Many people confuse Tantra with the practice of sacred sex. Tantra is a philosophy and practice for the realization of the unconditioned Self. The sexual metaphor pervades the Tantras. Shakti and Shiva's love gives birth to a richly erotic universe. But, rather than a guide to better orgasms and sexual intimacy, the sexual imagery of the Tantras points to the possibility of a spiritual ecstasy, of which sexual love gives us a brief glimpse. For those who are seeking spiritual liberation, Tantra generously embraces life's contradictions, recognizes your basic goodness, and offers you a highly refined map of the tremoring bliss of being. Tantra is a branch of yoga and spiritual philosophy, standing in contrast to most schools of Yoga, which ask you to renounce aspects of life that might be a distraction to spiritual development. (Dietary restrictions, celibacy and vows of poverty, for example, are common practices.) Tantra, on the other hand, asks only that when you eat or make love or drink wine, you do so consciously, with presence, awareness and non-attachment. Thus, making love becomes a conscious sensual meditation.
Accordig to Hindu mythology, the sexual and spiritual union of Shiva with Shakti gave birth to the universe. The god Shiva is seen as the embodiment of pure consciousness and his consort, the goddess Shakti, as the embodiment of pure energy. Together they represent human existence in an erotic act of love that is a unifying, balancing, creative force.
Maithuna is the Sanskrit word for union. Maithuna is yogic sexual union. It means, act or instance of uniting two or more things into one state of being or, a spiritual uniting in order to bring about concord. This is the unity of creating one from two, an escape from the duality system in which we live. Surrounded by a society that teaches us the convoluted platitudes and attitudes of television and of advertising in a sort of perpetual adolescence of spirit, most people unlearn the sexual ecstasy that is our birthright.
However many people are adopting the perspective of sacred sexuality as a catalyst for transforming intimate relationships. Sexual voyaging should take us on journeys to incredible spaces of consciousness and union with many levels of infinite reality, but that takes unlearning much of what religion has promulgated and our parents, in their ignorance, passed on to us.
Making love is a way of getting high,
perhaps ultimately the only way.
We make love when we walk down the street
and smile at an old person;
we make love when we pet an animal.
In all of our daily inter-relating with people and with things,
we either create more love
or break down the love that exists.
Sexual intercourse is one form of making love.
(The following instructions use heterosexual terminology; their content, though, is valid for the coming together of yin and yang however it manifests.)
Unfortunately many of us are so separated from our bodies that we wear uncomfortable clothing, over-eat, smoke tobacco and use the “missionary” position in sexual intercourse. This position in which the man is on top of the woman, makes it very difficult for her to adequately respond.
Since a woman’s body is slower to arousal than a man’s (it is said to take at least eighteen minutes before real union can start to occur), it is necessary for the woman to influence the timing during intercourse if the
partners are to become one with each other. This necessitates a real ego-loss from both partners since our society has taught the man to lead and the woman to be passive.
Even more damaging to a spiritually conscious sex life is the myth that orgasm is the summit of sexual experience. Maithuna may lead to experiences that make orgasm seem pallid by comparison, to the place of original creation where the earth emerges, cells multiply, life evolves in its many facets.
The feeling that orgasm is necessary can be an anchor grounding the personality. If the man does not come to climax, his emotional reaction may make it difficult for him to let go of his personality. On the other hand, if the woman is using fantasy or play acting to stimulate her body into rapid response, she loses touch with her partner. It isn’t “bad” to do any of that. But prolonged moments of such separation make the most ecstatic levels of love-making impossible to achieve.
So, ‘rule’ number one: it is of primary importance that orgasm is not the most important end to this union. Somebody, perhaps Alan Watts, said that orgasm is a delightful punctuation in the act of making love.
The second ‘rule’: the woman must be chiefly responsible for timing the sexual act. She will slow things down if she feels it is too fast and suggest the next move physically or verbally. To do this she needs to lose ego, to be very aware, at least in the beginning, of her own body and what responses it is giving. Telepathic communication grows through truth-telling.
Rule three; The two partners must agree to tell the truth to each other at all times. Truth, in this case, is what you are feeling or where your thoughts go. Remain centered on each other.
The Star of David is a diagram of the maithuna position of love making. The partners are facing each other, the man sitting with his legs crossed, the woman sitting on him with her legs around him. In this position there can be no higher or lower, no first and second, no beginning and no end.
Maithuna, sometimes called Kerraza or Dianism in the West or Yab-Yum in Tibet, takes time; it is a true meditation. So pick an unpressured day or evening. To touch the aeons takes a feeling of unfettered leisure.
Start slowly. Take a bath together. Throw rose petals in the bath water; light candles and incense so that the bathing place itself becomes an altar.
Look each other deep in the eyes until faces shift and thoughts fade. Tell each other how much you care. Now is the safe time to let go of anything held back, any untruths, fears, equivocations. Touch softly on the face, the shoulders, the hair. After your bath dry each other with soft towels and rub yourselves with sacred scents, perhaps with amber in pure oil.
Lie down in front of a fire or on a bed with soft blankets, and massage each other with long, slow movements of hands and arm. Push your hands slowly up each other’s backs about an inch on each side of the spine, from the sacroiliac, sacred space of energy, to the base of the neck where we gather such tension during the course of our daily wanderings. Breathe deeply. As you massage each other, be aware of the moment. Your world right now is that spot where fingers meet back. Concentrate on it. Where flesh touches flesh, you two are already coming together in a sacred space.
