What is Tantra? The spiritual art of love...of connecting spirit with form. It is experiencing love through through the beauty of the earth and all existence. It is about acceptance, rather than denial. It also embraces compassion...about truth within unconditional love...
What are its elements? Is Tantra a yoga? Some call it Tantra Yoga. If we see yoga as union, then I agree. Others say Tantra is not a part of Yoga, which most people see as Hatha Yoga anyway, but rather an entire lifestyle. Many in the yoga community consider Tantra "something they would rather not deal with," so to speak. So, in that sense it is not about yoga as practiced in America, unless that yoga teacher also embraces the openness an sensual nature of Tantra.
Is Tantra a religion, or a movement within religion(s), or is it entirely separate from religion? Tantra is not a religion. It is a spiritual path. When religion enters, then barriers are drawn. However, some call Tantra a religion, although there is no organized body of thought or practitioners as such. Tantra cannot be encapsulated into a religion or dogma.
What distinguishes Tantra from neo-Tantra? Historic/cultural Tantra follows many rituals, yantra and mantra. Neo-Tantra is an adaptation by a particular teacher. Few today follow classical/historic/cultural Tantra, which can be read in boring texts. Swami Virato teaches authentic Tantra for the 21st Century based upon Tantra's essential spiritual nature. However, learning technique, method and practice are the choice of the adapt. Swami Virato's sannyasins (disciples) are asked to become unconditional love. Tantra is essentially a lifestyle...a way to acknowledge our sensual and spiritual selves... To accept all...even the paradox... To open the heart totally.
What is the exact relationship between Tantra and sexuality?
In Tantra, sexuality is total and filled with bliss. However, Tantra is not about sex. Sex practiced or performed in Tantra is what is taught by most teachers of this spiritual lifestyle. In Swami Virato's experiential events sexual ignition energy is used as a tool to raise the Kundalini, or the participants bioenergy. Swami Virato simply uses this energy as a tool. At some point Tantrikas experience a bliss-filled state that can be identified as asexuality. Perhaps because of general sexual suppression by cultures and religions, ancient carvings in Nepal and India depicting unbridled sexual sharing create indelible labels. Some Tantrikas do not engage in sex at all.
Is Tantra an attitude, a belief, or a practice?
No belief. It is an attitude and there are practices, in sex, and many other areas of life that can be used as tools. Many of these include contemporary conscious psychotherapeutic methods, as well as Eastern philosophy and techniques, such as pranyama, yantra, mantra, etc., as well as simply applying expanded consciousness to one's existence.
Are there common elements in its practice, if it has any? If so, how do these relate to any common attitudes or beliefs? When you say you "practice" Tantra, what do you do exactly?
Tantra is a lifestyle of letting-go, feeling a oneness with everything. If we were to relate Tantra to life in general, we would say there is much more lay-back living, more enjoyment of our sensual nature, a sexual freedom which follows a lifestyle of let go as well. Practicing Tantra is to walk our talk...to visualize others as Divine... to meditate, get and give and receive massages ..and to say YES! more often...to seek for the purest, highest quality of life, yet to accept whatever we have...and to feel our Divine nature...God...Goddess.
Where and when did Tantra start, if it had an origin?
While there are many opinions, there is no real beginning as such. See articles and books, particularly the Hindu vedas, and the spiritual philosophy of Tilopa and Milaropa. However, it is now known that using sexual-heart energy of the Kundalini for transcendence and connecting with God or Divinity was known by many cultures throughout the world. There are references to it in both the new and old testament's of the Bible, in the Koran, the Bhagavagita and countless other spiritual texts.
Are there certain types of cultures where it arises?
Interesting question. Tantra seems to arise and gain interest when we have gone too far with our material world. More of the lay-back, natural cultures like the Cherokees and Polynesians follow a similar lifestyle. Some pagan traditions also do. Whenever civilization has filled its members with fear, Tantra becomes popular. It is something we all experience at one time or another in our lives. Now, in Russia, Tantra has become very popular.
Are there historical or fictional people associated with its origins?
You can see glimpses of Tantra in Krishna's playfulness with the dakinis, and Jesus, no doubt, was also a Tantrika based upon his words of love and his association with Mary of Magdalene and Veronica of Nazareth. Tilopa, Naropa and Milaropa also were the so-called original messengers of Classical Tantra. However, even with the writings of Sir Richard Burton, much has been lost to antiquity
Is there an 'ideal' Tantra, regardless of how it manifests today? If so, what is this like?Returning to the Biblical Garden of Eden, or a vision of Nirvana or Heaven. A community of people filled with unconditional love, bliss, a joy of life, tenderness and acceptance of all. Enjoying the good life, so to speak, unaddicted yet experiencing with totality and enlightened, of course [chuckle].
Is there an objective or ideal focus of a Tantrika? If so, what is it?
Not really. Maybe enjoying God's existence at every moment and allowing enlightenment to occur in the process. Becoming aware...awake. Follow a form of mantra or yantra meditation, eat a proper vegetarian diet, be gentle and find love within you at each moment. The lifestyle itself is the gift and path....
What are the essentials of 'Tantric philosophy' if there is such a thing?
Same as above.
How does this relate to other Eastern or Western philosophies?Most philosophies and religions have a dogmatic point-of-view of existence. Eastern and Western philosophies are tied up in dogma. Tantra is about dropping dogma, and simply being in bliss. This is difficult to talk about since all talk is the beginning of a philosophy. Philo from the Greek language means "life" and "sophy" from sophic represents study. In Tantra life in its totality is beyond study... It is experience.
Are there certain sects of religious traditions which consider themselves or are considered by others to be 'Tantric'?Yes, many. Yogi Bhajan of the 3HO organization (adapted from the Sikh tradition) considers his path "white" Tantra. Pagan traditions call it Tantrik practice, Tibetan Buddhists follow a Tantra path (commonly called yellow Tantra), and aspects of Voodoo and Santamaria use similar practices as in black Tantra, and the worship of Kali, the destroyer. This is only a sampling. There are many texts available on Classical Tantra in new age book shops and select libraries. Swami Virato follows the path of red Tantra...for the passion of flesh and spirit.
Are there Western forms of Tantra or rough equivalents?Not really. Perhaps what is being taught by most teachers today could be called Western forms. Quodoshka was a similar form practiced by Native Americans (Cherokee).
Can Tantra be found in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Taoism? If so, in what forms and characters?Yes. Read the various texts. Some say Tantra predates all of them.
Why do people get excited and mention sex when they hear the word Tantra?Because sex sells, and most Tantra teachers accent this portion of the Tantric lifestyle in their courses, workshops and seminars. However, Tantra is much more than sex.
What inhibits Tantra, what stimulates it, and what kinds of people are more likely to practice it?
Fear and a closed mind inhibit living the Tantric life, while dance, other movement, meditation and pranyama (various breathing techniques) stimulate it. People who are adventurous and open are more likely to connect to a Tantric lifestyle.
Is it possible for Tantra to die out?Never!Tantric SexA Spiritual Path of Ecstasyt a time when even the word "sex" is suspect, with rock celebrities, a former U.S. President, and numerous sports stars in the news continually wrapped in some undertone, perverted picture of sex, it's vitally important to explore the depth of this misunderstood phenomenon from a new perspective...a spiritual one.
We came into this body through the act of procreation...better known as sex. Unless you were artificially inseminated, you wouldn't be here unless a man and woman had sexual intercourse. They had it because it gave them animal pleasure, triggered by a deep spiritual pursuit. Quite basic from my point of view.
While we are in a body, this pleasure underpins much of our lives. It matters not if you are a nun, monk or prostitute. Whether you deny it or not, sex runs much of your existence. Unfortunately most of us have lost that special ingredient of this physical attraction that moves us beyond mere physical pleasure to a deeper and more satisfying wholeness.
At one time, long before so-called civilization permeated our culture, humans cultivated this pleasure to transcend into higher dimensions of consciousness, beyond the material, animal orgasm. Thousands of years ago, people had achieved a high degree of awareness and an alchemical formula for converting what we know as sex energy -- called by many names such as Chi, vital force, soul, etc. -using it to enter into a state of Divinity. Their spiritual philosophy held sexuality as a divine rite and an expression of union or yoga.
Unfortunately, as our planet moved out of the Taurien Age (4300-1700 BC) and became masculine and aggressive, it also lost this deep spiritual connection to this vital sex energy. While sexuality touches every part of our lives, it's sad that this most pleasurable life-affirming phenomenon --the act of creating our very birth--is today tainted with fear, abuse and general negativity.
There was a time when people with an awakened consciousness practiced Tantra with an artistic and cultural lifestyle of pure bliss and harmony with each other and the universe. They lived in a state of enlightenment. Tantra, the art of spiritualizing sexuality, offers practical tools to transmute fear and attachment into love and universal power
Like the spring flower freeing itself from the frozen snow, Tantra is again budding, offering the Aquarian Age an alternative--a way to reverse the negative energy on the planet, and a way to release yourself and reach transcendence. Put simply, Tantra is the total surrender, or letting go of all mental, emotional and cultural conditioning, so that universal life energy can again flow though us like a river without any effort. It is a letting go to universal oneness...to love. When fear is removed, Tantra remains.
Tantra's HistoryThe word "Tantra" has many definitions, and perhaps its real meaning has been lost to antiquity. Some scholars claim it comes from the Sanskrit or Hindi word for fabric or tapestry, meaning that it is woven into one's life. Others say that is comes from two Sanskrit words tanoti and trayati. Tanoti means to expand consciousness, and trayati means to liberate consciousness. One might then say that Tantra expands and liberates consciousness, making it the fabric of existence.
The highest possible synthesis between love and meditation, Tantra is also the connection between the third dimension and other planes of existence beyond mere materiality. While not a religious philosophy, Tantra embraces a deep spiritual understanding of life, and an ancient art of living in harmony with existence. It is a poetic science of super sexuality that dates back thousands of years, not only to India and Tibet, but to the Far East, Polynesia, and indigenous cultures of all parts of the world! The North America's native Cherokee culture, even practiced a form of Tantra called Quadoshka. It was used as a vehicle to achieve cosmic consciousness and union with Divinity.
