If I distill what I learned from the teachings of tantric yoga, I see three main themes. The first is fearlessness. Swami Rama spoke about coming to a point in our lives where we live without fear. And to that end I think the tantric tradition offers a rich, rich resource. I often ask students to look at the lives of such great teachers as Ramakrishna, Swami Rama, Yogananda, Vivekananda, and many others. They were truly living sages, but at some level they also were men and women who practiced. These great adepts were not isolationists who just sat in samadhi eon after eon and refused to enter the world. A sage ultimately becomes a vehicle to expand the greater good. And I believe that as we bring our practice into the world, fear and self-isolation or self-preoccupation begin to dissipate. We, by nature, become more generous and more inclusive. We try to light other lights, and in the process our own light becomes brighter.

Be a force of love in which you are able to receive it as well as live it as well as give it.

The second key part of the message is sankalpa shakti. It means “the power of your resolve.” What are you resolved to accomplish in this lifetime? Make an absolute commitment to becoming self-realized and using that self-realization to help others.

Sankalpa shakti ties into the third message, which, as I see it, is the culmination of these practices. And it’s also what my first teacher taught me. As complex as tantra is, as vast as this science is, it culminates in learning to love, to give, to be more generous and more expansive in our love. We should not aim to be martyrs of love—people who just give and give and give. Nor should we be people who are on the other side, just wanting to receive. Be a force of love in which you are able to receive it as well as live it as well as give it.

I’d like to close with an image from one of the Upanishads: Each of us is like an unlit match. All of the ingredients for that match are in the match from the moment it is created. Does it get lit? It’s a question of whether there is some catalyst. Let your practice be the catalyst, the process that awakens the flame in your match.

It is said: “He who chooses the Infinite is chosen by the Infinite.” Choose to merge with the Infinite. She will choose to merge with you. Don’t wait. Don’t put it off. Don’t think it is someone else’s business and you will get the breadcrumbs of their experience. Begin the journey. He who chooses the Infinite is chosen by the Infinite.

Further Reading

Empowering the Soul


This compilation of inspiring essays, gathered from a series of talks at the Sacred Link Conference in September, 2004, at the Himalayan Institute, presents a vision for global healing and spiritual well-being. The Sacred Link Conference brought together pioneers in this healing evolution—alternative energy experts, diplomats, business executives, educators, yoga teachers, holistic health practitioners, and environmentalists.

Source: Empowering the Soul: A Collection of Essays Exploring Global Healing and Spiritual Well-Being (Himalayan Institute Press, various authors)

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