Enlightenment and Tantrism – Part 2

By: Dr. John Ankerberg, Dr. John Weldon; ©2012
Tantra is a practice found in Hinduism, Buddhism, and certain other religions. It is primarily based upon the teachings of the Hindu Tantras, or holy books. Despite its esoteric nature and historical confinement primarily to Tibetan Buddhism and Shivaite Hinduism, the influence of tantra in various forms and ways has increased in the West significantly in the last generation.

Enlightenment and Tantrism – Part 2

Following we present three illustrations which encapsulate the end reality of darker forms of occult enlightenment.

Illustration One—Violence

Rajneesh had been asked by a frightened woman disciple why he permitted [the favored disciple] Teertha the freedom to do anything in these groups with such savage authority. His answer was, “I only send people to the Encounter group when I see that now they understand that they have to go beyond all boundaries—boundaries of sex, boundaries of violence, anger, rage. They have to break all the boundaries….

Richard Price, famed founder of Essalen, later repudiated his sannyasin status. He wrote the ashram a private letter that was later published in the Indian and American media (23 February 1978): “The ashram encounter group is an abomination—authoritarian, intimidating, violent—used to enforce conformity….”

[Price gave specifics.] A woman who had her arm broken was repeatedly kicked. A young man twice hit a sixty-year-old woman in the face. There were eighteen fights in the first two days alone—when I stopped counting. I did prevent one young man from hitting a sixty-one-year-old man with his fist. Stopping him was strictly against the “rules.” After the end of the “Encounter” group, a woman in the so-called “Primal” group had her leg broken. On inquiry many other incidents came to light—injuries physical, mental, and spiritual.

Yet what baffled Eckart [a disciple] were the immense ecstasies he had experienced. But just because they were ecstasies, did that mean they had God’s seal of approval? He knew then that heroin is supposed to be the supremely euphoric ecstasy. Who could deny the incredible desirableness of it? Did that make it good? One had to look a little deeper, at the fruits, the effects.[1]

Illustration Two—Moral and Sexual Perversion

Brooke discusses additional details of the ashram, correlating them to the logical consequences of Eastern tantric occultism.

The language would become more and more pornographic, as taboos were systematically shattered. People’s minds would bounce all over the place. It became for some a kind of shock-orgasm. Abuse and degradation would deepen in new and more creative ways. This was liberation with a vengeance. The groups usually spent days and days locked up together with no escape.

It was exactly the kind of experimenting that Charles Manson did on his girls and his gang. When they had gang orgies, it was the same sort of thing as on the ashram. The Manson girls were making love with God and the Devil at the same time, wrapped up in one man, Charlie Manson. That is what he claimed and that is what they believed….

Allen Edwards, in The Jewel and the Lotus, has given an extraordinary insight into Tantric Eastern Yoga. He shows that its orgies are identical to the way in which medieval witches are said to have regarded their Devil, the “Man in Black,” when he presided over the coven wearing his ritual grand array, the Satan-head, horned mask. A number of lesser Tantric Indian gurus watched and coached the sexual unions of their following. I had known a New York couple twelve years back who were both driven insane by something the guru did when he oversaw them. He was now in New York, furthering his ring of adherents.[2]

Illustration Three— Satanism and Witchcraft Motifs

Finally, consider the more obvious parallels to Satanism, witchcraft, and biblical demonology that are found in tantrism. An anti-moral pragmatism is a strong feature of Satanism and witchcraft on the one hand, and much Eastern religion on the other. For example, in a standard text entitled Yoga: Immortality and Freedom, the late yoga authority and University of Chicago professor Mircea Eliade observes the amoral orientation of much yoga:

The tantric texts frequently repeat the saying, “By the same acts that cause some men to burn in hell for thousands of years, the yogin gains his eternal salvation.”… This, as we know, is the foundation stone of the Yoga expounded by Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita (XVIII, 17). “He who has no feeling of egoism, and whose mind is not tainted, even though he kills (all) these people, kills not, is not fettered (by the action).” And the Brhadaranyaka Upanishad (V. 14, 8) had already said: “One who knows this, although he commits very much evil, consumes it all and becomes clean and pure, ageless and immortal.”[3]

Further, the goals of the sexual union in tantra and witchcraft and in magic/Satanism are also similar.[4] For example, in tantra and witchcraft we find the predominance of the feminine energy theme. In both categories we find occasional cannibalism, ritual cruelty, a preoccupation with death, ritual sacrifice, ritual insanity, anarchy, and horrible degradations in general.[5]

Only now is the true purpose of such practices discerned and the penetratingly evil nature of this “enlightenment” revealed. As Brooke states of the initiate who has surrendered his mind and body to the radical tantric path:

What happens within the surrendering vehicle? The total desecration, degradation, defamation of a soul during the ritual. That is the recurrent theme. Ecstasies may appear, but the rites have a certain definite pattern.

