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Desire in Planetary Tantra

The Challenge and Standard of the Gaian Dakinis

On January 26, 2009, while I was visiting the USA, I released on this site the five ritual components (tool kit) of Planetary Tantra: 1 the secret dakini name for Gaia, 2 the Kala Tantra Vow, 3 Shri Yantra, the holding pattern, 4 the Sodashi mantra, the sounding pattern, and 5, instructions on taking the Vow with the Tantric buddy-system.

NOTE: This essay was written in February 2009. At that time I proposed a five-point ritual for self-initiation into Planetary Tantra. Since then, I have reduced the ritual to three points, excluding the Shri Yantra and the Shodashi mantra, relics of Hindu devotionalism. See the Gaian Tantra Vow.
jll: August 2010

Those of you who loyally follow this site, as well as newcomers who may recently have come upon it, could well be wondering: What does JLL expect the world to do now? Or, perhaps more pertinently, and realistically, What is JLL himself going to do next? How is he going to proceed with showing how to put these components into practice?

Cosmic Timing

To be perfectly honest, I may do nothing at all. Upon reflection since releasing this material, I have come to realize that there may be no more that I can do with it. I have compared myself to a weather-caster reporting on a turbulent front and navigating in it at the same time. That's a pretty good analogy, and I can continue to report in that vein. In other words, I can amplify and clarify the material and methodology I have presented so far... But let me switch metaphors for a moment:

With respect to the theory and practice of Planetary Tantra, I would compare myself to someone who has set the cornerstone for a building—a temple, if you will—run a few strings and laid out some chalk lines in the earth, perparatory to further construction. I have produced the rudiments of a foundation, that's all. And it may be all that I can do, due to limitations of time and my specific role as a first-generation (G-1) Kalika.

As explained elswhere on site, the role of those born like myself between 1945 and 1975 is to announce and initialize Planetary Tantra. I calculate nine generations of 30 years each, a total of 270 years, from 1945 to 2215 which is the end of Kali Yuga and, simultaneously, the end of the great precessional cycle of 25,920 years that began around 23,700 BCE. Kali Yuga, comencing in 3012 BCE, is the last fifth of this cycle. There are various ways of computing and permuting these cycles, some of which are quite baroque. I find these figures, based on my extrapolations from the Dendera Zodiac and other ancient calendric systems, simple and reliable. In long-term chronology involving cosmic cycles, it is helpful to keep the computations minimal, lean, and simple. In reckoning patterns of cosmic timing, less computation is more instructive.

The limitation of time affecting me personally is age. Having been born in 1945, the first year of the first generation of Kalikas, I now find myself well into my sixties and contemplating a project that will extend 200 years into the future. No matter how much I might accomplish in the rest of my life, my work would only represent the edge of the wedge (another metaphor), regarding full-blown revelation of Gaian Tantra. I have said that the practice will morph radically through the generations. The vision of the Shakti Cluster with its 10 / 5 / 3 format will change, the goddess icons will mutate, but the essential structure of the grand mandala will remain constant. Each generation will move deeper into interactivity and intimacy with this 18-gauge manifestation of the Divine Feminine. Today those born in 1976 or after are G-2 Kalikas. They would at most be 33 years old. I see the first transfer of this planetary practice occuring now principally between myself and those of that age group, 33 or under. The role of those between 33 and 63, like myself, would be to consolidate the initial framework of the practice, rather than to carry it into its next expression. I would also point out that the role of those born 1965 - 75, in the last decade of G-1, is especially crucial in recognizing and securing the fundamentals of Planetary Tantra for the future.

To a large extent, if not totally, the transfer has to be made person to person, one on one. Thus what I can accomplish by way of transfer—"transmission," to use the fashionable term—through the medium of writing is limited. However, I will certainly continue to post material on site relating to the theory and practice of Planetary Tantra, or Kala Tantra, as it may also be called. These writings to come will be orientatiuon material and commentary, rather than actual transmission. Also, I will present a month-by-month course in working with the "Lunar shaktis," a way to learn interactivity with the Shakti Cluster. The first Lunar Shakti Calendar in preparation will run from September 2009 to September 2010. I will use the time until then to initialize the concept and demonstrate how it works, thus preparing those who want to use the calendar when it comes out.

