Sunday, August 05, 2007

Tantric Sex in the Modern World

Although our background and training are more traditional than many Western Tantra teachers, we've taken some criticism on one website for our emphasis on the sexual aspects of Tantra. Some of these criticisms are dogmatic, ill-informed about our work, or based on a more general lack of knowledge about the Tantric tradition; others are more substantive and serious. We usually strive to make it clear that sex is only a small part of Tantra and that many practitioners are celibate. At the same time, sex is what attracted us in the first place, and it's what most people -- whether they're journalists or members of the general public -- are interested in talking about.

The role of sexuality in Tantra is a contested one. Today, most traditional pracititioners are very conservative and puritanical, and most scholars of the tradition take a very dim view of Neo-Tantric sexual practices, pointing out that they are quite far removed, in both form and content, from Tantric sexual ritual. This is true even when, like David Gordon White, they embrace the idea that sex is what sets Tantra apart from other South Asian religious traditions.

While we don't expect to sway our critics, we strongly believe that the conscious exploration of one's sexuality is one of the richest arenas for self-discovery and for practicing within the spirit, if not the letter, of the classical Tantric tradition. Despite the fact that sex is everywhere in our society, sexual knowledge, or better yet, sexual gnosis is taboo. The conscious violation of social taboos was an integral part of ancient Tantric practice, and we believe that deliberately delving into one's sexuality, with the intent to discover and connect with its potentially transcendent power, while breaking free of society's constraints, is an authentic way of practicing Tantra in the contemporary Western world. This is one of the central themes of our next book, Tantra for Erotic Empowerment.

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