Whilst the term ‘tantra’ has become linked to the practise of sacred sexuality and kundalini work in its original form the word holds a much deeper spiritual meaning.
In his book, Tantra for the West: A Direct Path to Living the Life of Your Dreams, New World Library founder Marc Allen defines the term tantra to mean
…the awareness that every moment is a direct path to love, freedom, fulfillment and enlightenment.
This process can, of course, express itself through the act of sexual union but in reality this is but one aspect of a much deeper unfolding of the mystery of life.
Through his book Marc Allen promises to introduce to his readers to
…a powerful tools that can help you find happiness, love, freedom, inner peace, abundance, power, enjoyment, fulfillment, enlightenment – whatever your heart desires.
He also explains how the path of tantra involves close experience of ones own feelings — a process that we are taught. or learn to develop. from an early stage in life.
In the first of his introductions to the techniques of emotion-mastery the Allen offers practical advice on how to approach and integrate rather that simply negate ones own negative feelings.
According Allen one of the most effective tools for initiating spiritual change is through the power of the spoken word—and in particular through the use of affirmations, songs, mantras and prayers.
He suggests that as a prerequisite to creating through the use of power it is important to understand the process through which creation manifests itself. To this end he uses the Jewish Kabbalistic system, as expressed through the Tree of Life, as a framwework for understanding the mysteries of creation.
In chapter three of Tantra for the West: A Direct Path to Living the Life of Your Dreams Marc Allen deals with the subject of relationships—their function and role in our lives. Here he also offers advice regarding the many, sometimes dark and contradictory, feelings that can emerge from a relationship.
From here he then moves into that strongest expression of connectedness in any close relationship—that of sex. Here he offers advice on the use of sexual energy during intercourse, namely how it can be sustained and even integrated into meditation practice.
In contrast the book then switches from discussing human coupling to that of emotional isolation—of living a life that is spent mostly alone.
This, he characterizes as being not so much an affliction as
one of our greatest opportunities for growth and creativity.
Work is the next topic for tantric evaluation. Here work as a concept, is redefined by the author as that of ‘right livelihood’—a term used to denote ones highest purpose and professional goals.
For most people work is a necessary prerequisite for the creation of sufficient money needed to live. Instead, Marc Allen sees money as a very mystical concept—something that has no inherent value and which is simply a medium for exchange.
Whilst most people exchange their time for money there are many for whom their oersonal creativity is the key to increasing wealth.
In his chapter on creativity the author explains how everyone of us is in fact a creative genius at heart. Finding this inner fountain of creative energy may take some work though and so Marc allen offers some oractical advice on coming to terms with such blockages as those created by the actions of the ‘inner critic’ and as a consequence of an inherent fear of failure.
The condition of the human body is an important prerequisite to a happy lifestyle and so the author looks at a variety of ways to improve physical well-being including food and drink, yoga and meditation, ageing and healing,
The book draws to a close with a number of shorter commentaries related to politics, enlightenment, daily-life, freedom as well as a collection of reflections on the mysteries of life.
Books tend to fall into two types—namely those that are somewhat thrown together into a fractured heap by authors who have unique but not totally well-reasoned arguments and those that are smoothly and meticulously crafted by writers taking core-established concepts and presenting them in a more easily digestible way.
Tantra for the West: A Direct Path to Living the Life of Your Dreams by Marc Allen book falls solely into this latter camp, which is a little unfortunate.
Whilst I would not wish to denegrate this skillfully-crafted publication—for it is what it is, but I have to say that I did suffer from extensive bouts of mental hibernation whilst reading it.
Now that does not make it a bad or irreverent book for it is not; the author has in fact done a fairly decent job presenting its content in a way that newcommers to New Age philosophy will whole-heartedily enjoy and appreciate.
For the rest of us though this is a book that offers very little that has not been said by many other writers so many times before and via thousands of different permutations.
Sadly, as fine as this sort of spirituality is for those seeking some degree of comfort and guidance in their lives this type of third-grade psycho-babble barely bears fruit when its concepts are applied to the harsh realities of life.
However, in the book’s defence I would point out that Tantra for the West: A Direct Path to Living the Life of Your Dreams is a publication that first appeared in print way back in 1981, which makes it over thirty years of age.
Whilst its ideas and concepts were quite ground-breaking back in its day it rather sadly has not matured particularly well—suffering as it does from a case of the most common of afflictions experienced around thirty years—that of middle age bloat. If you like your spirituality slightly saccharine but spiced with a touch of Eastern flavor then this book will not disappoint.