23 July 2010

Throwing Rocks and Unbounded Teaching

Please note that Tantra was just one of the topics at last year's Sexuality and Consciousness conference. A lot of other useful, healing and generally worthwhile things were discussed, as well as these aspects of tantra.

A lot of ideas exchanged in a short period of time is a bit of a rollercoaster, and it takes everyone a little time to get appropriate perspective on what they have heard, notice the connections and distinctions in what they have heard and so on.

Even then, ideas can get mixed, and incorrect interpolations can be made. Two notions expressed at last year's Consciousness and Sexuality conference got a little mixed, which resulted in a little confusion and misunderstanding.

This is no bad thing of course, and I am sure we will have a higher, wilder ride at this year's conference. The range of arts, sciences, systems and approaches relevant to various levels of consciousness and sexuality related work should be even wider than last year's.

The ideas that got mixed were rock-throwing and boundaries.

Throwing Rocks

Rock throwing is a description from the student's end of things, describing what it is, what it takes to approach a Dakini. The traditional image is that one approaches her cave and tries to get close enough to leave a gift, present her with a gift, engage her in discussion or, ideally, ask for her teaching. She makes this hard, throwing rocks, rubbishing the supplicant's learning to date, rejecting his gifts and so on.

From the Dakini's end of things, the student approaches, and she starts teaching him immediately. What he may feel to be "rocks" … criticism, direction, difficult conditions and so on are his mind-ego's response to her first lessons. It seems to him at first that he advances by overcoming these obstacles and hurdles which the Dakini puts in his path.

It can seem harsh to a student that a Dakini insists on him having no alcohol before a session. It can seem weird that she insists he take a course in basic massage techniques, or insists that he stop taking erection-support or feel-good medication.

A Dakini's more mundane rocks are for the merely curious and the currently horny-and-can-google.
As Shakti puts it on one of her blogs:

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)
So altogether, standing alone as a notion in it's own right, this "throwing rocks" thing is a good and useful part of teaching, especially when one has to filter those with the willingness and capacity from those who would be better off elsewhere.

Boundaries and Ethics

Dakinis are not bound by any boundaries, conditions, or, in the conventional sense, even ethics in their sessions work. A very scary notion for some at first sight. It is not a generally appropriate or workable approach to most therapies and healing modalities. These things clearly need boundaries on the part of the practitioner, and helping the student's development/discovery of his own boundaries is sometimes the conscious agenda.

The prevalent view in the culture is that a child needs clear boundaries from his parents, and that boundaries are the foundational expression of parental love.

Dakini Shima describes it in a FB note thus:

When you are little, your parents find your unbounded energy to be dangerous and disruptive. If your energy has no boundary then you may not look before you run in front of a truck.

The regular cultural understanding of ethics and boundaries is that these things are necessary to any conscious interaction. They give a framework for agreement and clarify the context. Their absence implies a lack of caring, safety and compassion.

A Dakini, however, is deeply familiar with unbounded caring, love beyond safety and compassion beyond the realm of conventional ethics. She engages her students at a level beyond the usual agendas of healing and therapeutic work. There are boundaries – the student's boundaries. Awareness of these is  encouraged, developed and, lessons learned, the boundaries are often discarded.
Dakini Wendy uses these lines of Rumi's to describe her sessions work:

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
there is a field.  I'll meet you there.
Dakinis have renounced the Original Sin described in the Christian book. They make no claim to the divine knowledge of good and evil. They work instead on refining their aesthetic, how they would like things to look. Osho once said that aesthetics would be the ethics of the future.

I look forward to further sharing, exploration, discussion and controversy at the next next Consciousness and Sexuality conference in South Africa, happening in early December 2010.

21 July 2010

The Guru Catch-22

This article was prompted by a thread on FB where the fairly predictable opinions about the finances and sincerity of teachers and gurus, particularly ones of the tantric persuasion were being expressed.

I fail to see what a teacher's finances have to do with their teaching. Buddha sent his students begging, Jesus' guys collected from the poor, who are still their major source of income. Gurdjieff did all kinds of things, including making bets to generate income so his students could concentrate on the work. There was a lovely Indian Guru that supported himself by selling beedies. Most ashram founders charged their students, or did deals with the local oligarchy for funding. Milarepa's guru had him build a house.

Making one's teaching one's living can often be a more effective way to support seekers than riding two horses. For example, Shakti Malan PhD was well paid as a consultant to huge corporates. Leaving that rich source of income and focusing on her teaching has made it possible for her to do far more retreats, workshops and sessions than she could part time. Her income from her teaching is not comparable to her corporate rates, and she makes an effort to make all her work as affordable as possible.

On my own path, I am glad to have supported my teachers with donations, their fees, helping on workshops, encouraging others to their work. While I was in a position to do so,  I freely accommodated and provided retreat space for a teacher and around twenty students, for months.

I suspect that this financial issue is mostly just "beginner mind' shying away from the path, finding an excuse to avoid. The teacher can be seen as "suspect" with very little mental effort.

Naturally, it is just as reflexive to regard a teacher as not-worth-hearing on account of his lack of wealth or cheap/free rates. This is perhaps more prevalent in the world of tantra. Recently I saw an article about a lovely young yogini which stressed her world record sessions pricing more or less as proof of her degree of attainment.

Of course, what is usually behind worries about guru finances is a worry about insincerity, the possibility of having to drink the cool-aid, sexual or psychological abuse, unhealthy or misguided practices, becoming terrorists, just wasting time and so on.

Very understandable, but this is why seekers have intelligence. Mind control cults are very easy to spot, being just intensive mini-versions of the Abrahamic religions. Their characteristics are well known: Claims of infallibility of the leadership, imposed beliefs, militant songs and a limited reading list.

I practice a reasonably high-paying craft, which I enjoy and could make far more income from if I paid it 10% the attention I give to my teaching. If earning money was my objective, I would have done far better with that over the last several years, and would have been far less available as a teacher.

Certainly, I would like my teaching to reach more of the people it should, and make enough money to support a comfortable place for people to visit and learn. In the meantime, the local mostly excellent B+B's work fine. My aesthetic in the matter is that I would like students to contribute towards this. It is, after all, for them, not for me.

Over the years, I have noticed too, that on any workshop it is the "freebies" that tend to take up the bulk of everyone's time with nonsense and their need for extra attention and special treatment … which is of course, why they are freebies in the first place. People that are interested enough to pay at least something for a teacher's time are obviously more sincere in their interest.

Not that I always charge money … Prospective Dakas and Dakinis in this school determine their own level of involvement, and I am always as available to them as I can manage. It is my delight that I manage to spend most of my time with them. The payment I demand from these close beloveds is my version of the old Bodhisattva vow – that they will pass on what they have learned when they encounter those that need it.

