Tantra is sometimes known as the path of awakening through desire. Unlike many paths which seek to suppress or avoid desire in order to awaken, Tantra gives methods to awaken through desire.
Note: Tantra gives methods. It is not enough simply to dive headstrong into your desires and call it “tantra”. This is hedonism. Different path.
Desire is the fuel of life. We were all born of desire (if our parents hadn’t desired one another…just think about it!). We pop out in this world and seek the breast milk we desire. Then eventually the baby food we desire. In fact we continue on in life following one desire after another. Desire is natural.
But what is natural is not necessarily spiritual…will not necessarily awaken you. To be like an animal following basic desires is not a path of awakening and evolution in and of itself. As humans we have this unique gift: the possibility of spiritual awakening. To go through desire in order to move beyond it…this is evolution.
Many Tantric and Taoist methods aim to bring consciousness to basic desires, to liberate the energy we invest in those desires, and to use that energy for creating expanded states and releasing attachments to old patterns. It is a tricky path however, and the major pitfall is to get lost in your desires instead of liberated. Addiction instead of awakening.
How can you tell if you are waking up or getting lost? Are you entering divine desire or simply landsliding into hedonism?
Here are some clues:
- Are you shifting patterns? If you are on a path of evolution, you will observe old patterns of behavior are falling away.
- Are you acting in a calm conscious way or feeling driven and urgent? Hedonism has a more urgent feel than conscious desire.
- Is the nature of your desires evolving? Are you desiring more “pure” things? For example, you used to desire gooey chocolate cakes, now you desire fruit smoothies…you can see the nature of your desire evolving. There is a certain refinement in tastes (think of adolescents drinking cheap wine out of the bottle, refining into sipping quality wine from a glass…this shows an evolution in desire). When it comes to sex, we move from purely physical urges to loving connections and spiritual/energetic connections.
- What part of you would be served by the fulfillment of the desire? This is the BIG question! Either it is your ego-self being greedy, or you can feel your higher aspects would be served. Be honest with yourself!
- How conscious are you when fulfilling the desire? For example, in sex are you aware, eyes open from time to time, feeling deeply connected? Or do you lose consciousness and just enter the act?
- Do you feel guilt or shame at all about the act of fulfilling the desire. If you do, these are signs of being in an old pattern. Consciousness and an open heart heal shame and guilt.
- Are you causing pain to yourself or to another? If you are in an act of pure consciousness, there should be no karma: no repercussions. If your behavior is causing pain, let that pain be the wake up call to look within.
There is no one you have to account to but yourself! You have the gift of free will. However, if you genuinely desire to wake up, to drop old patterns, to release attachments, to release blind spots…then you have to be radically honest with yourself.
Tao Tantric Methods for Desire
Remember the Tantric way is not to judge the desires but to channel them. Judging tends to repress them further. Acting them out gets us caught in a behavioural loop. Channeling them helps us transform.
A common Tao Tantric method is to drop attention away from the object of our desire and bring awareness to the sensations behind the desire. So you may be desiring that chocolate cake, but for a moment you stop and bring awareness to all the feelings in your body. This awareness is the alchemical force that transforms desire
Here is a simple Tao Tantric meditation to help you handle strong desires, and take back your power. It is all about taking back the energy into our core. The core builds a strong inner presence. In desire it is easy to lose ourselves, but when we build a strong core (a huge focus in Taoism) then we no longer get lost in life…we meet it with loving presence.
- Sit upright in a comfortable meditation position and take a few deep breaths to tune in.
- Bring awareness to your head and your mind. Notice addictive thoughts…the ones you keep going back to over and over again. Rather than looking at the detail, see them like tendrils floating in all directions out of your head.
- Inhale and draw the energy back up the chords. Exhale and drop into the still quiet center of your head (the core). Keep doing this for several breaths until you feel the energy held in your still core. Mind is at peace. Rest a while.
- Then drop down awareness to the heart center. Notice any addictive emotions that keep reappearing over and over. See them like tendrils coming out of your chest.
- Inhale and draw the energy up the chords. Exhale and drop into the still quiet center of your heart-center. Keep doing this for several breaths until you feel the energy held in your core. Heart is at peace. Rest a while.
- Then drop down awareness to the lower belly…the center of will and desire. Notice any urges that keep arising, wanting to get up and act in some way. They may be sexual urges or will to act. See them like tendrils coming out of your pelvis and lower belly.
- Inhale and draw the energy back up the chords to your centre. Exhale and drop into the still quiet center of your lower belly. Keep doing this for several breaths until you feel the energy held in your core. Desire is at peace.
- Now sit and feel the three centers stacked in your core channel: head, heart and lower belly. Spirit, Love and Sex. Feel the whole core channel full of loving presence and energy. Feel the empowerment: You are back in yourself, your true self. Your true nature of loving presence, the source of all desire. Rest in this for a while.
Let your desires lead you back to the Source…