As for first-person transmission of Planetary Tantra, I invite anyone attracted by this prospect to contact me: jll

A Planetary Terma

As a self-styled terton, or treasure-finder, I consider the five ritual components of Planetary Tantra to comprise a terma, or ter, a sacred wisdom treasure. These five components are like the budding end of a plant that is to grow into the fully mature wisdom treasure. Many termas exist (thousands, in fact) in the Nyingma tradition of Tibetan Buddhism, but none of them is planetary or global in scope and application. Termas received in the tradition attributed to Padma Sambhava and his consort Yeshe Tsogyal exhibit two kinds of content: ornate teachings about the nature of mind, or rites and spells. The latter are, to my knowledge, far more numerous. In other words, these termas either propound complex philosophical and epistemological teachings, or they propose magical acts, ritual of divination, propitiation and protection, and so forth.

In both cases, this material is strictly limited to the cultural and spiritual setting in which the termas emerge. They are locally derived from Tibet, typical of the shamanism of that country and culture. They have no planetary outreach, nor do they present methods for interactivity with the planetary goddess, Gaia-Sophia, who responds to the secret dakini name, VV. At least not to my knowledge. Also, putting the instructions in these termas into practice requires deep and extensive knowledge of the vast corpus of Tibetan Buddhism in its theoretical, visionary, and ritual aspects. In this respect, they differ from Planetary Tantra which is accessible to everyone, regardless of spiritual background, beliefs, initiations, training, etc.

However, traditional termas from Tibetan Buddhism do have one important feature in common with "The Terma of Gaia Awakening," as I have titled it. Namely, termas in Vajrayana are closely associated with dakinis. This association goes to the heart and origin of "the Tibetan Treasure tradition of channelled authorial voices" (Germano and Gyatso, "Longchenpa and the Possession of the Dakinis," in Tantra in Practice). Nyingma legend states that its founder, Padma Sambhava, prepared around 800 CE the most famous terma of that tradition, the Longchen Nyingthig, and predetermined its discovery by the terton Jigme Lingpa (1730 - 1798), nine centuries in advance. Doing so, Padma Sambhava set the precedent on concealment of termas, whose preservation is consigned to dakinis. First, he imparted the teachings to close disciples living at that time, including his consort, the adept Vairochana, and King Trisong Detsun:

He entrusted the teachings to them through the means of the naturally arising dakini, the wisdom, the feminine principle of the three bodies of the Buddha. He gave prophetic empowerments by saying that these teachings would be discovered by Jigma Lingpa, an incarnation (tulku) of King Trisong Detsun. Yeshe Tsogyal arranged the teachings in symbolic scripts of unforgetting memory on the yellow scrolls of naturally arisen five colors. With aspirational empowerments, they concealed the teachings in the casket of luminous heart treasure (or mind treasure) of the disciples. They entrusted the concealed teachings to the dakinis, the ultimate sphere wisdoms, for preservation until the right time came to awaken the teachings from the luminous intrinsic nature of the mind of the discoverer. (Tulku Thondup: Masters of Meditation and Miracles. Italics added.)

This legend involves dakinis intimately in both the inception and discovery of termas, not to mention their preservation through the interval. The role of the Diamond Sky Dakinis and Mahavidyas of the Terma of Gaia Awakening is equally intimate, but with a different slant: the Gaian Dakinis are actually the instructors, operating through "the naturally arising ... wisdom, the feminine principle of the three bodies of the Buddha," or Gaian Trikaya, as I call it. They are not merely the guardians of this terma, but its originators and transmitters. All eighteen of them with VV focal are instrumental channels or super-animating voices of "the luminous intrinsic nature of the mind" of Gaia, she who is the living wisdom of the earth: Sophia in Greek, Vidya in Sanskrit.

The name in Tibetan for the first planetary terma would be Dorje Namkhai Khandro Nyingthig, "Heart Essence of the Diamond Sky Dakinis." Dorje means "thunderbolt," but also "diamond, adamantine substance." The term Diamond Sky Dakini is not my invention. It comes from the Hevajra Tantra, VII, 30: "The samadhi of the vajrayosana is the way to supreme bliss." Scholars render vajrayosana as "adamantine girl." My translation: "The perfect attention (samadhi) of the Diamond Sky Dakini is the path to supreme bliss." How perfectly true is that.

