Traditionally, Tantra has always been passed on in the form of an experiential transmission. The Master devises situations and methods of meditation to help the disciple awaken their inner sensitivity, awareness, fluidity and love. The quality of the Tantra transmission is dependent on the depth of experience carried by the teacher. We can only pass on what we have lived deeply.
There are many streams of Tantra based on the experience of one or more masters of that lineage. Here, I describe seven main streams.
Kashmiri Tantra honours Shiva and Shakti, and offers a unique blend of the female path of love and devotion with the male path of witnessing and awareness. In this lineage, love and relationship as a spiritual path is respected. There are many techniques, some of which use sexuality for awakening, and others focus on any other aspect of human experience such as senses, emotions, mental cognition and subtle spiritual states.
Tantra Yoga is ascetic and male oriented. Adepts of this path use yogic disciplines and some may also engage in sexual union but are encouraged not to fall in love or to move into relationship. Sexual union is used like a rocket to move into heightened spiritual states.
Aghori Tantra explores heightened spiritual states through Yogic Siddhis, special powers, offering the transcendence of physical limitations, including death. Some of their practices appear extreme, such as meditations and ritual done in burning ghats, where the dead are cremated.
The Baul Mystics of Bengal, India, bring together Tantra, Bhakti (devotional worship) and elements of the Sufi Tradition to offer a singing, dancing and celebrative path, which pulsates with living wisdom and joy.
Tibetan Tantra is a unique blend of the ancient Shamanic Bonn tradition, Buddhism, and Indian Tantra coming from the lineage of Saraha. In a nutshell, it focuses on transcendence of the wheel of birth and death, offering a magnificent tapestry of refined wisdom.
Chinese (or Taoist) Tantra, as it is commonly called, focuses on the dimensions of health, longevity, and immortality through massage, sexual union, qigong and breathing techniques. Traditional Taoist medical doctors would commonly prescribe sexual positions and ways of lovemaking for curing physical health issues.
Neo – Tantra is a term coined by the contemporary Indian Mystic, Osho, to describe his vision of a world based on the Tantra approach to life, love and spirituality. Many Neo-Tantra practitioners are not even aware that the term came from Osho and there are many varied experiments happening under this umbrella (some of which have very little to do with Osho or Tantra).