09 December 2009

Throwing Rocks

I love the image of the hag who has a little house amongst the trees that most pass by without seeing. If some traveler happens to come upon her meditation hut , she will throw rocks, giggling, from her hiding place.

She has not a moments concern for your curiosity or your need for a massage.

But .. for the one that arrives, and she looks into his soul and sees the battle of lifetimes in the search for truth .. for this one .. he will meet her unbounded self, he will meet the wild freedom of the dakini, who no longer knows how to be anything else but what she is. He will meet him self.

There is contrast, the description above may be what the sufis call the inner qalb or heart. The periphery of my being does engage in a wider sense. She ventures out to talk to groups of people, interviews, tantra movie projects and then returns to her hut as the darkness settles upon the earth.

Somehow both contrasts are true expression of this being that is called dakini. The hag in the hut has been the greater expression of the two, but it feels like now I have found a way to remain in the inner qalb while venturing out into the distant peripheries of being.

Perhaps I will meet you there...


Shima Opening-Lotus

04 December 2009

Safety, boundaries and ethics: the conference polemic

The first annual African Conference of Sacred Sexuality Educators in Johannesburg has just been completed. It was a powerful and momentous event, the beginning of I hope an increasingly rich networking amongst South Africans and the international world on the teaching and practice of sacred sexuality. Congratulations and gratitude to BabaDez from sedonatemple.com for taking the initiative to make this event happen. Next year this event will be in Cape Town and I will be coordinating the happening.

A central polemic of the conference was the theme of ethics, boundaries and safety. I listened to the debate with interest, and would now like to take my time to write about the subtleties that this delivery ignored.

Throwing rocks

An image that became stereotyped during the conference is that the Dakini throws rocks at whoever approaches. How this got read is that the Dakini a) doesn't care, b) is intent on harming however comes to her, c) isn't available and d) wants people to stay away.

The original image of the Dakini throwing rocks comes from the ancient tradition of the Dakini, as so beautifully depicted in Daniel Odier's Tantric Quest: An encounter with absolute love. As the seeker approaches the Dakini who lives on her own in a cave in the Himalayas, the Dakini sees him and starts throwing rocks at him. The lesson in the old story is that the Dakini puts out tests to see which seekers are sincere enough. She tests them to see how strong their willingness and determination is to learn from her. Throughout the story of Tantric Quest, the seeker gets presented with one test after the other. As he passes though the fire of her tests, the old layers of his ego drop off, and he comes to stand in front of her, naked, vulnerable and deeply available. The more naked the seeker becomes, the more available the Dakini makes herself to him. The final fire he experiences is the intense and endless sweetness of her embodied love. The test is: How much bliss can you stand?

We Dakini's no longer live in caves in the Himalayas. By choice we live in big cities - Johannesburg and Cape Town. We are remarkably easy to find. Any internet search will bring you directly to our door. Do we still throw rocks? Yes and no. No we don't , in the sense that we are available, and our desire is to be of use to as many seekers as are ready for the journey we are catalysts on. Yes we do, in the sense that we still carefully select our clients.

I will explain to you how this works for you. If a man phones me and does one of the following things, I am going to politely send him away or at least question him more:
• If he does not say his name or clearly has to think about what his name is
• if he expects me to be available immediately for a session
• if he wants me to fix a sexual problem but is not interested in inner change
• if he is looking for a 'tantric massage' (which in the South African context usually means he is looking for someone to fulfill a sexual need - not the job of a Dakini)

I will make it clear to any person who calls that as a Dakini I am a catalyst for your awakening. The nature of my work involves deep transformation. My work is appropriate for people whose desire for awakening is stronger than their interest in having a comfortable life. I have learnt through hard experience to come to accept that this is who I am. This does not mean that I do not have deep appreciation for people who have come to this planet to work with those who are beginning a journey of awareness and those whose mission it is to change the world and bring about a revolution of sacred sexuality. These causes are beautiful and profound, and I support them. However the work of the Dakini, the way I understand her, has a different emphasis. Unless we completely discard the historical reference of what Dakini means, we have to acknowledge that the Dakini's task has always been to work with those who are close enough to their awakening, and have enough personal power, that the catalyzing of the Dakini will serve them.

