Don't get me wrong.
It wasn't a logical choice, there was no plan. I took the crazy route because nothing made sense.
Up until then I'd taken the path of the pandita, the intellectual.
I read books and tried to do stuff on my own.
As a child I spent a lot of time tying grass stalks together as memorials for the dead of the Vietnam war; latter I got my best friend to spend hours with me grinding up herbs symbolizing ailments and remedies.
I should have been taken away to the local wise-woman and taught how to speak to demons, but you know, life isn't perfect!
Obviously the church as a way to make offerings and to spread good will around the multiverse didn't cut the mustard for me.
Far too light-weight.
To balance up my lack of education from the wise woman, and my school diet of science, I read all of Jung- any and every book I could find.
Then all and every book on magic too.
Anything about sex, death and alchemy and the flow of psychic energy and the Kabbala (which introduced me to practice of visulisation).
But then I became a useful person, wielding the thunderbolt of a thousand volts, casting X-ray images in silver, and got married...
The meditation was a desperate attempt to endure what was unendurable.
So how did I get beyond the 'peace and calm' of the Tuesday night Buddhist meditation and into the whole yogini, kit and caboodle of 'Tantrik ritual' do I hear you ask?
No simple answer I'm sorry to say.
Everyone has to find his or her own way...
Anyway, it wasn't that easy for me to get past the facade of therapy and into the old-stuff beyond the facade, and basically it happened by accident...being in the right place at the right time and by asking the right questions.
And for three or was it four? years, I was taught ritual by a lama who had been ritual-master at Palpung monastery, and I completed the Nundro . Though my lineage is Kadgyu, I had a Nygma 'candy man' who gave me the texts and recordings of secret teachings...
I am forever indebted to the people who put so much faith in me.
..I am struggling to find a way to justify it!
1/ The first is to cast a protective circle and then to dissolve reality.
The circle is made how ever your tradition explains it, in a Tibetan ritual the protection is mind-made; a visulisation.
Reality is dissolved by the recitation of a mantra, in effect reminding oneself that this where ever and anywhere, has become Sacred space.
Just a note here: practice can be performed anywhere, there is no need for a temple, or shrine room except that it makes it easier to feel as if one has stepped into sacred space. All space is sacred; just the symbols and toys make it easier to remember that.
So why the protective circle?
All space is sacred, but many spaces are not empty (in the normal sense of the word, forget Buddhism!). There are entities we do not see, the loca-palas for instance; local deities who may take umbridge at you deciding to use their ground without permission, or without making offerings to them first.
It is best to avoid any such conflict by using a place that has been used for many years already.
So why the net?
All places are open to ghosts and other beings, geks for instance...
2/ Next the practitioner reminds herself why she is there, what is to be accomplished and why and then gets on with the next stage.
3/ One calls on all the gods to witness your intent and to bless and to help and then one calls the god you wish to worship in particular. At this stage you know that it is all mind made and a game, nevertheless continue...
Offer what the God would truly enjoy.
I guess at this point some would kill an animal to offer its blood and life-energy.
My point of view is that I can't offer anything I don't own, and I only own myself....
The next part is secret, sorry.
What happens in the secret part depends upon the practice, but usually it involves calling the Real god into oneself.
You may well ask why a God would wish to be in union with a human?
But you will have to ask someone else...
And the final stage is to dissolve everything into emptiness (in the Buddhist sense) and giving away all the blessings, slowly returning to yourself.
Now, I feel a bit mean for not expanding on the secret part.
What I've told you is common knowledge.
As Colin Low explained in his 1990 essay:
RITUAL THEORY AND TECHNIQUE
1. Open the Circle
2. Open the Gates
3. Invocation to the Powers
4. Statement of Intention and Sacrifice
5. Main Ritual
6. Dismissal of Powers
7. Close the Gates
8. Close the Circle
Colin's wit is super-dry, be warned.
I am reminded in reading his words that the 'modern' occult, took much from Buddhism.
Blavatsky, Helena Roerich and Henry Steel Olcot all added rather po-faced and portentous versions of what they thought they had heard, to the eclectic mix of rites and theory that became Theosophy.
Theosophy also gave us, Charles W. Leadbeater, who, among other things (tantrik sex for one) left us a Baedeker guiide to the astral plane.
On the other hand, Alistair Crowley would have fitted in very well with my fellow practitioners- since authentic Tibetan Buddhism is quite dark, often anarchic and we always needed renovations to the building we lived in, and no one had much money...