An article I wrote back in mid 2015
In 2015, I had tentatively started a collection of "Maithuna" paintings inspired, in part, from secret arcane sexually graphic Tantric imagery from the East. These original Asiatic paintings were festoon in graphic symbolism, most of which quite shocking, not least to the uninitiated pious patriarchal Abrahamic denominations which ensued and even more than the statues at Lakshmana temple must have traumatized the Victorians. These ancient paintings were more 'shocking' because they depicted the unfettered Dakini with her consort or consorts in all her creative, terrifying power, the feminine energy that has access to higher realms. And unlike those Indian temples may have implied to those egos, the sacred union of Maithuna is for more than the sexual union with a short term partner. If it was purely the act of sex, according to those ancient status, bestiality would also be factored into new age interpretations, and everyone having sex would become enlightened. The ancient paintings were typically brightly coloured, focusing on the central female with men, snakes, phallus and vagina often with splatters of white and red over the finished piece. The red and white either represented or actually was menstrual blood and semen. This was highly symbolic as well as physical in some of the most secret alchemical Tantra practices.
The feminine has been both maligned and worshiped in ancient scripture, most significantly due to the power held in creation, resulting in both the obsession and threat to masculine mojo when the unfettered woman is fully in her own power. (witch hunts are a prime example of a masculine fear of woman)
What also needs to be remembered is that many ancient teachings were being transmitted in a heavily caste system and that by this time, the power hungry left brain, brilliantly strategic world domination-'Napoleonic inferiority' complex, pigeon-chested yet fragile ego with it's need for self affirmation, patriarchy had already taken it's grip globally, impacting many aspects of doctrine.
But I do wonder if we have got all the male/female understandings and teachings upside down... a thought I will touch on here towards the end, but will undoubtedly come back to in more detail at a later date.
In the unification of polarities, of sun and moon, of male and female, I do want to preface that it is meant in neurological hemispheric terms, energetic terms of each individual as well literal gender terms. Within each of us we contain masculine and feminine energy and often one energy prevails, irrelevant of our physical bodies and let's face it, if we do reincarnate, then these gender arguments should not even be a conversation, yet the are - notably by those in history whose spirituality is based purely on the precept of rebirth! However, the most fundamental factor in Maituna is the sanctity of the love commitment between the two individuals.
So on one hand the 'Goddess worship' and unification of opposites, is purely symbolic. It is the process of using the internal feminine energy to access beyond the mundane reality. For most lay people, the 'right-hand' path of celibate meditations would be the safest, purest route. However, the more dangerous 'left handed' approach to transcendental alchemy through Tantra did involve highly ritualized, non emotionally attached sexual intercourse as a form of meditation and self transformation. Typically for the spiritual attainment of the man, he would find or be partnered with a suitable female and before any intercourse, there would be days of preparatory ritual. But much has been lost and replaced with a bite sized profiterole, fluffy, rainbows and unicorns, angels and bright light version, nick named in the West "Californian Tantra".
Sex is actually a very small aspect of Tantra. Though sex can be used to awaken the feminine Shakti energy, the sleeping serpent coiled at the base of your spine, the kundalini rising as a result of orgasmic surrender, the 'little death' ( as the French call it) the moment were our ego dies in the ecstatic rapture of cosmic, timeless bliss. (This in part, ties in with Ophiolatry, touched upon here, but something else I will come back to in more detail separately).
There is much biological, neurological, and historical literature on the benefits of sex at many levels. But there is a heck of a lot of blown up new age self inflated woo-woo rubbish out there too.
Underneath the surface of later male-dominant cults, there is a worldwide wealth of evidence of a much older and puissant Sun Goddess, as well as of a Moon God....The excerpts below were related respectively by Kertek Okaan and Mongush Senden in 1990 and recorded by Kenin-Lopsan:
My Mother the Sun
This story is from ancient times. The Sun is my Mother, one says. If there is no sun, then there will be nothing on earth [and] if there is no mother, there will be no children. As the sun and mother have the same duties, they began calling the Sun "My Mother".
There is reason why Tuvans of ancient times used to call the moon Father. The sun is called Mother because as soon as dawn breaks the sun rises in the east, and likewise a Tuvan mother is always the mistress of her yurt for she takes care of the children. The moon is called Father because a father is always away and does not stay long in the yurt. Likewise, the moon does not appear in the sky every day too: it either appears or disappears.
