Many Technoccult readers have probably seen Hermetic.com. Maybe you even got your first taste of Aleister Crowley, Austin Osman Spare or Hakim Bey there. What you might not know is that the site’s founder, Al Jigong Billings has given up the site to focus on what he calls “Open Source Buddhism.” I recently talked with Al about what Open Source Buddhism is, how it differs from other contemporary the Pragmatic Dharma movement and the secular mindfulness movement, and how he gravitated from Neopaganism to Buddhism.
Hatha originated as a way to speed the Tantric agenda. It used poses, deep breathing and stimulating acts — including intercourse — to hasten rapturous bliss. In time, Tantra and Hatha developed bad reputations. The main charge was that practitioners indulged in sexual debauchery under the pretext of spirituality.
Early in the 20th century, the founders of modern yoga worked hard to remove the Tantric stain. They devised a sanitized discipline that played down the old eroticism for a new emphasis on health and fitness.
B. K. S. Iyengar, the author of “Light on Yoga,” published in 1965, exemplified the change. His book made no mention of Hatha’s Tantric roots and praised the discipline as a panacea that could cure nearly 100 ailments and diseases. And so modern practitioners have embraced a whitewashed simulacrum of Hatha.
Broad goes on to discuss some of the studies linking yoga to sexual stimulation and speculates about how that could relate to some of the various guru sex scandals that have plagued yogis for decades.
Broad also recently wrote for the times How Yoga Can Wreck Your Body, an extremely interesting piece that’s made frustrating by its lack of comparisons between the number of injuries in yoga and the number of injuries in other types of strength training. But here’s a taste:
Black has come to believe that “the vast majority of people” should give up yoga altogether. It’s simply too likely to cause harm.
Not just students but celebrated teachers too, Black said, injure themselves in droves because most have underlying physical weaknesses or problems that make serious injury all but inevitable. Instead of doing yoga, “they need to be doing a specific range of motions for articulation, for organ condition,” he said, to strengthen weak parts of the body. “Yoga is for people in good physical condition. Or it can be used therapeutically. It’s controversial to say, but it really shouldn’t be used for a general class.”
Rationalising India has never been easy. Given the country’s vast population, its pervasive poverty and its dizzying array of ethnic groups, languages and religions, many deem it impossible.
Nevertheless, Mr Edamaruku has dedicated his life to exposing the charlatans — from levitating village fakirs to televangelist yoga masters — who he says are obstructing an Indian Enlightenment. He has had a busy month, with one guru arrested over prostitution, another caught in a sex-tape scandal, a third kidnapping a female follower and a fourth allegedly causing a stampede that killed 63 people. […]
His organisation traces its origins to the 1930s when the “Thinker’s Library” series of books, published by Britain’s Rationalist Press Association, were first imported to India. They included works by Aldous Huxley, Charles Darwin and H.G. Wells; among the early subscribers was Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first Prime Minister.
The Indian Rationalist Association was founded officially in Madras in 1949 with the encouragement of the British philosopher Bertrand Russell, who sent a long letter of congratulations. For the next three decades it had no more than 300 members and focused on publishing pamphlets and debating within the country’s intellectual elite. […]
Exposing such tricks can be risky. A guru called Balti (Bucket) Baba once smashed a burning hot clay pot in Mr Edamaruku’s face after he revealed that the holy man was using a heat resistant pad to pick it up.
“Tantra is the original ‘holistic’ way of life, yoking body, mind and spirit into living life as a whole. Polarities of good and evil, pure and impure, matter and spirit are done away with as unnecessary barriers to a direct experience of cosmic consciousness. With great finesse, tantra uses material reality for spiritual unfoldment. Lets play an associative game. What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear the word ‘Tantra’? If you aren’t a practitioner or scholar or one who has delved into Tantra, chances are you will think ‘black magic’, ‘human sacrifice’, ‘skulls and bones’. You will also probably experience an adrenaline rush that screams, “Danger ahead. Run!”
This ‘fight or flight’ response to Tantra among most of us in urban India is not surprising. Ghastly news reports of criminal activities like murder and rape by so-called ‘tantriks’ are frequent, as are old wives’ tales of black magic where the villain is invariably an evil ‘tantrik’. Bollywood films and TV serials that portray tantriks as bizarre, crazy and villainous have reinforced this negative image. So that to a lot of us, Tantra feels like a cross between voodoo, the occult, and sorcery—bad stuff done by evil people.
For our counterparts in the West, the association is slightly different. Westerners who are ‘into’ eastern forms of spirituality have at some point or another heard of Tantra, and nine times out of ten, it has been in the context of sex. If one Google searches for ‘tantra’ on the internet, an overwhelming majority of websites that turn up on the computer screen promise ‘sacred sex’ and offer steamy pictures of acrobatic sexual positions. So what is Tantra, really? What best describes its practices—sex or sorcery? Since reality is never black or white but most often a synthesis of the two, there are several layers and shades to Tantra that belie a narrow either/or view.”
A strange new war has broken out in the remote Himalayan statelet of Nagapur, pitting ancient Serpent Deities against the global bureaucrats of the World Bank.
Not to be confused with Nagaland, Nagapur is a small ‘princely state’ in the Himalayan foothills between Uttar Pradesh and Nepal. Its highest peaks get winter snow, its lowest plains join the heatchoked tiger-and-orchid jungles of the Terai, but all within a hundred-odd square miles.
Nagapur was mentioned in the ancient Indian epic Mahabharata as one of the ‘cities’ of the Nagas or semi-divine were-snakes. Nagapur is still noted for its tantrik snake temples, some of them decorated in medieval Nepalese style with ‘obscene’ carved wood sculpture. The former ruling family claimed descent from an ancestral cobra, the Sheesh Nang. […]
In the past few years however one clan of the family has achieved some degree of notoriety thanks to its connections with an emerging ‘Fourth World’ resistance movement in Nagapur. Poor peasants and ‘tribals’ who depend in part on the forest for economic sustenance have struggled against various ‘Green Revolution’ agricultural policies, dams, and development projects, some launched by the Indian Government and others by Global institutions such as the IMF and World Bank. […]
In 1997 a great-grandson of the Begum was born and named Nagarjuna, and proclaimed Crown Prince. The infant’s horoscope was said to be unusually auspicious, and rumors began to spread amongst the adherents of the Naga Goddess. As Hindu-Moslem syncretists they came to believe that the young prince was both the Kalki Avatar (the savior incarnation of Vishnu) and the Mahdi or Hidden Imam revered by Nagapur’s Shiites and sufi mystics.
It could be the weirdest and most embarrassing prediction in the history of cosmology, if not science.
If true, it would mean that you yourself reading this article are more likely to be some momentary fluctuation in a field of matter and energy out in space than a person with a real past born through billions of years of evolution in an orderly star-spangled cosmos. Your memories and the world you think you see around you are illusions.
If I read this correctly, this theory is seen more as a problem in the same vein as Schrodinger’s Cat – ie, not a “proof” that this is the way the universe is, but as evidence that current theories are insufficient. None the less, I’m sure it, like Schrodinger’s Cat, will be used “scientific evidence” of all sorts of nonsense.
“What’s the difference between paying a crack whore for a handjob, and shelling out big bucks for a tantric sex teacher who’s got one hand on your groin and the other up your ass? Not much, some may say – both are considered prostitution because you’re paying for a sexual favor. Others would disagree and say tantric sex is healing, not sex, and therefore not prostitution at all.”