Tantra treats sexual energy as a loving friend, rather than something to be suppressed or talked about secretly in low tones. It does not deny sex, or consider sex a hindrance to enlightenment or Heavenly Grace. To the contrary, Tantra is the only spiritual path that says that sex is sacred, and not a sin, or something against God, whether in a marriage or not. Tantrikas are God-loving, rather than God-fearing.
There is a most beautiful word for sex in the Sanskrit language, and that is Kama, which means sex-love together, undivided and indivisible. In Tantra, sex is always loving. Almost everyone is familiar with the 7th century classic the Kama Sutra, a Tantric treatise on lovemaking. Kama is also the name of the Hindu Goddess of love. And love is what Tantra encourages--total unconditional love, including the mind, the spiritual and the body.
Letting Go To GodTantra doesn't tell you to control or suppress your sexual urges to reach God, but rather says the opposite. It supports development of this vital energy to achieve union with Divinity. The essence of Tantra is the full expression of being--a merging with, rather than a withdrawing from. It is the ultimate yoga, which is Sanskrit for union. In Tantra, the orgasm is with the universe. You become part of the primal energy of everything. In the Kama Sutra, genital contact is but one of the many kinds of intercourse. Tantrikas learn to make love with everything, letting go of all barriers to pure bliss.
Sex becomes sacred and divine when you approach it from your heart and body, rather than your mind. It is common for Tantrikas to "drop their mind" when engaging in Tantric lovemaking. When the energy comes from a space deep within you--your essential Self--it connects you to God/Goddess/All That Is...moving you into the realm of spirit.
The body is only layers of invisible energy in form, and it can be awakened if we let go to the sexual energy. This is the way of Tantra. It affirms the life energy within you in totality, so that those on this path find themselves whole and self-confident, with a positive panoramic view of everything.
Tantra changes one's view of relationships as well. Tantrikas are less co-dependent, jealous or neurotic. They tend to be harmonious, fun and energy-filled. In the way of Tantra, you also discover that the relationship you seek outside is already within you. You simply need to learn about and cultivate the Tantric vision, a vital, bliss-filled approach to sex, love and life in general.
Primal EnergyToday, many people have been exposed to the use of energy for healing, as with Chinese medicine, Reiki, Touch for Health, etc. Yet, few people, except for the Taoists, use the body's most powerful energy center--the sex center--for the achievement of divinity, immortality and enlightenment.
In Tantra, sexual energy is used as the ignition for firing the Kundalini force, the body's biological life-energy system, merging it/you with universal energy. Mystics and metaphysicians call this reaching or achieving Godhead, Nirvana, Samadhi, Mooksha or union with Divinity.
However, unlike Taoism (which actually stemmed from ancient Tantra) that says bring your energy inside for longevity, Tantra says let it go...let it all go! There is no reason to hang onto anything if eternity exists.
In Tantra, sex is used as the Cosmic union of opposites to create the polarity charge, or potential, that connects with the primordial energy from which everything in the universe arises--the totality of ALL.
On the Tantric path, we learn to use sexual energy in an extended way, not denying the physical (though nothing is really physical), but going further...deeper...higher. We dance with the electromagnetic force field of our partner, and that dance leads to Cosmic oneness. When this energy is matched and balanced correctly through a loving surrender with a partner, the sparks fly. In that moment of sexual embrace and energy exchange, a couple may achieve a Cosmic orgasm, with their essential selves exiting the body. Those who claim to read auras can often tell if people are Tantrikas. In Tantra we learn to open ourselves to others, not only on the physical but on all levels. Yes become more prominent in our vocabulary...
The basic difference between unenlightened sex and Tantra, is that Tantra declares "the kingdom of God is within your heart." In Sanskrit it is called Pinde So Brahamande, "the physical body is the temple of God, and the body is the replica or representation of the entire Cosmos."
21st Century SpiritualityContemporary society considers neurosis and deviant behavior normal, no more a problem than the common cold. Our present social and cultural structure supports separation and has created division among individuals and nations, manifesting in violence, war and in general a world of perversion, devoid of beauty and love. Western (and now even Eastern) culture uses sex for manipulation--sexy models being used to sell cars, soap and other products--while at the same time suppressing sexual expression. Who will ever forget Jana Jackson and the Super Bowl! With sex being such a powerful force, we have created the perfect environment for neurosis, and sexual violence, and violence in general.
Tantra says we can celebrate life when the idea of separation, or otherness, disappears from the body and mind, allowing people to meet on all levels of consciousness--physical, vital, mental, intellectual and spiritual. In fact, Tantric partners often consider themselves "soul partners."
Tantra, the art of spiritualizing your sexuality, offers practical tools to transmute fear and attachment into love and universal power. Jealousy, possessiveness, guilt and other negative emotions that drain your life-force energy, drop away.
While most fundamentalist religions--even Eastern, Moslem and Christian philosophies--focus on the elimination of sensual pleasures, Tantra welcomes the full expression of bodily pleasure, recognizing that in the body is hidden the "bodiless," or the spiritual. The body is only layers of invisible energy in form, and it can all be awakened if we let go to the sexual energy.
The art of Tantra should not be mistaken for material hedonism. Perhaps it could be called "spiritual hedonism," which says, "eat, drink and be merry, but with full awareness." Remain awake as you enter into sex before the old habits come and take over. Just remain conscious of the energy. Tantra says Yes! to sex, Yes! to love, and Yes! Yes! Yes! to unconditional love.
EnlightenmentNOW!If you can learn to be conscious of the body and the breath, you can become conscious of the Universe. What Buddha said can be said of Tantra, "The truth of the Universe can only be realized within the framework of the physical body."
So, while Tantra is associated with sexuality, it is essentially a merging with oneness, using the physical plane as the launch pad. We indeed create our own reality says Tantra, and this reality can be in the here and now--in the body through the Tantric orgasm. While it is possible to study Tantra for years, learning technique, meditations, and nuances, of the Tantric lifestyle, the very essence of Tantra assumes you already have all the knowledge to become enlightened immediately. DO IT NOW! Life ! wasn't meant to be a struggle.
Simply available as a path to experience full enlightenment, Tantra doesn't ask you to believe anything. In fact, it says let go of all belief systems. Seek out a teacher that can guide you through the essential experience. In the experience itself you will discover your oneness with the universe.
TANTRAMost westerners use the word "Tantra" to mean sacred sexuality. Tantra, or Neo-Tantra, as practiced in the west, borrows from many traditions including Taoism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Native American Quodoshka, Wiccan, Christian Gnosticism and more. Real "Tantra" is a rigorous spiritual discipline and a vast field of study, with the sexual aspect being an important part of it. Mystical experiences and altered states of consciousness result from many of the processes, especially the ones with sexual energy at their core. The act of ritual lovemaking is a participation in cosmic and divine processes. The experience of transcending space and time, of surpassing the phenomenal duality of spirit and matter, of recovering the primal unity, the realization of the identity of God/Goddess, Shiva/Shakti and of the manifested and unmanifested aspects of the All: these constitute the very mystery of Tantra.
The origins of Tantra can be traced back at least 20,000 years to markings on cave walls that resemble the symbols still used in Tantra today. Associated with fertility worship and paganism, early Tantric beliefs were based on observations that life itself was a result of the act of love. This simple fact is difficult for us to remember at a time when sex is considered shameful and dangerous by many.
The establishment of Tantra as a religion in India goes back to about 800 AD when the great sacred erotic temples were built. This golden age of Tantra began when the people rebelled against the stratified upper caste priesthood that controlled religious worship. The central theme of the new spirituality that swept through India was direct spiritual experience through ecstatic sexual practice, meditation and the use of sacraments. This era lasted until the invasion of India that led to the destruction of most of the Tantric temples and the killing of many of its practitioners. It has been largely an underground force in India since that time.
Many of the same issues seem to exist today as they did in India during the time that led to the golden age of Tantra . We all have an inner spiritual force that guides us. Throughout history this guidance has led us to organized religion. Unfortunately, religions sometimes lose their original essence as they become over-burdened with centuries of new ideas.
Neo-Tantra is an eclectic mix based on personal experience as was the original Tantric "anti-religion" in India. This is why it is so hard to define. What these beliefs have in common is the vision of sexuality as a spiritual force or as a pathway to direct spiritual experience. Sexuality is the vehicle, not the destination. Our true spiritual nature is the goal.
We invite you to explore further.Tantra An Academic View
by Swami Nostradamus Virato
Tantra in Buddhist and Hindu traditions was a method to activate and utilize Kundalini energy (bio-energy) for the expressed purpose of spiritual advancement. The word is a composite of tapestry, web and enlightenment. While some have dubbed Tantra a religion, that is for convenience sake. Tantra in essence defies all the tenants of a religion, while maintaining a spiritual core. And while there are indeed rituals, the rituals are for reference.
The origins and philosophy of the Tantric lifestyle can be traced to Tantric elements in both Hinduism and Buddhism, and predate Taoist philosophy. Buddhist Tantra, and Taoism are outgrowths of the original form of Tantra which began in ancient India.
Today, Tantra has re-emerged in western culture as an alternative, self-help, sexual/spiritual phenomenon, and to some degree as been usurped, even if in name only, with aggressive, non-loving sexual perversion, from pornography to prostitution. It is sad, but it is what it is. This is not genuine Tantra. If this be any definition at all, Tantra taps into a wider dimension of consciousness, and embraces love. It is indeed a doorway to enlightenment.
The History of Sex in India
While the essence of Tantric concepts can be traced to many parts of the world including the Native American tribe of Cherokee, who practiced Quodoushka, as well as in Polynesia, and elsewhere, one history of ritual sex can be traced back to the Harrapan tribe of the Indus Valley (4000 BCE --2000 BCE). They were agrarians who worshipped the power of the feminine, which they associated with fertility and birth. Their deity was the goddess, idolized in the form of the yoni (vulva). The Harrapan's culture was altered by the war-like nomadic Aryans who replaced the existing female deities with their male gods--often represented by the phallic lingam symbol (penis). Female deities were then relegated more to being consorts to the male gods.
Sexual intercourse was seen as a way to combine the male and female energies, which were seen as originating from the Cosmos. The manifestation of this duality are the deities Shiva (male) and Shakti (female).
