Tantra is a subject surrounded by misinformation and misconceptions. Here are some facts and fallacies related to this ancient Indian system of beliefs.

  • Tantra is a new sexual trend.

    False. Tantra has actually been around for thousands of years.

  • Tantra was created by Americans.

    False. Tantra was a widespread practice in ancient India and Tibet. In fact, Americans were among the last people to discover Tantra.

  • Hindu Tantra places a greater emphasis on rituals than does the Buddhist version of Tantra.

    True, at least for rituals involving sex.

  • People who practice Tantra engage in reckless behavior and unsafe sexual practices.

    False. While there are always exceptions, most Tantrics are very careful about their health, take all the necessary precautions, and consider safe sex practices to be a top priority.

  • Tantra involves sorcery, witchcraft, and black magic.

    False, for the most part. This was a common misconception among people of ancient times, leading to unfair prejudices against Tantrics. Some Tantric sects do involve such things — although not many.

  • Tantra stresses promiscuous behavior.

    False. Tantra encourages people to pursue whatever sexual path they feel is true to their spirit. Tantrics include celibates, monogamous couples, couples who practice polyamory, and people of many other lifestyles.

  • Tantra is a religion, requiring followers to denounce other religions.

    False. Tantra is a system of philosophical beliefs, not a religion. It is practiced by people of all different religious faiths. You do not need to “renounce” your current church or religion in order to be accepted by the Tantric community.

  • Taoists believed a man should ejaculate as often as possible to prove his manhood.

    False. Ejaculation was viewed as a waste of precious life forces, and was to be avoided whenever possible. In fact, many Taoists, especially in past centuries, practiced ejacularion (the deliberate avoidance of ejaculation).

  • The Kama Sutra is a Tantric sexual how-to guide.

    False. Although the two are often closely linked, the Kama Sutra was primarily a guide for relationships between men and women, including sexual interaction. It does include some sexual techniques that can be used during Tantric lovemaking.

  • Tantra promotes strange rituals involving sex.

    False — mostly. It is true that ancient Tantras often practiced rituals focusing on sexual unions, but this has largely become a thing of the past. Modern Tantrics, however, do practice sexual rituals of a positive nature, such as setting a romantic mood with sensual baths or erotic massage.

  • Tantra is only for young people.

    False. People of all ages can enjoy (and benefit from) all that Tantra has to offer. An increasing number of baby boomers — and, yes, even senior citizens — are discovering the difference that Tantra can make in their lives and in their relationships.

  • Tantra is for people in the big cities.

    False. People from all over the country (and, of course, all over the world) practice Tantra. No matter where you live, it is very likely that there are many Tantrikas nearby. If there are not any Tantra workshops or events close to you, that is not a problem — you can study Tantra online, and also participate in Web forums and online communities.

  • Tantra promotes good physical health.

    True. Many of the practices encouraged by Tantra — including yoga, meditation, and deep breathing — can have major physical benefits. Since Tantrics often have a strong connection to nature, they also frequently practice healthy eating habits involving organic foods and vegetarianism.

  • Tantra events are open only to straight, married couples.

    False. Tantra workshops are known for their welcoming attitude toward everyone. Generally, people from all lifestyles are welcome. There are also some events geared specifically toward certain demographics, such as gay men or polyamorous couples.

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