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These are divided between the upper part and the lower part. The "lower gates" are the orifices of the anus and the sexual organ. The "upper gates" are the mouth, nose, two eyes, two ears and the fontanel opening at the top of the head. The fontanel is clearly visible as an opening at the time of birth, but it gradually closes up during the first year of life.
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Eastern esoteric tradition tells us that through this opening, known as the "Aperture of Brahma," the soul enters and leaves the bodily temple. Though the other gates may be used by the soul in its journeys, it is the uppermost one that leads to the higher spiritual realms. The Temple of the Subtle Body contains three main "rivers," from which branch out innumerable tributaries.
One Great River or "psychic pathway" runs from the region of the lower gates, the perineum, up the spine to the uppermost gate at the top of the head. It connects the individual with the cosmos. At either side of the central Great River are two "rivers" that emanate from the same source and lead to the upper "gates. They are conceived of as crossing the central Great River at stages in the ascent, like twin snakes wound around a central staff.
This symbol, known as the caduceus, or wand of Mercury, has been adopted as an emblem by the medical profession. The act of worship in the Temple of the Body consists in focusing the creative attitude by channeling the sex energy upward. The evolutionary process, experienced as an ecstatic thrill, rises up from the sexual region and flares at the solar plexus. The sixty-four vital flames burn up all negativity and purify the psychic pathways. The fire of love floods the three rivers and the solar and lunar energies unite, thus illuminating the temple. This psycho-cosmic process manifests as the ecstatic emotion, which no words can truly describe.
Through knowledge of the psychic pathways, the sexual experience becomes more potent. By practicing the secret techniques of Tantra one can consciously experience orgasm and the ensuing transcendental delight. The psycho-cosmic process or "self-worship" in the Temple of the Body takes place on every level, from the physical to the most subtle. It is important to really regard the body as a temple.
Awareness of its physical and subtle condition is an integral part of the creative attitude. The bodily temple should be kept clean, healthy and harmonious, out of respect for the divinity within. Provide enjoyment and spare no effort to ensure the temple divinity's complete satisfaction. Do not hold back, for real worship is a spontaneous and total act of love. By worshipping in the Temple of the Body during love-making, all desires are fulfilled.
That sensual love is an act of great magical and spiritual potency is one of the main principles of Tantra. But the Temple of the Body, though comprising many parts, is in fact a Divine Unity.
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We speak of the "heart ruling the head" when someone seems to have lost all common sense and is prey to emotions. The head is said to rule the heart when the mind is calculating and unmoved by human feeling. In both cases, one center dominates at the expense of the other. This dichotomy of head and heart always produces a breakdown of intimacy in a relationship. It is completely incompatible with the selfless ecstasy of Tantric love.
In Western mystical traditions, one frequently encounters the idea of "renouncing the flesh for the sake of the soul.
For whatever is repressed will inevitably erupt, usually at the most inopportune moment. The Tantric way teaches that we must use all our endowments of mind, body, head, and heart, on the Path to Liberation.
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Through the consecration of all parts of our being to an exalted purpose, we integrate them into a whole. In this way, the emotions and passions of the heart can be transformed into the joy of transcendent ecstasy.
This transformation takes place through the interplay of head and heart, reason and emotion. The Tantric image of this process is the heart's "fire of emotion" melting and distilling the head's "waters of wisdom. It makes possible a true exchange between the lovers. The path of Tantric love encompasses all aspects of the emotions and intellect. It leads to an experience of cosmic ecstasy through awareness of the Universal Self in both partners. It is the condition of dependency inherent in habits that must be broken. When you find yourself saying or thinking, "But I can't change that I always do that," then that is undoubtedly the first habit to break.
Freedom of choice results from mastering habit. Independence from habits in the area of sexuality should be cultivated, as sexual habits are the most restrictive. Any intentional act of will has a magical potency and is far more effective than a habitual or unintentional act. The human body is capable of quite extraordinary adaptation, even when it seems set in a rigid pattern.
The potential for change is always there, but it is better not to wait for a moment of crisis before ridding ourselves of habits. Our very survival as a species is due to our ability to change and adapt. Mental habits are more difficult to deal with than physical ones, as they are less obvious. Often enough, they are inherited from parents or acquired through social conditioning.
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They restrict our whole way of life, insidiously providing a false sense of security. By causing us to forget our Higher Selves, they obliterate our awareness and are fatal to an intimate relationship. Frequently, an unawareness of disagreeable habits or idiosyncrasies is a source of contention between people. Yet often, all that's needed to overcome this obstacle is the willingness, on the part of both people, to change, grow, and evolve. When the initial fear of change is overcome, one can really begin to enjoy new experiences.
Sexual habits are especially limiting and it is here that Tantra requires absolute adaptability. All Eastern teachings on the sexual mysteries point to the need for variety and uninhibited spontaneity. Only in an atmosphere of complete honesty can unconscious psychic impediments to our growth be cleared away. When we turn our consciousness inward to reflect upon the self, a new sensitivity unfolds.
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Self-examination helps to renew and fine-tune the senses. Sexual habits are particularly dulling to the senses, and it is here that self-examination is of great value. If one partner depends exclusively on the other for support and comfort rather than seeking these within, the result can be a burdensome imbalance in the relationship. Real love places no value on projection of selfish fantasies onto the other.
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This does not allow room for the play of ecstatic, spontaneous love, which is the goal of Tantra. Instead, a relationship becomes limiting; it may even drag both partners into an unresolvable conflict. Failures in both love and marriage often result when one partner does not live up to the expectations of the other. This suggests that there is no real partnership, but rather that one partner is being selfish with the other.
In this situation a couple lives together in an inner state of separation and hypocrisy.
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In the Tao te Ching , a Chinese philosophical work of the sixth century B. The author, Lao-tzu, declares: "Knowing others leads to Wisdom; knowing the self leads to Enlightenment.