I see it as my responsibility to make this clear to the person who inquires. I find it unethical not to be absolutely clear with people about the potency of this work so that they can choose whether this is what they are wanting and can feel into their nervous system whether they are ready for this.

As you can already sense from my writing, I do not agree that the Dakini has no concern for safety, boundaries and ethics. I do however have a very precise understanding of these terms, and this is what I would like to write more about here.


I agree, the practice of Tantra is not safe for the ego. In fact, part of the design of Tantra is a deep confrontation with your existing sense of yourself, and quite likely one or more deaths of your existing ego structure. What emerges after an ego death is a more expanded understanding of who you really are. With every expansion, we come closer to realizing that we are one with everything. With this comes an expansion of the power available for you in your living and expression. Paradoxically, you tend to become less and less attached to this power as being "yours."

How come then I repeatedly get told by clients and students that they find themselves going through depths they never thought they were capable of because they feel so safe in working with me? Here is where our specific approach to safety becomes important.
• My main method for engagement is a deep listening into the being of the person I am with. I listen to what they are saying, but also to every other subtle layer of their being. I listen to their emotional bodies. I can feel them. I feel into the movement of energy through their subtle bodies. I literally smell how their body-minds respond to every moment. My task is to follow them, and guide them deeper into their own knowing.
• I never push a student into anything. I suggest and offer opportunities to take them to the edge of their existing ego structure. If they take the opportunity, I go along with them as a guide.
• Conversely, I mostly do not ask students what they want to experience in a session. I do ask them at length though about the desire that brought them to me. It is my responsibility to guide them as to the most appropriate way to deepen their consciousness in the area they have asked for. I choose the method. My assumption is that the client comes to me because s/he needs my guidance. It would be unfair, and possibly dangerous, to be guided by what the client would like to 'do' in a session. Many men would, given a smorasbord, of course like to choose intercourse with me. However, they have no idea what the impact of making love to me would be on an unprepared nervous system.
• Possibly the main safety feature of our work is the fullness of love we bring to it. Students often describe this experience as being met by a profound lack of judgment. I would say the main training of a Dakini is integrating the polarities in our own ego structures. I get put into the fire of rejection, abandonment, betrayal, shame and any other shadow state with such intensity that it burns through. As a result, my nervous system very seldom responds in fear or judgment to the process of a student.


I have already said a bit about ethics. A first ethical principle in my work is to be clear with potential students about the impact of this work.
• Ethics in my work is not a code of behavior agreed on externally as general principles. My ethical response is a moment to moment feeling into right action, into the way I can best serve your awareness with what you present to me right now.
• Ethics for me does not mean keeping you from feeling what you are going to feel. I have occasionally ended sessions with clients because I felt that the greatest gift I could give them was to feel the fear of abandonment they were avoiding all their lives. My ethical behavior is guided by being as impeccable as I can in guiding you towards the goal you are here for: Your awakening and the opening of your heart into unconditional love. I also carefully sense what your nervous system is ready for.
• I expect the same of myself. To process my own experiences rather than live them out in sessions or project them on students is beyond the domain of ethics for me. It is a continuous and core part of my spiritual practice. It is an essential way of living for me. I am constantly stalking myself.
• It is ethical for me to accept and work with the reality that students and clients will project their unconscious on to me. If I took everything students and clients said to me personally, I would become madly ineffective as a Dakini. My job is to see the truth of the situation as clearly as I can and to respond with right action. Often right action is simply to be available for you to live your projections to their disillusionment.


Isaak Shapiro has a wonderful way of talking about boundaries. Boundaries come up, he says, as defenses against what we perceive as danger. Danger is that which we perceive as a possible cause of hurt. The paradox of boundaries is that we usually set them up outside ourselves. We try to protect ourselves from certain experiences, people and situations because we perceive them as the cause of hurt. The reality is that the hurt is happening inside of us because of the way we are interpreting the situation. Our interpretation usually draws on past experience and is mostly not a good guide to the presence.

I have recently watched a young man hold a woman tightly, desperately trying to protect her against the abuser he encountered in his youth. The gift of the situation for him was to be confronted with the memory, and to feel it to its depth. When this was felt, I had to make him aware of the fact that the woman he was holding was in fact a powerful, strong and very well person. He was projecting the abused sister on her, and had seen this old, unresolved archetypes in most women he got close to. The pain he was feeling was living in himself. It did not apply to the external reality of the moment. As he came to see the reality of her wellness, another level of healing could start to occur in him.

