By Lorain Chopra January 2005 The spiritual path is a matter of practice, more so one as closely rooted in the physical world as tantra. We present the musings of a woman tantra practitioner. My life is where I want it to take me—on a path of love, passion, ecstasy, healing, calm and peace. Love is still not the deep love I truly search, but I keep working at myself and never for a moment have I been disheartened in the hope that one day, I will find what my heart searches for and my fervent prayers seek. I am in ecstasy and wake up every morning with a feeling of being cherished by the universe. I have no fear of walking the deep woods, of losing myself, for I know there will be someone, somewhere to hold my hand and walk me down the path, and I simply place my trust in the Universe, for I know every journey ventured has taught me a lesson. Now, my heart always sees reason for the pain that comes my way, it only makes me a more sensitive and compassionate woman, and I have learnt to deal with it all and move on. Awaken and AcceptI listen more to my heart, and it makes it simpler for me to accept life as it is. My experiences unfold my life—seduction of the mind and taming of the senses, always drawing closer to the heart, unveiling the deep secrets, hidden anguish, pain, truth, beauty, sensuality, joy. With total surrender, I offer myself to the higher powers of the Universe. Spirituality is truly a love affair with existence, and all love is based on the search for the spirit, so falling in love is purely an act of the soul. Thus Tantra became the essence of my existence, for it is the spiritual path to enlightenment, it teaches us to embrace and unify the erotic and the ordinary, the erotic and the sacred dimensions of life, all of which are rooted in the Spirit. Tantra believes in truth and reality. My spiritual awakening altered forever the way in which I experience the world, and once the initial crisis abates, one discovers that there is no way to return to one’s earlier comfortable mindsets. With Tantra, I cultivated the skills of opening up the heart, visualizing, focusing, letting go of the mind, being fully present, loving myself and the other, moving beyond fear, and most importantly, experiencing the art of eroticism in everyday life. Being erotic truly means to thoroughly enjoy the pleasures of our five senses, in every moment, by surrounding ourselves with what we value as beautiful and sacred. Life is about acceptance and moving on, for what one resists will persist. My life is one of passion. For me, passion is pure energy, passion is life. If one is praying or meditating without passion, without intensity, without fire, nothing will happen. Passion becomes the thirst, the hunger, the connection between you and existence, and the thirstier one is, the greater is the possibility of one’s whole being becoming consumed by the fire of one’s passion. To reach beyond mediocrity, we must live with intensity and passion, fervor, ardor, rapture—this is the essence of Tantra. The BeginningMy passionate sojourn began with Shiva—Nothing exists that is not ShivaThere is nothing apart from ShivaThere is nothing other than ShivaTo be aware of Shiva is to beFearless and free in the Self. Shiva gently led me to His powerful consort, Shakti—Ma, the Mother who is the source of all life, the dynamic cosmic energy that pervades the entire universe. She is the fountainhead of supreme joy, divinity and magnanimity. My first meeting with my gentle yet powerful spiritual guide came about when, curious about his clairvoyant prowess, I ventured to meet him. They say when you are ready, the guru will appear before you, and there is no point in searching for him. Dressed in the traditional white-with-red-border Bengali sari, my trademark large red sindoor tilak and gajras, I sat in silence running my mantras through my mind, awaiting his arrival. I felt his presence before he arrived. A tall, athletic, olive skinned, gentle presence wafted in. I stood up in obeisance and folded my hands in namaste. He gestured to me to take a seat beside him. For a few moments, I couldn’t make eye contact with him, and we sat in silence. He shut his eyes and began concentrating, I gathered, seeking guidance from his divine source. He then opened his eyes, cracked his fingers loudly, and drifted into concentration again. I felt he was finding it difficult to break into my psyche. Then we gazed into each other’s eyes and he softly began speaking, “You are searching for red roses, deep pure red roses, ab kahan milte hain (where do you find them nowadays?) Now we get beautiful hybrid roses, but they have no aroma!’ He continued, “I see you visiting a powerful temple where there is an aarti taking place. Several lamps are lit and there is a small conical rock formation,’ and he folded his hands into a mound-like shape. ‘Yes!’ I said excitedly, ‘I am going to Kedarnath in a few days and the Shiva lingam there is in the unique formation of a rock in the shape of the hump of a bull, and they have a beautiful aarti where the head priest lights up a lamp with several flames.’ Miraculous JourneyOn one of my yearly journeys to Kedarnath, the Himalayan shrine dedicated to Shiva, I was truly blessed with Shiva’s darshan. I always drive through the Himalayas, experiencing the powerful vibrations of the mighty mountains. One afternoon, while passing through Byasi sitting in contemplative silence in the backseat of the car, I felt the great immortal yogi Mahavatar Babaji appear before me in his beautiful form, his gentle face strong and calm, his eyes mesmerizing, his hair cascading down on either side to his shoulders. There was deep silence, all worldly sounds were shut off, as if I was in another world. My very being took in the depth of this silence, for I understood that His blessings were with me on this yatra to Shiva’s abode. I began repeating my aghor mantra, with which I had been initiated from the other world, and Babaji returned to his abode. I was in ecstasy, sheer bliss and abundant joy. Babaji giving me his darshan, and I wasn’t even invoking him, nor praying to him. Several months earlier, I had had a little spat with him, for he would sit silently in my sacred space, without a word, no guidance, no hand on my shoulder. Little did I realize what was to come my way in the form of this powerful darshan! I was on this particular trip to Kedarnath solely to pray for a dying friend. His liver had given way, his spleen wasn’t functioning, and he knew he was dying—a beautiful yet deeply trying experience. He would call me long distance, ‘Ma, save me, I don’t want to die, I want to live Ma!’ And I gave him my word that I would pray, much against the will of my spiritual teacher who saw this as a heavy karmic case and told me to stay away. But I have always loved a challenge and took it upon myself to invoke the Mother Goddess to grant my friend’s life. By evening, I arrived at Shiva’s abode and prepared myself for the evening aarti. I paid my respects to the Maharajji presiding at the muth, sat with him for a while, and stepped into the beautiful temple of Kedarnath. The vibrations there reverberated with Him, they made way for me to pass through, and I stood in the enclosure to one side, my soul soaring to the heights of orgasmic pleasure, for I was in the very presence of my Lord Shiva. Standing in front was an elderly sadhak lost in song to Shiva, and I wondered at the purity of his bhakti. As if he had read my mind, the elderly sadhak turned around and we locked eyes, and I turned my gaze to the floor in reverence. The aarti at Kedarnath is as if experiencing another world, the very walls scream out His name, and the flames of the aarti literally singe one’s entire being. One is in a state of ‘no mind’. Truly, I have experienced liberation through the fusion of the transcendental or pure Consciousness and Spirit. At the end of the aarti, I stood to one side, taking in the residues of deep vibrations, when I noticed the elderly sadhak walking towards me. He bowed down and touched my feet. I had no idea how to acknowledge this deep act. I think I stepped back in surprise, and he walked past me into the cold autumn night. That night I retired to my room after a long moonlit walk down the road, taking in the presence of Shiva with every breath. Next morning, I awoke to the splendor of a beautiful morning. I climbed up the mountaintop to collect some jal from the flow of the ‘Dudh Ganga’, as instructed by my spiritual teacher, for my friend’s life. Amazingly, my teacher has never been to Kedarnath but visualized the flow of the Dudh Ganga. Seva and MayaIn the afternoon, Maharajji sent for me and asked me to go into the temple and perform seva, but I retorted that no way would they allow a woman into the temple at this hour when they bathe and prepare the Shiva lingam and the temple for the evening aarti. But the Maharajji sent me in. In my nervousness, I quickly picked up the broom and began sweeping, hoping no one would notice me and throw me out. Suddenly, the broom was snatched out of my hand. I looked up to see the same elderly sadhak from the day before. I folded my hands in pranaam, and he led me to the powerful statue of Parvati Ma, which is over a thousand years old, and asked me to begin performing her shringar (adornment). Awestruck, I stuttered that Mahar-ajji had sent me to sweep the floor. In fluent English he said, ‘This is your blessing. Since the Navratra festival, no one has touched Ma. Everyday I request Maharajji to allow me this honor, and he says not today! Would you please grant me one wish? Allow me to just pour one mug of water over Her.’ With his humility, he humbled my very
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