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Tantra Learning Framework

Strange as it may seem, there are times when the obvious is not so obvious. Take, for instance, the connection between orange, the color, and orange — the fruit. I never made the connection when I was a kid, simply because all oranges came in shades of yellow. The same goes for Turkey, the country, and turkey, the bird.

A New Instructional Design Methodology


Tantra Learning Framework is a new instructional design methodology based on the 36 Tattvas of Kashmir Tantra. In developing this methodology, I have mapped the tattvas and the systems of tantric reality to traditional ID theories, models, and frameworks.


This parallelism is sometimes evident, but at other times, it's contrived, perhaps even implausible. Nevertheless, I have included those attempts to show that they don’t work when we’re trying to create meaningful learning content.


My strong interest in animal behavior has always motivated me to look beyond the work of B.F. Skinner: we need to go past operant conditioning to comprehend intelligent behavior. Also, I like to study humans as part of the animal kingdom and compare us to other animals.

The Rationale

While studying any behavior, it's essential to recognize that intelligence comes in many forms. Skinner's work does not fully capture the richness of cognition since many animals display problem-solving abilities, tool usage, metacognition, and language-like communication. Whales even have what we usually classify as “culture.” And human behavior can often manifest in complete disregard for consequences. Studying humans within the broader animal kingdom can provide valuable insights into our nature and abilities.


We must take a broad view of intelligence to develop effective learning frameworks, incorporating insights from ethology, primatology, cognitive science, and comparative psychology.


Correctly understanding human intelligence requires studying our differences from animals and our continuities. Overall, an interdisciplinary approach that combines the study of human learners with research on animal cognition and ancient psychological systems is likely to yield the most comprehensive and accurate learning models. I don’t want to call these systems “spiritual” simply because the word spirituality — like religion — is quite sullied.

In this context, I've also had to draw parallels with traditional Western psychological systems to make the tattva hierarchy understandable.

While the tattvas represent ancient wisdom, translating that wisdom into modern psychological terms helps make it accessible to a broader audience. Jungian and Freudian psychology provide helpful analogies to which readers familiar with Western thought can relate. For example, one lower tattva, Prakriti, corresponds to Freud's Id (the primal, instinctual part of the mind). The middle tattvas map roughly onto Freud's Ego and Superego, representing rational thought and moral conscience.

The higher tattvas then move beyond the personal unconscious into the collective unconsciousness Jung wrote about. These parallels, though imperfect, help create a framework for understanding how the tattva hierarchy reflects the different levels of consciousness within the human psyche.

Maslow's Hierarchy

Another model is Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, wherein the highest level is self-actualization. Maslow's hierarchy can also provide a valuable framework for understanding the tattva system. Just as Maslow posited that lower-level needs must be met before the higher needs can be fulfilled, the lower tattvas represent primal, foundational states of consciousness that must be mastered before progressing to the higher tattvas.


However, the tattva system also goes beyond Maslow by including even higher levels of realization and self-actualization. These reflect a shift in identity and perception where the individual self dissolves into an experience of oneness and unity with all existence.

The Tantra Learning Framework translates that underlined sentence: “These reflect a shift in self-perception where the individual transcends the current state of ignorance into an experience of knowledge and skillful empowerment.”

Delving Deeper into Human Nature

Hence, while Maslow's hierarchy provides a useful analogy, the full scope of the ancient tattva wisdom points to a transcendence beyond what modern Western psychology has traditionally envisioned as the highest potential of human nature. The tattvas reveal a multidimensional map for evolving human consciousness at physical and mental levels.

Self-actualization covers a vast range and depth of emotions… That's obvious! A man may actualize himself by owning a house or ruling a country. Indeed, self-actualization encompasses a vast spectrum of human experience. On a basic level, it can mean satisfying our material needs and desires, whether through acquiring possessions or achieving professional success. For others, self-actualization involves much more than that.


It involves developing our full potential by growing emotionally, creatively, spiritually, and intellectually. It means listening deeply to our inner voice and following our unique purpose in life. For some, self-actualization may come through artistic expression, spiritual practice, or building deep connections with others. There is no single path or formula — each person's journey is different.

Work-Values-Life Balance

The key is continually striving for growth and evolution within ourselves, challenging limiting beliefs and expanding our sense of what is possible. As we actualize more of our innate capacities and live in greater alignment with our values, we experience deeper fulfillment and a sense of meaning. The journey has no end, as there are always higher aspects of ourselves waiting to be realized and expressed. Self-actualization is a lifelong process of discovering and becoming. It brings us in touch with our inherent wisdom, compassion, and creativity and allows us to offer our complete, unique gifts to the world.

For all this to be achieved, we need e-learning, simulations, gamified learning objects, and immersive, experiential learning seminars in 5-star resorts! I don’t mean that in jest. Seriously, we can’t expect wisdom to come from a WBT!

In Kundalini Tantra, the tattvas act as milestones for enlightenment. Pursuing enlightenment is a tremendous vocation for those with the time and motivation. And I wish them luck achieving Buddhahood.


Meanwhile, lesser mortals can be happy with a quick and effective training program that helps them with their daily jobs. I’m sure most of us would be existentially satisfied if we had to complete our work with fewer mouse clicks.

These are the goals of the Tantra Learning Framework.

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