14 January 2010

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A busy Tantric year happening in Africa

Since the miraculous bloodless revolution and the dawning of the New South Africa, the Rainbow Nation, South African seekers have had a much easier time of things generally. The wonderful (at least on paper) new Constitution has removed much of the shadow of illegality that apartheid imposed on free thinkers and others of a non state-religion inclination. The country has eleven officially recognised languages and many South Africans speak more than half of these fluently.

Because of these factors, or possibly for no particular reason at all, South African seekers have a relatively easy time becoming trans-cultural – able to connect with and learn from many cultures without being owned by any of them, especially the one they were born into.

At any time, several teachers, students or friends of this school are in India, Sedona, Cologne or wherever there is teaching and/or learning to be done.

South Africa's seekers are in the main, sincere and strong in intent. Owing to the immense practicality required for life in South Africa (One has to respond to situations of all sorts as they are, not as they, according to rules, should be) seekers here tend to have pretty good bullshit filters, and are mostly immune to the Emperor’s New Clothes syndrome.

As many teachers of everything from Reiki to Rolphing can confirm, running groups, retreats and workshops with South Africans is a delight. The sincerity with which they engage and their commitment to action, once they are clear that you indeed have something worthwhile to teach, is deeply gratifying.

South Africa has several teachers in the area of sacred sexuality. Two of the most venerable have a lot of nervousness around publicity, but have been making a difference in many lives over the last fifteen or so years. Naturally, many of our students and some of our teachers have previously worked with one, or both of them.

There are a few sensual massage, loving touch, tantric and taoist massage practitioners. Although we of course, address these areas of sexuality, and use these techniques, we often refer people to these teachers when it is clear they need a significant immersion in that work.

Osho tantra groups happen here every year or so. A few years ago, the facilitator of these was a South African, living in Germany. The last was in November, facilitated by the lovely Halima.

South Africa also exports some teachers. Isaac Shapiro and Leslie Temple-Thursdon are probably the best known, and we love their work. Isaac's way of teaching the philosophy of Advaita is unique and effective. Leslie's mind-processing techniques are simple, and strong. Just what we like in technique.

At this school, the Dakas, Dakinis and Rahasya run a comprehensive programme of individual sessions work, short courses, workshops and retreats in and around Johannesburg, Cape Town, and gorgeous country venues.

In Johannesburg (Josi) in the province of Gauteng (yes, some do call us Gautangorangs when they have had a few too many brandies with cola) the teachers are Dakinis Wendy, Shekinah, Shima and Crystal (reverse alphabetical order, if you were wondering) and Dakas Stephen and Andrew..

Shima was our representative at the Sedona (Arizona) Dakini / Daka conference in 2009. Her impressions of American tantra found their way into a blog article. Currently, she is intent on getting to Sahara in time to film a dance festival and, of course, the famous temple sculptures. It was her camera, unfortunately often without its favourite camera man, that shot most of the footage at our youtube page.

In Cape Town, Director of the Cape School Dakini Shakti and Daka Stephen manage a very busy practice, and have a group, workshop or retreat planned for almost every weekend of 2010.

Gecko Creek in the Cedarberg has become a regular venue for retreats. Dakini Shakti and Daka Stephen will be running the next Introduction to Tantra retreat, which we classify as a level one experience.

At the Osho Oasis in the Knysna forest, Shakti and I present our intensive retreats, the level two Tantric Awareness and level three Tantric Practice retreats. These are probably our most intensive structured group work. Yes, there is a level four … but, as a rough guide, most final stage retreats and workshops, by most of even the big name tantra teachers we would call level one.

We are doing the two and the three on consecutive weekends in March 2010. It is advisable to do considerable work, not necessarily with us, before the two, and you have to have taken the two if you want to apply for the three. So far, around half of retreat participants take to the next level in a year or so. Some will be doing both of these retreats consecutively.

It is also advisable to book soon for this extraordinary work. Accommodation at the Osho Oasis is limited, even including tents.

The Osho Oasis is the perfect venue for intensive retreats. The most important single factor is that absolutely everyone on the property is well practiced in tantra and/or is strongly supportive of the work we do. Of course, we delight in the seclusion, the super-healthy vegetarian food, the wood fired showers, and even get along pretty well with the composting toilets.

Both these venues are quite rustic. Not to everyone's taste, although, of course the bush camp feel of the place is a delight in itself to most South Africans.

Dakini Wendy and I are planning two (2) level one retreats, in May and October 2010. (This levels thing may get confusing … perhaps we should find some other classification?). This Tantra Safari happens at the most gorgeous and luxurious venues: Mount Grace, Sabi Sabi, and the Cape Grace.

For seekers interested in Tantra, and especially for seekers who have had a good taste of the teachings available around the world, South Africa is, at the moment, a very, very special place to be indeed.


From http://advaittantra.com/satantra.html

09 December 2009

Throwing Rocks

I love the image of the hag who has a little house amongst the trees that most pass by without seeing. If some traveler happens to come upon her meditation hut , she will throw rocks, giggling, from her hiding place.

She has not a moments concern for your curiosity or your need for a massage.

But .. for the one that arrives, and she looks into his soul and sees the battle of lifetimes in the search for truth .. for this one .. he will meet her unbounded self, he will meet the wild freedom of the dakini, who no longer knows how to be anything else but what she is. He will meet him self.

There is contrast, the description above may be what the sufis call the inner qalb or heart. The periphery of my being does engage in a wider sense. She ventures out to talk to groups of people, interviews, tantra movie projects and then returns to her hut as the darkness settles upon the earth.

Somehow both contrasts are true expression of this being that is called dakini. The hag in the hut has been the greater expression of the two, but it feels like now I have found a way to remain in the inner qalb while venturing out into the distant peripheries of being.

Perhaps I will meet you there...

Namaste

Shima Opening-Lotus

04 December 2009

Safety, boundaries and ethics: the conference polemic

The first annual African Conference of Sacred Sexuality Educators in Johannesburg has just been completed. It was a powerful and momentous event, the beginning of I hope an increasingly rich networking amongst South Africans and the international world on the teaching and practice of sacred sexuality. Congratulations and gratitude to BabaDez from sedonatemple.com for taking the initiative to make this event happen. Next year this event will be in Cape Town and I will be coordinating the happening.

A central polemic of the conference was the theme of ethics, boundaries and safety. I listened to the debate with interest, and would now like to take my time to write about the subtleties that this delivery ignored.

Throwing rocks

An image that became stereotyped during the conference is that the Dakini throws rocks at whoever approaches. How this got read is that the Dakini a) doesn't care, b) is intent on harming however comes to her, c) isn't available and d) wants people to stay away.

The original image of the Dakini throwing rocks comes from the ancient tradition of the Dakini, as so beautifully depicted in Daniel Odier's Tantric Quest: An encounter with absolute love. As the seeker approaches the Dakini who lives on her own in a cave in the Himalayas, the Dakini sees him and starts throwing rocks at him. The lesson in the old story is that the Dakini puts out tests to see which seekers are sincere enough. She tests them to see how strong their willingness and determination is to learn from her. Throughout the story of Tantric Quest, the seeker gets presented with one test after the other. As he passes though the fire of her tests, the old layers of his ego drop off, and he comes to stand in front of her, naked, vulnerable and deeply available. The more naked the seeker becomes, the more available the Dakini makes herself to him. The final fire he experiences is the intense and endless sweetness of her embodied love. The test is: How much bliss can you stand?

We Dakini's no longer live in caves in the Himalayas. By choice we live in big cities - Johannesburg and Cape Town. We are remarkably easy to find. Any internet search will bring you directly to our door. Do we still throw rocks? Yes and no. No we don't , in the sense that we are available, and our desire is to be of use to as many seekers as are ready for the journey we are catalysts on. Yes we do, in the sense that we still carefully select our clients.

I will explain to you how this works for you. If a man phones me and does one of the following things, I am going to politely send him away or at least question him more:
• If he does not say his name or clearly has to think about what his name is
• if he expects me to be available immediately for a session
• if he wants me to fix a sexual problem but is not interested in inner change
• if he is looking for a 'tantric massage' (which in the South African context usually means he is looking for someone to fulfill a sexual need - not the job of a Dakini)

I will make it clear to any person who calls that as a Dakini I am a catalyst for your awakening. The nature of my work involves deep transformation. My work is appropriate for people whose desire for awakening is stronger than their interest in having a comfortable life. I have learnt through hard experience to come to accept that this is who I am. This does not mean that I do not have deep appreciation for people who have come to this planet to work with those who are beginning a journey of awareness and those whose mission it is to change the world and bring about a revolution of sacred sexuality. These causes are beautiful and profound, and I support them. However the work of the Dakini, the way I understand her, has a different emphasis. Unless we completely discard the historical reference of what Dakini means, we have to acknowledge that the Dakini's task has always been to work with those who are close enough to their awakening, and have enough personal power, that the catalyzing of the Dakini will serve them.

I see it as my responsibility to make this clear to the person who inquires. I find it unethical not to be absolutely clear with people about the potency of this work so that they can choose whether this is what they are wanting and can feel into their nervous system whether they are ready for this.

As you can already sense from my writing, I do not agree that the Dakini has no concern for safety, boundaries and ethics. I do however have a very precise understanding of these terms, and this is what I would like to write more about here.

Safety

I agree, the practice of Tantra is not safe for the ego. In fact, part of the design of Tantra is a deep confrontation with your existing sense of yourself, and quite likely one or more deaths of your existing ego structure. What emerges after an ego death is a more expanded understanding of who you really are. With every expansion, we come closer to realizing that we are one with everything. With this comes an expansion of the power available for you in your living and expression. Paradoxically, you tend to become less and less attached to this power as being "yours."

How come then I repeatedly get told by clients and students that they find themselves going through depths they never thought they were capable of because they feel so safe in working with me? Here is where our specific approach to safety becomes important.
• My main method for engagement is a deep listening into the being of the person I am with. I listen to what they are saying, but also to every other subtle layer of their being. I listen to their emotional bodies. I can feel them. I feel into the movement of energy through their subtle bodies. I literally smell how their body-minds respond to every moment. My task is to follow them, and guide them deeper into their own knowing.
• I never push a student into anything. I suggest and offer opportunities to take them to the edge of their existing ego structure. If they take the opportunity, I go along with them as a guide.
• Conversely, I mostly do not ask students what they want to experience in a session. I do ask them at length though about the desire that brought them to me. It is my responsibility to guide them as to the most appropriate way to deepen their consciousness in the area they have asked for. I choose the method. My assumption is that the client comes to me because s/he needs my guidance. It would be unfair, and possibly dangerous, to be guided by what the client would like to 'do' in a session. Many men would, given a smorasbord, of course like to choose intercourse with me. However, they have no idea what the impact of making love to me would be on an unprepared nervous system.
• Possibly the main safety feature of our work is the fullness of love we bring to it. Students often describe this experience as being met by a profound lack of judgment. I would say the main training of a Dakini is integrating the polarities in our own ego structures. I get put into the fire of rejection, abandonment, betrayal, shame and any other shadow state with such intensity that it burns through. As a result, my nervous system very seldom responds in fear or judgment to the process of a student.

Ethics

I have already said a bit about ethics. A first ethical principle in my work is to be clear with potential students about the impact of this work.
• Ethics in my work is not a code of behavior agreed on externally as general principles. My ethical response is a moment to moment feeling into right action, into the way I can best serve your awareness with what you present to me right now.
• Ethics for me does not mean keeping you from feeling what you are going to feel. I have occasionally ended sessions with clients because I felt that the greatest gift I could give them was to feel the fear of abandonment they were avoiding all their lives. My ethical behavior is guided by being as impeccable as I can in guiding you towards the goal you are here for: Your awakening and the opening of your heart into unconditional love. I also carefully sense what your nervous system is ready for.
• I expect the same of myself. To process my own experiences rather than live them out in sessions or project them on students is beyond the domain of ethics for me. It is a continuous and core part of my spiritual practice. It is an essential way of living for me. I am constantly stalking myself.
• It is ethical for me to accept and work with the reality that students and clients will project their unconscious on to me. If I took everything students and clients said to me personally, I would become madly ineffective as a Dakini. My job is to see the truth of the situation as clearly as I can and to respond with right action. Often right action is simply to be available for you to live your projections to their disillusionment.

Boundaries

Isaak Shapiro has a wonderful way of talking about boundaries. Boundaries come up, he says, as defenses against what we perceive as danger. Danger is that which we perceive as a possible cause of hurt. The paradox of boundaries is that we usually set them up outside ourselves. We try to protect ourselves from certain experiences, people and situations because we perceive them as the cause of hurt. The reality is that the hurt is happening inside of us because of the way we are interpreting the situation. Our interpretation usually draws on past experience and is mostly not a good guide to the presence.

I have recently watched a young man hold a woman tightly, desperately trying to protect her against the abuser he encountered in his youth. The gift of the situation for him was to be confronted with the memory, and to feel it to its depth. When this was felt, I had to make him aware of the fact that the woman he was holding was in fact a powerful, strong and very well person. He was projecting the abused sister on her, and had seen this old, unresolved archetypes in most women he got close to. The pain he was feeling was living in himself. It did not apply to the external reality of the moment. As he came to see the reality of her wellness, another level of healing could start to occur in him.

When old unresolved pain sits in us, we cover ourselves in what Wilhelm Reich calls body armoring. We literally defend our emotional bodies. This unfortunately makes us less sensitive to feeling the real of the situation. The work of the Dakini is to get you closer to the real, to help you release old memories and associations that keep you from being able to feel the real of the situation. We help you discard the boundaries, barriers and armoring that no longer serves you. Ultimately, you meet your oceanic, unbounded self.

Having said this, it is absolutely not true to say that the Dakini does not have boundaries or does not respect boundaries. The boundaries are very clear.
I will not stretch you beyond your willingness and desire. I listen carefully for the edge, the boundary, that you present. And I feel into my own. I will not go beyond my own desire and willingness. Having said that, there is nothing - no action or experience - that is expressly excluded from the session, within the boundaries of your and my willingness.

Much of my work takes the form helping people find their edges - locate where a touch or a memory evokes that old, repressed pain. As soon as the pain gets touched, I stop, and guide the person through a deep feeling and release of what has been held so deeply inside.

It makes no sense to me to take a client further in a session than their nervous system can cope with at that particular moment. My acute sensitivity and deep listening makes it possible for me to feel how far we can go today. This is often a surprise. Sometimes the client goes way beyond what they thought they were capable of. Sometimes I do not even nearly approach what the client had requested. For instance, if a client has not done the work required to clear the main layers of unconscious eroticism in his/her psyche, I cannot introduce them to the power of sexual meditation in Tantra, even if this is their expressed desire. In time, maybe. But we work with where the body-mind is at in this moment.

Perhaps my training as a social anthropologist and ethnographer helps here. I have learnt that what people say is not necessarily what they mean. People are always interpreting a situation on many different levels and choosing from many different options what reality they will present to you. My task as Dakini is to sense keenly into the reality they are choosing to present at the time of the session, and to select the most appropriate response.

Although the work that we do in Tantra is deeply transformative and in that sense radical, this transformation often happens through the subtlest of touches. It is not in our aesthetic to push people beyond where they choose to go. In this our method differs significantly from many other transformation processes. It has an extreme refinement that is guided, from moment to moment, by the truth that is ready to get revealed in your being.