The Sun resembles the Ovum, the Moon resembles the Sperm. Modern observations support assigning the Sun to the feminine and the Moon to the masculine. Under the microscope the non-mobile ovum (propelled through the fallopian tubes but not by its own motion) looks like a sun with its many rays of living protoplasm emanating from its spherical surface. The motile sperm reflects the swift motion of the Moon as it propels itself in successive crescent-shaped waves. Also, under the micro-scope, the ovum appears more red and the sperm more white, confirming the old tradi-tions of tantric Hinduism as these are the two colours of the solar Kali and the lunar Shiva. They are also the colours of their pair of yogic channels pingala and ida, not to mention the pair of red and white tinctures in the central doctrine of the transformation of the soul in alchemy.
Affirming the assignation of the Moon to the male, it is the impregnation cycle in the human female which is controlled by the Moon, the directing of impregnation being a male function. That not obvious but straightforward relation of the male lunar power with the female menstrual cycle often led to the understandable error of taking the Moon to be female. That error is further pointed up by the fact that in cultures like those of the Buriats of Western Mongolia, the Greenlanders, Maori and Nigerians, it is believed that the Moon could impregnate women. Thus women of the Greenlanders had the custom that they would not sleep outside under the moonlight unless they had rubbed spittle on their bellies beforehand to prevent the Moon's impregnation. The Maori held that the Moon was the true and permanent husband of all women, more important than the mortal spouse.
The Moon is the initiating or fertilizing power of impregnation. It thus directs the tides of women's menstrual or monthly (the latin mens means "month") cycle because the lunar force determines the peaks of fertility - the crests of most likely impregnation and the troughs of its least likelihood. Thus the lunar power of impregnation orbits around the solar egg. These ancient truths reappeared in the age of chivalry, when the entire adventurous journeying of a knight revolved around his fealty to his lady. " (Lionpath)
I love men. Just to clear that up. I have a son, daughters, all young adults now. 1 gay ex husband - like brother to me. I am heterosexual and rather enjoy sex. Sex has been lovely and sometimes less lovely over the years. It has been snuggly, hot, monotonous, icky-shudder-worthy and kinky at times, just like most peoples' will have been, but the best sex I've ever had, at all levels, without question, is with my lover with who's heart I melted. So I am not a ranting man hating feminist, nor overly delusional in the romance department, but I am more curious as to how and why men and women relate together the way we do and how this is reflected in sex and relationships, both today and in deep history and how sexual union factors in our spiritual path, and how the ancient teachings have been interpreted over the years.
Each is on their own journey with their own lessons and progressing in their own perfect way. This conversation is not aimed at dismissing or deprecating personal choice - when causing no harm to others.
They say pleasure - Bliss - is the ultimate state of being, leading many to adopt the instant gratification, superficial, even irreverent hedonistic version of this concept, or surrounding themselves with as many relationships - getting as much 'ascension' as possible. Like a kid ina candystore gets it's sugar high when gorging on sweets as often as it can .. or even like trying to satisfy your 'thirst' with salt water (instead of fresh water) it leaves you thirsty for more,ut will never quench your thirst and slowly kills you from the inside through dehydration...the more you drink, the faster you dry up.
As humans, as social creatures, many of us, some more than others, require and thrive on the feedback we receive from our social interactions. We buzz when we have had a great time and flitted like bees collecting pollen from one flower to the next. For some, the drug-like addiction to keeping it so fresh, is that long term commitment feels like a life sentence bound to usurp our vitality. Also it is a factor that we are multifaceted creatures and different people invoke different aspects of our personality and it can feel impossible to select one version of our self over another. Nor should we have to. Any Google search these days will expounciate on the importance of "self love"," loving all". "We are all one". Let alone the virtues of frequent sex! And that first and foremost the healthiest relationship we must have is with our holistic selves. Having long term committed relationship with more than one partner that fit and reflect differing aspects of our personality is one of the foundational precepts of polyamory, maybe with just reasoning.
Herein are overlapping subjects,essentially that of transcending through sexual union and the relationship with the feminine.
We are ALL polyamorous. However poly-coity and intention behind our interactions are factors in newage thinking.
Mine is not to judge as we all require different experiences to fit our different stages in life. At the risk of sounding somewhat sententious however, I am going to soap-box momentarily, on the subject of Secret Tantra, Neo Tantra,poly-coity, monogamy and polyamory.
