In Spirit : Yoga, Tantra and Non-Duality

Exactly ten years ago, I encountered the tradition that would become the heart of my life: the non-dual Tantric Shaivism of Kashmir. I was twenty, and the evidence of this appointment was without a doubt. My daily life took a radical turn to plunge into the depths of this Hindu mystic, through the study of its principles, the practice of yoga associated with it and its transposition into every space of life.

During my years of anthropological studies, I gradually oriented all my work towards subjects related to the Indian tradition, ranging from Bollywood to the investigation of the saddhus, through that of the Sanskrit verses of Shankaracharya. I then discovered the enlightened thinkers of history who helped to make this tradition known to the West and to illuminate the beauty of Indian culture (philosophy, dance, art, sculpture and music among others) until now too much not well appreciated: René Guénon, André Padoux, Lilian Silburn et Alice Boner.

The words that come from clarity are living entities that guide the resonance of this Truth that lives in each of us. They are found in the poems of Lalla, which mixes Shaivism with Sufism, or with the great master of Kashmir Abhinavagupta, who, before his thirtieth year, was already considered as one of the most important Gurus of the Tantric tradition of his time. The mystics of the other approaches respond with the same echo that makes us plunge into ourselves, like Master Eckhart, Madame de Guyon, Juniad, Abdel Kader or Ibn Arabi. It is necessary to count Gitta Mallasz or Jacques Lusseyran, clear but without a form or a tradition, but who were also totally moved by the non-dual perspective.

As far as the moderns are concerned, some keepers of knowledge sail between academy and inspiration: Mark Dyczkowski, Bettina Baumer, Boris Marjanovic, Vivek Nath or the one who was for me a mentor in my years of study, Dr shaman Hatley. The latter, I realize today, was more than a teacher. He is one of those deeply brilliant beings who live in too few numbers, here and there some universities.

The journey is ongoing, questions never stopped, the learning process brought by life is daily and the many dreams are like a parallel world that is met when one is asleep, an access to another world loaded with meaning, messages and direct teachings. Tantric Shaivism of Kashmere is opened through the academic and practice paths. It’s a journey of every moment.

Yoga is more than the neo-spiritual gymnastics or the relaxation mainly presented on the market. It carries in it a depth that plunges the practitioner into the mysterious labyrinth of being, following this investigation of all the mystical way offers for hundreds of years. If we take a step back to see the overall picture, then we quickly realize that modern yoga is made on the habits of our culture: it is identified, it is voluntary and works by reward, like the diplomas or levels that practitioners think they can access.

But traditional yoga, one that responds to a resonance of heart and non-dual approach, is a celebration of the moment that goes beyond the very action of bhakti in its outer form. For the perspective taught in the tantras, life in itself, in essence, is devotion because nothing is low or high. The most devotional act is to place oneself as the observer-witness who celebrates each deployment with his clear gaze and who does not seek to interfere. The ultimate celebration is the abdication of oneself.

Yoga is the path that teaches how to sit in me, find the place from which we all come, intimacy without negotiation. This profound return to the Self appears when the dynamic of defence or justification gives way to the extreme presence. There is no space for the desire to relax, desire to change, desire to be more this or more that. The personal issue is the only source of my dissatisfaction and my comments. It eliminates itself in the face of yoga, the art of observing life manifesting itself. The celebration is to accompany the unfolding of life. The one who no longer resists what is presented will discover a space of functional activity that is no longer short-circuited by doubt. It will be totally guided by what needs to be done.

For the outside observer, the yoga pose seems motionless. Yet, for whoever lives from the traditional perspective, it is fully moving. When it is free of muscular compensation and is not practiced through self-affirmation, the yogi accesses a space in which the static envelope is supported by a dynamic lived in the heart of sensibility. The breath, the energy, the body substance, everything moves, empties, unfolds. If it is not a performance in a competition, it is direct access to a subtle world of flavours and forms, where opposites cohabit. Even within the body, the experience of non-duality goes beyond any verbal formulation and mental apprehension, it becomes evident in the moment.

