What is Tantra, there seems to be a world of difference in how different people are using that word?
Tantra has become a term that seems to cause much confusion in people. There are a lot of different ways in which the word Tantra gets used. To some it means a happy ending massage with a spiritual twist, to others being on an austere, disciplined path to enlightenment; still others equate the term with polyamorous communities. Some think it has to do with some type of complicated, technical sex, others think it’s about having orgies. Most people think it has to do with some sort of spiritual sex, while others understand that it is a spiritual tradition much bigger then that. Because of this array of meanings that the Western world has been giving to the word Tantra, there have been times over the last 2 decades where I have not used the word at all in relation to my work. I did not want to call myself a Tantra teacher because I was afraid I would be misunderstood. But more recently I have come to see that the right people will find me based on my writings, video and audio programs and that I need not worry about those who are looking for something else. Having been immersed in the Indian culture in my youth, I simply have come to accept that Tantra is the correct word to describe who I am in my spirituality and what I do in my life and work, no matter what others are doing and how they are using that term.
So here is a few lines to explain how I very subjectively understand Tantra. It has to be subjective, there is not such thing as the objective study of Tantra, even though I’m sure you can find scholars who would beg to differ.
Tantra was a religious sect in ancient India. Buddhists, Hindus and people from various other religions were associated with Tantric sects. What made Tantra different from other religious groups is that the tantrikas, the followers of Tantra, believed that personal fulfillment and union with God/Source, came through living, accepting, and gaining a deep understanding of all of life’s energies and experiences.
They taught that there’s nothing in life that one needs to turn away from to be spiritual. They affirmed that one can reach wholeness or enlightenment through full engagement of the senses and a deep open hearted embrace of all physical experience. Birth, death, sex, creation, destruction, –no part of the human experience was excluded or feared. Sexuality was honored as a potent form of life force energy that could be used for spiritual advancement and an understanding of the loving nature of the universe.
However, these tantrikas were not hedonists, or self indulgent — far from it. Many of their sexual practices involved much discipline, patience and diligence. Tantric masters taught their students how to use sexual energy and sexual expression consciously, with great awareness, as an opener to love, to life, to God, and all existence.
To this day there are temples in India that have on their exterior walls sculpted images of couples in various sexual acts. Those are the remnants of the era of Tantra. The religion as such has become nearly invisible in the public eye and today in the west it is often misunderstood.
I personally have an affinity to Tantra because during my years of study and practice in India, my spiritual teacher and guide lectured about Tantra continously and he instructed us in the Tantric principles of life with great enthusiasm and skill.
Taoism, which also contains many practices involving sexual energy is a ancient healing system with beliefs and practices very similar to Tantra. Taoism has its origin in China, and is especially known for it’s practices that promote health and longevity by guiding sexual energy in specific ways.
Sometimes from the questions I’m asked I get the impression that people think that Tantra and Taoism teach some sort of high tech version of sex. But really the teachings of Tantra and Taoism simply offer practices to refine the natural senses, to come closer to nature to drop into who we truly are. Just like the shamans and kahunas of old, in order to access the spirit world, practiced tuning into nature more diligently then the average tribes member, so Tantra and sacred sex require a similar deep attunement from the practitioner. Yet even if you’re not about to become a devoted Tantra student, learning some basic principles can take you a long way.
The teachings of Tantra and Taoism, amongst other things, offer the possibility of loving sex in a deeply intimate relationship that gets increasingly better and more satisfying as the years go by. Yes, this indeed exists, and no, Tantra does not equal non-monogamy. I know many long term couples who can attest to that, but the sweetest story comes from my best friend’s mother, a conservative, church-going German house wife. At 68 years old she had been married to the same man for 45 years and he was the only man ever in her life. Knowing what work I do she one day in very hushed tones confided in me. She said: ”I’m so surprised I can hardly believe it, but now that we’re retired and we have time and leisure to be together, sex just keeps getting better and better.”
And Tantra is not just for people in relationship, there are many solo practices and exercises a single person can do to become a more fulfilled, happy person with or without a partner. It can also help you prepare yourself to attract a soulmate into your life, someone with whom you are truly aligned. Great sex is an unavoidable side product of this preparation.
Ultimately the practices and teachings of Tantra and Taosim help us discover that we don’t need anyone or anything external to live in love, with vitality, serenity, and joy. Understanding Tantra is understanding the magnificence of ourselves and the unconditional love that is available to us at all times, even if we are alone in a cave or in the middle of a traffic jam in a big city.
If you want to make your life and your sex life sacred, learning about Tantra can be very helpful and it is a very joyful, uplifting journey.
My 6 hour audio program “Tantra, Sex for the Soul” offers a myriad of very practical ways in which you can open to love and life. Even though it focuses on the aspects of Tantra that promote great sex, it doesn’t stop there. It provides an overview and also goes into the nitty, gritty details of how to support sacred sex and joyful oneness in your life.
for more details about ” Tantra, Sex for the Soul” and to order go here: