Bohemian Buddhist Review

Tantra Techniques by Yogani

"Tantra, Discovering the Power of Pre-Orgasmic Sex," by Yogani

tantra.jpgWhere does Buddhism and human sexuality meet, if anywhere? Tantric sex would seem to be a path, as long we stick to the middle ground between self-denial and self-indulgence. We want to be sure there's a way to incorporate our sexual energy on the way to healing and awakening. 

A slim volume titled "Tantra, Discovering the Power of Pre-Orgasmic Sex," by Yogani, is an excellent primer on sacred sex, for that is what tantra really represents. "Yogani" has an engagingly fresh and frank writing style that helps de-mystify his mystifying subject, that of sexual yoga. 

The back cover touts the book as a "common-sense guide on how to utilize sexuality to complement a full-scope system of yoga practices."  Inside its pages, Yogani writes that "contrary to long-entrenched beliefs, sex is not the enemy of spiritual progress."  Also that "sex has an essential role to play in the process of human spiritual transformation."  We might intuit this, but our sexually-schizophrenic culture and many spiritual disciplines themselves strongly warn against playing with the fire within.  

And with good reason.  Most of us are simply not capable of the kind of discipline Yogani describes, more's the pity.  However, just as a cat may look at a king, we mere mortals can study some of the finer points of tantra, or spiritual sex, and glean what we can from it, starting with the self-evident statement that "sex is at the heart of much of the debilitating karma we carry around."  

Since sexual wounding is virtually epidemic in the West, in both men and women, sexually hurt and/or simply horny Westerners need to be forewarned. "Any teaching that claims to give bigger, longer, or better orgasms is not really tantric," Yogani writes.  "It is only about having better sex, which is what many people are looking for.  Not that there is anything wrong with that.  But let's be clear about our yoga." tantra-techniques.jpg

Yogani elucidates.  "Sexually speaking, we are a race of the walking wounded, injured over and over again by ... [the links] between the pleasure-seeking mind and sex."  Witness our rape and incest statistics, among the highest in the world, in large part because we don't know how to work with our sexual behaviour or our sexual energy.

It's important to go back to the original definition of tantra, which has become totally distorted in the West.  Literally, tantra means "woven together," or "two fullnesses as one," according to Yogani.  "Tantra recognizes from the start that there are two poles to be ecstatically merged for enlightenment to occur ... masculine and feminine energies ... and that these two poles are contained in us, in our nervous system."  

Okay, so what's the catch?  Real tantric sex is a discipline.  Sexual yoga is about deep breathing exercises and meditation; it's about transforming sexual desire into orgasmic bliss, which then aids and abets our spiritual practice because it involves re-programming so-called primitive urges into the sublime.  Therefore, needless to say, tantric sex isn't easy.  Sex, in true tantra, is no longer about procreation - or recreation.  In Yogani's words, "tantric sex is about cultivating sexual energy upward pre-orgasmically [BBR italics] in our nervous system" and represents "a higher functioning ... beyond the immature expressions of sex."  

Tantra's sexual instruction methods run counter to Western ideas about sex, which often come down to "the rush to orgasm."  This can be physically and emotionally depleting, usually more so for the male because of the large loss of prana during ejaculation. "If sex is used for tantric training and cultivation . . . that is the boon.  If [it] is used to drain vitality, that is the bane." 

sacred-sex.jpgIt can also be very unsatisfying, because there has been no attempt to create a loving, spiritual bond between partners. Sexual tantra is really about finding and experiencing "pure bliss consciousness" in our own bodies, with or without a partner.  Our individual spiritual paths depend on our predilections and predispositions, our karma.  There are other paths to this energy/awareness, but for those blessed/cursed with strong sexual desire, we shouldn't ignore the one right under our noses (so to speak).  (Tibetan-Buddhist scholar Robert Thurman has said that enlightenment is like having an orgasm in every cell of our bodies, or swimming through a sea of orgasmic bliss.  I've always wondered, How does he know?)  

Even though orgasm is not the end-all, be-all, Yogani's tantra techniques are based on practice-makes-perfect.  He doesn't expect everyone to start out as tantric sex experts.  Allowances are made for normal human desires -- at the same time keeping in mind the objective of bodily orgasmic bliss as a steady state of being.  For the rest of us sexually-addicted (or sexually-averse) sentient beings, the real trick is not getting overly-attached to the pleasurable sensations of sex, realizing their inherent bliss and emptiness.

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"Buddhism and Sexuality" is a series of book reviews including Miranda Shaw's "Passionate Enlightenment," "Introduction to Tantra," by Lama Yeshe, "Redefining Seduction," by Donna Sheehan and Paul Reffell, and "The Heart of Tantric Sex," by Diana Richardson.