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This is the nearest I've ever come to adopting a religion of any sort. Years ago, when I was in my early twenties and in the midst of several 'life changes' (wait for the autobiography), Zen Buddhism appealed to me as a uniquely truthful expression of 'what it's all about'. I studied the subject, privately though fairly intensively, for the next couple of years - though never shaved my head or went into any sort of forest retreat.

My major achievement in this time was to pass through Mumon's 'Gateless Gate' (see Paul Rep's 'Zen Flesh, Zen Bones' for more details) - though, being without a teacher, my realisation may have been transitory. My favourite expression of zen was the Shonankattoruko koans. After getting out of zen-type things, I started getting into Tibetan thankas, mandalas and yantras - a rather nice hand-painted Padma Sambhava hangs on my living-room wall - and Tantra.


Buddhism is what you make of it. You can get stuck in the peacefulness, meditation, robes and chanting side if you really want, but for me it is all about keeping a sharp and attentive mind. The higher mental states - leading up to nirvana - are for the adepts; the lower mental states - including getting hung up on blind worship or intellectual concepts - are the constant pitfalls.

If you think you really know about Buddhism, then start to trace it backwards and forwards - from India, to Sri Lanka, Tibet, China, Japan and finally on to the West. Consider its 1500 years of dormancy in India, and how (and why) the Catholic Church allowed its adoption into Western society in the late 19th/early 20th century.


I'm not so enamoured of those who have adopted the Tibetan cause as some sort of spiritual 'flavour of the month' - what were these people doing about places like East Timor? What holds me fascinated are the Indian and Tibetan tantric studies. Tantra isn't about finding easy sexual partners when there are no drugs around; it is an intensive mental and physical discipline. And, beyond any other art form to my knowledge, tantric mandalas and thankas are capable of evoking a three-dimensional, transpersonal space in the viewer.

There are, of course, (non-essential) sexual practices within Tantric studies - links to these can be found on the Love & Life Page.



THE TANTRA SEARCH ENGINE AND WEB DIRECTORY (for body work, Buddhism, Hinduism, Kundalini, meditation, New Age, Tantrism, Taoism and more)

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URL: http://homepages.tig.com.au/~avanstar
Alex Van Starrex