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Awesome, so can you wrap your feet over your head?

We’ve heard that one before! (cue: eye roll) Which, if you’re in the right crowd, unfailingly leads to the inevitable freaky sex position exchange, either verbal “Are you into Tantra? Like Sting and Diddy??” or the unspoken, raise of the eyebrows etc – it’s debatable which is more awkward, and annoying! (patience, yogis). Really though,  just because tantric sex conjures up poster boy Sting, his sinewy Ashtangi bod and steamy rock star stature coiled up with partner Trudie Styler for hours at a time doesn’t mean Tantra isn’t serious business! Oh come on, we see you blushing.

In her recent Wash. Sq. Journal article, Stefanie Syman, author of new yoga tell-all book The Subtle Body: The Story of Yoga in America, gives us a lesson on the history of Tantra and how it became the butt of yogi jokes, and all about, well, booty.

On Tantra’s shocking rep:

The feature that has most intrigued and shocked observers—both Indian and Western—is that Tantra enjoins the aspirant to either visualize sex or engage in acts of ritual intercourse. The purpose of this conjugation, often depicted as the union of Siva and Shakti, is to reach Samadhi, a blissful state of consciousness devoid of any sense of personal identity. Succeed, and not only do you turn your mind into a “point of awareness,” as Ram Dass once put it, you obtain special powers (siddhis).

Though pre-marital sex, especially combined with a spiritual practice, was/is a religious no-no:

The Tantras’ philosophical and ritual apparatus however, didn’t put off all Americans. If missionaries were affronted and aghast, spiritual entrepreneurs saw Tantra as an opportunity. In 1905, less than a century after Ward published his treatise, Pierre A. Bernard set up the Tantrik Order (T.O.). The Order mashed up Hatha Yoga and Tantra with sexual magic and other Western occult practices.

What’s your take or experience with the Tantra..?

PS. Sting shattered all our fantasies with a tabloid interview where he said, “Yes, you can have sex for six hours, but it includes dinner, a movie and maybe a lot of begging! Tantra is a well-documented science, it’s not just about sex. It’s a devotional exercise to express adoration. Sex is a sacred act and incredible fun.”


7 comments… add one
  • that whole tantric sex thing gets so freakin’ old….if Americans didn’t have such a f**ked up attitude (no pun intended) about sex in the first place it wouldn’t be so, well, giggly…..

    this is a REAL tantric yogi that I met at the Kumbh Mela…..http://www.indiamike.com/photopost/showphoto.php/photo/39748/ppuser/6237

    does anyone want to have sex with him?

    jeez, people, get over the giggles….

  • My teacher clarifies that any so-called Tantric practice that revolves around sex as the central tenant is “neo-Tantra”.

    Real honest to goodness traditional Tantra is nothing like what’s described above. That photo Linda included a link for? That guy is probably not practicing neo-Tantra.

    While traditional Tantra has certain aspects of sexual practice, they are not the focus of the practices and/or philosophy, and they definitely aren’t the only aspect of the practice. In fact, if you do happen to find yourself studying with an authentic Tantrika, sex is probably not going to be on the agenda for a long time. A really long time. Like, possibly not for years. And maybe not even then.

    Why? Because TANTRA DOES NOT = SEX!

    Pardon the pun, but seriously, screw people like Sting for making it sound like it is!

    So what is real authentic honest to goodness Tantra? Hmmm, I’ve been studying in a traditional Tantrik lineage since 2001 and the teachings are so vast that I can still only form what I consider to be a partial explanation.

    Real Tantra is generally considered to be the most direct (and sometimes, least comfortable) path to achieving enlightenment. It contains a bunch of philosophy and meditation/mantra and other practices (i.e. working with intoxicants etc – and FYI, sex is considered to be an intoxicant) that are a bit more extreme than your standard yogic path. There is also a very strong focus on contemplating death as part of the process of life in a very real way.

    Those studying with an authentic Tantrik teacher will often find that teacher-student relationship to be very uncomfortable. This is because the teacher WANTS your karmas to rise up and be resolved ASAP. Because part of Tantra is aiming to achieve enlightenment quickly (as opposed to taking many lifetimes) and you can not reach that final state of ‘no-return’ (no further re-births) without completely un-entangling/detaching yourself from this world. So, things can get very intense, very quickly.

    There’s a whole bunch more I could say but I really don’t want to write too much of an essay in your comment field here. Also, I don’t in any way consider myself to be an expert in the field of Tantra, as it is considered to be a life-long study and practice. Nine years is just ‘beginning’ in that sense!

  • “Because TANTRA DOES NOT = SEX!

    Pardon the pun, but seriously, screw people like Sting for making it sound like it is!”

    what svasti said!

  • Bodhi Kamal

    Lets not also forget that Ram Dass also said that 95% of what is presented as Tantra is bogus and is just a spiritual justification of lust. When he tried to take someone from lust to love, the lover got caught in the middle and caused them both much pain.

    My experience is that the chain of lust can be cut over time with the right saw. I find it quite liberating not to be pulled around by my “Wand of Light”. The strange thing is that when you go beyond chasing others, others start chasing you.

    Most Tantra methods being taught won’t free you from a wet paper bag. You’ll end up like a dog chasing its tail. Simple indulgence leads nowhere. When the student is ready the teacher arrives.

    Although the major Tantra works were all penned by men, these men were all trained by female Gurus. Women created this path and developed all the (siddhis) powers male Gurus have displayed. It’s no wonder that this path has been suppressed in our patriarchal society.

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