Articles & Reviews
What is Tantra and Tantric Sex?
By Niyaso Carter
I often get asked: What is Tantra and what is tantric sex, The term Tantra has become popular lately, but few people really know what it means. Since the famous singer Sting appeared on the television show Oprah and declared that learning tantric sex has enabled him to make love for hours and hours without stopping, lots of people are curious about tantric sex. And yes, prolonged delicious lovemaking sessions are definitely part of Tantra, but it’s not about how long you can do it, it’s about the quality of connection, the love and opening that the exchange creates, the melting with each other and the universe.
My one line answer to the question is this: Tantric Sex is sex imbued with love that allows us to merge with the divine.
But let me give you a slightly longer explanation as well: Tantra was a religious sect in ancient India. Buddhists, Hindus and people from various other religions were associated with Tantric sects.
What made Tantra different from other religious groups is that the tantrikas, the followers of Tantra, believed that personal fulfillment and union with God, came through living, accepting, and gaining a deep understanding of all of life’s energies and experiences.
They taught that there’s nothing in life that one needs to turn away from to be spiritual. They affirmed that one can reach wholeness or enlightenment through full engagement of the senses and a deep open hearted embrace of all physical experience. Birth, death, sex, creation, destruction, –no part of the human experience was excluded. Sexuality was honored as a potent form of life force energy that could be used for spiritual advancement. However, these tantrikas were not hedonists, or self indulgent — far from it.
Many of their sexual practices involved much discipline, patience and diligence. Tantric masters taught their students how to use sexual energy and sexual expression consciously, with great awareness, as an opener to love, to life, to God, and all existence. To this day there are temples in India that have on their exterior walls sculpted images of couples in various sexual acts. Those are the remnants of Tantra. The religion as such has become nearly invisible in the public eye. and today in the west it is often misunderstood. I personally have an affinity to Tantra because during my years of study and practice in India, my spiritual teacher and guide lectured about Tantra continuously and he instructed us in the Tantric principles of life with great enthusiasm and skill.
Taoism, which also contains many practices involving sexual energy is a ancient healing system with beliefs and practices similar to Tantra. Taoism has its origin in China, and is especially known for it’s practices that promote health and longevity by guiding sexual energy in specific ways. Sometimes from the questions I’m asked I get the impression that people think that Tantra and Taoism teach some sort of high tech version of sex. But really the teachings of Tantra and Taoism simply offer practices to refine the natural senses, to come closer to nature.
Just like the shamans and kahunas of old, to access the spirit world, practiced tuning into nature more diligently then the average tribes member, so Tantra and sacred sex require a similar deep attunement from the student. Yet even if you’re not about to become a devoted Tantra student, learning some basics can take you a long way.
The teachings of Tantra and Taoism offer the possibility of loving sex in a deeply intimate relationship that gets increasingly better and more satisfying as the years go by. Yes, this indeed exists, I know many long term couples who can attest to that, but the sweetest story comes from my best friend’s mother, a conservative, church-going German house wife. At 68 years old she had been married to the same man for 45 years and he was the only man ever in her life.
Knowing what work I do she one day in very hushed tones confided in me. She said: ”I’m so surprised I can hardly believe it, but now that we’re retired and we have time and leisure to be together, sex just keeps getting better and better.” And, Tantra is not just for people in relationship, there is many solo practices and exercises a single person can do to prepare themselves for their next partner and to become a more fulfilled, happy person.
Ultimately the practices and teachings of Tantra and Taosim help us discover, that we don’t need anyone or anything external to live in love, with vitality, serenity, and joy. At the same time, if you want to make your sex life sacred, learning about Tantra can be very helpful, meaningful and oh so pleasurable. Click here to find out about different ways you can learn Tantra and Sacred Lovemaking.