It is often said that tantra is a superior path but to understand why this is so we need to engage in a precise study of the meaning of the sutra of tantra. Moreover, most scholars advocate that we study both the sutra about tantra and tantra as a technique or we shall find it difficult to understand how to practice the union of tantra sutra and tantra technique.
To start at the beginning, we have to ask what tantra is superior to? Tantra stands on the shoulders of yoga and yoga stands on the shoulders of meditation. Tantra is superior only in the sense that one can’t start practicing tantra without having accomplished the practice and grasped the essence of meditation and yoga.
We have to deal with the concepts of tantra sutra and tantra technique as there will be a great danger of either rejecting or neglecting the practice of tantra techniques or neglecting the sutra commentaries. In essence, a sutra is a commentary about a topic that spans many centuries and those words are held dear by the followers of that practice. As tantra originated as a technique, the practice of that simple technique should not disappear amongst the words about it.
The teachings of tantra are the rarest and most precious of Buddha’s teachings. It is claimed that only by following the path of Secret Mantra that we can attain enlightenment or Buddhahood. This is one example of how sutra is used to drown the technique. The same unfortunate procedures are followed by many religions, especially Hinduism. The technique of tantra is almost forgotten and gets replaced by an impromptu “things to do” list from the sutras.
In most religions the sutra, with its associated and audacious “to do” lists, became a technique on its own. This new “to do” lists became the replacement of the original technique that the sutras were trying to describe. When it is said that we cannot attain full enlightenment just by practicing the paths of the sutras, then the teacher is well aware of the existence of the original technique and that teacher should be applauded. In Buddhism it is described as follows: To attain Buddhahood we need to accomplish both the Truth Body and the Form Body of a Buddha.
Although sutra teachings present a general explanation of the original technique, it also touches on how these two concepts; the words about the technique and the technique itself, how they interact. The interdependence between these two aspects, the intricate balance between technique and words is often referred to as stages on the path of wisdom and method.
The sutra path of only using the verbal description about the tantra technique cannot lead us to enlightenment as sutra teachings do not present the original tantra technique but only offer methods for overcoming subtle rational or mental restrictions of the mind. The mind operates within a subtle dualistic range, associated with the mind’s ability to oscillate between two poles. Many spiritual and religious scholars will call this oscillation white and red tantra but it’s all one when the technique is practiced and not only the sutra.
These appearances of the inherent existence of the subtle dualistic nature of the mind can become the very obstruction to enlightenment that is pursued. Sutra teachings do not explain the subtle mind swings but only how to recognize them. Sutra Bodhisattvas are unable to explain the subtle dualistic appearances associated with the mind, let alone abandon them. The dualism that we should contemplate is between mind and instinct and not between the two oscillating poles of the mind.
The dualistic view on the two poles of the mind is intrinsically sterile as it doesn’t address the real issue. Looking at the dualistic mind doesn’t offer any possibility to go beyond it. When one looks at the mind and the instinct as the two basic realities of human existence, only then we have a chance to go beyond, to reach or to be more.
A direct realization of the function of the mind leaves us with emptiness. There is no fulfilment when dealing with the gross mind. The fact that it does not have the power to overcome the subtle dualistic appearances associated with the mind’s oscillation between white and black, that leaves us disempowered and frustrated.
The only way to abandon these subtle dualistic appearances of the mind, is to realize the associated emptiness and to use that energy to look for the other leg that allows humans to walk upright. We have a mind and we have natural instinct and this is the dualism that holds us upright and not the swing between black and white.
The methods concocted by the dualistic minds of sutra scribes, manifest clearly as a spectacular confusion of “to do” lists with the explicit exclusion of tantra techniques, which is the very antidote to sutra’s “to do” lists. Methods on how to deal with the subtle oscillating mind are explained in the Secret Mantra, anyone who wishes to attain Buddhahood definitely needs to enter this never-ending path. When you practice a tantra technique, then you have immediate results as you are dealing with all that is in you, mind and instinct. When you deal with a sutra only then you are jumping on one leg and running becomes impossible as you are dealing with the mind only.
TANTRA AND SEX, TANTRIC SEX:
Tantra is a word commonly thrown around in the meditation and yoga worlds. Is tantra a method to enhance sex? Is tantra a technique to pour a divine sauce over bland sex? The answer becomes simple when we have some idea about what is referred to when we talk about the word sex and the word divine.
