Q: What is the fundamental principle underlying the tantric view of the world? How can I infuse my daily life with the tantric worldview?
A: Everything is interconnected—this is tantra’s most fundamental principle. The forces that govern the operations of the universe are the same forces governing every aspect of our individual existence. To use poetic language, tantra holds that everyone and everything in the universe is a child of divinity. The divine is an infinite ocean of beauty and joy, and all manifestations contained in the universe are waves of this ocean. Each of us is a drop in this ocean, and as such, each of us is an inseparable part of these waves. Quantitatively, we may be smaller than the ocean, but qualitatively, we are exactly the same.
Everything in the manifest universe is connected to everything else. We experience the fullness of our own being only when we have a direct experience of this connection. Tantra is a process of recognizing our interconnection with multiple layers of reality within us and multiple layers of reality outside us. It offers myriad practices for helping us find this inner and outer interconnection and for deriving strength and wisdom from it.
One way of infusing your everyday experience with the tantric worldview is to train yourself to notice this interconnection in ordinary things. Let’s say you have oatmeal for breakfast every morning. Pay attention to who is producing and packaging your oatmeal. What is the philosophy behind their business practices? Where do they get their oats? Who grows them? Does the company who sells your steel cut oats have any concern for the farmers who grow them?
Pause for a moment while you are eating and remember your connection with those who are instrumental in providing oatmeal for you every morning. Whether or not you can see the details of your connection with these farmers, the simple recognition that you and the people who grow your oats are interrelated infuses you with gratitude. You realize, “I’m not alone. I haven’t spent a single minute in my entire life growing oats, and yet there are oats on my table.” You are grateful for those farmers and are united in spirit with those who bring sustenance to you every day.
If you wish, you can take this philosophy to a little higher level. Let’s say you are consuming a product—coffee, for example—that is produced in a developing country. Is it Fair Trade certified? Whether paying fair wages and providing safe working conditions is ethically right or wrong is not the main point here. Ethics, morality, and legality are defined by the human mind, but you are interested in something much more universal. Your interest in Fair Trade products arises from your profound recognition of the reality that all of us are interconnected. As an individual you wish to be part of those who are an integral part of you and do something to support them, not only in your thought, but also in your speech and your action.
These are a few examples of how looking for and honoring your connection to those whose lives support and enrich your own will infuse your daily life with the tantric vision. As your awareness of the web of life in you and around you deepens, you will see that you are nourished and supported from every direction. You will be filled with gratitude for the many people who are contributing to your growth in so many different ways. You will realize that even those who lived in the past—Plato, Pasteur, Patanjali, among thousands of others—are continuing to guide and serve you with their knowledge and wisdom. As this awareness unfolds, the curtain of duality is lifted and you will begin to experience divine love and grace manifesting everywhere.