of a normal life, very seriously. Therefore,  alcohol, meat, fish, sex, and marital relationships are all generally accepted in Tantra. Duality is accepted in Tantra, as it is a fact of life at a particular stage of life. There is no good and no evil in Tantra; this is something that is very much misunderstood in Tantra. But Tantra makes it clear that it is not an obstacle to the expansion of consciousness.

Therefore, right and wrong, which are the mainstream concepts in society today, have no big place in Tantra – especially in the beginning. We can start from where we stand. Tantra only looks at the level at which our consciousness stands and how we can expand it. 
The concepts of God in Tantra are an important subject that is very informative and very interesting for those who are interested in transcendental topics like what is God and who is Ishwara etcetera.  But they are in the next session.

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