Tantra, sexual energy and desire

We desire things because we perceive ourselves to be separate from them. Tantric mediations focus on

There is a fundamental difference between directly experiencing sensuality and seeking it. Tantra is not hedonism, which is the pursuit of sensual pleasures. Tantra is the absorption in what is here now.

And of course, as human beings, we have desire.

"When desire or knowledge have manifested, forget their object and focus your mind on object-less desire or knowledge as being the Self. Then you will reach deep reality."
Vijnanabhairava Tantra

Instead of trying to eliminate desire,Tantric mediations focus on seeing beyond the apparent duality of desire and its objects. We desire something because we perceive ourselves to be separate from it. As this sense of separation and lack dissolves, then the energy of desire ceases to become a bond to suffering, but instead an expression of joyful love and oneness.

"Every living thing perceives subject and object, but the tantrika resides in their union."
Vijnanabhairava Tantra

Procreation, conception and birth are the most profound miracles of life. We all exist on this planet through this alchemical meeting of the sperm of our father with the egg of our mother. The essence of our existence is sexual. And sexual energy is both pleasurable and powerful. It is possible to enter into the wonders of this mystery as a meditation.

Symbols of the sexual-spiritual union of male and female exist all around us, once we open ourselves to that possibility. In traditional cultures the sky was seen as “father sky”, and the earth “mother earth”. The meeting of earth and sky is where male and female meet.

The Hindu Tantric symbol of the Shiva Lingam is a representation of the male and female genitals, and principles, fully united. These symbols can repeatedly remind us of this great mystery, and can remind us of this ultimate wonder.

"O Goddess! The sensual pleasure of the intimate bliss of union can be reproduced at any moment by the radiant presence of the mind that remembers intensely this pleasure.
When you meet again with a loved one, be in this bliss totally and penetrate the luminous space."
Vijnanabhairava Tantra

Kriya Yoga is a system of techniques to consciously move energy through the body. Tantric Kriya Yoga involves direct sexual contact between love partners. There is no belief system, just a path of action, which produces powerful and immediate results, predictable, repeatable and objectively verifiable.

It works on all levels of a person’s life, strengthening the body, calming the emotions, enhancing thought processes, and leading to an inner balance that can open the door to spiritual awareness. It includes a rotation of conscious sexual forces between two partners, mixing the male and female energies in an internal alchemy.

In the words of the Vijnanabhairava Tantra:

"When you practice a sex ritual, let thought reside in the quivering of your senses like wind in the leaves, and reach the celestial bliss of ecstatic love."

My own personal experiences include the wonders of a simple caressing meditation, which can be called “Tantric Touch”. One love partner connects with their own inner heart centre and a place of devotion whereby touch is offered as a celebration of the Divine.

They then tenderly caress their beloved with very fine, delicate continuous touch, first with a feather, and then with the fingertips. Every part of the body is honoured with equal reverence. This brings each partner fully present into the moment, and at a certain point the giver and receiver melt into one.

The receiver feels extremely alive, and it can be hard to locate the feather or fingertips on their body, as the whole skin feels gloriously alive and tingly. The first time that I experienced this, it was as if my mind expanded and my sense of touch was almost auditory, singing, and I was at once both peaceful and blissfully alive. I was filled with a sense of love and deep appreciation.

“While receiving a caress, sweet Princess, enter the loving as everlasting life.”
-excerpt from Shiva Sutra

Leora Lightwoman read psychology at Oxford University, then trained as a yoga teacher and bodyworker. She has been a Tantra practitioner since 1993. In 2001 she formed her own school, Diamond Light Tantra. This is a pragmatic and eclectic approach to sexual, emotional and spiritual healing.
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Scotland's vast deficit remains an obstacle to independence

Though the country's financial position has improved, independence would still risk severe austerity. 

For the SNP, the annual Scottish public spending figures bring good and bad news. The good news, such as it is, is that Scotland's deficit fell by £1.3bn in 2016/17. The bad news is that it remains £13.3bn or 8.3 per cent of GDP – three times the UK figure of 2.4 per cent (£46.2bn) and vastly higher than the white paper's worst case scenario of £5.5bn. 

These figures, it's important to note, include Scotland's geographic share of North Sea oil and gas revenue. The "oil bonus" that the SNP once boasted of has withered since the collapse in commodity prices. Though revenue rose from £56m the previous year to £208m, this remains a fraction of the £8bn recorded in 2011/12. Total public sector revenue was £312 per person below the UK average, while expenditure was £1,437 higher. Though the SNP is playing down the figures as "a snapshot", the white paper unambiguously stated: "GERS [Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland] is the authoritative publication on Scotland’s public finances". 

As before, Nicola Sturgeon has warned of the threat posed by Brexit to the Scottish economy. But the country's black hole means the risks of independence remain immense. As a new state, Scotland would be forced to pay a premium on its debt, resulting in an even greater fiscal gap. Were it to use the pound without permission, with no independent central bank and no lender of last resort, borrowing costs would rise still further. To offset a Greek-style crisis, Scotland would be forced to impose dramatic austerity. 

Sturgeon is undoubtedly right to warn of the risks of Brexit (particularly of the "hard" variety). But for a large number of Scots, this is merely cause to avoid the added turmoil of independence. Though eventual EU membership would benefit Scotland, its UK trade is worth four times as much as that with Europe. 

Of course, for a true nationalist, economics is irrelevant. Independence is a good in itself and sovereignty always trumps prosperity (a point on which Scottish nationalists align with English Brexiteers). But if Scotland is to ever depart the UK, the SNP will need to win over pragmatists, too. In that quest, Scotland's deficit remains a vast obstacle. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.