"The many facets of Tantric psychology and practice are relevant to all who seek to cultivate self-understanding and are sincerely engaged in the whole task of spiritual transformation," writes Georg Feuerstein, director of the Yoga Research Center and author of 30 books. This erudite and illuminating overview of the Hindu Tantric heritage is meant to be a correction to the widespread idea that Tantra yoga is nothing more than "a mere discipline of ritualized or sacred sex."
This spiritual tradition, Feuerstein explains, requires initiation at the hand of a qualified teacher and many years of intensive personal practice. The author describes some of the major lineaments of Tantra with chapters on samsara (cyclic existence), the bondage of time, the secret of embodiment, the divine play of Shiva and Shakti, the disciple-guru relationship, the subtle body, awakening the serpent power, and rituals of Tantra. Feuerstein calls this ancient esoteric tradition "the great spiritual synthesis" thanks to its insights into enlightenment and the body as a temple of the divine. The author concludes: "Tantra is a powerful tool, calling for maturity, self-knowledge, and good-heartedness in its handling."
It's often hard to understand metaphysical books about tantra because there are few scholars who can write in a clear way that's accessible even for practitioners, let alone people who have never had a guru or traveled to India to experience tantric teachings firsthand.
In America, yoga has so often devolved into a physical practice with spiritual pretensions, instead of a deeply spiritual practice.
I returned from India from a six-month trip in 1998, during which time I stumbled into meeting a guru and then spent five weeks studying with him in Benares. When I came home, it was very hard to begin to articulate what had taken place. This book was a godsend, a link to connect my experience with a tradition that extends millennia back in time. And secondly it helped to link my friends and family to the experiences I just had by reading a clear description of the path and experiences involved in Tantra.
I hesitate even to use the word Tantra, given that it's so very, very misused in the West.
This book sets the record straight (Tantra does NOT equal sex) and presents the practice and history of Tantra in all its profundity. We are indebted to the author for his great gift to all of us.
For the other reviews that criticize the author's lack of experience in Tantra, you should be aware that the author has a Tantric Buddhist teacher which led him to bring his considerable talents to present the first guide and most helpful explanation of these profoundly important teachings.
I've given numerous copies to family and friends, all of whom have enjoyed it immensely.
Until Karen Armstrong decides to tackle this subject (highly unlikely, given her orientation), this is the best book available. Highest recommendation!