Hinduism accepted an open attitude towards sex as an art and spiritual practice. The most famous pieces of Indian literature on sex is the Kamasutra. This collection of explicit sexual writings, both spiritual and practical, covers most aspects of human courtship and sexual intercourse. It was put together in this form by the sage Vatsyayana from a 150 chapter manuscript that had itself been distilled from 300 chapters that had in turn come from a compilation of some 100,000 chapters of text. The Kamasutra is thought to have been written in its final form sometime between the third and fifth century CE .
Over time, in the history of the evolution of Hinduism, almost every sexual technique conceivable was practiced and venerated in one sect or another. Fellatio, cunnilingus, prostitution, masturbation (with an impressive array of aids), anal sex, bestiality and even necrophilia were discussed, tolerated or encouraged. Against this historic backdrop, it is not surprising that Tantrism, a sect that utilized sex as a means to spiritual evolvement, would flourish.
The Birth of Tantrism
Although its true origins are unknown, there is speculation that Tantrism, like many other philosophical movements before and after, was a response to the prevailing social and political environment. At the time, only Brahmans, the highest caste, were allowed to perform Tantric rites. Many of its practices were deliberately aimed at breaking the caste system, while others flouted convention in lesser ways by using drugs, magic, and sexual intercourse as part of religious ritual.
Tantrism can also be seen as a backlash against the ideal of an ascetic lifestyle. An equally convincing argument can be made that Tantrism was a natural philosophical-theological spin-off of a religion and culture that was steeped in sexual myth.
The ancient Tantric movement peaked between 700--1200 CE. Tantrism is so called because the practitioners adopted the teachings in the Tantra scriptures thought to have been written around 300 CE. Tantrism is considered by some as a part of the group of Hindu sect, the Shaktis, who venerate the feminine. This is in contrast to the Lingayatis who primarily worship male deities.
While there is little information as to the precise number of followers that Tantrism was able to attract, speculation is that its appeal was widespread throughout Indian society some three thousand years ago. Although it is thought that originally Tantrism drew its following from the middle and lower castes, it would eventually be the Brahmans that would practice the most elite form of the belief.
Later, Tantric aficionados carried their philosophy and lifestyle to China (around 1000 CE). In the 14th century, while the Mongols ruled China, yet another stream of Tantric "missionaries" from Tibet revitalized the movement in a variation that held little of the Taoist elements of the original. The literature indicates the continued practice of Tantrism in India and China but provides little detail on the number of practitioners and depth of their practice. Specific reference is made of a Tantric sect in Bengal as recently as 1980.
I should also point out, that while scripture did indeed abound, most who lived the lifestyle had little to do with doctrine or dogma. It was, and is, far from a belief system.
The basic statement of Tantrism was that if the world was a reflection of the cosmic order, then people should seek enlightenment through experiencing it. Rather than pursuing asceticism, which was seen as a repudiation of the tactile, Tantrikas believed that a higher spiritual awareness could be achieved through indulgent (but controlled) sensory experience. The thought was that, if the world was an expression of divinity, then all in it must be divine, worthy to be worshipped rather than renounced. It was an apparently hedonistic creed, and its appeal must have been immense.
What was common of all the other different systems of the Hindu religion was that they were all ways to achieve freedom from perpetual reincarnation. The different systems accomplished this in different ways but all, with the exception of Tantrism, shared a philosophy of rejection. Among these were Nyaya, which advocated logic and clarity of thought, and Yoga, as well as Vedanta whose practitioners raised their spirituality through meditation.
Tantrism turned all of this on its head. It offered its practitioners freedom in one lifetime, not through study or meditation (at least in the lower stages), but rather through indulgence, and experiencing all that religions denied.
Acquiring Female Energy
The way to accomplish union with the divine according to Tantrism, was to become one with the "World Soul" itself. Since Tantrism was a sect of the feminine it envisioned the "World Soul" as being encapsulated in the image of the goddess (Shakti). Another source depicts the most venerated Tantric deity as being a Shiva-like figure with both male and female parts. This manner of being was known as an ardhanari (hermaphroditism). In this situation Shakti is seen as the female component of Shiva and is often viewed as being in perpetual coupling with him. But even in this scenario, it is the female energy of the god that is coveted because it is this that will augment the male energy of the Tantric practitioner and hence enhance his spirituality.
Back in the mundane earthly world, there existed a microcosm of the cosmic order. The sought-after female energy could be found in earthly women. Although all men and women had both male and female energies in them, women naturally possessed more of the female force (this is what made them women). The way to appropriate some of this energy was through sexual intercourse. "The essence of Tantra is this union of male and female energy, a union that is both mental and physical. Due adoration cannot be paid to the mother goddess unless a man has sexual intercourse with a woman, as representing the Shakti, or female energy." The perceived necessity of acquiring this balance between male and female energies led some sects to require periodic sexual liaisons between monks and nuns.
This process was deemed so crucial to spiritual advancement that temples were built for this purpose. The most famous was built in 1565 CE in Guahati, Assam and dedicated to the goddess of love Kamakhya or simply Kama. As legend has it, it is on this site that a distraught Shiva dropped the genitals of a dismembered Shakti after her death, in fond remembrance of their long love-making sessions. The inner sanctum of the temple is a cleft that represents Shakti's yoni and is kept moist by a natural spring. "Kamakhya was worshipped not only by sexual intercourse, but also in human sacrifice. Under British rule the human sacrifice was replaced by sacrificial goats."
Rituals and Practices
As in other Hindu sects, Tantric worship for some became very codified ritual. In this instance it took the form of the repetition of mantras and supervised religious ceremony. The more devoted practitioners meditated often and participated in more intricate ceremonies. While Tantra abounds with coloration and ritual, at the same time it is totally unattached to all methods. To some this is paradoxical. Indeed Tantra cannot be experienced with the mind.
A mantra is a phrase or collection of syllables said deliberately and repeatedly, like a fugue in music. It can be voiced or silent. Mantrum is used as a form of meditation or brain entrainment. Their purpose is to concentrate and direct spiritual energy, by removing or quieting mind. The most commonly used and most popular Tantric mantra is "Om Mani Padme Aum" which literally translates to "the jewel is in the lotus" or is another way of saying "the lingam is in the yoni." While most mantras have a spiritual focus, any repetition of any sounds or words may be used. In some the events I conduct, I sometimes user repetition of CO-KA-CO-LA as a meditation Tantra is also playful.
Chakrapuja which translates to "circle worship," was the basic ceremony for most Tantric practitioners. A small group of people would gather in the presence of their guru. It was the duty of the guru to supervise the proceedings and to make sure that the evening did not stray from it's holy purpose and deteriorate into an orgy. The male members of the group are referred to as vira ("heroes"), the female, as Shakti ("potencies").
The evening started with a mind heightening soma (such as wine or hashish), after which the couples proceeded to the other "four of the five enjoyments." These were: meat, grain, fruit and sexual intercourse. It is hypothesized that all five represented mild breaking of taboos of orthodoxy while connecting to the earth. The evening culminated in sexual intercourse, and it is this aspect of their worship that was most developed and which also deserves further analysis. Here is my description of the Maithuna ritual as an example of preparation.
Coitus Reservatus and Coitus ObstructusFrom the perspective of the male practitioners, sexual intercourse in these circumstances was very purposeful. There were strict guidelines to follow. The goal was to increase the concentration of female energy in the male body. This was accomplished through extreme discipline and by following a prescribed methodology.
Intercourse could only take place when the woman was sexually excited, after which, depending on the sect, the man would not ejaculate at all or would do so only after the woman had at least one, or preferably many orgasms. The reasoning derived from the Hindu belief that through intercourse, semen -- both male (bindu) and female (amrita), could be concentrated in the body. It was then preferable to redirect the semen through the body rather than outside it as this then appropriated the female energy to the benefit of the male practitioner.
The practice of coitus reservatus was referred to in Sanskrit as askanda and was represented in artwork of the time by images of a flaccid lingam known colloquially as "down penis" or nicha medhra. The famous statue of the Jain saint, Gomatesvara, is depicted with such a "pendulous" penis.
It would appear that the process was not one of mutual sharing but rather of one party gaining power at the expense of the other. Done improperly then, the ritual could have the opposite effect. Writings warn that the male stood the chance that the situation would be reversed and the woman would gain his energy and strength! Thus he who knew the secret of sexual intercourse turned the good deeds of woman to himself but he, who without knowing this, practices sexual intercourse, his good deeds woman turn into themselves.
The idea of "cultivating" sexual energy from the woman by deferring or avoiding ejaculation can be found in Taoism. Taoists believed that women had much larger sexual appetites and the capacity for multiple orgasms and hence had more sexual energy. It was assumed that a woman could experience innumerable orgasms without experiencing any physiological, psychological, or sexual harm - and still be 'enlightened', whereas a man "once he ejaculates falls into a deep sleep, totally drained of all of his strength." Therefore, a man should strive to bring a woman to many orgasms and delay his own because he would then benefit from her energy (her yin). The longer that a man could stay within the "jade chamber," and the more orgasms he could solicit from the woman, the more yin energy he could absorb.
Advice to the Male Practitioner
It is important to note that the motivation for prolonged intercourse and encouraging sexual pleasure and orgasm in women was a sly and selfish male desire to gain female yin. To attain this goal, men were instructed to learn how to delay their own orgasm for as long as possible. They were advised to use mental meditative powers, self discipline and manual intervention (coitus obstructus). To avoid "premature ejaculation" (by Tantric standards), Master Tung-hsuan, a Chinese physician in the seventh century, advised that at the last moment, "the man closes his eyes and concentrates his thoughts: he presses his tongue against the roof of his mouth, bends his back, and stretches his neck. He opens his nostril wide and squares his shoulders, closes his mouth, and sucks in his breath. Then he will not ejaculate and the semen will ascend inward on its own account."
As Tantrism spreads from India into China (700 CE), there is more evidence of advice to men on this matter. From the book, Important Matters of the Jade Chamber, we get an account of the technique for coitus obstructus. "When, during the sexual act, the man feels he is about to ejaculate, he should quickly and firmly, using the fore and middle fingers of the left hand, put pressure on the spot between scrotum and anus (called the "million dollar point"), simultaneously inhaling deeply and gnashing his teeth scores of times, without holding his breath. Then the semen will be activated but not yet emitted, it returns from the Jade Stalk and enters the brain."
