Spirituality And Tantra
While so-called “modern tantra” is often confused for purely long lasting sex between a man and a woman, there is a much, much older spiritual side to tantra which, while including elements of this, is about so much more. If you practice tantric sex to the exclusion of all other elements you will be missing out on the full path to spiritual enlightenment.
Tantra, as a path linked directly to Shiva, The Auspicious One or, literally, The Great God, as the ultimate embodiment of masculine energy in the universe. This, of course, is in the Hindu tradition. In other related religions from other cultures but with a similar belief in the power of tantra, such as Taoism and Buddhism, this is represented by thinking such as Yin and Yang - although that doesn’t necessarily directly translate. Indeed tantric spirituality is rooted very firmly in these different religious backgrounds but relates directly to both.
Shiva, as ultimate masculine energy, is often found combined, in every sense, with Shakti, his female counterpart. When this occurs, and The Ardhanarishvara is created, the female Shakti and all of her energy combines into a new, single whole with the male Shiva and creates something entirely new and utterly holy. Ardhanarishvara represents therefore the synthesis of masculine and feminine energies of the universe. They illustrate how Shakti, the female principle of God, is inseparable from Shiva, the male principle of God. The union of these principles is exalted as the root and womb of all creation.
In this way it’s easy to see how the sexual combination of male and female is a spiritual moment, or it can be, and that when the lingam enters the yoni and, with practice, energy is exchanged during tantric sex ritual, that ultimate union can be experienced for a brief moment.
However, this ultimate experience, this ability to enjoy everything the universe has to offer, is a key part of tantra and does not have to relate to sex.
Key to the the belief that in order to be fully enlightened, and to achieve higher states, one must be entirely at one with nature and the universe, and able to accept everything that the universe has to offer. Only when being at one with everything can you fully appreciate and align with all the energy.
Some traditional religions of views of the world state that only through abstention, that by withholding back from all that is to offer and restricting the pleasure you can experience, do you achieve enlightenment. However, in tantric thinking, the notion is that only by fully accepting all that nature has to offer and finding joy and pleasure and ecstasy in all it provides do you see the truth. If, as humans, we feel separate from the natural creation of the world and the universe, we bring problems into our existence by leading to more separation and ultimately a feedback loop which means our whole environment becomes fragmented.
When you accept everything, and feel at one with the universe, you become part of the energy of the cosmos itself.
Through tantric sex ritual, the combination of male and female can lead to this through the transmutation and sublimation of energy from the male and female, the exchange of Prana (or, in Taoist thinking Chi). The sexual energy that is transmuted during tantra consists in the transforming of sexual “material”, pranic energy, that can then be sublimated by both parties, leading to different refined energies according to the intentions of those involved. This transmutation is possible thanks to the keeping of the sexual energy exchange ongoing, as opposed to short orgasmic experiences in most western practice. This is achieved by a constant, learned, prolonged sexual control during some intense erotic experience.
However, there is a fundamental difference between directly experiencing sensuality and seeking it. Tantra is not hedonism, which is the pursuit of sensual pleasures. Tantra is the absorption in what is here now. The acknowledgement that there is more to the universe than just us, and by tapping into this spiritual energy through tantric sex practice we gain access to it.
Tantric mediations focus on seeing beyond the apparent duality of desire and its objects. We desire something because we perceive ourselves to be separate from it. As this sense of separation and lack dissolves, then the energy of desire ceases to become a bond to suffering, but instead an expression of joyful love and oneness.
In short, while tantra original seemed to die out about 1100ad as Islam grew in popularity, it has seen a resurgence in modern times and could be considered a perfect spiritual path for humans and the system best adapted to our era of Kali Yuga, a state wherein spirituality is declining even as man and woman are desperately trying to reintegrate themselves into a creative and spiritual existence. Contemporary abstract thinking is linked less and less to real life, to the nature, to the entire universe we can enjoy and get pleasure from and experience. And yet it defines most of our activities day to day.