In conclusion

Don't come to a Dakini if you are looking for safety or escape from your own life experience. However, if safety for you means a deeper homecoming to yourself, then there probably are few better places to go. I think you understand by now that the journey home can be challenging. Boundaries will apply to help direct you there, not to help you hide. And all along you will become more attuned to your own internal ethics, as I do with mine. The further you walk along this road, the greater your responsibility - your ability to respond - to the dharma, the truth of what is.

21 October 2009

all the way to america

It has been an eternity since temples have lingered in our midst. The temples were the sacred vessels of the lineage of goddess and the ancient wisdom - tantra. This ground was the gathering place of women and men, who stood in the moment, uncompromised and wild.

This year, news of a temple in Sedona arrived at my door. There was to be a gathering of wisdom and love of the finest in the land. After thousands of years I would once again dance in the temple and in the love orgy of awareness.

I immediately called delta airlines and secured my booking. I also sent some spies ahead. Their reports were disturbing. Tantra was used for trade and sold in the market place next to vending machines and stock shares. The juice of tantra was used to cement and anchor egoic structures rather than free them - “tantric sex master” a not uncommon phrase.

I hesitated deeply but the urge of existence persisted and I went carrying my dread heroically. ..

As a dakini, where ever I land I inquire into the mind and the possible flowering of the people of that land. It is a little like a painter who is always aware of the light of any city. Florence has exquisite light, as does a little cottage in Tucson where Georgia o’ Keefe painted. I can say, as painters are to light dakinis are to awareness.

I was curious to know the ways of these tantrikas and what their approach was to the cultural mind that they had been assigned to. How do they assist others to move though their resistance and conditioning into presence and flowering?

The dakinis and dakas began to share their work. I bounced from tantrika to tantrika.

The most obvious and repeated word was “boundary”. I have paid attention to the stories of this land. The prevailing theme is threat. Someone, somewhere wants to kill you and your family. For decades, the children of this country have been told they must be afraid. This conditioning is deeply rooted.

Margot Anand commented on this conditioning as she left left America for Bali - she says “ It is as if my being, my soul, my essence were deeply thirsty for that which appeared so difficult to reach in the USA. The feeling that time is eternal. That there are no “to do” lists, no “orange alerts”, no dire warnings of impending doom. Just the contemplation of the ocean, the right to remain undisturbed.”

Certainly this conditioning will be in the fore thought of a conferring of tantrikas... There is a twist here. They were speaking in favour of boundaries, specifically how to bring boundaries and safety into a tantra session. The dakinis and dakas have not transcended the conditioning of boundaries but have incorporated boundaries into tantra. This is a common difficulty on the path. A woman who has begun a spiritual journey may stop insisting her husband to buy a convertible, but now insists that he becomes more spiritual. She has transferred the mind’s insistence with the justification of it being spiritual. Nothing has actually moved in her awareness.

Tantra invites you to jump off the cliff into the abyss of mystery. There is no safety net.

The first thief of the moment becomes clear. The drop in the ocean can and should have a boundary from the ocean, say the american tantrikas.

The next thief of the moment is knowledge.

A dakini was sharing her work. She began to speak about advaita , “all you have to do is transcend duality to oneness, its easy”. Hah, I thought, she has no idea, just speaking pretty words.

Advaita is a spiritual method, that through the attempt to understand duality, one enters into the exploration of your yes and your no to life. Consider the duality of innocence and guilt . When you feel guilt, enter the feeling as fully as you are able, and the same with innocence. These moments will span over many years. Slowly the awareness and understanding of this energy that moves between the poles of guilt and innocence begins to dawn on the sincere seeker. The depth of these moments ever increasing as more of both polarities is allowed. The transcendence into oneness of these two poles can only be known in the final moment of total allowing. There will be many challenging aspects in this exploration and others that open delightfully and sweetly like a whore on New Year’s eve.

“It’s easy” can only be uttered by the lips of someone who has not taken the first step. She has heard these words and has arrived at a mental construct of meaning without any application.

Consider a line from a poem, “ the spring god knows not from where the spring blossoms come” In the east knowledge and god are not synonymous.

A famous monk living high in the mountains was once visited by a highly learned man. The man came to him and said, “ I have sought all manner of knowledge, and now I wish to learn from you. The monk did not reply but simply began to pour a cup of tea. He continued pouring until the cup began to overflow. The visitor protested but still the monk poured. Finally the monk spoke, until you arrive at my door empty, dropping all knowledge that you have collected before you enter, there is nothing I can teach you. The arrow smith woman said the same to Saraho, which ultimately led to the birth of Tantra in Tibet.

Knowledge is relative and changes as awareness changes. True understanding can only be realised in the heart where logic, rationality and language do not apply.



This brings us to the last thief; the teachings of love.

“There is no greater enemy of love than the teachings of love”, says Osho. I was having a conversation with a woman. She burst into tears in defense of her beloved country’s actions in Iraq. I realised that americans are taught many things about love. If you love your country you will support the war machine, if you love your country you will turn a blind eye to the loss of your own civil rights and the refusal of america to uphold the Geneva convention. Stephen King said it in The Green Mile, “they kill us with our love all the time.”

A few years ago I realised that the arab nations could perhaps become the greatest lovers on the planet. The reason why I came to this was because they hold the shadow so loudly and clearly. When the shadow is very big, that which causes the shadow must also be very big. One may notice the arabic history, music like rich velvet, that drapes the women, as they swirl their flesh, at the feet of lovers, on the road to mecca. Mecca, home of the yoni of goddess - the Kaaba - the void from which all comes and all returns.

This little bend on the path, my story of lovers, is to suggest that as arab is to lover, american is to heart. The shadow is so thick it can suggest nothing else.

The american heart is fairly transparent. They want to save everyone and everything, but actually land up the destroyers - whether it is the greatest pollutants or the busiest warmongers.

The heart has been led astray. Or perhaps it is more true to say, the heart is forgotten in favour of the words of what heart or love is.

The teachings of love that I found amongst the american tantrikas centered on relationship solving. How you must love your partner, how you must love ... Love is madman who rides shooting stars to kiss the feet of his beloved. There is no how to and nobody knows better than him. Relationship solving is a sanitised walk down a concrete path with trees planted in rows. Yes, it suggests that the inquiry into heart has begun, but only the beginning … where one finds what love is not.

In following the teachings of love, you miss love utterly. Hungry for love, you incessantly attempt to get your needs met and find a zillion techniques for better relationships. Love remains unknown and for that you will always be hungry.

There is a new business in america called tantra. Many years ago I traveled america as a pitchmen. The origins of pitchmen were the sellers of snake medicine ( the cure all potion ) who traveled from town to town in the old west. Pitchmen are an impressive bunch. The true greats can literally hypnotise an audience with voice and carefully rehearsed movements. At the end of the pitch, by such a master, you will buy anything from china that he happens to be flogging that day.

I learnt a few tricks as a pitchman. There is something called a fake turn. This is where you have a crowd in front of you. You have dazzled them with the possibilities of the mop, or the shammy or the pot you may be selling. They are caught, captivated, well almost. You see, if you don’t do the fake turn you will lose them. It goes something like this; you have told them the glories of the mop, you have told them of the unbelievable free gift you will be throwing in, but you have limited stock and you can only do this, now scan the crowd - there are about 20 people - you can only do this for the first 15 people in every demonstration - you still have not got them - now - you point to thin air between two people - you point hard and with utter conviction - and you announce, “you number one”, point to another thin air spot - “you number two” - and now the crowd has jumped in lest they lose their opportunity of a mop and free gift - and you no longer have to point to thin air.

The american public have been conditioned to shop since birth. The experience of freedom comes from the ching ching of the credit card which is why they do not feel wronged when their true freedom is forsaken.

The tantra business uses these old methods of drawing in new customers.

What we selling today? More orgasms more love, more bliss, better and bigger relationships - more more more is always about the ego - empty and desperate. Tantra is not this. Tantra is about the discovery of the moment - utterly complete - the idea of more drops out of your being. This is enough - now. If you want more, rather stick with positive thinking, LOA and how to be a better person.

Tantra is for those who have the capacity to pick up the scent of a rose and let love find the flowers that shower this scent. There the dakini sits .. there the dakini waits .. for the lovers that have the awareness to follow the scent of a rose.

To complete this picture I must also tell you what I love of the american tantrikas.

Their capacity, ingenuity and precision in their body work is unparalleled whether it be yoga practice or tumbling you into love using their body and ground. They are masters of technique and innovators of taking physical practice to new and beautiful planes.

The tantrikas are outrageously brave. They explore non ownership of the beloved with veracity and intent.

The depth of sincerity in their work touched my heart as did the willingness for friendliness. I have traveled to america several times and am always amazed at how quickly an american will become my friend and invite me to play. Regardless of all the politics, they like foreigners and they like new friends.

One meets an openness in americans that clarifies why so many great minds and movements began here.

The beauty of the women, especially the ones living outside the system and not paying attention to what they are supposed to look like, ravages the soul. The men too have big willingness to meet the beloved women. It is beautifully sweet and very sincere.

The two weeks I spent in this land feels like a highly condensed download. The three thieves arrived in my consciousness first and then followed the possibilities of the tantrikas of this land.

I write this mostly as a hope that it will be of some use to the tantrikas in their teaching. It is always more difficult to recognise the conditioning of your birth place. It is also an invitation to come play.

My feeling is that much of the back breaking ground work is done. There is a great readiness for the next step up the mountain. If you were to come to the feet of a master, and I mean a master of tantra because tantra is your journey, then you would fly in moments, conditioning and fear an old and rusty memory.

One last thought .. if you are a sexual healer and not a tantrika none of what has been said applies to you .. then you use boundaries, knowledge, even teachings of love and market your work according to what catches attention. Please understand the distinction. A sexual healer works with people of the culture who who would like to fulfill their potential and heal old wounds. A tantrika throws seekers off a cliff so that they may look Existence in the face and see themselves.

Inner and outer heat in Tantra


Inner and outer heat in Tantra
Copyright Shakti Malan

In Tantric lovemaking, an extraordinary movement of inner and outer heat occurs. This heat and what accompanies it, is what I call dragon's nectar - the theme of my upcoming retreat in the Drakensberg. I will attempt to give you a sense of the experience of this heat here, as well as some information on how this energy has been perceived in Tantric mystery traditions.

Building a bonfire

In ordinary/unconscous lovemaking, what effectively happens is that suppressed energies build up to an involuntary crescendo of contraction and drivenness. The heart rate increases rapidly, as do body movements and organ pulsation. We race towards peak orgasm. And then we collapse in exhaustion. This is like building a huge bonfire - putting all the logs on at the same time - and enjoying the short ecstasy of heat before the logs burn out.

Physiologically what happens here is that the sympathetic nervous system - our fight and flight response - goes into overdrive. This can be very exilirating, a bit like the adrenalin rush we get from extreme sports.

But that fire burns out pretty quickly. It is like one big fiery roar from our inner dragon - impressive, volumous, short lived, and it leaves a trail of destruction in its passing. You may get tired or suspicious of this kind of sexual expression at some point. Good. Now it is important to realize that the trouble is not the fire. The fire is needed. Without the dragon there is no dragons nectar. What needs to change is the way we build the fire.

Stay at the beginning

In the Vigyam Bhairav Tantra, Shiva says: "At the start of sexual union, keep attentive to the fire in the beginning, and, so continuing, avoid the embers at the end."(verse 42)

The art is to learn to build that fire slowly, consciously, with full awareness and clear intent.

Inner heat and the feminine

"In order to allow for the birth of the [ultimate dakini, the wisdom that realizes emptiness], one must eliminate the gross forms of consciousness
by means of the inner heat (tummo) practice that is a particular form of bliss.
This bliss is the means of eliminating coarse consciousness:
therefore, the inner heat represents a meaning of dakini"

- HIS HOLINESS THE FOURTEENTH DALAI LAMA

This quote comes from a beautiful book by Judith Simmer-brown called Dakini's Warm breath. She describes that in Tibetan Tantric practice, it is understood that the subtle body has three main channels: the non-dual central channel (called the shushumna in Sanskrit) and the two flanking channels. One of these channels is regarded as feminine and is governed by the fire element and the sun. The vital breath of the feminine is warm. The other is regarded as masculine and is governed by the moon and the water element. The vital breath of the masculine is cool.

The focal center of the cool masculine breath is the head, and the center of the warm feminine breath is the navel. Tibetan Tantric practice brings the energy of the icy father down to the navel to be melted by the fiery mother. In that way, the energy of the flanking channels gets united in the central channel. From this comes a great centered stillness and inner heat.

The inner heat is associated with the quality of bodhichitta. Bodhichitta refers to the awakened mind that aspires to liberate all sentient beings. When the vital breaths get united in the center, we live in unity consciousness. There is a quality of bliss associated with this state. But even greater bliss is that of the bodhichitta, who desires to share her bliss with others. This is an essential quality of the dakini.

The inner fire in the belly burns up all states and experiences that keep us from living in pure presence. Therefore, the dakini takes great delight in pulling the practitioner into this fire, even if the burning feels to the recipient like a cruel and heartless act. Dakini knows that true love can burn, to the core.

Outer heat and the masculine

In his fascinating book The Hero: Manhood and Power, John Nash writes about the cultivation of heat by the masculine. Nash is of the opinion that men have also encountered this heat in a very masculine activity - "its awesome power arising within himself, spontaneously, time and time again, through dangerous and exhilirating exertions of another kind - the perils of the hunt."

He also writes that, since ancient times, humanity has understood the sacredness of the feminine because of her ability to birth, without any attempt to 'make' this happen. The masculine, on the other hand, has had to prove his virility by conquering and mastering powers in nature far exceeding his own.

He talks specifically about practices to cultivate the mystic heat. One example is sweat lodges, a heat ceremony from the South American Shamanic tradition designed specifically to help men access the altered states of consciousness that women naturally have access to, especially during menstruation. Nash also refers to certain forms of yoga that raise the metabolic heat of male practitioners to excessive, unnatural degrees. He refers to the Tibetan practice of 'tummo', "'heat-yoga so intense that the monk with his naked body dries blanket after blanket that has been soaked in an icy mountain torrent."

Tummo is the practice that the Dalai Lama referred to in the above quote as a core expression of the dakini in a seeker. The extreme yoga Nash refers to here is a practice using determination, discipline and will power to invoke this fire in celibate practice. But then the Dalai Lama's quote refers to dual cultivation - in this case specifically with the dakini or feminine as embodiment of the wisdom principle. In Tibetan Tantric practice, the monk would deepen his meditation and strengthen his tummo practice until he reached a certain level of realization or awakening. Then his master would introduce him to the dakini who would take him through the final stages.

Ultimately, it is the merging of the feminine (dakini) and masculine energies that take the seeker into the central channel where the inner heat is experienced, and we live in unity consciousness. We all have both masculine and feminine principles inside us. The ultimate merging happens when masculine and feminine merges inside us. In that sense, Tantric practice supports a seeker, no matter what your sexual orientation is. When two men or two women come together in Tantric practice, one will adopt the feminine and one the masculine principle.

The rippling fire of Tantra - my experience


I have had the rare privilege in my lifetime to experience what happens when the masculine and feminine come together in pure presence in Tantric lovemaking. It has left me with a clear realization as to why the Hindu gods are always depicted as being blue. There is a fire that starts to ripple over a person's skin when s/he practices Tantric lovemaking - and takes time about it. This fire is cool, it is spread out all over the body, and for me, its colour is distinctly blue.