Once proficient in the ways of reliably gaining female energy (without the process backfiring), the Tantric practitioner engaged in regular ritual intercourse as a way of getting constant infusions of female energy. The Tantric interpretation of events was very similar to that of the Taoists. During intercourse, preferably in one of the convoluted positions advocated, a complex interaction between the female energy and the male navel chakra resulted in the conversion of the vital but previously constrained male semen into a vital force (referred to as bindu) which then, "... whisked up through ... to the chakra at the top of the head, "the thousand-petalled lotus," which opened into the void, the eternal bliss of nothingness. Thus the true Tantric adept became one with the dual-sexed World Soul."
For the majority of practitioners, this union would seem to have been a fleeting thing. More advanced Tantric practitioners sought a more permanent blissful state by employing a more sophisticated strategy. Interestingly, the prescribed rituals were such that the (male) practitioner would eventually be free from dependence on women.
Advanced Tantric Practices
For the dedicated Tantric practitioner who wished to attain the promise of bliss in a single lifetime, the rituals were to become increasingly solitary. At first, the (male) practitioner moved up the hierarchy through an initiation ceremony that involved having ritual intercourse with specially trained women known as a dakinis. The man, now known as a sadhaka, embarked on a process of intense meditation which included "liturgies, the uttering of mantras, mental visions, yogic postures, and what one authority charmingly describes as 'manipulation of the conjoined male and female energies.'"
The goal in this last practice was to develop the male and female energies that were now part of the practitioners body by the process of what could be conceptualized as "intercourse with oneself." The same result that was achieved fleetingly through sexual intercourse with women, could now be reliably reproduced within the male body thus enabling him to reach union with the divine.
The mystique of Tantric practices has fascinated the world since the days of it's peak in India. As the practices and rituals became known by other cultures, Tantrism was claimed by the cultures that "discovered it." This appropriation was often in a "smorgasbord" fashion where bits and pieces were selectively claimed. The Chinese codified the practices into elaborate sexual manuals that could be consulted by the average citizen. Later in history, the coitus obstructus technique, was used by the Turks, Armenians, and the islanders of the Marquesas, and the North American native Cherokees.
Tantra today has little to do with these ancient text. It is continually updated by the various practitioners, teachers and performers. That is indeed the central point...Tantra is dynamic and alive, and subject to change at every moment. In my events, I usually say that Tantra invites you to "expect the unexpected," and to become one with the very experience. Hence Tantra is not about scholarly text, ritual and surely not dogma.
In the late 1970's, sex researchers, Masters and Johnson rediscovered that it was possible for men to be trained to experience the pleasure of orgasm (possibly several times) without ejaculation. When the western world "rediscovered" the same thing in very old eastern "Tantric" tradition, a renewed interest in the rituals and practices of Tantrism was sparked.
In studying history, religious or otherwise, it is important to be aware of three things (among others); The perspective an d filters of the writer, the reader's own cultural biases in trying to analyze the information presented, and the context of situation being studied. This must be considered in trying to understand Tantrism while conditioned, to one degree or another with a western point of view.
Much of the analysis of Tantrism has come from a "western" point of view which can be subtly (or overtly) tainted by the Judeo-Christian sex-negative and religious perspective. It is this perspective that leads to the interpretation of Tantrism as a "depraved" phenomena and conjures echoes of a Sodom and Gomorrah. Like any other philosophy or movement, Tantrism had its share of fanatics, but it was founded on well established practices, and served as a viable way for its practitioners to achieve spiritual enlightenment.
Regardless of the neutrality of the source, the western reader is also faced with a conceptual hurdle in studying Tantrism. There is something that will strike most as "intuitively" scandalous about "orgies" as worship. The impression that is left with most is that Tantrism was an excuse for an over-sexed society to practice its favorite form of recreation. This was precisely the response of the British during the years that they colonized India. Their cloistered Protestant Christian sensibilities were appalled by the "debauchery" around them. Indian scholars take pains to point out that Tantrism is a spiritual philosophy and not a sexual movement.
As one scholar points out, Hindu and Buddhist critics "have constantly suggested that the Tantrika uses religion as a mantle for sexual desire and debauchery; the Tantrikas have constantly answered that the complicated, elaborate, and exceedingly difficult procedure followed by them would not at all be necessary to gratify sexual desire, whose objects are much easier to obtain without any [such rigorous] trappings." In other words, if having sex was the goal, there were easier ways to do it. Again, you should recognize and respect Tantrism for what it was, a valid effort to achieve spiritual enlightenment.
What I have saved for last is this. Tantra, at its core, is a philosophy of love, and universal adoration. This state of love consciousness is thought my many to be achieved only through the process of surrender, or letting go of all attachments, and to fully experience the joy and bliss of existence. To smell the flowers, taste the wine, and enjoy beauty in al its myriad physical and spiritual forms.
Once you have assured yourself that, as much as possible, you are free of your ethnocentric blinders, you can then examine the records of history in the context of the time.
What is Tantra?
A simple question without a simple answer, and any attempt at definition will necessarily be incomplete. The roots of the word are Sanskrit:
Tan - thread, web, stretch, spread or expand, and
Tra - tool or instrument.
Tantra - tool for expansion or a weaving.
Through Tantric practice one can experience an expansion of consciousness and recognize the interconnectedness of the web of existence.At the same time, Tantra can refer to any of a number of sacred texts in the Hindu, Jain and Tibetan Buddhist traditions. Many of these texts contain detailed guidelines for spiritual practice. From this perspective, Tantra is a vast body of spiritual and physical knowledge, encompassing an array of practices, including all forms of yoga. These practices are aimed at expan- ding consciousness and liberating oneself "through life and not through escape, using the body as an instrument."
In Tantra, the energies of the body are used as the fuel for spiritual develop- ment.In the West, Tantra is often called the "Yoga of Sex." While there is a kernel of truth in this phrase, the popular press has created a misleading impression that Tantra is about having better orgasms or about becoming a better lover. Since Tantric practices are designed to expand consciousness, they can expand a person's capacity to give, receive and experience pleasure, not only in the sexual realm but in all areas of life, provided that person is willingto do the work.
Many Western Tantra teachers emphasize very powerful techniques for enhancing sexual pleasure and intimacy, while some traditional teachers discourage students from exploring sexual Tantra at all.
Spiritual SexThe Many Meanings of TantraMost People are unclear about what Tantra really is and what it can do for you. Probably the most common view is that Tantra has some connection with Oriental religion, with uninhibited sex, and with the lovemaking positions and techniques outlined in the Kama Sutra, Hinduism's oldest sex manual. To some, Tantra is a free-love cult, a survival of the psychedelic sixties; to others, it's New Age spiritual sex therapy, part of the California lifestyle, a slice of 1990s pop culture.
None of these views of Tantra are wrong outright, but none really explain what Tantra actually is. So what is Tantra? What does it mean? And, most important of all, what is its relevance to us today?
The word Tantra is Sanskrit, the sacred language of Hinduism. It derives from the root word tan, which translates as "to extend, expand, spread, continue, spin out, weave; to put forth, show, or manifest." Like the universe we inhabit, Tantra is continually expanding, spreading, and manifesting itself like a "cosmic weave," made up of different energies. We are part of this weave, as are our forefathers and foremothers, all life, and every type of energy and matter. This includes thoughts, actions, and all physical matter.
Some Definitions of Tantra
Because Tantra is a mystical subject, it is nearly impossible to define. Even eminent scholars have had a hard time explaining what Tantra actually is. The different explanations of Tantra indicate its multifaceted nature. Tantra is a spiritual science, which means it is also mystical, in its interconnectedness, the holistic wisdom link between ourselves and the universe we inhabit.
By embracing Tantra, we become more "real," more "complete." How? By recognizing and stimulating our inherent sensual spirituality, we discover parts of ourselves that have remained asleep or have been repressed. With Tantra, an energy is released that is evolutionary and "upwardly motivated." We can learn to use this energy for pleasure, for achieving our worldly goals, and for aiding our spiritual evolution.
Familiarity with Tantra can help a person to enjoy life to the fullest. It can help do away with guilt or fear, break down self imposed or limiting cultural boundaries, and guide us in our search for solutions. Tantra teaches us to become familiar with our mystical nature, and when we do so, our boundaries expand. We enter into new domains of awareness. We become empowered, more fulfilled, and more perfect.
Traditional dictionary definitions of Tantra are revealing. A Sanskrit word, Tantra is sometimes translated as "leading principle, essential part, model, system, framework,
doctrine, rule, theory, scientific work," also as "order, chief part, rule, authority, science, mystic works, magical formulas, means, expedient, stratagem, medicine." Finally, a Tantra is sometimes defined as "a type of mystical teaching set out mostly in the form of dialogs between a cosmic couple. intimate insightful dialogs, between God and Goddess, Shiva and Shakti, the male and female Tantric adepts, were at times written down and became known as Tantras. Naturally, these dialogs, being intimate, included sexual secrets as well as many other fascinating
Tantra has been well tested over thousands of years, not in worldly laboratories but in the laboratories of the human body, by Yogi scientists and Tibetan Lamas who were not driven by commerce but by the earnest desire for spiritual knowledge and liberation. Their observations and insights have been passed down to us.
The sacred Hindu and Buddhist scriptures known as Tantras provide detailed instructions on a wide range of topics, including spiritual knowledge, technology, and science. Their content is often paradoxical. In Tantra, science and mysticism go hand in hand, as do sensuality and asceticism. Just as advanced scientific treatises are difficult for the layperson to comprehend, so traditional Tantras require adequate preparation before they can be properly understood. © Nik DouglasWhat is Tantra?Part 1: The Basic of TantrismByTantrik Aghorinathji
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A NAGA SADHU
Tantra has been one of the most neglected branches of Indian spiritual studies despite the considerable number of texts devoted to this practice, which dates back to the 5th-9th century AD.
