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Our exploration of tantra has been a fascinating experience. We found ourselves deeply challenged,because any sincere investigation always demands honest self-inquiry. Most of the proponents of tantra whom we encountered boldly declared that in order to achieve enlightenment, it is absolutely essential to face directly into the storm of sexuality as the very means to transcend fear, confusion and ignorance. Could such a seemingly outrageous albeit age-old claim actually be true? Could it be that through the harnessing and directing of the procreative energy upward, rather than outward, our spiritual evolution is guaranteed?

According to respected scholar Miranda Shaw, tantric Buddhists "believe that in order to attain full enlightenment you have to release the energy of your heart. . . . They feel that only the energy that is generated through the practice of union with a consort could have the power that is necessary to blast through the residue of centuries of egoic behavior and immersion in illusion and negativity."

Margot Anand, the mother of modern tantra, declares that "Enlightenment happens through spiritual orgasm," and explains, "Tantra is an activation of all of our energies. And by channeling the sexual energies through the various chakras, you can reach levels of ecstasy, states of merging and fusion through your partner with the divine that are so powerful that I would certainly say that tantra is a shortcut."

And finally tantric master Barry Long states unequivocally, "The cause of most of the unhappiness on earth is that man and woman have actually forgotten how to make physical love. This is the greatest tragedy of all time."

The question we are left with is this: If enlightenment is and always has been only about death of the ego, how could approaching this most challenging, complex and precarious of endeavors by diving into the Pandora's box of sexuality—albeit consciously and in a spiritual context—finally liberate us from fear, ignorance and confusion? Could it be that the extended ecstasy that is the gift of tantric loveplay is not what it seems to be? Could the movement of powerful energy and the experience of intense bliss, which appear to be the event of ego submission, in fact be its very opposite—complete ego satiation? Is it actually true that opposites must come together and merge in undifferentiated fullness on the physical plane in order to transcend duality? Is enlightenment in the body—or in the mind?

There's obviously no doubt that in order to be truly free, we cannot live in fear of our own bodies or of the opposite sex, but what role sexuality plays in the spiritual life is a very BIG question. Is sexual yoga, as it is claimed to be by some, the fast road to enlightenment? Is the renowned taoist yoga master Mantak Chia correct when he tells us, "You can either pray 100,000 hours or you can consciously guide the sexual energy up the spine"? To be completely honest, we're not sure, but here are some extraordinary individuals who will definitely inspire any open-minded person to think very deeply about these questions for him- or herself.


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This article is from
Our Sex Issue