Saturday 27 August 2011

Inbetweeners & Tantra

This film is funny in a puerile sort of way. It is very well written and acted. It has the familiar lineup of very juvenile men and long-suffering and patient, mature women;  familiar from so many sitcoms and films from One Foot in the Grave, Men Behaving Badly, and any film with Hugh Grant in. However as these men really are quite young in Western terms; 18 and between leaving school and college/work/unemployment, being immature is more acceptable. In one sense it is a film about transitions but also, given the absence of real rites of passage for young men in our culture, it is about the distortions and blocks to real Shiva consciousness; the awareness of the Divine Masculine. Each of the four young men, who are the central characters, displays one particular block. One is intellectual and trapped in his head unable to relate; one is obsessing for a lost girlfriend and unable to relate; one is caught in the most superficial level of connection and unable to relate and one is self-obsessed and ....unable to relate. They can't see Shakti in front of them. All are numbed by alcohol.  In the end it works out alright and they get the women. Shiva and Shakti are united. It is a film about consciousness and unconsciousness; now not many reviewers will have said that!

Saturday 20 August 2011

Tantra & Tantric Festivals

The Sat Chandi Maha Yajna festival is a five day tantric festival held each year, presided over by Swami Satyananda the founder of the Bihar School of Yoga. I have just seen a film of it (Love & the Art of Giving by Simon Eugene .See You Tube Video). A central feature is prasad or giving of gifts from the divine and distributing them to the poor and also the work of preparation; a meditation of selfless giving in the days before the festival opens I have also just come back from a Tantra Festival in UK; the third I have attended. Of course the differences are absolutely enormous and their juxtaposition highlights the differences between tantra East and West.  There are similarities; the giving of the many before and during the event to make it all happen; the ending "thank you"s - an acknowledgement of bhakti yoga.

Some of the differences are cultural; in India the children are all proudly in uniform; people are happy to stand in lines; the individual is clearly small compared with the totality of the festival. In the West the Tantra Festival is a festival of individuals all doing their own thing,  there for their own needs. What they mostly get is music - often rather loud, lots of dance and lots of chances to meet others. For most, this is what they want; however it may not be what they need, and unfortunately it only hints at what tantra is really about; unless tantra is thought to be about personal development and sexual bravado.

What is missing is devotion to a anything beyond themselves, and the use of mantra and ritual as a way of getting there. Mantra is the most powerful method of accessing sublime states of consciousness. Ritual holds the focus on the Divine not the small self. Through both you can touch emptiness. Any workshop is a taster; and at a festival even more so. A taste of transcendence can lead to a hunger for it which can propel the seeker further. In the West, without any shared  framework we can only offer experiences and hope that enough of the power of Shiva to witness and reflect is present that they can explore more deeply. I just wish it was easier to impart some of this quality. Shiva is more subtle than the power of Shakti and the festival is mostly a "fairground" of Shakti - sound, movement, music, intensity, brightness.  Such intensity is rather addictive and leads to a search for the next high which is away from the settling in to ease and real presence which is where consciousness can be found.

Wednesday 10 August 2011


Its debatable whether the looters are any greedier or undisciplined than the bankers and "rogue traders" of casino capitalism over the last 25 years. Supermarkets and government policies have damaged our High Streets more than any rioters ever could; leaving many a line of boarded up shops, charity shops, mobile phone shops and inexplicably shoe shops (try buying good fresh fruit and vegetables on most high streets!). Of course what the State fears is not looting, which is shopping without money; an extension of the credit card culture which, to take a 70's marketing slogan for VISA "takes the waiting out of wanting". Looting mostly harms ordinary local business people and puts up insurance premiums for all.  It is a sort of  confirmation of consumer society with rioting provides the perfect excuse for even more money to be spent on the police and army and even more CCTV cameras.

What governments fear is people discovering what they really are missing in life; not a larger flat screen TV but the satisfaction of real connection and real empowerment. Of course some decent "rites of passage" for young men into responsible manhood would help instead of  impromptu  rituals involving fire, broken glass and battles with the police.  Perhaps the current attack on psychotherapy  ("evidence-based" CBT is the only therapy) is the realisation that empowerment and consciously considered values are really threatening. When we  are in touch with ourselves, our true nature and the Earth;  when we connect with others, when we feel the power within us; then much of what passes for our modern sophisticated society will have to change radically. Perhaps this is happening anyway. It is clear that in many areas all governments and politicians are helpless. This is the difference to the belief of the previous generation who hoped that a different system with different ideologies and different personalities would really change things. Obama hasn't delivered; Cameron and a coalition won't; the only government which can save the world capitalist crisis is a "communist" one; China. The world is already turned upside down; more than a few burning cars and wrecked shops could every be.  And "No"; a magic date in 2012 or a second Coming isn't the explanation or the answer.