Many people on the planet view sex as a means to fun and pleasure, and there is definitely nothing wrong with that. However, in my opinion, it is a one-dimensional approach which overlooks the energetic power and cosmic essence of sex available to us as beings with consciousness. There is more to be gained – even in the sense of pleasure – if your focus is spiritual. When you go deeper, you fly higher….
The tantric masters studied the path to enlightenment much the same way scientists prove hypotheses, and they discovered some amazing things as a result:
1. Although there are many forms of energy, there is one form that is super-potent like the uranium in a nuclear reactor: the sexual energy. This is why the tantrics chose to focus on the sexual aspect – not because it’s kinky or because they were obsessed with sex. Rather it’s because they were obsessed with enlightenment! They found that they could use sexual energy, a force found in the manifested world, to reach beyond the manifested world.
2. Tantrics also looked into the nature of orgasm and found something incredible. For most people, an orgasm is a fleeting experience of perhaps a few seconds, and if you ask them what it was like they often say it was over so fast they couldn’t really describe it – except to say it was amazing. But the tantrics have been able to extend this time to several minutes or even an hour (literally, one full hour of orgasm). And, they realized it is possible to actually meditate during orgasm. Through these meditative experiences they discovered that orgasm is actually a certain form of enlightenment. The average person does not normally get to know this transcendent aspect of orgasm, as it is too short. But if you learn to extend it as the tantrics do, it is possible to experience that hour of infinity as a glimpse into the Divine.
How does a tantric couple experience sex?
I often use the analogy of my teacher that a great orgasm is a bit like God opening the curtains for a split second and saying “Hello!” and it happens so fast you cannot even understand what’s going on. But the tantrics explored whether it was possible to open the curtains for longer, with control, in order to spend more time in this enlightened state, and they discovered that it was entirely possible by following certain steps. To distill it down to the basics, this involves: slowing down, feeling the sexual energy and becoming aware of it, extending the duration of your lovemaking sessions, controlling the energy, and telling it where to go.
Through tantric practices, a couple can begin riding the wave of an orgasm. This type of orgasm cannot be compared to the quick peaking orgasm portrayed in Hollywood films, which is like a little explosion that flares up suddenly and is gone. Instead, it starts like a wave of pleasure, a feeling of unity and oneness with your partner and even the Divine. It goes deeper and deeper and the pleasure increases, and you start surfing the wave. If there is no loss of energy by either partner, and both know the techniques to control the energy that have been designed by tantric engineers over thousands of years (which we teach in our Spiritual Tantra Sexuality courses), the results are mind-blowing.
The couple can experience multiple soul-shaking, groundbreaking orgasms, after which the lovers emerge feeling as if they are not even the same people anymore. You experience a momentary shift in consciousness which is difficult to put into words – such a deep feeling of satisfaction and love, gratitude – a feeling that God is right next to you. You realize that you’ve been searching all your life for meaning and answers and find, instead, that it is all so simple, that you’ve had access to God the entire time within yourself. It sounds so cliché but it’s actually what happens – for a long moment this is your reality. You look into the eyes of your partner, with whom you just reached this state, and bliss encompasses both of you.
Modern Tantra, Kundalini and esoteric teachings
Today, many who teach Tantra take the core techniques and modify them with their own creativity, thinking that their own new version will improve on the teachings of tantric masters throughout thousands of years. In the past this did not happen because teachers aligned themselves along the teachings of the lineage, and followed their gurus explicitly because they knew that these practices had been tested and gave results. Perhaps people then had smaller egos and didn’t assume that they knew everything. Instead, they happily conceded, “I don't know everything; only my guru knows it all,” which is actually a sign of spiritual development because it requires a certain level of humbleness and opening of the heart. This is very much lacking today, unfortunately.
In a similar story, the Kundalini Yoga taught most commonly in Yoga studios of the modern era is nothing like the original Kundalini Yoga from the tantric tradition, the true form of tantric Yoga. The true Kundalini Yoga is incredibly powerful, and it brings results as if you are on an energetic highway. This is why in Tantra it is not taught to beginners, because you have to be ready for that. In fact, a certain ability to concentrate the mind and minimal levels of mental, emotional, and physical purity are crucial to having success and no damage during the practices.
