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.
Paul Marotta
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England is now a more expensive place to study than the US. Why?

Is a university education in this country really worth £44,000, and how does our system compare to higher education funding elsewhere?

England has long sneered at American universities and their exorbitant fees. It cannot do so any longer: England is now a more expensive country to study than the US, and is easily the most expensive of eight Anglophone countries – the four UK nations, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the US – analysed in a new Sutton Trust report. English students graduating from last year left university with an average of £44,000 in debt £15,000 more than Americans studying at for-profit universities across the pond.

Why do English students have it so much worse than other students in the UK? There are two answers. The first is the government's decision in 2010 to shift much of the cost of university from the general taxpayer to the beneficiaries: the students themselves. The second answer is devolution. The devolved governments in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales have made political choices to differentiate themselves from Westminster by prioritising keeping fees down – even when, as in Scotland, the effect is to benefit middle-class students at the expense of disadvantaged ones. Students in Wales who study in England are eligible for generous grants, meaning they pay less than £4,000 a year rather than up to £9,000. Those studying in Northern Ireland have their fees capped at £3,925. 

Even England's £9,000 fees are puny set against those at elite American universities. In 2016/17 annual, tuition fees at Harvard are $59,550 and, when all else is accounted for, Harvard reckon each year costs students $88,600. But such exorbitant numbers are not the real story. About 60% of Harvard students receive the Harvard Scholarship: a microcosm of how US students benefit from a culture of graduates giving endowents to their old universities that is still lacking in England. Scholarships and bursaries at universities in the US are far more generous than in other countries. And those who go to public universities within their own state pay far less: those graduating after four years leave with an average debt of only US$27,100 [£19,100]. This is why the average debt of US graduates is now considerably less than in England. But those who berate that even America now has a more benign system for students than England should not be so hasty. The majority of US loans are not income contingent, meaning that low earners who are already struggling still have to pay.

Governments throughout the world are grappling with how to fund send an increasing proportion of students to university in an era of austerity. In the last two decades at least 14 countries in the OECD, including Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the UK, have implemented major reforms to fees, according to the Sutton Trust. In general these reforms have led to students paying a greater share of the cost of their tuition. 

So in a sense what has happened in England is merely an extreme example of an international trend. And the introduction of tuition fees in 1998, which have been hiked up twice since, has been managed better than most acknowledge: indeed, the proportion of disadvantaged students at university has actually risen by one-fifth since tuition fees rose to £9,000.

But, with the poorest students in England now graduating with £50,000 in debt, more students will be driven to ask whether a university education is really worth it. For a small but significant minority, it isn’t. A recent IFS report found that male graduates from 23 low performing institutions – though it sadly declined to name them - earn less, on average, than those who do not go to university, and end up with huge debt to boot.

No matter how expensive a university education has become, not having one is even more expensive. Throughout the world demand for university education continues to soar; in England the average graduate premium is £200,000 over a lifetime. Yet too many dunce universities are saddling students with debt without giving them anything in return.    

Tim Wigmore is a contributing writer to the New Statesman and the author of Second XI: Cricket In Its Outposts.