Skt., tantra: web, woven together
Tib., rgyud: continuum, transmission, secret teaching

The variety and ambiguity we see in the terms given above has led to the many different translations and definitions of Tantra that can be found in contemporary literature, language and advertisements.

All interpretations and misconceptions aside, the term Tantra has two clearly defined ways of usage:

  1. A particular religious tradition with its roots in 4th and 5th century India; but soon spreading to Tibet, China, and Japan as well.
  2. A sacred text of either the Hindu or Buddhist Tantric tradition.

More recently, some forms of tantric teachings have also spread to Europe and the US, with a variety of Eastern and Western individuals (and couples) providing a variety of teachings and workshops. It is best to call this ‘Neo-Tantra’, since most of these teachings are rather different from the original tradition. For an in-depth discussion of both traditional Tantra and its modern offshoots, I refer interested readers to the excellent book Kiss of the Yogini by David Gordon White.