With media and the Internet providing ready information and resources for new-fangled and sex-focused adaptations of Tantra, it is no wonder that many people giggle or perk up when they hear the word. And while many Western contrivances or Neo-Tantras focused on the erogenous may be ultimately beneficial in a world where negative ideas about bodies and body image issues abound, the truth is that there are charlatans out there under the guise of Tantra praying on people’s insecurities and self-doubts about what it means to be a powerful and unique incarnation in this world.
I find that troubling. Some do it because they have discovered that putting sex on a spiritual menu under the pretext of an ancient tradition gives their wares or services credibility, and with that the justification for a price tag. The problem with this is that too many people, including some who would likely benefit from a much deeper understanding of Tantra, believe the superficial sexual practices offered to be the doorway to spiritual progress. In truth, these usually go no further than a freeing of libido—if that—and the cost on both material and subtle levels can be enormous.
But, yes, Tantra is about sex, and sex can help one on the spiritual path. It is just that Tantra is absolutely not about sex in a titillating, seductive, or even exploratory sense. It is about the whole of who we are, inclusive of our sexuality, dedicated to a process of liberation—and not just sexual liberation (although sex may be one vehicle for realization of the ultimate goal). I will write more about the heart of Tantra in other posts, but for now, I will offer that Tantra in its essential teachings, if we are to focus for a moment longer on sex, is strictly about sex as one tool among others capable of quickly moving us beyond internalized and deep-seated fears and oppressions arising from the external impositions, taboos and obstacles of society, culture and religion. And that, I offer, is a lot more than just a new way to attain orgasm.