Tantric Buddhists in Buenos Aires: A Case Study of Secular Religiosity among Young People

By Gaston Becerra.

Published by The International Journal of Religion and Spirituality in Society

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This paper examines the experiences of a group of people from the City of Buenos Aires, Argentina, who call themselves “Tantric practitioners”. “Tantra” is presented as the philosophy that lies within Tibetan Buddhism.
The studied population is made up of young people aged between 18 and 25 from the City of Buenos Aires, who are members of “Escuela Argentina de Tantra” (Argentine School of Tantra) and its association of initiates “Fundación MenteClara” (Clear Mind Foundation), both operating in the City of Buenos Aires.
This study was conducted between October 2009 and February 2010 using a qualitative perspective since the ultimate goal was to comprehend the actors’ experiences. The research used various tools: an initial survey followed by in-depth interviews to both young people and some key respondents (religious leaders), as well as participant observation of initiates’ meetings, and literature review about Tantrism. From the survey results we can describe tantra as a “private matter of choice or preference of the individual” (Berger, 1969) resulting in a deliberate and “rational” adoption of beliefs. Tantra provides a framework of meaning in which beliefs regarding the natural / supernatural phenomena are reconfigured, by means of an attitude to which phenomena are felt as “controllable”. Thus, initiates find a body of beliefs and practices that matches easily into their “western” cognitive schema. Quote from one young female practitioner: “Tantra provides more rational answers, which are based on physical facts and not on bullshit or quackery. They can be validated”.

Keywords: Buddhism, Tantra, Secularization, Desecration

The International Journal of Religion and Spirituality in Society, Volume 1, Issue 2, pp.97-102. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 768.714KB).

Prof. Gaston Becerra

Professor, Facultad de Ciencias Sociales, Universidad de Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Licensed in Sociology. Postgraduate studies in epistemology and philosophy. Professor at the seminar “Sociology of Childhood, Youth and Adolescents”. Research lines and interests: inter-disciplinary studies, sociology of religion, youth cultures.