Personally, I have heard what the Fox network calls fair and balanced stuff about my teaching. Two diametrically opposed sides. One bunch figures me as no good on account of the fortune I am supposedly making as a new-age-pimp. The other bunch points the finger at my very modest income as proof of my personal fnancial issues, which, of course, disqualifies me as a worthwhile person to learn from.

My focus though, is my teaching – not what money I could make from it. It is also entirely possible that school finances will improve at some point, even embarrassingly. However things evolve to look, I'm sure it will be fun and a delight. It certainly has been that so far.

18 July 2010

Discussion with Al Link of 4 Freedoms Tantra

The original unedited version of this discussion with Al Link and Pala Copeland of 4 Freedoms Tantra is at Healing International. Ning account required, not payment.

Can Sex and Spirit Go Together?

There is a widespread assumption and belief that sex is antagonistic or contra-indicated in connection with one’s spiritual practice; that it has nothing to do with “real” Tantra. Furthermore, the implied or frequently openly asserted statement is that sex is bad, dirty, and dangerous; some would go so far as to say, sinful.

This orientation of belief is rampant in virtually all major religions, and in virtually in all spiritual disciplines. Tantra is often assumed to be an exception to this, but there is an attempt to marginalize those who incorporate sacred sexual practices into their spiritual practice as “not practicing real Tantra.” Some therefore refer to Tantra practices including sacred sexuality, as Neo (new) Tantra, presumably reserving Tantra for the “correct” spiritual approach, whatever that might be.

This is an extremely unfortunate (although sincere and well-intentioned) bias, and is incorrect. In fact the problem is not too much sex, but rather the repression of it. The repression of sex leads to a twisted, dirty, dangerous and selfish sexuality. Any basic human need that is repressed will not go away, it will simply go “underground,” being pushed into the dark shadow of our deeper consciousness (where we put everything else that we don’t understand and are afraid of), only to erupt at times in ways that tend to be selfish, addictive, sleezy, dirty, dangerous and violent. Of course this is the reason why there is so much fear around this absolutely powerful natural organic energy.

It is useless and less than helpful to continue to propagate this ancient deception upon innocent people, including sincere persons wishing to undertake their spiritual journeys. What is required is not to say “no” to sex, but “know.” There is nothing about sex that is required, but on the other hand there is nothing forbidden either, with the exceptions of abuse, force and violence. The spiritual challenge and opportunity is for sincere, mature, consenting adults to learn about a natural, organic, healthy, passionate and spiritual sexuality.

Learning to work consciously with the hot sexual energy is one of the most important spiritual practices. Furthermore, these practices date back thousands of years. Tantra, including sacred sexuality, can lead directly to enlightenment, and in fact is certainly one of the simplest, most direct spiritual paths. Undeniably it is a path of pleasure rather than pain and suffering, which so many spiritual seekers, and unfortunately many spiritual finders, continue to perpetuate, with stories that can easily lead seekers to conclude that the only way to enlightenment is though pain and suffering.

On the contrary, pleasure and happiness are far more “user friendly” spiritual paths. It must be obvious, that just because someone who had been previously leading a life filled with pain and suffering, then became enlightened, does not mean that the only way to enlightenment is through pain and suffering. Similarly, if one who has no legs becomes enlightened, it would be absurd for followers to have their legs amputated. Just because sex was not part of the path of one who became enlightened, hardly justifies anyone to say, sex can’t be, or should not be, part of a spiritual practice.

No enlightened person will ever tell another how they must act to become enlightened. The counterpoint to that is the interesting question if an enlightened person would ever tell a seeker what they could not do. While it is true that an enlightened person can tell others in the most generalized sense, what to do and what not to do, that advice will never include specific behaviors. For example, an enlightened person can legitimately say, “be kind, compassionate and loving;” or they could say, “avoid attachment, selfishness, and addiction.” But an enlightened person would never say, “don’t have sex; sex is bad, dirty, dangerous and sinful.” No enlightened person would ever say, “sex will prevent you from becoming enlightened.”

Al Link
4 Freedoms Relationship Tantra

What I have come to be convinced about on our journey heir on earth is that: First we have to learn to take responsibility for ourselves and our actions. Secondly we need to learn forgiveness for ourselves and others. Thirdly we need to learn to be in the present here and now, which is very connected with the body and one of the reasons to why we are down on earth in this form, and of course sex is a natural part of that. Of course sex has been diminished through time as it is a strong energy many can fear if they don’t understand it and want to control others (the church, society in general etc.) though times are changing and people consciousness are being raised – but there is a long way to go jet :-) We can only self be the guiding lights for others be living our life with love and happiness – though it can be hard to shine in a room where all others energy works as a big cloud of smoke – then it is good we can meet heir ;-)

In my school, it seems to be more about "stages", although there is considerable overlap. Starting from the usual condition, i.e. a repressed awareness around sexuality, Osho's Neo-Tantra approach is vital. At this stage, trying to insist on, or even discern "spiritual" sex from "profane/worldly" sex is pointless. One has to work with what one has. The first work consists in breaking your taboos and removing repression. Next, it is necessary to honestly address your eroticism, no matter how that may look. If something is in your erotic makeup, it has to be faced, probably has to be experienced that it may reveal the truth it is covering. This is often very painful, confronting and harsh work. Tantra is the fastest of paths, but is not a shortcut. On any path, one has to lose all attachments to the mind's version of things. No mind finds this other than horrendously painful. Much of my work with my students is to support them through this essential raw and painful time of absolute honesty. For a Tantrika worthy of the name, some illusions around their sexuality need to be destroyed. Few get beyond e.g. just their jealousy without having to move through considerable emotional pain. When the psychopathology has been addressed and made conscious, sex is revealed for what it truly is. Sex becomes "just sex" … no fantasies, needs or dependencies. At this point (and not a moment before) sexual meditations becomes possible and useful. Most of a seeker's neo-tantra work can be addressed by teachers with personal experience of that stage of the work. It is useful to pretty much all seekers, not just tantrikas. To encourage that work, I think it is OK to use the lie "Tantra is transcendence through bliss. Full body orgasms lead to enlightenment" as a marketing ploy, an encouragement. The next stage of the work, the practice of sexual meditations, is rarely useful or fruitful if it is just a matter of playing with learned/borrowed techniques. A teacher of significant experience in this area is required. Such a teacher requires guidance/support from their teacher, who in turn needs to have completed their own path. Hence, they are rare. A school of tantra that is capable of guiding a tantrika the full distance the path goes can be recognised by the traditional structure, unchanged in the modern world, of Dakas, Dakinis and a Guru. The Dakas (male practitioners) will work to the direction of the school's Dakinis (female practitioners). The Dakinis will teach without any limitation or boundary on the techniques they use or the degree of intimacy involved. They teach directly, unambiguously, sexually – the only way Tantra as such can be taught. The Dakinis will be supported by the Guru, sometimes male, more often female. Someone who no longer does "relationship" or need/craving based sex. Someone who has completed their path.

