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  • Writer's pictureChaitanya Prabhu

What is Reality? Tantra Answers

“Objects in the external world are perceived as images in my brain. Then my brain processes the information connected to that object and interprets the object. This is the way imagination works. Therefore, by extension, all Reality is nothing more than my Imagination!”

This is how I interpreted reality when I was about 17 years old. No big deal, because Tantra says that an open mind will “see” universal truths more easily than someone who is bogged down by education, culture, and tradition. And this way of looking at Reality is so obvious that I don’t understand why it is not commonplace.

Let’s see how Tantra looks at Reality!

In any analysis of Reality, there is the Observer (Subject), the Observed (the Object) and the Act of Perception. The Act of Perception is nothing but consciousness doing its bit. In this act, consciousness posits itself in the different entities (Subject and Object) that constitute Reality. It also expands and contracts as required to study the Subject and the Object. In this context, consciousness is observing the Subject and it is observing the Object. (The observer is being observed!)

Tantra recognized the need to “observe” the Observer of the Observer (Subject). So the Act of Perception is embodied with all the powers of consciousness. This process of detaching and creating “observers of observers,” “observers of observers of observers,” and so on can continue ad infinitum. This is not unlike the question: “Who created the Creator?” or “What is the causative principle of the causative principle?” Besides being a futile intellectual exercise, this kind of questioning also distracts from the more obvious observation that an entity can be endowed within its nature to create itself!

If the inherent nature (and Power) of a God is the ability to create himself/herself, then Tantra realized that the inherent nature of consciousness is to be aware of itself. This is where we differentiate between consciousness and awareness. An amoeba is aware, reflex actions demonstrate awareness, but it is only within the framework of a higher-order animal brain that consciousness manifests itself.

Consciousness does not create its own self-awareness; it is already self-aware. My consciousness - by its very nature – is conscious of being conscious!

For the sake of comprehension, we have Reality constituted in the following manner:

· The Subject (let’s say a human being)

· The Object (say an apple)

· The Observer (Consciousness)

Tantra assumed power as an existential philosophy because of this bifurcation of reality. Now let’s see how the three players complement each other.

1. The image of an object is formed on my retina and my brain interprets it.

2. The subject has internalized it.

3. And consciousness has facilitated the process.

4. By “internalizing the object,” my cognition has created the object. How? In the same way as the object gets reflected in my brain, my cognition gets reflected in the object. Each is the reflection of the other. It’s in this context that Tantra states: “My self has “expressed/created” the apple.”

5. Tantra also states that by observing this process occurring or becoming aware of the mechanism, consciousness has become more acutely aware of itself.

Such realizations can be brought about easily through different forms of Tantra meditation. I can make my consciousness become the apple or make the apple become me. I can spread my consciousness in the building I’m in or in the city I’m living in. But it’s easier to “visualize” myself becoming another person or another object, bringing me closer to the Oneness of the universe.

Many may say that this is a self-delusional exercise! They may be right in saying so, but Tantra offers an option to be in control of your delusion!

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