My Life as Tantra Bensko

Since early childhood in the woods of Indiana, I have been inspired by great artists and writers, and I sought to achieve greatness myself in both fields, as well as exploring film, the healing arts and spiritual practices. All of these pursuits intertwine, leaving my artistic sense surreal, poetic, and full of the transmission of light.

I lived the life of a creative academic, attaining degrees and minoring in Art History. I taught writing in Universities, was married to a University Professor and poet, raising our wonderful son, camping out through the country on our vacations. I published my poetry prolifically, and painted, immersing myself in foreign and experimental art movies, continuing to play music, and raising my spiritual abilities. My Kundalini raised full force, and my visions and understandings of metaphysical concepts escalated. It was time to move on. My husband and I divorced, and I went on to attain my M.F.A. in poetry from Iowa, the top writing workshop in the country. I taught there as well, was a dedicated activist, and during the summers, I camped outside.

Modern civilization was making me physically ill, especially the more refined my psychic energies became. Making a living in the traditional ways no longer made sense. I had been calling my classes Deprogramming 101, and they were occasions to help students begin thinking for themselves. Inspired by how much difference I could make with my students, I felt I needed to be teaching even more profound lessons in an unfettered way. Seeking to avoid the health defying products of the modern civilization, to take the time needed to cultivate my Kundalini, and to delve into life full force, I began living outside much of the time.

My life took many directions, and I eventually co-ran an art gallery called Four Winds, in Montevallo, Alabama, and studied printmaking at the University, creating art prolifically, though the toxic fumes finally got the best of me. My spiritual adventures called me to Sedona, Arizona, where I camped in the transformational vortices in the red canyons.

My Kundalini taught me more and more as I continued to dedicate myself to intense Taoist and Tantric practices. I studied more formally, with Boddhi Avanasha, and was honored with being the first student after 40 years of seeking, that was declared ready to learn the 4th level Cobra Breath. However, as my teacher was not yet ready to do it herself, she didn’t remember it correctly. She told me to do the exercise 108 times. It is supposed to be done more like 7 times. My experiences shot beyond this world, and my healing abilities escalated even more. I studied more healing modalities to make sure I could come at the health problem from all directions. My healings began moving beyond the physical symptoms, and people began seeing visions around me, with extraordinary experiences transforming them. Numerous people wrote their stories about this, which the publisher and I collected and some were published within five spiritual books I wrote.

Many people chose me as their spiritual teacher, and I began giving Shaktipat, transmissions of energy that raise others’ Kundalini. I edited a magazine called The Mendicant, and though spiritual, it focused on humor, and whimsy, as well as exposing some of the nefarious activities of the government. I created visions in the minds of others, the specific images they needed to see to be transported to new heights of themselves. That was my art. I lived in mountain tops in Colorado, forests in Oregon with bear, and the beach with sea lions.

I taught workshops throughout the country, and took up teaching Tantra Yoga full time while living in Atlanta, and then in the mountains above Boulder.

Not being attached to the role of spiritual teacher, I am focused on working with a variety of artistic media. I was the illustrator on staff of a magazine exposing government mind control programs, continuing my lifelong political activism. I continue to write as well, and have been featured fiction writer in literary magazines. I am the art director of a multimedia magazine, Mad Hatters Review, in which I solicit artists to illustrate the literature, and find special artists to feature. I am a judge for BTDesign Awards, out of Italy, and another claim to fame is that I was the World Class Photographer for The Times Journal of Photography, out of India. I feel the spiritual energies that I have channeled to have help so many people transform their lives move through my hands into my art.

My solo show, “Reality Burn!,” has been touring through Spain for years now, to beautiful, surprising venues. Much of the show is done in what I call “Scorchvision,” which fits the theme. I burned the edges of the giclees, or the papers on which the Polaroid Transfers are made, with a blow torch. I would usually lay the papers on velvet instead of matting them and then I would burn the frame as well. Much of my art in Spain is politically based.

Feeling the toxic effects of the corruption of the world, and not being afraid to look the causes right in the face, I sometimes expressed my reaction Gothically. It was especially poignant, as my health took a severe turn for the worse, and I ended up literally paralyzed with a bout of M.E. that made for years of intense struggle.

As I could barely move much of the time, teaching gave way to art, and much of my art was done with fingers that could hardly push themselves across the computer. My disability brought me back to using my artistic talents, whenever I could manage to raise my arms in order to do so. The computer and video brought my love of experimental film to the fore, and making movies in which I Photoshopped individual scenes led me to making the style of art that I do now, which most often includes photography. I began printing giclees on an Epson 2000P printer, and publishing the images relentlessly in magazines. My art was showing shown in London, New York, Boulder, Luxembourg, and of course, Spain. I began making art films based on my images, and I also continue a delightful 15 year tradition of making comedy movies with the Wilm Brothers of Forkitude Productions.

My favorite joy has been my son, a playful activist who makes experimental film, and organizes his community into a more vital place.

I moved to San Francisco in the spring of 2004, and I plan to maintain this as my permanent home, solidly continuing my photographic art career. I write regularly about the alternative, flamboyantly creative culture of this region in my site, Bay Area Lucid. I love gallivanting around wearing absurd, surreal costumes. And taking off my costume and modeling is my primary job, helping create photographic art from the inside out. For a middle aged woman with M.E., that has been quite the feat. Because of stepping back from civilization and seeing beyond the illusions and poking my head out of the dream of human limitations, I call my art Lucid Vision and my writing Lucid Fiction. I feel the fiction we live in can itself become lucid and have a good time. I ride my red bike and I love and I laugh.

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