For years I had studied North Indian Tantra and seen that it was the original model of European Satanism…. [The theme involved] surrender by degradation.[6]

Brooke proceeds to mention such things as the ingestion of human waste, necrophilia, and human sacrifice.[7] He also explains the rationale for all this, and illustrates the satanic themes by citing the philosophy of Rajneesh:

Why is man degraded? If man is made “in the image of God,” that likeness has to be once and for all smeared and defaced beyond recognition as an act of surrender on the part of the man and as an act of cosmic blasphemy…. At times, Rajneesh has been brazenly revealing from his throne. The bearded God-man would leak out such revelations as, “God has to take the help of the Devil to run the affairs of the world. Without the Devil, even He cannot run the affairs. So I had to choose devils, Beelzebubs, so then I thought why not with style? Why not with taste? Devils there are going to be. I decided for women, more are wanted. Also, my ashram makes no difference between the Devil and Divine. I absorb all. So whoever you are, I am ready to absorb you. And I use all sorts of energies… the devilish energy can be used in a divine way…. And this is only a beginning. When more devils come, you will see….

What emerged in the Charles Manson case was that when the level of fear in the victims was raised to a peak, another energy-presence became operative in the field. The Encounter groups on the ashram raised the energy field by shock and “blowing the lid off.”[8]

At this point, considering a few relevant citations from books on witchcraft and Satanism helps one to understand the potential of this radical spirituality, even for murder: “The object of ritual, including the Black Mass, is to raise power to implement and strengthen the mental force of its practitioners…. There is no doubt that the emotions generated by the Black Mass constitute a considerable energy potential.”[9] Wouldn’t human sacrifice raise the temperature of the ritual all the more? Consider a statement from an authority on the occult, Richard Cavendish, in his Black Arts: “In the later grimories the sacrifice is done… to increase the supply of force in the circle. In occult theory a living creature is a storehouse of energy, and when it is killed most of this energy is suddenly liberated…. The amount of energy let loose when the victim is killed is very great, out of all proportion to the animal’s [or victim’s] size or strength.”[10]

The same book continues: “The spirit or force which is summoned in the ceremony is normally invisible. It can appear visibly to the magician (occultist, yogi, witch, Satanist) by fastening on a source of energy on the physical plane of existence. It may do this by taking possession of the human beings involved in the ritual.”[11]

And finally, “The most important reason for the sacrifice, however, is the… charge which the magician obtains from it…. It would obviously be more effective to sacrifice a human being because of the far greater psychological kick involved. Eliphas Levi said that when the grimories talk about killing a kid they really mean a human child…. There is a tradition that the most effective sacrifice to demons is the murder of a human being.”[12] “If this [sacrifice] is combined with the release of sexual energy in orgasm, the effect is to heighten the magician’s frenzy and the supply of force in the circle still further.”[13] This is the other “sacrifice” which Crowley (the Satanist) and other modern magicians skirt mysteriously around—“with regard to which the Adepts have always maintained the most profound secrecy” and which is the “supreme mystery of practical Magick.”[14]

In a concluding segment, Brooke discusses the common themes found in tantra and much pagan occult practice:

Death, orgasm, sacrifice, energy, power, entity-presence, possession—this is the ancient chemistry…. Mircea Eliade, in probing into the history of witchcraft said, “All features associated with European witches are… claimed also by Indo-Tibetan yogis and magicians.” And, along with a range of occult powers common to both, the Indians “boast that they break all the religious taboos and social rules: that they practice human sacrifice, cannibalism, and all manner of orgies, including incestuous intercourse, and that they eat [human waste], nauseating animals, and devour human corpses. In other words, they proudly claim all the crimes and horrible ceremonies cited ad nauseam in the Western European witch trials.”

It was hardly new in India. In Assam, a Tantric haven over the long centuries, the temple of Kamakhya (Durga) was famous for human sacrifices. In the 1500s they had 140 people beheaded at a single mass sacrifice. The members of that group, the Aghoris, were famous for their cruelties and their orgies. There, subjects volunteered to be sacrificed to the goddess Kali. The Aghoris ate from human skulls, haunted ceremonies, and practiced cannibalism, up until and including this century….[15]

The violence and abuse of the Rajneesh ashram, as well as Rajneesh’s own predilection for death themes, fit well with the tantric worldview. In Hinduism, the god of death and dissolution is Shiva, and Shiva is the sponsoring deity of most tantrism.

