The first of 12 posts translation Tantrāloka chapter 29, which details not only the kula-yāga or sexual ritual, but its preliminary meditations, the nonsexual variant forms of the practice, and the important topics of how to perform a Kaula initiation and the ways in which the Guru can pierce the cakras of the disciple and activate his or her energy-body.
Chapter Two of Abhinavagupta’s Tantrasaara teaches the (rare) possibility of spontaneous realization of the Truth without the need for any spiritual practice or method. This chapter contains one of Abhinava’s most powerful and direct pointing-out instructions! He puts the realization of ultimate Truth into the first person for you to savor.
In this section of the text, Abhinava discusses the nature of Awareness as the ground of all being. He breaks down sentience & insentience, gradations of awareness, individuated awareness vs. overarching Awareness, what full realization entails, and refutes objective materialism, all in the course of just five Sanskrit verses!
Many who believe that Tantra is mainly about sex found justification for their belief in the publication of a book called Kiss of the Yogini: "Tantric Sex" in its South Asian Contexts. This short post, drawn from my PhD dissertation, seeks to show how deeply problematic that book is, and offers a three-point definition of what distinguishes Tantra from other forms of Asian spirituality.