Sex has a natural place in the lives of human beings. It isn’t the emotional glue that bonds two people together so that they do not look over the fence at other possible partners. Neither is it this spiritual entity that descended from heaven to entertain poor, sex deprived people. The biggest stupidity unfolds when people take partnering and sexuality out of the domain of meditation and force it into the domain of tantra. Tantra rightfully deals with the celebration of existing intimacy between ourselves and the people we come in contact with, an intimacy that doesn’t depend on the inclusion of something sexual whatsoever.
There is nothing wrong with this association between tantra and intimacy as long as intimacy isn’t equal to sex. The tantric worldview encompasses physical intimacy and connection but it is also very limiting as the tradition contains much greater texture and dimension. People who have deep seated fears or over developed needs for sex will find no fulfilment in the practice of tantra techniques. The best is to first practice meditation techniques and to enter an authentic relationship with instinctual partnering and sexuality. Once a person has observed the depth of his or her own sexuality, once that person has embraced totally who they are, only then can tantra and intimacy be entered into.
Tantra has a vast sutra tradition that represents many diverse schools and thoughts. This philosophical system of commenting on the technique began to take root in India around the seventh century. The variety of views ranges from more orthodox schools, which have structured rituals, meditations and teacher-based initiations, to more liberal schools which have a reputation for challenging social norms and using sexual practices as rituals.
Meditation hands the practitioner opportunities to observe the full spectrum of the unfolding procreation instinct in a person. There will be no doubt as to the wisdom of instinct and the associated lack of any need to fear what is in us. Yoga hands the practitioner the opportunity to sense the expression of procreation instinct throughout the entire body. The practitioner of yoga will realise that self-care is as important as taking care of the family.
TANTRA SUTRA, TANTRA PHILOSOPHY AND TANTRA METHOD:
The Rajanaka tantra lineage is a more centrist school which embraces many tantric teachings and makes them applicable to daily life. Let’s have a look at how they formulate the reasons why one should practice tantra techniques. Let’s see if this school embraces the tantra techniques or only a tantra sutra “to do” orientation.
Enrichment through diversity
Diverging views on how life functions can enrich the practitioner of tantra as the contemplation of surprisingly new ideas and perspectives tend to rid one of being stuck in outdated opinions. A clear sign of being stuck is when a person lives a single manifesto of right or wrong. Others have to follow the prescribed views or it is often seen as a lack of commitment to friendship.
Realisation that life is a gift
Hindu dominated yoga traditions are often obsessed with doing practices in order to liberate one from the human experience and re-join the underlying intimacy that exists between ourselves and the ones we are in contact with. Tantra philosophies recognize that people are already one with the people we come in contact with. Tantra techniques have as aim the exploration of the many gifts of the human interactive experience.
Skilful expression of intimacy
Tantra philosophies, tantra practices and tantra techniques have no interest in a static or structured union between people, neither does tantra wish for a melting pot that eradicates individuality. Tantra advocates a skilful participation with the gift of life where masculine and feminine concepts do not ask for definitions but are just enjoyed for what they are.
Resulting in a rich life
Life is what it is. People find within themselves a drive to procreate, to take care of family and to have in- and out-groups. When one embraces this fact and take life as a gift, when one gains awareness and you skilfully live your life, then it is clear that you will experience both great challenges and associated rewards. Life is no longer something to tolerate but we see ourselves co-creators of every moment of involvement in natural human instinct.
A fulfilled journey
While some spiritual traditions claim that there is a final end point to our journey, where one arrives at a final enlightenment experience and all depends on that moment, tantra asks of us to invest in the ongoing procreation journey as procreation is never ending. The fact is that one always has the possibility of learning more, seeing more, experiencing more and ensuring life remains passionate, intimate and procreative.
BENEFITS OF TANTRA PHILOSOPHIES, TANTRA PRACTICES AND TANTRA TECHNIQUES:
Benefits of tantra philosophies
When discussing tantra philosophies one gains insights in one’s own mindsets about life and in particular about procreation. The associated feeling can be one of euphoria and lasts between a few seconds to a few days.
Benefits of tantra practices
When one indulges in tantra practices then one experiences the build-up in anticipation and sexual excitement. The practice itself usually prove to be far less exciting than the expectation. Should some friendships have been established then the sense of well-being can last up to 21 days.
