In the public imagination, it seems Tantra is still synonymous with happy-ending massages, wild sexual orgies and staring into the eyes of strangers who are butt-naked, just like you. While this version of Tantra is certainly doing its bit for shaking up rigid sexual mind-sets, it’s a far way off from the essence of Tantric mystery teachings.
Tantra is about realizing who we are beyond our identifications, and then living that realization in everyday life. While it’s fabulous to imagine that this realization is going to happen through a sexual experience so intense that it takes you all the way to God – what is more true is that realization requires moment-to-moment practice. Here are some basic principles underlying Tantric practice:
- Realization happens through the meditation of presence with what life brings – the agony and the ecstasy. You must be able to walk as who you are when you pass through the valley of the shadows of death as much as when you are on top of the mountain. In the marketplace as much as in the cave.
- The realizer learns to cultivate both total care (love/oneness with all) and total carelessness (becoming nobody/disappearing into the black).
- There can be no avoiding of sexuality in awakening. In fact, sexual energy is a gateway to realizing our divinity. The entrance to the sexual mysteries is guarded by cultural taboos that need to be met with the light of higher consciousness, free from right/wrong dualities.
- You are born in a human body to learn to incarnate your soul essence. Doing so requires learning to feel the intensity of life’s emotions and sensations passing through you – both the pain and the pleasure.
- The primary split in human consciousness is between masculine and feminine. The dance of attraction (regardless of sexual orientation) is an attempt at integrating these polarities.