Many people still consider tantra to be full of obscenities and unfit for people of good taste. It is also often accused of being a kind of black magic. However, in reality, tantra is one of the most important Indian traditions, representing the practical aspect of the Vedic tradition.
The religious attitude of the tantriks is fundamentally the same as that of the Vedic followers. It is believed that the tantra tradition is a part of the main Vedic tree. The more vigorous aspects of Vedic religion were continued and developed in the tantras. Generally tantriks worship either Goddess Shakti or Lord Shiva.
The Meaning of "Tantra"
The word "tantra" is derived from the combination of two words "tattva" and "mantra". "Tattva" means the science of cosmic principles, while "mantra" refers to the science of mystic sound and vibrations. Tantra therefore is the application of cosmic sciences with a view to attain spiritual ascendancy. In another sense, tantra also means the scripture by which the light of knowledge is spread: Tanyate vistaryate jnanam anemna iti tantram.
There are essentially two schools of Indian scriptures — "Agama" and "Nigama". Agamas are those which are revelations while Nigama are the traditions. Tantra is an Agama and hence it is called "srutishakhavisesah", which means it is a branch of the Vedas.
The main deities worshipped are Shiva and Shakti. In tantra there is a great significance of "bali" or animal sacrifices. The most vigorous aspects of Vedic traditions evolved as an esoteric system of knowledge in the Tantras. The Atharva Veda is considered to be one of the prime tantrik scriptures.
Types & Terminology
There are 18 "Agamas", which are also referred to as Shiva tantras, and they are ritualistic in character. There are three distinct tantrik traditions — Dakshina, Vama and Madhyama. They represent the three "shaktis" or powers of Shiva and are characterised by the three "gunas" or qualities - "sattva", "rajas" and "tamas". The Dakshina tradition, characterised by the "sattva" branch of tantra is essentially for good purpose. The Madhyama, characterised by "rajas" is of mixed nature, while the Vama, characterised by "tamas" is the most impure form of tantra.
In Indian villages, tantriks are still not quite hard to find. Many of them help the villagers solve their problems. Every person who has lived in the villages or has spent his childhood there, has a story to tell. What is so easily believed in the villages might appear illogical and unscientific to the rational urban mind, but these phenomena are realities of life.
Desire for Worldly Pleasures
Tantra is different from other traditions because it takes the whole person, and his/her worldly desires into account. Other spiritual traditions ordinarily teach that desire for material pleasures and spiritual aspirations are mutually exclusive, setting the stage for an endless internal struggle. Although most people are drawn into spiritual beliefs and practices, they have a natural urge to fulfill their desires. With no way to reconcile these two impulses, they fall prey to guilt and self-condemnation or become hypocritical. Tantra offers an alternative path.
The Tantrik Approach To Life
The tantrik approach to life avoids this pitfall. Tantra itself means "to weave, to expand, and to spread", and according to tantrik masters, the fabric of life can provide true and ever-lasting fulfillment only when all the threads are woven according to the pattern designated by nature. When we are born, life naturally forms itself around that pattern. But as we grow, our ignorance, desire, attachment, fear, and false images of others and ourselves tangle and tear the threads, disfiguring the fabric. Tantra "sadhana" or practice reweaves the fabric, and restores the original pattern. This path is systematic and comprehensive. The profound science and practices pertaining to hatha yoga, pranayama, mudras, rituals, kundalini yoga, nada yoga, mantra, mandala, visualization of dieties, alchemy, ayurveda, astrology, and hundreds of esoteric practices for generating worldly and spiritual prosperity blend perfectly in the tantrik disciplines.
Next Page >How Does It Help?What is Tantra?Part 2: Uses & Abuses of TantrismByTantrik Aghorinathji
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"In the Tantras, each of Goddess Shakti's stages of manifestation are phases in the evolution of the universe." ~ JNDAS
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A NAGA SADHU
Proper recitation of mantras help invoke the natural forces to produce the desired effect. "Tantrasadhana" or tantrik meditation and worship helps one attain many supernatural powers. These powers may be used for good or for bad purposes.
Shiva & Shakti
Tantrik practices mainly aim at the illumination through the unification of polarities inherent in the world and one's self. These opposites are symbolically subsumed as "Shiva" and "Shakti" or consciousness and energy, personified as male and female forces of nature. Shiva, the Destroyer, represents universal consciousness diffused throughout the galaxies, while Shakti, the Divine Mother, is the power swinging in a celestial dance, between energy and matter, giving birth to all creation, both tangible and transcendent.
Awakening the Latent 'Shakti' in Us
Long ago, tantrik masters discovered that to be successful externally or internally we must first awaken our latent power, for only those who are strong and blessed with great stamina reach the final destination. The key to success is the Shakti — the power of the soul, the power of divine force within. Although every individual possesses an infinite and indomitable Shakti (power), most of it remains dormant. Within this Shakti, we can neither find spiritual illumination nor enjoy worldly life.
The Misuse of Tantrik Powers
Unfortunately, a large number of tantrik enthusiasts, in both the West and the East, mistakenly identify tantra as the yoga of sex, black magic, witchcraft, seduction, and an amalgam of techniques for influencing the minds of others.
This is due, at least in part, to the fact that tantra is both a spiritual path and a science. As a spiritual path, it emphasizes on the purification of mind and heart, cultivating a spiritually illuminating philosophy of life. As a science, it experiments with techniques whose efficacy depends on the precise application of "mantra" and "yantra", ritual use of specific materials, and the performance of tantrik mudras and accompanying mental exercises.
In the layman's language, such practices can be thought of as tantrik formulae. They will yield a result if properly applied, regardless of the character, spiritual understanding or intention of the practitioner. When this scientific aspect of tantra falls into the hands of charlatans, it is inevitably misused giving tantra a bad name. Fortunately, however, there are still tantrik masters, authentic scriptures to undercut such false and distorted notions and make it possible for us to gain a better understanding of this sublime path.
Tantra YogaTantra Master Aghoriji writes on Tantra Yoga Related Resources• Tantra Temples
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• Tantra: Wild Wild World!Classical Advaita Tantra Yoga tradition was fathered by Lord Sadashiva, the original expounder of Tantra, the indigenous mystical tradition of Eastern India. He is supposed to have lived around 5000 BC in Eastern India, a contention supported by archeological explorations in the area.
Sadashiva is traditionally considered the founder of Tantra and Yoga systems and the first one to introduce music, dance, medical and marriage systems to human civilization. He was a remarkable human being in whom the Supreme Being was fully manifest; as such, he was the bridge between the phenomenal and spiritual worlds, and thus fully capable of systematizing, developing and inventing tools for spiritual growth. He was so revered for his spiritual and social service accomplishments that he was elevated to a status of Divinity in India: Lord Sadashiva, the destroyer of spiritual ignorance and the Lord of Yogins.
Over the past millennia, the original teachings of Lord Sadashiva were preserved in the classical Advaita Shaiva Tantra Yoga tradition. If we define science as the rigorous inquiry into the nature of reality, Tantra would be the science of spiritual journey. The term "tantra" means liberation through expansion; thus the discipline rigorously explores all energies and their application associated with human existence and human environment. This exploration markedly does not limit itself to the intellect but uses all faculties available to humans. This acquisition of knowledge is never purely for the sake of knowledge but for the express purpose of enriching human life and for practical use in the exploration of its spiritual dimension.
Classical Tantra Yoga tradition asserts that this universe we live in, and are part of, is the manifestation of Brahma - the infinite, all-embracing, ever-blissful Supreme Conscious Being. It has been observed to manifest in two polar but interrelated ways: Shiva, the Eternal Consciousness, and Shakti, his creative power. Both of these principles cannot be distinct entities; they are two poles of the One Being experiencing itself.
According to the wish of Shiva and under the influence of Shakti, living beings identify with material and mental objects created by Shakti, and thus feel incomplete due to the lack of connection with Shiva. After they attain human life, they can perform a spiritual practice to accelerate the development of consciousness, i.e. identification with Shiva, the Eternal Consciousness.
This spiritual practice (meditation) will reveal that all manifested objects are a play of Shiva and Shakti and that both are simply two faces of one Brahma, the Supreme Conscious Being. This realization restores living beings to their original state of Eternal Bliss, which is the state of the Supreme Being or Brahma.
In fact, it is said in Sanskrit: "Brahma is Eternal Bliss." Brahma can be experienced through direct perception deep within one's own mind. Well-performed spiritual practices help explore and master the mind and eventually lead to the realization of our inherent eternally blissful existence, i.e. unity with Brahma, the Eternal Bliss.
All teachings of the Tantra Yoga tradition are preparations and directions leading one towards the unfolding of this realization. Classical Tantra Yoga tradition uses two main approaches to the realization of Brahma: The first one is simply a gradual effort to release oneself from habitual or addictive behaviors. It is a preparation for the other, subtler system of practices, called yoga. Classical yoga training teaches sophisticated methods of releasing oneself from habitual behavior and deepening one's feeling of connectedness to the Eternal Bliss. The final spiritual consummation is the direct experience of the Eternal Bliss that leads to dissolution of individuality, which is the source of all happiness.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
This article is an overview of Tantra and an in-depth look at Tantra as a religious, philosophical and magical movement in Hinduism, Jainism, Bön and Buddhism. For an in-depth look at Tantric Buddhism, please see Vajrayana. For more information about the Hindu sacred texts classified as Tantras, see Tantras.
The Sri Yantra
Tantra (Sanskrit: तन्त्र; "weave" denoting continuity), tantricism or tantrism is a religious philosophy according to which Shakti is usually the main deity worshiped, and the universe is regarded as the divine play of shakti and shiva. The word Tantra also applies to any of the scriptures commonly identified with the worship of Shakti. Tantra deals primarily with spiritual practices and ritual forms of worship, which aim at liberation from ignorance and rebirth. The tantric movement has influenced the Hindu, Bön, Buddhist, and Jain religious traditions. Tantra in its various forms has existed in South Asia, China, Japan, Tibet, Korea, Cambodia, Burma, Indonesia and Mongolia. Although he cautions against attempting a rigorous definition of tantra, David Gordon White offers the following definition:
Tantra is that Asian body of beliefs and practices which, working from the principle that the universe we experience is nothing other than the concrete manifestation of the divine energy of the Godhead that creates and maintains that universe, seeks to ritually appropriate and channel that energy, within the human microcosm, in creative and emancipatory ways.
