Tantra Demystified


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The slides from an introductory and experiential talk on Tantra by Mark Sutton and Karen Sutton of Tantraawakenings. This talk is aimed at those who have an interest in tantra. It explains the history, concepts of tantra, the differences between Classical and Neo-Tantra and demystifies some of the misconceptions around Tantra

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  • Original aboriginal Indus valley traditions (Dravidian) 2000BCE. Shaivism: Natural world represents divine work of gods.Agglutinating language (inclusive). Causal language (heirarchical). No written prior to Sanskrit.Hindu Tantra reached its climax in the 12 and 13th centuries. Then went underground.South East Asia during the 11th to 14th century. Still present today in Thailand, Burma and Cambodia. Surfaced in India under British rule as form of resistance. Tantric Buddhism was preserved in the monasteries of Tibet. Temples: Orissa, Kamakhya, Kalighat, Ellora etc.
  • Buddhist Tantra: Mahayana school.Buddhist: Negative emotions/behaviours transformed directly into the divine anger of the fierce tantric deity and directed towards the destruction of negative forces within the practitioner.Hindu: Left-handed (Red Tantra) and right-handed (White Tantra). Both are Taboo breaking. Old Testament and Ancient Greece.Hindu: Left-handed (Red Tantra), VarmaMarg5 sacraments:Fish (Matsya).Meat (Mamsa).Parched Grain (Mudra).Wine (Madya).Sexual intercourse (Maithuna).
  • Three main traditions: monastic, household and wandering yogis.Tantra refuted: liberation could be attained only through rigorous asceticism and by renunciation. Human suffering arises from the mistaken notion of separation. It advocated celebration of the sensual and through so doing transcendence of the physical.Tantra embraces all paths and ways as valid and part of the whole (caste system).
  • Identification with deities: Shiva and Shakti. Shakti is energy (the feminine) and Shiva (The masculine) is consciousness. Yantra (form) and mantra (sound): visualise yantras (mandalas) and deities. Chant specific sounds that represent either a deity.Concentration on the body: The body is a microcosm. Energy centres (chakras) and Kundalini energy. Sexual rites: Controversial.
  • 8th Century: Samanta (feudalism): Lords wedded tantric fierce goddesses. (Power)10th and 11th centuries: Less Transgressive. Spiritual rapture and longevity. Semen retention
  • The first Western scholar to take the study of Tantra seriously was Sir John Woodroffe (1865–1936), who wrote under the pen name Arthur AvalonJoseph Campbell helped to bring Tantra into the imagination of the peoples of the West where it came to be viewed by some as a "cult of ecstasy", combining sexuality and spirituality in such a way as to act as a corrective force to Western repressive attitudes about sex. For many modern readers, "Tantra" has become a synonym for "spiritual sex" or "sacred sexuality", a belief that sex in itself ought to be recognized as a sacred act capable of elevating its participants to a more sublime spiritual plane. Georg Feuerstein believes that this Neo-tantra or "California Tantra", is "based on a profound misunderstanding of the Tantric path. Their main error is to confuse Tantric bliss ... with ordinary orgasmic pleasure”.In commenting on this, the author and critic on religion and politics, Hugh Urban states that he doesn't consider this adaption of tantra "wrong" or "false" but rather "simply a different interpretation for a specific historical situation." Further support for this attitude comes from Geoffrey Samuels (origins of Yoga and Tantra) who argued that modern tantra deserves to be taken seriously as a cultural development within western society. Thus, the roles of sexuality in Tantra and in Neotantra, while related, are actually quite different, reflecting substantial differences in their cultural contexts. As Dharmanidhisaravasti simply states “Neo-TantraRitualises sex, Authentic Tantrasexualises ritual”.