Over the last 100 years or so, Eastern spirituality started migrating into the mind stream of Western consciousness. Then the 'New-age' precepts took on a life of it's own, and though probably perfect for it's time, was more of a dangling carrot, or an antidote for the rigidity of the preceding years, a crack in the opening door to peak through but born of desperate need to liberate themselves from a constricted cultural history, en mass people grasped and attached their egos to the Eastern spiritual philosophies filtering into their lives during the 60's. Crazy wisdom teachers like Chögyam Trungpa, and erudite loquacious gurus wooed the west, opening our eyes to a transcendental vision of being, with a focus on making love not war, The Bhagavad-Gita siting the " Love revolution where we can channel our energy towards the service of all beings" was being taken pretty literally by many, especially in America as it was recovering from war.
The late George Feuerstein, one of a more humble scholars and genuine practitioners of real yoga and heart maithuna, who was more interested in finding the truths from source to the Eastern teachings, than something more easily digested by the Western mind, as a result, never became as popular as the more 'sexy' Osho (who, indecently,contradicted himself on more than one occasion) approach, especially when Feuerstein (as well as people like C.Jung) suggested that many westerners role-played the mystic teachings, with no profound integration of knowledge and understanding and that without the deep assimilation of the aforementioned - lead to inauthentic lives. Going through the motions of a practice, reciting mantras, regurgitating sadhanas, recycling teachings, for too many, just means you've got a good memory. One could say, some people wore a costume and faked the role with no real understanding of the part, potentially making this very dangerous on their own psyche and others' especially when assuming 'guru status'.
One can see some very depleted souls out there today, let alone damaged students who bought into the self deluded 'guru'. Even with earnest intentions, too many are now stuck in a bitter sweet psychedelic or pop culture version of spirituality, let alone a new generation of very bubble gum bubbled cotton candy 'light workers' hugging everyone in sight or the half dressed space cadets of the yoga rooms or the vapid sandal wearers and not to mention the self aggrandized, often highly hypocritical money maker or emotional lower ego feeding vampires out there.... And whilst it's not the worst thing in the world, it's something of a misconception of the 'fake it till you make it' aspect of the visualizations of Vajrayana Buddhism.
And over the last few decades, many Eastern spiritual masters, concerned, publicly disaffiliated themselves from promulgators of these secret teachings, arguably fearing that the Western mind simply was not properly prepared, that our grasping and hedonistic ways would misconstrue the profound implications of esoteric wisdoms, taking the 'anything goes' path of Tantric liberation during these dark and depraved Kail-yuga times resulting in amongst many things, not too few spiritual seekers eagerly siting - "We went to this sacred sex retreat last weekend... and now OMG! me and her are doing such amazing Tantra!!"... etc... etc .... hmmmm
To a degree, they were justified in their concerns. The typical modern western person had no deep rooted legacy of spiritual mind or existence. We bottle-necked many years ago into a left-brained, alphabetized, consumption mindset, with a hunger for acquisition in the physical world. Aside from a few Gnostic alchemists, what magic resided in western Europe was from the Shamans of the Druid and Celtic mysticism and as beautiful as some of their practices are, many were more pagan than esoteric. And the Americas had it's native Indian spirituality beaten down into a sideshow by the influx of founding fathers. Genuine spiritual seekers in the west at this time were often eclipsed by the sexy version or marginalized by religion and control and today, maybe even worse, there appears to be an epidemic of well meaning seekers who are so bent on 'positivity' and their 'regular communes with angels' etc and living in such blindingly' bright light' that they can't even see the shadow it's creating then wonder why their 'nebulous' ways don't prevent the emotional relational roller-coasters in their lives. It is naive and in it's worst way-vulnerable.
Tantra is profoundly spiritual and unabashedly pragmatic. It requires very clear mind, an understanding that life and work is also your guru and that through visualizations, you can transcend the mundane perception of reality. And of course, these days, there is a new wave of speakers teaching the merits and implications of visualization.
