What is Tantra & Occult?

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When, when you say Tantra, one has often heard the term Tantric and, you know, and there’s various kinds of things floating around about it. Can you just shed some light on what essentially - is there something like the dark arts or what?


Duration: 15 min


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9 min read

What is Tantra & Occult?

The following is an unedited transcript of Sadhguru's video. For better readability, breaks and highlights have been added by the editors.

Questioner: When, when you say Tantra, one has often heard the term Tantric and, you know, and there’s various kinds of things floating around about it. Can you just shed some light on what essentially – is there something like the dark arts or what?

Sadhguru: Most of the existence is dark art. Light is only a small happening in this existence, isn’t it? Isn’t most of the existence dark? Yes? Light is a very small happening, a very limited happening.

If light has to come, something has to burn. To have these lights going, something in this planet is burning right now. You must understand this, ecologically aware people. To have all these dots of light, something is burning somewhere. We say the bulb is burning. That is also burning, but something else is burning to keep this burning, isn’t it? This is the way of the light.

Whether it’s the light bulb or the sun, something is burning. Whatever is burning is bound to get over someday. Yes? So, that’s why we say, if you’re burning irresponsibly, we say you’re burning the candle from both the ends. Because we understand if light has to come, something has to burn. So, if you are burning to cause light, you better control the light and keep it at the minimum. Otherwise, things will burn up very soon.

So, light is a very limited happening. The whole cosmos is a dark art, no? So, there is lot of dark art that one can practice, not necessarily life negative. Dark arts are not necessarily life negative.

When we say occult, because you have heard of some lousy occultist who is trying to destroy somebody’s lives, cause disease, cause death – because of that, you think that occult is always a negative thing, because socially, you are exposed to only that kind of people. But occult is also of the highest order. Shiva is an occultist. Every guru is an occultist, okay? Right now, I initiate you into Shambhavi – it’s an occult. Otherwise, how would it work? Occult means a certain capability. It’s a certain technology.

Right now, I can pull out my cell phone and speak to somebody in another part of the world. This is a technology. Suppose without the cell phone, right now, if I speak to somebody in United States just like this – this is occult. So technology is not very different from occult. You’re using different kinds of material, but it’s actually the same thing. When modern technology was not there, occult was extremely relevant. But today, occult’s relevance is receding as modern technology progresses.

See, now, you came from Mumbai, Bombay, Mumbai – I’m getting it right in your head so that you don’t get into trouble. Suppose a thousand years ago, you heard of Sadhguru in Coimbatore – but your heart is longing, you want to go. But Mumbai to Coimbatore, walking and coming, not a simply journey. If you venture, you don’t know whether you’ll again go back to Mumbai or not. You don’t know what to expect on the way. You may never make it.

So, you sit in Mumbai and, ‘Oh, Sadhguru, please, reach out to me. I cannot come. Please!’ Now, if I felt like doing something to Atul who is in Mumbai and incapable of coming to Coimbatore, then maybe, I want to initiate him into Shambhavi in Mumbai. But Atul’s mind runs all over the place. He sits down, and he feels something, then he thinks, ‘Oh, maybe I’m just imagining nonsense.’ His wife tells him, ‘You’re going crazy man. Somebody that you’ve not seen is doing something to you? Shut up and go back to work.’ He is beginning to feel something, but his logic, his reason, the family tells him, ‘Don’t be stupid.’

Then what Sadhguru will do is – pick up a South Indian Jasmine flower which cannot grow in Mumbai, and Atul is sitting like this, [meditating] it fell into his hand. Now Atul, now he will sit [still] ready for Shambhavi, to be initiated, because one jasmine flower was delivered.

But today, I would rather call you and say, ‘Come,’ or send somebody with a brochure and say, ‘Come and get it here.’ Or if I want to send you a jasmine flower, I’ll use DHL. So, modern technology is making occult obsolete. But I want you to look back 1,000 thousand ago – just see the immense value of occult. Yes? Thousand years ago, just imagine you were in Mumbai, and I’m still in Coimbatore. You wanted something from me. Imagine the value of occult, isn’t it? So, today, the value has receded, so all kinds of charlatans are doing all kinds of nonsense.

Occult need not necessarily mean negative

Occult need not necessarily mean negative. Now the English word occult doesn’t clearly specify what is it that they are calling as occult. Recently, someone asked me a question in the Samyama I think, it seems some guru – he said tantra is just a way of getting over obsessions. Just getting over obsessions. This is nonsense.

