Just how many tantras

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"Just how many Tantras are we dealing with here?" -- me, September 2005

According to the Lama Yeshe's Introduction to Tantra: The Transformation of Desire, "[tantra] recognizes the powerful energy aroused by our desires to be an indispensible resource". Desire is potentially a Culture of abundance and so the idea of making it an energy source sounds to me like it could be the basis for some soft weapons ... at the very least, worth understanding somewhat more.

The Introduction to the Dalai Lama's commentary on the Kalachakra Tantra describes four sets of tantras:

[I]t is said that in Action Tantra, the desire involved in male and female looking or gazing at each other is used in the path; in Performance Tantra the desire involved in male and female smiling at each other is used in the path; in Yoga Tantra the desire involved in male and female embracing each other is used in the path; and in Highest Yoga Tantra the desire involved in sexual union is used in the path.

It seems to me there may be others ... for example (generalizing from "male and female" to one or more "participants")

  • an intellectual set, where the participants think about each other -- and maybe another one where they think about the same things together
  • a communication set, where the participants engage in discourse with each other
  • a "project" set, where the participants work together on something (ideally for a cause)
  • a performative set, where the participants perform something with each other
  • an experiential set, where the participants are simply with each other
  • an ecstatic set, where the participants lose themselves in a trance with each other (for example, by dancing); this may arguably be a generalization of Highest Yoga Tantra
  • an infinite number of fantasy sets, where the participants imagine or create each other and (at least a subset of) their universe

None of these are mutually exclusive, so based on the multiplicity principle, you can pick any combination of them ...

Just how many tantras are we dealing with here?