The similarities between the Tantras and overall tantrik philosophy and Gnosticism is uncanny. Despite my numerous studies, it is only recently that I've discovered that I'm not the only one who has made that connection, and those within the western occult have seemed to have embraced such philosophies describing the nature of "reality". Nonetheless, wisdom has a way of unveiling herself, when one is ready to perceive, and my research into both Tantrik and Gnostic literature occured in perfect timing for my own development. However, that development and understanding usually begins with the painful attempt to dissolve prior cultural-religious programming that I so romantically have held onto.
As someone who still holds devotional attachments to external objects of worship, be it Yoginis, Christ, or Shiva, any information that causes me to reassess who these beings may be, becomes an attempt to painfully synthesize such information where I need to trust my own inner resonance while expanding my horizons with new contrary information.
Information that I have come across previously have shattered my paradigm on how I perceive the G-O-D trinity of Hinduism, the Brahma (Generator), Vishnu (Operator), and Shiva (Destroyer) concept. As the Indian Buddhist monk who brought Buddhism to Tibet, Padmasambhava aka Guru Rinpoche, had stated to his consort, Lady Tsogyal, those who wish to reach for enlightenment can no longer take refuge in mundane deities, "Mahadeva, Vishnu, Mahesvara". (Padmasambhava, Dakini Teachings). Though Mahesvara may be understood differently, where the masses understand a Shiva in form that is worshiped as a necessary element through our cyclical cosmos, and the mystics understand the yogas of Shiva as a means to transcend the cosmos. Further, in stating Mahesvara (Shiva), it is also important to note that Padmasambhava's guru, or his Vajrayogini, was none other than the Mahavidya Chinnamasta, a Yogini typically associated with Shiva (as Parvati feeding her two hungry consorts).
Moreover, for the Hindu who may take assault at such statements above, Shiva himself also describes similar sentiments in his conversation with Parvati in the Kularnava Tantra where he states in describing the illusory nature of the universe, "Gods like Brahma, Visnu, Mahesa and the various Elemental Beings are also perishable". (ch.1 v.3). Shiva beautifully includes himself, understanding the transient nature of his form. Therefore, I believe the power in these teachings is to simply dissolve the external world of maya-illusion in search of the non-transient Self within. Moreover, the Hindu G-O-D complex seems to be the mode of cycles within the wheel of samsara, to generate, manage, and dissolve for further generation as a way of nature in samsara. In opposition, Tantrik philosophy seeks transcendence from samsara, including the G-O-D cycle.
Going back to Tibetan Tantra, in the Tantrik Vajrayogini, the creator deity known as Isvara, was the worldly deity who has placed his "linga/mandala" throughout the world for worship, but would obstruct anyone seeking liberation/enlightenment. In light of numerous tantras (Saiva/Buddhist), such seems true where such teachings are limited to those considered ready, who are not so attached to the worldly dominion. Through the assistance of the Vajrayogini, the hero becomes Heruka who overcomes the worldly deity Isvara. Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, Guide To Dakini Land.
Gnostic Christianity, though with many different flavors ranging from the more open Valentinian to the strict Encratities, seem to still fall under common beliefs that contradict orthodoxy. The Nag Hammadi and Dead Sea Scrolls provide a further understanding, where texts such as the Gospel of Thomas rings more like Tantrik philosophy of locating the Kingdom within than Creed of Nicea material seeking to find the Kingdom within an external being and created by an external being. Firstly, Professor Jodi Magness in her Holy Land Revealed (Greater Courses) has revealed, the dead sea scrolls holds documents including copies of the Old Testament that date to roughly 1st or 2nd Century B.C., whereas, modern Abrahamic religions that use the Old Testament use versions of the Old Testament that date to 9th or 10th century A.D. Hence, there has been a significant time lapse between the Gnostic/Essene writings and the works that modern Abrahamic religions have based their religion upon. As anyone who reads such texts and see the counter-philosophies can attest, the Gnostic works were considered "heretic" and a threat to worldly elite dominion, the Roman empire needed to silence such teachings and find a new way of control.
As a topic of discussion here, one major precinct of Gnostic philosophy is the rejection of the Creator. In the unnamed Nag Hammadi text given the modern name of On The Origin Of The World, as the true God described as infinite light created immortals, one of which was Pistis Sophia who sought to "know" or be "equal" to God, they could not equal God where the closest to God, Sophia, cast a shadow. Within that shadow, a being arose who lost in the shadow thought himself to be a god. Therefore, this being named Yaldabaoth began ignorantly creating, only knowing the voice of Sophia. This god ignorantly considered himself to be the one true god and would describe himself as such to his creation. It is interesting to note the parallels between this deity and the Puranic stories of Hindu's creator God, Brahma, who had his 5th head cut-off by Shiva for claiming to be superior due to his creation. Moreover, Brahma has a controversial relationship with Saraswati (daughter?), where Yaldabaoth's daughter Sophia rebels against the worldly king. Moreover, this Yaldabaoth is the father of Yao, an entity which calls itself YHVH (an individual being as opposed to the I Am Presence), the biblical creator god.
