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TANTRA: The Path of Involvement ORIGIN COLUMNIST | Christina Sell


Y


oga philosophies fall into two primary categories: renunciation and involvement. While this is an


obvious oversimplification of majestic and complex traditions, the basic distinction can be useful to us as modern yogis. The “renunciation” schools approach spiritual life from the standpoint that the material world is either an illusion or a trap of the senses and is therefore a dangerous distraction. The “involvement” schools teach that life can be engaged skillfully so that our involvement in the world can be turned toward the direct experience of the Divine in all things. The involvement schools are often referred to as Tantric.


At first glance, the Tantric approach makes a lot of sense, seems quite palatable, and appears to be much more enjoyable than what the renunciation schools offer. However, Tantra can be a more difficult path than renunciation. To be fully, actively and deeply engaged in living life as it is, while maintaining our spiritual center, is not easy. Life is often difficult, challenging and full of unexpected events that appear to have no logical explanation behind them. To be able to make use of every circumstance and to be able to turn


The teachings of Tantra remind us that life is a gift and that even our mistakes can be made into art.


everything in life toward our highest aims, is no small feat.


Just because everything can be turned toward spirituality doesn’t mean that any one of us is actually able to make use of our various circumstances in that way. Plenty of tragedies occur from which people never recover. Not one person gets to old age without heartbreak, disappointment and loss. Since some people reach old age with a bright light shining in their heart and others with only bitterness, resentment and hostility, we can assume the difference lies not in the circumstances we face but in who we became in facing them.


Who we are in each moment is always at stake when we consider living from a Tantric perspective and implementing these teachings in our lives. We have to


evaluate our responses to life and its circumstances and honestly ask ourselves who we are becoming as we walk the path. Are we getting closer to the heart of compassion, to more profound forgiveness, and to a greater experience of love? Or are we still angry, fearful and ashamed of ourselves?


Tantra’s efficacy relies on rigorous self-scrutiny and piercing clarity. While the teachings of Tantra remind us that life is a gift and that even our mistakes can be made into art, the real question is whether or not that transformation is actually happening for us. By thoroughly examining the outcomes of our efforts on and off the mat, we gain the insight and power we need to shift old patterns of behavior, thoughts and misperceptions.


Christina Sell is a yoga teacher and author of Yoga from the Inside Out: Making Peace with Your Body Through Yoga and My Body is a Temple: Yoga as a Path to Wholeness.


For more information about her and her work, please visit WWW.CHRISTINASELL.COM.


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