  • Teachers of this version of tantra frequently have the belief that sex and sexual experiences are a sacred act which is capable of elevating its participants to a higher spiritual plane. They often talk about raising Kundalini energy, worshiping the divine feminine, activating the chakras, and experiencing full-body orgasms. Where Tantra is used as an aid to enhance sexuality and intimacy between couples, without undue emphasis on spirituality or self-transformation but with a very responsible and grounded attitude, some authors have called this “Lifestyle Tantra” .Controversial guru & cult leader Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, later known as Osho, used his version of tantra in combination with breathing techniques, bio-energy, yoga and massage in some of the groups at his ashram. He is the author of many books on meditation, taoism, buddhism and mysticism, and at least six on tantra. One of them is Tantra, The Supreme Understanding, in which he unpacks the verses of the Song of Mahamudra, by Tilopa. In addition out of his discourses on the VigyanBhiarav (or Vijnaya-bhairava), the 112 practices for enlightenment resulted in the much longer 'The Book of Secrets'.His students continue to develop his concepts. One of his students is Margot Anand, who founded a school called "Skydancing" tantra. She is the author of dozens of books including the Art of Everyday Ecstasy and the Art of Sexual Magic. With the publication of this book, Tantra arrived on the cultural radar of mainstream America in 1989. But even before Anand's ascent to the best-seller lists made Tantra a household word, other writers and workshop leaders had been mining Eastern sexual and spiritual techniques and blending them with elements of Western sexology, psychotherapy, and New Age self-transformational techniques. One of the first of these was Charles Muir, a yoga teacher who had initially been a follower of Swami Satchidananda. He then spent time as a student of Swami Satyananda, and as a teacher in the tradition of TV yoga guru Richard Hittleman.. Muir also started to study the ancient Tantric texts, and began including more and more such teachings in his yoga workshops. By 1980, Muir made a full-time switch from hatha yoga teacher to Tantric sexuality teacher.
  • Neo-tantra sexual practice: experience of and access to subtle energies to enhance pleasure and to challenge our egotism. Kundalini energy, the divine feminine, activating the chakras, and full-body orgasms. A set of techniques for cultivating a more fulfilling sexual or love relationship. “Lifestyle Tantra”Another modern tantrika is Daniel Odier who believes that Desire can be a valid pathway to transcendence. He has translated and interpreted the yoga spandakarika, and has written books on tantra, buddhism, kashmirishaivism, and meditation. Many other teachers have pioneered their modern understanding of tantra as its relates to its ancient roots. Another way of looking at is a top-down approach. In other words, tantric knowledge or teachings can be directly transmitted from teacher to student through the modalities of eye contact, playful conversation, touch and sexual intercourse.
  • Myth: Tantra is all about sex. Truth: Tantra practices sometimes do not even include genital contact. They are really about energetic and spiritual contact between partners. Intercourse or the connection of genitals only serves to heighten the energetic connection when a couple is ready for that intimate stage.Myth: Practicing Tantra means you give up pleasure.Truth: The Tantra path does not see sexual desire as something to be denied. Instead, Tantra recognizes the powerful force that sex plays in our lives and harnesses it to achieve states of bliss beyond just physical pleasure.Myth: Tantra encourages indulgences of the appetites, which leads to affairs or orgies. Truth: Although some people use Tantric sex as a way to rationalize having sex with many different people or many people at once, this is not the spirit of true Tantra. Sexuality is not meant to be frittered away mindlessly or thoughtlessly, but honored and intended for the purpose of higher states of consciousness, rather than simply physical stimulation or satisfaction.Myth: Tantric sex turns you into a sex maniac. Truth: Tantric sex does release your sexual energy and give you full permission to express yourself, so the tendency to act out sexually is possible, but only if you misuse the practices. If you learn the practices responsibly, you will overcome any tendencies to have random, meaningless sex.Myth: Tantric sex is for Easterners and is not consistent with how we see sex in the West. Truth: Tantric sex practices are actually quite consistent with our Western way of thinking. The focus on the individual, the acceptance of pleasure, and clearly defined steps are a perfect fit with the way Westerners currently live their lives. Tantric sex retools these approaches to be more aligned with the road to true ecstasy.Myth: Tantra is a religion and a cult that will trap or brainwash you. Truth: Tantra is neither a religion nor a cult. Genuine, ethical Tantra teachers do not want to control you. They merely guide you in a series of practices that you choose for yourself and adapt into your life.Myth: It takes a long time to learn how to do Tantric sex. Truth: One of the best aspects of the Tantric path is that the practices can be put into effect immediately and results noticed. In just one weekend workshop, you can learn enough basic ideas and practical exercises to immediately improve your sex life and general feelings about yourself, which will generate to every part of your life.Tantric sex can change your entire outlook on sex. Although Tantra does not promise instant results, for couples who wish to enrich their relationship, these practices can release a particular kind of energy that can bring about harmony and increase sexual pleasure and intimacy. Don't let myths keep you from exploring Tantra.
