Is It All about Sex?
There are many misconceptions when it comes to the subjects of sex and Tantra. The most common, is that Tantra means “sex.” While it's true that Tantra principles can greatly enrich and enhance your sex life, that's just one aspect of a much broader way of life. In reality, Tantra is a large philosophy encompassing many areas of life, and sex is only one small part of that. But since sex is — in the Western world — the most well known (and, arguably, the most titillating) part of Tantra, it gets the most attention.
In Tantra, desires are expected and embraced. They are viewed as a natural part of being human. They are to be encouraged and learned from. Desire becomes a vehicle for spiritual awakening. This is very different from what the Western approach teaches.
Tantra beliefs and teachings can help you improve all aspects of your life. This philosophy can help you take a fresh new look at everything around you. You will learn to view all of creation as a spiritual, heavenly universe — and to view yourself as a god or goddess inhabiting that universe.
A Tantra Guru Weighs In
Al Link and his partner Pala Copeland have been Tantric sex practitioners since 1987 and teachers since 1997. They are the authors of Soul Sex:
Tantra for Two and several other books on the subject. Al shares his thoughts on Tantra's connection to sex:
There is an interesting split in the Tantric community about the meaning and significance of Tantra sacred sex practices. At one extreme, there are those teachers who claim that sex has nothing to do with the ‘“true” or “pure” spiritual Tantra. At the other extreme there are those who believe that enhanced sexuality is all that Tantra is about. There is also a middle position, such as ours, which maintains that in its spiritual dimension, as a vehicle leading practitioners toward full enlightenment, that all aspects of life in a body are sacred and to be celebrated, indeed that nothing is to be denied or excluded. This includes a healthy joyous sexuality, a sacred sexuality.
Our teaching is that sex is good, pleasure is good, sex is sacred, and sacred sex is definitely a spiritual aspect of Tantra. Sex doesn't bring one to an enlightened consciousness, nor do other Tantric practices such as meditation, ceremony, ritual, prayer, and physical and psychological techniques such as relaxation, breathing, visualization, chanting, mantras, yantras, mandalas, mudras, and so on. It's not the activity itself that brings one to an awakened state — practices are simply vehicles to help one become clear, focused, and present in the eternal now.
The Broader Picture
Tantric teachings usually combine yoga, meditation, breathing exercises, workshops, written materials — all of this in addition to information on the sexual aspect of Tantra.
However, obviously, you picked up this book because you have an interest in Tantra as it relates to sex specifically, so this book will focus most of the information on that part of the Tantra philosophy. But it is important to at least briefly touch on the ways that Tantra can affect your entire life. The first and most basic way? Tantra can make you feel more peaceful, spiritually balanced, and emotionally fulfilled. This fulfillment improves all aspects of your life as a whole, and in turn, also makes your love life better. After all, when your life in general is happy, balanced, and fulfilling, your sex life can't help but reap the benefits.
Tantra can have many benefits to an individual. Tantra in its traditional form as a true spiritual practice holds a very important place in the lives of the practitioners. It creates calmness and awareness. Tantra makes change possible. It spurs spiritual evolution by awakening energies within you that would otherwise remain dormant.
Here in the West people learn to suppress desire, as it is often associated with weakness and sin. They are taught to be strong and self-denying. This can cause more damage than good to a person's well being. By denying yourself experiences that may be enriching or that may further your spiritual quest simply because they are desires, you create repressed emotions and regrets, leading to a host of other complications. You will eventually begin to feel unfulfilled and will grow resentful of constantly being forced to stifle your desires. That is why it is better to learn about yourself, your strengths and weakness, through your desires, thereby becoming a more whole, fuller individual. Bottom line: Embracing and heeding your desires, rather than opposing them, can be a very good thing.
Additionally, the East considers the individual as part of the integrated whole. The West traditionally sees the individual as separated from the whole. More and more seekers are in need of feelings of unity and connection, not division and separation. Tantra can provide that feeling of unity.
Many westerners feel empty after dedicating their lives to the outer world. Eastern religions and philosophies provide them with an answer. Philosophies such as those connected to Tantra can provide people with a feeling of fulfillment that they can't get from material things.
Other Benefits of Tantra
Aside from improving your life overall and enriching your sex life, there are lots of other ways you can benefit from studying the Tantra philosophies and incorporating them into your daily routine. By becoming more conscious of your body's well-being — spiritually, emotionally, and physically — you will find that you start taking better care of yourself. The meditation and breathing exercises connected to Tantra are great stress relievers — as are the yoga exercises, which also can do wonders for your body physically.
In addition, a core principle of Tantra is enriching your relationship with those around you, and strengthening the bond you have with loved ones.
Lastly, by studying the Tantric emphasis on higher consciousness, you will experience personal growth and spiritual evolution that will benefit all facets of your life. So, while you may initially be interested in studying Tantra for the sexual benefits, you can apply the lessons you learn to virtually all other aspects of your life, making your entire world a much better place to be!