It may be useful at this point to understand that Tantra is esoteric. What does that mean? First let us define “exoteric.” Exoteric teachings (what you will find in all major religions of the world) were created for the masses, and are suitable for everyone. Esoteric teachings, by contrast, are meant for an inner circle of practitioners, who are perhaps more serious and dedicate their lives to the path so they can go deeper and higher.
If you look at most major religions you will see that they have both an outer circle as well as inner circle. For example, in the Jewish tradition, you have the Kabbalah as the esoteric school of thought. In Islam, it is Sufism. That said, in Tantra and Yoga, there is no exoteric approach – it is only esoteric. However, in the modern day we see that much of what is being taught to people has been adapted and diluted – and even distorted in bizarre ways that have nothing to do with the authentic traditions – so it is difficult to find genuine esoteric teachings.
At Somananda Tantra School we are teaching precisely the ancient spiritual knowledge and you will have the direct guidance of an accomplished teacher.
So sex is not a distraction from the spiritual path?
That’s correct. Tantra is different from most religions in that it uses energy – thus, it is not ascetic (and it is not a religion!). It is, therefore, unlike Buddhism, where the monks are celibate, stay mostly removed from society, and eat very little (which removes most of the juicy energy from their lives). Their main spiritual practices are meditation and prayer – and there is nothing about dance, sexuality, or art. This is because, for those on an ascetic path, energy is seen as a distraction which needs to be avoided. Energy can trick your mind and keep you locked in desire and fantasy. It can be difficult to focus in meditation when daydreaming about sex or chocolate cake! The ascetic path works for reaching higher states of consciousness, but today only appeals to a very small percentage of people. How many people would come to a 21-day silent meditation retreat vs. how many would come to a 21-day Tantra retreat full of exciting sexual teachings and even sexual practices? So, Tantra is not ascetic, it uses energy – full-on energy, but practiced with equal amount of control.
Tantra realizes that everything is created by the Divine, and therefore all of creation and energy itself is divine. The path is to learn how to fully immerse ourselves in this divinity without being distracted by an approach centered around mundane worldliness. Tantra says “yes” to manifestation, to illusion, or “maya.” It acknowledges that we are living in a dream world, with a dream body, living in a dream house and reading this article on a dream computer/device, and says, “Let us use this energy that is hiding within the dream to reach beyond the dream” – to reach realization of the Divine.
What kind of sexual knowledge will people gain at our retreats?
It really depends which retreat you choose to join. In our school the curriculum starts from the sexual teachings of Tantra – as this is usually the most urgent for many people – and moves further into the Higher Tantra of meditation and Yoga.
However, let me share one of the tantric perspectives on the masculine/feminine union that we explore in our retreats to give you a little glimpse into the difference between modern portrayals of sex and the tantric approach.
A man’s sexual energy is like fire – it flares up quickly and dies down quickly as well. A woman’s sexual energy is like water – it can take time to boil but can stay hot for a long time. The woman, due to being born in a female body – which is more connected to the earth and its vitality – has a better connection with energy as well, and especially sexual energy. The woman, or “Shakti” energy, is worshipped in Tantra because once the energy boils, there is really no limit to how much accumulates and is sustained. And tantric men, instead of ejaculating and bringing the sexual encounter to an end, learn to maintain their sexual energy for longer and longer periods. They put their focus on the woman. The woman has the ability to download huge amounts of energy, translating it into orgasmic potential and pulling the man into orgasm with her (specifically there are seven types of orgasm a woman can experience!).
We are not talking about five-minute sex, but rather a wave of pleasure that builds into more, and more, and more…. This is where the cliché of five-hour tantric sex comes from. Some people ask how they will find the time for this in their busy lives, but having a four-hour orgasm is not an experience you will ever complain about or be bored with or ever forget! Trust me ☺
About Liisa Maimon
Liisa was born in Estonia, and is the co-founder and general manager of Somananda Tantra School. She and her husband, Somananda, teach Tantra in many places around the world including Europe, South and Central America, and India.