Tantrik Poetry for the Inner Senses

Lorin Roche, The Radiance Sutras: 112 Gateways to the Yoga of Wonder and Delight, Sounds True, 2014.

This book is a contemporary poetic rendition of the Vijñāna-bhairava-tantra, a collection of 112 Tantrik meditation techniques dating back to the 9th century. Infused with poetic license, Roche’s Radiance Sutras are not meant for the Sanskritist or the religious studies scholar; however, if you are a mystic at heart and enjoy poetry, this book will delight you. Take, for example, the following verse:

Bodies feed on sound/Sonic waves on inner waters/Nourish every nerve/Vibration strengthens bones/Ecstatic undulation awaits you (p.54)

The attention to the power of sound is an essential element in Tantrik practice. This verse is an invitation to develop awareness of the vibrational waves rippling through your consciousness. Of course, one could explain this very same concept intellectually; however, how much more effective is the evocative language of a poem?

The following verses are just as powerful:

Put attention into the luminous connections/Between the centers of the body,/Where the mind loves to dissolve […]/Enter that glowing net of light/With a focus born of awe,/And even your bones will know enlightenment (p. 62)

If you allow words such as these to guide you in the experience of your inner light, you will probably bliss out way before you reach the end of the book. However, if you manage to work your way through Part One, you will find a Part Two containing 112 contemplation techniques. Called yuktis, these are instructions on how to develop one’s awareness through the sensory and emotional experiences that flow through everyday life. In the spirit of Tantra, the yuktis remind us that the quotidian is the true gateway to enhanced consciousness.

An excellent read for mystics, yogis, and anyone interested in a contemporary and highly accessible take on Tantra, this book is not to be approached intellectually as much as it is to be experienced. The key to enjoying Roche’s Radiance Sutras is to feel it by taking it as a set of instructions on how to develop one’s inner senses. Contemplating one sutra a day will allow it to sink deep, thus promoting a clearer awareness of your true nature.

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