One of my first fears about openly teaching tantra was that people would assume that I was into free love, lots of kink and orgies every weekend. This is because the word tantra has been heavily linked with sex – sometimes in a sacred way but generally in an “anything goes” kind of way.
But this isn’t what tantra really is. There are threads of truth hiding in there. But the real point has been missed altogether.
To Be Open to Anything
This is truly a tantric teaching – to release all of our fears and beliefs that limit us so that we can live our true life. So that the beliefs of our parents and the culture we were raised in don’t put blinders on us and we miss out on what we are really supposed to be doing.
The key is to remember that tantra is a spiritual tradition and spiritual traditions are always about attaining full communion with God (whatever you understand this to be).
Within this connection, we are able to hear the guidance for our path. We then trust completely in this connection and take a leaps of faith – over and over again.
It is in this listening and taking action, regardless of our fears, that transformation happens. It’s having brand-new experiences outside of our comfort zone that stretches us and grows us in a whole new way.
Tantra is not Hedonism
Hedonism is the pursuit of pleasure in life. Tantra is being open to whatever the next step is.
The key with tantra is that the next step may not be pleasurable. This is the difference between following pleasure and following bliss.
Bliss is something that lights up our soul. It could be feeling called to train for a marathon. There isn’t a lot of pleasure in that, but when it’s on our path, there is an excitement in your soul that you just can’t avoid. And if you do try to avoid doing it, you will keep circling back to it until you finally do it (or live with the regret of not doing it).
The call could be a daily meditation practice, getting a divorce, having a child or painting a picture. It is truly unique for each person in each moment.
But what about Sex?
Yes, this definitely extends into the bedroom because love, intimacy and sexuality are part of our lives. There is a big difference between only pursuing pleasure in the bedroom and listening within for the next step in bliss.
When we only pursue pleasure, we will stay on the surface of what is possible. We will just circle the same pleasurable experiences over and over again wondering why we are not satisfied.
Similarly, being open to anything doesn’t mean doing everything that the current sexual culture provides for. It means having a meditative centre while making love, being 100% in the moment and listening for whatever the next move is and being open to doing that.
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Our Fears in Intimacy
The reality is that most of us have emotional wounding. Even the strongest of us have triggers that can be touched when we truly open and are vulnerable with another person.
So, being open and fearless in the bedroom actually means boing able to step into the places that scare us. To risk being hurt or being healed, but having the courage to take that risk.
This is why our first journey in tantra is to strengthen our spiritual connection. This is what gives us the courage to know that even if we open ourselves, we will be just fine no matter what happens. Healing will happen in one way or another. There really ends up being nothing to fear.
Can Hedonism Be a part of a Tantric Path?
The short answer is “Yes”.
If someone has spent a life dedicated to caring for others and is unable to allow themselves true, uninhibited pleasure, then some pleasure-seeking might just be the challenge for them to truly grow, expand and round out their life.
The question always is whether it is truly an inner calling or simply a desire.
This is why tantra is challenging because there is no book to say that “this” is an OK calling and “that” isn’t. We must deepen our own connection to the point that regardless of whether others would understand, we can take the leap, knowing that somehow we will grow, heal and expand.
But this is truly just our own journey… our own personal tantric journey.