An Introduction to Classical Tantra

Christopher Wallis, Tantra Illuminated. Mattamayura Press, 2012

“It is only by granting the whole world its freedom to be exactly as it is that you can be free:” if Wallis’ book were to be condensed in one sentence, this would be it. Unlike other South Asian doctrines encouraging seekers to turn their back on a world they condemn as an illusion, Tantra embraces the fullness of earthly experience in the pursuit of liberation. Incarnation after incarnation, the situations to which you are exposed are but flavors in the divine work of manifestation, whose cosmic beauty Tantra teaches you to appreciate. Avoid challenges by leading a monastic lifestyle, and you will continue to be a slave to the emotions you repress. The key to the Tantrik endeavor is to be fully in the world without being of it—”keep your eyes on the prize,” is its message, “and proactively use whatever comes your way to realize your spiritual goal.”

Tantra emphasize the direct experience of a divine reality comprised of the transcendent and the immanent, of Shiva as consciousness and Shakti as manifestation. Once initiated by their guru, disciples follow a practice that consists of the contemplation of fundamental teachings; meditative rituals; yogic subtle body techniques, and the aesthetic cultivation of the senses. Their goal is to learn how to perceive and assimilate the divine energy that resides in all things; their path to the ultimate liberation will entail, rather than shun, a fulfilling earthly existence.

If you only read one book about Tantra, Wallis’ Tantra Illuminated should be it. When it comes to contemporary Tantrik authors, Wallis is downright exceptional: not only is he a Sanskritist and a PhD scholar, but he is also a practitioner who received his initiation at the hands of Gurumayi. His mastery of Tantra is both scholarly and experiential, and his expertise shines through this book.

Make no mistake: if you are looking for information on how to enhance your sex life, this book is not for you. Instead, Tantra Illuminated is highly recommended for serious students of yoga and all those who are interested in Indian philosophy and meditation techniques.

Even though Wallis is a PhD scholar, Tantra Illuminated is meant for the general public, and is accessible to anyone willing to work their way through some of the intricacies that an ancient doctrine inevitably presents. Their reward will be a timeless wisdom that is fully suited for the contemporary seeker.

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