Teachings of Sri Swamiji

Tantric Tradition and Modern Science

In the last century, scientists and leaders in every field taught us that we were living in a world of gross substance. For them, the whole earth was made up of minerals, of gross elements, and man was a compound of flesh, blood and bones. In the scheme of evolution, man stood at the top according to the Darwinian school. That is how everything was set up: society, laws, philosophy, religion, government and also education. They could not penetrate beyond the gross. They could not even accept that there was anything beyond it.

There existed many myths and sayings which related to the subtle aspects of life, but science criticized all their beliefs and views. However, in the last hundred years, science has changed and physics has almost become metaphysics. Now they are talking about the same thing which tantra used to say many thousands of years ago.

The earliest tantric tradition which historians can find from archaeological remains is six to seven thousand years old, relating to the Harappa and Mohenjodaro civilizations which existed at the north-western frontiers of India, in present-day Pakistan. This does not mean that tantra is only five thousand years old. It means that a thriving culture, based on tantric concepts, rituals and philosophy, existed on a prosperous scale at least that long ago, but it is probable that other tantric civilizations existed all over the world, even further back in time, to the beginning of man’s existence.

The tantric philosophers who preceded Lord Buddha, Christ, Mohammed and even Moses, Socrates, Aristotle and Plato used to say just one thing, which you should bear in mind. Everything that is visible or invisible is nothing but an expression of shakti or energy. This was the dictum, the conclusive statement made by the tantric philosophers many thousands of years ago.

Today scientists are talking about the same thing in terms of atoms, protons, molecules, electrons, photons, etc. If you arrange them, there is a goat; rearrange them again and there is a man. The external or the gross forms are just different proportions of energy. This is not a joke, but I can’t say scientifically, of course, which proportions make a man and which make a goat. That is immaterial, but what is important is that everything, each and every substance in existence, living or not living, moving or not moving, visible or not visible, is a compound of the forces of energy. At the source, everything is the same.

The source of all human beings, animals, insects, vegetables, and minerals, is one and the same. Each and everything has emanated from one nucleus. The entire creation has one nucleus, not two. The whole universe is like a proto-matter, like an egg. The upper pole and the lower pole are two separate poles of energy. One is the positive pole, and the other is the negative pole.

In tantra you call them Shiva and Shakti, and in physics, time and space. Time is one pole and space is another. Time and space are two separate dimensions of energy and they have to be united. When time and space come together, they travel from opposite directions towards the centre, and they meet at the nucleus. In physics the nucleus is called the centre of matter, the point from which the object becomes manifest.

Time, space and object are the three aspects of creation or three categories of this universe. Whatever you see – the sun, moon, stars, solar galaxies, constellations, clouds, seas, mountains – is all composed of these three factors: time, space and matter. When time and space meet at the nucleus of matter, there is an explosion. This explosion throws off millions and trillions of nebulae into the physical universe. These nebulae later become the stars, and your earth is one of those nebulae.

This has been happening in the external world for millions and millions of years and it will continue to happen for eternity. The same thing happens in us when we are practicing concentration and meditation. Meditation is not just a psychological exercise. In meditation, you are handling the energy forces. When you are concentrating on a flame, on a point, on your guru, on a cross, on a shivalingam, on your heart centre or eyebrow centre, what is happening is that time and space are coming closer.

Please think about it. What is time and what is space? You have never thought about it because you have no time to think about time. Time is a concept of the mind and you live within it. It is not only gross time, one hour, two hours, three hours. Time is related to object and object is related to time, and both are related to space. Time, space and object are interrelated and that is called creation. Now, our scientists have come to the same conclusion that the whole of creation – the matter, minerals, vegetable kingdom, oxygen, hydrogen, etc., seen and unseen, are nothing but a consequence of the union between time and space, or between the positive and negative poles of energy.

It is a very simple thing to understand. How was I born? My father and mother met with each other. Nobody can deny this. Is there anybody here who was born without union? The union between male and female components, between the positive and negative physical components, brought me into existence, brought you into existence, brought everything into existence. Every dog, every donkey, every man, was born through the union between the two opposite poles. Man and women, male and female, represent two opposite poles of nature and energy. They are not the same. Physically they look the same, except for a few basic differences, but from the point of view of energy, they are not the same at all.

