Can orgasm lead to Enlightenment?

Via on May 9, 2010

YabYum Tanka

One of the main differences between authentic Tantra and Western Neo-tantra is this: some of the followers of the latter truly believe orgasm can result in Enlightenment. It is true that Enlightenment may include orgasm, but, I am sorry to say, folks, the latter does not automatically lead to the former.

Then there would be a lot of enlightened sex practitioners out there. And I mean truly Enlightened, as in the case of one man named the Buddha.

Sex is a form of bliss, no doubt. But it is a short-lived sensual bliss that does not automatically lead to full-blown spiritual bliss. Indeed, I have yet to read or hear of someone who has achieved permanent Enlightenment via the path of sexual practice alone.

I have read, however, that one well known Neo-tantric teacher made the rather preposterous claim that Buddha could not have achieved Enlightenment without first having had sex with his wife Yasodhara.

What do those Neo-tantrics know about real cosmic Enlightenment, anyway?

According to one of today’s foremost writers on yoga, Georg Feuerstein, they do not know much. They are a confused lot.

“Their main error is to confuse Tantric bliss (ananda or maha-sukha) with ordinary orgasmic pleasure,” he writes in his well researched book Tantra: The path of Ecstasy.

Don’t confuse sensual pleasure with spiritual bliss!

While I disagree with Feuerstein about his version of the history of Tantra, I absolutely agree with his statement above. That’s what I have read. That’s also been my experience: sensual pleasure and spiritual bliss is not the same. Sex is sensory, yogic bliss is extrasensory.

Or as Nisargadatta Maharaj would say: “Love is a state of being. Sex is energy. Love is wise. Sex is blind.”

This blind force of sex can sometimes release powerful kundalini energies, however, resulting in amazing inner ecstasies. But sex is not a unique gateway to bliss. Music, dance, drumming, chanting, and yoga asanas will more likely release these energies. In fact, Bhakti Yoga is all about opening our heart chakra; letting ourselves dance into ecstatic trance on waves of repetitive music and chanting.

If you’re one of those lucky few, like the Indian sage Ramana Maharshi, the rapture may strike when you are quite young, innocently lying down in savasana (corpse pose) on the floor to “experience death.” But such cosmic graces are only showered upon the karmically endowed few. Those with amazingly wise and spiritual past lives!

And, if we want these ecstasies, these fleeting, nondual flashes of insight to become long lasting and finally permanent, we need to practice powerful tantric and yogic techniques that awaken the slumbering kundalini force at the bottom of our spine.

After several such Enlightenment experiences, sometimes in front of a statue of Shiva, the already highly evolved Ramana Maharshi sat in silent meditation for days and weeks, without need for food, nor sex. Soon his Realizations matured into a permanent state of being. Into a permanent state of Love.

Ramana was a natural sage from birth. We, on the other hand, we need to work on our practices a little more intensely and frequently.

We need to open, strengthen, purify and balance our chakra energies through asanas, pranayama, dhyan, kirtan, etc, so that we can truly experience and embrace the kundalini force when it actually manifests its inner petals in blazing splendor.

And to explore that subject in some detail may require a whole series of books in itself….

We certainly won’t be able to master this esoteric science after a weekend course with Neo-tantric teachers Margot Anand or Charles Muir.

If sex was a means to full-blown Enlightenment, the great scriptures and the sayings of the saints would be replete with such proclamations. I’m sorry to say, Neo-tantrics, you will not find the Buddha proclaim that ejaculation equals Enlightenment.

Nor will you find any written or oral (pun intended) indication that his Enlightenment had much to do with his previous sex life.

The genuine power and inner essence of Tantra lies in its ability to transmute our desires. Yes, to transmute. Not to indulge, not to cling, but to alter, transform and metamorphose our desires into non-attached, free-flowing and mind-blowing bliss.

Some may now think that this is a bunch of puritanical BS. But no. Tantra is known for its straightforward, body-embracing attitude. Tantric teachers shoot straight from the hip.

Just contemplate these words of one of my favorite Tantric teachers, Lama Yeshe: “There is no reason at all to feel guilty about pleasure; this is just as mistaken as grasping onto passing pleasures and expecting them to give us ultimate satisfaction,” he writes in his widely acclaimed book Introduction to Tantra: The Transmutation of Desire.

Lama Yeshe also points out that the Yab-Yum Thanka (see photo above) does not represent sexual intercourse but “the experience of total unity—of method and wisdom, bliss and emptiness—characteristic of the fully enlightened state.”

In other words, the cosmic union of Shiva (consciousness) and Shakti (kundalini energy) in Tantric practice as well as cosmology.

So to conclude our short escapade into the world of Tantric love: sex is a passing pleasure, Enlightenment is the ultimate, lasting satisfaction.

