In this post we’ll explore the ancient, mysterious practice of Tantric Sex — what it is, why it is practiced, and a bit of its history, to illuminate a subject often seen as esoteric and exclusive.
The practice of Tantric Sex is but one aspect of the mystical system of Tantra, which, simply put, encompasses an array of ancient rituals, spiritual traditions, multicultural texts, ideologies, and techniques used for the ultimate goal of purifying oneself and transcending one’s held perception of reality, in mind, body and spirit. Tantric Sex, in around the 4th or 5th century shows up in Buddhist and Hinduist texts, or “Sutras,” depicting the traditions, stories, rituals and art of Tantra. One well known story of the passion of deities Shiva and Shakti became the allegory to the practice symbolized by their union through the activity of sexual pleasure and sensuality, or Kama, which resulted in the birth of the world. The ritual of Tantric Sex thus becoming the means by which each practitioner transmutes the deity within oneself to reflect and epitomize the bliss of Shiva and Shakti’s sacred union and re-enact the original act of creation itself. Within this ritual, both practitioners, the emotions and eroticism, and the act of sex with a purpose beyond procreation are deemed natural, desirable and sacred.
Tantric Sex is actually a form of classical yoga, and is also called sexual yoga. Classical yoga forms are quite different from the mainstream, western yoga we see today, although the two share certain concepts. As is the case with all of the other practices and traditions of Tantra, the end goal of Tantric Sex is true spiritual enlightenment — the ultimate freedom from the mundane, and the purification of oneself. As illustrated in the story of the passion of Shiva and Shakti, this enlightened state can be practiced and achieved with Tantric sex through the elements of intimacy, energy manipulation/alignment, and virtuous living in addition to mutual sexual pleasure and sensuality. Tantric Sex has been misconstrued and thus misunderstood and condemned since colonial times, on the erroneous notion that the practice was centered around carnal intercourse and was a perversion of some kind. Ironically the polar opposite is the true nature of Tantric Sex, as we’ve discussed. The sacred practice is a mutual exercise in tandem control, versus just control of oneself, and the energetic alignment of the mind, body and soul. Not surprising are the additional outcomes of deep affection and intensified desire and sexual pleasure within relationships.
In the realm of the practice, bodily fluids are considered “power” fluids sometimes offered to deities or used in rituals. Coinciding with this, sexual energy or Kundalini is also considered sacred and a potent power to be conserved and deliberately manipulated for the practitioners’ growth and wellbeing. Tantric sex incorporates a meditative aspect as well, taking the focus off of ejaculation and orgasm as the goal, and instead setting the goal as remaining fully present in the experience of pleasure and actively working for its prolonging or sustainment. For this reason it is historically and traditionally associated with the practice of deliberately holding male ejaculation. This is unlike “edging,” the modern day practice of repeatedly delaying ejaculation or orgasm in that, with Tantric Sex, ejaculation is suspended or held at a plateau without a goal of orgasm and instead a sustained state of arousal is the focus. While many Tantric Sex rituals do involve ejaculation, as evidenced in Sutras from around the 4th century, semen retention, which was likely adopted from ancient celibate schools, became popular later, around the first millennium. In an 11th century Tibetan Buddhist Tantric Sex Tradition ejaculation was reserved only for masters and enlightened ones. Within another practice called Karezza, the belief was that with the use of deliberate focus and a command of the sexual energy to retain semen during yogic sex, the practitioners of the rituals would receive an energetic charge and misuse or waste of the energy would be prevented. In these hyper focused, purposeful, continuous experiences of pleasure and arousal it is easy to see how feelings of bliss, transcendence, or having possession of superpowers could achieve altered states of mind. States of mind that many have been known to devote much of their lives to pursue, and others to at least ponder at certain junctures.
In conclusion, it’s clear that Tantric Sex has the potential to be a tremendously beneficial part of one’s spiritual practice, relationship, and general well being. There is much more to it than meets the eye. While the practice of Tantric Sex has remained somewhat esoteric, it has had a surge in popularity in recent years. There is no shortage of expert practitioners, courses, workshops, or literature for those who desire a deeper understanding or even to become a practitioner. Considering its history spans centuries, one can be certain there are countless more discoveries to be made about Tantric Sex.