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A Curious Calling: Lila Lilith, Tantric Alchemist

If you are in search of bliss, this should be your first stop

Written by . Published on August 15th 2011.

A Curious Calling: Lila Lilith, Tantric Alchemist

HERE’s one explanation of last week’s riots: “We have reached the twilight of a patriarchal aeon that has grown sick with its own duality, consumerism and hierarchy and is now attacking itself, collapsing on its own oppressed underbelly.” This is the answer proffered by Lila Lilith, a practicing Tantrika, Yogina and belly dancer, who will be leading workshops this summer in the practice of tantra.

This is not 101-secrets-your-lover-wants-you-to-know; what is at stake here is the fundamental nature of reality, letting go of endlessly regurgitated desire and discovering the undivided bliss of existence. “People have this misunderstanding that

tantra will improve your life in various ways,” says Lila. “Really, it is the complete opposite. Tantra is here to stop your life as you know it so you can hook into what’s really real.” Sitting beside this dreadlocked lady in ninja boots on a windy, Hampstead Heath hilltop, just a week after having my mind twisted by Mr. Out-of-Body Acamesis, I am beginning to wonder how anyone ever agreed on one reality anyway. 

By the look of your course descriptions, tantra is actually very different to what I thought, or what I have seen of tantra...
Tantra is part of an ancient view from a completely different social order. Contrary to the popular conception about tantra being weekend workshops for couples, actually tantric practice is first and foremost about coming to a recognition of impermanence and death. Tantra trains us how to use this dimension as a springing ground to self-liberate. One of the most direct opportunities we have to be enlightened is the portal that opens when we die. Enlightened meaning to wake up from the dream state we currently exist in and recognise the true nature of reality as an non-separate bliss state.

The idea is to break through the dualism of this reality. This is a dream. Like the dream when we sleep, we can wake up from this dream also. The dream state that we visit when we sleep is the same territory that we visit when we die. This is what the Tibetans have mapped out in the Tibetan Book of the Dead. They claim something different to the cosy, Christianised belief about heaven and hell that is eternal and immediate. They see a treacherous dream state that you enter because you haven’t trained your mind to recognise the fact you are dreaming whilst you’re alive. If we learn how to be lucid in this dream, while we have a body and all the senses, then we would better identify the portal when it comes when we die.

So this level of reality is no more real than a dream?
We live in a samsaric reality. Samsara is a reality based on mistaken understanding, with separation between all beings. Suffering is the root of all samsara. Suffering, in tantric terms, is relating to the existential situation that we’re in, existing as isolated entities.


This leads to feelings of lack that we try to fill through desire. There is an underlying state beneath this illusory one, but everyone has lost the plot a long time ago. And the plot is that the true nature of reality is what is called emptiness.

The true nature of reality is non-separate, non-dualistic. It is the most primordial and easiest state that we’re in. Children recognise it until a certain age when their separation is thrust upon them. A baby begins to receive a concept of a separate ‘I’ from its mother. It gets a language to differentiate things with. Our normal state becomes one of alienation, isolation and negative emotion. But according to this view, this is not a normal state. This is a delusion that we have been conditioned into believing. We can tap into the true nature of reality with experiences that give a taste of a transpersonal bliss state, where there is an expansion of the ‘I’.


Lila Lilith 

Like in love and relationships?
When we make love, we are short-circuiting our subject-object perception. For western people, sex is the most available portal because this is the only state where they can allow themselves to let go of their individualism. All these things – sublimated ejaculation, expanded orgasms – are solely so people can expand their capacity to recognise the state, until eventually this filters into your daily life and everything is an orgasm. You don’t do this for fun, the point is to wake up. People who misunderstand that completely take it in the opposite direction and attach themselves to more samsaric pleasures. This is where the concept of tantra as a spiritual form of sex or a license for hedonism comes from. It is a gross misunderstanding of a very profound spiritual principle that Tantra embodies – breaking dualistic visions by using the exact things that would usually lead us more into dualistic visions. It is a paradoxical path.


What goes on in your workshops?
I am teaching three workshops in London this summer, before going to India to open a school and temple of tantra this winter. These workshops focus on tantric philosophies and practices regarding internal alchemy, female empowerment and death. In the first workshop, called Tantric Alchemy, I teach the theoretical fundamentals of tantra, with internal, alchemical, yogic and meditation techniques for transformation of the dualistic reality back into the state of bliss.

In the women-only workshop, Holy Whore, I am reintroducing the wisdom and practices of an extinct lineage of female tantric initiators. We will explore the innate wisdom women embody through tantric internal alchemy practices specific to women and the tantric connection to other remains of the lineage like belly dancing. The aim of this workshop is to honour the holy female wisdom this lineage embodies and to reactivate this from cellular memory.

The third workshop is about death. It is called Psychopomp Training and it deals with the tantric view of death and techniques to prepare for it. The contemplation on the immanence of death is key to all tantric practice because it trains the mind to recognise the transient dream nature of the reality we exist in so we can wake up as quickly as possible. In ancient Greek, ‘phsycopomp’ means ‘conductor of souls’. A phsycopomp is one who leads the newly departed through the nether-realms of the otherworld.


Find out more about Lila Lilith and her Tantra Without Borders workshops.

 To read about more curious callings, please click here 

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