2014 Religious Trends
Tantric Motivations for Countering Climate Change
Editors' Note: This article is part of the Public Square 2014 Summer Series: Conversations on Religious Trends. Read other perspectives from the Pagan community here.
As a practitioner of Tantra, I suggest that despite evidence asserting climate change is irreversible, Tantra offers us a road to hope and a mandate that our activism on behalf of the planet prevail. Whether or not we believe that we can alter the course of our current predicament, we have more to consider than acquiescence and nihilism in response to bad news, and we have even more to feel than unrelenting frustration over our species' lack of will to change.
The tenets of my faith hold that creation is the immanent heart of the Divine. I believe the Earth body is our body is Her body. And if I believe that we are all the substance of the other, creating a profound relationship within the whole of creation and the spiraling of evolution, then I have access to a genuine experience of empathy, both for the planet and for the circumstances of which we are all a part.
This way of conceiving of reality breeds action. Empathy motivates us to remedy the causes of pain and suffering that we, as part of the web of life, experience. Without empathy, we remain at a distance from what we can only consider as other people's problems. Action with such awareness is also an embrace of life as it appears in the moment, accepting challenges as a part of the dynamic dance of energy and consciousness that weaves our collective story. To deny the importance of these challenges is also to deny the possibilities of this lifetime's striving and yearning: in our response to challenge, we grow on the path.
Tantra teaches that the fabric of life is woven across time and space on threads of creation and dissolution. With and through our particular human bodies, we gift the Divine with the insights born of a unique love perfected through the fires of our individual torment, however acquired (for example, through the karmas of past actions, the oppressions of society, or the psycho-spiritual hindrances of birth). This love, in fact, was the instigation for our incarnation in the first place. It is the presence of this love that, the mystics agree, compels us toward the unknown in our often unconscious quest for wholeness.
In seeking to know itself through new relationships of flesh inspirited, the Divine created and our crucible was formed. From this inspiration and with the lessons of our triumphs and failures deeply embodied, both we and the cycles of the cosmos continue to evolve. We adapt, transform, release attachments, and come to the center of our hearts where the wisdom of head and body comingles into intuition and resilience.
As we increasingly give expression to the Divine will, our souls rejoice, because doing the work of this lifetime frees us. Freedom earned on the path of spiritual progress is our own embrace of unconditional love. However, to be clear, this work is not facilitating a movement toward that which lies beyond the body, brought on by a need to return to Source. Rather, it is a movement into the fullness of our embodiment, complete with the attachments and sufferings of our encapsulation, the residues of our encumbered perceptions, and the effluvia of the physical. Through our labors on the path and with freedoms gained from the effort comes the stuff of intoxicating bliss—the nectar of Tantra that is release from our most deeply seated fears.
Chandra Alexandre initiated into the mysteries of Tantra in India, where she went initially seeking to better understand the spiritual motivations of women-led environmental movements. She is the founder of SHARANYA (www.sharanya.org), a devi mandir dedicated to personal transformation in service to social justice.