In other Gnostic texts and commentaries, this deity described as the "worldly deity" was considered to be the false deity, who required vehement obedience, worship, sacrifices, temples, where the true God doesn't not require any such support. Moreover, such attachment to the material world, and the worship of the creator of the material world, keeps the individual soul (glue between Matter and Spirit) trapped into the realm of matter, where the human is to be perfected through being filled with Spirit, a concept that seems to be closer to Shaktipat in Tantrik Saivism as opposed to the evangelical description of Holy Spirit as described under my protestant education.
As the creator god concedes, "Then the LORD God said, [']Behold, the man has become like one of Us, knowing good and evil; and now, he might stretch out his hand, and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever[']". (Genesis 3:22 NASB). The texts seems to be clear, the creator gods (plural) not only lied about death, but the serpent spoke the truth, and eating of the fruit was a necessary step for mankind's ascension to "knowledge" and "immortality". Moreover, these creator gods do not want Man elevated to the creators' status contrary to Christ's teachings, where Jesus himself states "Has it not been written in your Law, 'I SAID, YOU ARE GODS '?" (John 10:34 probably citing to Psalm 82:6) (The same argument is again addressed with the Tower of Babel). Therefore, the Gnostics, the secret group claiming privy to Jesus, the Essene (connection further established by psychic Edgar Cayce and hypnotherapist Dolores Cannon's clientele past life regressions), noticed the direct conflict between the creator god and Jesus, where the Gnostics praised the serpent.
In diving further into the rabbit hole, it's becoming clearer that orthodoxy has sought to suppress substantial information that counters doctrinal teachings. At the heart of such discrepancy seems to be Constantine's need to continue a broken empire, though under a new disguise, where such information was deemed "heretical" forcing groups and documents to be hidden creating mystery schools. As the Roman empire most likely usurped doctrines similar to the Library of Alexandria, where the Catholic church houses the largest private library in existence, all the while giving the public a small text to place their complete faith within, it appears information needs to be disclosed to a mass public who may not even be able to handle such information. Where the cards are overturned, and the serpent is closer than the truth than the creator god, is our consciousness ready to handle such neurological reprogramming, in a world where orthodox religion stresses blind passionate belief without understanding the nature of consciousness or the law of attraction/physics double-slit theory understanding that beliefs/consciousness effects matter.
Overall, these teachings may hint to something even deeper, as I dive further into the rabbit hole. As these beings may simply be archetypes of the mind, could this creator god, this YHVH/Brahma, be none other than simply our ego-identity where we are to transcend and transmute the material-animal instinct into higher Self via the kundalini serpent, reaching the Christ consciousness? One thing is sure, getting to the truth may be much more difficult, where many of us have been programmed to only see one side of the story, the world creators' story.
A major field of study for me has been the Shakti/Yogini cults of India, where connection with the divine through the use of powerful mantras is stressed over strict doctrines. Hence, a major drift away from Aryan-Brahmanic Hinduism, which stresses the importance of Vedic literature and external rituals (sans the controversial Atharva-Veda). Therefore, you have a strict doctrinal practice where those not observing such precincts are considered lower/outcastes and are often persecuted, versus a shamanic practice stressing power in the "here and the now" as opposed to an afterlife betterment. It seems these esoteric practices bridge the spiritual realm within the material where immediate results are sought, where exoteric stresses a better afterlife either through a heaven or higher form of birth (including caste).
It is interesting to note that these esoteric traditions stress an "oral" tradition, where a student sits with a master. Prior to my own experiences, I would assume that was due to the fact that the teacher was educated and would provide discourses. In modern times under the age of information, we have numerous sources to seek such information, where almost everything can be considered a "guru". Even in Judaism, the "oral" tradition is stressed where such may be the roots of Jewish mysticism. From my own experiences with Shakti mantras, as well as significant inner movements and expansions felt from listening to psychic channelers, and energy healers, I'm inclined to believe that the "oral" tradition is something much more than simply providing words, but something called in Hinduism as Darshan.
My own interpretation of this Darshan is like an energetic gift provided from a master to a student. Be it shaktipat, reiki, or some other form of chakra work. It's that something extra transmitted telepathically from an individual who has done significant inner work, and has the ability to trigger us in unknown ways that flower within us. Another group that I'm attempting to study include the mystical Christian traditions, where such traditions seem much closer-related to the Shakti cults of India as opposed to exoteric Christianity. From the Moravian Church, to Swedenborg who influenced Sir William Blake, to the mysterious group who many claimed Jesus was more than privy, the Essenes, it appears that many have attempted to come closer to the divine through techniques beyond simple belief and rote reading and interpretation of doctrine.