About Ramesh Bjonnes

Ramesh Bjonnes was born in Norway and lived for nearly three years in India and Nepal learning directly from the masters of tantric yoga. He has written extensively on tantra, yoga, culture and sustainability, and his articles have appeared in books and numerous magazines and newspapers in Europe and the US. His forthcoming book on Tantra will be published by Hay House India soon. He is currently contributing editor of New Renaissance and a columnist for Fredrikstad Blad, a Norwegian newspaper. He lives in an eco-village in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. Visit his blog here: Eight Fold Path. His book Sacred Body, Sacred Spirit: A Personal Guide to the Wisdom of Yoga and Tantra can be purchased here.

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71 Responses to “Can orgasm lead to Enlightenment?”

  1. Hi, Ramesh. I'm so happy you're writing for Elephant now. You add a unique highly informed voice to our wonderful group of writers:

    While I can't speak for the practices of Tantra, but if we're talking about the Yoga of the "big three" ancient texts (Yoga Sutra, Upanishads, and Bhagavad Gita) I personally believe Yoga does not necessarily need to be about a long struggle with lots of specialized practices of progressive achievement, the way you describe Tantra.

    Yoga is, in fact the ordinary everyday realization of the wonder of the universe, and the fact that each of us is an integral part of that wonder. We just have to turn around and pay attention. No struggle necessary, only calm, relaxed realization of our true nature. It's readily available in every minute of every day of our lives. I believe this is what the ancient texts say, and I'm quite certain that's the core teaching of Ramana Maharshi.

    This doesn't mean that I'm against specialized practices like the Tantra you love. That's exactly the right path for some people. But the last thing many seekers need, including myself, needs is another big struggle to add to our lives. We look to the opposite from Yoga–a release from struggle–an utterly relaxed realization of our natural universal wonder, what some call divinity.

    The ancient texts are full of references to the fact that this can be the result of a simple and relatively sudden waking up to reality. And it happens to all people in all cultures on all paths when they simply relax an pay attention to reality.

    So I don't disagree with anything you wrote about Tantra. But I personally perceive and practice Yoga with a completely different state of mind and practice.

    Bob Weisenberg
    ElephantJournal.com

    P.S. Would welcome your involvement in Gita Talk to further discuss this issue.

    • I'm a little confused, here, Ramesh, about what we're talking about. I seem to see Hindu tantra and Buddhist tantra being referred to rather interchangeably. They may be similar modes of transportation along similar paths, but they're purty different, too—like talking about trains and planes as same thing?

      Or are they similar enough for the purposes of this question: comparing to the "enlightenment" of orgasm?

    • Ramesh Bjonnes says:

      Bob, you mention the Yoga Sutras, these are texts, yes, and of course wonderful to read, but these texts are rooted in practice. And what is that practice? Tantra. The eight limbs described in the Yoga Sutras, the Raja Yoga path, is the same as Tantra–no difference. So to really understand and experience these sutras of Patanjali, there is no better way than to practice yama and niyama, asanas, pranayama, pratyahara, dharana, dhyana and samadhi…. Reading these scriptures is inspiring and enlightening, but practice will take you much deeper. That is indeed what yoga is, a practice, a way of life.

      • I only ask you to remember, Ramesh, that the "Path of Discipline" you describe is only one of many paths in the Bhagavad Gita. And even the lesser know stanzas of the Yoga Sutra itself acknowledge that there are other paths.

        I don't question your path in the least. I only question when you make it sound like it's the only, or even the preferred, path, as I feel you have done, perhaps unintentionally, in your article.

        Bob Weisenberg

        ElephantJournal.com

        • Ramesh Bjonnes says:

          In essence, there is only one path, yes, Bob, the path of transformation, the path of self-realization, and that path has many names, many forms, many teachers…. do we agree? I am not saying, as you imply, that tantra is the only path to self-realization, but I do say that Tantra and Yoga era basically the same paths, although there are numerous yogic and tantric schools, each with a different emphasis.
          Tantra can be used to imply a specific path, but it is also used to imply the general path of transformation, the path toward spiritual unity, much like the word yoga, or the word spirituality, is now used in the West.

  2. Ramesh Bjonnes says:

    Bob, thanks for your thoughtful response. During my meditation and yoga practice this morning, which involved about six different lessons and takes from one to two hours, I experienced both effort and bliss, both awakening and some resistance, but mostly deep, peaceful bliss. A deep bliss so satisfying that is not found anywhere else–not in books, not in nature, not in sex, music, nor in deep conversation, etc. It is uniquely yogic and uniquely meditative. I would not give up this deeply satisfying and enlightening intoxication for anything in this world. Yes, it involves some satisfying struggle, but so does most things worthwhile in this life.

    These practices do not add more complication to my life, rather they simplify my life, just as you are saying yoga does to you.