Hello Rahasya, Your comments are so very welcome here and much appreciated. The knowledge, experience and intelligence you bring to this important topic is evident. Regarding stages, of course the usual experience of personal and spiritual growth, is that one goes through stages. But at the moment of illumination, the instant of awakening to enlightenment, one understands that there are no stages, that there is nothing incremental about enlightenment. But it is of little help advising anyone against engaging in some spiritual path, a path that as they progress along it, seems to include the experience of incremental growth toward some desired goal or end, i.e., awakening to full enlightenment. It does seem that undertaking the spiritual quest, then at some point giving up the search, without giving up the desire or the vision of awakening, is required. Exactly which path, how to engage that path, how long to persevere, etc. is a matter of personal choice, of personal freedom. The conundrum is that what one “sees” or “knows” from within enlightenment, cannot be seen or known from within the illusion of ego separation. It would be like expecting, that because one has eyes he should be able to see for a hundred miles, and of course that cannot happen. One can try to communicate what enlightenment is, what it is like, but this is always less than satisfactory, and always with mixed and unpredictable results for a spiritual seeker. It is even more difficult, impossible I would insist, to tell anyone how to become enlightened; even enlightened masters (those not only who have been there once, but are currently in that state as they speak) cannot do that. I am certain that advising anyone how to become enlightened, by telling them either what they must do, or on the contrary, what they cannot do, is not only futile, it is also robbing the spiritual seeker of their freedom and denying them the necessity of being responsible for themselves. Hence, when it comes to sexuality, it is extremely important to avoid making absolute statements about what, when, where, with whom, etc., that anyone else must do or not do. It is of course possible for a teacher to try to pass on what they have learned, and what they think they know, and what they believe to be true, but they must admit to the learner, that it is all they are doing, not passing along absolute truth. What anyone can say to another about sexuality, is that learning about it is a necessity, not an option, and then provide any honest assistance one can to help them learn. This teaching is unavoidably fraught with danger, e.g., the common extremely messy circumstance of spiritual gurus having sex with their disciples. And that is only one of the more extreme challenging situations; there are many others involved when trying to help others learn about spiritual sexuality. Discerning the difference between sex that is spiritual and sex that is profane, far from being pointless, as you suggest, is an excellent place to start, at least for adults. Not all sex is equal. This must be obvious to anyone who has been sexually used, manipulated, or abused. And even in relatively high functioning relationships, there is quick sex, sex to release tension, sex to escape frustration, sex as an expression of power, etc., while on the other hand there is Tantric and Taoist sacred sex. This surely is a difference that makes a difference, a difference that matters. In fact it is of the utmost urgency, for sex education to emerge from the dark ages, where only the plumbing is taught (this is a penis, this is a vagina, etc.) to include the emotional aspects (heart connection, affection, love), the energetic aspects (what is sexual energy, how to cultivate and circulate that energy) and the spiritual (how does sex affect one’s consciousness and one’s soul?) aspects of this most vital of all human functions. I see no inherent reason why all of this, in fact why any of this, must be as painful as you seem to assume it will be. Most of the pain and suffering associated with sexuality is because of the severe repression and denial of sexuality, not because of an honest, intelligent, exploration of learning. I am in complete agreement with you about the need to overcome this repression and stop perpetrating it upon this or future generations, but I see no reason to frighten people by insisting this learning journey must be filled with pain and suffering, although in some instances that could be the case, particularly when there is a history of sexual abuse and violence. Regarding your point about when sexual meditations become useful, I fail to understand your insistence that one must first do some other unspecified spiritual work before one can engage in sex as a meditation. We have been teaching couples for over 12 years now, and our approach is to start with sex as a meditation, not suggest that some years later they may be ready for that. What seems to work with almost everyone we have worked with, is to simply model what couples that have created successful, happy relationships, actually do. We do not insist on finding out what problems couples have, then try to “treat” or “fix” those problems, we simply share with people what works, let them know that we have been practicing these things for the past 25 years, that we have shared these methods with hundreds of other couples, for whom these practices also work, and to communicate that it is ok, nay, highly desirable for couples to try these things. They don’t have to wait until they are more prepared, until they are healed, until they are spiritually more advanced; they don’t have to be good people, they don’t have to be special people, they don’t have to deserve anything, and they don’t need anyone else’s permission to do these things, and certainly need no one else’s permission to be happy and to be sexually fulfilled. As people start to do what other couples have successfully done, as they learn how to create love (as opposed to fall in love – including the knowledge and skill of a mature adult spiritual sexuality), they start to heal, they start to regain their wholeness, their courage, their optimism, their faith, their motivation, their happiness, their lightness of being. Joining with, merging ecstatically with another human being, is the start of overcoming the ego illusion of separation, and their spirit naturally, organically awakens. This is a very good thing! This is the re-uniting of heaven and earth, of sex and spirit. You say: “I think it is OK to use the lie ‘Tantra is transcendence through bliss. Full body orgasms lead to enlightenment’ as a marketing ploy, an encouragement.”  Actually Tantra is transcendence through bliss, or it can be; it certainly has been for Pala and I, and many others we have taught. Of course that is not all Tantra is. As for full body orgasms leading to enlightenment, it is certainly a fact that enlightened states of consciousness, are, among other things, very high energy states. Learning to cultivate and work intentionally and with awareness with that hot sexual energy to accumulate a high sexual life force charge and then to know what to do with it, has been an essential precondition for my own enlightened states, and I believe could be as important for others as well; certainly worth exploring. This is not even a little bit of marketing ploy for Pala and I, although I could understand that it might be for some teachers. I’m interpreting what you say to strongly imply that exploration of sacred sexuality is extremely difficult, and painful, but that need not be the case, not at all. We have found that most ordinary couples, and the exceptions are quite rare, are quite capable of grasping the significant of this different approach to sex, sexuality, lovemaking, relationship building, and spiritual practice, and also quite capable of implementing many practices into their lives within the short span of one weekend. Furthermore, couples notice significant positive changes in their relationships and in their lives, also in a single weekend, and these changes typically continue to deepen and expand. We have certainly saved many a marriage. The practices we teach are not extremely difficult, are not dangerous, and are not painful. Yet they remain powerful in their capacity to help couples transform their lives for the better. The practices we teach are as simple as growing hair on your arm. You don’t really have to learn some difficult process, don’t have to experience anguish, don’t have to be a special kind of person with special talents and abilities. Rather, you simply have to embrace change and have a desire to move forward to make your relationship a secure platform for creating love and happiness for a lifetime together. Furthermore, you don’t even have to search for the spiritual nuggets in the teaching and the practices. Just do them, and the great spirit will surely find you. You say: “The next stage of the work, the practice of sexual meditations, is rarely useful or fruitful if it is just a matter of playing with learned/borrowed techniques. A teacher of significant experience in this area is required. Such a teacher requires guidance/support from their teacher, who in turn needs to have completed their own path. Hence, they are rare.” This is an example of what I mean when I say you make it sound extremely difficult for a couple to follow a sacred sex spiritual path. In fact, we (Al Link and Pala Copeland) are self taught lovers. We have never had a guru, although we have had many excellent teachers from whom we have learned a great deal. I would suggest that a guru is not required, although one could be very helpful if you could find one, or if one would find you. Instead of worrying about how rare teachers and gurus might be, just take the next step, then the next, and surely you will eventually arrive at your destination. What is the final destination? Enlightenment of course, and it is for everyone, not just a special few, because enlightenment is not a destination, it is what you, and everyone else, actually are, which you can verify with your own personal experience of illumination. And sacred sexual practices, Tantric and Taoist, will definitely help you get there sooner rather than later. A personal record of enlightenment is available at Sexy Spiritual Relationships membership. More information about Tantra Retreats hosted by Al Link and Pala Copeland is available at 4 Freedoms Relationship Tantra.