  • Presence and self-awareness. Acceptance: Self love and body confidence, blockages and fears, expressing fully and pleasure/the potential for pleasure.Cultivating and generating sexual energy: Integration, Healing, Spirituality and Transformation.Harmonising male and female energies: Within yourself and with your partner.Connection: Emotional, physical and spiritual. With yourself, with your partner, with the world.Sexually: Expand your lovemaking, strengthening erections, Delaying ejaculation and Orgasm without ejaculation, Goal orientation and Ego.Incorporates bioenergetics, counselling, psychology and coaching.25 Second Tantra.
  • The healing power of these massages works with energy that allows us to touch both the body and emotions and clears blockages through the energy channels.
  • Tantra Demystified

    1. 1. LOVE FOR LIFE An Introduction to Tantra Mark and Karen Sutton Tantra Awakenings Tantra, Meditation and Massage for the modern world Portrait photograph courtesy of Caroline Dowling-Dunlea Photography
    2. 2. Content • Introduction. • What is Tantra: Definition, Meaning, Classical Tantra and Neo-Tantra. • Misconceptions about Tantra. • Benefits of Tantra. • Tantric practices. • Tantra Massage. • Workshops. • Experiencing Tantra.
    3. 3. What is Tantra • A 5000 year old meditative path. • Ecstasy, Enlightenment, Spirituality, Intimacy and Healing. • Experiential. • Sanskrit: “what extends knowledge” or “Weaving” • OSHO: Method • Two words Tanoti (expansion) and Trayati (liberation)
    4. 4. Definition “Tantra is about learning to live with what is: The intense, frightening and blissful weaving of life, every moment a ritual, an opportunity to escape or a chance to fall more in love. Tantra teaches that even questioning the practice is a part of the whole experience of life and therefore the divine. In its essence, it is a profound awareness of the activity of being, where the journey is the destination. “
    5. 5. In the Vigyan Bhairav Tantric sutras, Devi sits on the lap of Shiva and asks: Oh Shiva, what is your reality? What is this wonder-filled universe? What constitutes the seed? Who centers the universal wheel? What is this life beyond form pervading forms? How may we enter it fully, above space and time, names and descriptions? Let my doubts be cleared?
    6. 6. Classical Tantra: Where and when • Indus valley traditions (Dravidian) 2000BCE. • Shaivism. • No written texts. • Hindu Tantra: 12 and 13th centuries. • South East Asia during the 11th to 14th centuries. • Tantric Buddhism was preserved in Tibet. • Temples: Orissa, Kamakhya, Kalighat, Ellora etc.
    7. 7. Hindu and Buddhist Tantra • Buddhist Tantra: Mahayana school. – Negative emotions/behaviours transformed and directed towards the destruction of negative forces within the practitioner. • Hindu: Left (Red) and Right- handed (White). – Both are Taboo breaking. – Women, caste system etc. – Meat, Fish, Parched Grain, Alcohol, Sex (Varma Marg, Red Tantra). • Old Testament and Ancient Greece.
    8. 8. Traditions and Beliefs • Three main Traditions • Tantra refuted: Attainment by Renunciation. • “Separation”. • Sensual to transcend the physical. • Tantra embraces all. ARDHANARISHVARA
    9. 9. Classical Tantra Practice • Identification with deities. • Yantra (sacred geometry) • Mantra (sacred sound). • Asana (Body Positions). • Sexual rites.