    Afterward, my wife and I went to our garden to dig rows for our potato patch. The peace and harmony and simplicity of our work and our quiet togetherness out there in nature would not be as deeply nourishing and satisfying had it not been for my spiritual practice. Intense meditation practices do not add complications to my life, they add another dimension of inner peace and fulfillment not found doing just asanas once in while in a yoga studio, or at home and reading the scriptures. Meditation practice, which of course do require some discipline, has always been an integral part of yoga, and those who think it is not necessary or an extra burden are, in my experience, totally mistaken.

    I perceive a sudden and relatively easy waking up to reality every day… and I keep these awakenings alive through my spiritual practice. But I am also realistic enough to realize I am still on the path, that I have yet to arrive….This is what meditation is about and it is an integral part of yoga, not just for crazy tantrics like me, it's for all those who want to delve into the true nature of yogic living and practice. The West has just started on the path of yoga and is still just testing out its most superficial aspects… a time will likely come when meditation, sophisticated meditation, will be as popular as asanas and reading the poems of Rumi is today.

    That said, there are thousands of Buddhists and Tantrics and Yogis who already practice fierce sitting every day. Through this fierceness of practice a deep grace is bestowed upon us, an unspeakable grace only one who is accustomed to sit for long hours can appreciate or understand.

    • Think we got a new elephant tee shirt here:

      ENLIGHTENMENT:
      BETTER THAN SEX

      • Are you saying you're ditching my t-shirt slogan you endorsed a couple of days ago?:

        If You Can't Beat the Universe, Join It

      • Ramesh says:

        Waylon, you are right, there are differences between Buddhist and Hindu Tantra, but in spiritual essence they are the same, like horses of different breeds but still very much horses… there are also many different schools of Tantra, each with a unique emphasis, but in this regard, they would agree: enlightenmnet is better than sex! Great T-Shirt, for sure.

        • Padma Kadag says:

          As you know Ramesh…I disagree and I think it it mistaken on your part to claim that Buddhist and Hindu Tantra are of the same result. From what I know they are not. Their enlightenments are not the same. I understand we are speaking conceptually here which does not ever give word or concept to enlightenment. But I feel you are creating confusion when you do not need to. You are obviously well versed in Hindu method and scripture and concept. Stick with that. Again, no matter how many Hindu scriptures support your claim or Sadhus…the enlightenments are different. My teachers when arriving in India from Tibet felt a kinship with the sadhus. Some shared food. The Buddha never taught that they are the same. I have never heard it said by any Nyingma Lama that they are the same. You are creating a confusion which is not constructive.

          • Padma Kadag says:

            If what you are saying is that on the face of it they both are tantra or "spiritual" then yes then they are similar. But absolutely the goals are completely different.

          • Ramesh Bjonnes says:

            I am saying that the non-dualism achieved by the Buddha and Ramana is the same. How can non-dualism be different from person to person? The names we give the ultimate state of being does not matter. The path you travel to get there does not matter. The ultimate goal is the same. Many names, yes, many different philosophies, yes, but same state of being.

          • Ramesh Bjonnes says:

            Padma,
            below the absolute nondual state of awareness, there are numerous levels of samadhis and mystical experiences that manifest in all the various quadrants of our being. And depending on the cultural, psychological and religious context, these experiences will be interpreted in different ways. Even sensory experiences–two people eating the same strawberry–will be interpreted differently. So, yes, depending on your tradition and your spiritual practice, your background, your psychology, not all samadhis below sahasrara and ajina chakra (that is, below the purely spiritual and within the psychic/spiritual realm) are the same. In that regard, I agree, not all enlightenments are the same. But, and I repeat, the nondual enlightenmnet is always the same…. But below this level, each mystical experience, even though they are a bubble in the same ocean, may manifest differently depending on your spiritual path and whether you are a nature mystic, deity mystic, formless mystic, zen mystic, buddhist, tantric, etc.

          • Padam Kadag says:

            You feel that "non-dualism" is the same. Show me your source that Buddhist Tantra and Hindu Tantra reaches the same "ultimate goal". I believe that this is also a symptom and concept of "Neo-Tantra". Where does the Buddha state that the enlightenment of Hinduism and Buddhism are the same? If this is your opinion then that is your opinion and certainly entitled to it. One of the pitfalls is the attachment to non-dualism. Which of course is not non-dualism but masquerades as the goal. That is more than I am qualified to say because I am not any kind of Lama or even meditator. But I would like to know where the Buddha has even alluded to a sameness of the goal of Hindu and Buddhist Tantra.

          • Ramesh Bjonnes says:

            Padma, I am not sure it is wise to bore readers with this discussion much more. You will not find any material from the Buddha on this, but I can refer you to a large body of work and a common understanding among various wisdom traditions, from Chardin to Wilber, from Ramakrishna to Anandamurti, from Nisargadatta to Ramana Maharshi, from Huston Smith to…..that would very much agree: non-dualism is the everflowing sameness of ultimate being. None of these are neo-tantrics by any stretch of the imagination. So, there it is…..