According to Tibetan Buddhist Tantric practitioner LamaThubten Yeshe:
...each one of us is a union of all universal energy. Everything that we need in order to be complete is within us right at this very moment. It is simply a matter of being able to recognize it. This is the tantric approach.Contents[hide]1 Overview2 Hindu2.1 Evolution and involution2.2 The method3 Ritual practices3.1 Ordinary ritual3.1.1 Mantra and yantra3.1.2 Identification with deities3.2 Secret ritual3.2.1 Sexual rites4 Western views4.1 Sir John Woodroffe4.2 Further development4.3 In the modern world5 Hindu Tantric practitioners6 See also7 Notes8 References9 Further reading10 External links
There are a number of different definitions of tantra from various viewpoints, not all of them necessarily consistent. Robert Brown notes that the term tantrism is a construction of Western scholarship and that:
It is not a concept that comes from within the religious system itself, although it is generally recognized internally as different from the Vedic tradition. This immediately makes it suspect as an independent category.
Rather than a single coherent system, Tantra is an accumulation of practices and ideas which has among its characteristics the use of ritual, the use of the mundane to access the supramundane and the identification of the microcosm with the macrocosm. The Tantric practitioner seeks to use the prana (divine power) that flows through the universe (including one's own body) to attain purposeful goals. These goals may be spiritual, material or both. A practitioner of tantra considers mystical experience or the guidance of a guru imperative.
In the process of working with energy, the Tantric has various tools at hand. These include yoga, to actuate processes that will "yoke" the practitioner to the divine. Also important are the use of visualizations of the deity and verbalisation or evocation through mantras, which may be construed as seeing and singing the power into being. Identification and internalisation of the divine is enacted, often through a total identification with a deity, such that the aspirant "becomes" the Ishta-deva or meditational deity.
The Tantric tradition may be considered as either parallel to, or intertwined with, the Vedic tradition. The primary sources of written Tantric lore are the agamas, which were generally composed in four parts delineating metaphysical knowledge (jnana), contemplative procedures (yoga), ritual regulations (kriya), and ethical and religious injunctions (charya). Schools and lineages affiliated themselves with specific bodies of these agamic traditions.
André Padoux notes that in India, tantrism was marked by a rejection of the orthodox Vedic notions. Maurice Winernitz, in his review of the literature of tantra, points out that while the Indian tantric texts are not positively hostile to the Vedas, they propound that the precepts of the Vedas are too difficult for our age, and that, for that reason, an easier cult and easier doctrine have been revealed in them. Some orthodox Brahmans who accept the authority of the Vedas reject the authority of the Tantras. N. N. Bhattacharyya explains:
It is to be noticed that although later Tantric writers wanted to base their doctrines on the Vedas, the orthodox followers of the Vedic tradition invariably referred to Tantra in a spirit of denunciation, stressing its anti-Vedic character.
In contrast, the modern author Swami Nikhilananda wrote not only of the close affinity with the Vedas, but also that the development of Tantric thought shows the influence of the Upanishads, the Puranas, and Yoga.
Tantras exists in Shaiva, Vaisnava,Ganapatya, and Shakta forms, amongst others. Strictly speaking, within individual traditions tantric texts are classified as Shaiva Āgamas, Vaishnava Pāñcarātra Saṃhitās, and Shakta Tantras, but there is no clear dividing line between these works, and on a practical basis the expression Tantra is used generally for this class of works.Evolution and involution
According to Tantra, being-consciousness-bliss or Satchidananda has the power of both self-evolution and self-involution. Prakriti or 'reality' evolves into a multiplicity of creatures and things, yet at the same time always remains pure consciousness, being and bliss. In this process of evolution, Maya conceals Reality and separates it into opposites, such as conscious and unconscious, pleasant and unpleasant, and so forth. If not realised as illusion, these determining conditions bind, limit and fetter (pashu) the individual (jiva).
In this relative dimension, Shiva and Shakti are perceived as separate. However, in Tantra, even in the state of evolution Reality remains pure consciousness, being and bliss, though Tantra does not deny either the act or fact of this evolution. In fact, Tantra affirms that both the world process itself and the individual jiva are themselves Real. In this, Tantra distinguishes itself both from pure dualism and from qualified non-dualism of Vedanta.
However, evolution or the 'outgoing current' is only half of the functioning of Maya. Involution, or the 'return current', takes the jiva back toward the source or root of Reality, revealing the infinite. Tantra is understood to teach the method of changing the 'outgoing current' into the 'return current', transforming the fetters created by Maya into that which 'releases' or 'liberates'. This view underscores two maxims of Tantra: "One must rise by that by which one falls" and "the very poison that kills becomes the elixir of life when used by the wise."The method
The Tantric aim is to sublimate rather than negate relative reality. This process of sublimation consists of three phases: purification, elevation, and the "reaffirmation of identity on the plane of pure consciousness." The methods employed by the Dakshina Marga (right-hand path) are very different from the methods used in the Kaula Marga (left-hand path).
Statue of the Tantric goddess Kali from Dakshineswar, West Bengal, India; along with her Yantra.
Because of the wide range of communities covered by the term tantra, it is challenging and problematic to describe tantric practices definitively. Avalon (1918) does provide a useful dichotomy of the "Ordinary Ritual"  and the "Secret Ritual" .
Because of the wide range of communities covered by the term tantra, it is challenging and problematic to describe tantric practices of the ordinary rituals definitively. The ordinary ritual or pujamay include any of the following elements:Mantra and yantra
As in other Hindu and Buddhistyoga traditions, mantra and yantra play an important part in Tantra. The mantras and yantras are instruments to invoke specific Hindu deities such as Shiva and Kali. Similarly, puja may involve focusing on a yantra or mandala associated with a deity.Identification with deities
Tantra, being a development of early Hindu-Vedic thought, embraced the Hindu gods and goddesses, especially Shiva and Shakti, along with the Advaita philosophy that each represents an aspect of the ultimate Para Shiva, or Brahman. These deities may be worshipped externally with flowers, incense, and other offerings, such as singing and dancing; but, more importantly, are engaged as attributes of Ishta Devatameditations, the practitioners either visualizing themselves as the deity or experiencing the darshan (vision) of the deity. These Tantric practices used to form the foundation of the ritual temple dance of the devadasis, and were preserved in the Melattur style of Bharatanatyam by Guru Mangudi Dorairaja Iyer.Secret ritual
Secret ritual may include any or all of the elements of ordinary ritual either directly or substituted along with other sensate rites and themes such as a feast (food, sustenance), coitus (sexuality, procreation), charnel grounds (death, transition) and defecation, urination and vomiting (waste, renewal, fecundity). It was this sensate inclusion that fueled Zimmer's praise of Tantra as having a world-affirmative attitude:
In the Tantra, the manner of approach is not that of Nay but of Yea ... the world attitude is affirmative ... Man must approach through and by means of nature, not by rejection of nature.
In Avalon'sChapter 27: The Pañcatattva (The Secret Ritual) of Sakti and Sakta (1918), he states that the Secret Ritual (which he calls Panchatattva,Chakrapuja and Panchamakara) involves:
Worship with the Pañcatattva generally takes place in a Cakra or circle composed of men and women... sitting in a circle, the Shakti [or female practitioner] being on the Sadhaka's [male practitioner's]left. Hence it is called Cakrapuja. ...There are various kinds of Cakra -- productive, it is said, of differing fruits for the participator therein.
In this chapter, Avalon also provides a series of variations and substitutions of the Panchatattva (Panchamakara) "elements" or tattva encoded in the Tantras and various tantric traditions and affirms that there is a direct correlation to the Tantric Five Nectars and the Mahābhūta.Sexual rites
Sexual rites of Vama Marga may have emerged from early Hindu Tantra as a practical means of generating transformative bodily fluids. These constituted a vital offering to Tantric deities. Sexual rites may also have evolved from clan initiation ceremonies involving the transaction of sexual fluids. Here the male initiate was inseminated or insanguinated with the sexual emissions of the female consort, sometimes admixed with the semen of the guru. He was thus transformed into a son of the clan (kulaputra) through the grace of his consort. The clan fluid (kuladravya) or clan nectar (kulamrita) was conceived as flowing naturally from her womb. Later developments in the rite emphasised the primacy of bliss and divine union, which replaced the more bodily connotations of earlier forms. Although popularly equated with Tantra in its entirety in the West, sexual rites were practiced by a minority of sects. For many practicing lineages, these maithuna practices progressed into psychological symbolism.
When enacted as enjoined by the tantras the ritual culminates in a sublime experience of infinite awareness, by both participants. The Tantric texts specify that sex has three distinct and separate purposes—procreation, pleasure, and liberation. Those seeking liberation eschew frictional orgasm for a higher form of ecstasy, as the couple participating in the ritual, lock in a static embrace. Several sexual rituals are recommended and practiced. These involve elaborate and meticulous preparatory and purificatory rites. The act balances energies coursing within the pranicida and pingala channels in the subtle bodies of both participants. The sushumnanadi is awakened and kundalini rises upwards within it. This eventually culminates in samadhi wherein the respective individualities of each of the participants are completely dissolved in the unity of cosmic consciousness. Tantrics understand the act on multiple levels. The male and female participants are conjoined physically and represent Shiva and Shakti, the male and female principles. Beyond the physical, a subtle fusion of Shiva and Shakti energies takes place resulting in a united energy field. On an individual level, each participant experiences a fusion of one's own Shiva and Shakti energies.
The Sri Yantra (shown here in the three-dimensional projection known as Sri Meru or Maha Meru used mainly in rituals of the SrividyaShakta sects) is central to most Tantric forms of Shaktism.