When old unresolved pain sits in us, we cover ourselves in what Wilhelm Reich calls body armoring. We literally defend our emotional bodies. This unfortunately makes us less sensitive to feeling the real of the situation. The work of the Dakini is to get you closer to the real, to help you release old memories and associations that keep you from being able to feel the real of the situation. We help you discard the boundaries, barriers and armoring that no longer serves you. Ultimately, you meet your oceanic, unbounded self.

Having said this, it is absolutely not true to say that the Dakini does not have boundaries or does not respect boundaries. The boundaries are very clear.
I will not stretch you beyond your willingness and desire. I listen carefully for the edge, the boundary, that you present. And I feel into my own. I will not go beyond my own desire and willingness. Having said that, there is nothing - no action or experience - that is expressly excluded from the session, within the boundaries of your and my willingness.

Much of my work takes the form helping people find their edges - locate where a touch or a memory evokes that old, repressed pain. As soon as the pain gets touched, I stop, and guide the person through a deep feeling and release of what has been held so deeply inside.

It makes no sense to me to take a client further in a session than their nervous system can cope with at that particular moment. My acute sensitivity and deep listening makes it possible for me to feel how far we can go today. This is often a surprise. Sometimes the client goes way beyond what they thought they were capable of. Sometimes I do not even nearly approach what the client had requested. For instance, if a client has not done the work required to clear the main layers of unconscious eroticism in his/her psyche, I cannot introduce them to the power of sexual meditation in Tantra, even if this is their expressed desire. In time, maybe. But we work with where the body-mind is at in this moment.

Perhaps my training as a social anthropologist and ethnographer helps here. I have learnt that what people say is not necessarily what they mean. People are always interpreting a situation on many different levels and choosing from many different options what reality they will present to you. My task as Dakini is to sense keenly into the reality they are choosing to present at the time of the session, and to select the most appropriate response.

Although the work that we do in Tantra is deeply transformative and in that sense radical, this transformation often happens through the subtlest of touches. It is not in our aesthetic to push people beyond where they choose to go. In this our method differs significantly from many other transformation processes. It has an extreme refinement that is guided, from moment to moment, by the truth that is ready to get revealed in your being.

In conclusion

Don't come to a Dakini if you are looking for safety or escape from your own life experience. However, if safety for you means a deeper homecoming to yourself, then there probably are few better places to go. I think you understand by now that the journey home can be challenging. Boundaries will apply to help direct you there, not to help you hide. And all along you will become more attuned to your own internal ethics, as I do with mine. The further you walk along this road, the greater your responsibility - your ability to respond - to the dharma, the truth of what is.

21 October 2009

all the way to america

It has been an eternity since temples have lingered in our midst. The temples were the sacred vessels of the lineage of goddess and the ancient wisdom - tantra. This ground was the gathering place of women and men, who stood in the moment, uncompromised and wild.

This year, news of a temple in Sedona arrived at my door. There was to be a gathering of wisdom and love of the finest in the land. After thousands of years I would once again dance in the temple and in the love orgy of awareness.

I immediately called delta airlines and secured my booking. I also sent some spies ahead. Their reports were disturbing. Tantra was used for trade and sold in the market place next to vending machines and stock shares. The juice of tantra was used to cement and anchor egoic structures rather than free them - “tantric sex master” a not uncommon phrase.

I hesitated deeply but the urge of existence persisted and I went carrying my dread heroically. ..

As a dakini, where ever I land I inquire into the mind and the possible flowering of the people of that land. It is a little like a painter who is always aware of the light of any city. Florence has exquisite light, as does a little cottage in Tucson where Georgia o’ Keefe painted. I can say, as painters are to light dakinis are to awareness.

I was curious to know the ways of these tantrikas and what their approach was to the cultural mind that they had been assigned to. How do they assist others to move though their resistance and conditioning into presence and flowering?

The dakinis and dakas began to share their work. I bounced from tantrika to tantrika.

The most obvious and repeated word was “boundary”. I have paid attention to the stories of this land. The prevailing theme is threat. Someone, somewhere wants to kill you and your family. For decades, the children of this country have been told they must be afraid. This conditioning is deeply rooted.