      • svan says:

        or

        ENLIGHTENMENT:
        MAKES SEX REDUNDANT

    • Robert Bullock says:

      "I would not give up this deeply satisfying and enlightening intoxication for anything in this world."

      So you cling to this feeling? You may not have any choice about "giving it up".

      • Ramesh Bjonnes says:

        Good insight, Robert. Yes, ultimately all attachments are limiting, but while still on the path, some are more useful than others, and for me, spiritual practice is very useful and not to be given up. After all, the Buddha himself took a firm determination not to leave his seat of meditation until he achieved enlightenment. I know, yes, I know, there are different interpretations, even about this issue. But for me, spiritual practice is an attachment well worth having. That is, until all attachments dissolve in the ocean of bliss/emptiness/fullness.

  3. awshuckss says:

    Shankaracharya compares sperm/Virya/Ojas to Brahman !!!!!!!
    Orgasm is a nanosecond in a minute of Nirvana !!!!!!!!!

  4. Frederick says:

    Ramesh, who I know personally, is right about the fallacy in American pseudo-tantra.

    While natural and spiritual curiosity attract and lead Westerners to seek exposure to powerful practices of the East, we are often crippled by distortions caused by our insatiable materialistic appetite for instant physical gratification, leading to false assignment of importance and interpretation of our experiences. With Western materialism as a foundation non-existent in the East, we become enslaved by a compulsion to "get physical" in order to "realize" any and all experiences, and we thus miss the subtle and ineffable dimensions that take time, discipline and commitment to develop. We Westerners are mostly beholden to an "achievement" model for enlightenment, completely inconsistent with the rubrics of detachment and grace of the Yogis, Sufis, Gnostics, Lamas, Shamans and Hasidim.

    English lacks vocabulary that makes distinctions between the nuanced levels of spiritual experiences, our dithered-down language fails us by losing nuance and subtlety, the very weakness that makes a broad path for the Pseudo-Tantra all-the-more likely as a logical outcome.

  5. Ramesh Bjonnes says:

    Here is a nice summary of what I mean by Tantric spirituality:

    "The integral sage, the nondual sage, is here to show us otherwise. Known generally as "Tantric," these sages insist on transcending life by living it. They insist on finding release by engagement, finding nirvana in the midst of samsara, finding total liberation by complete immersion." ~ Ken Wilber

    Wilber also reminds us that the tantric strand of spirituality is expressed in Vedanta, Vajrajana Buddhism, Kashmir Shaivism, etc. As you may know, I go one step even further by proposing that all yogic spirituality is essentially tantric, thus Patanjali's Raja Yoga is also tantric. For more on that, read my other blogs on EJ, such as this one:http://www.elephantjournal.com/2010/04/how-old-is

  6. Ramesh Bjonnes says:

    While the Buddha may not have spoken in comparative terms, one path to the other, the idea of non-duality is explained by the Buddha in verses such as “In seeing, there is just seeing. No seer and nothing seen. In hearing, there is just hearing. No hearer and nothing heard.”
    In Buddhism, as well as in Tantric Yoga, the nondual is balanced with being in the world, with compassion and with embracing duality. This is also called Sahaj Yoga, seeing and embracing the One in the many. Andrew Harvey would call this sacred activism… which is what this world sorely needs, yogis to take a stand against injustice and environmental destruction. This is not a time to flee to the mountains… So, while non-dualism is clearly evident in all paths worthy of its sandals and robes, those who love this world, they embrace it!

    • Padma Kadag says:

      Beautiful…but misguided. There is no such thing as balance. And the greatest charity/compassion/action is attaining full realization beyond nirvana for all environments and those setients who abide there..

      • Ramesh says:

        Sounds like Sahaj Samadhi, to me, Padma…. don't see much to quarrel with here…. I think if you look into this some more, you will find less disunion and more union in our views…

        • Padma Kadag says:

          Ramesh…Afterall…both of us know that no matter how much we write it will not shed one bit of light on ultimate truth. This I am hopeful we can agree. I am not versed enough, nor is it my intention to be versed enough, in Tantric History as explained by Shaivites, etc. There is too little time in this life for me to be "wasting" it intellectualiizing that which is beyond words.(this is not to say that I think you are wasting your time…it means that I am rather slow in my uptake of information.) There are very few scholars who have the acumen for both scholarship and deep realization. It is much easier to be a scholar. I am hoping that you are a realized scholar.

