Sometimes I see so much questionable stuff going on under the name of “Tantra” that I consider teaching under another name altogether. Yet the practices and meditations I practice and share actually come from Taoist and Tantric lineages, and I believe they have so much to offer us here today. But Tantra could either rise again or fall with a crash landing, just like the Roman Empire! What will determine the outcome?
It’s not that I’ve got anything against polyamory or play parties or sexual exploration…anything can be used as a vehicle for growth and they all have their place. However the deeper principles and spiritual keys of Tantra are so often lost in the rush towards GETTING something. And this, is what I reckon is the tipping point between rise and fall.
Because the trouble is that we mostly come from consumerist societies. We are raised in a world where power comes from purchasing power….My value is a reflection of the amount that I can afford to consume. When this comes to intimacy and relating, such a concept creates dangerous results. It is one thing to try and consume a fancy car or a big home…but to try and consume other people or their energy starts to get questionable and can even create harmful behaviours.
So if we don’t do some deep level purification…i.e. dig deep and see the structure of our ego-self and sit in meditation to access our True Self, then its easy to enter Tantra thinking that it’s all about having your cake and eating it too. If I become Tantric I can have tons of lovers and tons of sex. CONSUMERISM (masquerading as spirituality).
Tantra works with energy. This energy is seen as power, and is called “Shakti”. Traditionally, Shakti is not seen as a commodity that can be owned, possessed, bought or sold. Rather, She is seen as a living Goddess to be revered and worshipped, and much gratitude is given when blessed by her Grace. Quite a foreign concept to those raised to believe that you have the right to own whatever you can afford (and if it’s not for sale you quickly claim the rights to it anyway).
This life-force energy is also understood to come from the Earth or Mother Earth. It’s not just a flowery spiritual concept, because science also concedes that we resource our energy from the food, plants and water of this planet. However, whereas the traditional Tantrics would honor the Earth as sacred and a source of precious life-force energy, the modern approach is to claim ownership and sell off resources, or hoard them for one’s own gain. It is not only on a personal level, as we now see huge corporations claiming ownership of nature’s bounty (patenting seeds…hello?!)
So there is a mirroring from the macrocosm to the microcosm, and without a shift in perspective on every level, Tantra cannot ever be truly tasted.
In intimate relating, one of the things we seek from one another is energy (whether we know it or not). We are drawn towards those who have an energy that awakens or enlivens us. Tantra works consciously with this fact, and has many methods for cultivating sharing and exchanging energy. Sexual relating is seen as a very powerful way to exchange energy, and thus awaken ourselves on new levels.
However, I call you to look within and question your underlying attitude. Are you entering Tantra in order to take? Do you seek Tantra for personal gain? Are you just trying to get what you can from each interaction? And…here’s the question that could change your life: what have you got to GIVE?
Tantra is asking us to drop our false ownership of Shakti: of the earth, oil, water, nature, the body, forms of energy and of course including sexual energy. And to ask instead how can I honor Shakti? How can I revere the earth and her energy? What can I do as an act of that reverence? What can I give or offer to the earth, to the energy? How can I bless each person I relate with? What can I give as a gift to each interaction I enter?
Tantra is a path that aims for enlightenment on all levels, including the physical embodiment. It includes methods of touching, caressing and seeing the body as innocent and divine. It includes methods of sexuality for energy exchange, transmutation and reaching higher states of consciousness. By going through the physical realm, we can make love and raise energy to higher vibrations.
Sadly, we have a cultural habit to take from the physical realm. If we identify with the ego-mind, then we create separation from the body and from the planet. This has the result of taking instead of receiving; of owning instead of honoring; of stealing instead of giving. What can I get here? How can I benefit from this? What’s in it for me?
If you truly want to enter Tantra then this has to be purified and transformed. You will need the intention to move from a personal egoic reality to an interconnected reality. You will no doubt need to use the ancient methods of Tantric or Taoist meditation to facilitate your transformation from an egoic structure to your divine structure. The ancient lineages are there to support this journey; why not be humble enough to explore them?
If you wish to walk the Tantric path with integrity, here are five steps that may help you find your way:
Step 1: Consecrate. Offer your activities on your tantric path to Highest Consciousness (Shiva) and Pure Life-force Energy (Shakti). The Tantrics call this “the union of Shiva and Shakti”. The Taoists call this “being aligned between Heaven and Earth”. Either way, it is a way to offer ourselves to something greater than our small self and be in service to that Higher Nature.
Step 2: Purify. Consider your egoic self-serving reality– the network of thoughts and beliefs which create separation, that enhance a sense of “me”. There are many traditional forms of purification (which mean diminishing the density of the egoic-self), including meditation, silence, reading scriptures, fasting, yoga and qigong. Whatever you do, do it with the intention to purify as this makes the practice a lot more effective.
Step 3: Heal. If you know you have acted in ways in the past from a self-serving place, do whatever you need to in order to heal and restore harmony. Is there anyone you need to apologize to? If you cannot in person, then do so via meditation or prayer. You may want to apologize to the Earth as Shakti, which can be done through ritual or prayer, or in your own way. The Hawaiian prayer can be used “I’m sorry; please forgive me. Thank you. I love you.”
Step 4: Empower. Use ancient Tantric and Taoist practices to learn to cultivate and work with energy. This way you can be deeply conscious when you move and share energy; plus you can cultivate healing energies to give to others. It is advised not to cultivate energy before purification, as you can end up growing even more egoic-self!
Step 5: Share. Consider how to share energy as healing gifts and blessings to others. Develop healing touch. Touch to sooth and calm. If you touch to activate energy in another, do so for their sake and not for your own benefit. Discover how you can offer an open heart to hold space for other’s pain. Find out how you can be a gift to this life.
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