Thanks for continuing the discussion, Al and Paula – it looks like we are throwing good sweets. May it benefit our readers. I start somewhere in the middle..       " This is an example of what I mean when I say you make it sound extremely difficult for a couple to follow a sacred sex spiritual path" In an earlier paragraph, I specify: Breaking taboos, removing repression, honestly addressing your eroticism. And doing that.. in practice, not theory, is the painful bit. If it doesn't confront/crack/shake you to your very core, it wasn't a taboo you broke. If you haven't felt and passed through the fullness of your jealousy, fear of comparison and craving/need for the beloved, you haven't really tackled your repression. If you haven't followed your eroticism where it leads, honestly and willingly exploring what you find hot, no matter how profane, weird or strange that might look, then eroticism has not been addressed. All that is intensely delicious, but all of it is also unavoidably very painful work. Pain not in the sense of nerve stimulation. Pain as in suffering through and transcending the mind's limitations and fears. For example, when someone watches their beloved having a great porno session with someone else, they are likely to have to go through some hurt before they can appreciate and enjoy that love is happening. Childhood shames, abuses and hurts are very involved in eroticism. It is not unusual (if one is deep, aware, and sufficiently honest) to be eroticised at some level to e.g. humiliation. To honestly accept and move through that, without avoidance takes true grit and a capacity to be aware and present in emotionally painful experiences. Learning to really experience and enjoy the yummies, improving the intimacy in a relationship and so on is good healing work. Intimacy coaching, sexology and so on. Even without getting into the uncomfortable depths, this level of work can lead to good, natural sex, which always provides a glimpse of the divine possibility. Good, natural unrepressed sex evokes satori. Flash-in-the darkness truth. Enlightened states. Temporary, though memorable and often life changing. Satori is a glimpse out of a window, not a walk in the countryside. I have written more about the difference between satori and enlightenment here, for the interested. The experience of "enlightenment", more correctly "awakening to the path" is of course valuable, and there is no tantra without it. It is the experiencing of enlightened states that can give the internal unity of purpose and the determination required. That satori is the end goal of most of what is called tantra. It is also the goal of most of Osho's teachings on Tantra, although he did hint at what lies beyond. I have great gratitude for those that help others to this point. Their work is very valuable indeed, for tantra, and for human evolution. Although I sound argumentative, nitpicky and generally wigged out, I have great appreciation for you and the other teachers that help people get to that awakening. For many seekers, it is, as you say, just unavoidable and necessary work. Indeed, what the west has been given in teachings from Tantric and Taoist traditions is extremely valuable. Yes, they may well arrive eventually at their destination. Tantrikas, though, are not just any seekers. Perhaps a fifth of those that attain a natural, unrepressed, taboo free sexuality have the capacity for Tantra as such. Perhaps a fifth of them have the insistence that "eventually" is no good. The traditional bumper sticker (if trad tantrikas had had bumper stickers) reads "Enlightenment, this lifetime, or bust." A very different phonemenon from the "seeker" who wants a mercedes in the garage, a tantrika in the bedroom and other lifestyle conveniences. What I call Tantra starts after awakening to the path and after having cleared oneself of one's sexual psychopathology. It absolutely requires personal, sexual, intimate guidance. The secrets of Tantra can only be taught experientially. This guidance is absolutely impossible if the guide/guru has any agenda of personal need, any trace of addiction to pleasure, or any eroticism at all. It is just a fact that teachers at this level are rare. For the last few hundred years, they have (with the possible exception of Barry Long) been very secretive and very, very selective. My work for the last several years has been to make this level of teaching more available, more accessible. The women I have been working with the last several years, who are now the teachers in this school have the capacity to teach in this way. Their students are guided through the preliminary (taboo, eroticism, repression) work, and introduced to the "direct, secret teachings" as and when they show the capacity for it. They have been the most wonderful students. Women of unusual capacity, strength, insistence and persistence. Seekers with a passion and devotion to truth that is extremely rare. Dakinis don't contract to provide any sexual experience, or any particular outcome for their sessions. Nobody gets to buy sex. Nonetheless, extremely erotic stuff and sex (by the Bill Clinton definition) happens in many sessions. The Dakini contracts to support her student's awakening and flowering as far as it can go, without any limitation. Dakinis don't have limitations of any sort on what can or can't happen in their sessions. There is also no question at all as to who is in charge of the process. A student is most definitely not ordering from a menu! There are boundaries … the student's boundaries and current capacity. There are tests of sincerity, hurdles put before some students. For example, if someone's body has terrible circulation and not much nerve-response, a specified period of study with a teacher of yoga or martial arts may be prescribed. Further sessions then cannot be booked until the requisite work has been done. Sessions with a couple are ideally about helping them to work together through the taboo/erotic/repression curriculum. With some couples, their relationship patterns and codependencies are so entrenched that it is better for them to work individually, at least at first. Tantra is the fastest of paths, and is only for the most insistent of seekers because it never avoids. The necessary approach to difficult/confronting/exposing/shameful things is always "The way through a thing is THROUGH it." I followed the link to your site, and I think it's a perfectly good place for seekers and those just wanting a better connection with their partners. The work you do will for sure make a difference in many lives, and supports the rekindling of tantric practice and understanding. And, sure, there is a language problem. Tantra, to us tantrikas has a very specific meaning. We would prefer that the range of what is called Tantra in the West was called "lessons from tantra" or "sex and intimacy coaching". A couple that are great friends of the school run groups they brand as "TrueSex". Like that. It would save us having to look all snooty, calling what we do "real Tantra" or "authentic Tantra", which is necessary, but nasty. For sure, we don't mean that other teachings and teachers aren't real or authentic! Those teachings derived from tantric and taoist understandings and practices are plenty real, genuine and authentic! … Just, how else to distinguish, when the word "tantra" as used, often just means "with incense and candles". I try to strike a hopefully not insulting balance by calling what happens here "full path" or "complete path" tantra. Not perfect, but what else to do! The tricky thing for me is that I value your teaching, and other teachers, like friend Baba Dez of Sedona, the Muirs, even the misplaced snootiness of Mumford. All of you are doing magnificent and necessary work that probably couldn't happen without all the shopping opportunities and TM'ing. Nonetheless, in trying to describe the miracle that has happened here, halfway to India, I am going to be heard as critical. At least, I hope, not as critical as I am of teachers like Mr Tolle that imply that no work, no effort and no attention to one's sexual development is required. Even if that is paradoxically true, I insist that the other side of the paradox can't be ignored. Here's a link you may enjoy, where I do get a bit (lovingly) critical of those satsang wallahs.