          • Padma Kadag says:

            My only concern with your writings, and not only just you, are the casual references to the Buddhas enlightenment being the same as any other Tantric school's enlightenment. That all paths end in the same result. One million scholars can agree that your view is correct…but I disagree. If we are speaking on scholarly terms then I am out matched. Maybe. If we are speaking on scholarly terms then we must agree that from Buddhisms view there is absolutely no evidence that the enlightenment of Buddha and the many Buddhist Yogis, now and in the past, is the same as all other religious path's result including…any Tantric path, take your choice.

          • Padma Kadag says:

            Quotes from Wilber do not mean much to me nor from Indian sources to which I am not familiar. I believe that this New Age manner in which all is blended together and that all enlightenments are the same perpetuates confusion and error in authentic spiritual practice. It creates laziness and new ways of selling the dharma. Only in the west is the buddha's enlightenment equal to all other schools. We must realize that enlightenment did not begin and end with Siddarta. It is happening today since the beginningless beginning. So to anyone who reads this comment of mine…Please know that there is not one shread of evidence which supports this warm and fuzzy idea that all enlightenments and all non-dualism is the same.

          • Hi, Padma. Thanks for writing all your comments. This has certainly been a fascinating discussion.

            I can't speak for Buddhism, which I know much less about. But the idea of the absolute oneness of all things goes to the heart of the Bhagavad Gita and the Upanishads:

            However men try to reach me,
            I return their love with my love;
            whatever path they may travel,
            it leads to me in the end. (BG 4.11)

            My own spiritual path is almost the opposite of Ramesh's. I'm into radical simplification! I'm into taking seemingly complex spiritual ideas (and histories) and distilling them down into their essence. Then I like to try to apply that essence to my everyday consciousness.

            The reason I embrace Yoga is that I think the Bhagavad Gita, the Upanishads, and the Yoga Sutra are about the exact same thing–the triumph of radical spiritual simplicity and oneness over spiritual complexity and confusion.

            Thanks again for all your comments.

            Bob Weisenberg
            ElephantJournal.com

          • Padma Kadag says:

            Hi Bob,
            I do not argue, normally, about what I seem to be arguing about. haha. But I do not pretend to know anything regarding Yoga in a "Hindu" sense. I do practice some Buddhist Tantra or Yoga, I think the words are interchangable. I am hoping that there is not a perception that I am professing "my enlightenment is better than your enlightenment"….so on and so forth. If within the different schools of "hindu" or vedic or Yoga there is agreement that the "Oneness" or non dual nature is the same then I would not argue…as I do not know. Your above quote is very inspiring. It could sound as if Christ were speaking. The Hinayana Buddhists could relate the quote as coming from the Buddha. But as you move into Mahayana and Vajrayana the view changes without denying a Hinayana view.

          • Padma Kadag says:

            I am only concerned, as I stated several times, that the view of Ultimate Liberation in Buddhism is not the same as what you find in the "Hindu" tantras. Different dualistic methods will have a different result in gaining the non-dual state. Though one may experience the non-dual state , it is my understanding that it does not end there. There are residues or there can be residues.
            I think that it is a very ignorant assumption that the Buddha's enlightenment is the same as the ultimate result while practicing the tantras of Shaivism or any other school other than Buddhism. This is an ongoing theme and it is a result of confusion and only perpetuates confusion. Unfortunately I am not able to express the importance of this subject with much personal experience.
            I will say that I do know first hand from my teachers that my thesis is correct.

          • Padma,
            it sounds to me that you are saying here that the Buddha's enlightenment is somehow superior to other sages enlightenments, or at least different. That is not what is commonly understood, neither by Buddhists nor by yogis, Vedantists etc… the nondual is by its very nature the same for all, but if you mean some other state, there may be qualitative differences.

          • Padma Kadag says:

            I would emphatically say that the Nyingma Lamas would not agree that the Buddha's enlightenment was the same as the enlightenment of the Vedantists, etc. I would say that certain states of "awareness" are shared but not the "ultimate goal"

          • Ramesh says:

            The nondual and the purely spiritual is by its very nature universal, but the philosophies about this state differ, depending on the psychological and cultural context. That's why you have various philosophical concepts about nondualism.
            Does that make sense to you, or do you mean that there are different nondual states?
            That Norvana and Samsara is one is a nondualist concept and similar to the Tantric Sahaj Yoga, for example, but different from Vedanta in which the world (samsara) is an illusion. Still Shankara of Vedanta and Buddha reached the same nondual state of enlightenment in meditation, they just explain it differently. These philosophies are of course important and will effect how the followers of Vedanta and Buddhism think and act. It matters in the real world if you think this world is an illusion or if you think it is relative truth. In tantra thus one says there is absolute truth and relative truth and one must embrace/unite both, which is similar to the idea that Samsara and Nirvana is one.

          • Padma Kadag says:

            I am also of the most important opinion, to myself, that for any given individual there is a path to higher spritual learning. Not everyone has karma for Buddha, Shiva, Jesus, etc. We must never for one moment see ourselves as being higher than other.

