23 Jun What Tantra is NOT, and why it’s important to distinguish
Vice Media recently released a video meant to enlighten the general public about the topic of Tantra.
As I watched the video entitled “10 questions you always wanted to ask a Tantric Sex Guru”, I was deeply alarmed by the way this powerful healing practice was being represented by the individual they chose to be the voice of all Tantric practitioners world-wide.
Though I have nothing against this young man personally, I have serious misgivings about a male Tantric practitioner who chooses to call himself “Shaft”, and what that name choice indicates about his motivation for practice.
I was also deeply alarmed at how the word “Tantra” was being used in this video to describe practices that have very little to do with traditional lineage based Tantra.
Luckily though, Shaft does not claim to be a bearer of lineage based Tantra, having graduated from the school of Urban Tantra.
And therein lies the problem. At no point in this video did Shaft qualify the type of Tantra he was espousing to be so well versed in.
He simply said “Tantra is”, and “Tantra does”, as if the version of Tantra he was presenting represented all forms, schools and lineages of Tantra in their entirety.
This is problematic because very little of what Shaft presented as “Tantra”, was in fact Tantra, according to traditional lineage based practices.
In fact, there was quite a bit of what he shared which was completely incorrect from this standpoint. Which again, would not be an issue if he qualified the style of Tantra that he was supposedly an expert in. If he had called himself a “Western Neo Tantric Sex Guru”, all would be well.
But to present himself simply as a “Tantric expert”, with no quantifier of style, is misleading and a misrepresentation of true Tantra.
Much like modern day Yoga practice, Tantra is spreading like wildfire across mainstream America, and it’s extremely important for those of us who are Tantra practitioners to qualify the style of Tantra we are teaching, in order to avoid sowing seeds of confusion and misperception.
It is also vitally important to give students, clients, and consumers the option and ability to choose what type of Tantra they want to engage in.
There are vast and subtle differences in the various styles and lineages of Tantric practice, and because true Tantra is a very ancient healing modality, these difference can have a profound impact on each individual.
For instance, the Tibetan-based Tantric Five Element Practices, which are the foundation of the style of Tantra that we offer at Authentic Tantra, use a completely different chakra system from traditional Hindu based practices.
This is important because how and where you place your chakras determines how your energy body functions, and according to Tibetan Medicine, the energy body is senior to the physical body.
In fact, your physical body is essentially an emanation of your energy body, and the Tibetan Five Element practices are the methods to directly access your energy body in order to cultivate physical, mental, emotional , and spiritual health and wellness.
Conversely, if your energy body practice is out of alignment, you can also cultivate illness-physical, mental, emotional and spiritual.
This is why having lineage-based instruction in Tantric practice can be so important.
I personally think its wonderful that more and more attention is being paid to reuniting sexuality with spirituality in the mainstream world. But as the desire for Tantric wisdom grows, it also becomes increasingly important for those of us who represent the different styles of Tantra to clarify what we are teaching, and where it comes from, in order to ensure that this ancient (and modern) wisdom is being transmitted with the authenticity and honor that it deserves.
And as we practitioners begin to gain more recognition, it is important for us to remember what Tantra is and is not about:
Tantra is not about stroking the ego. It is not about contrivance or pretense. It is not about creating or reinforcing a false sense of self, or presenting yourself as a “Master”, “Guru” or Goddess to be worshipped and adored.
The most authentic Tantric practitioners are the most humble, the most uncontrived, the most unattached to how they appear to others.
True Tantra is about cultivating equanimity, balance, shared wisdom, shared power, and benefit for all living beings. There is no hierarchy in true Tantra. Teacher and student are one and the same.
For the consumer, it’s important for you to know that unlike what was represented in the Vice video, learning Tantra does not require physical contact. In fact, most traditional Tantric practices are non sexual, and are practiced alone.
When learning sexual Tantra, physical contact with your instructor is still not required. Some people prefer to learn tantric methods though physical contact, and when this occurs, this usually falls under the category of Neo Tantra.
Traditional Tantric practice will never require you to get naked with your teacher in order to learn the traditional methods. When learning to apply traditional tantric methods (such as the Tibetan Five Element practices), for the purpose of sexual healing, you still are not required to get naked with your teacher. All instruction can be conveyed verbally and visually with anatomical models.
Tantric Healing sessions can also be done fully clothed, though sexual healing sessions specifically obviously do require you to be unclothed, and willing to receive touch. But Tantric healing sessions are not the same as learning Tantra. They are usually a blend of somatic healing methods, yogic breathing techniques, and specific traditional Tantric methods applied for the purpose of catalyzing the release of emotion and trauma which is stored in the body.
Tantric Healing sessions are one of the most beautiful evolutions of traditional Tantric practice, as they give us very practical, effective tools for overcoming the epidemic of sexual trauma in this culture.
You can also learn to give yourself “Tantric” healing sessions, and in fact, this is one of the methods that we specialize in teaching to our students-how to become your own sexual healer using traditional Tantra and modern somatic healing methods.
Traditional Tantra is potent medicine for healing. When woven with modern body-based healing practices, it allows us to transform trauma and wounding which holds us back from realizing our full potential in life. And it’s also important to remember that realizing our full potential in life does not necessarily look like owning 10 houses and driving a Rolls Royce.
Realizing our full potential means being a mature, compassionate, beneficial human being, who is making this planet a better place through their thoughts, words, deeds, and actions. This is the true power and purpose of traditional Tantra – to alleviate suffering and the causes of suffering- thus restoring our natural capacity for love, compassion and connection with ourselves and all sentient beings.
My Teacher says – “You are truly practicing Tantra when inner peace, spontaneously arising joy, deepening compassion for others, and a desire to be of service and benefit to all living beings are the natural and inevitable results of your practice.”
(Click HERE to view the Vice Media Video)