This whole concept of Darshan, or an oral aspect, where writing would be a corruption of the telepathic transmissions, seems to pervade numerous cultures, where such gifts are only provided to a chosen few deemed worthy. The oral tradition of Judaism is traced to Moses on Mt. Sinai, where such was given to a select few while the masses were provided with the doctrinal 10 commandments. Nonetheless, as historically seen and continuing through our world, this doctrine sans Darshan is taken as law, which then leads to bloodshed on a global scale accusing the opponents as law-breakers. This is seen from not only Muslims who choose a violent route based on corrupted interpretations of scripture, but Christians who refuse to turn the other cheek or treat "the least" of individuals as they would treat Jesus.
In addition, Hinduism holds the same respect, where Brahmins cans be seen as the judgmental Pharisees in the time of Christ, who only look towards doctrine as opposed to following their heart. As an example, the news has been flooded with information of Hindus using violence against Muslims for their use of cattle, given that beef is highly sacrilegious for Hindus. (Do note, I'm still attempting to find the roots of Beef-Prohibition and Cow-Worship in Hinduism, outside of agricultural purposes; If seeking Ma has taught me anything, it's to not be attached to blind devotion). From such conduct, a Cow is considered more sacred than a thought-provoking conscious Human being, typical for a culture raised under a caste-system belief system. However, such is counter to Upanisad philosophy, especially that of Advaita Vedanta, where the same atma that flows through the Muslim, flows through the Hindu, and "all that is", which is the "ocean of consciousness", Brahman-Chit. Nonetheless, the Brahmanic Pharisees would rather have us seeing doctrine or tradition, as opposed to heart-based truth. Hence, the reason why tantriks have been historically persecuted and rewritten much out of Hindu history where Professor B.N. Shastri, in his translation of The Kalikapurana, has indicated in his introduction that much of the tantrik elements have been edited out of the Puranas due to Brahmanic prejudices.
Going back to Christian mysticism, it is important to note that such groups sought a telepathic transmission from the divine itself. Just as tantriks have shaktipat seeking the blessing of Sri Vidya ("Vid" meaning "to know" or "wisdom"), these mystic Christians sought "gnosis" (defined as "to Know") to obtain Sophia ("wisdom"). Such Darshan is well beyond man-filtered, man-made, man-interpreted doctrine, tradition, and culture, which similarly countered and threatened the Pharisees.
In my further seeking of the Essenes, I'm lead to Jodi Magness' The Holy Land Revealed (Greater Courses Plus), where Professor Magness discloses religious political influence over spiritual thought as well as the drastic evolution of the polytheistic Hebrew people. As an example, the ancient Hebrews were highly influenced by neighboring cultures, where it seems that Hebrew monotheism was a result of attempting to unite differing tribes under the deity of King David's village, Jerusalem (City of Shalem, a Canaanite diety; the conquered Canaanite city in the center of the Israel tribes). Moreover, and as a side-note, modern Hebrew script looks nothing like the proto-type Hebrew, but is an adoption of Canaanite script. Professor Magness further hints to my understanding that the olden deities simply become the evil entities of the conquering cultures, where godly deities such as Baal of the Canaanites become a demon to the opponents. Therefore, the lectures show significant political interest influencing religious thought, where one must wonder what of such history and religious practices were an actual attempt to build a spiritual connection.
Moreover, Jesus further continues within the same context discussing the heart-based truth over doctrinal observations, with a similarity to Dr. Wayne Dyers, "How people treat you is their karma, how you react is yours", where Jesus states, ""Are you so lacking in understanding also? Do you not understand that whatever goes into the man from outside cannot defile him, because it does not go into his heart, but into his stomach, and is eliminated?". (Mark 7:18-19; NASB). Though Christian orthodoxy will interpret this as Jesus supporting an anything goes dietary concern, I feel that such orthodox interpretation misses the point. Jesus constantly references the "heart", which is where I feel the truth is found, where one needs to ask is an individual conducting themselves in a heart-based consciousness, or a doctrinal-traditional biased ridden consciousness. We have the ability to stomach the external world, but we need to respond from our heart. Further, given that our concept of Judgment comes from the Egyptians (adopted by Christians), where one is not judged by their actions or their beliefs, but by the weight of one's heart, I feel that Jesus was pointing towards the stark differences between religious doctrinal guidance and spiritual truths.
In a world where the priestly class attempts to hold a monopoly and superiority over spirituality, these simple spiritual truths as expressed from our real masters seem more necessary than ever, where religion has and is continually being used as a political ploy as it was during our antiquity. It is a continuing cycle which humanity has yet to break free from dogmatic shackles. As I continue seeking differing traditions, I'm left astounded in the numerous similarities between the mystical traditions, while the orthodox continue to manipulate the masses to their detriment. When it comes to our religious guidance, I'm left pondering The Who's statement of the "old boss is the same as the new boss", in a world where it seems very few are actually seeking the truth of these religions.
Overly educated and continuously exploring and revealing more behind the veil.
"It cannot be too highly emphasized that the mystic swims in the same waters in which the psychotic drowns."
-James Wasserman, The Mystery Traditions