Margot Anand commented on this conditioning as she left left America for Bali - she says “ It is as if my being, my soul, my essence were deeply thirsty for that which appeared so difficult to reach in the USA. The feeling that time is eternal. That there are no “to do” lists, no “orange alerts”, no dire warnings of impending doom. Just the contemplation of the ocean, the right to remain undisturbed.”

Certainly this conditioning will be in the fore thought of a conferring of tantrikas... There is a twist here. They were speaking in favour of boundaries, specifically how to bring boundaries and safety into a tantra session. The dakinis and dakas have not transcended the conditioning of boundaries but have incorporated boundaries into tantra. This is a common difficulty on the path. A woman who has begun a spiritual journey may stop insisting her husband to buy a convertible, but now insists that he becomes more spiritual. She has transferred the mind’s insistence with the justification of it being spiritual. Nothing has actually moved in her awareness.

Tantra invites you to jump off the cliff into the abyss of mystery. There is no safety net.

The first thief of the moment becomes clear. The drop in the ocean can and should have a boundary from the ocean, say the american tantrikas.

The next thief of the moment is knowledge.

A dakini was sharing her work. She began to speak about advaita , “all you have to do is transcend duality to oneness, its easy”. Hah, I thought, she has no idea, just speaking pretty words.

Advaita is a spiritual method, that through the attempt to understand duality, one enters into the exploration of your yes and your no to life. Consider the duality of innocence and guilt . When you feel guilt, enter the feeling as fully as you are able, and the same with innocence. These moments will span over many years. Slowly the awareness and understanding of this energy that moves between the poles of guilt and innocence begins to dawn on the sincere seeker. The depth of these moments ever increasing as more of both polarities is allowed. The transcendence into oneness of these two poles can only be known in the final moment of total allowing. There will be many challenging aspects in this exploration and others that open delightfully and sweetly like a whore on New Year’s eve.

“It’s easy” can only be uttered by the lips of someone who has not taken the first step. She has heard these words and has arrived at a mental construct of meaning without any application.

Consider a line from a poem, “ the spring god knows not from where the spring blossoms come” In the east knowledge and god are not synonymous.

A famous monk living high in the mountains was once visited by a highly learned man. The man came to him and said, “ I have sought all manner of knowledge, and now I wish to learn from you. The monk did not reply but simply began to pour a cup of tea. He continued pouring until the cup began to overflow. The visitor protested but still the monk poured. Finally the monk spoke, until you arrive at my door empty, dropping all knowledge that you have collected before you enter, there is nothing I can teach you. The arrow smith woman said the same to Saraho, which ultimately led to the birth of Tantra in Tibet.

Knowledge is relative and changes as awareness changes. True understanding can only be realised in the heart where logic, rationality and language do not apply.

This brings us to the last thief; the teachings of love.

“There is no greater enemy of love than the teachings of love”, says Osho. I was having a conversation with a woman. She burst into tears in defense of her beloved country’s actions in Iraq. I realised that americans are taught many things about love. If you love your country you will support the war machine, if you love your country you will turn a blind eye to the loss of your own civil rights and the refusal of america to uphold the Geneva convention. Stephen King said it in The Green Mile, “they kill us with our love all the time.”

A few years ago I realised that the arab nations could perhaps become the greatest lovers on the planet. The reason why I came to this was because they hold the shadow so loudly and clearly. When the shadow is very big, that which causes the shadow must also be very big. One may notice the arabic history, music like rich velvet, that drapes the women, as they swirl their flesh, at the feet of lovers, on the road to mecca. Mecca, home of the yoni of goddess - the Kaaba - the void from which all comes and all returns.

This little bend on the path, my story of lovers, is to suggest that as arab is to lover, american is to heart. The shadow is so thick it can suggest nothing else.

The american heart is fairly transparent. They want to save everyone and everything, but actually land up the destroyers - whether it is the greatest pollutants or the busiest warmongers.

The heart has been led astray. Or perhaps it is more true to say, the heart is forgotten in favour of the words of what heart or love is.

The teachings of love that I found amongst the american tantrikas centered on relationship solving. How you must love your partner, how you must love ... Love is madman who rides shooting stars to kiss the feet of his beloved. There is no how to and nobody knows better than him. Relationship solving is a sanitised walk down a concrete path with trees planted in rows. Yes, it suggests that the inquiry into heart has begun, but only the beginning … where one finds what love is not.