Hello Rahasya, I love your spiritual intelligence, your use of the language, and your acutely accurate articulation of concepts. And it is always such a pleasure to meet others who speak essentially the same language, who have had similar personal spiritual experiences, and have read some of the same books. You say: “And doing that.. in practice, not theory, is the painful bit. If it doesn't confront/crack/shake you to your very core, it wasn't a taboo you broke. If you haven't felt and passed through the fullness of your jealousy, fear of comparison and craving/need for the beloved, you haven't really tackled your repression. If you haven't followed your eroticism where it leads, honestly and willingly exploring what you find hot, no matter how profane, weird or strange that might look, then eroticism has not been addressed. All that is intensely delicious, but all of it is also unavoidably very painful work. Pain not in the sense of nerve stimulation. Pain as in suffering through and transcending the mind's limitations and fears.” I’m sure your teaching approach can work, indeed does work, for many, and as you have also alluded to, teachers draw the students that are right for them, just as students are attracted to the teachers who are right for them. However, I can’t help but notice a very similar approach you are taking with your spiritual teaching as Allopathic doctors take with treating illness, i.e., focus on the problem, focus on the disease (dis-ease) and then try to fix it. In effect this makes the problem or the disease the center of attention, more important than the person, much like when the physician making rounds refers to “the gall bladder” in room 407. We on the other hand, focus on what COUPLES (we work mainly with couples, not singles) who do love each other actually do to create, sustain and nurture that love, stay connected, keep passion hot, honor commitment, staying tuned to trust, respect, caring attention, loving kindness, sacred sexual practices, spiritual practices, caring for and honoring the body, getting proper sleep and rest, eating well, using nutritional supplements intelligently, getting regular exercise, etc. In this approach what matters, the entire focus of attention is on the persons, their relationship, relationship happiness, sexual fulfillment, physical, emotional, energetic and spiritual connection, and awakening all the way to Enlightenment for Two (what we call our unique spiritual practice for couples). To find out more about that visit our membership website: Sexy Spiritual Relationships. An image I like to use for how the healing and spiritual quickening happens as lovers undertake these healthy “best practices” for sacred sexuality, relationship happiness and spiritual growth, is that if you hold something in each hand, with something in one hand that is very light weight (e.g., a pencil), and in the other hand something that is heavy (e.g., a large rock), then turn your hands over so your closed fist is towards the earth, and open your hands, you will notice that both objects drop away with equal ease, relatively painlessly, almost without effort. This is a good metaphor for how it can be regarding even the most difficult issues affecting people’s lives, the issues associated with the most pain and suffering, issues which are seemingly impossible to resolve, issues that have persisted possibly for decades (or even carried forward from a previous life – STICKY KARMA). The emergence of energetic healing modalities across the planet has shown this to be possible for almost every issue or life circumstance, certainly including sexuality issues and spirituality blocks; modalities such as Tapping (Emotional Freedom Technique - EFT), Ho'oponopono, grounding, etc.; there are hundreds of them. The results they deliver can be and typically are very fast, sometimes almost instantaneous. People simply stop doing the dysfunctional things and start doing what works. This is not magic, and certainly not wishful thinking; it is real, and repeatable with large numbers of ordinary human beings in every walk of life, regardless of gender, age, race, socioeconomic status, etc. These methods transcend the limitations of lifelong conditioning, limiting beliefs, lifetime accumulations of pain and hurt, and do not require years of study, practice, pain and suffering, nor do they require the constant presence of a teacher or guru. Mostly all that is required is the courage to look for change, a willingness to try new things, and then some persistent effort over weeks, months, and perhaps years, to develop skill, integrate new knowledge, unlearn some bad habits, resistance to some bad behaviors, and saying yes to having what you do want instead of settling for what you don’t want. You also say: “For example, when someone watches their beloved having a great porno session with someone else, they are likely to have to go through some hurt before they can appreciate and enjoy that love is happening.” Do I detect an oxymoron here? I suppose it is possible for “a great porno session” and “love” to go together, but why bother? People have no idea what is possible in and what a long-term committed monogamous relationship has to offer. There need be nothing in such a relationship that is a prison, a trap, an unacceptable inconvenience, a denial of freedom, a repression of true desires, or limitation of any kind that really matters. But the gifts such a relationship can deliver are simply unbelievable for anyone who has never experienced such a relationship. But very few have any role models for such relationships that are at not only filled with hot passion but are also stable, where the couple are at once passionate lovers, best friends, parents, grandparents, and also allowing each to be free creative individuals. With Pala and me, our commitment of fidelity is never a burden, never a sacrifice, never an inconvenience, never something we merely put up with because we are afraid, or because it is the “right” thing to do, or because it is the “moral” thing to do, never because we have to do it. Our commitment of fidelity is a gift we give each other as an expression of our love for each other, our way of honoring each other. Our fidelity is a part of the very structure of a relationship that fulfills, nurtures, and enriches our lives; that provides a secure platform from which we can navigate through the perilous rapids of life’s fast flowing waters. Our fidelity is an important part of the structure of our relationship in which we define our lives in these physical bodies; it is one aspect of how we create a life together, including a love that will thrive for a lifetime together. You say: “Learning to really experience and enjoy the yummies, improving the intimacy in a relationship and so on is good healing work. Intimacy coaching, sexology and so on. Even without getting into the uncomfortable depths, this level of work can lead to good, natural sex, which always provides a glimpse of the divine possibility. Good, natural unrepressed sex evokes satori. Flash-in-the darkness truth. Enlightened states. Temporary, though memorable and often life changing. Satori is a glimpse out of a window, not a walk in the countryside. I have written more about the difference between satori and enlightenment here, for the interested. The experience of ‘enlightenment’, more correctly ‘awakening to the path’ is of course valuable, and there is no tantra without it. It is the experiencing of enlightened states that can give the internal unity of purpose and the determination required.” Are you suggesting that the only way to lasting, stable, full enlightenment (as opposed to a satori flash, an enlightened state that dissolves without becoming stable, is with sex involving multiple partners, or group sex? I assume that is not what you are saying, but it is implied, and could easily be interpreted to be what you mean. Are you suggesting that only by confronting the many neuroses and dysfunctional patterns at the evocation of great pain and suffering, is the only way to stable enlightenment? I do believe you are saying that, but as already expressed, believe there is another path, a path of pleasure, a path of love, a path of voluntary learning and change, a path of mastering hot sexual energy and using it consciously for the purpose of awakening. I could never deny that a path of pain and suffering could lead to full enlightenment, but no one has ever convincingly made the case that a path of pain and suffering is the necessary spiritual path. As for the “internal unity of purpose and the determination required” I have always found, and believe this to be almost a universal principle of how human beings learn and change, is that having a VISION of WHAT YOU DO WANT is the most productive growth strategy; not focusing on what you do not want, e.g., the disease. I believe the way that the brain and central nervous system, and yes our consciousness, works, is that we get more of what we pay attention to, and by paying attention to our problems we do not get rid of them, we simply get more of the same. You say: “Tantrikas, though, are not just any seekers. Perhaps a fifth of those that attain a natural, unrepressed, taboo free sexuality have the capacity for Tantra as such.” This of course begs the question of what a “natural, unrepressed, taboo free sexuality” is. I daresay that for most readers, that will instantly translate into some variation of “lots of sex with lots of people” and possibly “lots of people at the same time.” But I would deny that as the primary meaning and assert it is certainly not the only interpretation. A healthy, mature, adult, spiritual sexuality is very discriminating. One variation of such sexuality is monogamy and fidelity, honoring a commitment to one other human being. I could not deny it might (for some people) also include multiple partners, even many at the same time, but do seriously doubt if such scenarios are really “natural” or “free,” and particularly would question if they could typically be spiritual and loving (although of course they could be, but that would I believe be rare, possibly limited to people already in the enlightened state). I don’t buy for a minute that the vast majority of the world’s population, everywhere on the planet, throughout history, pairing up with one other person is some kind of spiritual error. The empowerment that brings to the couple, the cocoon of safety that provides from which to accept all of life’s challenges, the profound enrichment of the individual person that unleashes, the happiness that can be generated, the building and sustaining of families through countless generations that sustains, the pleasure it brings into the lives of the lovers, the creativity is unlocks, the kindness, generosity and compassion it generates, etc. are undeniable and predictable. The primary reason so many marriages (or other couple relationships) fail is from lack of knowledge and skill, but that is relatively easy to learn if as a society we would put in even a fraction of the effort we use to help people learn how to read and write. You say: “What I call Tantra starts after awakening to the path and after having cleared oneself of one's sexual psychopathology. It absolutely requires personal, sexual, intimate guidance. The secrets of Tantra can only be taught experientially. This guidance is absolutely impossible if the guide/guru has any agenda of personal need, any trace of addiction to pleasure, or any eroticism at all. It is just a fact that teachers at this level are rare. For the last few hundred years, they have (with the possible exception of Barry Long) been very secretive and very, very selective.” I guess we will agree to disagree (and I don’t think you are being argumentative and hope you don’t find me to be either) about what “real” Tantra is. It pretty much sounds like you are saying that Tantra is already being enlightened, but I believe it to be a spiritual path, and on the ego illusion side of reality, that must mean, an incremental step by step moving toward the light, not just what you do after you are already enlightened. I will certainly continue to call what we do Tantra, not neo-Tantra, but Tantra, and I guess that will offend some people, but so be it. I don’t understand when you say: “This guidance is absolutely impossible if the guide/guru has…any eroticism at all.” Eroticism is just a form of energy, not good or bad, not to be denied or repressed, but simply enjoyed and harnessed, used for spiritual purposes. There need be no attachment, clinging, neediness, hedonism, etc. involved in eroticism. It is part of the structure of the cosmos, important, necessary, sublime and divine. Denying eroticism would be a denial of an essence that is part of being human in a body. I can’t see how denying (even transcending, whatever that might be in this case) eroticism could be helpful to anyone. Of course you could ignore eroticism if that simply did not matter to you (if that were really the honest truth for you), but that would be a choice akin to not watching hockey. It would certainly carry no virtue in making that decision, and in my opinion would have no obvious moral or spiritual value (and I doubt any subtle moral or spiritual value either). Your school sounds wonderful, and the people who work with you also seem to be excellent sacred sexuality guides and spiritual teachers. I applaud your important work. I would be curious if you work primarily with singles or if you also get a lot of couples, what the proportions would be? My sense of this would be that the approach you take would be more suited to singles and more successful with them, but I am sure you have also worked very productively with many couples. Nevertheless, I remain a bit skeptical. I have this image of a couple coming to your teaching and being instructed that each has to have sex with someone else while their partner watches, then when this brings up their “stuff” there would be some other methods by which you would help them heal and get comfortable watching their partner have sex with someone else, and that would be the proof that they are healed. Frankly, I would not take any pleasure in watching Pala have sex with another person, and that is not because I have some spiritual block, some conditioned neurosis, some wound that requires healing, some lingering jealousy, some power based need to possess and control her; it simply means that we have a committed monogamous relationship and one of the ways we express that love is sex only with each other. We love other people in all sorts of intimate ways, but sex is just between the two of us. It is not a spiritual defect requiring fixing having a relationship like that, so I guess that just means we would never select you as a teacher! :o) However, I do not doubt that for many, monogamy, fidelity, commitment is a kind of prison that they long to escape, and you could help them do so. But is seems to me that it is equally plausible to interpret the avoidance of commitment, the unwillingness to honor another human being with the exclusivity or your sexual expression as a significant part of the spiritual problem! What a delightful dialog this is and I do hope we can continue and that other members of this discussion topic join in with their comments, and/or questions. All good things, Al Link

