from Head Magazine February 1976
Tantric yoga! The mere utterance of the four syllables seems to bring to the minds of westers thoughts of secret cemetery ceremonies in a howling Tibetan moonlit wind, of pleasures tasted only on dark streets among hovels, of sexual encounters undreamt of in their sweetness during waking hours.
And to some degree the images will be correct, became the religion and rituals flowing out of the introduction of Buddhism into Tibet in the 8th Century AD often have included magic, sorcery, black practices, and general sexual weirdness. For example, on Tantric text written for the initiate into the performance reads:
Meditation is good if performed at night beneath a lonely tree of in a cemetery, or in the mother’s house of in some unfrequented spot…
Take a girl, fair-featured and large-eyed and endowed with youth and beauty…
One binds the face of the prajna (male initiate) and likewise of the upuya (female initiate) and the product of the service on drops in the (female pupul’s mouth…
Take her then who is now consecrated with the depositing of the seed of enlightenment…
As religiously hypocritical and perhaps even ritually absurd as this may seem to the Western reader, however, there is a great degree of reason behind all this; and if we can see into that reason, that way of looking at the world, Tantrics claim, we of the west will often find our spirits liberated and our sex lives much improved.
Of all. the twists and turns that sects of many religions have taken, the Tantric.is perhaps the most neglected, and least understood. There are primarily two reasons for this, both springing …from the nature of Tantra itself. The first is the way in which ‘the tradition has been deliberately hidden from others. “The scriptures are Written in a particular convention, a language of double meanings and secret conventions,” Writes Lucien Stryk. They were encoded into a written formula knows as Twilight Language, which “serves as a pretection against the snoopings of other sects and the misuses of yoga practices by the uninitiated.”
The second reason is this—that in all the extant religious doctrines in the East (and most in the West) except the Tantra, enlightenment or salvation is to be found in the denial of sense-gratification. Most eastern gurus are celibate, as Catholic priests are expected to be. According to Omar Garrison, an expert in Tantric doctrines, the early Christian church tried to push celibacy on all its followers, but finally had to settle for celibacy, outside of the marital state. “By way of concession, not of commandment, he (Paul) permitted sexual union within marriage.”
In the Tantric path, of enlightenment, however, we find nearly the opposite, occurring—the Tantrics talk of finding peace, harmony, calm and enlightenment not by gagging the senses but by indulging them. Tantrism itself has been defined as “using the senses to go beyond the senses…”. This school of thought finds nothing unenlightening in the initiate’s fullest use of sound, taste, smell, touch, and color to achieve his or her full- potential. One rather suspects that this alone is enough to cause the adherents of most religious traditions to view Tantra as obscene.
The question may arise, “Why do all this? What’s the purpose?” Let Omar Garrison answer:
Through wholehearted study and application of the sexual principles of Tantiic Yoga, man can achieve sexual potency which enables him to extend the ecstasy crowning sexual union for, an hour or more, rather than for the brief seconds he knows. This is far more than prolongation… the sexual union does not result in exhaustion or depletion but in complete relaxation or revitalization. This is the goal of Tantric Yoga.
Other claims are also made as to the efficacy of the Tantric system in producing such powers as the ability to stop aging the ability to remember, control and interpret dreams; and—eventually—to enter fire without burning oneself; to become invisible in a Crowd; to walk incredibly fast; to read others thoughts; to create such, heat with the body as, to melt snow; and to astrally project the body both in space and through solid objects. Space, however, does not permit extended discussion of these disciplines here.
Ram Dass describes the process in a more mystical way: “We can both see we are desiring each other but instead of rushing immediately into the melodrama that that the desire leads to…you can take the energy that is aroused… and stay, with it… and pretty soon You’ve taken that energy formed by the relation between polar opposites (male and female) and you’ve used that energy to bring yourself into higher states of consciousness….”
The Tantric method of sexual intercourse has other benefits, too; claims Bhagwan Rajneesh, the leading exponent of Tantra in America-today.
Ninety percent of women do not even know what orgasm is. They have never known it; they have never reached a peak of such blissful convulsion of the body that every fiber vibrates and every cell comes alive…modern science and old Tantra both say that unless a woman is deeply fulfilled orgasmically, she, will be a problem ….