Male represents positive energy and female represents negative energy. Therefore, both of them represent time and space and when they meet, in the form of sexual union, in the form of emotional union, they create a connection, a contact between time and space, and creation occurs. This happens with everything in this world – creation is the result of a union of positive and negative forms of energy.

When you meditate, you are creating another union. At the cosmic level, union takes place between time and space. At the human level, union takes place between the male and female. In meditation, union takes place between mind and prana, the mental force and the vital force. These two forces in our body are represented by ida and pingala nadis, sun and moon, Shiva and Shakti. In cosmic parlance Shiva and Shakti are responsible for the myriad forms of creation and again in human life, the male is Shiva and the female is Shakti. Their union brings us into existence.

It is said that not only the body and mind, but this whole vast universe can be turned into energy at any time. Matter is one gross manifestation of energy. We should not see basic differences between matter and energy. Well, I don’t have to go to the famous equation of Albert Einstein, E=Mc2. This is a very recent equation, but what I am talking about in tantra is the same thing. The tantric philosophers also believed and said that matter is one state of energy, and energy is one state of evolution of matter.

Therefore, from the scientific and also from the tantric and yogic point of view, we come to understand and realize that we are not just a compound of flesh, blood and bones. Every thought, every action, every feeling is charged with energy. I’m talking into the microphone and you can hear my voice somewhere from the sound box. It is electrically charged. If that is electrically charged, why not my voice also? How can you say that the voice is nothing but a consequence of friction between one organ and another? This is a very gross explanation. We will have to understand each and every action, expression and thought in terms of this electromagnetic force. Scientists have realized that this atmosphere is not just air. There is an electromagnetic field which connects you and me, everything together. This means that each and every speck of creation is nothing but a matrix of energy, shakti.

We can call this energy, electron, proton, photon, or anything we like. It makes no difference. We are not just gross emotions; we are not just mud and filth; we are not just a product of the sin of our parents. If my father has gone to my mother, he hasn’t committed a sin, and I am not an outcome of sin. I am an outcome of the blossoming of love and the feeling of unity that must have taken place between my parents. If we have this faith in us that we are something more than gross matter born of sin, we can further resolve to transform this physical body into a spiritual substance; it can be done.

They say that Christ went directly to heaven. Many people say it’s not possible but I believe it can happen. The body can just disappear. The great lady saint Mirabai, at the time of her death did not lose her body, she did not die as we do. She entered into a temple near Mathura and converted herself into light. The same thing happened to Christ, to Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, and it must have happened to many more saintly people who we hear stories about which seem to be so impossible. However, if only your attitude is very high, if your mind is not functioning on a lower level, then such instances are not impossible. If your mind is strongly rooted in the deeper, higher and real self, then matter and energy are not separate substances for you. They are one and the same.

When a scientist looks at matter, he realizes the energy in it. He sees energy in the different elements of which the matter is composed. In the same way, the tantric philosophy deals with the matters of creation, of existence, of metamorphosis, of transmigration, etc., but finally it says that everything in this universe is only the formation, reformation, reduction, reorganization and manifestation of one shakti, and from one nucleus everything is born.

The multiplicity, the diversity, the duality, is in matter, but it is not the basic substance and this is what I have tried to convey to you here. Conventional religions and philosophies have not been able to answer your questions. There are only two basic traditions that can give you an answer. One is modern science and the other is the ancient tantric philosophy.

Recently these two traditions have started coming together, correlating the facts, agreeing with each other and interpreting each other. Tantra is interpreting science and science is interpreting tantra. The dangers in both are the same. Science can be misused and the practices of tantra, even when they are sincerely and diligently practiced, can be misused and abused. Therefore, side by side with your practices, whatever you are doing, you must try to spiritualise your mind and your life.

—Satyananda Ashram, Mangrove Mountain, Australia, 1983, published in Teachings of Swami Satyananda Vol. V