And when one actively worships a god of death, it is not surprising that occasional murders and human sacrifices might enter the picture. In India, historically, this has happened on a regular basis. For example, there are various tantric sects who actively seek the death of others in order to worship their god. Among such tantric cults are the Pindaris, Thugee, and the Dacoits—all of whom have turned random murders into acts of ritual worship (the Dacoits worship Shiva’s wife, Kali, the goddess of death, who also requires human sacrifice).

But as noted, sex and mystical ecstasy are also part of tantra. Not surprisingly, Shiva is also considered the god of ecstasy and divine madness. “He personifies lila [the divine sport] as the insanity of god. Tantrics worship Shiva, and they accept their existence as the insanity of god with no questions asked. The tantric’s novel response is to get gleefully insane along with god, as god, in the midst of existence and thereby penetrate beyond existence altogether.”[16] [One need only think of the philosophy of Sufi guru Meher Baba, and his lifelong work with the insane (the masts) of India, whom he interpreted as the truly enlightened or God-realized.] Nevertheless, tantra’s fascination with the bizarre and the crude is one reason it “often seems like systematic insanity with a thin religious gloss.”[17]

And in the 1990s, such practices continue. The Chingons, in the Santa Ana mountains above Los Angeles, now practice this branch of ancient tantrism, eating living hearts of sacrificed animals. Several groups in the Topanga Canyons of the Hollywood Hills also combine black magic, drugs, orgies, and (animal?) sacrifice.[18]

We find similar incidents among some Caribbean immigrants to the United States who practice santeria and other forms of witchcraft magic. And the number of adherents continues to increase, as more and more people join the modern neo-pagan revival.

However, as tantrists would argue, everything depends on how the practitioner engages in these individual acts of evil—what state of mind the act is committed in. The Vajrayana Tantra cites the common teaching, “By the same acts that cause some men to burn in hell for thousands of years, the yogi gains his eternal salvation.”

Apparently, enlightenment doesn’t care how you get there. So where will it all end? Who can say? Most Western New Agers would recoil at the radical path to enlightenment seen in tantra. On the other hand, it cannot be denied that New Age philosophy and practice helps condition the soil for just such extremes. For those willing to experiment with more radical forms of enlightenment, the path has already been prepared:

The New Age [is very much] into the idea of initiation, but milder, sweeter, more aromatic ones. The vicious and obvious path of Rajneesh and the Tantrics was a far more radical initiation than most New Agers would ever consider. That was too blatantly “evil” to most people.

The majority needed a far more gradual incline. The implications of “there is neither good nor evil,” driving them the route of experimentally “blowing the roof off,” on the fast-track of “Explosion techniques,” that comes in way down the path.[19]

In conclusion, after examining so-called New Age enlightenment, what seems apparent to us is that this enlightenment is really darkness. Though occult enlightenment has a longstanding tradition, it clearly reveals its true nature.[20] Unfortunately, thousands of searching people are being thrust onto a path promising enlightenment—but they are wholly unaware of just where it will lead them.


  1. Tal Brooke, Riders of the Cosmic Circuit: Rajneesh, Sai Baba, Muktananda…Gods of the New Age (Batavia, IL: Lion, 1986), pp. 145-47.
  2. Ibid., pp. 206-07.
  3. Mircea Eliade, Yoga Immortality and Freedom, Trans. Williard R. Trask (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1973), p. 263.
  4. e.g., David Conway, Magic: An Occult Primer (NY: Bantam, 1973), pp. 129-33; Eliade, Yoga Immortality, pp. 263-6; Margo Adler, Drawing Down the Moon: Witches, Druids, Goddess Worshippers and Other Pagans in America Today (NY: Viking, 1979), pp. 107-08.
  5. Eliade, Yoga Immortality, pp. 202-06, 261, 272, 294-307; Adler, Drawing Down the Moon, pp. 10-11, 22, 35-36, 84-86, 107-12.
  6. Brook, Riders, pp. 201-02.
  7. Ibid., pp. 200-07.
  8. Ibid., pp. 200-01.
  9. Justine Glass, Witchcraft—The Sixth Sense (North Hollywood, CA: Wilshire Book Co., 1974), p. 47.
  10. Richard Cavendish, The Black Arts (NY: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1967), p. 247.
  11. Ibid., p. 248.
  12. Ibid.
  13. Ibid., p. 249.
  14. Ibid.
  15. Brooke, Riders, pp. 205-06.
  16. Brooks Alexander, “Tantra: The Worship and Occult Power of Sex,” SCP Newsletter, Summer 1985, p. 6.
  17. Ibid., p. 5.
  18. Brooke, Riders, p. 206.
  19. Ibid., p. 207.
  20. cf. John Ankerberg, John Weldon, The Coming Darkness: Confronting Occult Deception (Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 1993).


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