Sir John Woodroffe
The first Western scholar to take the study of Tantra seriously was Sir John Woodroffe (1865–1936), who wrote about Tantra under the pen nameArthur Avalon. He is generally held as the "founding father of Tantric studies." Unlike previous Western scholars, Woodroffe was an apologist for Tantra, defending Tantra against its many critics and presenting Tantra as an ethical philosophical system greatly in accord with the Vedas and Vedanta. Woodroffe himself practised Tantra as he saw and understood it and, while trying to maintain his scholastic objectivity, was considered a student of Hindu Tantric (in particular Shiva-Shakta) tradition.Further development
Following Sir John Woodroffe, a number of scholars began to actively investigate the Tantric teachings. These included a number of scholars of comparative religion and Indology, such as: Agehananda Bharati, Mircea Eliade, Julius Evola, Carl Jung, Giuseppe Tucci and Heinrich Zimmer.
According to Hugh Urban, Zimmer, Evola and Eliade viewed Tantra as "the culmination of all Indian thought: the most radical form of spirituality and the archaic heart of aboriginal India", and regarded it as the ideal religion of the modern era. All three saw Tantra as "the most transgressive and violent path to the sacred."In the modern world
Following these first presentations of Tantra, other more popular authors such as Joseph Campbell helped to bring Tantra into the imagination of the peoples of the West. Tantra came to be viewed by some as a "cult of ecstasy", combining sexuality and spirituality in such a way as to act as a corrective force to Western repressive attitudes about sex.
As Tantra has become more popular in the West it has undergone a major transformation. For many modern readers, "Tantra" has become a synonym for "spiritual sex" or "sacred sexuality", a belief that sex in itself ought to be recognized as a sacred act which is capable of elevating its participants to a more sublime spiritual plane. Though pop-tantra may adopt many of the concepts and terminology of Indian Tantra, it often omits one or more of the following: the traditional reliance on guruparampara (the guidance of a guru), extensive meditative practice, and traditional rules of conduct - both moral and ritualistic.
According to one author and critic on religion and politics, Hugh Urban:
Since at least the time of Agehananda Bharati, most Western scholars have been severely critical of these new forms of pop Tantra. This "California Tantra" as Georg Feuerstein calls it, is "based on a profound misunderstanding of the Tantric path. Their main error is to confuse Tantric bliss ... with ordinary orgasmic pleasure.
He goes on to say that he himself does not consider this "wrong" or "false" but rather "simply a different interpretation for a specific historical situation."Tantric Sex Techniques to Reinvigorate LovemakingBy Amy Painter
Have you ever experienced a moment of sexual ecstasy? How did it make you feel? Exhilarated? Luminous? Deeply connected? Intense sexual experiences are one of our greatest sources of pleasure.
At the same time, sex is often regarded with an equal measure of fear and fascination. We may crave sexual intimacy to the core of our being, yet also take great pains to avoid it. We may wish to be touched with all of our heart, yet fear our own vulnerability. We may long to rekindle lost passion, but have forgotten how to light the fire.
The practice of Tantra shows us how to reclaim the sexual intimacy that is our birthright. And through this most ancient of arts, we may discover new joys of the erotic and expand mere moments of sexual ecstasy into a lifetime of sexual bliss. At a time when the stresses, fears and distractions of daily life threaten so many relationships, the age-old practice of Tantra shows us how to open our hearts, our emotions and our sexuality.
What Is Tantra?
Although Tantra has long been practiced in many eastern cultures, it is just beginning to flourish in the United States. Born in India more than 6,000 years ago, Tantra emerged as a rebellion against organized religion, which held that sexuality should be rejected in order to reach enlightenment.
Tantra challenged the acetic beliefs of that time, purporting that sexuality was a doorway to the divine, and that earthly pleasures, such as eating, dancing and creative expression were sacred acts.
The word Tantra means "to manifest, to expand, to show and to weave." In this context, sex is thought to expand consciousness and to weave together the polarities of male (represented by the Hindu god, Shiva), and female (embodied by the Hindu goddess, Shakti), into a harmonious whole.
Couples need not adopt the Tantric pantheon in order to benefit from the sexual wisdom of this ancient art. Tantric sexual practices teach us to prolong the act of making love and to utilize potent orgasmic energies more effectively.
Tantra is also health enhancing. "Sexual energy is one of our most powerful energies for creating health," says Christiane Northrup, M.D., author of "Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom."
"By using sexual energy consciously…we can tap into a true source of youth and vitality."
How Is Tantric Sex Unique?
In the West, we sometimes view sex as a source of recreation rather than a means of transformation. The goal may be to reach orgasm rather than to pleasure our lover or to connect with him or her more fully.
Tantric Sex Techniques (cont'd)By Amy Painter
This kind of lovemaking, say sex experts, has a distinct beginning and ending, with a climax somewhere in between and an average duration of 10 to 15 minutes. Given that women can take about 20 minutes just to reach full arousal, this type of sexual experience can be deeply unsatisfying.
In the Tantric model, the sexual experience is seen as a dance with no beginning or end. There is no goal, only the present moment of exquisite union. For this reason, lovemaking is meditative, expressive and intimate. Tantra teaches lovers how to extend the peak of their sexual ecstasy so that women and men can experience several orgasms in a single sexual encounter.
Leading teachers of Tantra suggest that even men who experience premature ejaculation can learn how to extend orgasm, and, with practice, to enjoy multiple orgasms. One of the most well known advocates of Tantra is the musician, Sting, who credits his fulfilling sex life to this ancient art. With ingredients such as love, trust and mutual respect, the magic of Tantra is available to couples of all ages and levels of sexual experience.
Beginning Tantric Sex Techniques
The following exercises will help you reconnect with your body and with your partner in a profound way. As you move through these steps, do not focus on intercourse as the ultimate goal. Instead, simply enjoy giving and receiving pleasure using gentle touch and loving words.
Communicate with your lover to discover what he or she finds most arousing. Try to spend several weeks practicing the Tantric Intimacy Exercises without necessarily engaging in intercourse. For many, experiencing these erotic exercises with no pressure to "go all the way" helps release sexual guilt, builds trust and reawakens sexual desire. Enjoy!
Tantric Sex — Welcoming LoveMake time for each other every week. Plan a sexual rendezvous at least once per week. Set aside an hour or more of uninterrupted time to be together. Although it may be difficult to find the time or to manage children, you won't be able to benefit from Tantra if your relationship is not a priority.
Create an inviting atmosphere. Whether you meet in your bedroom, living room or another space in your house, creating a sacred space for each other will help relax you and bring you into the moment. Candles, fresh flowers, erotic art, finger foods and tantalizing aromas can transform any room into a temple of sexual delight. Even something as simple as dimming the lights and playing erotic music will help create a welcoming environment.
Dress provocatively. Or, wear nothing at all. Experiment with clothing or accessories that make you feel sexy and excite your partner.
Tantric Intimacy ExercisesUse ritual to develop intimacy. Begin your journey with a ritual. This may be something as simple as feeding each other delicious foods or sharing a glass of wine in the nude. Some couples enjoy bathing together in order to attune to each other.antric Sex Techniques (cont'd)By Amy Painter
Take time to wash each other with loving care. Water relaxes the body and is a symbol of sexuality. Massaging each other is also an excellent way to fuse your energies. Or, read poetry to each other, dance, play, listen to music—work on developing new intimacy skills. Most importantly, use this time to communicate,sharing what you adore about each other. The idea is to help each partner feel loved and cherished.
In order to fully focus on each other (rather than on the goal of sex), some lovers experiment with various intimate rituals for several weeks before moving on to the next steps or engaging in intercourse. This is a wonderful way to strengthen the bonds of love and ignite passion.
Harmonize your breathing. "The only time we ever think about breathing is when we have trouble doing it, yet conscious breathing can be a powerful aid in sexual growth," according to sex therapist Marty Klein, Ph.D. of Palo Alto, California. Breathing exercises also quiet the mind and help you focus on each other.
Try this exercise: Sit quietly, cross-legged, facing each other. Rest your hands on your knees with your palms facing up. As you gaze into your partner's eyes, take soft, but deep breaths. Keep your eyes open, gazing beyond the eyes, into the soul. Although this may feel awkward at first, sustained eye contact is essential for building intimacy.
Now, pay attention to your breathing. Begin to breathe at the same pace, bringing air slowly in through your nose and exhaling through your mouth. Maintain eye contact while you breathe together. Practice this exercise until you can sustain eye contact and harmonized breathing for about 10 minutes. Then, you may move into the next exercise.
Experiment with erotic touch to fully appreciate your partner. This most pleasurable practice will help you become better lovers. Although you should continue to maintain eye contact, don't worry about keeping your breath synchronized. Breath will come back into play later. Guide your partner as you take turns stimulating each other. Describe exactly how you would like to be touched.
Share your desires in an encouraging way, making requests in a clear and loving manner. For example, ask your lover to caress your clitoris or penis (or any erogenous zone), encouraging him or her to apply more or less pressure, to stroke in a specific pattern, to use the tongue, etc. Thank your lover and let him or her know with words or sounds that you are enjoying this sensual touch.
Once you become comfortable with this process, you may wish to create a "pleasure chest." Include whatever excites you and your partner—a feather, vibrator, massage oil, blindfold, soft fabric, erotica and loving notes to each other are just a few ideas. As you pleasure each other, don't be shy about asking for something different. This is your time for appreciation, experimentation and for taking responsibility for your own fulfillment by asking for what you want.
From here, you may wish to embark on your own erotic journey. Create amorous adventures together, exploring new and creative ways to awaken each other's bodies and minds. Then, you will be ready for Tantric lovemaking.
Basic Tantric Sex Techniques
The Tantric tradition emphasizes preparation for lovemaking. Erotic rituals such as those described above focus on exchanging pleasures, awakening the senses and allowing couples to communicate on deep physical and emotional levels.
Tantric Sex Techniques (cont'd)By Amy Painter
During this time, lovers are able to establish an intimate connection that can be maintained and heightened as they transition into the sexual dimension. Intimacy exercises are a form of extended foreplay, helping titillate lovers for the sex that is to come and create the optimal conditions for Tantric lovemaking.
As you experiment with Tantric techniques, don't worry whether you are doing something the "right" way. Tantra does not judge right or wrong, good or bad. Ultimately, your pleasure is what matters most.
Moving Toward Sexual Bliss
As you transition into sex, the idea is to maintain a state of sexual ecstasy for as long as possible. Tantric lovemaking is not result-oriented, but rather, timeless and unstructured.