    10. 10. Sex and Classical Tantra • Deity Offerings. • Clan Initiation Ceremonies. • Buddhism: Last stage of an initiate’s path. • 8th Century: Samanta. • 10th and 11th centuries: Less Transgressive.
    11. 11. The wild goddesses
    12. 12. Tantra 20th Century • Hindu: – South Indian Sri Vidya. – Kashmiri Shakta/ Kaul tradition. – Bengali Shakta. – Natha Tantra. – Kashmir Shaivism. • Buddhist: – America and Europe etc.
    13. 13. Neo-Tantra: Where and When • Sir John Woodroffe (Arthur Avalon. 1865–1936). • Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh: (Osho). • Margot Anand: "Skydancing" tantra. The Art of sexual Ecstasy • Daniel Odier, Charles Muir, The Richardsons and others.
    14. 14. Neo-Tantra V Classical Tantra • Spiritual sex/ sacred sex. • Adopts concepts and Terminology. • Omits: Guru, Extensive Meditative Practice, Traditional rules of Conduct. • Hugh Urban: “ simply a different interpretation for a specific historical situation”.
    15. 15. Neo-Tantra and Sex • “Neo-Tantra Ritualises sex, Authentic Tantra sexualises ritual”. Dharmanidhi saravasti. • A set of techniques for cultivating a more fulfilling sexual or love relationship. “Lifestyle Tantra”
    16. 16. Misconceptions about Tantra
    17. 17. Misconceptions about Tantra • Tantra is all about sex. • You give up pleasure. • Tantra encourages indulgences. • You become a sex maniac. • Tantra is for Easterners. • Tantra is a religion/ cult. • It takes a long time to learn. • Tantra has to be done by a man and a woman.
    18. 18. Benefits of Tantra: • Presence and self-awareness. • Acceptance: Self love and body confidence. • Integration, Healing, Spirituality and Transformation. • Harmonising Active and Receptive energies. • Connection: Emotional, physical and spiritual. • Expanded lovemaking, Goal Orientation and Ego. • Bioenergetics, Counselling, Psychology and coaching. (Physical and Mental Wellbeing) • 25 Second Tantra.
    19. 19. Practices of Tantra • Breath / Body/ Visualisation/ Meditation – Freeflow of energy through the body. • The Subtle Body – Chakras: “Wheel”, vital or energy centres. – The inner flute (hollow bamboo). – Kundalini energy. • Conscious flow
    20. 20. Chakras • Root or Base Chakra - Physical sensation, the body, vitality, earth connection, survival, security • Sacral Chakra- Emotions, sexuality, pleasure, physical creativity. • Solar Plexus Chakra- Thoughts and opinions, 'digesting' of experience, confidence, self-worth, personal power. • Heart Chakra- Unconditional love, compassion, sharing. • Throat Chakra- Communication, creative self-expression. • Third Eye Chakra– Intuition • Crown Chakra- Cosmic consciousness, pure knowing, connection with the divine.
    21. 21. Sacred Tantric Healing Massage Experience of touch. Healing experience. Energy: – Touch both the body and emotions. – Clears blockages through the energy channels.
    22. 22. Workshops • Exploring all aspects of Tantra. • A core principle: respect. • Safe, supportive, confidential environment • Workshops are for both singles and couples. • Individual exercises and with another. • Unless stated, all workshops are fully clothed.
    23. 23. One to One/ Couples • Tailored. • Integrated. • Specific. • Couples: – Intimacy – Connection – Touch
    24. 24. Tantra Redefined • What does Tantra mean for you? • What is it you are looking for from Tantra? • That is what the definition of Tantra is for you in your reality.
    25. 25. The Tantra Experience: Connection • Chakra Connection. • Soul gazing. • Conscious chocolate.
    26. 26. www.Tantraawakenings.org