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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The rise of the green mayor – Sadiq Khan and the politics of clean energy

At an event at Tate Modern, Sadiq Khan pledged to clean up London's act.

On Thursday night, deep in the bowls of Tate Modern’s turbine hall, London Mayor Sadiq Khan renewed his promise to make the capital a world leader in clean energy and air. Yet his focus was as much on people as power plants – in particular, the need for local authorities to lead where central governments will not.

Khan was there to introduce the screening of a new documentary, From the Ashes, about the demise of the American coal industry. As he noted, Britain continues to battle against the legacy of fossil fuels: “In London today we burn very little coal but we are facing new air pollution challenges brought about for different reasons." 

At a time when the world's leaders are struggling to keep international agreements on climate change afloat, what can mayors do? Khan has pledged to buy only hybrid and zero-emissions buses from next year, and is working towards London becoming a zero carbon city.

Khan has, of course, also gained heroic status for being a bête noire of climate-change-denier-in-chief Donald Trump. On the US president's withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, Khan quipped: “If only he had withdrawn from Twitter.” He had more favourable things to say about the former mayor of New York and climate change activist Michael Bloomberg, who Khan said hailed from “the second greatest city in the world.”

Yet behind his humour was a serious point. Local authorities are having to pick up where both countries' central governments are leaving a void – in improving our air and supporting renewable technology and jobs. Most concerning of all, perhaps, is the way that interest groups representing business are slashing away at the regulations which protect public health, and claiming it as a virtue.

In the UK, documents leaked to Greenpeace’s energy desk show that a government-backed initiative considered proposals for reducing EU rules on fire-safety on the very day of the Grenfell Tower fire. The director of this Red Tape Initiative, Nick Tyrone, told the Guardian that these proposals were rejected. Yet government attempts to water down other EU regulations, such as the energy efficiency directive, still stand.

In America, this blame-game is even more highly charged. Republicans have sworn to replace what they describe as Obama’s “war on coal” with a war on regulation. “I am taking historic steps to lift the restrictions on American energy, to reverse government intrusion, and to cancel job-killing regulations,” Trump announced in March. While he has vowed “to promote clean air and clear water,” he has almost simultaneously signed an order to unravel the Clean Water Rule.

This rhetoric is hurting the very people it claims to protect: miners. From the Ashes shows the many ways that the industry harms wider public health, from water contamination, to air pollution. It also makes a strong case that the American coal industry is in terminal decline, regardless of possibile interventions from government or carbon capture.

Charities like Bloomberg can only do so much to pick up the pieces. The foundation, which helped fund the film, now not only helps support job training programs in coal communities after the Trump administration pulled their funding, but in recent weeks it also promised $15m to UN efforts to tackle climate change – again to help cover Trump's withdrawal from Paris Agreement. “I'm a bit worried about how many cards we're going to have to keep adding to the end of the film”, joked Antha Williams, a Bloomberg representative at the screening, with gallows humour.

Hope also lies with local governments and mayors. The publication of the mayor’s own environment strategy is coming “soon”. Speaking in panel discussion after the film, his deputy mayor for environment and energy, Shirley Rodrigues, described the move to a cleaner future as "an inevitable transition".

Confronting the troubled legacies of our fossil fuel past will not be easy. "We have our own experiences here of our coal mining communities being devastated by the closure of their mines," said Khan. But clean air begins with clean politics; maintaining old ways at the price of health is not one any government must pay. 

'From The Ashes' will premiere on National Geograhpic in the United Kingdom at 9pm on Tuesday, June 27th.

India Bourke is an environment writer and editorial assistant at the New Statesman.

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