The Grace of Shiva
Natha’s Tantra Camp Summer 2009
May you be glorified, O Lord
who forever fills the three worlds
with infinite beatitude
rejoicing in eternal celebration
may you be glorified
In this extraordinary moment of my life, sublime gifts abound and the divine game of life has become foremost, leading me deeper into the realms of self-discovery and closer to the goal of ultimate happiness. By the Grace of God I’m here in the romantic Danish countryside, in a land of worldly perfection – especially when the sun shines! Our home is high above the chalky white cliff face of Stevns, amidst the lush green life-giving beings shading and protecting us, revealing God in all His omnipresent glory.
I looked forward to this year’s Tantra Camp with more enthusiasm than ever. A deep, burning aspiration within me seeks to be fulfilled and my heart knows that this is a very good place for this. This camp is the place where I can deepen my spiritual experiences and which lead to the awakening of the latent potential of my being.
This year’s Tantra Camp is divinely hosted by Lord Shiva – the Supreme Consciousness – in five of his main aspects which are considered fundamental for the Tantric path.
The camp begins on 4th July with an introduction into the Tantric system and an opening meditation, followed by a lecture on ‘The Supreme Consciousness – Shiva in Tantra’. Tantra uses the simple method of identification for the aspirant’s rapid evolution and for achieving practical perfection in the life we have and not in some abstract realities that cannot be checked. The effects of identification with Shiva’s aspects appear practically instantly and can easily be noticed by the one having the experience and even by the people around. In the first lecture about Shiva, Mihai mentions three practical ways that we can identify with Shiva during this camp, and in the rest of our lives.
These fundamental ways are:
Intense, enthusiastic and frantic spiritual aspiration
On this first evening the men and women are together, reveling in one another’s company, however, this interaction ends the following morning and the men and women are to remain separated for the next five days. For some of us this is not a new practice, but I see in others how the prospect of avoiding all contact with the opposite sex for five whole days seems daunting. Indeed some couples don’t manage to keep away from one another, but here there are no hard and fast rules and the guidelines Mihai gives, such as this one, are simply guides to give us a direction towards the goal of spiritual transformation.
So from day 2 the men and women go their separate ways – the men beginning their days at 5:30 with yoga techniques for intensive sublimation, while the women begin theirs with yoga practice at the more civilized hour of 9:00. The days unfold with a lecture about the aspect of Shiva for the day and in the afternoons the men and women each participate to lectures specific to their needs - while the men do only ‘God knows what’ outside (rain, hail or shine!), the women explore the meaning of Shiva in their lives, coming together with the common goal of awakening the state of Shakti within their beings, simultaneously uniting with the Supreme Consciousness, Shiva. Shakti and Shiva are inseparable – the consciousness and the energy which make up our existence - the two halves of the one unique whole. Tantra brings the adept to the realization of the state of unity of these two halves, meaning that in the case of woman, the more she awakens in her being the state of Shakti the closer she comes to knowing Shiva. Ultimately, in the human being the state of androgyny – the moment of unification - results from this awakening of these two fundamental aspects.
Shiva Bhairava is the host on our second day. His terrible nature sets the scene for this intense and deeply transforming camp experience. Bhairava is the terrible thunder of sudden revelation, the terrible aspect of transcendence manifested in the human life. He takes the aspirant out of the darkness of ignorance into the light of the transcendence through awareness. Mihai explains that “in transcendence we go beyond the duality of the mind in a state of uniqueness where any notion from diversity is transcended and this is the reason why Shiva Bhairava is seen as terrible, because this aspect of transcendence wipes out any duality and dries out the ego’s resources, which suffocates in the absence of any dual thoughts.”
Day 3 dawns, and with it, the Grace of Shiva Natharaja rains down upon us. Shiva in this aspect is the cosmic dancer, performing his dance of continuous renewal of the creation, while reminding us about the existence of God. As Mihai says in the lecture, “His dance is the creator of all time cycles, every wave of ecstasy in His body radiates through the whole universe. Weak souls try to cling to each wave, while the real practitioner is the skilful surfer who is always riding on the ocean of bliss. He is surfing on life’s waves and these waves are a means of evolution which he always tries to catch. Natharaja is the key to learn how to live our lives ecstatically”, and what more could we possibly want? Here in this camp, I feel the Grace of Shiva manifesting as a subtle ecstasy in my whole being. I feel closer to myself than ever and closer to my Beloved Shiva. With the awareness of this reality, I am so fulfilled. The evening exemplification is ‘the state of overwhelming enthusiasm that helps us to center in the heart’. This state of enthusiasm deepens my aspiration, taking me beyond my human limitations, awakening a profound state of love for Shiva which puts all spiritual ideals above worldly ones.
One very important point we touch on in the women’s meeting is that when we worship Shiva we actually worship ourselves and we must take care not to only exteriorize Him in our lives. In reality Shiva is the consciousness which is present in each and every one of us. This reminds me of the quote that ‘everything that exists is within me’, an essential realization for the aspirant on the Tantric path, which brings God into our hearts instead of keeping Him at a distance from us, as some religions would have us believe – the result of this perversion of the truth having caused untold suffering to humanity, blocking many from embarking on the spiritual path.
This year I have experienced the strongest effects until now from this practice of polarization, which is the purpose of separating the men and the women. By remaining apart for a period of time, the men have the opportunity to consciously increase their masculinity while the women can consciously enhance their femininity. The more masculine a man is and the more feminine a woman is the stronger the polarization is that appears between them.