Today, neo tantra advocates (in amongst other things) the worship of the divine feminine and her energy. Many practitioners are genuine and live heart based lives with beautiful intentions for humanity, the earth and our place in the cosmos and this is naturally a 'safer' environment for women, but one could argue, in some male cases, and dating back to ancient Hindu scriptures, is still wrapped up in the same bubble of objectification as 'misogyny' (though without the hatred), in that the female is often not seen as a person in her own right, but a 'tool' for self transformation. At worse, feeding the egoic male requirement again, not that far in concept than having a harem, though this time often wooed with spiritual flattery that leaves the now receptive woman ripe and open for abuse (often emotionally draining abuse as well as sexual). In their worship of the feminine, the proponents of neo-tantric versions of polyamory/poly-coity, undoubtedly male 'gurus' with their silky words of apparent enlightened wisdom, tragically (though sometimes unwittingly due to their blind self absorption) abuse so many women for their own satisfaction or emotional needs, something that happens both in the West as well as in many Eastern ashrams, the latter being a subject very rarely discussed. The men 'love' women so much, they have to have as many as they can get, arguably the same attitude as a salacious lad's lad on a night out.
And of course, there are more women today adopting the poly-coity lifestyle and advocating the sexual liberation as spiritual and the way of the future. Here in the West, women stand on the shoulders of those who fought valiantly for female liberation from the social imprisonment of the patriarchal centuries preceding, and it is a basic human right to live with freedom of choice. Today however sexual liberation is often under the umbrella of buzz words like 'sacred sex', 'conscious love making' and 'higher love', terms that sound very spiritually evolved but in truth often maintain a detachment from the real yoga. And as far as I am aware, In no root texts did true tantra propose multiple partnering in the way that new agers have advocated it. Maybe as some would argue, the arcane doctrines should stay in the past and allow for the teachings to evolve with the times. There is validity to this of course but like a good cook book, the best ones tend to be the unfrilly recipes from grandmother's kitchen.
Continuing the food metaphor, sex, like food, should be nourishing, tasty and make your mind body and soul feel vibrant and not morbidly obese. But we've become addicted to the highs derived from fast food and attempting to convince a carb junkie that a bowl of raw veg. will benefit him more than he could possibly imagine is not far off trying to tell a meth addict that he's not looking so good these days. Like a good healthy diet is great for the body so is good healthy sex ( not least thanks to hormones and neurotransmitters like dopamine, serotonin, endorphine, oxytocin, prolactin, norepinephrine and many others , released during long love making as well as hormones that will boost your immune system and even delay aging!) Remember - It is a metaphor. there are many very beautiful, nubile healthy eating, yoga practicing 'gods and goddesses ' out there, who sound great ... on paper...but spiritually? time will tell.
One of the alchemical ingredients released during sex is amrita (Sanskrit) 'Divine nectar of immortality', often derived from female ejaculation, the treasure of female orgasm and it's gift of vitality used in Tantric practices and maybe subsequently subconsciously part of what has lead to a man's desire for many women and to keep his woman/women close.
In cultures that have adopted a 'wife ownership' for societal reasons, religious dogma or effected by anything akin to Hollywood story telling, the condemnation of falling in love or even lust to anyone outside of the marital home has led to so much misery and half lives lived. The ensuing drama that occurs in an average 'normal' family unit is arguably avoided in polyamorous pods.
Except, the reality is that we are hot-wired to merge at deeper levels than multiple partnering can typically allow. Extended households, close friends, large families etc. these things are healthy and natural, I would argue that poly-coity households suggesting it was anything other than personal choice, is misleading. True Tantric union can really surely only be engaged within a long term partnering. Merging, melting and ascending into the 'God state' with your lover is not with one partner at a time during the magic of sexual alchemy - this takes us back to practices more akin to Paganism, a worst - glorified masturbation, wearing an enlightenment disguise and whilst there is nothing wrong in that I guess, if it's true significant transcendental growth yoga you are wanting to experience with another, It is only found in the marriage of intimacy at all levels, in long term relationship. Difficult but not impossible in poly-coity pods of course, but very close heart listening would need to be done, as it's there that the real magic happens. Not in delusional romantic thinking, but in the mundane world it's in the messy, honest, vulnerable, beautiful, mutual, respectful honoring, courageous, patient, flexible, intelligent and nurturing embrace of commitment. One of the scariest emotional thresholds to cross for many people. We are in relationship with everyone we interact with of course. Tantra includes sex to heal and enlighten. The path of higher love is not however found in many lovers. Mother Teresa or the Dalai Lama love many, have compassion and higher love but as far as I'm aware they were not getting their Tantra flirt on and calling it "healing sacred sex".
