Pandit Rajmani Tigunait, PhD Chairman and Spiritual Head of the Himalayan Institute and successor of Sri Swami Rama

April 23 – 25, 2010 Miami FL
Living Tantra Series, Part I

What is Tantra?
written by Bonnie Yonker

Panditji, as Rajmani Tigunait is affectionately known, is the current spiritual head of the Himalayan Institute. Last week, I had the honor of being with Panditji for a weekend lecture on Tantra. This powerful aspect of yoga is often mistaken for mysterious sexual practices. In fact, Tantra is obtaining “a deeper understanding of the web of life that pervades all.”

The rishis, the Indian “seers”, understood that the individual (atman) is simply a greater part of the universal intelligence (brahman). Therefore, we’re part of the universal force playing out our own roles, working out our own actions (karma). According to Tantra, the human being is a miniature universe, a perfect equation between the microcosm and the macrocosm. Just as the universe consists of the 5 elements, so do the individuals. We are animated by the life force (prana) which is carried on the breath.

Science explains this concept as the big bang theory. At one point, all of the matter and energy in the universe was contained. When this explosion (the big bang) happened, all that was in the universe was split into many fragments. However, all of the fragments still contained the same matter and energy that the universe contained. This is what Tantra says, all that exists in the universe (the 5 elements), exists in the individual.

Our goal in Tantra is to understand once again the connectivity between all and become happier, healthier, more peaceful, and more prosperous individuals. The tools of Tantra help students release ignorance (avidya), which is what keeps us trapped in the same cycle and awaken the dormant force (shakti) that is within us in the most effective and logical manner. Panditji says to “keep an open mind to absorb knowledge. Stop ignorance and classifying. Who cares if it comes from Buddha, Christ, Patanjali, Swami Rama or anyone else, be open to the knowledge around yoga.”

Tantra teaches us how the breath ignites the body and the mind. If you know the force behind the breath (prana), then you can move the breath and guide prana from one energy center (chakra) to another. Prana is our vitality. It’s what moves in you that makes everything else move within you. It’s the energy that keeps us alive. When prana leaves the body we die. Tantric practices are designed to cultivate sensitivity to prana and shakti. To know and master the cosmic force (shakti) for personal and global growth is the power of Tantra.

Tantra is “a system to lead the aspirant to pure consciousness. The entire universe is the manifestation of this consciousness and the human being is a miniature universe that parallels the whole of the external manifestation.”
– Sri Swami Rama, founder of the Himalayan Institute