Building the slow fire


Tantric lovemaking builds a slow, shimmering, delicious fire. At times, yes, we welcome and build the hot fire of the dragon's breath, of wild passion and roaring delight. But the quality of the meeting is guided mostly by the feminine - receptivity, relaxation, openness to the moment, to the greater flow of what is. The feminine moves like wind and water, dissolving, flowing, folding. The masculine, enveloped by the caress of the feminine, holds one pointed focus. He is the rock. He holds stillness, but without contraction or force. He surrenders into pure presence.

In this space of pure presence, time and space lose their usual hold on us. The moment becomes eternity. Eight hours pass in one timeless flow of the moment. Slowly, deeply, your energy builds, and so too the levels of bliss you can stand. Bodies lose their familiar appearance. You come to experience, beyond doubt, that we are not as solid and fixed a we are. And that, in fact, there is no separation at all. It is this state of subtle, seamless bliss which I call the dragon's nectar.

To be available to this quality of lovemaking takes some preparation, some unlearning of old conditioning, and some sharpening of presence. It takes the willingness to face, and embrace, the erotic impulses you have suppressed. It takes the laying aside of body armoring that keeps you from being fully responsive in your body. It takes deep presence in breath and sensation. It takes a bump-up in your level of openness to sensory impulses. It takes huge expansion of your heart capacity.

Dragon's Nectar, my Tantra retreat in the Drakensberg 20 - 25 November, is designed to support you in exactly this journey. For details, see http://totalitytherapy.com/events/2009/07/dragons-nectar-tantra-intensive-retreat.html. It's time to step into the fire - and say yes!

"Some day, after we have mastered the winds, the waves, the tides, and gravity, we will harness for God the energies of love; and then for the second time in the history of the world, men will have discovered fire!" – Theilard de Chardin

05 October 2009

International Dakini / Daka Conference, Africa 27 to 29 Nov

Dakini Shima went to the Arizona conference earlier in the year.

The stories of her visit are hers to tell, but in the meantime, some of the tantrikas she met there will be visiting for the African conference.

These annual events are arranged by Baba Dez Nichols, a Daka of much experience, and (with Kamla Devi) co-author of Sexual Healing. The main idea of this first one in Africa is to provide an opportunity for those of us who work with the sexual aspects of people's lives to connect and share techniques and information. Also, of course, he comes to share his methods and teachings. After the conference, he will be presenting a training in his approach for aspirant Dakas and Dakinis.

Several teachers of this school will be involved, and we are appealing to sexual educators of all disciplines to do likewise. Inclusive of, but not at all limited to:

Sexologists, psychologists, relationship advisors, trauma counsellors, tantric and taoist massage practitioners, sexual surrogates, sex workers, married people and other professionals who work with client/student’s sexual problems/aspirations.

Naturally, Dakinis, Dakas and other tantrikas of all persuasions are expressly invited. We have shared the contacts we have among South African teachers of tantra, advaita, spirituality and sexuality with Baba Dez. If you haven't had an invitation from him, please do not be insulted! He would love to hear from you.

This event is about Tantra, sacred sexuality and sexual healing in the widest sense. Presentations so far cover a wide and intriguing range of topics.

The page for this event at Sedona Temple is at http://www.sedonatemple.com/event/1114/First-Annual-African-Conference-of-Sacred-Sexual-Educators/Featured-Events.php

Baba Dez will be in South Africa for a few weeks beforehand to promote the event and to raise awareness of tantra and related work. Watch out for him in your local media.

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17 August 2009

Ranks, gradings and titles in Tantra

Titles abound in Tantra. Some titles indicate a claim to lineage, others indicate an attainment, or level of understanding.

In the East, there are traditional understandings and (arguably valid) criteria which can be applied.

In the West, there are attempts to form associations, professional bodies to determine and gather support for ethical and political positions.

Some lineages still have a liveliness to them. They still have the rasa, the juice. Others dried out years ago, but still reveal and store mummified valuables. Some represent a revitalisation of an old tradition.

I am not suggesting that there is any problem with this. The word Tantra now describes teachings from a huge range of intent, method, understanding, capability and style. Current teachings have their roots in a wide range of geographical areas and historic eras.

The simple fact, at present is that there is no consensus as to what defines an Adept, a Yogi, an Arahat, a Daka, a Guru, a Saint, a Rishee and so on. Especially since terms and definitions get mix-and-matched with no regard to the source languages.

So … there is nothing I can really do to clarify what titles and gradings are commonly used, and what you can expect of those using these titles. It is part of a seeker's journey to develop and use their own discernment as to who's who, and particularly, who the right teacher for now is.

What I can do is describe, more or less, how I use these terms. What they mean in this particular small school.

Tantrika

Gender inclusive term meaning a student and/or a practitioner of tantra in its broadest sense.

Friend of the school

By this we most usually mean someone we trust, who has particular expertise in some area of tantra or related work. We refer students to them when their particular expertise seems indicated. Other friends of the school include donors, supporters and, well, friends.

Yogini

A woman working with us with the intention to become a Dakini.

Dakini

Literally: Sky Dancer. A woman practicing the vocation, the calling, of Tantra. In this school, it is a title. A Dakini is a teacher in her own right, not needing to borrow authority from anywhere. Her energy has the same catalysing effect as that of a guru.

When we call someone outside of our school a Dakini, it is in recognition of their capability and understanding. Some of these wonderful women have learned from us for a part of their path, others we know from their teaching, or through mutual students.

A Wild Dakini is a woman who has all the power and understanding, but not (yet) the awareness of her calling.

Daka

The Dakini's male counterpart. A Daka is a man of unusual self awareness that works with women. Dakas in this school work specifically and exactly to the direction of Dakinis. This is sexist, and perhaps one day there will be exceptions … but, for now that is how it is.

Dakas are initiated, trained and given the title by Dakinis.

Guru

A Tantric Master who chooses to teach. Someone who's own spiritual and sexual work is complete.

Mine was done in 2002. Since then, my sexuality has had no quality of need, addiction or personal desire. It has been a part of my teaching, my communication with my students, used for that purpose just as is my voice and every other aspect of my life.

For the work I do, specifically the teaching and guidance of Dakinis, the completion of my own sexual dramas is essential to my own psychological survival. Also, if I was not complete in my own sexuality … if I had needs … if I was therefore subject to sexual manipulation … it would be hilarious, but I wouldn't be laughing. These are, after all, the most powerful of women!

It is also my responsibility to be careful when and to whom I teach what are known as the secret teachings. Some of these, misapplied, can be a bit ugly.

A guru's foremost, often defining characteristic is his energy field. The mysterious property that can reach and support a seeker, even at a distance.

This property is analogous to a catalyst in chemistry. Flammable gasses at room temperature, too cool to burn, will burst into flame when they encounter (the catalyst) platinum. One can look very closely and examine the platinum very carefully to see what it has done. Mysteriously, the platinum seems unchanged, and can do it's trick repeatedly without changing.

What I and the Dakinis seem to catalyse is the flowering of a seeker's awareness. The natural reaction waiting to happen, or happening gradually, within our students is accelerated.

Apology:

One day, I will stop apologising for the English language and my part in it's absorbtion and redefinition of words from other languages and traditions. I won't (and English won't) stop doing it though.

07 January 2009

Where are all the men?

I often hear women in conversation asking, with a touch of hopelessness, where all the conscious men are (and if there are any.) The answer is: They are busy doing Tantra! I have twice as many women as men on my mailing list, but nevertheless the men equal, and often outnumber, the women who actually come to events. Such beautiful men. I am just now coming from a Blissdance class where I had the privilege to witness the presence and sensitivity with which these men meet themselves, each other and especially, women. So now you know, women, where to go look!

07 December 2008

Primacy of the feminine in Tantra

We are whole beings, divided into masculine and feminine aspects (and every other sort of division, but let's stay with this one).

Learning how love works with a man and a woman, doing "conventional" relationship, gives us the necessary insight, experience and EQ to start the inner love affair of our own masculine and feminine.

It is the feminine aspect which must be willing to want something (out of all the generalised wanting, a specific), consistently, reassuring the male aspect that his energy is appreciated and wanted … and to thank the male aspect when he delivers!

The revelations of this dynamic in relationship support the same cooperation in the individual. We all need to have a cooperation between our feminine, wide-angle view of what we want and our masculine one-pointed focus which enables achievement.

Being polarised to an exclusive masculinity or femininity is an unfortunate (but common) distortion.

Completely in the feminine = being immobilised from almost any action, because there is a fear of then not getting to do all the possible alternative actions. Also, the awareness that everything affects everything else, taken too far with no balance, results in fearful inaction.
The feminine aspect has to learn to "want". To select from the myriad possibilities by accepting the painful understanding that things must usually be achieved one thing and one step at a time. In the absence of a masculine aspect to take action, the feminine becomes slothful and destructively indulgent of "low" concerns. TV and pastries.

Completely in the masculine = Ploughing ahead with one pointed focus, oblivious to incidental and consequential factors.
The masculine aspect, particularly in the warrior archetype, has to learn to be directed, to take commands. The warrior needs a Goddess to serve. In the absence of the Goddess, the hunger of the warrior for command can lead him to take direction from even a masculine authority: royalty, a military command structure, a college fraternity, a corporation or some other form of gang.

Cooperation, which leads to integration looks much better:

The feminine selects a specific wanting from her range of wanting (this is the difficult bit), asks for it from the masculine, keeps an overview of the situation, continues to want the chosen specific (another difficult bit) and offers congratulations on completion (easy to overlook but surprisingly important) before setting the next objective.

The masculine takes the direction (this is the difficult bit) of the feminine, and does the one-pointed obsessive thing. Accepting correction/adjustment along the way, in response to the wider perception of the feminine is tricky, and praise on completion is of significant importance for future cooperation.

Finding this cooperation in relationship (where both often take turns over time playing out their masculine and feminine aspects) is a step towards applying this understanding to one's own inner m+f aspects. This approach can result in a fondness between these aspects and mutual appreciation for the strengths and usefulness of the other. This brings them into friendliness.

When inner masculine and feminine aspects are friendly, they can make love, unite and become one complete being, just as in the cultural soulmate myth.

The friendliness is essential. Techniques exist for inducing "inner lovemaking", but without some significant and sincere friendliness within first, things can get a bit ugly. This is the reason these techniques are seldom written down and are hidden (occluded) from students until there is clear readiness.

The overview and guidance of Tantric practice requires a feminine open awareness, sensitivity and responsiveness, well served. The depth, intensity and totality of Tantric practice requires strong masculine energy, well directed.

This is why in Tantra, the truth of the primacy of Feminine energy is respected, especially the wild/unreasonable/fierce/chthonic aspects expressed in Goddess form as Tara and Kali.

So, as a male founder of a school, I chose a nice simple primary directive for my one-pointed focus: Remind Dakinis of their vocation, support their flowering, and encourage them into the fullness of their teaching.
Existence has been bounteously supportive of my endeavors. Never before me has any teacher been so blessed with students of such readiness, aptitude, totality and sincerity!

Wendy, Shima and Shakti … encounter any of these teachers, and you'll find Tantra is as complete, healthy and as powerful and as challenging as ever it was. These women are Tantra.

24 October 2008

The Secret Teaching on judgement, resentment, blame

Disclaimer:
The following is traditionally, historically a secret teaching. The preserved written words need clarification and explanation to make them accessible. This explanation will be misunderstood and misapplied by a mind that is unready or unprepared. Also, a secret teaching is a teaching which, when followed, reveals secrets.

I feel ok to write it here, and not in my members-area notes, because the necessary preparation has been done by so many seekers of so many traditions and persuasions. Also, minds that could, in an unready condition, have trouble with this teaching are unlikely to misapply it any more than they do, unconsciously, anyway.

If you feel morally abused or mentally insulted by this piece, please understand that the fault is completely yours for getting sufficiently interested in Tantra to read this blog.

Required before you read on:
Some training in spiritual fundamentals a.k.a. "mind training".
That means some, just a good taste, of any of the following: freudian/jungian/encounter/TA/primal/art or even Dr. Phil style therapy, introspective meditation techniques, lgat's, corporate coaching, EQ work or even NLP, even in it's sillier varieties.



Secret teaching to transcend blame and judgment:

We blame. We judge. We know too that on any spiritual path, we are supposed to "release" this habit of the mind.
This post is my suggestion of a method I have found useful.

Each and every one of our judgments, when deeply examined, will reveal itself as nonsense … just some old and long forgotten association being misapplied to the current situation. But this approach, one eetsy beetsy "issue" at a time is laborious, slow (never-ending) and not much fun.

The journey to understanding of specific cases/situations in your life has been necessary for you to notice and admit the possibility: "I don't truly know, in a deep and meaningful way, ultimately, the truth of whatever Right and Wrong really are".

Another way of putting this is that you are ready to consider taking a stand against your Original Sin. The core error in your perception. That which causes you to miss the truth. The original sin is eating of "the tree of the knowledge of good and evil". This sin is a common one. The ego usurping the exclusive territory of the Divine. Claiming to be able to distinguish good and evil is undoubtedly a huge sin of ego/pride. Stupendous in scale and audacity.

So the "what to do". The method:

Atisha, as one of his seven points of mind training urges: "Drive all blames into one."

Pick ONE thing. One thought-construct. Blame it for EVERYTHING. Your mind is a brilliantly fast and clever associative computer. If you give it just a little creative thought, you will soon be able, in seconds, to see "why" this ONE thing is to blame. It's fun and it is kind of silly too.

The deep wisdom of this teaching is that the very silliness of this repeated discovery reworks and transforms the way the mind does it's blaming and judging.

You have a mind. It blames and judges. Transcendence of that fact does not lie in training the mind to "not judge". It lies in the mind discovering the inherent silliness of judgment and blame and getting them into appropriate perspective.

So, blame one thing. Perhaps you already know what, for you, is the root source of all that you find wrong in the world. One thing that is behind every unpleasant look someone gives you. Behind everything dangerous, dirty or disgusting in the world. Behind every kind of unpleasantness lies … [your choice here] … It really doesn't matter what you choose as this one ultimate scapegoat. For the purposes of the exercise, most anything will do.

I suggest you take some time to consider, not just what you think you will be able to blame so completely, but also what would be fun to blame. You are taking on, as an exercise, a "forced position", which you will (hopefully) drop when you have learned what the lesson reveals/enables in you. This exercise is the taking on of a deliberate and strong bias, a true excentricity in your thinking and it will unavoidably affect your behavior and expression. There is inherent humor in that, so pick something you will have fun and enjoy blaming as the Source Of All Wrong.

Gautanorangs, Lichtensteinians, Abbasiniyans, Zorastorians, animal rights activists … human groupings of any sort, or their leaders/figureheads are good possibilities. The more obscure, or generally unknown a nationality the better. Just to minimise the risk of encountering them in large groups when sharing your opinion of them. Also, you may have fun enrolling others in your chosen "cause". Your consciously chosen obsession. This is easier if the grouping is really obscure. Bill Hicks took quite a lot on with his choice, centering his judgement on the advertising industry. A successful student of Tantra, Bill was enlightened before his untimely death, and is remembered as a Saint in this school.