Dakini Standard

In Planetary Tantra, I have no authority but the authenticity of my own experience as a natural-born mystic and veteran psychonaut. Take what I say on the beauty that informs it, and test it in your way. I am not an accomplished adept in communication with the Gaian Dakinis, but I have made some inroads into understanding how such communication is even possible, and charted some approaches to what its intent and direction might be. This is sobering instruction, I can tell you. Exciting to the max, wild and exhilarating, but deeply sobering. The first thing that struck me last year as I entered into this experience was the high standard to which the Gaian Dakinis hold those who would interact with them. I do not mean a moral standard, requiring exemplary behavior, ethical rules, or the like. Nor do I mean an intellectual standard, the requirement of high intelligence. Wild as it may sound, the standard of the Dakinis in the Shakti Cluster depends neither on ethics nor intelligence but ultimately on desire, on what you desire supremely of your life. Such is my instruction.

Consider for a moment the composition of the 18-gauge Cluster: 10 Mahavidyas or Hindu goddesses, a jewel-flower or pentad of 5 Diamond Sky Dakinis, 2 overseeing guardians, above and below, and the 18th Dakini, VV. The distinctive feature of this format is the inclusion of Mahavidyas with Dakinis, for these two classes of feminine deities are quite different in character. The Mahavidyas belong a religious tradition scholars call desideristic: that is, they are supernatural or mystical deities who grant desires. The Dakinis, especially the five of the pentad, belong to a different strain of religious striving, the quest for liberation. Hence scholars characterize them as liberationist.

These two cumbersome terms, desideristic and liberationist, refer to seemingly contrasting goals attached to religious and spiritual striving. It is widely said that Tibetan dakinis such as Vajravarahi are superior to Hindu goddesses such as Matangi because the dakinis grant wisdom for liberation, while the Mahavidyas just grant personal desires, wishes, "boons," protection from harm, vengeance on enemies (including death), etc. This view obviously carries a value judgement on desire, making it an inferior goal compared to the quest for wisdom and liberation, including the intention to strive for the liberation of others.

It might appear that there is a contradiction at the heart of the Shakti Cluster, including as it does both desideristic and liberationist agencies, which could be in conflict. But in my experience so far, I have come to realize that there is no such conflict because the coexistence of these feminine powers in the Gaian matrix merges the two goals. It does so because commitment to the liberationist goal, i.e., enlightenment, relies on the reflex of personal desire. To be liberated, even from one's personality, is also a personal desire. And even more surprizing (at least it was so to yours truly) is how the dynamic of desire generates liberation: how we achieve liberation through desire, not from it. This notion of liberation through desire sets up the initial or introductory condition for engaging the Shakti Cluster.

But wait, it gets better. To achieve liberation through desire, which is the unique opportunity offered by interactivity with Gaia and her full console of divinities, the Diamond Sky Dakinis who foster liberation and instill wisdom collaborate with the Mahavidyas, who grant personal desires, in a most astonishing manner: they support all experience leading to liberation, they guide and instruct, but uniquely for individuals who recognize and own their highest desire. In other words,

The Diamond Sky Dakinis hold you to your highest desire, your supreme personal desire, and do not dissociate it from the quest for liberation, but make it the paramount condition for that quest.

It is impossible to understand the unprecedented spiritual opportunity this presents, as long as we are restricted to the traditional Buddhist teaching that desire (Skt trishna, "craving") is the root of all suffering, as stated in the Four Noble Truths attributed to the historical Buddha, Prince Siddharta or Shakyamuni. But the Buddha lied by omission. He only told half of his realized truth to the world at large. He taught that desire is your ticket into samsara, the game of rebirth. He withheld the second part of the teaching: namely, that desire is also your ticket out of the game, and, better still, it is the payoff for the game, the winning score. The Buddha reserved this, admittedly outrageous part of this enlightened teaching for a select group of followers including his cousin Ananda, Subhuti, Mayakashyapa, Shariputra, and Vimalakirti—that is to say, those fewest of the few disciples who received direct mind transmission of enlightenment and were confirmed first-hand in that transmission by Shakyamuni. Others who did not receive a confirmed experience of enlightenment, comparable to the Buddha's own, were not privy to the second part of the teaching about desire. So goes the secret oral legend of Kali Yuga, concerning liberation through desire.

