What is love?

What is love? What comes to your mind when I ask that question? Is it romantic love and sex? Is it religious or spiritual love? Is it filial or parental love? I guess most people would choose out of these options. Would any of us refer to self-love? Without an apologetic tone in our voices? Self-love might start with a rational analysis of our worth and achievements, probably in line with prevailing social and cultural norms. However, such contemplations risk remaining purely intellectual in nature and are likely, therefore, to end in self-condemnation and feelings of inferiority or – quite the opposite – egoic pride and a sense of superiority. To counteract this kind of mental cul-de-sac, the good news is that there’s a more authentic and deeper self-love that can be accessed when we step beyond the rational, thinking mind and the pull of the emotions. This self-love might be experienced as an incredibly calming energy that pervades your whole body, giving you a deep sense of presence, acceptance of the moment and connectivity with all that surrounds you. Tantric techniques aim to stimulate more of this kind of self-love. As such, Tantra offers “the greatest empowerment of all: the power to determine your own inner state, regardless of external circumstance.”[1]

Extract from my book “She Who is Unto Herself”

[1] Wallis, C.D. (2013) Tantra Illuminated. Mattamayura Press: San Rafael, CA, p.192.

Understanding relationships

Through numerous, relatively short-lived relationships with men, Joy had been forced to learn detachment and how to stand on her own two feet. She had discovered that relationships referred to something much more encompassing than mere intimate relations with members of the opposite sex. There was the relationship that existed between each man and woman and the rest of the human race, for example. And beyond that, Joy was learning to sense the relationship that existed between her self and the Soul – the human Soul; not her individual soul, which was another illusion created by the limitations of the rational mind. Even more encompassing was the relationship between humanity and the planetary entity, or greater still, the larger cosmos. When she looked up at the stars at night, Joy experienced a sense of revelation. How short-sighted it was of humans to go about their daily lives without due consideration for their place in the universe. This wider cosmic perspective on relationships was paralleled by her contemplation of the smallest aspect of her being – the cells in her body that were, in essence, nothing more or nothing less than energy. Continue reading

Some thoughts on sacred sexuality

I join the camp of those persons who have come to the conclusion that our sexuality is for much more than conceiving a child, although at a certain point in our lives that might be the major purpose. I believe sexual energy, when correctly understood and worked with, has the potential to be an important part of our spiritual learning on the physical plane, not least because the states of consciousness we’re capable of attaining during and after a sexual exchange are so much more subtle and significant than our ordinary state of awareness. By joining together at the level of heart, body and mind, lovers can access the Infinite. This is one of the goals of a tantric sexual union, which is something much more encompassing than the mere satisfaction of lust or the release of pent-up sexual energy. “Sex must not remain sex; that is the Tantra teaching. It must be transformed into love. And love also must not remain love. It must be transformed into light, into meditative experience, into the last, ultimate mystic peak.”[1]

Andre van Lysebeth suggests that human beings have two sexual poles: the species pole located in the genitals, which is associated with the urge for procreation that’s visible in many life forms, not just humans; and, the individual pole located in the brain, which is specific to the human race. [2]  By connecting at a heart-level with our lover, we can bridge the gap between the species (body) and individual (mind) poles: Continue reading

What’s the definition of Tantra?

From my research, I came up with the following translations and conceptualisations for Tantra, which are used also by other authors/seekers in addition to the ones quoted here:

“The term ‘Tantra’ is derived from the Sanskrit root tan for ‘expanding’. Tantra, therefore, means ‘that which expands awareness’.”[1]

Tan means to expand, while tra means to liberate. So Tantra describes itself as an expansion of the knowledge and practice that liberates us from suffering.”[2]

André van Lysebeth uses the word Tantra “to refer to a body of millennia-old doctrines and, above all, practices” and suggests that one meaning of Tantra is “the instrument to expand the field of ordinary consciousness in order to reach supraconsciousness, the root of one’s being and the wellspring of unknown powers that Tantra seeks to awaken and harness.” [3]

One of the definitions provided by Georg Feuerstein in “Tantra: the Path to Ecstasy” is that: “…tantra is the ‘expansive’, all-encompassing Reality revealed by wisdom. As such it stands for ‘continuum’, the seamless whole that comprises both transcendence and immanence, Reality and reality, Being and becoming, Consciousness and mental consciousness, Infinity and finitude, Spirit and matter, Transcendence and immanence, or, in Sanskrit terminology, nirvana and samsara.[4]

In his list Feuerstein could have included the terms Shiva and Shakti, which are implied in all the pairs he mentions – transcendence (Shiva) and immanence (Shakti), Consciousness (Shiva) and mental consciousness (Shakti), etc. Continue reading

Walking on the fire of an unmet need

For young people, it’s easy to project hopes into the future because time is on youth’s side. However, as we get older, the future has less appeal, perhaps, because it also means aging with the health concerns and psychological challenges that might entail. For this reason, it’s more important than ever to find a way of feeling hope in the present, even if we have a need that’s unmet, maybe one that’s been unmet for a long time already. So how can we feel hope and fulfilment in such circumstances?

One technique – from what I label the way of the warrior because it requires copious amounts of courage – is to walk on the fire of the emptiness of your unmet need i.e. to look your need square in the face. A pitfall to be aware of is the unconscious act of projecting your needs onto a person or thing as a way of finding relief when a need is being unmet. Projection oftentimes sooner or later brings suffering, when/if the person or thing identified as filling the need does not in fact do so, and this truth eventually becomes undeniable and has to be acknowledged. Continue reading

Questioning the purpose of sexual energy

It’s probable that from puberty until the very last day of our lives on the physical plane, our sexuality will hang around with us like a constant companion. On average, this bottles down to 55-60 years of sexual energy, during which time, potentially each day – depending on the degree of our sex drive – we’ll be either looking for an outlet for our sexuality or trying to repress it. So, do our sex organs really only equate to reproductive organs? This would translate as decades of sex drive to produce a mean of 1.5–2 children per family (average statistic for Western cultures). Doesn’t that seem strange and imbalanced?

In relation to men, Mantak Chia provides another interesting statistic and comes to the same final conclusion: “… an estimated 25% to 40% of our chi energy taken in through food, air, and sunlight just to manufacture this sperm energy and maintain sexual readiness. Why does the body spend so much of its valuable resources to produce billions of sperm cells and regulate them with an accompanying hormonal system? Simply to produce a few children over the course of a lifetime? Nature is not that extravagant.”[1] Continue reading

Body consciousness

Tantrists and Taoists believe that our physical bodies are intelligent and conscious right down to the cellular level. Consequently, the body is seen to be much more than a set of mechanistic organs and interconnecting physiological systems, which is the standard attitude adopted by Western allopathic medicine. The tantric viewpoint is that: “…the human body is, in the final analysis, not merely unconscious matter but a stepped-down version of superconscious Energy. […] if the body is not merely the sarcophagus of an immaterial soul but a vibrant, living reality suffused with the same Consciousness that also animates the mind, then we must cease to regard the body as an external object radically distinct from our conscious selves.[1] Continue reading