We need to, unfortunately today, redefine the word Tantra, because it’s been distorted by people. First let’s understand this. The word Tantra means a technique or a technology. But because the Tantra that you are hearing of is a rebound from the American coast, you think Tantra means unbridled promiscuity. No, Tantra means extreme discipline. It is not unbridled promiscuity. It’s extreme discipline. Learning to use your body and your mind like you would use some other outside instrument. Like how you would use your computer or a screwdriver, like that you learn to use your body and your mind. It takes enormous discipline not promiscuity, not looseness.

Tantra means extreme discipline. It is not unbridled promiscuity

Tantra is not things, the books they have written largely by western authors all kinds of things. No, tantric texts are of extreme discipline, not of any kind of looseness. Because they are talking about the body – and right now the modern societies, if you say body, they are fixated about reproductive organs in the body and nothing else about the body. So if you say body, they are only thinking of a few body parts. They forgot the brain. Because they are only thinking of few body parts, they are thinking about sexuality and nothing beyond that. It is about learning to use the body like a phenomenal mechanism, and it is. If you do not know how to use it, what will you do here? If you do not know how to use your physical self and the energy behind it, what will you do? You’ll have no impact on anything. So this is tantra.

Tantra means technology, tantra means a certain capability

Tantra means technology, tantra means a certain capability. There is no guru without a tantra. If he has no technology, he is not a guru. He can only be a gentle saint who will bless everybody, bless everybody, bless everybody. A blessing has no discretion. Now if you are a thief, if you met a saint you would seek his blessing and he will bless you. So that you could do your job well today, because his blessing has no discretion. He cannot be, because that’s not in his control.

Even the bandit tribes, you know the pindaris, and people like that, they had their own gods and goddesses, they had their own saints. Their gods always guided them which home to hit today. Very successful they were. They pursued their profession for centuries, banditry is their profession.

So unless you are just the gentle lilly kind of a saint, who just blesses and blesses and blesses – I am not trying to belittle that, they are beautiful in their own way, but they are not of any… they are not for people who are lusting for enlightenment. They are not for those people. They are only for people who are just seeking small improvements in their life. If you walk into a home depot you can make some improvements to your life, isn’t it? Yes or no? You can actually. I see everyday on the television people come and say “oh, I just bought this bed. My whole life has changed, it is amazing.” I didn’t know, I didn’t know a bed or a pillow could do that. I didn’t know that. Have you seen this? ‘My whole life has changed completely.’ So if you walk into the home depot and walk out with something that you didn’t have, you could change your life a little bit.

Life changing – the word life changing, how much of it changes is subject to so many things. What has changed is subject to many things, isn’t it? Suppose you are cold right now, you didn’t have a jacket like me and you got one, it’s life changing right now, isn’t it? Isn’t it so? So is that what we are talking about? If that is so, it is fine – blessing and blessing and blessing. But if you are talking about spiritual growth, reaching to its ultimate nature – what is a guru without a capability? You can’t call him a guru. So capability means a certain ability to do things, which people cannot do for themselves.

There is no guru without a tantra

So if there is – I want this to be clear in your head. If there is no tantra, when I say tantra, if there is no technology – tantra is just a Sanskrit word for technology. Not the way you have been psyched to believe. So if there is no tantra, there is no guru, really. Because guru means you have to roll up your sleeves and it’s a mechanic’s job. You got to fix things. To fix things you must know what’s what. You must have some technology in your hand, and that is Tantra.

Is there tantra in Isha? Very much, all across the board, various kinds. But the significance of yoga is, that it is not ritualistic. There are two dimensions of tantra. One is, you use outside material and stuff to do things, which is ritualistic in nature. The yogic tantra is such that you use only your physical body and the energy system. You don’t need any other material. So, these two loosely have been classified as right hand path and left hand path. Left hand path use outside material. Right hand path does not use any material, just uses the body itself.

Largely, this [what is offered at Isha] is yogic tantra – largely just what we do within ourselves. This is a tremendous gift that Agastya Muni offered. That, he established a Tantric process one hundred percent rooted in the body, nothing outside. Not one grain of rice or sand is being used to perform all the different dimensions of Tantra – everything internalized within the system. This is his gift to us. This is one of the greatest things. In terms of human mechanism, this is one of the greatest things that’s been ever offered to us, from any source. This is his offering.


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