Now, with that particular tidy piece of information delivered, I ask you to consider this: The practice of Planetary Tantra is extremely rigorous because, being held to your highest desire by the Gaian Dakinis, you cannot proceed to interactivity with them unless you know what your highest desire is. And most people don't have a clue. Ask yourself, What is my supreme desire for my life, that would be my highest pleasure to accomplish? This is not an easy question to answer. I have yet to meet anyone who can answer it, clearly and definitively.

To be held to your highest desire is the high standard for participation in Planetary Tantra, the condition for entry set by the Dakinis who foster liberation, in complicity with the Mahavidyas who lavishly grant all manner of personal desires, anything and everything you want.

Supreme Design

When I contemplate the extraordinary Dakini standard regarding desire, I have to say, in brutal honesty, that I have doubts about who can actually get onto this practice of Planetary Tantra. The initial condition set by this standard is going to rule out a great many contenders and pretenders. Age is also a factor, I believe. Beyond a certain age, say fifty or so, it is rare for an individual to know what his or her highest desire in life is, because the fluent of desire tends to recede into the background, taking a lesser priority with advanced years. Also, by that age many people will have achieved what they consider to be their desires, be it social status, affluence, security, career, family legacy, and so on. The question of what one desires fades as these achievements gel, so maturity and achievement work against the recognition of one's highest desire. Excuse me if this sounds like ageism. I may be guilty of that offence, but I am just reporting with total candor what I encounter on a case by case basis.

Naming the highest desire for your life is quite a challenge. Younger people do not have a definitive edge, but they do have the advantage of raw passion to drive them to the challenge. Planetary Tantra will not develop until the end of the kalpa, 2216 CE, by being passed on in a conventional way from the older to the younger generation. It will be generated by youth, inceptively. G-1 transmission is the exception, in that older generation Kalikas such as myself initially announce the path. The duration of the Terma of Gaia Awakening from October 2008 is 208 years. You may now understand more clearly my reservations about how much I can transmit.

There are not a lot of principles in Kala Tantra. Only three, in fact. Which I have yet to state on this site—coming soon. These principles are not to be confounded with the five ritual components of the practice, released on Delivery Day. And then there is an ongoing set of Instructions, to be developed and tested by everyone who comes into the path. One of the Instructions is,

"Hold to your highest desire, for the capacity for liberation depends on what you want it for."

This is a sublime and rigorous teaching, if I do say so myself. I challenge anyone to come up with a principle that demands a more exquisite and ruthlessly honest pitch of self-knowledge. The Dakini standard on desire makes interactivity with the Shakti Cluster self-selective, with those who cannot meet this standard being eliminated at the outset. I realize that this statement sounds elitist, and incites separation. But all the phenomena of nature involve a factor of selection, don't they? Why should human nature be any different? I do not mean "natural selection," which is a stupid fiction, or survival of the fittest, which is a mean falsity. I mean the selection of what can work on its own terms: a boat badly designed and poorly built will not sail. It is "deselected" from sailing on its own terms, on the basis of its design and the real-world expression of that design.

Desire is the measure of the supreme design of human nature. In the human species, exceptional among animals but not superior, desire determines who is selected for interactivity with Gaia, and how.

Correct me if I am delusional, but this looks to me like an extremely radical notion. I am shocked by it myself. I do not find this notion expressed or even implied either in evolutionary science or religious philosophy. Personally, I am staggered by this truth, if it is indeed a truth. That I seem to be the one who enounces it for the first time, in this precise language, does not make it any less astonishing to me.

I have found that, when asked to state their highest desire, people express confusion and bafflement. This is because, first, true desire has become clouded and deviant in the atmosphere of our have-it-all world, and second, because we today, although we in the West appear to live in an indulgent society where all desires are granted, do not experience the level of intense pleasure that would attune us to our highest desire.

Failure to identify one's highest desire is an hedonic problem, typical of the degeneration of pleasure in Kali Yuga.

