What is the difference between traditional Yoga and Tantra?
Are they the same?
“Tantra is feminine, Yoga is male. Tantra is surrender, Yoga is will. Tantra is effortlessness – Yoga is tremendous effort. Tantra is passive, Yoga is active. Tantra is like the earth, Yoga is like the sky. They meet, but there is no synthesis. They meet at the top, but at the foothill where the journey starts, where you are all standing, you have to choose one path….”1
“Tantra and yoga are basically different. They reach to the same goal; however, their paths are not only different, but contrary also. So this has to be understood very clearly.
“The Yoga process is also methodology; it is also technique. Yoga is not philosophy, just like Tantra – Yoga depends on action, method, technique. Doing leads to being in Yoga also, but the process is different. In Yoga one has to fight; it is the path of the warrior.
“On the path of Tantra one does not have to fight at all. Rather, on the contrary, one has to indulge – but with awareness.
Yoga is suppression with awareness; Tantra is indulgence with awareness.
“Tantra says that whatsoever you are, the ultimate is not opposite to it. It is a growth; you can grow to be the ultimate. There is no opposition between you and the reality. You are part of it, so no struggle, no conflict, no opposition to nature is needed. You have to use nature, you have to use whatsoever you are to go beyond.
“In Yoga you have to fight with yourself to go beyond. In Yoga, the world and moksha, liberation – you as you are and you as you can be – are two opposite things. Suppress, fight, dissolve that which you are so that you can attain that which you can be. Going beyond is a death in Yoga. You must die for your real being to be born.
In the eyes of Tantra, Yoga is a deep suicide.
“You must kill your natural self – your body, your instincts, your desires, everything.
Tantra says accept yourself as you are. It is a deep acceptance.
“Do not create a gap between you and the real, between the world and nirvana. Do not create any gap. There is no gap for Tantra, no death is needed. For your rebirth, no death is needed – rather, a transcendence. For this transcendence, use yourself….
For Tantra you have to use the energy of sex. Do not fight with it, transform it. Do not think in terms of enmity, be friendly to it. It is your energy. It is not evil, it is not bad. Every energy is just natural.
“It can be used for you, it can be used against you. You can make a block out of it, a barrier, or you can make it a step. It can be used. Rightly used, it becomes friendly; wrongly used, it becomes your enemy. But it is neither. Energy is just natural. As ordinary man is using sex, it becomes an enemy, it destroys him; he simply dissipates in it.
“Yoga takes the opposite view – opposite to the ordinary mind. The ordinary mind is being destroyed by its own desires, so Yoga says stop desiring, be desireless. Fight desire and create an integration in you which is desireless.
“Tantra says be aware of the desire; do not create any fight. Move in desire with full consciousness, and when you move into desire with full consciousness you transcend it. You are into it and still you are not in it. You pass through it, but you remain an outsider.
“Yoga appeals much because Yoga is just the opposite of the ordinary mind, so the ordinary mind can understand the language of Yoga. You know how sex is destroying you – how it has destroyed you, how you go on revolving around it like a slave, like a puppet. You know this by your experience. So when Yoga says fight it, you immediately understand the language. That is the appeal, the easy appeal of Yoga. Tantra cannot be so easily appealing. It seems difficult:
How to move into desire without being overwhelmed by it? How to be in the sex act consciously, with full awareness?
“The ordinary mind becomes afraid. It seems dangerous. Not that it is dangerous; whatsoever you know about sex creates this danger for you. You know yourself, you know how you can deceive yourself. You know very well that your mind is cunning. You can move in desire, in sex, in everything, and you can deceive yourself that you are moving with full awareness. That is why you feel the danger.
The danger is not in Tantra; it is in you. And the appeal of Yoga is because of you, because of your ordinary mind, your sex-suppressed, sex-starved, sex-indulging mind. Because the ordinary mind is not healthy about sex, Yoga has an appeal.
“With a better humanity, with a healthy sex – natural, normal – the case would be different. We are not normal and natural. We are absolutely abnormal, unhealthy, really insane. But because everyone is like us, we never feel it.
Madness is so normal that not to be mad may look abnormal.
“A Buddha is abnormal, a Jesus is abnormal amidst us. They do not belong to us. This ‘normalcy’ is a disease. This ‘normal’ mind has created the appeal of Yoga. If you take sex naturally – with no philosophy around it, with no philosophy for or against – if you take sex as you take your hands, your eyes; if it is totally accepted as a natural thing, then Tantra will have an appeal. Only then can Tantra be useful for many….”2
Excerpted and abridged from the following talks listed below.
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