Maintain a deep level of intimacy. Continue to gaze into each other's eyes as much as possible. Sprinkle your lover's face, neck and shoulders with light kisses and whisper words of love and encouragement. Help each other feel loved and desired.
Keep it slow. A long, slow build helps men control orgasm and piques women's arousal. According to Tantric teacher, Robert Frey, the longer you linger in this process of building energy, the longer men can resist ejaculation. During this time, focus on each other. If your thoughts should wander, gently bring your attention back to the present, concentrating on your lover and the magic of the moment at hand.
Bring your attention back to your breath. Resist the urge to breathe quickly. Quick breathing or panting creates arousal, speeding you toward orgasm. Instead, take long, slow, deep breaths from the belly, exhaling gradually. You may match your breath to that of your partner, or try breathing alternately—as you inhale, your partner exhales. This moves energy back and forth and connects you to your lover.
Vary your positions to explore your duality. Different sex positions add to sexual pleasure and balance male and female energies. When lovers release themselves from gender roles, they are free to engage in deeper, more intimate sex. Men realize their sexual potential through surrender, by being soft and open, gentle and vulnerable. Women, in turn, can direct and initiate. As you experiment with different positions, some male-dominant, some female-dominant, explore your capacity to be strong and gentle, generous and receptive.
Multiple Orgasms for Men
Tantric sex distinguishes between the experiences of orgasm and ejaculation. Although they often happen at the same time, men are capable of having orgasms without ejaculating. Ejaculatory control is what makes it possible for Tantric lovers to capture and extend the magical energy of orgasm. By holding back, men can experience a series of "mini-orgasms."
Tantric Sex Techniques (cont'd)By Amy Painter
This does not mean that you are never to ejaculate, but that you can control your climax. The essence, say Tantric experts, is to catch a wave of energy and to surf the edge without going over. Use these strategies to stay atop the wave:
Pump the PC muscles. The pubococcygeal (PC) muscles, which run from your public bone to your tailbone, are the ultimate sex muscles. These are the same muscles used to stop the flow of urine. If properly conditioned, the PCs enable you to stop ejaculation while continuing to enjoy sex. Kegel exercises are the best way to tone the PCs.
Here's how: Contract your PC muscles three times per day, squeezing 20 to 25 repetitions. This is a simple exercise that you can do at anytime. Just don't overdo it. After a month of conditioning, try to extend the squeeze, holding each contraction for two seconds. Gradually work up to 10 seconds. Once your PCs are in top shape, you will be able to pump them in order to ride the orgasmic wave without gliding over the brink too soon.
Relax. Although it sounds paradoxical, it's important for men to stay relaxed during high states of arousal. If you feel the undulations of ejaculation, take a slow, deep breath and stop making love long enough for your arousal to subside. Relax and try to direct energy from your penis up through your body.
Take this time to talk to your partner or to draw several slow, deep breaths. By experimenting, you will discover how much "time out" you require before catching the next wave. The idea is to allow yourself enough time for the intensity to subside, but not so much that you lose your erection.
Put it all together. When you and your partner make love, thrust slowly, allowing your arousal to build gradually. Before your excitement mounts, relax for a moment, tighten your PC muscles and take a deep breath. Resume your lovemaking, continuing to generate excitement.
Then, relax again, hold your PCs and breathe. Continue to ride this swell until you near the crest. Then, open your eyes, clamp down on your PC muscles and take a deep breath to experience the joy of orgasm without ejaculating. Since these techniques take practice, expect a few "wipe outs" before you achieve mastery.
Freeing Female Orgasm
It is often said that a woman's most powerful sex organ lies between her ears. Since desire can be short-circuited by fear, guilt, stress and a host of other distracting thoughts, women often need to concentrate on feeling rather than thinking when making love. Taking breaks to pleasure each other, manually and orally, is a great way to ward off any lingering diversions and to coax one or more orgasms.
Tantric Sex Techniques (cont'd)By Amy PainterClitoral stimulation. Most women require stimulation of the clitoris and labia (the inner lips surrounding the clitoris) during sex to reach orgasm. Prolonged clitoral touch with a gentle, patient hand is, for many, the key to sexual ecstasy. Use sounds and positive words to guide your lover, showing your partner how to stroke you just so.
The sacred spot. The mythic Grafenberg Spot (G-spot) is referred to in Tantra as the "sacred spot." This potent and mysterious erogenous zone is located about two to three inches up on the front side of the vaginal channel. When your lover is aroused, slip your ring finger into her vagina allowing your fingertip to brush against the inner wall.
The G-spot is between the size of a pea and a quarter with a slightly rippled texture. For some women, though not for all, gentle stimulation can induce powerful orgasms and even female ejaculate. However, take care not to over-stimulate this sensitive spot.
Tantric Sex — A School of Many Courses
According to Tantric philosophy, lovers who have practiced these ancient techniques can learn to direct sexual energy through the body's "chakras," or energy centers. Moving the energy of orgasm through these physical channels is thought to create sensations of ecstasy throughout the body and to enhance health.
There is much to learn about this ancient art. "Tantra is a school of many courses in which there are many levels of study and an unlimited degree of potential for spiritual gain, for sexual delight, and for worldly success," state Charles and Caroline Muir, authors of "Tantra: The Art of Conscious Loving." Although they caution that Tantra does not promise instant results, for couples who wish to enrich their relationship, these practices "can release a particular kind of energy that can bring about harmony…and increase sexual pleasure and intimacy."
For more on this subject, see tantric sex.What Women Want, and How Men Can Become Better Lovers
When a couple's sex life has turned sour, physical problems may not be the only factor. There's often an emotional component too, says human sexuality expert Barnaby Barratt, Ph.D., president of the American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors and Therapists.
"From 30 years of clinical experience, I can tell you that all people — even those who think they're very cool about sex — have conflicts that create shame, guilt and anxiety."
As a rule, too, both people in a relationship contribute to the sexual problems. "Finger-pointing and blaming are never productive for improving a couple's sexual life, because inevitably in this context it takes two to tango," Barratt says.
Putting yourself in each other's position can be a helpful first step in recapturing the sexual spark, and for that, it helps to know about the following Mars-Venus differences between the sexes.
Women React Differently Than Men to ...An X-rated video
It's what they see that arouses most men. While some women find it sexy to see erotic pictures or scenes in magazines or on videos, others are totally turned off by them. Words ("I love you" are three to try) and touch (a gentle caress in a nonsexual way, for starters, or a back or foot rub) are better-bet approaches to melting your female partner's heart and preparing her for a passionate rendezvous.
A touch on the cheek
Nonsexual touch can be exciting for women, though it's seen by many men as a needless delay on the way to sex play. A soft, nongenital touch is a romantic way to convey affection, women tend to feel, so men might be better off skipping the sex video in favor of an affectionate cuddle and caress.
Watching sports while making whoopie
Women want their man to be present in the moment while making love. Forget watching football players making a great play; keep your eye on the ball in your own bedroom if you want a chance to get lucky tonight. Men can wreck the romance even with the TV turned off, by focusing too much on their erection and disconnecting from the sexual moment.
Women, make an effort to understand his sexual preferences. Leaving the TV on while making love might be a lot to ask, but understand when he views a "nongenital" touch as just a waste of time. Once in a while, skip the romantic steps and get right down to the sexual stuff. For foreplay, consider this for a compromise: a pornographic video that actually has a plot!
Need Help to Heal Your Sexual Relationship?
If none of these suggestions help to repair your sex life, you might consider turning to a sex therapist for help. To find a sex therapist certified by the American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors and Therapists, go to the organization's Web site, at www.aasect.org.
Has Your Sex Drive Pulled a Disappearing Act?Women, Ask Your Doctor ...
Women — if your sex drive has taken a turn for the worse, and your one-time turn-ons aren’t doing the trick, consider asking your health professional the following questions, based on recommendations from the National Women’s Health Resource Center. They could provide some keys for diagnosing the problem and giving you back your sexual zest.
Could bodily changes related to menopause be causing my sexual problem? If so, what can be done to minimize these sexual effects?
Could my sexual problem be related to a different medical condition, and is there a way to manage my medical problem that might help resolve my sexual dysfunction?
Could any medications I am taking be causing sexual side effects? Can my prescription be changed to minimize these effects?
What are my estrogen and androgen hormone levels, and are they possibly related to my sexual problem?
What treatments are available for my sexual problem? Should I consider hormonal therapy for my sexual problem, and if so, what hormones might work best for me?
Could counseling help resolve my sexual problem, and is there someone you would recommend that I contact?
Hindu Tantric practitioners
RamakrishnaShri Gurudev MahendranathSwami Rama Tantra: The Supreme Understanding, Osho 112 Meditations in the Vigyan Bhairav Tantra, Osho Sexual Secrets, Nik Douglas & Penny Slinger
From Sex to Super Consciousness, Osho Spiritual Sex, Nik Douglas
The Art of Sexual Ecstasy, Margot Anand The Function of the Orgasm, Wilhelm Reich Jewel In The Lotus, Sunyata Saraswati
Sacred Sexuality, Mann & Lyle The Great Book of Tantra, Indira Sinha Tantra Spirituality & Sex, Osho (Rajneesh) Ecstasy Through Tantra, John Mumford Stranger In A Strange Land, Robert Heinlein Proposition 31, Robert Rimmer
Tantra In Practice, David Gordon White Art of Tantra, Philip S. Rawson
Introduction to Tantra , Lama Yeshe The Path of the Mystic Lover, Nik Douglas The Indian Cult of Ecstasy, Philip Rawson Sacred Orgasms, Ken Stubbs
The Essential Tantra, Kenneth Ray Stubbs
Taoist Secrets of Love, Mantak Chia Shaktis in Search of Soul, Bobbi Janson The Art of Sexual Magic, Margot Anand The Yin-Yang Butterfly, Valentin Chu Sexual Energy & Yoga, Elizabeth Haich Tantric Sex, E.J. Gold & Cybele Gold
Kama Sutra, Sir Richard Burton
Tantric Mysticism of Tibet, John Blofeld Tantra the Yoga of Sex, Omar Garrison The Tree of Ecstasy, Dolores Ashcroft-Nowicki
from Ecstasy Through Tantra by Dr. Jonn Mumford