Tantra is the only spiritual practice that teaches that sex is sacred, not a sin, even outside of marriage. The focus is on the merging of the male and female energies, rather than signing a legal document. Tantra is often thought of as an oriental mystical practice, but it is a universal secret, the most readily accessible mystical experience of all.
Tantra is a Sanskrit word that means woven together – man with woman, the human with the divine, the “positive” and “negative” electrical charges of male and female which merge to produce light. The purpose is to embody the creative forces of the universe; the mind goes quiet and the body feels the ecstasy of universal energy that has created all that is. Entwined couples can be seen on temples all over the Eastern world – they adorn the doorways and walls, such as at the Kandariya Mahadev temple in Khajurahol. Eastern philosophy teaches that at the base of the spine – the place known as the sacrum in English – lies a coiled serpent of energy (Kundalini) which can be raised up the 33 vertebrae of the spine – 33 being a magic number, and the age of Christ. Gradually degrees of spiritual awareness are reached until we attain the wings of the spirit. In ancient Egypt the pharaohs were depicted as having raised the serpent up to their forehead – a symbol of their divine state. In ancient Greece the same symbol appears in the form of the Caduceus of Mercury which chemists still display today.
Many cultures have phallic divinities which may not have been a sign of a male-dominated culture so much as a tribute to the power of tantra. Vestal virgins and temple prostitutes also have their origin in the idea that tantra is the path to enlightenment. In the Judeo-Christian tradition, which has largely lost sight of the spiritual role of sex, there are still nonetheless a few references to this idea : Moses derived his healing power from a raised bronze serpent on a pole, and when Jesus was asked by the woman at the well how she might drink from the living water He replied, “Go call your husband”.
The living water is not just the Word of God, but also has a mystical significance – that of the life-giving liquid of tantra; the only immortal cells we possess are sperm and eggs – their telomeres never shorten.
In medieval Europe the Alchemists had laboratories where they attempted to turn base lead into gold, but the true meaning of alchemy was to use the fire of passion to turn the base nature of the soul into a divine entity. Alchemical drawings from this period depict male and female uniting over a fire. The philosopher’s stone was the sacred altar of sex, which symbolized evolution from the imperfect and corruptible towards an incorruptible everlasting state.
So what does it involve? Tantra is not about achieving orgasm; it is about prolonging the act, absorbing the opposite polarity of one’s partner to form the “sacred hermaphrodite”, to experience being one and of both genders. Those who have tried tantric sex report not only great sensual pleasure but also a sense of dissolving into each other and merging with ‘all that is’. Sexual energy decreases stress and increases serotonin, but for the serious practitioner of tantra, the build-up of creative energy can be used in two ways – to eliminate our inner demons by invoking the power of tantra to destroy what is keeping us from enlightenment (jealousy, rage, fear etc) and to achieve greater and higher levels of consciousness – knowledge of the purpose of our lives, of the nature of all things.
But tantra has a third power; it is the antidote to ageing, since the energy otherwise used to create a new life is used instead to create a polarity charge in the body. This charge fires the biological system and creates new life force within us.
Tantra is the secret of the alchemists, it is the fountain of eternal youth, it is the Grand Arcanum and the key to spiritual mastery.