The ground of tantra
Tantra begins from the non-dual essence and springs forth into manifestation. “Tantra” is often defined as meaning “to weave”, and the sadhak weaves the primal reality with the manifest expression of being. Therefore, the Ishta should be viewed as “self”, the pitha as one’s space and greater/extended expression/environment, and the mantra is the seed (bija) of that which one “grows” into manifestation and is the subtle vibration of That reality. The form of the Yantra is one’s own form both in profound and “mundane” ways.
To be sincere in these qualities, one must either come from the view of non-dual wisdom, or have enough insight into that view that the tantric process will serve the deepening of that wisdom. The “person”, as individual entity with likes, attachments, etc. must be seen through clearly so that the most fundamental True aspects of one’s Real Being can be made apparent. The nature of the Deities must be seen with the view of one’s own fundamental nature. In this perspective, they represent the pure expressions of primal reality, and are not simply reducible to what are called archetypes. That these energies would present their rupas in “understandable” or human-like forms is more a function of skillful means rather than some ego-based “collective” imagination come to fruition.
The ground of Tantra is impermanence, which is the only ground there is. Any permanence (Tantra can be defined as continuity) is the continuity of that very expression of the essence of impermanence (which the Ishta embodies). The sadhak brings Death to the path, then, brings Life to the path. The Death is the death of the person, which often is ritualized in the Tantric sadhana, and the Life is the Life that comes forth as pure manifest quality. Om from the primal through all the manifestations represented in the seeds of the mula mantra….Prana iha prana,.. jivah iha sthitah,.. savendriyani, and… vag manstvakchakshuh shrotra ghrana prana ihagatya sukham chiram tishtantu svaha. This means That awareness/energy is the life energy of this life, the consciousness as “individually” expressed; all the action, and all the organs and means of action. This represents the prana pratishta (establishment of life) which is not only an important “ritual” in the Tantric lexicon, but should be the intuitive reality as lived by/in the sadhak.
Without the ground of Tantra as defined, the work would be of a Bhakta, even if the work was “tantric” in nature. The real work and actions of the Kaula cannot be easily grasped, as these actions are not often “attributable” in the usual ways. Because of the raw and uncompromising energies that are often assimilated, the Kaula may have ways that are unconventional. According to the tantras, the Kaula may be like a child, a ghost, a demon, a madman, or as unresponsive as a piece of stone. Mostly, this “wild” quality conforms more to the energetic realities than simple behavioral distinctions. The lineage that is represented here comes from Kshepas, which means “divine madness” and the energy/expression, while maybe not in accord with conventions or “the reality or ways of being as commonly agreed upon”, is certainly in accord with the highest principles. It is these highest principles where the “devotion” of the Kaula rest, and the Kaula does not worry about trifles and petty “feelings” while in the process of living that Truth. This “madness” serves not only the essence within, but when acting upon the environment, is an expression of skillful means (even though this expression would be spontaneous). Some are drawn to the ideas of Kaula or Aghori “wildness” and “crazy wisdom” and want to take the precepts of that kind of action without properly internalizing the works. This would be putting the cart before the horse, and making the manifestation of the Ishta secondary to some banal indulgence of “letting loose” or “expressing oneself” etc.
The tantric path is alive and dynamic, and not easily reducible to semantic concepts no matter how clever. One should enter this path through an alive and dynamic vehicle, as the teaching is as much (probably more) expressed in the dynamic quality embodied as Tantric Guru, as any specific “teaching” or scriptural learning. Ultimately, Tantra boiled down to “what one is” more than “what one says or does (presents etc.)”. The fundamental essence of “respect” in the Tantric realm is Awareness and Power, and those with eyes can “see” these qualities. This is the bare-bones, no bullshit quality that Tantra represents, and one cannot hide behind flower talk, clever semantics, nor the Tantra shastras or teachings themselves. Needless to say, the Tantra of the Kaulas is not related to the fluff that is often sold as “tantra” these days. Ultimately, sincerity is the ground, the path, and the armor. And sincerity is the deepest longing of your heart while on your deathbed with nobody watching (and the inner/mental discussion that creates the self-image accountable to nobody). If that sincerity says to lay bare before the immensity of what is (without condition), and to take up That reality (as energetic expression) as the pulse of one’s Being, then the Tantra of the Kaula may be for you.