May 9, 2010

Can orgasm lead to Enlightenment?

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.

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