When we choose a tantric path, we choose to experience pleasure as an expression of spirit, rather than seeking to transcend such experience as would one who is on the classical renunciatory yoga path. The choice to remain engaged, to honor mind and body as divine, comes with great responsibility.
When we choose engagement, we choose to experience the divine reality not just of pleasure, but also of pain. The true tantric path does not turn a blind eye to ugliness and suffering. Just taking the pleasure without recognizing its opposite is not authentic practice. If the pleasure of the sunrise is “real,” then the garbage on the beach is just as real.
Recognizing the reality of ugliness and pain as part of the play of the real does not mean, though, that it should diminish our joy in the beautiful and in the dance of the play of opposites of life.
Rather, it is our delight in and engagement with beauty that invites us to serve as best we can to alleviate suffering, to try and clean up the garbage where we can. In other words, as we recognize that ugliness and destruction are part of the play (lila), we seek to be heart-full rather than heart-broken when we witness the suffering from violence to others or our living planet. If we let our hearts break, we become blind to the beauty. Like those who only see what brings pleasure, those who only see the painful are also not experiencing all of the real.
As I head back to the world inside the Beltway, I bring the deepened and replenished sense of beauty and the dance that I always get from collective study and practice. I will try to share the privilege of having this experience by doing my best to clean up what garbage I can, while still dancing and loving in the light.