Looking deeply into this choice of "what to blame" may reveal other candidates. Geography is a huge factor in wars and famines. Maybe volcanoes are a good candidate. Other species are also worth consideration … A less ready student than Saint Bill, Stephen Colbert approached me years ago for this teaching, and decided on bears (godless killing machines). His meditation progresses, although slowly, on account of his distraction over secondary wrongs, like Democrats. Come on Steve. Democrats or bears. Pick ONE!

Intelligence can produce other possibilities. Perhaps butterflies cause more than hurricanes when they idly flap about, "innocently" unaware of the trouble they cause. Also, some species of butterfly have been a source of the dye on banknotes, possibly giving rise to the chaos called a "financial system".

Ballpoint pens, and lately sms, with they way they hurry communications and increase misunderstandings ... There are many candidates for your personal Prime Evil.

When you have made your choice, stick to it and be strong. Firm in your resolve. You (I hope) currently obey the regular laws of your land, which already restrain you from vengeful or dangerous actions … but you can feel. You can know. You can even have fun sharing your view, and canvassing for it.

In and of itself, this exercise, sincerely undertaken, can teach some important deep truths.

You will know when it is complete, and can then drop your issues with that "one thing" … or not, if you find it fun to keep.

If you want to borrow mine, the "thing" into which I put "all blame" when busy with this exercise… I'm not telling. It isn't a very well kept secret, but I'm doing my bit to keep it quiet.

And for how long?
I suggest, for as long as you find it fruitful. As long as it reveals truth to you and increases your awareness of your own mind's workings, it is worthwhile. After that, I suppose, for as long as you enjoy it. Personally, I found this exercise good for a couple of years, once I managed to get the focus mostly on THE ONE. Getting all blaming driven into one was the tough bit. No second and third options allowed.

The fruits?

Juicy indeed. Live them and experience them.

07 October 2008

Return to the Wild Woman: A retreat for women on the 24 - 26 October

A further word from Shakti:

Our aim with this retreat is to share with you the mysteries of Skydancing. Dakini literally means Skydancer. In Tantra, Skydancing is a term used to refer to the deep state of ecstasy and merging with the cosmos that can happen for a woman in lovemaking. While it is exquisite to share this with a partner, it is possible - and advisable - to open the pathways for this bliss in your own body to begin with. Our methods for this retreat will be
supporting you to dance yourself into your unique body ecstasy
teaching and sharing the mysteries of female sexuality through practical techniques
supporting each other as a sisterhood, a sacred tribe of courageous women

A further word from Shima:

Some of you have heard of the Dakinis. The word Dakini means Sky Dancer. When the Dakini is deep in the meditation of love making she dancers the sky, she dancers existence, with her beloved the masculine rock beneath her. The beloved holds the ground for her to dance upon.

This beauty of the love making meditation, of Sky Dancing has been been forgotten on our planet for thousands of years.

Now we evoke the Sky Dancing once again.

Women have been brought up to believe that most or all of their sexual expression is wrong and must only be presented in an acceptable way according to the culture. This is our prison, this is our suffering as we force ourselves into a tiny mind construct and refuse the flowering of our being.

The return of the Wild Woman invites a great unlearning. In this unlearning our true being begins to emerge and we dance again.

If you are experiencing fear or excitement this is often a sign on the path - a big flashing neon sign - saying this is exactly where your next learning will be.

So Shakti and I offer this workshop that it may call the spirit of woman back into the land. Aah sisters, come, dance again.

03 September 2008

My First Time

For the longest time I was wrapped in the cultural mind of what sex is and when sex is allowed, of what woman is and what of woman is allowed. I struggled for breath as I attempted some forms of the real of sex of the real of woman but I was lost in the dark.

So my search began. ....

This story today is not the whole story but a moment; the meeting of a Tantra master, Nityama.

He first appeared to me in a dream - a strong black man naked in a shower. I had been doing courses in sexuality in Harbin Hot Springs, California when I was told that this man, Nityama, may be of use.

He was not known then and offered me a meeting session for free. I stepped into his session’s room very aware that I was alone with a black man and I had come to him to learn more about sex - my South African white girl mind so perfectly set up in this moment. If I had the capacity to access my body deeper then I am certain I would have trembled with fear.

He first spoke to me. What I remember of the speaking was the explanation of the basic premise of the love relating between men and women. Men wish to please the Mama and women want to be daddy’s little princess and his favourite girl in the whole world. This sets up men and women in a cycle that is based on the unloved child’s view and not of beings that are in their fullness who relate and share from this fullness. It is a deeply unconscious space that perpetuates itself and for many people their awareness will never rise above it. In this place they cannot know the true of love. They can only know the demands and the fears of the child and live from there. Nityama explained that for this cycle to be broken the man must first say NO to the little girl in as much love as possible. But only in the no to the demand of the little girl can the woman be born. Then the woman in turn will guide the man to higher awareness and spirituality.

I felt the truth of these words. I saw them directly in my experience. This is what he needed to tell me. These words have remained as a backdrop deep into my journey.

We sat silently for a time, I cannot say how long, opposite each other. In this moment I felt as if the space around was alive and full and pulsating. I could feel the room moving. Perhaps in my understanding now I can say that his presence brought presence to me. He was a catalyst as the teachers of this school are catalysts.

He then cradled me in his arms and hummed. My mind along the way was making much noise especially when we moved to this physicality. My mother’s voice appeared “ All men want is sex”. My mind was making these noises but inside this holding I had a moment of sleep, so deeply he held me, and I was the infant completely held , held as she always wanted to be held. Still the mind noise in the midst of this beauty.

After, he left the room for something. I sneaked, ( am I really going to admit this..) a look at his appointment diary and it was empty. The conclusions I came to were ugly- in retrospect, who knows, maybe it was a brand new diary - what does it matter after what had been?

I did not have the capacity then ( 8 years ago ) to let myself in on the magnificence of this meeting. My mind simply wanted to escape. I left and did not return, until now.

I choose to share this moment because I see how sometimes people run from myself and the teachers of the school. I understand the running and I also know that if you truly wish truth and beauty as your living, you will return, if not to this school then to another, as I did.

As your capacity to allow the moment into your awareness grows, this itself is what draws you back to the work. When bliss hits, no matter how loud the mind objects, you will return. There is no substitute.

The return, is the journey to the truth of who you are and the full expression of that.

Namaste Nityama

Afternote

Nityama now travels the world teaching. For the initial bliss session for woman of 3 hours he charges $1000 around R8000. For men it is $1500. I suspect his diary may now be full.

http://www.nityama.com/blog/services.html

03 August 2008

The bliss of emptiness

You need not do anything
Remain sitting at your table and listen.
You need not even listen, just wait.
You need not even wait, just learn to be quiet, still and solitary
And the world will freely offer itself to you unmasked.
It has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet
- Franz Kafka

21 July 2008

Heart Meditation: Audio CD released.

Master Atisha said: As you breathe in, take in and accept all the sadness, pain, and negativity of the whole world, including yourself, and absorb it into your heart. As you breathe out, pour out all your joy and bliss; bless the whole of existence.



This technique was taught a thousand years ago by Master Atisha, and the technique itself is possibly a lot older. It is perhaps the centre of the spiritual discipline known in Tibet as Loojong .

Loojong is, on the surface of it, all about developing a compassionate approach to existence as you meet it. A root spiritual attitude of Mahayana Buddhism.

This isn't all of the story, however. Atisha, who really got the Loojong thing going had a particular, personal area of spiritual intrest: Speed and efficiency. Atisha was all about the most effective methods, most supportive attitudes and spiritual totality in general.

That's why his so concise description of this technique, quoted above, expresses the totality of this technique. The starting point, and the method were taught person to person. The text served as a reminder of the practice and a concise distillation of the full teaching.

This meditation is a key method for growing your heart centre and using it consciously. The core work of this school is the re-development of the Dakini's arts and practices, in ways appropriate to the world as it is now. This practice is one that we treasure as a glowing ember among the ashes of Ancient Tantra, which has contributed greatly to this school's fire, to the heart of this phoenix.

So, don't be daunted by Atisha's words, the scale of the aim he urges. If you're even just tasting, dabbling with the idea of Tantra perhaps being your path, just taste this, dabble with this too. Particularly if you get some knocks along with life's caresses.

Tantrikas often deliberately and consciously do things and make choices that they know could bring them hurt and suffering as well as joy and bliss. We know that truth is to be found just as much in our tears as in our laughter. Living with this approach means that Tantrikas are in for Strong Feelings, often Mixed. Some of them quite destructive to the body if not handled.

Heart meditation is a way to handle current hurt, and grow the heart's capacity to handle more. With some diligent practice at times of pain, suffering, and particularly heart-soreness, your heart's capacity increases beyond the requirements of your own suffering. What used to literally be "killing you" becomes "Heart Food".

Atisha was all packed for his Mission to Tibet when someone told him what lovely, mannered, natural and thoroughly people the Tibetans were and how lucky he was to be going there.

This information didn't please him at all. Quite the contrary. He solved his problem by arranging that a thoroughly unpleasant, mean-spirited fellow he knew join his Mission. Just making sure that he would have at least some "fuel", some negative emotion available for his Loojong practice.


About the CD


On this CD, I guide you into this technique, supporting you to get the "knack" of it, to allow your opening to feeling your own hurt, and allowing your heart to transform your experience of that hurt. Sound Artist Gabriel added some smooth background tones, just to deepen the feeling of it. Yummie.


The practice of Heart Meditation doesn't require High Ideals, or a Great Spiritual Purpose. At a practical level, for most people, it's the most easing and supportive of practices for just getting through the tougher parts of life's journey. Good medicine. Just, it may carry the risk of you becoming a Seeker, maybe even a Tantrika … don't take that risk lightly.

More about heart meditation at meditate.co.za

Heart meditation CD available at CreateSpace (an Amazon Company)

18 July 2008

Launch of our first Audio CD: Death Meditation

This ancient technique is a deep exploration of an aspect of your being. It's a powerful technique to enable insights into the Truth of Death.

In this school, this technique has proved to be of great use for all of us at some time or another, and is a favourite regular practice.


It is an advanced technique, not easily accessible to beginner meditators. It certainly helps to have done some catharsis, some emotionally purging work like Osho's Dynamic Meditation, or long-distance running, bag-punching .... something to purge at least the surface mind-noise that goes on in most heads.

So, like cycling, there's, as Osho often said of meditation, a "knack" to it. The technique itself is helpful, but so is being in a suitable frame of mind, and some gentle guidance from someone who's got the knack already.

As soon as we think they might be ready, we teach Death Meditation to our Student Tantrikas, and it becomes a regular practice for them because it is necessary!

If you're going to be exploring even into the subconscious of your sexuality, going, in your awareness, where very few others on this planet go, you're pretty soon going to find that the way "everyone" thinks and operates seems shallow, insubstantial.

The "substance" behind ideas, thoughts, like friendship, connection, joy, sharing and even love comes to be questioned. Illusions around these ideas get destroyed. All great and necessary stuff, in pursuit of Truth, but... notice the problem?

Getting to the truth means dropping the false … the culturally ingrained ideas that pretty much everybody lives by. In doing this, you become the "most loved lost sheep" of the Essene parable, you break away from the mass-consciousness, and explore beyond it's boundaries. The bottom line, is you are going to be really lonely. Lonely in fact. For real.

This is tough. Loneliness is tough on anyone, and seekers are in for a bigger dose of it than most. Tantrikas are in for it, in classic Tantric fashion, the way the cat learned to swim. Rapid immersion, sink or swim, RIGHT NOW.

So, if you're a Tantrika, or pretty sure you're a seeker, and suspicious that Tantra may be your thing, this CD is the first substantial help we'd like to offer you. To prepare you for what's coming, and to support you in handling it adequately when it comes.

This, and our next CD, Heart meditation, are the core of a personal emotional survival kit that we very deliberately make available before publishing anything about the "sexy" side of Tantra, because, if you go there, it's going to be at least as tough emotionally as it'll be juicy and blissful. Prepare yourself. Think of it as getting your legs up to strength before taking on a skiing marathon. Or reducing your smoking before attempting to climb Everest.

This meditation is the most powerful technique we know (and it's plenty powerful enough) for working consciously with the feeling known as loneliness. Strong medicine, very effective.

For anyone experiencing profound loneliness, or becoming aware, wanting awareness into the thing we call "death", this meditation technique is also highly recommended. It's a very direct, uncluttered, clean penetration into that mystery, having no dependance on a particular belief system or spiritual attitude.

It's available at CreateSpace, an Amazon company. In a week or two, it'll be listed at Amazon too.

Hospice workers and other volunteers working with the dying are invited to contact us for free downloads of this CD.

And of course, members of the Virtual Inner Temple can download it.

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22 May 2008

Beloved

I have immersed in Tantra for many years. I have worked consciously with jealousy and the fear of loss of love - both being related to each other. What I have found in my work-play with Tantra is that one can think about a thing all day all week all year but until one immerses the body and mind into the experience then there is no understanding or knowing.

This being said, I chose to face my jealousy body on – not by thinking about it but by allowing the experiences that would evoke the jealousy. I have engaged in lover relating without rules or agreements on exclusivity. I threw away the safety net!

I did this for 3 years with my Tantra teacher. I faced many personal “demons” especially the act of comparison with his other lovers and the insistent belief that I was less favoured.

These women, the other lovers, became my closest and dearest friends. This path remains new and always surprising. So it is when you choose to take the path never travelled before as opposed to those paths that have never been left. I have come to understand that boredom comes from this place – the constant repetition of the safe and known past as opposed to the embrace of the unknown, of the dangerous – the path never taken – yourself.

In this willingness one meets a presence and a fullness that cannot be described only lived.

So yes my willingness to face my jealousy with my teacher brought on many painful and difficult illusions I had about myself. As they fell, I met the void of disillusionment, and in this void the space for truth and love.

Yet certain aspects of my illusions were not confronted with my teacher. I came to realise he was not the usual man, in that, he would not develop some attachment to another woman and refuse me because of her conditions. I came to see this over the years and so my fear of loss of love softened and my subsequent jealousy too was not so engaged or invoked.

I may have even believed that I had begun to transcend jealousy, but for some nagging insistence within….

Last year, I found myself in a place of deep presence. The past was of no consequence, my name did not matter, I found it difficult to engage in the chatter of others and mostly did not. When I attempted conversation I was not particularly good at it and this was of no concern. I was unable to define the experience or myself in it. This also did not matter. I was simply available to each moment and whatever the moment held.

In this place I met a man.

We fell into a deep sweetness with one another. It was easy, light, yummy. He was willing to be with a woman who taught sacred sexuality and did not agree to monogamy.

When I began my Tantra journey I thought I would need to surrender having a partner in order for me to teach Tantra. I believed my path would be far too challenging for anyone to want to hop on the ride with me. It was a day of grief, sadness and immense loneliness when I decided that this would be my way.

Then he arrived.

I was intimate with another. He did not enjoy but he stayed. I have some students. Again he does not enjoy but he stays.

I encouraged him to his own juice and to follow his love and allow it as it moves. For some time there was no one else. Then this began to change. It began to change with my closest friends. They were not making love but certainly this intimacy was imminent.

I fell into such a deep rage I wanted to jump on the cat that was snuggling beside him. I felt to shatter the reality in a single blow such was the sword I held. I could shred it with a thought. I became rage. I was the essence of it. It was beautiful and powerful and devastating. I understood what it is to stand in the eye of the storm and be the storm. I was total.