When you are ready, sit up comfortably and face each other. Your legs can be crossed if you are at ease that way, or you can prop yourselves against pillows or even in a very large chair. If you use consciousness expanding sacraments, now is a good time to partake of them.
Breathe deeply, look into each other’s eyes again, and see each other as divine. Behold god and goddess existing beyond your bodies and yet in them, beyond your personalities and yet acting through them. Be conscious. As you gaze, your partner’s face will shift and change, fade and become brilliant. Like a Picasso portrait, you may see simultaneous faces, one imprinted on the other.
Deepening your meditation as you look at each other third eye to third eye, you may see that third eye actually manifesting on the flesh between and just above the eyebrows. If you need to pull your attention away, stop and discuss that need, what you were thinking about and why. In your growing telepathic sensitivity, there is nothing to be ashamed of, and there is everything to share. The inner core of you has been waiting so long, lifetimes perhaps, for this very moment of intimacy.
This eye meditation is so powerful that you may just want to practice this yoga for several days without having union on any other level. The longer you practice it, the closer you will get, and the higher genital union will be when you finally come to it.
Maithuna is the art of vibrational rather than frictional sex. You may move in The Great Dance, but not until your bodies tell you that it is time. Until then sit quietly looking into each other’s eyes. Expect nothing. Make no demands. Just as waves of sound move together in resonance or discord, if the vibrations are not integrated and in harmony between you and your partner, true union is impossible to achieve yet.
Have a soft light; you don’t want to make love in the dark but to enhance the senses, to dilate every avenue of sight, sound, smell with the wonder of each other. This is a meditation in concentration.
This is a visualization, not in the mind, but in the flesh. The Goddess or God is sitting before you as vulnerable and open to love as you are. It wears the face and form of your Loved One. Take as much time as you need to appreciate and truly feel each other as Deity. This gift and wonder is given those who truly yearn to find the cosmic love that irradiates everything on all levels of reality.
After a space of time, however long or short it may be, you will want to touch each other, to feel the warm of flesh. Fingers gently move in unison, dance together in the air in a lingering caress that neither leads nor is led but is a simple knowing of each other. You touch on shoulders, face, on breasts. You may lose consciousness of which are fingers and which is the receiving skin as your two bodies slowly become one body caressing itself.
Don’t try to hold on to anything. Rise and fall on the varied levels of awareness. You may feel humor, happiness, sadness or even journey beyond any feeling, lost in the dance of sweet flesh touching flesh.
Eventually you will want to be closer. It might be hours or seem like days, but since you are traveling in and out of time with no destination in mind, it doesn’t really matter. At last the need for closer contact develops. And then the shakti, divine female energy, sits on the man’s crossed legs. Bodies come close together in a sweet glow of soma. Intuitive. Knowing almost without words where and how to move but using gentle words when they come. Feeling. Becoming One as centuries wheel and time collapses on itself.
If you separate sometimes and become two again, that’s fine. Go back to looking in each other’s eyes. When you know that the time is right, your bodies will come together even more intimately. The shakti will put her legs around the man’s waist, and his penis will penetrate her. Keep your bodies quiet. There is no need for for anything further to happen, no goals. Just a very slow pulsation of energy. You are secure together.
Your vision becomes even more surreal.
You are the Tibetan deities locked in an embrace that ends duality.
Eventually there is only the blooming of the genitals,
boundary lines disappearing, no penis, no vagina.
There is only the fiery stillpoint of creation.
There may be the history of the world,
the slow slide of crystalline mud,
thunderstorms raging over desolate landscapes,
dinosaurs roaring in wild freedom.
Or nebulae wheeling through great heavens.
Or goddess stepping forth to caress you
with the blessing of fearlessness.
It may become the quietness before creation that builds strange planets of tender sweetness. The movement begins; that one magnificent energy tightens and relaxes, feels itself, knows ecstasy.
Although you are merged, you are yourselves also, and the woman knows when to relax. The man knows when to pull back a moment.
This is a meditation of self-control that aims at losing self and finding it again, the cosmic game of hide and seek that we all play in our own ways.
It is possible to stop and start over again many times. You may want to even separate, feed each other, talk, and return yet once again to sexual union.
You can sit, melded in embrace, for many hours experiencing almost infinite levels of being. When the time comes, there will not be two of you any more. There is only a shared awareness of the movement of molecules, of being yourselves in the body of Source, of being Source itself.
Sometime an explosion permeates every atom of your consciousness until there is not even one of you any more. You have become the universe together in the very core of your being. This is the summation of Maithuna,
sometimes called Tantric Sex.
This is the experience that makes orgasm
look like “the little death” it is often called.
This is a Big Death, an overwhelming death, a
death that vibrates in its aliveness, a joyous death,
a wonderfilled adventure through time and space.
It is a surrender of personality and individuality to
that essence that underlies and fills every thing and non-thing.
You rest in serenity, knowing that you are beautiful
and that your beloved is beautiful and that all of creation is very beautiful.
Don’t be disappointed if all this does not happen the first time you try it. Be patient with yourself and your lover. That very patience and surrender to what is will help you to grow, understand and succeed. Familiarity with sexual self-control may take time. Most yogic practices do. In India, where reincarnation is real and the separate soul, which is the monad, learns and grows from one incarnation to the next, time is of little importance.
To experience the truly ecstatic states
of Maithuna, time must be your servant.