  7. integralhack says:

    Another great article, Ramesh. I just finished Lama Yeshe's Introduction to Tantra: The Transmutation of Desire and have now moved on to the Bliss of Inner Fire.

    I think that people who doubt the correspondences between Tantric Yoga and Buddhist Tantra would do well to read Yeshe's work. Differences do exist in method, but I do not doubt that the goals are the same.

    -Matt

  8. Ramesh says:

    Thanks, Matt. Yes, Lama Yeshe's work is wonderful and completely parallels what I have been taught in Tantric Yoga. Unity in diversity–the key to understanding and appreciating the great wisdom paths! Incidentally Yeshe translates Enlightenment as "Buddhahood; full awakening; the ultimate goal of Buddhist practice". And a yogi or yogini is a "practitioner of yoga, a tantric adept."

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  10. Hi, Padma. Thanks for writing all your comments. This has certainly been a fascinating discussion.

    I can't speak for Buddhism, which I know much less about. But the idea of the absolute oneness of all things goes to the heart of the Bhagavad Gita and the Upanishads:

    However men try to reach me,
    I return their love with my love;
    whatever path they may travel,
    it leads to me in the end. (BG 4.11)

    My own spiritual path is almost the opposite of Ramesh's. I'm into radical simplification! I'm into taking seemingly complex spiritual ideas (and histories) and distilling them down into their essence. Then I like to try to apply that essence to my everyday consciousness.

    The reason I embrace Yoga is that I think the Bhagavad Gita, the Upanishads, and the Yoga Sutra are about the exact same thing–the triumph of radical spiritual simplicity and oneness over spiritual complexity and confusion.

    Thanks again for all your comments.

    Bob Weisenberg
    ElephantJournal.com

    • Ramesh says:

      Bob, don't be so quick to blanket me as the complete opposite of you! My path is also very simple… it may sound complex, as complex as someone starting out studying the Gita or the Yoga sutras for the first time. That said, there is also complexity in life, in the sense of balancing many perspectives, worldviews and aspects of being (spiritual practice, father, husband, friend, research, writing, work….), all of which dissolve in the simple, Oneness of being. So, if you walked through a day with me here on this green mountaintop where I live, my life would be quite simple. I get up. I meditate. I do my yoga asanas. I walk with the dog over to our neighbor's organic farm. Go to work, which is one path down through the woods… write some on Elephant….come home, garden, walk, meditate, eat, sleep… it's all one day of Zen simplicity. I meditate and tap into that Oneness as much as possible all day. Very simple stuff. And ultimately it's all one flow.
      I also very much agree with you about the Gita, the Sutras, the Upansihads…. except for a few small things here and there….:-)

      • Hi, Ramesh. I didn't mean to be critical. I did assume that your inner spiritual life is reflected to some extent in you writing. Your complex historical analysis and your passionate advocacy of the complex refinements of Tantra Yoga has perhaps given me the impression that you viewed spirituality more along the lines of the Bihar School, which is nothing if not complex (Not that I'm an expert in that. I decided this kind of path was not for me personally after reading "Four Chapters on Freedom" and "Hatha Yoga Pradipika". And these are strongly influenced by Tantra, aren't they?)

        Now I realize that the end point of all these practices is eventually simplicity and oneness as well. But they do seem to say that one must go through a long struggle with challenging complex practices before arriving at some future enlightened spiritual destination. This just doesn't work for me.

        What works for me is the sudden flashes of insight described in the ancient Yoga texts themselves, stemming from my Jnana nature. Of course, in reality, these are not sudden at all. They are the accumulated result of all my other spiritual experiences throughout my life, starting with Roman Catholicism, and including flamenco guitar and the extreme one-pointed concentration competitive windsurfing, the study of sports psychology (getting the ego out of the way), the recent death of my father, etc., etc.

  11. Bob, starting out playing the flamenco guitar is also complicated in the beginning, as is doing yoga for some. So it is all a matter of perspective. I tried playing the guitar and gave up rather quickly in my youth. When i encountered yoga and meditation, I just did not stop….
    Yes, tantra and yoga are complex practices, but once you get into it, the flow of being is similar to playing the guitar… it just flows. Besides, practice is part of life….

    My meditation practice is charging my spiritual batteries in order to have a sustained source of inner light throughout the day. It is that simple, really, even though I could write books about the practices that I do. And if I did, they would not look as complex as the Bihar school of yoga programs (it is not necessary to practice all of those asanas, kriyas, bandhas, etc, a few are enough)

    While the path of jnana comes naturally to you, and also to me, the path of Bhakti is more natural to others, and even Krishna said it is the sweetest and swiftest of all paths, the path of Divine love. Personally, I try to walk all those paths…

    That said, the intensity of the spiritual quest that the Buddha displayed as well as other sages, gave them results I can say I have only glimpsed in periods, so let us not underestimate the value of serious practice and also be humble enough to say that we are not yet Buddhas. It takes more than reading enlightening books to be enlightened, for most of us, that is.