Thanks Al … and, sure, it is useful to me, this feedback and discussion. Especially your pointing out what people could misunderstand from my expression. Indeed, many teachers are needed to reach seekers in various areas and distances. The range where your teaching and ours are useful have significant overlap, also significantly different areas of reach, accessibility. Our approach to couples work is perhaps the most obvious. Yours looks to me much related to much of the tantra groups, workshops and intensives that I took with my then-wife. This work was gorgeous, useful. Probably 95% of my path was addressed while being monogamous for 14 years with Pashianti (.net), who teaches closer to you, eg. her last group was called "Tantric Relating". We often recommend your genre of group work to students. We also appreciate students with a good base of such awareness work. Where we do not overlap is in being of use to most people. Your work is (obviously my assumptions here) accessible to a far wider range of people. People with an urge to improve, enhance their relationships, an urge to discover deeper levels of intimacy. A lot of people can benefit from the work you, my ex wife, the Osho Multiversity, Margot Anand's teachers and many other excellent teachers do. We do have students that arrive with a "problem" eg PE, ED or a feeling that tantric work could be helpful to their marriage. We do work with them, and their troubles tend to ease, but our involvement is unlikely to go beyond two sessions, or a "level 1" group. Some of them though, turn out to be what we call "seekers with intent". What we see as our "niche". We work with individuals. When we work with a couple, we work with each of them to their own benefit. We have no agenda about how their relationship should look. My example of what a couple exploring tantra could face was more about indicating the intensities of emotion, the capacity required of the students we work deeply with. Not so much a literal description, more a "scary statement" that is honest in it's scariness. When a couple are committed to their relationship and have the capacity, the potential to be useful to each other, I usually recommend that they intensify that experience. Take their relating to as deep an intimacy, as total a relating as they can manage. This may seem paradoxically "supportive" of monogamy, but we don't see any relationship structure or sexual lifestyle choice as an obstacle or a problem. We regard wherever the student is as the right place to pursue deeper awareness. There was, after all, one Tantric Master who's attainment followed a long period (3 years or so, I think) sharing a single robe with a woman. Totality is the key, not any particular model of relating. One Dakini of this school has mentioned an interest in doing a weekend retreat for couples, based on that method. Perhaps it will happen… The core emphasis of my work is supporting teachers to their flowering. Very particular teachers, a niche that perhaps doesn't have much overlap in your teaching. Dakinis of this school teach in all sorts of ways, but have one modality in common. They teach students directly, intimately, lovingly in individual (and couples) sessions. They have no boundary or restriction. This can sound like "no safety" and "no support" because our culture raises children with strong boundaries, thinking this equates to strong support. Dakinis hold an absolutely loving space, immaculately supportive. Just not supportive of the ego, or bounded/restricted in any way. There are boundaries … the student's boundaries, which we respect and encourage them to be conscious with. For sure, our Tantra is not for everyone. Not even (beyond a level2 group or so) for most seekers. This school is primarily for those of great intent, and an insistence on maximum possible speed. As per the historic intent of traditional Tantra. So, for sure we appreciate your work, the reach it has, the scale (way larger than ours) where you make a difference to awareness. We are here for the bezerkers, the seriously intent, the absolutely insistent, the totally committed. Like in an English breakfast, the chicken is involved, but the pig is committed… I emphasise speed, the consequent emotional roughness of the ride, and other "negative" aspects of the path not by way of saying that we use rough or crude methods. Just, working with teachers of this school, there is a catalysis that happens, a direct transmission of enhanced awareness. The resulting speed, pace of realisation and increase of awareness is for sure uncomfortable. On account of that factor, we are very deliberate with teaching the most powerful methods we know for handling the feelings that arise – swiftly, thoroughly and effectively. In the West, tantra is commonly regarded as a way to benefit from sexy stuff, intimacy work, sexual healing, deeper loving, experiences of bliss. All great agendas. Good work of benefit to many. Commonly perceived as cults of ecstasy, bliss bunnies and oriental-flavour therapy. In the East, Tantra was (and maybe in Kashmir still is) the most rapid, insistent and potentially dangerous spiritual approach. Useful to a self-selected minority. Requiring personal guidance. The common view is often that a tantrika is a very dangerous magician or someone risking himself insanely for uncertain ends. Tantric understanding and practice continues to spread to the West. This school, located where it is, does things more on the Eastern than the Western agenda. The other point of difference I see, just consequential to the rest, is our regard for different levels of sexuality. You suggest that sexuality is important, and can't be ignored as a spiritual approach. Also that there is an intrnsic difference between porno/fantasy based sex and spiritually intentioned sex. Our view is that all and any form of sex, taken with awareness, is spiritual in intent, however that may look. A Dakini is just as likely to reenact a scene of childhood abuse with a client as to introduce him to sex as meditation. Whatever his awareness requires … no divide of profaneporno//spiritual/transcendent … just that it be explored with unflinching awareness. And, of course, I would be nervous, even alarmed, if I heard of someone teaching in that way. I know what it takes in guidance, in support. What it challenges in the ego, the intensity and allure of temptations. I have no reasons to offer why anyone should trust me or the Dakinis with this kind of work, except for the fact of it happening successfully. Of course, someone would have to spend some time with us to have a chance of discerning that! From my perspective, it would be right, organically correct, for you to "warn" your students of our approach. They should appreciate the safety, intelligence and accessibility of your teaching. Most of them should enjoy the benefits, and not hassle themselves with ideas as extreme, as fringe, as ours. Of course, there may be a few that might hear that warning, and find it intrigues them …
Al Link and Pala Copeland 
Hello Rahasya, Excellent! I believe I “see” now where you are coming from. I certainly would not hesitate to recommend your work, teaching, school, and associate Tantra teachers to anyone looking for that type of path, and who could make their way to South Africa! Just a note to other readers on this topic, the link supplied in your post does not work. You said: “The core emphasis of my work is supporting teachers to their flowering. Very particular teachers…” The information at that link is quite important and I would recommend participants in this forum topic check it out. The link is working correctly now. All good things, Al Link
Thanks for getting the link working, Al … and for sure, to understand our intent is no easy thing. The willingness and effort of inquiring a bit is very appreciated. A Dakini popped by, read the conversation, and thoroughly enjoyed. A student of hers is currently visiting Canada. Not sure of his itinerary, but will suggest he looks you up.
 Thanks to Al Link for engaging in this discussion. Al and Pala Copland are based in Canada and hold retreats and workshops in beautiful places.  
Their website: SexySpiritualRelationships.com

