Above: Graveyard:  Tantra excludes nothing: Reminder of Death and Ego Dissolution.
Detail from a Tibetan Monastery Wall Mural. (Photo: Lynne Heckert)

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Basic Tantric Meditation Principles

The term "tantra" means "interconnectedness."  It is sometimes called "The Resultant Vehicle" because it teaches the practitioner to visualize the desired results.  Tantra emerged in Sixth Century India where it was incorporated by some into Buddhist practice.  It was brought to Tibet where it developed in a Tibetan framework and beame a basic part of Vajrayana, or Tibetan Buddhist practice.

Tantric practices include many systems of visualization, mantra and other skillful means. Today, Buddhist tantric practice usually consists of two stages, "the generation" stage, wherein one visualizes ones self as a buddha or diety with all the attributes of that  enlightened being, and the "completion" stage, which is often based on some variant of the Inner Heat Yoga, a practice of managing energy flow in the body in order to  support the non-dual awareness needed for enlightenment.

When one decides to become a  "Tantric Buddhist practitioner," one  gets initiation from a teacher of a specific Tantric tradition and is given , or chooses,  a certain deity with which to identify as well as specific mantras and other practices.  But one NEED NOT BE A TIBETAN TANTRIC PRACTITIONER to utilize the basic techniques of Tantra  in one's meditational armamentarium.

These practices, which show up in many traditions in one form or another,  are frequently couched in ancient terminology  but certainly analogues can be found in modern psychology's creative visualization, and modern medicine's anatomy and physiology.    Why can Tantra improve our meditation?  Because the mind and body must both be addressed for practice to be successful. Only an integrated and balanced body-mind, one free of psychophysical knots and tension, can support the crystal clear awareness needed in all types of meditation.

A little More Wisdom, a Little Less Bliss.  Still  Pretty Fair and Balanced:
Headless Dakinis