Sending a happy Valentine’s day to all! This is always an interesting time of year.
As more people move towards consciousness, we witness a disillusionment with consumerism-based holidays. However, it cannot be denied that the romantic day creates an opportunity to express love in a special way. Everywhere we see flower and chocolate sales, dinner specials, and even Tantra workshops. For most, Tantra brings to mind Kama Sutra images of couples intertwined in unbelievable positions, interpretive fitness classes, and new age self-help books on mind-blowing orgasms. Though it is so much more than that.
As seen with yoga and meditation, a rather lost in the spiritual wilderness Western culture has looked to and adopted Eastern practices to find personal harmony. Tantra has emerged as part of this trend as a resolution specifically to sexuality (or lack thereof). This is because Tantra’s practices and teachings involve sexuality as intrinsic on the path to spiritual enlightenment. However, upon observing the religious sect closely as a whole, the truth is that less than ten percent of the ancient texts revolve around this aspect. The practice, which in Sanskrit literally means to “loom” or “weave,” fittingly has worked across Eastern religions since its blossoming within Hinduism and Buddhism around 500 AD. Forgoing the hierarchical asceticism of mainstream Eastern religions, Tantra emerged from common people.
While complex, it focuses on the ritual worship of deities, use of mantras and mandalas, shamanic and yogic beliefs and practices, and a revaluation of traditional beliefs, particularly surrounding the role of the body, the mind, and women. It pays great respect to women and attributes the divine female, Shakti, a necessary component in the erotic dance.
- Image via Wikipedia, Shakti
Tantra does not view sexuality as a temptation to be transcended, but as a necessary vehicle not only for procreation but for enlightenment. This is in stark contrast not only to most sects of Eastern religion, but to Western religion and culture as well. Tantra’s teachings and techniques teach us so much more than “hot” tantric sex. Though the latter shouldn’t be ignored, it would be better practiced as a means of empowerment, not multiple orgasms.
Many experts worry that with this superficial goal in mind, students may never reach liberation. Like yoga, it should not be performed with its own end in mind, but for the purpose of creating loving energy to be reflected both internally and externally. The benefits being signposts on one’s path, not the destination.
Amid dialogues concerning sexual misconduct and abuse in the spinout of the #metoo movement, it’s important to note that Tantra strives to create a path of healing for men and women. Each partner is a healer, the individual’s journey of self-care their partner’s as well.
Some students of tantric sex have experienced not only wonderful nights of love-making, but of revelations regarding past abuse and/or pain that then fostered love, trust, and compassion between the two.
In this, as Indian mystic and guru Osho put it, “[t]antra is the science of transforming ordinary lovers into soul mates.”
I think that is a lot more romantic than chocolate.
Aurora Tapp, Guest Contributor
Aurora is in the final year of completing a BA in English/Spanish at the University of Victoria. Passions include writing and literature, feminism, yoga, travel, healthy living, and food.