The 7 facets of study are:
The View, Awareness Cultivation, Energy Body, Mantra Science, Deity Yoga and Pūjā, Yogic Lifestyle, and Living in the World.
Tantra Illuminated offers an array of programs and resources to support your spiritual journey, expand your awareness, and deepen your practice through a rich spectrum of traditional tantrik teachings. In our school, you will encounter new-to-you techniques, as well as nuanced presentations of practices you may already have in your arsenal. At the heart of our learning portal lies our core curriculum, consisting of 7 facets (or 7 learning tracks) to guide you in your studies of this profound spiritual tradition.
For those students who feel called to explore the full curriculum, we offer you an opportunity to engage in multiple courses addressing the different aspects of Tantrik Yoga. As your heart desires, you may choose to explore for a few months, dip your toes in the depths of these tantrik waters, or focus on a specific topic. However you choose to join us, we are honored to walk the path with you. Read on for more detailed information on each of our distinct 7 Facets of Tantrik Study.
This learning track is dedicated to the in-depth study and contemplation of nondual tantrik philosophy. This kind of spiritual philosophy is nothing like what you may have studied in the classroom, modern workshop circuit, or meditation retreats—it dives deeply into the nature of reality, the nature of the self, and the nature of consciousness. This nondual tantrik tradition offers multiple comprehensive maps of reality in a beautiful, poetic presentation. In this track, you can encounter and study a little bit about all the maps of reality and become a specialist in one that resonates for you. Studying the View changes your experience of reality and opens you to a bigger, more vivid, more beautiful vision of everything as an incredible ocean of energy, interacting with itself in countless patterned ways. By really immersing in this philosophy, you can fundamentally rewire your mind and the way you perceive reality toward a more holistic, harmonious, and joyful perspective.
This learning track is focused on meditation, although not the kind of meditation you may think—some of the practices of Awareness Cultivation are very meditative, but they’re also very sensual and embodied. Through Awareness Cultivation, we learn how to come to rest in our center not in an escapist way—rather, we come to rest in our innermost center, and from that place can embrace the whole of reality more fully. On the spiritual path, we want to learn how to choose which thoughts and stories to believe and not be compelled by them. So, for that, you don’t need to stop thinking or access some transcendent or altered state of consciousness—you just need to learn to be more aware of the whole of what is. Through the Awareness Cultivation track, you can access a level of your being that is naturally always free of anxiety—the level we call essence-nature. Essence-nature is that aspect of your being—the foundational and deepest level of who and what you are—that is absolutely unwounded and unwoundable. When you can dwell in essence-nature, you find you have the strength and inspiration to do what’s needed to heal the body and mind or to address your life situation. So, Awareness Cultivation connects us more fully to reality in every dimension, as opposed to our stories and thoughts about reality.
The energy body is made of various kinds of thoughts, emotions, and saṁskāras, which are impressions of experiences we’ve had that live within us. The teachings on cakras, nādīs, bindus, and dream yoga all come from classical tantra and are unique to tantrik yoga. Because the energy body consists of subtle energy centers called cakras and subtle channels called nādīs, people imagine that it is somehow a purely mystical or psychic type of reality. In fact, the energy body is mostly made of mental and emotional energy. In the Energy Body track, you learn more about what the energy body is, how to strengthen it, how to activate it, and how to purify it—that is to say, how to get stagnant energy moving and allow it to dissolve instead of getting stuck. You will explore converting thoughts and emotions into forms of pure energy and strengthening the energy body to feel lighter, freer, and more open to life. Through visualization practices, imaginative practices, mantra installations, and dream yoga, you will learn how to handle your experiences more fully, digest your experiences more completely, and transform your life.
This learning track allows you to study mantras in depth and will cover a number of interrelated topics including: the five main types of mantra, bīja mantras (special seed syllables) and how to recite them correctly, singing beautiful melodies that come with some of these mantras, and multiple levels of the practice of uccāra (the secret and almost lost practice of raising a bīja mantra through the central channel). In the Mantra Science track, you also learn the basics of the Sanskrit language, Devanāgarī script, and exactly how to pronounce Sanskrit words correctly. As you progress through this track, we will cover more complex teachings on Sanskrit grammar, such as sandhi—which is how different sounds combine when they are in proximity to each other, how vowels coalesce, and why letters change in proximity to other letters to create a euphonious flow of sound in enunciation. You will also learn nyāsa, the installation of certain bīja mantras and Sanskrit phonemes to enliven and activate the energy body. Mantra Science is the track that allows you to really comprehend this very esoteric subject of mantras and become versatile in using mantras correctly and pronouncing Sanskrit words accurately.
Diety Yoga & Puja
This learning track focuses on the study and invocation of deities as a way of learning how to experience yourself in your true nature as limitless radiance and the splendor of the light of consciousness. In Asian spiritual traditions, there are many ways to encounter, experience, and relate to deities. All of these are welcome in this tantrik tradition, and the ultimate way of relating to a deity is as an icon of your own essence-nature. We need great teachers who can reflect back to us what our essence-nature is so that we can recognize it better within ourselves. So in this track, you will learn how to contemplate deities as a divine mirror, how to invoke a specific deity’s light body as your own light body, and how to experience yourself as the deity to remind yourself of what you actually already are. Deity yoga is not just a contemplative exercise —it’s a full yoga! The other aspect of this track is pūjā, or divine worship, which is a kind of moving meditation that we practice as a way of being fully present with our deepest values and acknowledging them in offerings of flowers, incense, bells, blessed water, and more.
This learning track outlines the fundamental daily-life practices that support your spiritual journey and make it more effective. Learning to live a yogic lifestyle can really enhance your sadhana, which is your spiritual practice. Topics covered include diet, exercise, stretching, and daily routine that set up conditions in which you feel enthusiastic about your practice. Because the rhythms of our bodies are meant to be synced up to the rhythms of nature and the world, it’s important for almost all yogīs and yoginīs to go to bed, wake up, eat, and practice at a certain time of day. In the Yogic Lifestyle track, you will learn many beautiful daily practices, such as what we do when we first wake up, when we first step out of bed, and the practices we do in the evening. None of these are strictly required, but any or all of them can really enhance and support your spiritual journey. Even more importantly, this track will discuss agni, or inner digestive fire, and the influence it has on our ability to digest food, emotions, experiences, and challenges. A strong agni makes a significant difference in the quality of consciousness you experience, so it is a central and powerful spiritual teaching that you’ll learn about in the Yogic Lifestyle track to cultivate a stronger energy body and digestive fire to transform your life and spiritual practice.
Living in the World
This learning track is where the rubber meets the road for the lessons taught in each of the six other learning tracks. In this track, you will learn to apply all the lessons you’ve absorbed thus far to your real life situations and experiences. Tantra was the first yogic path in the history of south Asia that was designed for householders —which is a special term that means people with homes, families, careers, sex lives, and money—as opposed to the earlier yogic paths designed for ascetics who renounced worldy life. That’s why the spiritual practices of tantrik traditions are more effective for modern practitioners than the yogic practices designed for ascetics, monks, and renunciates. Living in the World explores parenting, career decisions, and relationships that are compatible with the View. In this track, you can develop skills of communicating and relating that are compatible with the nondual tantrik view, which teaches and advocates for radical egalitarianism. We’ll also be exploring modes of communication that are non-violent, which are free from any form of manipulation or coercion.