The profound experience, whatever it may be, is not to be contrasted with maindainity or what seems to belong to the gross world. The corporality of the world is imbued with this subtlety. Even more, she is the door. Some traditions try to avoid at all costs what brings back to this corporeality – the mind and emotions are the first enemies in some Buddhist schools or the Patanjalian tradition. But for tantric, these elements are totally integrated, because in their heart, their deep dynamic is the divine fire. Behind the emotion of sadness, that of rage of anger or extreme fear hides the state of pure Consciousness. The flow of thoughts also takes place there. In other words, all manifestations come from the Consciousness, so all manifestations bring back to it. This is where the direct perspective taught by the non-dual Tantras teaches.

So why is he not liberated, the one experiencing so many emotions every day? Because we are not fully aware of the process, which makes the person identified with the manifested expression, whether being the emotion or the thought. The practitioner, on the contrary, who is aware that behind the emotion, the confusion, or the agitated state of thought, is the Consciousness, will be able to let these elements live fully. This dynamic that will bring him back to the direct source. Yoga, in its non-dual approach, enlightened by this perspective that allows the discrimination of situations, will integrate the metaphysical principles within the body and the psyche.

For the majority of people, exploration is progressive and voluntary. It takes time for the body and the psyche to decondition mechanisms. The question-answer form taking place in the workshop and the orientated practice of the asanas are guides that tend towards an untraceable truth that everyone must discover at the heart of their exploration. Without expectation, we must let ourselves be guided by the body, by the space and the floor, by the environment, finally, which will bring me back to the organic experience of the asana, that is to say the space in which there is nothing to defend. In honesty with oneself, in the non-quest for extraordinary experience, but on the contrary in the direct exploration of what everyday life offers me (emotion, confusion, mechanisms) is the most direct grace. This grace that takes me when I least expect it to flow on my cheeks and my heart tears of recognition. The absolute is invisible. It is this space beyond silence and noise, beyond acceptance or rejection, it is this space before the opposites are born.

Do not look for it, you have to let it find me. My job is to make myself available by observing my functioning of every moment: opinions, expectations, desires and prejudices. I can not see the clarity because I come from her. I cannot objectify my source, the same way that the contextual can not understand the global. On the other hand, I can see its projection – if Consciousness is the sun, that I am the tree, then the shadow that I perceive on the ground is the projection of this source. By dint of observing my mechanisms, my shadows, I will place myself from the perspective of the gaze of the Consciousness, from the one that illuminates the listening.

Faced with the evidence of life. Confidence carries me, honesty in front of myself is my grace on the exploration of this non-dual path.



The Ganga is sacred, because where it takes its source in the heart of the Himalayas, filled with the tears of the yogis. Blades of joy, tears of abdication in the face of the evidence of life, tears of absorption of the divine, tears of emotion which, when they have no more reason or justification, become tears of offerings.

The lingam in front of me, I take the lotus flower that has just bloomed in the chest. I lay it on top of the lingam, the ultimate offering. The lingam melts in me, I merge in him. The flower is the concretization of my substance, the substance is this offering. In the offering of the heart, the substance finds its source, it returns to me, dynamic of the manifestation which is reabsorbed in its essential, non-dual state “.

Mariette has a master degree in anthropology from the University of Montreal. She teaches a yoga that echoes the philosophy of non-dual tantric Shaivism from Kasmir. She is regularly travelling to India to follow up her research on esoteric traditions from the Tantras. Mariette is also a visual artist, using photography as field notes and cultural exploration.

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  1. A beautiful being and a beautiful woman as well!

    The non-dual pointing, wherever it may originate from is the pointing to Consciousness as it is, immaculate and timeless. Meister Eckhart, Ramana Maharshi, Jesus, Heraclitus and what have you, are but beings that have realized this truth.

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