Journeying Closer to Home

I’m not altogether sure what you in mind. Kaula marga could mean a number of things: Kashmiri Shaivism, the Shri Vidya tradition, or one of the forms of “left-handed” Tantra. Regarding the last of these possibilities, I can certainly say that Westerners would do very well to keep far away from it.

As you yourself know, from the perspective of Vedic Hinduism left-handed Tantra is outright heterodox, and many spiritual masters have condemned it in the strongest terms. It is in any case crucial to distinguish between valid and degenerate expressions of this form, or rather these forms, of Tantra, since the nature of the disciplines is such as to open practitioners (and so-called gurus) all too easily to dark and destabilizing psychic influences. Given your study of Guénon and your admitted “conservatism”, I rather doubt this is the path that interests you, or at least I hope not!

You ask what Schuon’s views may have been. I don’t now recall whether, or if so where, he may addressed tantric practice per se, nor what he might have advised if he’d been asked by a Hindu. What I can tell you, as someone coming from a Christian background, is that he always expressed serious reservations about the compatibility of the Western psyche with Tibetan Buddhism, which he felt was too “complex” and too “heavy”.

If the sadhana you mention involves (as I suspect) visualizations of deities and families of deities, the circulation of internal energies, and other similar practices, I have little doubt this same criticism would apply. You may be interested to know that Schuon discouraged Marco Pallis from attempting to follow the Vajrayana, even though this was his initial intention after his travels in Tibet, and upon Schuon’s advice Pallis changed and entered upon a Pure Land path instead.

No, I have no personal or “concrete” experience in the world of Indian spiritualities, whether Hindu or Buddhist. But I’m told by a close friend who has had considerable “on the ground” experience in India that it’s difficult enough these days to find an authentic guru even in context of the Subcontinent, and that finding one in the West seems even more unlikely.

For all these reasons, I’m concerned about the direction your search seems to be leading you. Of course, “the Spirit bloweth where it listeth”, and there may well be much here that I don’t understand. Be that as it may, why not give Christianity a try before adventuring so far afield? Why not devote some time to plumbing the depths of the Orthodox East? I’m confident what you’re after can be found much closer to home.

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