This law of polarity which exists throughout creation can be very well observed in human beings as we have a clear predominance of one polarity. So this conscious polarizing process that each gender goes through is a very valuable tool for enhancing the possibility for spiritual transformation as the stronger the polarity the more energy exists at our disposal. This is why Tantra stresses the importance of the couple relationship so much. Within a conscious couple relationship we can form an enormous powerhouse of energy which can then propel us forward on the spiritual path and closer to the realization of the glorious state of Androgyny. They key to this is, of course, polarity.
As I was saying, I am experiencing my strongest understanding of polarity this year and that’s clearly due to the increased awareness I have developed about myself and especially about my being a woman. It’s truly amazing, I see such an enormous contrast between the sexes right now, the colours, the light, the nuances, the subtle interactions, and the movements differ so beautifully, there is an inherent perfection to the contrast between the sexes. I see it now as an extremely powerful spiritual practice to keep men and women consciously separated in order to increase polarity and consequently, to come closer to life’s highest spiritual goal.
With heightened awareness and increased femininity, I now look forward to the next stages of this very special
by Elodia Thalon
Experiences from the other side...
On Saturday 4th July, the work crew and a few guests assembled at Concordia at 7am preparing to set up a new residence for a few weeks. The atmosphere was filled with great anticipation from all and we all piled into a couple of buses and some cars and set off for our new and exciting destination. We had a whole trailer filled with the women’s suitcases! Most of us guys thought they were moving their entire wardrobe, but we were assured with shrugs from the women that it was only a small portion of the entire treasure chest of clothing they had brought along.
We had a setback within 10 minutes of our departure in the form of a flat tyre on the truck that carried most of our food and things we needed for decorating the camp. The wonderful thing was that no one got upset or irritated. We all surrendered to the experience using our time to chat and to eat croissants from the gas station for breakfast. While we waited at the gas station, some of us practiced yoga, others laughed heartily with each other, some kissed, while others used the time to get acquainted with the new people.
It was a pleasure to see that every time something came our way we just went with the flow and enjoyed the moment. My car for instance has enough space for five people, but that day the car could also fit two propane gas cylinders in the space where the passengers normally rest their feet. The new solution was to sit in the lotus position and cram the legs to the side, while wearing a grin from ear to ear.
When we arrived at Stevns Naturcenter we unloaded at a leisurely pace, since we couldn’t get in right away. It was quite hot so the shade was a welcome place to rest and enjoy the sunny weather. Later when the center was opened we all moved like a small ant farm, very busily scurrying to and from the center to the parking lot. People who ware there for the first time shyly asked where they could put their things, where to shower, who to pay to, etc. I had just started my duty in the kitchen when I was called out on a mission, so I didn’t get to see the initial dividing of the camp into a Shiva section for men and a Shakti section for women.
Sunday morning we had to be up early to do yoga and meditate outside. It was nicely refreshing to be up so early and do our practice together. When we finished at around eight in the morning some kind souls had prepared some simple breakfast that was consumed with great pleasure. Time was spent familiarizing ourselves with the surroundings and who we were and what we were about to experience.
Later on, when I was busy in the kitchen with my job of making desserts for later in the evening, I noticed how many unkind women were around me. Every time I commented on something, or moved around, smiling kindly at some sweet Shakti, they looked away. For a split second was I irritated, but then I quickly remembered that I was dealing with some devoted participants and I was the one who was out of line with my kindness, so I changed my deviant behavior of smiling and returning the looks of unknown participants.
Now it’s Monday and the camp has become more defined and everyone has fallen more into their new roles, all seeming to accept them with grace. Some of course had a naughty strike and saw the whole polarity as an opportunity to break some of the rules of talking and interacting with the opposite sex. This was easily observed from the kitchen. Again the atmosphere of the people is worth mentioning. The air is thick with anticipation and there is a childlike fascination with what the next hour is bringing.
There was a circle with the viras out by the campfire and lead by Mihai. This circle provides us with a great place to acquire new knowledge and to share our experiences just among the men. The openness and intensity at the level of sharing is something that should be desired in general, but it is rarely seen unless people have had a number of beers and some shots of hard liquor. The circle ended with a meditation, and with a feeling of accomplishment we all happily went to enjoy another tasty vegetarian meal.
By Michael Storm
I’m coming to the Tantra Camp on the second day, when the polarity rules and the separation between men and women have to be observed, and since there are some people I haven’t seen for some time it’s quite difficult! Also the energy is bigger from the beginning due to the awareness of the polarity.
I experience the exemplification of Shiva Bhairava as Existence in non-Existence, and as bliss in a state of nothingness. The experience is enveloping and through all the levels of my being, or at least those of which I’m aware on that morning…
Day of Natharaja:
The next morning we do a meditation in nature from 6-7. There’s a light in the meditation and the rest is just mind training.
When we end the meditation I come back and rub my legs because they are a bit cold and I’m thrilled to experience a strong subtle pleasure in the cells of both of my legs and in my hands. This makes me focus in the subtle level. I’m looking in the grass and the combination of my consciousness and the nature I observe generates a sublime state of apprehension, which energetically manifests as a state of orgasm on the level of some of my higher chakras…and I’m open for more...
By Soeren Gannik