  12. Hi Ramesh,

    One of my favorite Yoga stories is the one about the young American who makes an arduous journey to the farthest reaches of the Himalayas, seeking to learn the secret of life and happiness from one of the greatest Yoga gurus.

    Once in the Himalayas, he travels five days up into the mountains, through many trials and difficulties. Finally he reaches the high mountain pass where the great old man in a white robe and long flowing grey hair sits in lotus position, staring peacefully off into space.

    The young man sits down next to the guru and assumes a similar pose, waiting for his words of wisdom. An hour goes by. Then several hours. Then a day, then several days. Finally the young man says to the old man, “What happens next?”.

    The guru answers, “Nothing happens next. This is it.”

    I personally don't believe in any elusive enlightenment at the end of some arduous spiritual journey. I don't mind if you and others do, of course. It's just not for me, that's all. (According to Saraswati in his 400 page treatise on the Yoga Sutra, that elusive state is very similar to what one experiences on LSD. I don't even have a small desire to go there, even if I could.)

    Bob Weisenberg

  13. Ramesh says:

    For me, Bob, this is not a belief. It is an experience. I have had enough "samadhi and higher kosa experiences" to know…. Yoga divides mind in five kosas, as you know, each one subtler than the other. Also the literature of yoga has plenty of evidence… and what I have experienced matches the literature….Yoga is based on experience and not religious belief…
    Nothing happens next for those, like the guru, who have arrived… for those on the path, like the young man, like most of us, the journey just started.. so, yes, I would tell that story a bit differently.
    Unlike, you, I do have that small desire also. As Ramakrishna said, when you want God/Spirit as much as you want air when you are drowning, then you'll experience God real fast. That is the kind of desire for enlightenment the Buddha had and that is also why way these spiritual giants differ from us. Yes, spirituality is not democratic, not horizontal, as in the chakra system, there are inner, vertical ladders to climb, inner mountains and vistas to visit. And it's a beautiful journey.

  14. Ramesh says:

    You've got the time and the knack for demystifying mystical or spiritual concepts. Great gift!

    • Thanks, Ramesh. It occurred to me that we make a great team for Elephant because we approach Yoga from such different perspectives, yet have great commonality in the end.

  15. Truth says:

    Bob,
    It seems you are trapped under hoodwinking prostitute of intellect. You write like a blind defining elephant by touching it as pilla and arguinig. The gayatri or bla bla book is no authority. Experience too is a trap and illusion ramesh.
    Belief is bla bla ego system of protection
    Comparing lsd to samadhi is insanity of insane which best be left for 'mental prostitution' or bondage of ur chains of slavery
    good luck

  16. Ramesh says:

    Truth, would be great if you could present your arguments without resorting to name calling.

    Experience can certainly be a trap if one clings to previous great experiences and forget to live and experience the now. Yet, inner experience, not belief, is the best measurement of ones spiritual state of mind. It's all a matter of perspective.

    Certain LSD experiences can certainly be similar to samadhi experiences, others may just be a jumble of fanciful visions. Again, it all depends. But LSD is not a substitute for the real thing…

  17. Sam says:

    Spending eternity in the state of orgasm cannot compare to even one millionth of a second of nirvana. If you disagree with this even in the slightest, then you have never experienced nirvana.

    Why do you think it is the ending of desire? You just decide to stop feeling pleasure to try to be holy or spiritual? How on earth could that possibly be a permanent solution?

    Nirvana is the ending of desire because it is inconceivable perfection itself. There is nothing that can be conceived that is better than it, much less desired.

    This is important: nirvana is better than anything you can ever conceive, ever. This includes living as a god. It also includes living a simple, modest life with a loving family. It includes orgasm, the ability to teleport, living forever, being awesomely rich, living a relatively normal life with one very special aspect about you, living a highly spiritual life, breathing, creating a universe, destroying a universe, eating yummy food, and hiking. One way I could describe nirvana is as orthogonal to all conditioned existence.

    So here is the lesson for today: in order to want something, you have to conceive of it first. If it can be conceived of, it is less great than nirvana. Therefore, anything you desire is less than nirvana. But in fact even without desire, simple conceptualization itself is less than nirvana.

    Those with great realization are not somehow secluded from reality. They are just the true masters. They are better at existing than we are. We ejaculate semen. They ejaculate everything.

    We think we exist in a real world with real obligations and the highly realized exist in their own quiet haven, living a simple life and ignoring the world. In fact we and this conceived world of ours is a dream, and the masters exist in reality. So we are the ones who ignore what is actually real and take the dream to real, while they ignore dreams and focus on what is actually real.

