A Zen Master once said: “To be enlightened is to be intimate with all things.”
Even though this is from Zen, which is not often associated with Tantra, it’s the essence of the full power of tantra; both simple and profound. The Tantric path is becoming whole, fully uniting with all of reality realising the completed perfection of the present moment.
When I started studying tantra at a Tibetan Buddhist centre I came across the idea of a quick path to enlightenment. I was told Tantra is a high powered vehicle with incredible spiritual technology to propel you to the highest human potential within just a few years. Well I don’t know about all that any more but I know the Tantric meditations are powerful methods that have helped me enormously and are worth sharing with others.
I took Tantric initiations which gave me permission within the Tibetan Buddhist tradition to practise Tantra and later I discovered that included never ejaculating. This seemed pretty crazy at the time but it’s part of the power of tantra for men. The usual way of having sex is for orgasmic satisfaction, so what’s sex like without coming? I discovered it can be very rewarding. The journey of making love becomes the focus rather than the destination therefore there’s no rush which also fosters mindfulness and tenderness which I found to make a huge difference to how I would make love. Every moment of making love from foreplay to the woman’s fourth orgasm is ecstastic and instead of falling into a slump and sleeping after sex I was fully charged with what I can only describe as cosmic bliss energy, sometimes known as kundalini, which stays with me for days.
I’ve never been big on the idea of a pre destined soul mate because I feel every woman I have ever been with I have shared my soul. Tantra makes that connection even deeper, as Osho says:
“Tantra is the science of transforming ordinary lovers into soul mates. And that is the grandeur of Tantra. It can transform the whole earth; it can transform each couple into soul mates.”
There is more technique to tantra which I wont go into here but it involves, on an easy level channelling the sexual energy up the spine or more advanced to open up the ‘central channel’ to explode open the heart chakra and third eye which brings a different kind of inner orgasm, healing and can even bring on psychic abilities. Eventually this work leads to the appearances of a brilliant type of clear light state of conciousness usually only experienced at the time of death. This type of Tantric energy work can also be done through deep breathing and other techniques like mantra and visualisations. You can practise these without sex, one such breathing method is called Tummo which I explain in more detail HERE.
The art of Tibetan Tantra was started by normal folks, non monks practising their spiritual path through the act of sex, which was forbidden for the ordained community. It is harnessing arguably one of the most powerful forces in humans, that is the sex drive; as Mantak Chia says:
“The human being has a powerful sex drive – and just like you cannot keep ping-pong balls under water. Sometime, somewhere, they pop back up, maybe as disease, maybe as emotional problems, causing energy blockages, leading to illness.”
I believe the problems in the churches and monasteries often has to do with this suppressed powerful energy, it has nowhere to go and often comes out in inappropriate ways and can even cause mental illness. Not just the paedophilia plaguing the Catholic church or the raping of boys in Tibetan monasteries but also the subjugation of woman in religion as well. Instead of worshipping the female energy and all the natural healing it can bring, men have twisted a powerful natural energy into a violent and repressive force toward women.
Also religion turning sex into a sin, or in Buddhism is often seen as a desire to give up, demonizing it and bringing untold guilt into the lives of millions of people for a purely natural and healthy energy which holds huge potential for self development. Of course becoming addicted to sex can lead to problems and the misuse of sexual energy but the problem is not the sexual energy; as one Tibetan Buddhist master says:
“Contrary to what some people might believe, there is nothing wrong with having pleasures and enjoyments. What is wrong is the confused way we grasp onto these pleasures, turning them from a source of happiness into a source of pain and dissatisfaction.”
The Dalai Lama has said that everyone is equal in wanting happiness and wanting to avoid suffering. That’s a reasonable thing to say, it has been said that contentment is the highest form of happiness but that’s a bit boring for me, I think bliss is the highest form of happiness. It’s ok to want pleasure and bliss, the problems arise when we mistakenly believe the pleasure comes from the object and we can become addicted to that object or person causing jealousy and addiction – instead of realising that the bliss actually comes from unleashing the natural energy of love and bliss from within ourselves. by uniting so totally with someone.
The spiritual path has been seen as turning inward away from materialism and modern consumerism. Tantra helps to turn your attention inward toward an incredible storehouse of bliss and happiness. As lama Yeshe says when you discover the bliss of the internal kundalini energy, chocolate and other addictions pale in comparison. This is so true and has helped me give up chasing bliss in drugs and food and other things by learning to cultivate this internal energy through the path of Tantra. In Hinduism there is Satchitanada which is our fundamental nature at the deepest level. This nature is filled with untold bliss which is unleashed through the power of tantra, revelation and other spiritual methods.