My teacher spoke to me of the beauty and the totality of the rage but cautioned of learning to wield this new found sword in right timing. I understood and did not. I did not want to put the sword down such was its beauty.

In most instances my teacher allows me to come to some understanding in my own time but for this understanding he was relentless. He persevered; my mind defended every corner. And in this defence it became clear I was insisting on my mind’s view not on the dharma. I came to see the fight I was engaged in. I chose then to stop. I would no longer refuse this learning.

My beloved is not my property to direct. He can stay or he can leave. There is nothing I can do to change his dance with existence.

I notice during this time that I am feeling some indifference towards my lover. This scares me, the absence of the sweet flow of love that is our day-to-day relating. I see that the indifference is misplaced – outrageously so.

The indifference is rightly given when he chooses intimacy with another not when we are being intimate. When I realise this and act upon it I feel a deep freedom.

We are at a party with many delicious women. He is playing and I am indifferent. He comes to dance with me, hold me, whisper in my ear and the indifference is no longer.

For some this may sound as if I am simply doing what he wishes. It is not so. I allow the real. I allow indifference in right timing not when we are home in bed together and now I am going to be aloof and indifferent because he spoke to girls at the party. And at the party I felt longing and deep torturous love because he was chatting to the girls. No, rather feel the longing and the love when he is in bed next to me and I can nail him. Or else, all I have experienced is misery.

The real is; he loves women. I cannot and do not want to change that. Ask any woman who has loved a misogynist.

He loves women. They like him too. The energy will move between them. It will happen regardless of what I want. If I manage to somehow stop the flow of his juice then it will stop with me too. Our love will become an empty but very safe shell.

Indifference has a place – allow it - in its rightful place.

In these few weeks of deep learning and allowing some very large shifts and aspects, I became ill. My gall bladder and liver became sore and my system very tired. The gall bladder is the place of fear and courage. The feeling I had in the body was that I was severely beaten up. As if I had done big battle. I think existence won.

My understanding has deepened. At the beginning of my Tantra path I felt I would lose the love of a partner, but now I see I have only begun my loving because of this path.

I understand the insistence of non-monogamy. It is not about many lovers per se, many lovers can be helpful too, but that is another story. It is about a freedom beyond fucking a lot. The repressed western mind will always make it about someone wanting to fuck a lot and they better than that because they can avoid such temptations.

No, there is a freedom that is beyond any mind’s explanation that comes when your jealousy and fear of the loss of love are no longer your masters. Imagine what it is to be able to love someone completely without any fear. Not because you placed little safety rules between you, or because you have made up nice beliefs about the other, but simply because you are no longer afraid!

Can you imagine the freedom of this place?

You will only reach this place if you allow all the fear, jealousy, rage and pain. These come when you allow what is real. Your lover may be with another. Then you feel all, then you return to the core where the storm can no longer reach or ever did.

05 May 2008

Virtual Inner Temple

A few of us have wanted a "private" (to students and teachers) area of the website, where we can discuss Tantric practices and sexual techniques that we'd rather not publish openly. Not that we're prudish, just that we like to be a bit culturally sensitive, so we do a little self-censorship.

This websites exists to let seekers with an interest in Tantra can find us. It's of course unavoidable that 98% of people can therefore find us in web searches and such, so there's a few things we do to reduce judgemental or purient-interest visitors. This is why there's not much in the way of sexy pictures, or descriptions of advanced sexual techniques at tantraschool.co.za.

On a practical level too, if we turn up in google searches for things titillating, our little website hosting facility will be quite overwhelmed and it's costs would increase significantly. Also, a subscriber-only area of the site could help with our ongoing web hosting costs, which are likely to increase now that we have some decent video and audio recording kit (and good film technicians) in the school.

What's delayed things was having something of value to offer to our first subscribers. Sure, if there's a lot of subscribers, discussion boards, chat rooms, contact searches and other nice things become possible, but what to offer the first in, especially as there's really no guarantee that enough interested people will subscribe to make the social aspect worthwhile one day?

Now that we've made a start on publishing, a solution presents itself. We're on the point of releasing our first 3 CD's so we have something of value to offer. Hopefully a worthwhile incentive.

To begin then, the subscriber-only "members" area of the site will have these 3 CD's available for download. As we do more recordings on various topics around Tantra, they'll be free to download in the members area just a bit before they are reproduced, and available for sale on the site.

Anything we publish (eg. DVD's) that's just plain impractical to make available for download, we'll make the packaged discs available to members at a hefty discount.

There's some writing in the school which can be published in the members area. Students and teachers of the school occasionally write of some experience, and find that, because of the intimacy of the piece, or people it unavoidably identifies they've had to keep it to themselves.

So, soon, we'll have worked out what we think is fair to charge, how to receive payments and such things, but soon, very soon, come, beloveds, and join the Virtual Inner Temple.

19 February 2008

Dancing

I have danced at the fires of Rumi

I have made love in tents the colour of gold on the periphery of the great pyramids

I have celebrated in the ancient temples of Tantra

I have sacrificed to the old gods

And now….

Upon my Path where dancing dancers

I find this Thing

I see it on the horizon in the distance

It draws me closer ... a seduction … calling … promising

I beckon the Beloved, “ Come, let’s explore this Thing. It sings. Oh, it promises juice and joy and love and celebration. Bliss, it oaths, are just around its corners. Come Beloved!”

We draw closer

The Beloved, my Self and the Thing closer promising seducing

Bliss threatening in every breath

Then …

The Thing speaks of Payment

You can only love one other; you must compromise and negotiate a position of meeting; you will re-negotiate this often; the best way to hold the love is by grabbing fiercely and refusing any joy unless it is with each other; you must fight or even destroy anyone who threatens this position; you must strive to better your position; you must defend your position and separate from others so as not to allow for invasion; your level of fear and holding demonstrates devotion and honour; this devotion and honour demonstrates love; the depth that you are willing to demonstrate will lead you to the reward of true happiness

The Beloved and my Self believe the promises of the Thing

The Thing becomes our interaction. We strive to meet the Payments. After each Payment is met some new Payment is demanded.

We forget our dancing that was before the Thing.

We know only the Thing. Have we met the payments? Are we any closer to the final promise?

We put all our work and energy and fight into the Thing

A rage begins, hating begins .. for we are no closer to the final promise and yet there is so much work

It must be the fault of the other … of the Beloved

The Beloved, who I can no longer see

Only the Thing remains – It has become All

The Beloved gone

The dancing gone

The Thing remains

The yearning remains

The Beloved no more

The Thing still insisting … perhaps if I work harder … perhaps if I find another … a better partner who is more able to meet Payments

Many Things now appear on my Path

They have some different shapes and sounds and colours and demand of Payments

Still, never does any one Thing deliver the final promise

The Beloved is gone

A great Suffering fills me

I am weary of Things and I avoid them

I am alone and a deep pain embraces the edges of my resentful walking

I have thoughts of leaving the Path

Perhaps I can sell copiers and have holidays at Club Med

Perhaps the dancing was a dream and only my failure is real

Still the fierce yearning holds me to the Path

At times I hear a faint singing

The song of the Beloved…

I know I will not leave the Path

Then one day, deep inside the weariness, I see him in the distance

He is waving at me

He is pointing the way to me

The pointing leads to the edge of a cliff

I must jump

His eyes insist

Only my death lies at the end of this leap

I look back from where I came

There is nothing

I look into the eyes of the Beloved

I jump

And fall into love




After many sleeps, he explains

The Thing became so big that we both lost ourselves in it and no longer could see the other

I learnt the way of the Thing and realised there was no way over under or around

I must go through

This was the only way and the shortest way

I met much that I wished to turn away from

I knew if I turned back I would never find the way out of lost

In this moment I found the choice less choice

I met rage, pain, jealousy, loneliness, grabbing, running, refusing to move, running in all the wrong directions, seeing the way and not allowing myself to see.

I continued through

Darkness covered the way

Terror a signpost to where I must go next

Until I too met the cliff

And jumped



I waited for you

Watched you

Guided you in dreams and signs I was able to leave on your trail

But only you could find your way through the Thing

For the trick of the Thing, if I return into it, I will be lost again and be of no use to you at all



Does it have a name, the Thing?

Yes … Relationship



We walked away

We did not look back

For dancing dancers

Always

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08 February 2008

Reflections on Tantra from my experience in India

This blog is a reflection on my experience of a month long visit to India from which I have just returned, and the ways in which it has been an exploration of Tantric principles for me.

Non-duality

A central tenet of Tantra as a path of awareness is that all duality is illusion. Only when the dualities in our consciousness get integrated or dissolved can we see and experience reality for what it really is – without filters. I have found India a magnificent challenge in this regard. Here the sacred and the profane mingle with apparently no contradiction.
  • Even the poorest in India have a primary focus on spiritual practice. In places there are more stalls with offerings to deities than there are food stalls, and I got the distinct impression that spending is balanced that way too. In these stalls with offerings, there are lovely flower bouquets, conch shells that make the sound of the god Shiva when blown, colourful sweets for the gods, tiny plates with rice and bananas and other foods, prayer beads of all shapes and colours, incense, and large trays of colourful powders for giving and receiving blessings on the brow.
  • Holy cow (shit): In India, the cow is Nandi, the animal of the great god Shiva. Cows are therefore sacred. They are also the source of milk, a primary food for many, and dung, which is used as fuel. Cows are everywhere, in the middle of India’s busiest roads, in between food stalls, in homes. They live off piles of waste that you can find anywhere, even around the most sacred living temples of India like the Jagannath temple that I visited.
  • Light and dark: India has both dark and light deities. Examples of the dark are Chamunga, a skeleton goddess who takes sacrifice as offering, and Kali, who carries a garland of skulls around her neck.
  • Sensory dualities: The sensory contrasts in India are overwhelming. Take smell. Air pollution in India is so intense that even locals put on gas masks if they get on to the road. Add to this the smell of waste collecting everywhere. And then in contrast, the finest and most exquisite jasmine oil and the finest sandalwood incense drifting through the midst of all this… Taste is another one. India is a feast of flavours – spicy green coriander sauce, vegetables cooked in 1000 spices, fish humming with the robust energy of the sea. But one needs to taste very carefully, because the food can so easily be off, and India’s stomach bugs are fierce demons.
  • The sacred and the sexual: The temple stone carvings depict an Indian consciousness that sees no divide between the sacred and the sexual. There is a seamless flow from representations of gods and Buddhas in meditation to nymphs, couples, threesomes and five-somes (human and non-human) in an abundance of erotic poses. In Tantric temples, where thousands of people still workshop daily, the sacred center almost invariably contains a lingham (stone carving of a phallus) resting in a yoni (a container with water shaped to symbolize the vagina).

Revering the Feminine Divine

  • India has a long and beautiful history of revering the feminine. Shaktism, for instance, is a large movement in India that is focused on devotion to Shakti, the feminine principle (I like this of course).
  • Opinions vary of whether devotion to the feminine declined or grew over the centuries. In support of the latter idea, there are post-matriarchal temple images such as the 7 Matrikas and 64 Dakinis. The 7 Matrikas are 7 images of the Goddess as Mother. They are magnificent, and formed a central pillar of Tantric practice in some temples. The 64 Dakinis are an elaboration of the Matrikas, and they are depictions of the Feminine Divine in both her Light and Dark side. These images, also, are magnificent and awe inspiring.
  • The many female erotic figures on Tantric temple walls have fascinating mythological connections. They are sometimes defined as apsarases, nymphs who are regarded as minor divinities who evoke, tempt and enchant with their erotic postures and movements. They protect mortal beings, but they also tempt ascetics away from their solitary practice. They love playing in water and are associated with all things natural. Sometimes these female erotic figures are called devadasis; servants of god. The devadasis were never married to the gods; rather, they served as their female partners in the sensuous enjoyment of the gods. Devadasis are dancers per excellence. It is said that they were dancing in the temples before the gods even arrived.
  • People often talk of India as Mother India, and if you ever visit, you will experience why. She welcomes all people and takes care of you in the most peculiar way. And also in her – in India – there is a pervading sense of the cosmos as mother, as home to us all.

Being present in the now/ loving what is
  • India has given me excellent opportunity to practice being present in the moment, regardless of that that feels (or smells) like. India is a spiritual/meditative culture, but with very little concern for creating favourable environmental conditions. Inner silence in India happens in the presence of constant sound – loud conversations any time of the night or day, and no matter whether you stay in a luxury hotel or in a slum; wedding brass bands and fire crackers every day, the call of the Imam at 6 am, chanting over loud speakers from 7am, the blasting and roaring of bikes and rikshaws hooting and revving; trains blowing hauntingly echoing trumpets sounds; flushing toilets, loud spitting and gargling… it’s all there to meet you.

Serenity and neediness
  • India has both. Silent women draped in breathtaking colours carry the still presence of dedication to their households as a meditative practice. Sometimes, unexpectedly, I was met by soft hands that hold compassion and timeless presence. India’s infinite tolerance for whatever new force comes along adds to her serenity. India’s simplicity touched me with a delightful serenity too. In a country where so many millions around you are so obviously living on the bread line, I ate only when I was hungry, and became quite grateful for a metal bucket of hot water to wash with.
  • In contrast with its serenity, India is awash with the childlike neediness of people focused on the game of survival. This means staying on your toes all the time not do be done in with the price of anything, while being told long stories about the seller’s little children back home who depend on this sale. “Madam! Madam!” they call, and hands reach out pleadingly. Sometimes this was exasperating for me – lying on a bed in the middle of an Ayurvedic massage while the practitioner is trying to convince me to buy him a bicycle – and sometimes just plain funny – a priest getting almost aggressive with me when I refuse to come with him, until he explains the reason for his urgency (“Madam, madam – Pollock! Pollock!) India is as cricket mad as South Africa, and the players are revered much like gods.

The dance of spirit and body

India’s mythology and culture has a rich understanding of the dance between spirit and body. Dance in Indian traditional culture is an exploration of the divine. It is fascinating to see how Bollywood dancing has taken on this mechanism into an exploration of new ‘gods’ that we in the West are more familiar with (the idealized lover/fame/money being some of these gods).

There is deep reverence for Shakti as the kinetic (movement) force of existence, alongside the powerful stillness of Shiva, her partner. Shakti is awareness in the ever-changing moving form – which implies that meditation happens not only in silent sitting away from the world (the practice of Shiva) but in the continuing rolling of the wheel of life. In participating in the dance, while watching it with awareness.

I have found in India so many beautiful images of the dancing divine:
  • Lord Nataraj, the many-armed dancing Shiva standing gracefully on one leg, adorns many Tantric temples
  • The devadasi’s and their modern counterparts in Indian classical dance (particularly in Odissi dancing) follow an intense discipline in elaborate handwork, footwork, body sculpting, control over facial muscles that results in exquisite elaboration on the erotic figures on the temple walls.
  • The gotipua dancers of India are young dancing boys from villages dressed up as girls and performing dances similar to those of the devadasi, but outside the temple walls. Their dances are highly acrobatic and angular. I visited dance routs, an exciting dance company that is training these young boys, when they grow too old to be traditional gotipuas, to become magnificent male dancers in their own right
  • From the Muslim mystical tradition comes sufi whirling, which for me was one of the most ecstatic experiences of the whole journey.
  • Dance as celebration and devotion happens everywhere in India – in ashrams, through wedding bands on the streets, through the many, many religious festivals of India, through trance and house and any variation of Indo-European mix of music you may be looking for on the beaches of Goa.

