There are quite a few misconceptions about tantra caused by misinterpretation of the ancient traditions of tantra. The main misconception is:
- That tantra is a religion.
- Tantra originated from Hinduism.
- Tantra is about sexual pleasure and indulgence.
However, Tantra is not a religious form of Hinduism or any other religion. If you consider sexual desire the main focus of Tantra you miss the whole understanding or point of what tantra is about – that it is a spiritual journey to discover your true self or nature and merge completely with the universe/God/divine.
Tantra is a complex science that involves Pranayama (breathing exercises), mantras and meditations to help an individual become one with the universe on their journey towards self-realization.
Without going into extreme detail with regard to the misconceptions about tantra, I will elaborate a little more on each misconception.
Tantra is not a religion, it’s actually more of a science than it is a religion. People believe that tantra came from Hinduism. Although this is not completely true. You don’t have to renounce any of your beliefs or your religion to be able to incorporate tantra into your lifestyle. In his book Tantra Illuminated: The Philosophy, History, and Practice of a Timeless Tradition” by Christopher D Wallis. Wallis explains that Hinduism itself was not even a recognized religion in India until the influence of Western civilization while tantra has been practised long before that.
Tantra can be seen as a supportive addition to your current belief system.
Tantra is not about sexual pleasure and/or indulgence in worldly pleasures. These forms of pleasure will only provide you with temporary pleasure for a short time as they are in limited supply. Tantra sees sexual energy as an important part of human nature that can be used as a spiritual pathway to self-realisation. In the tantric scriptures, sexual energy is mentioned to be used during meditation practices. However, nowhere in the scriptures are any mention of using sexual activities.
If you would like to go into more depth around the history of Tantra and what it truly is based on, I would recommend that you read Wallis’ book. Tantra Illuminated: The Philosophy, History, and Practice of a Timeless Tradition” by Christopher D Wallis.