17 July 2010

Bullshit detectors, Emperor's new clothes and training wheels

I have heard…

Once is happenstance.
Twice is coincidence.
Three times is enemy action.

For the longest time, I did not realise that the "family sayings" I was raised on were mostly military in origin. Churchill to Atilla. Hitler to Gandhi.  I suppose if I had continued that cultural deformity, it would have been Regan to Thatcher … No. Not me. I overcame my father's ways and raised my children in mental freedom. From me, they got  the best bits of Sun Tzu, Miamoto, Bruce Lee, Morihei Ueshiba and Kurosawa's finest movie.

Parental evolution aside, and my ways long ago demilitarised, an old habit of paying attention the third time I hear something persists.

Three women recently, perhaps four … more or less doing what men call complaining, ranting and so on – what women call expressing themselves – what Dakas and Tantrikas call the fierce, fiery Dakini – what Dakinis call … well, you get the idea.

All on the same topic, more or less. That is why I notice it as three times.

The topic is their annoyance (not really the right word, but it will suffice) with  Neo, or American Tantra.

When I see something in this school happen three times, it is probably something that is spreading. 

A bit of google and facebook later, I saw other sources of similar annoyance.

So, I wish to try and explain what is happening. Call it a belated preemptive apology to those who will be scared, annoyed or justifiably righteous about tantrikas getting into tantra-bashing.

