New-age neo-Tantra bogus Yogis… busted!

Via Ben Ralston
on Aug 28, 2010
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Caught in the act

In March 2003 I was in the Bahamas, completing my advanced yoga teacher’s training course. It was an intense month – up at 4.30 every morning; after an hour of advanced pranayama the rest of the day was spent immersed in all aspects of Raja Yoga, until late into the evening.

On that course there were two people that I became friends with who shall be the hero and heroine of this particular tragedy. The first, who I shall call Dave, was a fellow Englishman who happened to come from the town where I grew up. The other, who I shall call Maya, was an American woman.

Dave and Maya had quickly developed a flirtatious relationship that seemed slightly out of place in the austere atmosphere of the Ashram – especially since both of them were married…
As the course progressed, I would see them giving each other massages, stroking each other’s hair, and so on –always with an air of, well, purity.

Dave considered himself a healer (albeit without any training or experience), and Maya was a massage therapist. Both had a rather ‘holier than thou’ attitude that I overlooked, since I was really too busy focusing on surviving the rigors of the course to care all that much. However, in the back of my mind there was a sneaking suspicion that their relationship wasn’t as ‘pure’ as they would have everyone believe.

One day, about halfway through the course, a group of us were sitting around chatting after lunch, and Dave and Maya started to tell us all (rather patronizingly) that Tantra was the fastest and best path to enlightenment; that they were going to set up a business together, because they were ‘so deeply karmically connected’; and share their extensive knowledge of Tantra with others in order to make the world a better place.

All of which would be fine, except for the fact that neither of them really knew the first thing about Tantra.

When I asked what this ‘business’ would entail, they told me that they would help couples and individuals attain enlightenment (using Tantric sex). Lofty goals!

Dave told me (and everyone else within earshot) that he was able to hold back his orgasm indefinitely. He authoritatively stated that that was where his ‘power’ came from.

I suggested to them that sex may not be the intrinsic aspect of Tantra that many people in the West think; and that perhaps the essence of Tantra is actually nothing to do with gratification, but rather more to do with worship and celebration. I also asked them how they knew so much about Tantra without having had any formal training, but they eluded my questions whilst flirting outrageously and I let it go…

Fast-forward one year. I am back in England; I get a call from Maya. She’s visiting and would love to see Dave and I. We organize a get-together, and after a night out in London, they both end up staying at my house.

In the morning, I make tea for them, and take it up the stairs to the loft conversion where they are sleeping… and as I enter, what do I see?! …

(Still reading? Like to know the end of the story? Please visit Grounded Spirituality.

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About Ben Ralston

Ben Ralston has been practising personal development—necessity being the Mother of invention—since he was about six years old. He’s been teaching and sharing what he’s learnt along the way for a couple of decades. His main thing is Heart of Tribe retreats—whose very purpose is to help you fall back in love with life, no less. Leading these retreats alongside his woman Kara-Leah Grant—also an elephant journal writer (that’s how they met!)—they combine a deep well of lineage-based yoga teaching experience, with expertise in healing trauma and various other methods of personal development. Ben also works with clients one-on-one via Skype, writes, makes videos from time to time, and is passionate about parenting. He lives in an intentional, tribal community in the hills of Croatia, where you might find him gardening barefoot and talking to the rocks. Connect with Ben on Facebook or YouTube or check out his website for more info.


9 Responses to “New-age neo-Tantra bogus Yogis… busted!”

  1. Shanon says:

    Haha! Fantastic story, Ben. Thanks for sharing. I definitely see the moral of this story.

  2. Ben Ralston says:

    Glad to hear it Shanon 😉

    Thank you! Ben

  3. Ben_Ralston says:

    From Grounded Spirituality: ( )
    svasti said…
    That is hilarious!
    As I've just written recently on someone else's blog… I don't pretend that the Tantra I've been studying for the last 7 or so years is the Tantra that's exactly the same as what's been handed down in India from teacher to student for hundreds or thousands of years.
    BUT, it's pretty much absolutely more traditional and more in-depth than anything that's taught in most places in the west about Tantra. People who talk about Tantra and sex in the same breath make me shake my head. I mean… what???!!
    LOVE your story. Love it! 😀

    Ben Ralston said…
    Thanks Svasti,
    What Tantra is it that you study? I'd love to know more…
    I have the same head-shaking reaction by the way 🙂
    Love, Ben

  4. Ben_Ralston says:

    Victoria Klein said…
    Hahahaha – that is a hilarious story that will likely be shared many times over … and it is already on the internet. 🙂

    Anonymous said…
    Funny story! I always thought that tantra was focused on sex. What other forms are there?

    Ben Ralston said…
    @ Victoria,
    glad you enjoyed it. Yes it's been told many times BEFORE getting online.
    Ben 🙂

    Ben Ralston said…
    Tantra is an ancient spiritual tradition that can be viewed as brother or sister in a group of 'triplets' – Ayurveda, Yoga, Tantra.
    They are all at once similar and yet different.
    Tantra has many branches and practices, and the idea that is all about sex is (predictably) a Western mis-conception. Sexual ritual is a part of Tantra, but only a small part.
    With love, Ben

  5. elephantjournal says:

    Cliff-hanger! Love it.

  6. Shelli Meyers says:

    Or shameless plug for a different blog, depending on how you look at it 😉

    Here's the thing though, I'm not sure I am grokking the intended moral. From the end of the column (er, sorry if I'm giving away the cliff hanger, but I wanted to post here rather than over there):

    "Whether you call it fucking, or shagging, or screwing, or banging though: there was absolutely nothing sacred, spiritual, or enlightened about what they were doing."

    Are you saying that fucking can't be sacred or spiritual? If not, why not? Or do you mean to posit that if one becomes a tantric sex practitioner, than all acts of sex henceforth undertaken by such a practitioner must be said spiritual practice; there are no other types of sex (e.g. plain ol' screwing) that can be engaged in occasionally?

    I am not familiar with yoga or Hindu or Vedic tantra, so I do not know the spiritual presuppositions being made by everyone here who seems to get the joke. I feel left out, please 'splainy?

  7. Ben_Ralston says:

    Hello again Shelli,
    Nice to see that you changed your mind about not reading any more of my posts…
    It is indeed a plug for a different blog, and you're also right about the lack of shame. Giving my time and work away for free to Elephant Journal is a great pleasure, and to plug my own blog occasionally while I'm at it doesn't seem to be shameful does it?
    As with any good story, what you take from it is entirely subjective. I shan't dictate anything to you about your own personal experience – and just because one reader said that they see a moral in the story doesn't mean that it was something that was 'intended' by me…
    To answer your questions – no i'm not saying that sex can't be sacred or spiritual.
    There are many ways of engaging in sex, and just because someone practices tantric sex certainly doesn't mean that they can't do it another way too. You seem to be reading a little too much into what I wrote… perhaps your anger / upset over the comments on the '3 reasons to give up meat' article blinded you a little to this one?
    In any case, there are no 'spiritual presuppositions' being made here. I think that what makes the 'joke' funny is that two people who had been rather preachy and puritanical and 'holier than thou', were caught out as hypocrites cheating on their spouses early one morning. Nothing more than that really.
    I hope that answers your question!
    Love, Ben

  8. shellimeyers says:

    LOL, I'm sorry to burst your bubble there Ben, but I didn't even actually notice it was the same author of the meat article. I was just trying to get the joke.

    I did *NOT* catch the part where they were each married to other people! That certainly answers the "why they were flaming hypocrites" question regardless of whether their topic of teaching was tantra or green business practices or mindful cooking, although rather than laughing at the punch line, I kinda feel all "ew".

    Thanks for the explanation.