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Tantra is NOT about sex! | Living As A Tantrika

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Tantra Is NOT About Sex! Well, Almost.

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Classical Tantra is NOT about sex. It is about achieving the deepest state of meditation during our daily practice. This in turn creates a profound experience of all encompassing love. Everything is experienced through the heart.

Classical Tantra And Sex

What is Tantra? It’s not just about sex! Instead, it’s a way to live life fully.

Tantra yoga teaches methods that help you reach a deep state of meditation. Not to escape this world, but rather to live in it and have the experience of life in a fully awakened state. 

The fast track to enlightenment

Westernized neo-tantra has transformed Tantra yoga into a spiritual “mall” where everything is for sale, often with the promise of quick spiritual progress. However, the original teachings of Tantra (now referred to as Classical Tantra) require time, dedication, and patience. Qualities that seem in short supply in a culture that seeks quick results and instant gratification. Many so-called spiritual aspirants are simply not willing to invest the necessary effort and time.

Don’t buy into the glossy advertisement and promise of spiritual awakening over a few weekend retreats through alternative sexuality. This is a dangerous trend that promotes the ritualization of sex at the expense of the spiritualization of life. 

The Vigyan Bhairav Tantra

The Vigyan Bhairav Tantra teaches that intense experiences can carry us into Bhairava (also known as Samadhi), the state beyond conscious being. We can use this experience to live with full presence. Within this brief text are more than 100 forms of meditation, or gateways to Samadhi. Of these only three are related to sexuality.

Practice Tantra, make it a part of daily life, including your love life. All activities that alert your senses can be used to achieve the state of Bhairava. Experiences such as enjoying good food, dancing, listening to beautiful music, or simply losing yourself in the beauty of nature. Classical Tantra is a wide-ranging and comprehensive set of practices that include yogic methods for use in day to day living. You do not need to be a monk or live in a cave!

Live in the moment

Imagine eating a bar of chocolate. Do you enjoy the full depth of the experience, feel the chocolate slowly melting in your mouth, experience all the nuances of its flavor? Our brains are culturally programmed to crave the next piece, and the next, and the next, until the chocolate is gone and we feel empty.

For many this what their love life and relationships feels like. Through the practice of Tantra, in contrast, you learn to bite, feel the texture of the chocolate slowly melting in your mouth. As if it were the first and last piece of chocolate you ever ate in your life. You learn to go deep into each experience. This is what it means to live in the moment.

Live In The Moment

BDSM and Kink are NOT tantra

Many now link tantra with BDSM and kink. This my be true for neo-tantra but most certainly is not true for the original Tantras.

Classical Tantra is a spiritual practice using love and the senses for spiritual awakening. BDSM and kink focus on sexual pleasure and gratification of the senses on a superficial level. For sure “tantra teachers” are making plenty of money teaching BDSM and kink as a part of tantra.

This ignorance began in the British colonies, where tantra was labeled as “dark” to the “light” of Christianity or when compared to Hinduism. Not surprising given the starchy attitude of the British Victorian era. Such attitudes would have made little sense to tantrikas. Tantra teachings blossomed across the Indian subcontinent in the 7th-12th centuries. At that time in India, lovemaking was a part of honoring the divine and not taboo. Even today in India the Shiva lingam and Shakti yoni are considered sacred, a direct link to its Tantric past.

Western academics and initiates of tantra, like Christopher Wallis (author of Tantra Illuminated), are today defending the origin, philosophy, and practice of Tantra even though India retains many colonial attitudes to Tantra.

Branding for profit

Some argue Tantra, kink, and BDSM are similar because they revolutionize sexuality. Each has been a radical break with morality of their respective times.

But such argument are presumptive and there are no references to this in any of the ancient sutras. This argument is a way to legitimize bondage and kink as tantric to audiences that do no know better.

Why do such teachers need to brand “conscious sexuality” as part of a 1000-year-old spiritual practice? Do they need to convince others (and their own egos) they are at a “higher level” of spirituality? Or could it simply be for profit?

Lovemaking is of interest to tantrikas only insofar they lead to deeper states of meditation and an expansion of consciousness. Very often, Tantric practices do not involve any physical action. The sexual rituals were reserved for only select tantrikas with decades of practice experience.

Happy Tantra Couple | Tantra YogaPractices

Sexual schizophrenia

Is our culture so fascinated with this element of Tantra because we living with a form of sexual schizophrenia? Where we think ourselves sexually liberated, yet our sexuality remains bound to shame and the so-called “sins” of religion and particularly puritanism. Our sexuality is repressed, and the only “free” space is  porn, with its debased and frequently brutalized sex without intimacy.

Our world is split between shame and superficial physical relationships. We have forgotten how to build a lasting and deep relationships. We bang ou heads against an invisible wall of culturally-repressed sexuality. Purely sex-based relationships inevitably lead to spiritual hollowness, instead of liberating people.

Only when the conditioning and stigmas are released from lovemaking, are we free share love and pleasure. Tantric meditation is a potent way to move toward this kind of relating.

This is all a far cry from the Tantra yoga practice. Sex within the context of Tantra involves daily practice of meditation, and is not simply a practice for physical pleasure.

For a few, expansion of their sexual energy may provide a glimpse into spiritual awakening, it carries a risk to their mental and physical health. For many more it is traumatizing.

Its not sacred if its abuse

Many (likely almost all) self-proclaimed “Tantra teachers” are far from awakened and often chasing their egos and personal gratification. Accusations of abuse surface regularly within the “tantra” community. Neo-tantra atracts those with a history of sexual abuse and sexual addiction.

Arguably, the very idea of  “‘sacred sex” as a vehicle to awakening is part of the problem. There is little of the sacred about it when there are no supporting practices for raising awareness. Neo-tantra is separate from classical Tantra, similar in name only, with none of the transformational practices.

The tragedy of this is that many ashrams teaching ancient Tantric practices have been forced to create new titles to avoid association with its neo-tantra. Yet Classical Tantra contains the seeds that can raise humankind out of ignorance and suffering, into to a higher level of being. It is a path with the potential  to solve the existential problems presently facing humankind.

Tantra Heart Lovers | Yogi Living Ashram


Tantra yoga sees everyone as equal. That is why female gurus and the worship of Yoginis and female gods forms such an integral part of Tantra tradition. In a world where male Brahmins held a monopoly of spirituality, this was truly revolutionary.

The ancient tantric practices have been misinterpreted. Of more than a 1.000 practices, love-making is only a handful of them. The old-world Tantrikas were not interested in seeking physical pleasure, but in using the experience of the senses as a vehicle a higher state of being. Sexual rituals were reserved for a select few with t he necessary expereince to manage the forces released.

Thus attending sexual rituals in a neo-tantric retreat is like going straight from kindergarten to the world of quantum physics. It takes decades of practice to comprehend the depth of Classical Tantra.

Engaging in tantric sex during a weekend retreats may work against your awakening process, and may undermine your ability to meet the world with emphathy and compassion. Kundalini awakening is about raising and balancing energies with full awareness and the help of an experienced guide is critical to safely navigate the path of Tantra.

Winnie Winnetu
dr. winnie bothe

Winnie has practiced yoga for more than 15 years and lead yoga teacher training retreats in India for 5 years. She is internationally certified in Kundalini, Hath and Yin Yoga and in Yoga Therapy.

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