Monday, June 21, 2010
What is tantra ?
Lately there has been a lot of discussion in the media about Tantra. On the Jay Leno show, Sting admitted to practicing Tantra. Now more movie stars are coming out and admitting to taking part in this ancient form of Yoga, which uses sexual energy to awaken those who practice it. Any time the word “sex” is used in our culture, eyebrows rise and attention is given. Ever since the Puritans landed at Plymouth, we have been troubled by sex. For most Americans, it is the great embarrassment. It is rarely talked about with any real intelligence. Most of us learned about sex as a matter of trial and error and have been trying to get it right ever since.
True Shaivic Tantra is part of an ancient spiritual practice that elevated sexuality to a sublime meditative state. The sexual aspect was only part of a bigger experience. Some sources set the Indian Tantric origin at 3,000 or more years ago. It generally is not practiced openly and has been underground for hundreds of years. It was Goddess-based, and the Feminine reigned supreme. Some scholars and spiritual teachers express resentment at the adulteration that has occurred in the West’s interpretation of a complex spiritual practice that our culture cannot fully understand. However, Western modes of Tantra have emerged that help us refocus our sexuality as a way to connect to the Divine in each other and ourselves. As a society we are still repressed and are attempting to free ourselves from Puritan influences that made sex dirty, secretive, and dis empowering to women. Tantra is a mode of liberation and release from this guilt. It integrates our sexuality into a matrix of worshipful, prayer-like awareness. It can be a virtual conduit to the Divine, which transports the participants into a state of ecstatic bliss. A true Tantric practitioner accepts every touch and glance reverently, as a Divine gift.
Tantra is rapidly becoming a catch-phrase for an elevated sexual experience. It is now mainstream, and getting more so. Though many “gradients” of quality seem to exist, any activity that brings more reverence and respect to the world is good. Indeed, seeing our sexuality as sacred is the best antidote we know for things like pornography, perversion, and sexual abuse. Supporting a spiritual awareness that makes us whole and integrated can be a form of awakening. There are a handful of men and women who have been trained in “sexual healing”, a very real experience needed by people who have been damaged in this regard. Some Tantric practitioners integrate this activity into their sessions.
Tantric practitioners are everything from “the real deal” to people with little or not training cashing in on the term. Nonetheless, there is generally compassion and caring which can be refreshingly healing for those who are open to exploration. We have within us aspects and powers undiscovered in our de-sensitized world of indifference to the sacred. Any practice that can transform us into more loving, caring, and joyous humans is worthwhile, and bringing an honoring attitude into the bedroom can alleviate many sexual problems.
Kalu Rinpoche, the Dalai Lama’s teacher, says there are three paths to enlightenment. The fastest is sacred sexuality (Tantra). The second fastest is sacred music. The slowest but surest is meditation. Because of all the lack of clarity and wounding associated with our sexuality, the danger of misuse of our sexual selves is quite real. When the higher aspects are in control of our sexuality, movement into the heavenly realms is assured.
The fact that you have a good sex life already, and that your husband wants to explore this dimension with you could mean a quantum leap in your lovemaking and in your life. Aligning your sexual energy center with God brings that energy into your life. Imagine seeing the Divine in each other all or most of the time, and treating each other with that reverence, respect, honor, and love. The quality of energy this brings into your life is sweet, blissful, and immensely powerful.
Many see Tantra as the Yoga of Everything. People who live their life as an art form have more freedom to express themselves in refreshing and powerful ways. Our society both worships and shuns people who have learned to live this way. To take control of the way you want to live your life takes real courage. The first step begins when you say to yourself that there must be more to life than this! Some say love is only waiting for us to show up. Indeed, love is possible in every moment. On a quantum level the Universe does appear to be making love to itself.
To participate consciously in this “dance” takes it to a whole new level. The fuel for enlightenment is seen as Kundalini, or sexual fire. It rises from the base chakra in a spiraling pattern. There is much written on the effects of too much energy moving up the spine too fast. The effects on the mental/emotional aspects can indeed be stressful and sometimes more than you are ready for. Controlling the burn of passion and dedicating it to higher purposes can produce rapid transformation. From an alchemical view, transforming base instincts into spiritual essence takes significant commitment and is certainly a worthwhile goal to aspire to.
If life is a dance and we are learning the steps, Tantra could be seen as hot, smoking Salsa. High-level practitioners of Tantra see God or The Beloved dancing in the eyes of everyone. True enlivenment or enlightenment comes when the dance seeps from the bedroom into every interaction.