In following the teachings of love, you miss love utterly. Hungry for love, you incessantly attempt to get your needs met and find a zillion techniques for better relationships. Love remains unknown and for that you will always be hungry.

There is a new business in america called tantra. Many years ago I traveled america as a pitchmen. The origins of pitchmen were the sellers of snake medicine ( the cure all potion ) who traveled from town to town in the old west. Pitchmen are an impressive bunch. The true greats can literally hypnotise an audience with voice and carefully rehearsed movements. At the end of the pitch, by such a master, you will buy anything from china that he happens to be flogging that day.

I learnt a few tricks as a pitchman. There is something called a fake turn. This is where you have a crowd in front of you. You have dazzled them with the possibilities of the mop, or the shammy or the pot you may be selling. They are caught, captivated, well almost. You see, if you don’t do the fake turn you will lose them. It goes something like this; you have told them the glories of the mop, you have told them of the unbelievable free gift you will be throwing in, but you have limited stock and you can only do this, now scan the crowd - there are about 20 people - you can only do this for the first 15 people in every demonstration - you still have not got them - now - you point to thin air between two people - you point hard and with utter conviction - and you announce, “you number one”, point to another thin air spot - “you number two” - and now the crowd has jumped in lest they lose their opportunity of a mop and free gift - and you no longer have to point to thin air.

The american public have been conditioned to shop since birth. The experience of freedom comes from the ching ching of the credit card which is why they do not feel wronged when their true freedom is forsaken.

The tantra business uses these old methods of drawing in new customers.

What we selling today? More orgasms more love, more bliss, better and bigger relationships - more more more is always about the ego - empty and desperate. Tantra is not this. Tantra is about the discovery of the moment - utterly complete - the idea of more drops out of your being. This is enough - now. If you want more, rather stick with positive thinking, LOA and how to be a better person.

Tantra is for those who have the capacity to pick up the scent of a rose and let love find the flowers that shower this scent. There the dakini sits .. there the dakini waits .. for the lovers that have the awareness to follow the scent of a rose.

To complete this picture I must also tell you what I love of the american tantrikas.

Their capacity, ingenuity and precision in their body work is unparalleled whether it be yoga practice or tumbling you into love using their body and ground. They are masters of technique and innovators of taking physical practice to new and beautiful planes.

The tantrikas are outrageously brave. They explore non ownership of the beloved with veracity and intent.

The depth of sincerity in their work touched my heart as did the willingness for friendliness. I have traveled to america several times and am always amazed at how quickly an american will become my friend and invite me to play. Regardless of all the politics, they like foreigners and they like new friends.

One meets an openness in americans that clarifies why so many great minds and movements began here.

The beauty of the women, especially the ones living outside the system and not paying attention to what they are supposed to look like, ravages the soul. The men too have big willingness to meet the beloved women. It is beautifully sweet and very sincere.

The two weeks I spent in this land feels like a highly condensed download. The three thieves arrived in my consciousness first and then followed the possibilities of the tantrikas of this land.

I write this mostly as a hope that it will be of some use to the tantrikas in their teaching. It is always more difficult to recognise the conditioning of your birth place. It is also an invitation to come play.

My feeling is that much of the back breaking ground work is done. There is a great readiness for the next step up the mountain. If you were to come to the feet of a master, and I mean a master of tantra because tantra is your journey, then you would fly in moments, conditioning and fear an old and rusty memory.

One last thought .. if you are a sexual healer and not a tantrika none of what has been said applies to you .. then you use boundaries, knowledge, even teachings of love and market your work according to what catches attention. Please understand the distinction. A sexual healer works with people of the culture who who would like to fulfill their potential and heal old wounds. A tantrika throws seekers off a cliff so that they may look Existence in the face and see themselves.

Inner and outer heat in Tantra

Inner and outer heat in Tantra
Copyright Shakti Malan

In Tantric lovemaking, an extraordinary movement of inner and outer heat occurs. This heat and what accompanies it, is what I call dragon's nectar - the theme of my upcoming retreat in the Drakensberg. I will attempt to give you a sense of the experience of this heat here, as well as some information on how this energy has been perceived in Tantric mystery traditions.