Many lovers will likely act as junk food, giving you a quick-fix high and the illusion of feel good but no real satisfaction and actually depleting and slowly exhausting the body, the emotional body. more importantly, the spiritual body. Without a doubt, Neo-tantra has made spirituality sexy and contains within many truths and brought many people a more beautiful outlook on life with a much more conscious, bigger picture attitude than that of 'pious nihilism' or the enslavement of religious dogma. The transcendental, almost mythical states 'sacred sex' will take us to however, is pretty impossible with out monogamous commitment where the letting go and total trust is most apparent. Ancient concepts like non attachment seem to have become yet another, misunderstood buzz word for the practitioners of Neo-tantra, being interpreted as justification for poly-coitous relationships. In fact, taking from Hindu tantra practices, Osho stated that sex should only be had with many women he was not involved with emotionally.
I am not speaking of the culturally dictated marriage that confines us, the conditioning of a given society which renders it almost impossible to know what is our own truth and desire and that which has indoctrinated us. Not the marriage that stagnates us, the marriage that's more of the loveless institution that becomes second place to societal gain and turns on our autopilot. Not all relationships are meant to last the duration of a life time either. Through mutual and self awareness, in a more emotionally evolved humanity, we would know if it was time to move on, but we are not there .. yet. We still need to be careful of the engagement in unhealthy relationships where the only course of healthy action is to leave. Nor should marriage make us lazy. We cannot expect a significant other to do the work for us.
But, without falling into magical Mills and Boon romantic fantasy, or 'soul mate' or 'twin flame' jargon I am talking of the enlightenment through total egoic melt that can only be found in complete trust in the adventure of the union with your opposite.
The Native Americans speak of the arrangement of male and female in this plane. The Males' job is to protect the female as she does her job of helping him attain wisdom.
New-agers say that the problems with jealousy and insecurities etc are issues to be transcended through the poly-coity pods. Time and again, most will likely ultimately fail as individuals typically will force themselves to fit other people's expectations, whilst others will 'enjoy' the detachment from the 'yoga of monogamy'.
Compassion and Wisdom. The two ingredients in Buddhist teachings.
'co' meaning together and 'passion' meaning a strong feeling married with the wisdom of the nature of reality.
Today's physics has proved that nothing is solid. That in actual fact, nothing is even in this reality for more than fleeting moments at the sub atomic level.(more about that here) It is the illusion of being solid, much as a spinning blade will act as a solid upon impact if it is spinning fast enough. What lies beyond this 'spinning blade', this veil of reality is possibly the creative force that the feminine (right brain?) has access to and that is what has been such a threat to the male (left) brain, that knows it can dominate this realm but has lost access to beyond. This 'physical' realm of ours counts for only 4 % of the known universe. Not even the giant stellar systems that resemble atoms are solid within them selves. An energetic Fractal 4 % at an incomprehensible level. Can we all truly have access to that vast remaining percentage through our harmonized hemispheres via an awakened feminine serpent energy residing at the base of our spine?
In ancient stories, as the male 'mated' with an appropriate female for his own enlightenment purposes, (maintaining his upper rung on the ladder of social importance), latterly learned the truth that it was in fact he, the student, the consort to a benevolent highly realized Heroine who, through her actions beyond mere sexual union, taught him love at the deepest, highest level through the yogas of rightful living, helping him awaken to his own Hero and together they transcend time and space. (Think of this in both actual and metaphorical terms of interpersonal and neurological.)
You see, we are as arrogant and delusional as the hermit who finds apparent enlightenment in the sanctity of his cave, realizing the nature of reality and the love of all sentient beings. But the moment he allows himself liberation from his isolation and descends back into the throngs of every day town life, finds his annoyance at the obstacles he is faced with. At that moment, he is awakened enough to know he has learned very little. For it is easy to feel ascended when we are detached, but this is an egoic illusion. we are in bodies for a reason. Part of this world for a reason. duel for a reason and fall in love for a reason. Ego is part of our tool kit and this is part of the path of Tantra. Not to negate ourselves and this reality, but to be in it, fully embody it, though full yogic embodiment is not just about being able to contort yourself into crazy positions or to slip into 'Tantric' hedonism, it is a pure attitude. It is the way in which we dance through life. It is the grace with which we conduct ourselves and exchange with the world around us. It is every day life, as the very non neo tantric teacher Erkhart Tolle says - it's all in 'the power of now' with it's warts and all and the commitment to sticking it out with the people we love and helping each other be the Hero and Heroine, the God and Goddess that we are, with the understanding of physical impermanence. This is yoga, this is Tantra. The complex rituals of Tantra are the micro practice in our complex macro lives. To integrate and merge the two seamlessly into one practice called life would seem to be the way, the path of a true Tantric student.