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  • Writer's pictureScarlett Demy

Aghori - "not terrifying"

Just as the true opposite of love is not hatred but indifference, so the true opposite of light is not darkness but fear of the darkness.


The darkness is like clay. A blank, black canvas onto which the unconscious mind projects its thoughts and emotions.


Tantra has always been associated with the transgressive and taboo - sexuality in the west and darkness in the east - yet Tantra is as much a core aspect of the orthodox Hinduism that denies it as the darkness is a core aspect of the light from which it arises.


The dark and transgressive is often different, unique, strange ..invoking feelings of curiosity, awe and fascination but sometimes also uncertainty, fear, attack and disdain. Take for example Edward Scissorhands, a movie character relatable to many who have experienced the feeling of being an outcast, other-than, and different because they did not adhere to the social norms of their society.


Edward’s appearance is scary and death like, yet we find out he is much kinder and innocent than he looks. He brings depth and a refreshing change to the lives of the generic suburban residents. They attempt to mold him into conformity by helping him establish a business and get on TV, but ultimately his difference is greater than his likeness. He provokes the human fears of foreignness and unfamiliarity and so is ultimately rejected and turned into an outcast once again.


A real life example of the tendency of people to denounce what is different can be found in the attitude towards the Aghoris of India.


The Aghori Tantrikas are a perfect example of the Tantric scorpionic, taboo traits of sex and death. Sleeping in cremation grounds (śmaśāna), performing sexual rites with corpses, drinking and eating human waste, making bowls out of human skulls, and wearing nothing but a coat of ash on their naked bodies. They are self imposed outcasts.


This kapalika Shaiva sect of Tantra exemplifies non duality in its own way. As the monk Hari Baba explained, human babies of all societies are without discrimination. They will play as much in their own filth as with the toys around them. Children become progressively discriminating as they grow older and learn the culturally specific attachments and aversions of their parents.


Aghoris don’t allow this splitting in their consciousness. By recognizing purity among the profane they are able to transcend all dualities and see god in all things.


Rather than judging this extreme way of life, we can see through a non dual lense that in fact there is beauty at the core of these ideals.

Non discrimination, transcending fear, and going beyond disgust brings us closer to the non dual truth of existence. What we judge and disown in another is what we judge and disown in ourselves. Being brave enough to follow your own ideals despite resistance from the populace which seeks to envelop you in its identity leads to true freedom and Self realization.


Those who dive deeply into the darkness (darkness is not evil, and neither are the Aghoris per se) are gifted with a strength and power that the lightly treading miss out on and delay. The Aghoris are still the ones that many will seek out for their special healing and magickal abilities.



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