Monday, July 30, 2007

It has been an interesting weekend. On Friday evening we attended a screening of our friend Edin Velez's film A Certain Foolish Consistency at the Scanners: New York Video Festival at Lincoln Center. On Saturday night we returned to the festival to see Passion and Power: The Technology of Orgasm also at Scanners. We've posted reviews on our myspace blog:

On Saturday, we attended the Passion and Power after party and saw quite a few friends, including some with whom we'd lost touch in the past couple of years. We also made some interesting new ones. It was a delightful evening, but it ended on a much darker note.

It was after 2:00 am when we got back to the apartment we use when we're spending the night in New York City. When we arrived, we discovered that a pipe in the bathroom ceiling was leaking. We tried knocked on the door of the apartment upstairs, but the occupants were away. Then we called the super; he wasn't pleased to get a call at that time of night and said he couldn't do anything about it until Monday, so we placed a large bowl under the leak, which was beginning to subside (it had stopped completely by the next morning). It was about 3:15 when we got into bed.

It was very hot in the apartment, so we left the windows open. Just as we were drifting off to sleep, we heard a series of gunshots right below our window. We looked out to see someone apparently fleeing the scene. We called the police, who came quite promptly and in large numbers. We later learned they closed the block. We went downstairs and told one of the officers what we had seen. We got back to bed after 4:00.

The next morning we went out to survey the damage. Bullets had hit three cars, shattering glass in two and going through the windshield and flattening a tire in a third. We surmised that there had been some kind of shoot-out, since it appeared that bullets had flown in two different directions. We don't know if anyone was hit during the exchange.

There's a strange kind of clarity that hits you in extreme moments like these, and that's something worth remembering, since it relates directly to Tantric practice; every experience we have in life is an opportunity to discover something. Still, this isn't the kind of experience we're interested in replicating.

We can only guess that the shooting was gang or drug related; the neighborhood has had its ups and downs, but whatever the case, violence is sad and senseless. At best, innocent, poor people had their property damaged. At worst someone was hurt or killed. One of us could easily have been hit by a stray bullet, as could any number of other people in the neighborhood. As midtown Manhattan becomes more and more of a shopping mall, the less affluent parts of the city seem to be sliding backwards, and the new New York seems to be embodying the worst of both worlds -- the crime and violence of the old days are creeping back into the sanitized version of the City.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

We've asked the readers of our myspace blog to share their definitions of Tantra with us:

Comments are welcome here too.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

We took a brief vacation, and now we're back to our busy schedule at home. We have some interesting plans for the next few days -- a community gathering tomorrow night, a screening of our friend Edin Velez's new experimental film on Friday:

and another screening and panel discussion featuring Betty Dodson on Saturday:

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Mating in Captivity

We've both been reading Esther Perel's excellent book Mating in Captivity: Reconciling the Erotic and the Domestic. It is well worth your time, whether you are partnered or not. Perel treats individuals and couples; she has a wonderfully clear-headed and non-judgmental approach, and her views on contemporary relationships and what it takes to make them function well, erotically and emotionally, are very much in line with our own. We discuss some of these issues in Chapter Five of The Essence of Tantric Sexuality and will examine them in even more depth in Tantra for Erotic Empowerment.

Here's a brief quote from Perel:

"For many of us, premeditated sex is suspicious. It threatens our belief that sex is subject only to the machinations of magic and chemistry. The idea that sex must be spontaneous keeps us one step removed from having to will sex, to own our desire and to express it with intent."

The Tantric approach to sexuality is all about consciousness and intentionality. The result of bringing awareness to sex and treating it as something to be discovered, again and again and again, is magic, not the illusory magic of infatuation and chemical attraction, but something deeper and more powerful because it is willed.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

The Story Behind The Essence of Tantric Sexuality

We wrote The Essence of Tantric Sexuality with the blessings of our teacher, Dr. Jonn Mumford (Swami Anandakapila Saraswati). The book is based on lectures he gave at Gnosticon in 1976, and while it touches on some of the themes he addressed in his own books -- Ecstasy Through Tantra, A Chakra and Kundalini Workbook, and Magical Tattwas -- none of his work delves so deeply into the specifics of Tantric sexual practices, in large part because he was reluctant to allow the material to appear in print. Even in those areas where his books and ours overlap, the perspectives and practical details are significantly different.

It has been our privilege to study with Swami Anandakapila for the last eight years. At Gnosticon, Swamiji discussed arcane, complex, traditional material in way that would be accessible and practical for Westerners; thus the teachings are at once original and traditional -- his unique synthesis. Gnosticon was also possibly the first time an initiated Swami spoke publicly to an American audience about the sexual aspects of Hindu Tantra. Over the years, other authors have borrowed from these pioneering lectures (which were available on tape in the late 1970s and early 1980s), often out of context and often without crediting Swamiji as the source. We wrote The Essence of Tantric Sexuality to insure that his authentic teachings would be available for future generations, in context and with proper attribution. We had his support and cooperation throughout the process, and as a result, the book is considerably more detailed than the original lectures.

Our next book is based on our online course The Fundamentals of Tantric Sexuality.