He also addresses the problem of premature ejaculation in males:
The concept of God in people’s minds is just that of a Peeping Tom. He is always watching you. This attitude creates anxiety. And when anxiety there ejaculation comes too soon.
When there is no anxiety, ejaculation can, be postponed for hours—even for days.
He criticizes Western sexual practices as destructive, both on the relational level and the level of physical health:
We are for instant coffee and instant sex. With coffee sit is good, but with sex it is simply nonsense… through haste you will destroy it.
How then, is one to achieve the, results of Tantric practices? The sources differ on this point, but one thing they agree on one must start with a new way of looking not only et the sex act, but at life in general. It is not healthy, they insist, on either a physical or spiritual level, to look at sex either as a dirty…act or as “just getting laid”. (which-are actually opposite sides of the same coin; both demean sex). They especially warn that approaching Tantric practice as a “better way of getting laid” could complicate-one’s sexual problems.
What is necessary say the texts, is a wish, a willingness to see not only sex, but life, in a new light—that of a constant exchange and transmutation of energy, as the constant union and dissolution of the energy of the world. Your goal, they say, must be to Purify yourself enough to pick up on that energy (without, diminishing anyone else’s, which is black magic) and to find that energy in everything (including sex, which is usually exhausting). Tantrics say that many Westerners see life as a conflict between themselves and the forces of nature, and between themselves and others (the General Motors Ethic?) and that it is precisely that attitude which must be given up. They cite, for example the rapidity with which Westerners breathe, in Comparison to yogis who can live for hours on one-tenth the oxygen that we use in a few minutes. As a matter of fact, the Tantric …disciplines begin with just that—breathing exercises—as do Many Eastern disciplines. They claim that breath is more than air coming and going to the lungs: it is our main source of contact with the universal energy force, prana—the same Source that Einstein was seeking to express equationally toward the end of his life.
Let Us be in then with Tantric breathing exercise designed to coax the body into relaxation and self-awareness.
Assume a posture—any posture—wherein the spine is straight, from the bottom to the back of the beck. It can be sitting, reclining, or in Yoga-lotus position. After taking this posture and become comfortable with it, relax for several seconds, and try to empty your mind of the day’s nonsense.
Then EXHALE slowly, all the air you can, drawing in the stomach, side and back muscles to force out all the air in the bottoms and sides of your lungs.
INHALE very slowly to the count of seven. Pause for one count, then exhale again slowly to the count of seven. Repeat this cycle at least twelve times relaxing the body and clearing the nasal passages. This will make all that is to follow much easier. If your nostrils aren’t clear after twelve repetitions, do it a few more times, until they are.
Once your breath is flowing clearly and with the proper rhythm, pull the air in all you can—through both nostrils, and keep (or push) the breath in your mouth. Bulge out your cheeks, and hold that position for as long as it is comfortable. Don’t overdo it, as pain is not the point of this exercise. As soon as you feel like bursting, exhale explosively and rapidly through the mouth.
Try to picture, when doing this exercise, the prana, or life-force, coming in with your breath and permeating every pore of your body.
After you have mastered this exercise (and only after), gradually build up the time that you hold the breath in both during the cycle of twelve breaths and the cheek bulging breath. (Remember not to do this too soon, as impatience may lead both to tiring quickly and to muscle strain). Slowly build the count of the… breath cycle to 7-2-7 (repeating it twelve times at each practice), and eventually build it Up to 10-5-10. Your lung capacity will expand tremendously, and the exercise, when. fully developed, should have good results on your health and posture, too.
Following this exercise, the. aspiring Tantric student must perform an exercise developing his/her perception of color. For this exercise, the same breathing pattern can be used as in the breath-exercise, with the added dimension of color.
Assume a comfortable, straight-spine posture. Begin to breathe rhythmically to whatever count you are by now using. On the first inhalation, visualize the color red flowing and infusing your body first in the area directly below the lungs—the genital and abdominal region—then up your spinal column to the back of your head. Pause a second. Then exhale. Pause a second. Do this three times. On the fourth breath, replace the color red with the color yellow. Do the “Yellow, breath” three times. Then blue. And finally, brilliant white—the brilliance of the “White light” that is a combination of all the others, the yogi’s dream. Performs this exercise twelve times at your convenience.
