Copyright © 1992 Kenneth Ray Stubbs, Ph.D. All Rights Reserved
Tantra (pronounced tahn'trah) today in the Western world has come to mean spiritual sexuality Indeed, tantra has almost become the generic term for all styles/traditions of spiritual/meditative sexuality Tantra which is part of both some Hindu and some Buddhist teachings actually is far more encompassing than sex done spiritually Tantra embraces all: birth, death, pleasure, pain wealth, poverty, beauty, ugliness joy, sadness, anger, fear, ecstasy sex, celibacy Tantra basically is a teaching of acceptance a teaching of non-attachment When we are grasping an object / action / outcome we are attached there is no freedom When we are avoiding an object / action / outcome we are attached there is no freedom It is through the acceptance of all as it is that we become/are free Acceptance is not submission is not giving up Here, acceptance means non-attachment By embracing the present while letting go of expectations of the future and comparisons with the past we can fully dance with life (and death) There is no good / bad no right / wrong no spiritual / evil only suffering unless/until we let go of our attachments Neither being sexual nor being celibate is preferable If we feel superior/inferior because we are / aren't sexual, we are attached If we feel superior/inferior because we are / aren't celibate, we are attached If we feel superior/inferior when we do / don't masturbate, we are attached If we feel superior / inferior because we do / don't do heterosexual actions or homosexual actions or bisexual actions we are attached If we feel superior / inferior because we do / don't go to church / synagogue / the ashram / etc. pray / meditate tithe / donate or do any other religiously sanctioned action we are attached There are other words for superior: pious, proud, arrogant, egotistic, patronizing, condescending There are other words for inferior: guilt, shame, worthless, incompetent, unimportant, dumb, awkward It is neither in the doing-ness nor in the non-doing-ness It is in how we relate to an object / action / outcome that makes the difference If we are attached to an object / action / outcome, sooner or later we will be in physical / emotional pain / discomfort when the object is no longer there or is there when we don't want it there when the action is too slow, too fast, too... when the outcome is different than we had hoped / expected sooner or later we will be in what the Buddha termed dukkha (pronounced doo' kah) which is loosely translated as suffering So, do we simply stop doing the bad behaviors? start doing the good behaviors? The answer is not in the stopping or starting Rather, we shift how we relate to what we be / do / have We transform the grasping energy We transform the avoiding energy How to transform energy? To find that answer, those answers is why some of us search the world for gurus or any other form of high priest/ess That is why some of us spend years sitting at a master's feet That is why some of us enter monasteries and convents When we are able to transform / convert / transubstantiate / transmute the energy at will we are liberated we are enlightened we are in nirvana or in Christian terms we have entered the Kingdom of God / Queendom of Goddess There are many paths to learn ways to transform energy Sex is one of those paths Sex is a path to liberation Sex is a path to enlightenment Sex is a path to the King / Queendom of God / dess Sex is not the only path not the best path for all of us but definitely a powerful path Here, though, sex is usually not the sex that most of us do most of the time Here, sex is not just the contemporary sex characterized earlier A more accurate concept for sex intended to transform energy would be meditative sex Some would say spiritual sex Either term is suitable as long as we do not slip into a belief that spiritual sex is superior to flesh sex base sex friction sex passionate sex raw sex Meditative sex has its varied forms Contemporary sex has its varied forms Sometimes the forms look the same Sometimes the forms look very different In many schools of tantra there are at least four major types of meditative forms: mantra (mon'trah) mudra (moo'drah) and asana (ah'sah nah) pranayama (prah nah yah'mah) yantra (yawn'trah) A mantra is a sound or series of sounds sometimes vocally produced sometimes silently imagined sometimes sounds from nature, from musical instruments, or other sources OM is the most noted Amen is similar in the West Likewise, The Lord's Prayer is a mantra Ummmm and oooh could be sexual mantras A mudra is a body gesture or posture especially with the hands An asana is specifically a body posture In meditations, gestures and postures are often combined Jesus is often depicted standing with his arms, hands, and fingers in definite positions The palms placed together while praying is another mudra The Buddha sitting cross-legged is common in the East Sexual positions can be asanas Pranayama is conscious breathing in specific patterns Rapid inhalation and exhalation through the nostrils is one of the more well-known Eastern forms Sports training and singing training often utilize certain breathing techniques Sometimes Western sex therapy