How can you avoid abuse in Tantra?

from Buddhadharma Magazine
from Buddhadharma Magazine

from Buddhadharma Magazine

One thing that always upsets me is abuse.

Abuse is when someone takes advantage of another person who is in a more vulnerable position. They abuse their power over someone else.

There are many forms of misuse of power in our world. Sadly it appears to be endemic to humanity. Wherever you see people using a position of authority to their own benefit, this is a form of abuse. They may be gaining money, influence, power, sex or some other desire. But to take advantage of others to fulfill our own needs is an abuse of power, no matter what form it takes.

Many people are vulnerable as they enter the world of Tantra. They enter it looking for better relationships, more intimacy, opening their sexuality and other deeply sensitive areas of life. Not only are they sensitive areas, but they are also topics in which we received little or no education growing up. This makes us even more vulnerable.

Any place in our life where we lack knowledge and understanding makes us vulnerable. In such situations we are naturally gullible and because we do not know, we are more open to persuasion of others. Whatever the “teacher” tells us, we may believe…after all, we have no idea of what’s right and nothing to compare it with.

Now there are plenty of great teachers and guides out there, people who have taken a position of authority in which to help and lead others in order to genuinely empower them and support them.

But there are also those who are taking advantage. Like many areas in life, it’s a mixed bag!

We may think we need to stop those who abuse. But how could anyone do that? Sometimes abusers do not even realize they are taking advantage of others…they may have concocted all sorts of great justifications for what they do, and after a while they believe their own stories. Or in other cases they may have been abused themselves, and now they do to others what was done to them.

But the good news is, the power actually lies with the so-called victim.

It is up to us to empower ourselves in every area of our life so that we cannot be taken advantage of.

What does this mean and how can we do that?

Let me use another example from my life! I have been working on online projects in the last few years, but some areas of the work I have known nothing about. Sometimes I have found someone who can “rescue” me, and do all the things I can’t. It seems like a dream come true. BUT if I am not empowered at all, I am high risk of being taken advantage of. And indeed this has happened to me in the past.

I soon learned that I need to know what I am doing in order to work with someone else. Maybe they can do it better than me, but I need to know enough. So now I read up on an area first. I look into the software myself. I watch a few tutorials, I chat to some experts. And only then do I hire someone else to come in. It has made me much less susceptible to being taken advantage of.

I’ve been wondering what the equivalent would be for people entering the world of Tantra. What if they read a few books first? Watched several different videos and got a taste of the different teachings available. How about they investigated the history and different lineages? What if they chatted to trusted friends to hear what they got out of it. What if they looked at followers of each school and see what energy those different groups had?

And what if they found out what was the norm and what to expect? This  is a big area of unknown that makes us highly susceptible. For example, when many people go for a tantric massage they go because they’ve heard it will heal their sexual blockages. But they have never had anything like this before, and probably they have no friends who ever went for one, and they have no idea what is normal, what to expect. Should they be naked or not? Will the therapist touch them everywhere? Is there internal work or not? Should the therapist wear gloves?

Some people even do not know whether it is normal to have a therapist offer sexual intercourse during or after a massage. This lack of knowing makes them vulnerable to suggestion. They want to heal their blocks, but they don’t really know how this is done, so they often accept the therapist’s suggestion even if they feel uncertain.

These are they ways in which people fall into situations that can make them feel confused afterwards, or even violated. Some even get caught up in a repetitive cycle of an on-going abuse of power.

Please remember that this is your journey and you can choose what best serves you. If you don’t know what that is, then do some research first. If you went on holiday to a completely new place knowing nothing, then those tourist-preying touts would leap upon you and sell you all sorts of tours at extortionate prices because you don’t know any better! Just a quick read of a guide book or two, a chat with someone else who went, and you are empowered to make better choices.

vulnerable heart

So why put delicate issues such as your sexuality, your heart and your love life into the hands of god-knows-who?

 

In attempt to empower you in this area, this is some basic guidelines for those considering Tantra:

  • You do not need to sleep with your teacher, your therapist or anyone else in order to receive Tantric teachings. Let’s just get that one clear! You may of course choose to under certain circumstances, but please do so as an empowered choice rather than as a desperate person hoping to be saved or awakened! And don’t be tricked into thinking you are that special one that the teacher chose to be lovers with…he probably asks everyone! That feeling-special allure…its the oldest trick in the book!!!
  • You are entitled to your boundaries in any class or session. You are a sovereign human being with the right to make your own choices and say no or yes as you feel (with no need to justify any of it). Don’t know what your boundaries are? Then listen to your body…if it tightens and contracts then that is a “no”. If it relaxes and opens (and you are sober and straight!) then this may be a “yes”. Never force yourself to override this body-based truth. The body is wiser than you are! So even if there is an exercise that feels too much for your body, sit it out. Listen to your body and speak your truth….few things are as empowering as this!
  • Be clear on what you intention is and then take time to find out which teacher/school/method is most effective for your purpose without risk.
  • Find the right place for you between opening up (expansion) and safety (grounding). It is OK to choose to feel safe and that won’t stop you opening up. In fact a lot of cutting edge scientific studies are now showing that safety is an essential feature for genuine and lasting healing to happen. A good teacher will create safety before doing any practices to open up.
  • There are a lot of theories and truth and dogma in the Tantra world…some of it is outstanding metaphysics; others is plain old BS. It can be useful to seek the word in ancient scriptures. If you are genuinely curious about spiritual truth, then read time-tested scriptures such as Vigyan Bhairav Tantra and other spiritual texts such as the Bhagavad Gita. Check out Buddhism and Vedanta. Look around rather than taking one person’s word for it. There is of course an inner truth, or indeed an Ultimate Truth that is beyond all separation. But if you have not got there yet then check out several of the great writings on the topic. Why not seek validation?
  • Be wary of testimonials and people trying to convert you! There can be no-one more passionate than the newly-converted! And if someone has chosen one path, they are often extra evangelical about it as they are partly trying to justify their own choice. It is much more empowering to make your own choices that to be coerced by another, or persuaded by peer-pressure.
  • Know your own values. What is valuable to you in life? Happiness? Peace? Gentleness? Kindness? Creativity? The more you are aware what brings your life value, the easier it is to make decisions that are aligned with your inner core. Most of us actually have a pretty good idea what basic human goodness looks like so take some time to note down for yourself what you value.

This is just a starting point, but I hope that I have encouraged you to empower yourself.

We may ask several friends, read reviews and watch tutorial videos before buying a new computer, and yet we might put our minds, hearts, bodies and souls in the hands of a complete stranger, based only upon the testimonials that they themselves put on their website!

I am asking you to please value yourself. Value your precious body; value your journey; value your delicate heart; value your inquiring mind; value your own instincts and gut feelings; value your “yes” and value your “no”; value your soul on it’s earth-walk. No-one else is responsible to value you! But if you develop a healthy self-care then you automatically show others how to treat you. If you develop a healthy self-love then you move from being the potential-victim to being the empowered-being making choices to serve their own life.

Tantra is powerful. Powerful beyond belief. Go in with your eyes open.