The next exercise concerns the use of sound, and it is this practice that will particularly cause impatience in people used to push-button radios and fast food:
Do the same breath exercise. At each inhalation and exhalation, repeat the syllable OM. Do it one hundred and eight times. That’s right—108. This is a magical number in Indian lore, and is the musical rhythm for many Indian compositions.
If that does nothing for you, another exercise exists for the impatient, which Tantrics claim will give you enough experience in hearing the Divine Sounds to make you want to go back and do the first:
Sitting in the straight spine posture, rest your elbows on something relatively soft (perhaps a pillow on a table). Put your thumbs over hour ear-openings, and close your eyes with the index fingers. Close your lips with the remaining fingers. Concentrate only on the sounds you hear in the inner ears. Omar Garrison comments about his exercise:
After some practice, the student will find that his mind is more and more absorbed in the sounds, so that he forgets his body, senses and thoughts. He loses himself in the vast sea of sound vibrating throughout the universe.
After mastery of these introductory exercises. Tantrics say that one is physically ready to take part in marihuana—the divine consecration of the sex act.
What, exactly does the Tantric sex act consist of? The largest difference, and the one Westerners may find hardest to swallow (punintended), is that there is no ejaculatory orgasm. The usual orgasm, which is referred to as the “peak orgasm” by Bhagwan Rajneesh, is replaced by another, supposedly more intense, longer-lasting more relaxing “valley orgasm.” The Tantric doctrine is adamant about this-there must be surrender, relaxation, and above all, no emission. This is the only way that the superior, “valley” orgasm comes into being.
There are also other differences between “normal” and Tantric sex act. They can be summarized this way”
- temporary relief peak of excitement “throwing off” energy control
- “Peak orgasm”
- post-ejaculatory exhaustion
- change of energy level valley of relaxation “taking in” of energy surrender
- “valley orgasm”
- post-orgasmic ecstasy
The difference as you can emphasizes the basic viewpoint of Tantrism that harmony, rather than conflict, is the path to liberation it is especially, emphasized in Tantric texts that conflict—physical, emotional, and relational—must be absent for the technique work. Both partners not only must desire each other at that particular time, but also must desire to take one another to the same place.
It is also emphasized that the new pattern of sexual response not develop overnight, but takes several weeks. Within a Period within three weeks or a month—the Valley will – start appearing,” says Bhagwan Rajneesh.
The actual technique for producing the Valley orgasm is quite simple. Both partners, upon realizing that they want to have sex, the breathing exercise for a few, minutes, then meditate; then start. It is recommended that only such embraces be performed as keep going, not inflame it Eventually, the man enters the woman; and they simply relax one within the other, until eventually the body reaches a Valley orgasm of its own accord. It cannot be emphasized enough that if the male actually ejaculates, the whole trip is down the drain, and they must start the whole process (including the several-week waiting period) over again.
Tahtric manuals differ on the complex esoteric parts of the maithuna ritual, but. All agree that this is the best method. For the couple that is having trouble, Bhagwan Rajneesh advises that the woman should be on top this discourages the male from pumping, and allowes for her (usually), lesser weight to be supported for longer periods of time than the reverse would comfortably permit.
Tantric Yoga is more than just a set of sexual techniques it is a whole new way of looking at the world. Hence, the initiate must be willing to invest a great deal of time and energy in order to experience its benefits. The rewards, however, are said to be commensurate with the commitment. Most authorities agree that a couple can have this kind of sex as often as they wish and that both partners will always find it revitalizing.
For more information about tantric Yoga the interested reader may consult the following
Ram Dass the only Dance there (Doubleday 1974)
Ommar Garrison Tantra the Yoga of Sex (Avon, 1964
Lucien Strykled) word of the Buddha (Double day
Bhagwan Rajneesh/Swami Harideva Going All the Way New Age Jouranl (no 4 Pril 1975)
Originally Published in Head Magazine – February 1976