NEW INTERVIEW WITH ZEENA
Part 1 - "The Breaking of Taboo and Transgression of Social Norms in Religion and Culture"
FOR THE SCHOOL OF RELIGION, PHILOSOPHY AND CLASSICS
UNIVERSITY OF KWAZULU NATAL, SOUTH AFRICA
UKZN: Tantrics have been known to break taboos and transgress social norms. Is this true, and if so what are these taboos and social norms? And why?
Zeena: It depends on what kind of a Tantric you are, because there are different kinds of Tantrics. So yes, there are Tantrics who deliberately break taboos and social norms and then there are other Tantrics who, by means of their practices and the way that they practice, that to society in general, it may have the appearance of breaking social norms but in fact that is just the manifestation of the progress of their practice. Do you understand what I mean by that?
UKZN: It depends on the Tantric or the individual?
Zeena: Well, there are Tantrics who deliberately seek to do more active forms of renunciation, so transgression of social norms and breaking of taboo, and breaking of social taboos especially, is a form of renunciation.
UKZN: There are many lineages and different traditions in Tantra, and so it becomes difficult to pinpoint who does what. But what would you say is a unifying factor that makes something Tantric?
Zeena: A unifying factor is that it is feminine in nature. It acknowledges the feminine as the basis from which all the practices spring. Therefore, Tantra is by its nature, the understanding that all phenomenal existence, the universe, or cosmos, that we experience is feminine in nature. Do you know what the feminine and masculine principles represent?
UKZN: Are you referring to something like “yin-yang”?
Zeena: Yes, like that. First of all there are different energies, and also there are different principles in understanding. So the feminine principle is all that which is made manifest; the unmanifest made manifest.
UKZN: The world of the flesh?
Zeena: Not only the world of the flesh, but the world of your table, the world of your car…the phenomenal world. The material world is all feminine. It is making the non-manifest, manifest. So even men (are of the feminine energy). We have to relinquish our ideas of gender in the conventional sense. This has nothing to do with gender, it has to do with energy. So feminine energy is what creates and allows anything which is non-manifest, like an idea, to come into form, into being, to be born. So all that we experience in the world around us, absolutely everything (is feminine energy). The only way that it exists is through the feminine force.
Now what is the masculine force? That is what is not manifest. That is the area of non-manifest awareness, understanding, ideas and things like that. You can’t bind them, touch them, or move them because they are non-manifest. So in order for me to answer these questions succinctly, you must have good basis of understanding of what these laws are. They are like laws of gravity or they are like laws of electricity or they are like laws of understanding.
In Tantric Buddhism we have certain laws of understanding. They have been proven to exist and it is the same whether in ancient Indian Tantric understanding or contemporary understanding. So these are principles, these are laws, which exist and which are irrefutable. But if you don’t yet know that basis, by which Tantra operates, you will still be thinking in this kind of distorted, Western idea of Tantra.
So, let's see how we can get to these questions in a more succinct and focused way…because, you know, the breaking of taboos is not just to be reactionary to society. Its not like that. The breaking of taboos and these practices is because in order for one to reach realisation…well first, do you even understand what liberation and enlightenment actually is?
UKZN: Freedom from delusion? Restraints?
Zeena: Okay. To understand why one chooses to be a Tantric practitioner (maybe that is the core question in and of itself) there has to be an understanding of cause and effect, cyclic existence, the awareness that the reality that we think we are seeing is not reality as it really truly is. So enlightenment is seeing reality with bare awareness, non-conceptual reality.
[...to be continued in NOTES...]
The preceding is an excerpt from:
An Interview with Zeena Schreck – September & October 2013 for "The Breaking of Taboo and Transgression of Social Norms in Religion and Culture"
A Research Project by Che Chetty at the
SCHOOL OF RELIGION, PHILOSOPHY AND CLASSICS
UNIVERSITY OF KWAZULU NATAL, SOUTH AFRICA