teaches that holding our breath inhibits the orgasm response - so breathe! A yantra is a visual representation often using geometric shapes A yantra can be observed externally or visualized internally A mandala is a yantra with a circular motif Symbols, colors, pictures, all can be yantras The cross, with the horizontal bar at different positions, is common across cultures and across the ages Botticelli's Birth of Venus is a renaissance yantra Meditation, often, simply is doing a mantra, mudra / asana, pranayama, and / or yantra At least, this is what meditation looks like These are the forms we often learn first Actually, meditation is the conscious awareness / attentiveness / mindfulness while we are doing the meditation forms Actually, meditation is the conscious awareness / attentiveness / mindfulness during every moment regardless of the form / non-form we are doing / not-doing if we remain consciously aware So what is meditative sex? Here is one image, using tantric forms: sitting cross-legged in coitus with our sexual partner while chanting OM while gazing into our partner's left eye It's that simple - unless we have difficulty sitting cross-legged While this is accurate, it is only the humorous answer Compared to contemporary sex, tantric sex is far more ceremonial There are elaborate methods of nurturing and stimulating the senses expressing devotion honoring the sacredness of sexual union Such a tantric sex ritual, sometimes known as maithuna (pronounced my thu'nah), is at the other end of the spectrum than the quickie Though, in tantric philosophy, both would be sacred Maithuna is more intricate in time, intent, and activity The forms, however, are not what make meditative sex meditative It is the approach: the awareness the attentiveness the mindfulness These make sex meditative Being in the present being aware of sensations of skin touching skin tuning into the pressure building in our pelvis or elsewhere hearing the sound of our breath, our partner's breath if we are with another / others feeling our heart beat being mindful of the muscular tension building All these without the past or the future And if our mind goes to the past, to the future we are even aware also of the past / future images / thoughts All this is meditative sex regardless of the forms regardless of whether we are doing what we term masturbation, oral sex, anal sex, genital-genital sex, tantric sex rituals, or any other form of consensual sex Some of us have been doing meditative sex all along at least to some degree at least some of the time But to understand meditative sex is to understand part of the paradigm shift: we are more than a physical body Not more in the sense of mental, emotional, physical, spiritual aspects Rather, more in the sense that the physical body is only one of several systems Tantric teachings hold that there are other coexisting, interacting systems that each of us has in varying degrees of development Systems is my term Some other terms are energies energy fields subtle bodies energy bodies light bodies These other systems are subtle in the sense that the effects in the physical, material world are not obvious to most of us most of the time The most commonly taught subtle energy system is the chakras (pronounced shah'kras) This is a system of energy centers often thought of as along an imaginary axis in the core of our physical body from the bottom of our pelvis (commonly called the first chakra) to the inside top of our head (commonly called the seventh chakra) Most schools of meditation teach that there are seven principal chakras along the imaginary axis with secondary chakras throughout the body, the number varying in different traditions A clarification of our language: chakras are not in the physical body though a chakra's location can be conveniently identified by naming an area of our physical body Chakras, in Sanskrit, means wheels or discs they have also been described as cone-shaped vortexes More important, though, is their function: Chakras are often considered energy transformers Analogously to the physical body's digestion process transforming food, the chakras transform energies for us to utilize Tantric meditations in general, usually, are designed to awaken to develop to utilize the energies and the functions of the chakras and other subtle energy systems Likewise, tantric sex rituals, and most other forms of meditative sex, are designed to do the same: to awaken to develop to utilize the energies and the functions of the chakras and other subtle energy The conscious awareness / attentiveness / mindfulness are, in a sense, keys to the doors of these not-so-physical systems as well as the physical body system Herein lies a fundamental contrast to the Western spirit-higher-than-the-flesh framework: There is no denial of the physical body no subjugation no demeanment Similarly, the physical body is neither idealized, glorified, nor idolized In tantra, the extent to which the physical body and the subtle energy systems are attuned balanced centered coordinated integrated synchronized unified is the extent to which we can transform energy is the extent to which we can fulfill our potential.
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