    Feel free to contact me if you want to learn more. However, note I am only stream entrant and cannot maintain nondual realization continuously yet

  18. Uncle Ramesh,

    Great article. I am going to read all of them. Congrats, I'm glad your writing regularly.

    – Chris

  19. Tapash Chatterjee says:

    I Need to Know Whether The Orgasm Leads to the Stae of Enlightenment or opposed to It?Whether An Enlightened Person can participate in Attaining Physiocal Orgasm?Whether An Enlightened Person Feels the Need to Acieve the Physical Orgvasm ?

  20. Nyima Wimberly says:

    Orgasms as much as sneezing

  21. Aron Stein says:

    The answer is no.

    MU

  22. Nyima Wimberly says:

    O hymen! O hymenee! why do you tantalize me thus?
    O why sting me for a swift moment only?
    Why can you not continue? O why do you now cease?
    Is it because if you continued beyond the swift moment you
    would soon certainly kill me?

    -Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass, Children of Adam.

  23. [...] benefit people in multiple ways, including stress relief, cardiovascular health, better sleep, and perhaps even enlightenment, just to name a few. Also, sexual exploration can help with a lack of stagnation; as most people [...]

  24. bharat teja says:

    Hello There!
    Spirituality or the process of mediation i feel can help an individual to transcend from his gross level of energy to more subtle energies. Sex, money, fame exist in gross levels. Once an individual is able to get to his subtle energies these things become insignificant, as they feel no more pleasurable.

    One can get to one's subtle energies through the process of Self-purification.

  25. Charlie says:

    I am very new to this whole world of meditaion, tantra, yoga etc. Reading around the web it feels very overwhelming as they seems to be so many types of everything and i have no idea where to start reading and what to start learning to practice. any comments on any books or websites that would be a good introduction to

    all this.

  26. Joey Rober says:

    The Zune concentrates on being a Portable Media Player. Not a web browser. Not a game machine. Maybe in the future it'll do even better in those areas, but for now it's a fantastic way to organize and listen to your music and videos, and is without peer in that regard. The iPod's strengths are its web browsing and apps. If those sound more compelling, perhaps it is your best choice.

  27. Kundan says:

    Hi Ramesh!

    Have you read the book "Transdendant Sex" by Jenny Wade?
    The majority of the people interviewed in that book never did any Tantra, never even knew heard nor heard of it – and yet they had the Enlightenment Experience anyway – Sex or Orgasam CAN be a way to Enlightenment. I myself, when I went to the Illumination Intensive, had my own Direct Experience of Truth through an inner sexual encounter, plus I met other people who described their Direct Experience as an orgasm. I feel that this article is a little biased against sex, because it is trying to be againsrt the Neo-Tantrist – but it is not just the Neo-Tantrists who are claiming this – when I myself had my experience, I had never even HEARD of Tantra myself. Of course, it also depends on what you mean by Enlightenment and what you think of it and its after-effects.

    The article also seems to imply that only very few people such as Buddha and Ramana Maharshi can have Enlightenment – this is not true at all.

    And no, everything doesn't become suddenly great just because of Enlightenment, passing effects still get people down, but there is this inner sense of safety and peace, that everything is okay, no matter what – and that is PRICELESS!

  28. [...] Listening to the symphony blaring out of my second chakra. [...]

  29. [...] to Anderson,”Yoga and body movement can be orgasmic, which is one of the highest levels of spiritual feminine origins.” Returning to the origins of [...]

  30. Kyle Askland says:

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  31. [...] Neo-tantra, often referred to as sacred sexuality, is not tantra. [...]

  32. chiasue says:

    There are many paths to enlightenment and to say that there is only one is too rigid. What is it about some self-righteous people in the yoga path that diminish sex to mere carnal pleasure or attachment as though it is not worthy of being a sacred connection to divinity and "God" whatever that may be for you?
    Yes, the view on sex today is far from sacred but the total negation of it as though it is some sort of lower and demeaning pleasure is also wrong. We need a balanced view. Yes, sex can bring ecstasy when it is viewed as something sacred, when it is done as worship to the sacredness and the divinity of the other person.
    We cannot deny this part of our humanness and it is there for a reason.
    There is some stiffness and rigidness in this article as it is based on orthodox views of what ought to be the right path to enlightenment.
    Who are we to judge the path of others. What the world needs is a balanced and sacred view on sex not a negation or denial of its magical power based on interpretations of the ancient texts.
    An Indian priest said once that we currently only know about one-quarter of what the ancient and wise peoples of the Earth knew, and surely they had a much more sacred, accepting, and encompassing view on the physical and spiritual union embodied in sex.
    Let's demystify the subject and show openness to the beauty of it all.
    Not even the most self-righteous person can deny the power of attraction.

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