The inner guru

  • India is a land of guru’s. In its ancient wisdom, India has known for many thousands of years that seekers need guidance along the way. In my journey in India this year, I met stated and unstated gurus and priests with profound wisdom and compassion, and many that are blatantly corrupt.
  • The latter I see as a gift, for it helps us to discard with the idea of the guru as somewhere celestial and beyond. It is said that the Buddha of our time would be Matreya, Buddha as the friend. A friend is someone who walks alongside you, helping you to access your own wisdom, and to follow your unique dharma.
  • I have such gratitude for my teacher Rahasya. He guides me with the lightest of touches and with ever-mirthful friendship. He helps me never to take life too seriously, and especially not him. He has developed a unique way of using modern iconography and experience to evoke authentically the wisdom of Tantra in each individual who arrives at the school.
  • And beyond that, the message is abundantly clear: the truth is not fully realized until I deeply accept that the guru is inside.
Tantric practice in India today

India is one of the main centers from which Tantra developed over the centuries. One aim of my journey there was to go experience for myself some of the history and current practice of Tantra in India. Here are some of my observations, filtered through my own experience and limited time in India.

The ancient mystical roots of Tantra in India as a path of totality have become obscured in adaptations and imitations of the initial intent. This had much to do with political happenings, as I shall further explain.
  1. In the 7th to 9th century, Tantra became popular practice with the masses, with the result that Hindu and Buddhist leaders began vying for ownership of the practices.
  2. Tantric temples and practices have traditionally been financially supported by the ruling king. When Muslim rulers took over, this support ended. The devadasi, temple priestesses and dancers that played a central role in Tantric temple practice, now had to seek patronage outside the temple to survive.
  3. On this followed British colonial rule. Because the devadasi now relied on patronage outside the temples, the British regarded the them as prostitutes and outlawed them in the early 20th century. This was the end of a function that had formally secured the continuity of Tantric practice in India. Some devadasi continued their practice underground, but the last of them are ending their years now.
  4. With Indian Independence, the Indian state reinvented the dances of the devadasi but now purely as a showcase of Indian culture. The result was Odissi dancing, a highly complex and beautiful dance form. For some artists and practitioners, the dance is still a spiritual practice of centering and devotion, but it has been cleaned of overtly sexual content. Many of the postures in Odissi dancing are based on the poses of the nymphs in erotic sculptures, but the game of seduction in the dance is always only to show devotion to the masculine divine (Krishna) the way that a wife (Radha – Krishna’s consort) is devoted to her husband.
  5. India has taken on British morality in its reinterpretation of Tantric traditions. Thus I find official guides in my tours of the Tantric temples telling me things such as that the erotic sculptures on the walls were ways in which the old masters wanted to warn people of the dangers of free sexuality. And that a woman touching herself is a depiction of feminine madness.
  6. It was fascinating to follow the process through which guides and priests interpreted the images on ancient Tantric temples. Apart from the influence of contemporary Indian morality (that sees all erotic images as “sexy” or just classifies them as “Karma Sutra” – whatever that means), the processes that guides follow to give meaning to what they see are as wide and diverse as the ocean. One guide that happened to be particularly useful told me, upon my inquiry, that he had received most of his understanding of the temples (of which he was the main priest) through books that an Italian academic had introduced him to!
  7. Sexual regulation in India is further impacting on modern India’s relationship with Tantra. The system of arrange marriages has left men in India with intense curiosity about all things sexual, and an almost naïve groping for opportunities. This makes it hard work to travel on your own as a woman in India.
  8. Tantra yoga is an interpretation of Tantra that is active today. This concerns disciplines of body and mind such as:
  • Yoga asanas or postures
  • Hand mudras or finger positions that create certain states of awareness
  • Yantras or geometric shapes that focus awareness
  • Mantras and chants using seed sounds and Sanskrit phrases to create a meditative state of mind.
  • All these practices can be very useful, and have been for me on my path. But if they become the path – if the disciplines become the aim – they become an obstacle.
9. Left hand path cults: From speaking to Indians, I gather that the current popular understanding of Tantra in India is that it is a cult practice aimed at manipulating power. There are cults that use magical rites involving the breaking of taboos and performing magical rites to develop ‘supernatural’ powers and to get land and patronage. This approach to Tantra has become known as the left hand path of Tantra – an approach focused on the ‘dark’ as much as the ‘light’. As with any field of power, Tantra lends itself to abuse and misinterpretation. Ironically, these cults are not that far from the truth. Moving through duality does require a willingness to bring awareness into the dark as much as into the light. However, if the aim becomes personal or tribal power and gain, that will be the limits of its potential for awareness.

10. Imitating the enlightened condition: Seekers in India have seen Tantric masters portray certain traits, such as that they do not get aroused (i.e. do not get an erection) when seeing anything erotic. Ignoring the fact that this response is a result of total integration (the master has fully lived his desires and his fears in this arena, and is thus completely neutral), the followers have devised complex rites of imitation. These include hanging a brick on the lingham (penis) to break the joints and to ensure that the lingham cannot get erect again. Such austerity practices continue today in the Shiva tradition. This may seem ludicrous for us as westerners, but watch closely for the many ways in which we do the same

10. Neo-Tantra: I visited the Ashram of Osho, one of the Tantra teachers of the last century. His interpretation of Tantra, influenced by a wide range of Western and Eastern traditions, is called Neo-Tantra. While he left his body more than a decade ago, his Ashram is now the largest of its kind in the world. It is expensive and highly regulated. Some of Osho’s techniques of awareness that pervade the daily active meditations are:
  • Celebration: Osho created the figure of Zorba the Buddha – the person who can be totally immersed in meditation while being totally immersed in the pleasure of life. In the centre of the Ashram is a beautiful swimming pool with lazy chairs, and dancing happens continuously in a most celebratory way on large marble platforms under trees.
  • Totality of experience: The active meditations are designed to get you totally in the moment. When you are fully immersed in experience, the mind stops, and meditation can begin. And example is whirling. I did an hour of whirling meditation at the Ashram – spinning around my own axis for that amount of time, surrendering to the bliss of it – I melted into all that is, and my heart blew wide open.
  • Surprise and shock: Osho uses Zen methods of unexpected shocks, such as the loud ringing of a gong in the middle of silence, to bring your mind instantly into the moment. Many Zen students have woken up just from being overwhelmed such shocks!
  • I did a workshop on the Book of Secrets, Osho’s interpretation of an ancient Tantric text that describes 112 key meditation practices. This was an exquisite experience, and deeply fulfilling for me. The basic content was the practice of various meditations with a partner. There can be few things more blissful than the state of meditation shared intimately with another, through breath, through touch, through presence in the senses.

Conclusions

I am most grateful to Mother India for the experiences she has taken me through – profound journeys physically, emotionally and spiritually. I have discovered more of the depth and range of experience that is possible for a human being. I have found new edges, sat in new fires, and had moments of ecstasy, rapture and boundless immersion into the moment.

India as a grandmother of the Tantra tradition offers symbols, wisdom and pathways like pearls that have washed up on the beach. But we have to string them ourselves – there is no existing necklace. This moment at the end of what in India is known as the Kali Yuga (age of darkness where materialism would get strong) asks of us to be the creators – the authentic creators – of our own pathways of awareness. And for those who are involved in Tantra like myself, it asks of me to trust my own impulse and insight, and to keep forging a new creation out of the old.

The inspiration of Tantra for me is clear: it is a path of totality, a fast path of awakening. It works so strongly because it is an immersion in what is, denying or suppressing nothing, neither fears nor desires – exploring them fully – contemplating and adoring them like the sculptors did with their erotic carvings on the temple walls. In so doing, we get intimately acquainted with the Leela, the play of illusion of this world – we get to see reality for what it is – to celebrate it – and to live the truth of who we are: one with the oceans of existence.

08 January 2008

Warped Passages

I’ve long been interested in contemporary and recent physics, part of my curiosity about how existence does it’s thing.

I read a book of Heisenberg’s which left me uncertain but principled. Various commentators and elucidators of Einstein made the uncertainty and the principles relative (this does not mean they had anything to do with my cousin). String Theory lost me in a strange entanglement, and M-theory seemed to require more branes.

Warped Passages was far better. Lisa Randall's overview of the last 100 years' research and the major features of the Standard Model is the clearest, most accessible writing I've found on the subject. Of course, all reviewers are likely to say that, to give the impression that they understand this stuff.

Of course, "stuff" is what it's all about, or more accurately, what and how is the space in which stuff occurs formed, and the possibility that the structure of space itself gives rise to the particles of the Standard Model. Lisa describes her own experience as a "model builder", suggesting ways things might be, how dimensions may be arranged in ways that would be consistent with what's observed in high energy experiments.

Some aspects of these models have implications for experiments using the Large Hadron Collider, the start of which has been delayed. Some aspects of these models of the nature of dimensions will be tested.

What I'm most grateful for, and what made this book, for me, significantly superior to anything else I've read on the topic, is Lisa Randall's honesty.

Most of what I've read presents information about the Standard Model, String Theory and other scientific theories as if theories are "facts" and the elegant and frightening mathematics involved is something accurate, nice solid numbers that agree with what's measurable.

There's a 13-digit fudge required for the Standard Model to work. Theories of 11 dimensions have to roll dimensions up or warp them so as to explain their apparent absence in the 3D world of our regular experience. The accuracy with which we can measure the very very small is, at a certain size, very limited indeed. Projected experiments are likely to support some models (Lisa's personal speciality is Model Building) and refute, or require revision of others. There's also not necessarily any absolute certainty about what exactly "dimensions" are, or "where" they are when there's more of them than we're familiar with.

Now, this is a Tantrika's blog article, not a physics book review, and I'm coming to (hopefully) some sort of useful point. From here on in, I'll mix my (mis)understandings of Ms Randall's ideas with a few of my own and will probably commit other intellectual crimes as well.

The more we know, the more we realise there may be more to know. Sure, Einstein's version of how space, time and gravity work is fundamentally different from Newton's. They also apply, and both give accurate predictions of real , measureable consequences for the range of regular human experience. Newton's mathematical analogy is a good enough fit to "what is" that it can calculate all necessary energies involved in getting to the moon. Einstein's approach, however, is required for the accuracy of GPS. String theory, and Lisa Randall's models of branes are analogies which may apply to the extreme energies of coming experiments.

I'm suggesting that no theories or models of the nature of what we call "reality" are, or ever will be "factual". Not that they are lies, just that they are always going to be analogies, descriptions that apply (can be tested) to various scenarios and scales.

An example from alchemy:
Mixing the essence of speed (the dried sweat of a horse) with an element typical of hell (brimstone) and the essence of fire (chimney soot) makes a fast burning powder, which explodes violently if strongly contained. This description of gunpowder manufacture works fine, is understandable, and was once therefore, useful.

A chemist 100 years back would have used a different analogy, one of oxygen being freed from the potassium nitrate (horse sweat) and reacting violently with the sulphur (brimstone) and carbon (soot). The chemist's analogy, or story of how things seem to work, would likely be more useful, particularly when extending the idea to predict other reactions, or determining the ideal proportions for the most powerful reaction, or at least a tight range within which to experiment.

This investigation into reality, stuff, substance – that which stands beneath, and gives rise to the universe of phenomena that we perceive – is a very old one, and has been the subject of much human thought and investigation for at least as long as there have been humans on this planet.

The investigatory tools, approaches, starting premises and paradigms of Hindu, Christian, Buddhist, Sufi, Jain, Baul and other mystics have been very different from those used by modern physicsts, but their analogies, their stories of how existence works, are often applicable to experience.

There's been historic crossover between these apparently unconnected disciplines, Science and Mysticism-Philosophy. The genius Nikola Tesla, who had no peers qualified to review his work, and no language which adequately expressed his understanding – even to himself – found useful language in the Hindu Vedas, which contain, along with "spiritual" descriptions of the world, accurate instructions for making electric batteries.

More recently, Gary Zukav more than hinted at a possible convergence of ancient Eastern and modern Western ideas on the nature of reality. There's also been the (bad science, worse mysticism) "What the Bleep" movie, which has been surprisingly helpful to many people, giving them new "stories of how it is" to try out, or just freeing them from the righteousness of the rigid world-view they'd been educated into.

My opinion is that these areas of understanding, seeker and scientist, are related by the fact that both are, in essence, concerned with the search for Truth.

Seekers have historically used their own awareness, their own consciousness as their laboratory, and have always therefore been intimately, subjectively involved in the processes they've studied. There's a definite awareness that the practices of the path change the practitioner's consciousness. Truth can be hinted at, can be revealed, can be accepted (in the sense of a deep and total submission) and can be experienced. It can't, in any direct way, at least, be usefully described.

Scientists have been concerned to be remote, of no influence on the "reality" they study. Their laboratories have been arranged and equipped to see what happens objectively, without any interference from or dependence on the consciousness or awareness of the observer. Truth is known in the form of theories, which are regarded as "fact" until "disproved" and replaced by peer reviewed and approved new theory, which is then "fact".

Interestingly, from such an apparently different approach, scientists are now saying similar things to the mystics. Things are never absolute. They depend (on large scales) on the relative situations of things, and (on very small scales) on the energy and vibratory frequency, and what one chooses to observe it as being.

We're getting pretty close to Bill Hicks' Positive LSD story: "Today, a young man on acid, realised that all matter is merely energy condensed to a slow vibration. That we are all one consciousness experiencing itself subjectively, there is no such thing as death, life is only a dream, and we are the imagination of ourselves... here's Tom with the weather."

When the Large Hadron Collider does it's thing, existence may retain an inscrutability, or may reveal some startling surprises. Matter and energy may be revealed as an appearance, due to dimensionality itself, with no substance worthy of the name. What I'd call Maya. Super-symmetry, I'd call Advaita.

My view, from my own absolutely subjective experience is that there is something to this idea of additional dimensions. I believe too that science is going to have to in some way include consciousness in it's models. Osho took a scientific approach to meditation and the "problems" of the human condition. The spiritual world was thereby revitalised. The new science is looking rather mystical lately, with elegant models of warped multi-dimensional branes that are mathematically described by, yet can't be imagined by their authors.

When it comes to this game of suggesting and testing theories, analogies, stories-of-how-it-is, the mystics, philosophers, shamans and gurus have far more experience than scientists. It's nice to see science approaching some of our key realisations:

  • The ultimate Truth is unknowable to mind, on account of it's very nature. This is expressed in the saying "Those who know speak not of it, and those that speak of it do not know". From a teacher's perspective, this is a bit "Fucked if you do, fucked if you don't.", but no matter. The value of this idea is that no matter how much you may enjoy the knowledge, the stories of how things work, no matter how much understanding you have of some things, how deeply held your wishing (be-lief), how deep your devotion to your notion of the divine, or how vivid and lucid your dreams and visions are... none of these things is, or even really hints at Ultimate Truth (in Physicist language: The True TOE)
  • Nonetheless, there are many things that help in the search. Many obstacles to knowing which can be removed, or at least loosened if the right hints and suggestions are given. In recognising that any theory is just an analogy, a story which fits existence's appearance over a limited range, one can drop the concern that theories should agree in all cases, at all scales. They won't. The story of the Higgs' Bosun in Warped Passages really delighted me. Such inventiveness! A theory which mathematically describes the transition from the domain of one theory (of the extremely small) to the domain of another (of the far tinier).
  • The most valuable help one has on the path is one's own faith and trust. Faith is an acceptance of truth as it reveals, not an insistence on a point of view, or belief (wish). Trust as an acceptance of what is, past one's anger, through the underlying fear, beneath the denial of what's happened. The willingness to experience this moment as it is, unclouded by how it "should be" and what it "means for the future". For scientists, this means being willing to countenance Fortean data, and to accept that theories aren't descriptions of "how it is". Also, they aren't political positions requiring a purging of every little datum that disagrees.


