Tomorrow I will wake up, go sit for meditation and then wake my children and help them get ready for school. Then I will drive my daughter to school, come home, practice yoga for an hour or so and teach a yoga class. Later I will pick her up from school, go to the grocery store, do the family laundry and cook dinner. I might watch some television, read or make a craft. Along the way, I will interact with many different people - yoga practitioners and non-practitioners. I will pass people on the road and in the store. I will feel any number of feelings and have any number of reactions to my children and anyone and anything in my world. Through all of it, I will try to keep a level head, to keep remembering my innate goodness and divinity (and that of those around me) and I will meet my responsibilities with as little resistance as possible. The next day I will wake up and do it all again.
I am grateful that the Hatha Yoga that I practice, Ashaya Yoga® has Non-Dual Tantric philosophy as it's base for the simple reason that Tantra is a householder path. Householder - as in grocery store, carpool, doing the dishes and the laundry kind of path. As a householder/practitioner the goal is not to try to escape life or to discipline life in anyway. The goal instead is to meet life on life's terms - because life is the manifestation of Supreme Consciousness. Tantra practitioners are like ordinary people - they are living normal lives with a deep inner connection to something more. They are essentially hidden in plain sight.
A Renunciate path, in contrast (like one based on Patanjali's yoga sutras) has the goal to get out. To move further and further from the ordinary and mundane aspects of life. It is to discipline your body and your desires such that they do not impact you anymore. In a Renunciate path, you turn away from Life. It's like trying to go live on a mountain top or in a cave rather than in the world. Things like the dishes and the laundry are trivialized and not seen as important along the path of enlightenment.
The fundamental difference here is that in Tantra EVERYTHING is a manifestation of the Divine. In a Classical Renunciate path, NOTHING is Divine. In Tantra, the Divine is infused in matter. In Classical, the Divine is separate from matter. Therefore, to know the Divine from a Classical perspective you must move away from the world. To know the Divine in Tantra, you move INTO it..
I'm not ready to go live in an ashram. Sometimes I like doing the laundry, and I'm certainly not ready to stop participating in community even though sometimes I screw up and I have to deal with people who are not my favorite. But the beauty of a Tantric Householder path is that I can treat each of these moments as meeting with the many faces of the Divine. It is truly a path of the extraordinary within the ordinary. I like not like having to leave my children or my home. I value not having to discipline or hate on my body to have a relationship with a bigger energy. The Divine is as close as your breath, your heartbeat, your desires, your moods, your neighbor, your enemy and your loves. The Divine is Life. Our task is to remember ourselves as Divine and to live accordingly. If anything, that is the Highest purpose for getting on the mat again and again in Ashaya Yoga®.
Because it seems important to say here are some caveats -
1. I am definitely NOT a scholar of Tantra. I am knoweledgeable to the extent that I've learned from scholars and readings. Find a list of some people to go to if you want to know more at the bottom of this post.
2. I don't really teach Tantra - as Sally Kempton put it, at best I could say I am "Tantra inspired". I did not grow up in a living Tantric based household, and do not come from a Tantric culture.
And yet, I find the philosophy not only fascinating but extremely useful for my life as a multidementional woman in the 21st Century.
If you are interested in learning more about Tantra straight from those who know, please check out: