Even in modern day religions, or in religions that have been altered by New Age adaptations, like Tibetan Buddhism and branches of Hinduism, elements of Tantra are widely implemented and very evident. Since Tantra does not focus on cosmology and deities, it is easily combined with other religious and spiritual practices.
Given its widespread use, especially in the Western world, Tantra has more than one definition, and many of them clash with one another. Western scholars define Tantra as a form of western scholarship, and not in any relation to a religious system. They place little to no significance on its origination in Asia, nor on its connection with other spiritual practices. Those who actually practice Tantra openly reject this definition, insisting that Tantra is merely the teachings and practices found in the scriptures known as tantras. Furthermore, practitioners of Tantra believe that Tantra cannot be defined as a whole, as the Western world has tried to do, but based on each individual tantra scripture. As such, Tantra is not just a philosophy, which is the belief of many Westerns, but also a spiritual way of life. The tantra scriptures are the most vital parts of the Tantra path. A tantra is considered a tantra when it “elaborates copious and profound matters, especially relating to the principles of reality and sacred matters, and because it provides salvation” (Jain 37). Tantras refer not only to the designated scriptures that started the movement, but scriptures, practices, and rituals that were created subsequent to the origination of Tantra. Further tantras were created when practitioners had perused the primary Tantric scriptures, which are known as the agama. The agama is made up of four parts: descriptions of metaphysical knowledge (jnana), contemplative procedures (yoga), ritual regulations (kriya), and religious and ethical commands (charya). When new tantras are designed, if they are able to be placed within one of these four categories, they are usually accepted by other practitioners. These many scriptures are, in essence, the guidebook of being Tantric. The purpose of Tantra and of following these scriptures is to reach a higher level of existence, one that can be obtained by individuals other than ordained monks, which is the appeal of Tantra. Ordinary people are not exempt from achieving the highest and greatest level of existence. Tantra’s belief system focuses on reality as a whole, coupled with a single Divine Consciousness, a consciousness that individuals have, yet share with others. Moreover, as Tantra erased the line between the spiritual and the mundane, practitioners are able to experience spiritual realization in every aspect of their day-to-day lives. Tantra allows laymen to have access to the Divine Consciousness and the liberation and salvation that comes with adhering to the tantra scriptures in a normal, nonspiritual setting. The overall spiritual goal of Tantra is to “bring about an inner realization of the truth that ‘Nothing exists that is not Divine’” (Guenther & Trungpa 41). Buddhist Tantra explains it best, claiming that we are all in union with universal energy; we have everything that we need to be complete within us right now, but we just need to learn how to recognize it. This is where Tantra comes in. Every individual has the ability to be Divine, as this is their true nature, albeit untapped. It is through Tantra that individuals can reach this state of divine existence. Tantra brings liberation ignorance and from suffering, which is a common goal in Eastern-based religions, with an emphasis on the individual being the one that holds their own