Tarka #2: On Illusion

In this issue of Tarka, On Illusion, we engage with the intersection of the modern, virtual world and the legacy of philosophy and contemplative practice that values imagination, dream states, and the significance of illusion.

Tarka Issue #2

On Illusion

  • Historical, Polemical, and Experimental Essays
  • Introductory Articles on Key Topics
  • Interviews with Pilar Jennings and Jeffery D. Long
  • Three Book Reviews
  • Articles on Practice and Translation

Articles from this Issue

Illustration by Naomi Alessandra

Adventures in Consciousness

The exact origin of dream yoga is opaque in Buddhism. Some scholars trace dream yoga back to the Buddha. Namkhai Norbu, a master of the Nyingma school of Tibetan Buddhism, says it originated in the tantras (especially the Mahamaya Tantra), which are shrouded in mystery and authorship.

Healing By Being Awake: The Shamanic Rite of Jagar in the Himalayas

Jagar comes from the Sanskrit root, jāgṛ, which means “to go on burning, to be awake, to be watchful and to awaken.” It refers to the first state of consciousness described in the Māṇḍukya Upaniṣad—waking (jāgrat). It’s distinguished from the two other states of the conscious mind—dreaming and deep sleep—by the quality of consciousness experienced.

Illustration by Naomi Alessandra


A yantra is a meditative ritual device used in South Asian Tantric traditions. It is a blueprint of energy of a specific field of consciousness. Although yantras are sometimes described as representing a deity, each yantra is more than a symbol. A yantra is a literal matrix of divine consciousness.

The Many Faces of Māyā – An Exploration of a Paradoxical Concept

Māyā: the very name conveys a sense of mystery. Cognate with the English word magic, māyā does, indeed, refer to something magical. Like magic, māyā involves the diversion of our attention from the real to the unreal, or from reality to the appearance of reality.

What is Deity Yoga?

“Deity Yoga” as a phrase is mostly associated with Tāntrik Buddhism such as Vajrāyana, where identification with a chosen deity occurs through various rituals and visualizations. The phrase has been adopted in other traditions to mean numerous things, but here, we’ll explore it from the perspective of Nondual Śākta Tantra.

From the Faculty: Pilar Jennings

Illusory experience isn’t inherently problematic. The question is whether or not we can access the part of us that has some awareness of entering into or experiencing illusion. In other words, is there a part that can offer needed reality checks, helping us stay curious about an illusory experience without conviction of its veracity?

VR and Somatic Inquiry: Visualizing or Somatizing Balance?

What is the link between Ideokinesis (and the many derived somatic approaches that use it) or other forms of visualization within somatic movement and VR?

To Love the World or Leave It – On the Problem of Inauthenticity and How to Respond to It

Indian traditions can be categorized by the degree to which they proffer a world-denying (via negativa) or a world-affirming (via positiva) perspective. Both world-deniers and world-affirmers see everyday attitudes toward the world as, in important ways, illusory; it is thus their respective responses to the world’s illusions that distinguishes them.

From the Introduction

The idea that “the world is an illusion” an that reality might not actually be as it appears may seem counterintuitive, a topic more at home in fantasy literature and science fiction than in therapy and philosophy. Yet almost every religion addresses illusion, to some degree, and highlights the imagination as an effective tool to engage with it. This suggests that perhaps there is more to truth than what is encountered through objective reasoning. Fantasy, fairy tales, myth, science fiction, sacred geometry, iconography and abstract, impressionistic art all work to communicate truths that run deeper than mere objective, surface analysis. But if imagination binds as frequently as it transforms, how are we to know which forms of illusion are true?

Stephanie Corigliano, TARKA Journal Managing Editor

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