There may be a clue in the characteristic shape of the human brain. The image below is the result of fancy software drawing a sphere in four dimensions, with a moderate adjustment to one of the dimensional parameters and displaying the result as a 3-dimensional surface. OK, that's just jargon, but there's something mathematical, fractal and dimensional to it...




Good luck, Beloved Physicsts, and when you've managed to include consciousness, the next step will be to work on the Great Truth .. Love!

04 December 2007

Does Tantra require guided lessons by a third party, or can a couple learn through reading , and maybe dvd’s?

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A recent question, not answered in our FAQ:

Does Tantra require guided lessons by a third party, or can a couple learn through reading , and maybe dvd’s?

To answer the second part first: There’s for sure a lot to be learned throuh reading and DVD’s. Healthy, experimental, devotional and even meditative sexuality can be read about, techniques attempted and so on. Intellectual curiosity can maybe be satisfied and a lot of useful awareness can be gained. A couple that each have an interest in sacred, conscious or even just great sexuality can learn much and gain some very useful hints along the way from the literature, video and web resources these days.

Now back to the beginning .. “Does Tantra require guided lessons by a third party“

In the sense that some technique can be acquired, some understanding can be had .. no, not necessarily. That said, even at this level of interest, just dabbling, any guidance is definitely useful.

For those (couples and individuals) that are intent on Tantra as a path, that feel a need for a spirituality that is inclusive of their sexuality, contact with a teacher or teachers is pretty much indispensable. In my own experience, in a long marriage, there was a genuine desire, and significant intent to be or become each others’ teacher, each other’s support and fellow student. I think we did remarkably well with this, but I believe that the teachers we encountered taking groups, workshops and such were essential to us. There’s things that can be communicated in person that no amount of words or pictures can convey and a teacher can often point out blind spots, areas of unconscious avoidance. A teacher can also kick ass when necessary.

At a level of commitment to Tantra as a path, a teacher or fortuitous sequence of teachers becomes pretty much mandatory, essential and almost unavoidable. The old saying “When the student is ready, the master appears.” applies. What’s called synchronicity seems to come into play.

“Working” with a teacher can involve all sorts of things: Meditations, activities, suggestions in key areas of life and so on.

The most important aspect, with Tantra, and likely with other paths too is the teacher being a catalyst for what needs to happen in you. When you’re close to a teacher that’s appropriate for you, things in you that have been waiting to happen – just spontaneously start happening.

07 November 2007

Participants' Reflections on the October Tantric Awareness Retreat

..

“I'm battling to find words to describe (my experience of the retreat). It certainly was one of the most amazing experiences I've had in a long time. The main reason is I broke through so many of my limiting beliefs. I feel as a result so liberated… The tenderness, gentleness, acceptance, openness and purity of our sharing made it so exquisite and safe for me to explore territories I never knew existed. As a result I feel I have a more intimate connection to the Divine and my heart has opened to loving at greater depths.”


“My mind has been opened to new possibilities. I was so blissfully blessed, and wish to continue on this journey with Tantra.”


“It was a divine and blissful sharing of simple love energy and I’m hugely grateful for the journey of the weekend and for every individual who was there that contributed in many and varied ways to make it what it was. It was a deliciously blissful time and I hope to see you all again on the next one!”


“I can’t tell you how wonderful, blissful and full of energy I feel (after the retreat). I can’t remember when last I felt like this. I am so happy without blockages, I feel like a butterfly in the air. There is a sensation on my skin… it feels like I can move mountains.”


On making love after the retreat: “(I found myself) making love slowly and just ‘allowing’ sensation and sensuality to gradually saturate my body. Once saturated; waves and ripples of blissful lightness-energy moving throughout my entire body; Smaller ripples riding upon bigger waves; Bigger waves being interspersed with calm blissful silence, then resuming again and again; going on an on; never seems to exhaust itself or getting tired of blessing me; making me giggle like a little girl and laugh like a boy riding the rollercoaster for the first time.”


29 October 2007

Scurrying up the Mountain

On final analysis, in the turning the head back, the path suddenly looks easy and simple. Like the spot where I thought was a massive cliff overhanging where I gripped with my nails fearing for my very existence was only a small boulder. I simply had to walk up and over. Perhaps I am a little high now and lack appropriate memory, seriousness and fair judgement. Perhaps I am drunk on the beauty and all that came before can only seem small in comparison. It does not feel like an end more like a beginning. And I cannot claim what many have called awakening. I am simply in a place where I can see long distances and the vision isn’t easily interrupted.

I also know that had someone attempted to explain, as many did, this simplicity and ease I would not have and did not comprehend. I remember the agonies were some of the most beautiful part of the journey. At other places I am rolling on the floor inside my belly, as I recall myself clinging to the small boulder with the terror that this was my ultimate death.

And it has been said many times and as simply as it can be said. That what is seen external to the self is the mirror. That all the anger and the conflict and the wars and the pain and the separation are your inner space. That much of the self has been denied. There is an internal war of the many aspects attempting to regain territory with any means possible. An example of this may be when you are approaching something of juice perhaps a new lover and a thought moves through as quick as the wind spirits move through the trees. You cannot tell the direction from whence it came. And it says nay not you, you don’t have this or that and you feel yourself become small and contracted against the moment. And in that space a repressed aspect has had a victory and gained more ground. The conflict continues as you attempt to take that ground back.

It never occurs to one to perhaps make friends and recall the many aspects we refuse. It does not occur to you because as you look in the places where you have dumped these aspects you see only darkness, and badness and what some may even call evil kadevil. You see all the things that if you ever called them back no one would ever talk to you ever again ever ever. And so you rush towards the light, the light of what you know, and stay busy in what you know, and insist on it, and fight for it, and talk of beauty and light and goodness, all the while avoiding these places that hold the mystery the key to your being.

Until one day after the many journeys down the light paths, you turn forward, and say perhaps I forgot something in the places of darkness. Something vital, something that one must have to travel into the journey. And so you gather your courage and your candle, which immediately blows out as you enter and you stumble and crack against some edge that makes you bleed. Finally there is no turning back; perhaps you meet your death in these dark places; perhaps you remain forever lost wondering in the darkness but still you cannot go back.

In these places of darkness you meet the refused aspects and they have many guises. Often they are not pretty at first glance as you meet your long lost sexuality, your denied madness, your suppressed rage, your overlooked pain and the goddess so many eons refused. And I will not talk here how this place may appear, as this is your journey and cannot be shared much less repeated.

However, I can say that on the other side of through you will meet wholeness and inside of that the clamouring voices fall into silence that is not a hearing but a being. And you may look with accusation at this new space but it will simply meet your accusation with a raised eyebrow; I have been here all along.

Namaste
Shima

17 June 2007

Tantric Awareness Retreat - Impressions









A while back, Shakti and I did a workshop thing, our first residential weekend experience, with a gorgeous, brave, sincere and lively group of seekers.

We talk about "healing" in our work. This can lead some to think we're "treating" problematic conditions of mind/body/spirit, that we work with people who are "sick" to help make them well. We use this word because it's the closest our culture has to describe what we do. The older the meaning taken, the more to the origins of this word one goes, the more truthful it becomes as an expression of this school's work.

Healing: To make Whole. Not that something's unwholesome! Just that we have many aspects to what we call our mind, our ego. To a large extent, the work of Tantra is to support the integration of these divided minds.

So no one on this retreat was sick, or being treated. Sure, some got in touch with depths they didn't know they had, some got more aware of the truth, the reality of their relationships, some explored experiences that they had wanted, but repressed, and some found the strength, the capacity to support others in this work.

I drew no line, created no artificial separation of the space we met in from what's called the "real" world. We did not retreat into the "other worldly" to escape the "worldly". Yes, we were in the middle of a forest, in a beautiful meditation retreat, where cellphones don't work too well, and everyone had taken some time off from their regular routine. There's nothing "other worldly" about a couple of days away from the hubbub of life, somewhere beautiful, in nature.

There was no suggestion that people "open themselves" or stretch their willingness on account of this being a "special" place or time, no agreements of confidentiality, no keeping of secrets about the ways in which we work, what "processes" we use. This is not to say that I'm against the participants respecting each other's privacy. These were real people that we shared something real with, in the real world, and it's real to respect that in a real way!

Working with Shakti on this was a special experience indeed. Her insight, her skill with using dance and movement, allowing seekers to experience what can't be taught in words, her loving availability to work with what's required for awareness, however it looks, and her energy and skill in putting the whole logistical mission of the thing together.

My take on the experience was "I've never taken a Tantra, or any kind of group like that, anywhere along my path .. but I'd have liked to!", so, as the NLP guys say, it worked for me.

There was much appreciation expressed all round. My thanks is to all who came and played a bit of the game of life with me. In varying degrees for all of us there was fun, there was pain, there was delight, there was suffering, but most of all there was awareness and love worth calling Love. May your flowering continue...

Planning for a return to the forest is happening. Looks like October 2007 will be right. Watch the events page for it's announcement.

01 April 2007

Maitreya: The new Guru game.

2500ish years ago, it's said Buddha predicted the next world teacher. Maitreya is said to be the name, and many look for a particular fellow to fulfill the role. There's never been a shortage of volunteers.

My take on this is that the name more describes a mode of teaching, it indicates the approach of teachers, the way of spiritual teaching 2500 years after Gautama. That he was describing a characteristic of the enlightened teacher in the future, a considerable contrast indeed to the autocratic way he, Jesus, Mohamed, Mahavira, Nanuk had to do things, even up to the days of George Gurdjieff. Maitreya means "gentle and friendly".

If there has to be "one" Maitreya, my vote's for Osho. His teaching made the transition from the authoritarian way to the gentle, friendly way. As he said, there was always something basically undignified, insulting in the Master–Disciple relationship. He really made the transition and modeled a new way of spiritual learning in the world.

I love the new "Maitreya" way. It's a delight to not have to send the beloved sannyasin to the burning ghats for three months to gain an awareness that for sure, the body will die. I just know they have or will soon be having an experience that provides that awareness. This and other archetypal steps of the path used to appear to be a matter of the Guru's control, his orders. I never have to order anything. Just, I sometimes hint for a beloved to be ready for something coming, or indicate the "old school" equivalent for what they are currently going through.

Probably the main reason I'm necessary to the path of those who work/play with me is that I can suggest practice and approach that's currently appropriate. There's a huge spiritual practice database now in the world, and teachings designed to be useful at various specific levels of awareness have gotten badly mixed up. Things that were once "inner circle secrets" for adepts only are now common knowledge among beginners and initiates. They need to be encouraged to back off a little and approach those "higher" truths appropriately. With adepts, that is advanced students, because they heard those "secrets" long ago when it was not yet appropriate to their path, it's just the other way around. They need extra encouragement to absorb those teachings at the appropriate time, when they really are ready. The "been there done that" attitude has to accommodate that maybe it wasn't appropriate then, but it's worth seeing if it's appropriate now.

Zsa Zen and Vipassana silent siting meditations are an example of this. If they are taught forcibly to a busy mind, and with a busy mind there, they can only be forced, they are at best a sedative and at worst, they create a physical and attitudinal rigidity. Taught in their appropriate timing, when other techniques have cleared the bulk of the mind-noise, silent sitting is not at all forced. One likes it then, as in the sentence "I like to breathe".

17 March 2007

In search of a Tantra master: the becoming of a Tantrika

The wind dives over the plains dragging the reluctant wild grasses in the wake of the yawning sky. Red soils crack under noon day fire and riverbeds dream of long forgotten cool waters. These ancient lands held by the watchers and gatherers of time and form, mountains becoming and dissolving over eons of form grokking itself.

And in this place of relentless breath stands a man, savage and full, deep lines etch his living across the expanse of face and seeing, his body a meeting of life and will. Here he stands in full waiting and readiness to all movings that may bump against his way. His presence that of life diving deep and deeper still unto herself.

This waiting that stood along side the journey of the ancient mountains, this waiting that this day finds her dreamless sleep.

A woman comes, long and weary, dancing the horizon, one step in front of where eye cannot see. This woman dancing, wild and still, across expanding vastness of light and dark, dancing in her blood and in her water and in her laughter, dancing across bridges which hold breath and source of breath, dancing under oceans and over cliffs, dancing until only dancing remains.

The woman bows down to ground at the feet of the man. The wind lays down beside her and a rain opens under the sky as she closes her eyes and remembers her name.

Shima

01 February 2007

Last year in the media - thanks, errors and apologies

We thank Marie Claire, Cosmopolitan and Longevity magazines for their generally informative articles on Tantra in 2006, and there's much appreciation indeed from those who found this school through them.

This year, it looks like there's more media attention happening and unless the interest seems outright sensationalist, we'll be playing along.

It's a tricky thing, someone without particular expertise in a field, writing an article after just a couple of hours talking to me and/or other teachers of the school. Some little things are bound to go a bit wrong. This is unavoidable, and shouldn't generally be of any harm. This will happen.

One of those magazine articles had a little slip, an incorrect and unfortunate juxtaposition of two ideas ... a very understandable misunderstanding. No one was supposed to get slapped on the dick.

The ideas were:

1) If there's a numbness, an insensitivity, a lack of feeling in the body (a symptom of deep repression and restraint) one technique which can help the restoration of sensation is to slap, with intent to sting slightly. not as a surprise, or as a shock, just to activate, to wake up the nerves, get them reporting to the brain, and get their reporting of sensation noticed. Used appropriately, this technique is quite useful. Something like what Swedes do in the sauna, switching each other with birch twigs. Tingly, even kind of nice. Definitely nice when the caress that follows the slap is really felt, sensitivity restored.

2) Immediately following ejaculation, it's common for many men to feel hyper sensitive around the head of the penis which makes continuing coition or other stimulation uncomfortable, almost painful. This is the same sensitivity a woman experiences in early stimulation of the clitoris, especially when she's young, and the tongue is a little firm. Yielding to this stimulation allows men to access an orgasm flavour that's equivalent to the clitoral orgasm of the woman. Also, if he can find this flavour of orgasm before the ejaculatory one, he becomes multi orgasmic, which is kinda nice.

It's not hard to see how these ideas got mixed. The reason nothing about this has been published before is that everyone here was laughing so much about these men catching a slap on the sensitivities to make them come to the party with another round of hot passion. None of us wanted to stop it from happening. If this is anti-social, we apologise (between chuckles).

So there's no expectation that the media attention is always going to express things as we'd like them to. Also, we won't be falling all over ourselves to correct every little misunderstanding. Basically, we hope those that need us will find us and get some right ideas, and if a few dicks get slapped along the way, well, that's just what's called collateral damage these days.

Sorry guys.

Tantra School Audio - interviewing each other

The tantraschool.co.za site construction is going well.

This site has audio clips of school members and friends interviewing each other about their experiences, learning and teaching, posted as .mp3 files which you can download, or just listen to.

