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How do the tantrics know? Because some of them have been there, came back and devised the appropriate techniques to travel back and forth at will.
A Western equivalent is the technique developed by Wilhelm Reich, who was not left alone by the long arm of our societal regulators: He died in a US Federal Prison for the crime of having discovered and utilized orgone energy, something the FDA decided does not exist. Today, Reichian therapists enable their patients to explore realms of the non-physical, just as tantric techniques do. Several books by Wilhelm Reich are back in print, if you are interested to read more about his discoveries.
Taoists have developed numerous techniques for directing, manipulating and fusing non-physical energies. More than most other fellow explorers, some Taoist schools have put emphasis on demonstrating skills within the realm of our everyday life. Spin-offs such as martial arts, healing by laying-on-of-hands or the demonstrations of Kosta Danaos’ "Magus of Java"2 are testimonials to the achievements. Setting things on fire by projecting chi, stopping bullets, levitation…the list of witnessed demonstrations is endless. Practically every small-town martial arts dojo has open house weekends where they demonstrate healing with chi or some other common accomplishment of practitioners of chi gung or tai chi or one of the many variations of the theme.
Most people, however, do not believe these things to be possible. Why not? Simply because I cannot sing like Luciano Pavarotti does not make me assume opera singers and their trained voices do not exist! Ah, but that is a different story I hear some say. Well, it is not. Inner alchemy can be learned from trained masters, just as cooking can be learned. There is a difference, of course, and it depends on whether you take basic cooking classes or if you search out one of the top chefs on the planet and are accepted as an apprentice. In the end, it is your desire plus a pinch of luck, but even more so your perseverance and your discipline that will determine if one day you eat TV dinners or dine as a gourmet; sit on your meditation cushion or levitate above it.
1There are four levels to the cobra breath, this is a secret technique that can be learned through initiation by a certified teacher only. Today, there is one near you – an internet search produces a list of local schools and practitioners.
2 The book by the same title and author is available at libraries and your bookstore for reference.