Benefits of tantra techniques
Very few tantra teachers does actual practice of tantra techniques, primarily because they have no idea about the origin of tantra and therefore they have no idea about the existence of tantra techniques. The tantra practices that follows on the philosophic discussions about the technique of tantra, that seems to be tantra techniques many sell to ill-informed students. When tantra techniques are practiced then the transformation in the person who practices it is lifelong, even if they stop the practice completely.
BENEFITS OF TANTRIC MEDITATION, TANTRIC YOGA AND TANTRA:
In the light of the previous paragraphs about the differences between philosophy, practice and technique, I want to list some benefits that are commonly shared by teachers with students and people who are interested in tantra. I am amazed how easily tantra becomes tantric meditation, tantric yoga and maybe I can even add tantric tantra. It all shows the lack of understanding about what the technique of tantra is.
· It improves your observation skills
· It improves your inner communication skills
· It betters your relationship with yourself
· Tantric meditation increases your awareness
· It improves and maintains your reproductive health
Benefits tantric yoga
· Tantric yoga rejuvenates improves your muscle tone
· It releases toxins and alleviates backache
· It tones your hips and reduces wrinkles
· It helps your body repair itself better when injured
Benefits of practicing tantra
· Tantra keeps you sexually intrigued for a longer time
· It improves your overall sexual development
· It improves your sexual stamina
· It betters your relationship with other people
· Tantra increases your self-confidence
EXAMPLES OF THE “TO DO” METHOD OF TANTRA:
Now we can look at how people add a focus to tantra and how tantra teachers derive benefits from that focus. Once again it is more in line with tantra philosophies and tantra practices and has nothing to do with tantra techniques. The focus here is tantric practices for a fabulous relationship. It digresses into a list of “to do” practices and becomes a methodology which is far removed from the essence of tantra.
Less words and more touch
Words lead to confusion but body touch is clear. Lay down together in spoon position. No need to talk and no need to do anything. If a movement starts then flow with it. Be open to feel the flow between two people.
Be clear about your presence
The greatest gift you can give your partner is your presence. It’s not that you have to be there and attentive all the time but to be clear about being present.
Listen consciously and communicate well
Really listen to your partner as we tend not to listen and can’t wait to introduce our own storyline. Ask questions and be interested in what they are sharing. Don’t start to give advice or solve a problem. Give feedback so that your partner feels heard.
Empower your partner with gender polarity
Instead of being best “mates”, instead of being identical copies of each other, rather empower your partner about their sexual essence. Work towards empowering a “male” man by honouring his male side and a “female” woman by worshipping her female side. The created polarity fosters sexual tension and therefore sexual attraction.
Be together and be fun
Break the routine of being serious all the time, make time to have fun together. People need the uplifting experience of having fun. Do crazy things that make you smile and feel happy. Do something you both enjoy and also be daring in surprising your partner.
Be loving and know what your partner needs
Different people have different needs. Find out what your partner needs. Some people like touch, others need kind words. Often people send the signals they want to receive themselves but miss out on the needs of their partner.
Share with others how fabulous your partner is
Often when one hears these words told to a third party, it lands differently. Talk about things that they find special about themselves. Stay away from anything they feel sensitive about.
Tell your partner how fabulous they are
Positive feedback that is specific and elaborate goes a long way. When telling your partner that you love him or her, be specific about what you find exciting in the present moment.
Admiration for the differences
You matched and you are together because you are different. However, it doesn’t remove the fact that we are individual and unique human beings. Have admiration for your differences instead of trying to change your partner. Set each other free and love will grow.
Take time to slow touch each other
Physical contact is crucial for a great relationship as well as for individual happiness. If you touch your partner, do it with a slow touch. Indulge in touch as if you are touching yourself. It doesn’t matter how long you touch but it does matter who you are when you touch. Make sure that your touch is free from reciprocity. It’s a true gift with no strings attached.
CONCLUSIONS ON TANTRA TECHNIQUES:
Benefits of practicing meditation, yoga and tantra in unison
When you meditate then you get out of your mind.
When you do yoga then you get into your body.
When you do tantra then you share with the people who you are with.
You need to practice all three together, you need to understand the origin of each technique and you need to make use of the opportunities that are offered to you by practicing meditation, yoga and tantra.
QUESTIONS ABOUT TANTRA TECHNIQUES:
Are you into philosophies about tantra? Are you into “to do” practices about tantra? Or are you practicing real tantra techniques?
-Martin du Toit