It's still under construction, no video there yet, or our links page. Work progresses on both.

What's posted there will, I sincerely hope, be of use to seekers. We're keeping the interviews mostly close and personal. Of course, some of these interviews get very, very personal indeed, and so go into our own archives, or get deleted if they are too personal for even that.

My intent with all my writing and public talking on tantra is to support awareness in my beloved fellow beings. I see it as helpful, of use, to make this information publicly available because around 2% (my guess) or so of people have the capacity, the capability of working with tantra. To reach these, it's unavoidable that the other 98% will have access to what I say.

This is why I don't make my websites look like XXX porn sites, and I don't make a big deal of enhanced/extended orgasm or the other "yummies" of the path. Not that the path isn't yummy beyond belief, just it also requires depth, sincerity, and a burning thirst for the true, the real. Hence, it's really not for everyone. Also, I'd prefer that our (horribly expensive) web hosting bandwidth allowances not be used up by porn-hunters.

There's a lot of what we have to say that's more appropriate for the ears of people a bit attuned to this work, so not everything we record will be openly accessible on the site. For example, you can hear parts 1 and 2 of Jacqueline interviewing Shakti, but not part 3.

The next major project at tantraschool.co.za will therefore be a members only password protected area where we can, so to speak, really let our hair down.

02 December 2006

Cunt - much appreciated. Thanks be to Inga

A student recently recommended I read "Cunt", Inga Muscio's "a declaration of independence" ISBN 1-58005-015-8

I was a leetle resistant, as I generally am in the situation of adding to my "keeping up with the culture" reading list, but the fellow insisted that there was a freshness to it, some qualitative difference from the feminist and post feminist stuff I've long ago absorbed. I agreed, and he filched it from a Dakini's library.

I finished it last night, and found it indeed a fresh expression, a deep awareness is expressed, and though much has been said before, it's a really worthwhile incitement to women in the (there now is only one) culture.

I highly recommend it to males and females alike.

The title is direct - cunt - and is a worthy attempt to reclaim this word's original usage. It derives from the Kund, the revered source of life energy in the woman's body. Source of the word Kundalini. A fine, respectul-of-the-goddess word that has been demonised, given an overlayer of association with "badness" over time, because it was too powerful a word to remove or replace from human language.

When women can say "cunt" with pride, and men can say it with respect, we'll have come a long way indeed.

Namasté

Rahaysa

07 July 2006

TV is bad.

In a news group recently, I got into a discussion about TV. This has nothing to do with tantra really, except the obvious fact that TV is bad for tantra.

My attitude to TV comes from my own experience and an experiment, some 12ish years back.

I experimented - on my children (who I've always said needed traumas, neglect and such to bitch about to their therapists later in life, thus rationalising my conscience into submission).

I remember being out with them, and, feeling magnaminious, giving them the choice of takeaways to go with the video (probably something educational like South Park, Life of Brian, ) They answered in unison "KFC".

Puzzled by this (they were agreeing? What was happening to my strategy of divide and rule..) I paid attention to what they did that evening for a change, noted that the fried bits of something didn't get finished, not much delight in their eating. But the TOY! - there was a plastic injection moulded aeroplane. Small. Ugly. But they were in love with the things.

I recalled the KFC ad, with a magnificent aeroplane flying out of the bucket and zooming impressively around at a kid's party,and the delight, the adoration of this wonder on the little faces. What the PUA's call "social proof" deluxe.

The next day, I surveyed (in Honeydew, there was still room for that) my lands. I noted the tree squatter-shack I'd built. Still ugly. The 7m bungee swing from it hanging, limply. The block and tackle lift, without break or any safety device, with which a little one could lift a big one all the way to the top if they had a goodly attention span, and persistence. The small, yet horrifyingly fast kid-size little motorbike (look, darling - it's so cute! Think how they'll look riding that) 2 acres of garden, 3 acres of wild land, 1/2 acres of roof, big trees, a ride-on lawnmower that could wheelie, horses available two plots away, two dogs, five cats, peacocks that weren't ours, and kept getting eaten by the dogs. Even the cats providing entertainment by trying to take out peacocks. Ticks, all sorts of insects. Nature. Even a perennial stream goddamit. I noticed two children, clean children, unscarred, unbruised. No laughter, no tears. At 5pm. Watching TV.

So I experimented. Changed a factor in the situation, just to see.

I climbed on to the roof, disconnected the aerial, and informed the beloved children that TV would no longer work, we would just do videos. They didn't like it. Tried to petition the mother and all. I stood firm. Windmills don't scare me.

Not three months later, they were sharing complaints about the latest thing the kids at school were into. There was this toy.. a lump of plastic (the island) for which they were collecting various other bits of plastic that made up it's (on TV, no doubt Star Wars grade) defences. I offered to get them one, get the next takeaways there if they liked, but no. My son then 6, 7ish said "but dad, it's just crap". The daughter agreed. I said "that's why we don't have TV".

I'd be embarrassed if I had to admit that I'd noticed I'd bought into some of the TV nonsense myself. I don't have to, so I won't.

From my own experience, I deduce that

1 TV is bad.

2 Occasional, relevant viewing is not practical in a household with children unless there's a strong military-style (don't spare the rod, and trust they're too stupid to cut your throat while you sleep) discipline in place.

3 TV is insidious. Watch a scheduled something... and there's some mind numbingly stupid story of people behaving as greedily, with personalities as deep as politicians'. The story will remind the wife of her second cousin's friend's new sex slave who had exactly the same issues, except... and she'll tell you all about it.. just like I'm telling you here, long winded and all. If you want to turn the TV off, you then "don't empathise". (giaconda)

4. Tv is bad. Good people don't watch TV. Repetition works, I hope..

5. TV is bad. It leads to premature ejaculation, cancer, rickets, polio, substance abuse and AIDS. In that order.

6. TV is bad. It leads to finding yourself or your descendants in a conscript army, or marked for the attention of said army.

7. TV is bad. Love is good. You are good. Loving yourself is good. Better than TV if you do it right. If you get good at that, you can try loving someone else too. This is what people did before TV. TV is bad.

8. I hope that makes things clear. Surely it couldn't be said that often and not be true. TV is bad.


Rahasya

PS:

As my token of empathy with your suffering, your endurance, having skimmed or hopped to here, I didn't use the "copy paste" function once. Typed out "TV is bad" each time, keystroke by keystroke. At this time of night. TV is bad.

21 June 2006

Sex and God

What is the relationship between sex and God? How can we talk about sacredness and sex in the same sentence?

These are questions that I felt in the room during a men and women's evening I held in the last month. In a beautiful, soulful exploration of their unconscious patterning, participants came up with memories such as:

I was raised to believe that my dingelong would fall off if my 'did that' to it. And the idea of S-E-X. Baddd. Very sinful. Not part of the Christian way of life. Unless of course it is done
a) in wedlock
b) under the covers
c) in the dark
d) quick and
e) only to make babies, not for pleasure.

In time, more liberal notions started to allow for some pleasure, provided all the other conditions are met.

The difficulty, really, is not with Christianity, but with dogmatism that stems from the need to find security in tribal beliefs (and judgments). One man who has been struggling with this dilemma told me that he is left in the dark around the sexual, since Christ it 'so clearly asexual' in his portrayal in the Bible.

Later, in our conversation, we explored another possibility: The possibility that Christ was in fact a revolutionary, not an institutional man who wanted conforming; the possibility that Christ stood for radical truth, in the body, in total presence, and with full embracing of the sacredness of embodied life. What opening to bliss that brings! How it sings into the spirit of Christ (and Mary Magdalene!)

Existence has also given me the rare gift recently of seeing what happens when a denial of sexual awareness goes with extreme religious dogmatism. I encountered two people, both of whom have suffered from sexual abuse in their earlier years and have suppressed this memory, and both of whom are fundamentalist Christians. The result for both of them has been full-on or near scizophrenia. The fracture, extreme denial and resistance to their experience has resulted in both of them literally splitting off into different personalities or seemingly being possessed by 'demons'. This psychological profile may be a greater potential for some people, but it is so clear to me that a suppression of sexual memories and experience linked to fear-driven religious dogma is the perfect recipe for dis-integration.

I feel such compassion for these two struggling people. And I am grateful to them for the gift of their message. Look for yourself whether somewhere inside you those two realities - God and Sex - don't sit so well together. And if you can find that discomfort, explore why.

19 June 2006

June Tantra Evening - and "premature" ejaculation

The tantra evening in Jo'burg last night was an interesting one for me. We had a couple of absolute beginners, Dakini Wendy, a sessions-client of hers, and a "fan" of these talks.

Every one of these talks (I haven't kept an accurate count, but it's around the 12 or so now) has been significantly different, because they are mostly driven by the questions people bring. Also, I often refer questions to the Dakinis, as they have really good answers. Last night we discussed (or, more accurately, I lectured) the tendency to quick ejaculation in males, recovering sensitivity and a few tricks for gaining aawareness in sex. We also did a couple of old breathing/pcb exercises.

What I said about the cause of premature ejaculation:
Males have this erection thing, which tends to be rather obvious, and isn't generally socially acceptable. Also there's generally judgement about masturbation (which I prefer to call "loving yourself") which leads to a need for hurry in order to avoid discovery and humiliation. This applies in the "average" home, and more so in boarding schools.

This leads to a habit few males get to avoid - and I didn't get to avoid it on my journey - hurried, necessarily rough masturbation. This triggers a prostate/ejaculatory orgasm mainly from the lingam (penis) getting slammed, hit, into the prostate gland, which is at the lingam's root.

The result of this is that most males have ejaculation before they are aroused... the main symptom of male arousal is the clear highly lubricant fluid produced by the Cowper's gland, not erection. Erection can be there just because there's a fullness to the bladder, and an occasional fading of erection during sex isn't a sign of a lack of arousal. A common view of the Cowper's gland function is that it is just to neutralise the acid of residual urine, making the urethra safe for the sperm. Even some renowned sexologists believe it's a "component" of ejaculate, and it's commonly called "pre-cum" by many.

There's a neurological and physiological equivalence in men and women. Like the woman's lubrication, the Cowper's gland fluid is present fairly early in arousal, and it's only the male's hurry and (obsessive) focus on ejaculation as the "goal" that gives rise to the idea that it generally appears only shortly before "orgasm" - often confused with "ejaculation" - they aren't always the same.

The male has the neurological possibility the woman has of "clitoral" orgasm, via stimulation of the glans (crash-helmet), the very thin-skinned head of the lingam. The experience men often have, of being very sensitive after ejaculation, is just the start of the "clitoral" response. Like a young woman having her first oral sex experience, he can be scared by the intensity of sensation, and, like the young woman, with a bit of encouragement, he can "tough it out" for a bit.. at which point things tend suddenly to become realy nice. This thing of the sensitivity arising in the man only AFTER ejaculation is just a symptom of his lack of arousal. Arousal is only beginning... and the ejaculation's already happened.

A male who can relax deeply into sex, drop the woodpecker thrusting, and take long enough with "foreplay" (A word I'm not fond of, because it perpetuates the idea of sex being a linear progression to a result) particularly oral sex, or gentle, sensitive penetration can experience this "clitoral" orgasm, and later continue, having an ejaculation a while later, or not. A woman who regards her partner's ejaculation as "premature" can help herself a lot if she realises that a man will typically "last" in coition for as long as the "foreplay" took as long as he's encouraged to not tense his bum and go into woodpecker mode.

Women of course, have things the other way around. The clitoral orgasm tends to be much more available, easier to reach than the ejaculatory G-spot flavour. An intensely erect lingam isn't the best for this. After arousal's been there a while, there's a natural tendency for it to soften slightly, which helps it stroke the G-spot particularly in women-above-facing positions.

The next Tantra evening in Johannesburg will be on 16 July. Go to http://www.sacredsex.co.za/rahasyatalk.html or click the "Tantra" link on the right to find out more.


-- Love, however it looks --

Rahasya

17 June 2006

Blogging begins.. introducing my school and teaching.

Since I made this blog thingy, I've been mainly concentrating on my sites http://meditate.co.za and http://sacredsex.co.za. This has taken up most of my available time. So it's just been sitting here, not even gathering cyber-dust in the form of comments.

I'll be posting regularly from now on, with news of my tantra school, sometimes comments on the work we do, but without risking the confidentiality of school members and healing sessions clients.

We do work that doesn't happen much in the world - in fact, I don't know of an equivalent practice, teaching, anywhere.

Most teachers in the area of Tantra teach as a method of deepening their own work (If you would really learn a thing, teach it - Buddha). And it makes them really worthwhile teachers. This is why the best teachers of most therapies are themselves in the process of learning what they teach.

I've had a 20-year journey with Tantra, Osho's sannyasins, groups, workshops and meditation. Through that time, the idea of me teaching never ocurred to me. It's only the last few years, after my having completed the path, that I've been (gradually, as encouraged by those I work with) teaching.

It is strange for a man to be teaching tantra. It's usually, archetypically, womens' work. Historically the males involved have been mainly "fronting" for the woman's teaching when society requires. Even most of the historic "greats" like Saraha had an Arrowsmith Woman who's teachings they furthered, or made accessible.

My place in teaching is mainly to encourage woman to their teaching... being an encouragement and support. It's these women that have the capacity to free men from their illusions, particularly around sex, and they need the encouragement now on account of the world having been rather unfriendly to women with an authentic spirituality for the last couple of thousand years.

Some of the teachers I've worked with are nervous about what I do. Mostly, they are themselves struggling with what limitations, restrictions to impose on their work. How to keep the traditional "therapist" position of neutrality, non involvement. To me, with my current understanding, this is silly. This attitude doesn't make for totality, and it perpetuates a problem Osho highlighted with Tantric practice - that there's a tendency to be remote, cold, unloving. Of course, it's only on account of my own movement, my transcendence of my own sexuality that I feel I can work with Tantra, and support others. There's no way past teachers of mine (who of course saw me during my own seeking - which didn't generally look too pretty) can know that I'm "done" without encountering me in person. Even then, the "who I was then" is likely to give them trouble when looking at "who I am now".

Tantra is an "extreme" path. Although almost everyone can benefit from developing a more natural, less repressed sexuality, Tantra in it's higher, meditational practices is really for those who have an insistence on (and potential for) awakening to their enlightenment in their current incarnation.

At present there's two Dakinis (female tantra practicioners) and a Daka (the male version) in Cape Town, one Dakini, one Daka-in-training and me in Johannesburg. We've done IMHO magnificent work. Time and time again, I see "instantaneous" healing of deeply entrenched repressions and sexual traumas. The kind of "breakthroughs" that happen in around 5 years' conventional therapy - - for us, that's what happens in a "just average" session.

We're not here for those of just purient interest. We are screening more and more intensively as time goes on, as we get better known.

Our clientelle are pretty much unanimously overjoyed at our work. I don't put up testimonials and such at my website because I think it's tacky. I've been in marketing and web design long enough to know how few testimonials were unsolicited, how few have any truth in them at all.

The people we most like to work with (and the only people we should work with, really) are seekers. Those who had some significant freedom in their first 6 years, who don't automatically buy into "what everyone knows" and have done significant enquiry into themselves, that have a good awareness of their mind's trickiness, and a willingness to go beyond it's limitations.

Rahasya



-- Love, however it looks --

12 April 2005

beginning blogging 12 April 2005

This is a first post, testing the thing.

Hello World?