Building a bonfire

In ordinary/unconscous lovemaking, what effectively happens is that suppressed energies build up to an involuntary crescendo of contraction and drivenness. The heart rate increases rapidly, as do body movements and organ pulsation. We race towards peak orgasm. And then we collapse in exhaustion. This is like building a huge bonfire - putting all the logs on at the same time - and enjoying the short ecstasy of heat before the logs burn out.

Physiologically what happens here is that the sympathetic nervous system - our fight and flight response - goes into overdrive. This can be very exilirating, a bit like the adrenalin rush we get from extreme sports.

But that fire burns out pretty quickly. It is like one big fiery roar from our inner dragon - impressive, volumous, short lived, and it leaves a trail of destruction in its passing. You may get tired or suspicious of this kind of sexual expression at some point. Good. Now it is important to realize that the trouble is not the fire. The fire is needed. Without the dragon there is no dragons nectar. What needs to change is the way we build the fire.

Stay at the beginning

In the Vigyam Bhairav Tantra, Shiva says: "At the start of sexual union, keep attentive to the fire in the beginning, and, so continuing, avoid the embers at the end."(verse 42)

The art is to learn to build that fire slowly, consciously, with full awareness and clear intent.

Inner heat and the feminine

"In order to allow for the birth of the [ultimate dakini, the wisdom that realizes emptiness], one must eliminate the gross forms of consciousness
by means of the inner heat (tummo) practice that is a particular form of bliss.
This bliss is the means of eliminating coarse consciousness:
therefore, the inner heat represents a meaning of dakini"


This quote comes from a beautiful book by Judith Simmer-brown called Dakini's Warm breath. She describes that in Tibetan Tantric practice, it is understood that the subtle body has three main channels: the non-dual central channel (called the shushumna in Sanskrit) and the two flanking channels. One of these channels is regarded as feminine and is governed by the fire element and the sun. The vital breath of the feminine is warm. The other is regarded as masculine and is governed by the moon and the water element. The vital breath of the masculine is cool.

The focal center of the cool masculine breath is the head, and the center of the warm feminine breath is the navel. Tibetan Tantric practice brings the energy of the icy father down to the navel to be melted by the fiery mother. In that way, the energy of the flanking channels gets united in the central channel. From this comes a great centered stillness and inner heat.

The inner heat is associated with the quality of bodhichitta. Bodhichitta refers to the awakened mind that aspires to liberate all sentient beings. When the vital breaths get united in the center, we live in unity consciousness. There is a quality of bliss associated with this state. But even greater bliss is that of the bodhichitta, who desires to share her bliss with others. This is an essential quality of the dakini.

The inner fire in the belly burns up all states and experiences that keep us from living in pure presence. Therefore, the dakini takes great delight in pulling the practitioner into this fire, even if the burning feels to the recipient like a cruel and heartless act. Dakini knows that true love can burn, to the core.

Outer heat and the masculine

In his fascinating book The Hero: Manhood and Power, John Nash writes about the cultivation of heat by the masculine. Nash is of the opinion that men have also encountered this heat in a very masculine activity - "its awesome power arising within himself, spontaneously, time and time again, through dangerous and exhilirating exertions of another kind - the perils of the hunt."

He also writes that, since ancient times, humanity has understood the sacredness of the feminine because of her ability to birth, without any attempt to 'make' this happen. The masculine, on the other hand, has had to prove his virility by conquering and mastering powers in nature far exceeding his own.

He talks specifically about practices to cultivate the mystic heat. One example is sweat lodges, a heat ceremony from the South American Shamanic tradition designed specifically to help men access the altered states of consciousness that women naturally have access to, especially during menstruation. Nash also refers to certain forms of yoga that raise the metabolic heat of male practitioners to excessive, unnatural degrees. He refers to the Tibetan practice of 'tummo', "'heat-yoga so intense that the monk with his naked body dries blanket after blanket that has been soaked in an icy mountain torrent."

Tummo is the practice that the Dalai Lama referred to in the above quote as a core expression of the dakini in a seeker. The extreme yoga Nash refers to here is a practice using determination, discipline and will power to invoke this fire in celibate practice. But then the Dalai Lama's quote refers to dual cultivation - in this case specifically with the dakini or feminine as embodiment of the wisdom principle. In Tibetan Tantric practice, the monk would deepen his meditation and strengthen his tummo practice until he reached a certain level of realization or awakening. Then his master would introduce him to the dakini who would take him through the final stages.

