(Continued from The Catch: Tantra’s Sex Appeal and the Need for a Guru)
A branch of Tantrics, known as the Left Hand Path, supported, encouraged and condoned the use of sexual rituals as a means to cultivate spiritual enlightenment, whereas the majority of Tantrics, known as the Right Hand Path, frowned upon such, casting out the beliefs of the other group as erroneous, even dangerous. The Right Hand Path instead promoted celibacy as a means to mastery over desire and wanting, in order to merge with the Divine while in form.
Saying Tantra is about sex is like saying that Muslims are about terrorism. Nothing could be further than the truth. The vast majority of Muslims are a faith-loving, good people who promote wise and compassionate action. An extreme sect promotes the use of terrorism. The same could be said for Christianity and Buddhism and other world religions, where small sects seem to paint a general picture over the tendency of that belief system. Perhaps because we lack cultural and spiritual maturity as a people, we allow the flavour of one grape to affect the entire batch of wine.
I have always had a natural connection to the unseen realms, ever since I was a child. As such, my yoga and meditation practices and studies naturally and organically flowered into a relationship with the realm of the energetic. Fueled by the desire to understand what was naturally occurring within me in my yoga practice, I uncovered references in the Tantric texts to contextualize what I intuitively knew and what I was physically and energetically experiencing.
It has been in some sense a personal interest of mine to support a deeper understanding of Tantra through my musical works and performances, and through my yoga teaching method called YEM: Yoga as Energy Medicine. YEM naturally finds home in the Tantric traditions, since this Hatha Yoga practice emphasizes the alchemical power of breath and its relationship to the flow of life-force energy throughout body/being in order to create a body/being that consciously co-creates with the divine.
So I say to the New York Times article, “Come on! Really?” Surely we have evolved into a people that can hold the notion of potential paradox so that that a few does not colour the whole. A few Tantrics were keen on sexual rituals, whereas the majority stressed the rituals’ deviance from the spiritual path and warned of their self-deluding tendencies. But I guess if we elect presidents and leaders who are overly ready to press the button on war with alarming reactivity to fight terrorism, we must not be quite ready to see that a few does not make the whole. We may need more time to mature.
Until then, Tantra will be seen as being about funky sex and multiple orgasms, Hatha Yoga will come from a sex cult and yoga studios will be full of those who seek beautiful bums instead of spiritual alchemy. I used to own a yoga studio in Montreal, then one in Toronto. But my music career become too demanding so instead I offer YEM workshops as I tour my music and shows. I used to also teach Tantric workshops, but tired of having to continually explain that Tantra was not about orgies and how to master blissful sexual climaxes. Thanks to John Friend and the recent sex scandals, here is another opportunity to help clarify the beautiful and powerful roots of Hatha Yoga and Tantra, illustrating what it is, and what it is not. Thank you, John.
I believe that sex has a place in the spiritual arena and by no means, though my personal practice lies most naturally in the Right Hand Tantric field, do I dismiss it. But just like Tantra and yoga are easily misunderstood, so too do I feel that the spiritual power of sex is largely misunderstood and misdirected. Sexual power is after all the very force that creates life! So what are we creating with it, beyond new babies? Whatever consciousness we bring to sexual acts will be amplified through it. But this is for the topic of another blog.
Until next time, practice fierce discernment and courageously follow your deepest joy.