What is Tantra, really?
I’ll ask you a simple question and please take a moment to answer to yourself before reading on. The question is: “What comes to your mind when you hear the word Tantra?”.
For most, the connection is made quick. When beginning a Tantra course we sometimes ask the same from our students. In 90% of cases the answer is “sex“. As many of you know, this answer is not correct, while it’s not entirely incorrect either.
Tantra as a “mainstream confusion”
Recently I heard from some of our students who participated in a business conference that the last informal part of the event was called “Tantra“(it is really everywhere!). During this hour-long session several practices involving body-shaking and dancing were carried out. The students said that had they no prior Tantra knowledge from the courses with us, they would have never had any interest towards Tantra again after this session. No essential introduction or explanation was offered (probably sign of poor facilitators). I can imagine that all the other participants who had no prior knowledge probably think now that Tantra is indeed a practice of body-shaking. How unfortunate…
The true nature of tantra
Tantra is foremost a spiritual science with its roots in the times of ca 5000 years ago. The word “Tantra“ itself means a web or matrix and implies that everything in this universe is connected to everything through energy. Ancient tantrics studied the energies around and within us, trying to uncover the laws that govern them and then use them for spiritual evolution – a certain high attainment of the mind.
A science, not a religion
Tantra can be named a science because these energies are investigated from an objective point of view. Just as in regular science, Tantra is not based on emotions, wishful thinking or dogmas. The latter also differentiates a spiritual science from religions. None of the tantric teachings ask students to simply believe something (dogma). The attitude of tantrics is quite different. They say, “We have examined this and our results show that it works this way. If you’d like, examine it yourself and see what your results will be.“ This is a totally different thinking, not characteristic to any faith. Science studies and explains, but always leaves room for further interpretation.
The main argument of Tantra in essence is the following: The whole universe is made of energy and if we learn how to harness it properly we can ultimately achieve spiritual awakening. Just as we use electricity every day because we know its principle laws that govern it, the tantrics learned how to harness energies that are hidden in sounds, colors, vibrations, astrology, numerology and space. These energies reside not only in our bodies and minds but in the universe as a whole.
Now we come to the “real deal”
Tantra is one of the few spiritual sciences that also studied thoroughly sexuality and found that specifically sexual energy is one of the most powerful energies in the universe. It is perhaps humorous that out of the vast tantric science only 5-10% is actually related to sexuality, yet this is exactly the part that interests people the most. It is common and normal. We are sexual beings after all and if that aspect can be used for spirituality, why not use it!?
Having studied Tantra for six years now and interacting with hundreds and hundreds of students, I can say with full certainty that sexuality affects everything in your life, absolutely everything – what your character is like, what your worldview is like, what are your goals, what is your lifestyle, are you happy or depressed, are you strong or weak, joyful, sad, angry, etc. It is not an accident that sexual subjects always fascinate us. It is also not an accident that everything from toothpaste to car tires is being sold using nudity or other sexual connotations. Sexuality is powerful and Tantra shows you how to reclaim that power and use wisely – how to use it for a greater good and higher spiritual aims.