Ultimately, it is the merging of the feminine (dakini) and masculine energies that take the seeker into the central channel where the inner heat is experienced, and we live in unity consciousness. We all have both masculine and feminine principles inside us. The ultimate merging happens when masculine and feminine merges inside us. In that sense, Tantric practice supports a seeker, no matter what your sexual orientation is. When two men or two women come together in Tantric practice, one will adopt the feminine and one the masculine principle.

The rippling fire of Tantra - my experience

I have had the rare privilege in my lifetime to experience what happens when the masculine and feminine come together in pure presence in Tantric lovemaking. It has left me with a clear realization as to why the Hindu gods are always depicted as being blue. There is a fire that starts to ripple over a person's skin when s/he practices Tantric lovemaking - and takes time about it. This fire is cool, it is spread out all over the body, and for me, its colour is distinctly blue.

Building the slow fire

Tantric lovemaking builds a slow, shimmering, delicious fire. At times, yes, we welcome and build the hot fire of the dragon's breath, of wild passion and roaring delight. But the quality of the meeting is guided mostly by the feminine - receptivity, relaxation, openness to the moment, to the greater flow of what is. The feminine moves like wind and water, dissolving, flowing, folding. The masculine, enveloped by the caress of the feminine, holds one pointed focus. He is the rock. He holds stillness, but without contraction or force. He surrenders into pure presence.

In this space of pure presence, time and space lose their usual hold on us. The moment becomes eternity. Eight hours pass in one timeless flow of the moment. Slowly, deeply, your energy builds, and so too the levels of bliss you can stand. Bodies lose their familiar appearance. You come to experience, beyond doubt, that we are not as solid and fixed a we are. And that, in fact, there is no separation at all. It is this state of subtle, seamless bliss which I call the dragon's nectar.

To be available to this quality of lovemaking takes some preparation, some unlearning of old conditioning, and some sharpening of presence. It takes the willingness to face, and embrace, the erotic impulses you have suppressed. It takes the laying aside of body armoring that keeps you from being fully responsive in your body. It takes deep presence in breath and sensation. It takes a bump-up in your level of openness to sensory impulses. It takes huge expansion of your heart capacity.

Dragon's Nectar, my Tantra retreat in the Drakensberg 20 - 25 November, is designed to support you in exactly this journey. For details, see http://totalitytherapy.com/events/2009/07/dragons-nectar-tantra-intensive-retreat.html. It's time to step into the fire - and say yes!

"Some day, after we have mastered the winds, the waves, the tides, and gravity, we will harness for God the energies of love; and then for the second time in the history of the world, men will have discovered fire!" – Theilard de Chardin

05 October 2009

International Dakini / Daka Conference, Africa 27 to 29 Nov

Dakini Shima went to the Arizona conference earlier in the year.

The stories of her visit are hers to tell, but in the meantime, some of the tantrikas she met there will be visiting for the African conference.

These annual events are arranged by Baba Dez Nichols, a Daka of much experience, and (with Kamla Devi) co-author of Sexual Healing. The main idea of this first one in Africa is to provide an opportunity for those of us who work with the sexual aspects of people's lives to connect and share techniques and information. Also, of course, he comes to share his methods and teachings. After the conference, he will be presenting a training in his approach for aspirant Dakas and Dakinis.

Several teachers of this school will be involved, and we are appealing to sexual educators of all disciplines to do likewise. Inclusive of, but not at all limited to:

Sexologists, psychologists, relationship advisors, trauma counsellors, tantric and taoist massage practitioners, sexual surrogates, sex workers, married people and other professionals who work with client/student’s sexual problems/aspirations.

Naturally, Dakinis, Dakas and other tantrikas of all persuasions are expressly invited. We have shared the contacts we have among South African teachers of tantra, advaita, spirituality and sexuality with Baba Dez. If you haven't had an invitation from him, please do not be insulted! He would love to hear from you.

This event is about Tantra, sacred sexuality and sexual healing in the widest sense. Presentations so far cover a wide and intriguing range of topics.

The page for this event at Sedona Temple is at http://www.sedonatemple.com/event/1114/First-Annual-African-Conference-of-Sacred-Sexual-Educators/Featured-Events.php

Baba Dez will be in South Africa for a few weeks beforehand to promote the event and to raise awareness of tantra and related work. Watch out for him in your local media.