I must add, but without sufficient justification within the limits of this essay, that the desire to strive for the liberation of all sentient beings (Bodhisattva Vow) is spurious and won't get you to a first date with the Dakinis. It cannot be anyone's highest desire, because it is an implant, a prescribed wish. It is a plea for service, yes, but service is not in the Gaian Dakini agenda: neither service nor selfishness adhere in the admission of highest desire. Furthermore, the Bodhisattva Vow is unrealizable, a vain motive. The desire to aid the liberation of one other sentient being, one only, could meet the Dakini standard, perhaps. But then we're talking love, aren't we? And love is personal.

Also, note that love is not a term of use in Buddhist philosophy. Compassion, yes: karuna. Friendship, yes: maitri. But there is no proper word for love in the Buddhist idiom. Sanskrit distinguishes poorly between love and desire, putting both under the generic term, kama.

Pleasure is both the initial condition and final effect of owning your highest desire. In other words, the more pleasure you feel, purely for its own sake, in hedonistic excess, the closer you will come to attunement to your true desire. And when you own your true desire, you will also realize your highest pleasure in it. Desire and pleasure are complementary and intergenerating. Co-emergent, as Buddhist jargon has it.

I repeat, the Dakini standard determines a self-selection process regarding interactivity. Consider this: If you fix on your highest desire and it is not the right and true one, but a mistaken, misstated, or spurious one, you can blow yourself right out of the running. In this practice, a near miss is almost always fatal. For instance, suppose that your highest desire is to be famed as the greatest downhill skier in the world. Stated precisely in that way, because it must be defined precisely to meet the standard. But suppose this is a spurious or misstated desire, the true desire being to be the greatest downhill skier, even if not recognized as such, without fame. Such a slight misstatement of the highest desire will throw you totally out of the range of interactivity. Syntax is crucial: for instance, "My highest desire is to be the greatest downhill skier in the world, whether or not I am famous for it," is a more cogent formulation, fitting the standard of high definition. Without such rigor of formulation, you will not get to square one with guidance and instruction of the Dakinis, not to mention the lavish generosity of the Mahavidyas who are ready, willing, and able to grant anything you want compatible with your highest desire, cogently stated.

Kali's Game

Gaming is the master teaching metaphor for Kali Yuga. Defined in this idiom,

Planetary Tantra is a desideristic game with a liberationist aim. In that paradoxical merge resides the automatic selection for the practice: know what you want supremely to be freed of having to want anything at all.

To meet that standard of self-knowing is not the end result of Gaian interactivity in Planetary Tantra: is the entry condition for the practice. But it is also the goal of the practice. Tantra is not a result-driven process. It is an instanteous feedback dynamic, an immediate and perpetual turnaround. This is why this essay on desire is categorized under GOAL.

I cannot teach anyone how to define their highest desire. No one can. You find your way to it, or not. I believe G-2 Kalikas, born in 1976 or after, now 33 years old and under, will be more likely to claim their highest desire, and subsequent generations will have even better odds. The odds will be better, but the number of self-selected participants will diminish proportionally due to the exponential rise in population we are now facing. It might the argued that people of G-2 and succeeding generations will be so blitzed by the consumer trance and media-driven mass-mind programming of their every wish and whim that they will have a much harder time to identify their highest desire. Perhaps, but I strongly sense that as the acquisition game becomes more desperate, the chances for some players will improve.

To put it in other terms, the breakthrough to the highest desire will be spectacular in future generations, with more frequent random hits, due to the extreme conditions of social conformity. I can foresee that some rare few people will be driven by extremity to know their highest desire as their sole means of survival, morally and physically, in a social world that has lost all sense of what's worth desiring.

Where there is abundance of enjoyment in desire, of what use is it to speak of union with the Divine, and where there is union out of this world, where is the enjoyment here and now? But the Kalika knows both.

O Sadashiva, Benefactor of the Universe!, You have generously spoken of the mode of worship of the Supreme Prakriti, Mother Power, which benefits all beings equally, and provides the sole path for enjoyment and liberation together, the unique path of immediate lliberation in Kali Yuga.

- Mahanirvana Tantra

jll 21 February 2009 Andalucia


Material by John Lash and Lydia Dzumardjin: Copyright 2002 - 2018 by John L. Lash.