I have pondered that tantra would be a fantastic method to teach recovering drug addicts, who already have great desire for pleasure which is actually what is needed to be successful at Tantric practise. Having worked with people in rehabilitation I once remember the counselors telling people in recovery to take up hobbies like gardening or surfing and just thinking to myself ‘that’s so lame’. But if you offer an addict more bliss and pleasure than any other drug without the comedown and with the side-effect of immense love, well that’s a rehab I believe would be both popular and effective. It’s at least worth a try when the current success rate of non relapse for addicts is around 5%.
This internal blissful energy cultivated through tantra is not just sexual it has amazing love and intelligence with it as well and once you have generated it through the art of sexual tantra you can use it all day to fall in love with everybody and anything. Intimacy with all things, merging with the current situation in a Tantric embrace of unity and wholeness. Tantric union does not finish when you leave the bedroom. You can harness the raw animal instinct of sex and channel into the heart centre exploding away barriers between you and the world.
“Each one of us is a union of all universal energy. Everything that we need in order to be complete is within us right at this very moment. It is simply a matter of being able to recognize it.” ~ Lama Yeshe
Everything we need for fulfilment and happiness is already within us Tantra just helps to expose it.
In The Lazy Man’s Guide To Enlightenment, Thaddeus Golas says the short cut to enlightenment is to love everything even the bad stuff; love your bad side your good side, everything. This is getting close to a Tantric relationship with everything, instead of the slower approach of getting rid of anger and jealousy etc which often seems impossible you transform these energies by embracing them and holding them within a sphere of universal bliss and love. Oneness is just that- One without exclusion. Embracing everything. Becoming whole.
“Tantra is a pathway, not just to sexual ecstasy but to personal healing and fulfilment.” ~ Andrew Barnes
A lesser known meditation practice of Tantra is changing your view of yourself from ordinary flesh into a divine vision of your body made of light, love and bliss and everything in the world made of the same. Love and light everywhere. It may sound cheesy but it has correlations with reality. The reality that everything IS energy.
The visualisations are united with the understanding that everything is moving and in relationship, there is no fixed or permanent anything. The whole world is a dance of emptiness and bliss. Seeing yourself as a divine being is called divine pride, creating the noble feeling that you are a being of love, light and bliss but without any ego of a fixed self you are an expression of cosmic or universal life force. Without the conceptual boundaries of separation you are freed to experience the continuity of everything – the seamless unity of the now.
“The feeling of being alive and at One with everything is available through the path of Tantra. When your heart is open and you are making love, there is no separation between you, your partner and God. This is healing sex. This is connecting with the Divine. And the important thing to develop is the sense that this sacred experience is available in all instants. It is not limited to sex.” ~Philip Smith
There’s an element of ‘fake it until you make it’ with Tantric visualisation. You may not be able to generate the actual kundalini energy to begin with but through imagining yourself as an unbounded being of love, light and bliss you start to slowly bring that energy to the moment and it is far better than our mundane egos filled with opinions and expectations.
This blissful current of energy cultivated through Tantra also has a deep love and intelligence and it begins to guide your life into ever increasing heights of syncronicity, healing and joy. The ego has gone and there is nothing left but a divine bliss leading the way transforming everything it encounters.
Tantra is becoming whole, re-embracing all the scattered and fragmented aspects of ourselves. In fact the root of word tantra in Sanskrit actually means ‘thread’ or ‘woven together’ or ‘continuum’. The word actually means that you are connected with everything in a seamless unity. When we learn to love everything about ourselves we can embrace the negativity in others with the same blissful acceptance and loving warmth which has the potential to transform every situation into Tantric wholeness. As Osho says:
“Find ecstasy within yourself. It is not out there. It is in your innermost flowering. The one you are looking for is you. You are the traveller and you are the destination. In experiencing the ecstasy of your own being, you have achieved the final goal.”
The Tantra path is ultimately about union, the union between you and the world so the boundary is forgotten. This is the vision of one-ness, the vision of unity. Other’s suffering is your suffering; that’s compassion, others happiness is your happiness; that’s love. What you do to others is actually what your doing to yourself; that’s karma. The illusory world of separation drops away and the full radiance of the divine shines through, that’s your true Self.
Written by Chad Foreman
Chad Foreman has been teaching meditation since 2003 and is determined to bring authentic meditation practices into the lives of millions of people. Chad is a former Buddhist monk and spent 6 years living in a retreat hut studying and practising meditation full time. He is now a fully qualified meditation teacher with the Australian Institute of Meditation and has designed a unique 21 day meditation challenge to guide people gradually from the basics of mindfulness and relaxation to profound states of awareness. Click Here to learn more about the 21 Day Meditation Challenge.