Osho's Neo Tantra was the root of most of what is now known as tantra in the West. The few tantrikas that distanced themselves from Osho's approach, stressing that they did not teach neo-tantra mostly used their own adaptations and remained relevant, or confused Oriental hygeine, exercise, mind training and diet with Tantra and became curiosities.

Neo Tantra, in the Osho community, is mostly still about clearing the effects of Western repression. Good work for any seeker of worthwhile intent. From this base of technique, Western teachers played mix-and-match, adapted and selected with various agendas. Polyamorists, sensualists, couples, fetishists, bdsm afictionados and sexual healers, pagans, wiccans, magicians, discordians, speed seduction trainers and many others incorporated lessons and techniques from  neo-tantra in their practice. The marketplace tested their accessibility, and some thrived.

For new seekers, this is a wonderful phenomenon. Never before have tantric teachings been so accessible. Better still, many teachers are mature in their techniques, and often have a significant range.

It is seekers that have already taken their first steps and are faced with many first-step teachers that have a rougher time of it. For a while, a tantrika will enjoy the range of teachings available, but will want the depths. Seeking out teachers that may have something further, something deeper than relationship therapy, better fucking and so on will work for a while, but will eventually take them into areas where a good bullshit detector and an immunity to Emperor's New Clothes are unwelcome.

It could look unfortunate that many teachers are making their lessons their lifestyles, but it serves existence and the increase of awareness hugely. When the only tool you have is a hammer, all problems start to look like a nail, true … but, you do get very good at hammering. Techniques are training wheels. When you get the knack, understanding or ability the technique teaches, it is not personally useful to you to continue the technique. Making the technique the center of your life, interpolating and experimenting on ways to make it more effective and so on is not really useful to the teacher, but it makes the teacher very good at what they do. Very useful to many in their specialisation.

What were once spiritual expressions have become marketing slogans. What were once secret teachings, passed on with careful explanation in exquisite timing are now catch-phrases and sound-bytes. These things still have a taste, a flavour of the truths they represent. That flavour is very alluring to seekers. Disillusion follows.

Some take offense. Some feel cheated when they find that bliss means more and better orgasms, not the magical synthesis of all pleasures and all pains as one suchness. Some are disappointed to find enlightenment means learning enough EQ to not trigger their lover's lover's jealousy, and to set clear boundaries so they do not get triggered themselves.

The ones who get the most offended, the ones I most want to calm by pointing out the great usefulness of this huge availability are the ones who know something deeper. I want to convince them (maybe you) of taking a little care, not to throw the baby out with the bathwater, so to speak.

Beloveds, the offense in you is strong, real and appropriate. Stay with the feeling of it, which probably manifests as an urge to dispense truth with some intensity. The intensity is the need for what you know to be communicated. Possibly at the moment, it seems more that the intensity is an objection to something. Feel your objection deeply, and use it to purge yourself of any nonsense you may have bought into along with your first steps.

And then, without scaring beginners more than necessary, beloveds, help those that need to see what you can show them.

04 July 2010

Tantric missionaries

In the Western world, Ideas and practices of value are most effectively spread as products. Things, experiences and information that can be sold. Tantra has grown into a business sector, which has given it it's now significant reach.

For a teaching to be successful in business terms, it has to gain and maintain wide appeal. It has to present itself in a way that makes it as interesting as possible to as many as possible. This has made a lot of really good beginner work available. Even a lot of teacher training, which has expanded the business sector and made initiatory and introductory practices widely available.

The Tantra school that has happened here, halfway between East and West, exists to make the true depths of Tantra available to Western seekers. To manage that, the core work of the school had to be the development and support of women who could become Dakinis.

I have written a bit more about the sexism in this school and the necessity of Dakinis to authentic Tantra at the school's weblog.

So now, it is time to make the teachings that Dakinis have developed available to seekers who suspect that Tantra has depths beyond ejaculatory continence, bigger orgasms and blissful states. Dakinis of this school have now made a few trips to introduce our teaching to the Western world.

Currently, Dakini Shakti is teaching in Portland, Ashland and hopefully in San Francisco too - in America till 14 July, and teaching all along the way before heading to Ireland, and then home. She updates her news at her blog and announces her events as they are arranged.

I have, of course, been following her travels with interest. The response to her teaching has been gratifying. Of course, some have been challenged and have felt threatened, but mostly, she has found a receptive and interested audience. Some have glimpsed her depths and have delighted by the possibilities she represents. Many have expressed gratitude.

Some will be coming to the International Sexuality and Consciousness conference in Cape Town this December. Here's a link to video of our presentations at last years conference.

02 July 2010

This sexist school

Sometimes men try to book a tantra, lingam, sensual or similar massage with us. The Dakinis tend to say no.

Sometimes, women request something as specific. We tend to say yes.

This may appear genderist, even sexist, and it is. A core difference between our teaching of men and women is:

When teaching men, the Dakini guides the process, choosing which techniques to use, and when.

With women, I suggest which techniques and approaches to the work would currently suit them, and they choose.

The other male teachers in the school, the Dakas, do sessions mostly with women who are learning from a Dakini of the school, to the Dakini's direction.

This is because Tantra insists on the primacy of the feminine. What happens in sessions, therefore, always originates in a woman's decision.

Although Tantra, historically had to be "fronted" by male Gurus that the Patriarchy could respect, the women were never not in charge of the development of the arts. They were the sisters, grandmothers, lovers, wives and teachers of all the great gurus of history. They hid and revealed teachings in response to the cultural changes they perceived. They encouraged, or limited the audiences of gurus, depending on their areas of usefulness. They told the gurus where to travel, where to teach. They were responsible for "guru quality control", and no man could be regarded as being a tantric master or guru without their express endorsement.

Recently I was given a copy of Judith Simmer Brown's excellent book Dakini's Warm Breath which documents the function of the Dakini in ancient Tibet.

Tantra is and always has been a teaching guided by women. Even when the women have been secretive, even secret from themselves. A man has always had the possibility of finding the Dakinis he needs. After all, every woman has the kernel, the seed of the Dakini within her, and she does not have to be aware of it, or cooperative with it for the man to find it and benefit from what it catalyses in him.

Once upon a time, I was, as a teacher, just willing and available to teach the few women who went to the considerable trouble of seeking me out and asking for my initiation and teaching.

It was a Dakini who gathered the first group of people I spoke to and booked me on a flight to where they were.

Dakinis developed and started the teaching modality we call Tantra sessions, which, in terms of effectiveness and totality,  far exceeds the usefulness of anything I had ever dreamed of on my own path.

Likewise, every increase of the availability of our teachings, our group work, retreats,  the conferences we have participated in, the hours of video on youtube, our websites and the book I am nearly finished writing have all been inspired/directed/suggested by Dakinis.

Winston Churchill was once asked if he thought that, by the year 2000, women would be running the world. His wise reply: Yes. They will still be at it.

Patriarchs with insight see the truth and bemoan it. We celebrate the truth.