Thursday, August 24th 2017

What is Tantra? (Hint: not the Kama Sutra)

Tantra is not just about multiple-orgasmic sex (although that sounds good too). . . read and learn!

GUEST COLUMN BY PAMM After years of study, practice and observation, I decided that in one way Tantra is like Christianity. There are over 1,700 flavors (sects) of Christianity with a huge diversity of opinions, doctrines, practices, etc. The same is true with Tantra.

For instance, the Dalai Lama is a Tantrika.

So was Osho/Rajneesh (the guru in Oregon who had Rolexes and Cadillacs, and was expelled from a number of countries. His followers were accused of participating in the first mass terrorist biological attack) . . . They poisoned a restaurant buffet with E. Coli to make sure people could not vote in a local election, with the outcome that they would control the town.

With all this diversity, I decided there are three broad but distinct divisions of Tantra. Once delineated, they make the question: “What is Tantra?”, much easier to answer.

1. Souped-Up Nookie Tantra

This is a term I read in a book by David and Ellen Ramsdale called Sexual Energy Ecstasy. This form of Tantra is the one everyone is familiar with, and is prominent in the media. It’s about that stuff that usually elicits a smirk when the word “Tantra” is mentioned — burning candles, putting on mellow music, breathing a bit together and all sorts of positions from the Kama Sutra.

It’s sweet, and makes for nice experiences that are generally outside the norm of most people’s sexual lives. For the average American who knows how to perform missionary sex, who has no idea that sex can be longer than five minutes, and who isn’t aware that a man can be multiple-orgasmic, it is a very good path if you want more out of sex.

This approach isn’t explicitly about anything spiritual, but rather a better sex-life. Yet we Tantrikas would say everything is of spirit, so this is too.

2. West Coast Tantra or Neo Tantra

This form of Tantra took off in the 60’s and 70’s with the Somatic Psychology movement. New Age seekers who explored the realm of the body and how it is connected to the mind and spirit took select ancient Tantric practices, combined them with new psychology, threw in new Relationship-as-Spiritual-Path theory and voila.

It’s a combination of intense sexual “exercises,” Reichian therapy, breath-work , ritual, deep-tissue massage/release work, advanced Master Level Souped-Up Nookie practices, conscious-relationship practices, yoga/Tai chi, Gestalt Therapy and a mash-up of other therapies a particular teacher might have studied. All of these exercises and processes open the energetic channels that hold Kundalini energy.

The ultimate goal is spiritual enlightenment using the body as a sacred vehicle.

Celebrated teachers of this type of Tantra are Margo Anand and Charles and Caroline Muir. The best teacher I know is Dawn Cartwright . Her intuition and insights, presence, ability to maintain herself in the middle of chaos, healing energy, combined with the ways in which she has synthesized different elements, make her a “Master Teacher.”

3. Ancient or Mystic Tantra

This is the old Path, and it is extremely rigorous. Often the practitioners are celibate, and only partake in sex in a ritual called Maithuna. They participate in many hours of daily meditation, yoga and visualization of deities. There are extremely complex breathing meditations, body postures (mudras) and chanting mantras.

In India, this Path is not overly admired. The practitioners often live with the lowest castes, and sometimes choose to dwell in crematory grounds. They participate in activities that are taboo, and in the more extreme sects, engage in behaviors that are considered downright repulsive in most cultures.

These are designed to quickly rip away attachments, dissolve the ego, and sever any semblance of its feeling “safety” in the outer world. Kundalini is raised so that pure mind/enlightenment can be obtained. Everything is seen as divine, and as such, sacred.

The practitionner’s goal is to be in union with the Divine, and one with God. The Path is often called the Fast Path to Enlightenment or the Path of Fire. The best teacher I know who is available in the West and the public at large is Daniel Odier .

In the end of it all, I’ve come to define Tantra as the Path of Life, lived fully and with presence.

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One Comment on “What is Tantra? (Hint: not the Kama Sutra)”

  1. Thanks so much for explaining this to us, Pamm. There is so much confusion out there, and you helped shine a new light on the subject.

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