Contrary to popular belief, Classical Tantra wasn’t really about sex. Flourishing in the 7th Century in Northern India, Tantric Shaivism was / is a mystical, deeply spiritual tradition for the revelation of the Self, otherwise put- full spiritual awakening, or enlightenment. Tantra regards all of life as sacred, and all of reality as an expression of the Divine. Tantra reveals the mysteries of the universe through ritual practices, various meditation techniques and visualisations with Cosmic Deities using their Mantra (sound representation) and Yantra (visual representation- like a mandala). ‘The Tantras’ or ‘Agamas’ are the many texts of this Tradition, and are often discourses between Shiva and his consort, teachings about the nature of reality, and often direct practices for the aspirant to undertake.
So why is Neo-Tantra (modern Tantra) focused almost purely on sacred sexuality? There is mention of sexuality in the Tantras and the Agamas. One text for example encourages the aspirant to meditate right at the point before orgasm. Another text outlines a ritual that encourages the Tantric Practitioner to take their mind beyond the caste restraints of the time, and have ritual sex with a beggar while transfiguring them as the Goddess. These are often talked about as the ‘Right hand path’ and ‘Left hand path’ Right- using visualisation rather than actual sexual rituals, aspirants were vegetarian and non-violent. Compared to the ‘Left Hand Path’, which used taboo practices such as sexual rituals, meditating in cremation grounds and eating meat.
In Classical Tantra the body is used as a spiritual tool, and the many techniques practiced induce an awakening of the Kundalini Energy. Kundalini Shakti is the Primal Life Force, dormant in most people, yet through consistent practice, and sometimes spontaneously- can begin to awaken and enliven the aspirant’s life with energy, charisma, devotion and bliss. Kundalini is not limited to Tantra. This is the energy that is worked with in Alchemical Qi Gong. This is the Divine Rapture of the Christian Fathers of the Desert and it could be argued, any Awakened Being or Great Master would have fully aroused Kundalini. Often in practice we get this Kundalini energy stirring, which can manifest as a rush of sensation, laughter, a surge of emotion, tears, a huge surge of sexual energy and many other possibilities. However full awakening of Kundalini is a constant state of maintained arousal of Kundalini from the base of the spine to crown of the head.
When Kundalini is present / aroused in a practitioner, there is a sense of being sexually radiant and alive in the world. Although this sexual dynamism isn’t limited to an object of desire, eg a person you want to have sex with. It’s a vibratory resonance, a feeling that all of life is making love with you, the elements of nature are dancing alchemically within you, there’s a sense of orgasmic bliss about your relationship to reality and actual lovemaking becomes something beyond what you’ve ever experienced. Lovemaking becomes a transcendent dance with the cosmos- a way to truely experience the dance of Shakti (the embodied energy of all reality) with Shiva (the awakened state beyond form, the foundation of the universe).
The Tantric Practitioners also understood that having sex was a hinderance to their spiritual aspiration. Most religions and spiritual practices understand this. It’s not to do with morals, they knew that after sex, you’re more in the mood to relax rather than to meditate or pray. If you remain celibate, it’s like you have the energy of a teenage boy- there is an inner fire that propels you towards devotion, prayer and your practice.
So the Tantrics learnt they could make still make love, move energy, and activate Kundalini without ejaculating (or explosive orgasms for people with female bodies) - and in this way circulate the sexual energy, the most powerful energy available, experience heightened states of consciousness, and use the sexual experience as a meditative practice to become one with Shiva. Dancing the line of orgasmic bliss- without tipping over the edge into ejaculation, they learnt how to separate orgasm from ejaculation, and move into vibratory bliss and in this state- remember Shiva- recognise ‘Sat Chit Ananda- Tat Twam Asi’ meaning ‘Existence, Consciousness, Bliss- I Am That.”
Neo-Tantra has taken some of the beautiful tenants of Classical Tantra, and made this available to many people from all walks of life. Even if you don’t have a serious daily meditation practice- your love making and your personal relationships can become conduits to spiritual states and spiritual awakening.
You can learn how to move far deeper into connection with your beloved and with your relationship with yourself through Tantra. Tantra can awaken you to a sexual, sensual relationship with the whole of your life and with the whole of existence.