Spiritual practice often brings to the surface aspects of ourselves that are extremely painful. We have a deep reservoir of emotional wounds and patterns that may be hard to accept in ourselves, and which we have consequently often ignored or denied. This forms a powerful "Shadow," to use Jung's term. As we begin to develop some aspects of tantric practice, these repressed emotions will be resurrected from the underworld of our psyche. This enables the energy bound up in them to then be addressed and potentially transformed. This can sometimes be an uncomfortable process, and it is important to accept and value ourselves even though we feel dreadful, or are frightened of or disgusted with what we see. When we practice Tantra, the dark aspects of our Shadow will almost certainly be evoked, and it requires great courage, honesty, and humility to face and transform them.
Definite emergence, therefore, is the willingness to wake up and face ourselves as we embark on the tantric path. In this willingness to face unconscious habits we also need compassion towards ourselves as we pass through periods of struggle and discomfort in our practice. Through a genuine love, self-acceptance, and sense of humor about ourselves we can potentially uncover even the darkest inner monsters. Healthy self-value and self-worth gives us a solid basis from which to explore the tantric path.
While traditional teachings speak of insights and realizations experienced on the spiritual path, it is seldom made clear that these often come through pain and turmoil. Tantra aims at transforming our most basic emotional nature, and to hold this process we must cultivate compassion for ourselves. This compassion is the recognition that we are human, that we have our qualities and failings, and that we need to value ourselves with them. Compassion towards others begins when we are able to love ourselves through our pain, and in doing so empathize with the pain of others.
~ From The Psychology of Buddhist Tantra by Rob Preece, published by Snow Lion Publications.