17 August 2009

Ranks, gradings and titles in Tantra

Titles abound in Tantra. Some titles indicate a claim to lineage, others indicate an attainment, or level of understanding.

In the East, there are traditional understandings and (arguably valid) criteria which can be applied.

In the West, there are attempts to form associations, professional bodies to determine and gather support for ethical and political positions.

Some lineages still have a liveliness to them. They still have the rasa, the juice. Others dried out years ago, but still reveal and store mummified valuables. Some represent a revitalisation of an old tradition.

I am not suggesting that there is any problem with this. The word Tantra now describes teachings from a huge range of intent, method, understanding, capability and style. Current teachings have their roots in a wide range of geographical areas and historic eras.

The simple fact, at present is that there is no consensus as to what defines an Adept, a Yogi, an Arahat, a Daka, a Guru, a Saint, a Rishee and so on. Especially since terms and definitions get mix-and-matched with no regard to the source languages.

So … there is nothing I can really do to clarify what titles and gradings are commonly used, and what you can expect of those using these titles. It is part of a seeker's journey to develop and use their own discernment as to who's who, and particularly, who the right teacher for now is.

What I can do is describe, more or less, how I use these terms. What they mean in this particular small school.


Gender inclusive term meaning a student and/or a practitioner of tantra in its broadest sense.

Friend of the school

By this we most usually mean someone we trust, who has particular expertise in some area of tantra or related work. We refer students to them when their particular expertise seems indicated. Other friends of the school include donors, supporters and, well, friends.


A woman working with us with the intention to become a Dakini.


Literally: Sky Dancer. A woman practicing the vocation, the calling, of Tantra. In this school, it is a title. A Dakini is a teacher in her own right, not needing to borrow authority from anywhere. Her energy has the same catalysing effect as that of a guru.

When we call someone outside of our school a Dakini, it is in recognition of their capability and understanding. Some of these wonderful women have learned from us for a part of their path, others we know from their teaching, or through mutual students.

A Wild Dakini is a woman who has all the power and understanding, but not (yet) the awareness of her calling.


The Dakini's male counterpart. A Daka is a man of unusual self awareness that works with women. Dakas in this school work specifically and exactly to the direction of Dakinis. This is sexist, and perhaps one day there will be exceptions … but, for now that is how it is.

Dakas are initiated, trained and given the title by Dakinis.


A Tantric Master who chooses to teach. Someone who's own spiritual and sexual work is complete.

Mine was done in 2002. Since then, my sexuality has had no quality of need, addiction or personal desire. It has been a part of my teaching, my communication with my students, used for that purpose just as is my voice and every other aspect of my life.

For the work I do, specifically the teaching and guidance of Dakinis, the completion of my own sexual dramas is essential to my own psychological survival. Also, if I was not complete in my own sexuality … if I had needs … if I was therefore subject to sexual manipulation … it would be hilarious, but I wouldn't be laughing. These are, after all, the most powerful of women!

It is also my responsibility to be careful when and to whom I teach what are known as the secret teachings. Some of these, misapplied, can be a bit ugly.

A guru's foremost, often defining characteristic is his energy field. The mysterious property that can reach and support a seeker, even at a distance.

This property is analogous to a catalyst in chemistry. Flammable gasses at room temperature, too cool to burn, will burst into flame when they encounter (the catalyst) platinum. One can look very closely and examine the platinum very carefully to see what it has done. Mysteriously, the platinum seems unchanged, and can do it's trick repeatedly without changing.

What I and the Dakinis seem to catalyse is the flowering of a seeker's awareness. The natural reaction waiting to happen, or happening gradually, within our students is accelerated.


One day, I will stop apologising for the English language and my part in it's absorbtion and redefinition of words from other languages and traditions. I won't (and English won't) stop doing it though.

07 January 2009

Where are all the men?

I often hear women in conversation asking, with a touch of hopelessness, where all the conscious men are (and if there are any.) The answer is: They are busy doing Tantra! I have twice as many women as men on my mailing list, but nevertheless the men equal, and often outnumber, the women who actually come to events. Such beautiful men. I am just now coming from a Blissdance class where I had the privilege to witness the presence and sensitivity with which these men meet themselves, each other and especially, women. So now you know, women, where to go look!