Tantric Quest: An Encounter with Absolute Love
Desire: The Tantric Path to Awakening
Yoga Spandakarika: The Sacred Texts at the Origin of Tantra
Daniel Odier’s stories, understandings, and translations of Tantra are more direct than just about anything else written. Like Zen koans, encompass one couplet of the Yoga Spandakarika and you will encompass them all.
Tantra: The Path of Ecstasy
An excellent description of the original cultural traditions of Indian Tantra (one of three streams of Tantra, along with Tibetan Tantra and Kashmiri Shaivism). Shows brilliantly how great insight can be beaten into esoteric submission.
The Yoga Tradition: It’s History, Literature, Philosophy and Practice
Perhaps the best overview of yoga ever written, especially because Feuerstein balances descriptions and history with passages from original texts. Feuerstein has a real appreciation for Tantra, although his scholarly interests tend to emphasize the esoteric aspects of tantric tradition.
The Origins of Yoga and Tantra
Well-written exploration of how Tantra arose in India as religion, ritual, magic and meditation. Samuel has such a fine perspective of what inferences to draw from the available fragmentary evidence. I regard this book as a brilliant example of modern scholarship, comfortable with ambiguity and the limits of knowledge.
There is very nice review in The Magazine of Yoga. The book is much more fun than the review suggests.
The Yoga of Kashmir Shaivism: Consciousness is Everything
This is a wonderfully clear explanation of Kashmiri Shaivism, one of the main schools of Tantra. That is not to say it is easy to understand! Tantra can be almost petrified with philosophy and distinctions. If you can see through the words to the experience being referenced, this book is full of gems.
Garma C. C. Chang, ed/trans
Teachings and Practice of Tibetan Tantra
This is a short and fascinating book, for reasons the editor did not intend! The five selections move from the profound insight of the sage Tilopa to almost incomprehensible, and at times silly, instructions on practicing the Six Yogas of Naropa. Like Georg Feuerstein’s Tantra: The Path of Ecstasy which explores south Indian Tantra, It shows how original insight gathers barnacles which completely obscure the original meaning.
Lama Yeshe, Jonathan Laidlaw (editor)
Introduction to Tantra: The Transformation of Desire
This book is one of the flowers of modern, psychological Tibetan Buddhist Tantra. Covering topics such as desire, happiness, dissatisfaction, death, inspiration, and the limitations and opportunities of mind. But missing the direct experience of body and energy, how far can a psychological detour into “blissful, compassionate wisdom” go?
S. C. Banerji
A Companion to Tantra
A remarkable, exhaustive, (and exhausting!) reference book of tantric literature and ideas. The book covers Hindu, Buddhist and Shaivite tantras and authors, art, architecture, science, healing, philosophy, meditation, magic and cosmology. A book for research librarians! Yet is hows the sheer diversity of what tantra became in different cultures over many centuries.
Yoga Body: The Origins of Modern Posture Practice
A must read for all yogis. Guaranteed to send hatha-nazis with metaphysical pretensions into a foaming frenzy! Singleton explores the 1920’s roots of modern hatha practice, a practice that turns out to be rooted in a combination of British Army/Swedish gymnastics and Indian nationalism. Excellent scholarship that should help many yogis avoid the ill effects of repetitive physical stress and hopefully help shift the emphasis in Western yoga from physical accomplishment to the cultivation of body awareness.
The Splendor of Recognition: an Exploration of the Pratyabhijñā-hrḍayam, a Text on the Ancient Science of the soul
This is a graceful, scholarly and intimate explanation of the classic 11th century C.E. Tantric text. Shantananada does an absolutely terrific job of explaining the Shaivite technology of consciousness. Still, tantric metaphysics is a daunting and confusing topic when explained from inside the tradition. There are simply too many words with religious connotations and intricate meanings. And cultural baggage about mantras, words, and gurus. If you already understand the experiences referred to by the words, it’s a lovely stroll through a metaphysical garden.