What is Tantra?
“Tantra says, if sex is so vital that life comes out of it, then there must be something more to it. That something more is the key towards divinity.” -Osho
Tantra is a spiritual tradition that affirms the value of sexual energy as a source of inspiration, vitality, and insight. Oftentimes we are led to believe that pursuing sex is selfish or hedonistic, but we can use the power of pleasure to transform our being.
“Sex is a very mysterious phenomenon. You start it, but a moment comes when you are no more. You lose your mind; the energy takes hold of you, possesses you.” -Osho
We all know that sex is an intense experience. Sexual energy has the power to shake us out of our usual habits, worries and preoccupations. The tantric tradition states that we should not be embarrassed by our sexual needs and desires. Instead, we should use them as a way to wake ourselves to our creative potential and delight in life.
Tantric massage works to ignite sexual energy and then to disperse it throughout the body, as opposed to simply concentrating it and building it up to a climax. This leads to a much more expansive, full-bodied state of pleasure, that allows us to access deeper states of consciousness.
“When you become more sensitive, when you start feeling your inner presence, you are bridged with reality; you start dancing, singing, celebrating each moment of life. And you start feeling thankful, thankful towards the whole. With each breath there is a thankfulness, a deep gratefulness, that you are.” -Osho
My hope is that tantric massage can help bring you closer to feeling this deep thankfulness for being the beautiful person you are.
Want to know more?
There is a lot of information - and misinformation - about tantra in the West. Here is some basic information about the tantric tradition.
Tantra most probably originated somewhere in India, and has had many different proliferations and manifestations. There is no "one" tantra - this was a concept created by European anthropologists in the 19th Century. Tantra is a set of texts, rituals, disciplines, yogas, meditations and philosophies that have been drawn into some branches of Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. Today, tantra is mostly centred in India, Nepal and Tibet, though small pockets exist in Mongolia, Russia and Japan.
Some of the core ideas that encapsulate the tantric tradition are:
the idea that life/consciousness is basically good, inherently pure, completely whole
that liberation is available and accessible to us in each moment
the microcosm of our body is inextricably linked to the macrocosm of the universe
the ultimate state is one of non-duality. Believing in duality is a deluded state of being.
the importance of symbolism and ritual
Sexual tantra is a small part of the larger tradition. The link between sexuality and tantra is mostly a Western creation. So you may be wondering what the link is? Because tantra sees all the energetic manifestations of consciousness as basically good and pure, sexual energy has never been demonized as it has in other religious traditions. Instead of ignoring sexual energy, it is being invited into the light, to be inspected carefully.
Sexual energy has several unique qualities:
it can easily take us into expanded states of consciousness
it is deeply relaxing, a natural way to let go of stress and tension
it gives the mind a focus within the body, thus allowing for deeper states of embodiment
it allows the mind to stay vibrant and awake, not dulling into sleep or lethargy
In the teachings of sexual tantra, it is understood that when we awaken sexual energy and let it expand through our body (instead of just concentrating it in our genitals), it has the power to restore, heal, transform and awaken. This is often referred to as a "kundalini awakening."
As someone born and raised in Canada, and not native to the teaching of Tantra, I am aware of the concerns around cultural appropriation. Cultural appropriation exists within the context of the history of colonization and exploitation of the world by European and American powers. Just as colonial powers in the past would enter a colonized land and strip it of its resources without compensating the people of that land, cultural appropriation is use of images, symbols, words, rituals and concepts outside of their original context to benefit people with power and privilege, without sharing that benefit with the people it came from.
Obviously some of us in the West have benefitted enormously from the name "Tantra" and its associated teachings. Some of the ways that we can mitigate cultural appropriation is:
acknowledging and honouring the history and roots of the associated concepts
having a living connection with the tradition from which we are sourcing
offering financial and energetic support back to the tradition and culture from which we are sourcing, especially when we are profiting from it
de-centring oneself and inviting the tradition to speak for itself when possible (i.e. inviting elders, original quotations, etc.)
My main connection to the tradition of Tantra is through the Shambhala Buddhist tradition, a Kagyu-Nyingma lineage of Tantric Tibetan Buddhism, brought to the West by the Venerable Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche. Shambhala International is a community of primarily westerner practitioners of which I am an active paying member. Shambhala does not teach sexual tantra. My understanding of sexual tantra has been informed by my mentor Sequoia Thom, courses through the Body Electric, and readings through Osho Bhagwan Rajneesh & Mantak Chia.