TANTRA. The very word conjures up exciting images of incense filled rooms, full of throbbing bodies pulsating and vibrating in various degrees of orgasmic ecstasy. Indeed, if you were to do an Internet search with the word “tantra”, you would find over a million and a half websites devoted to that word. Almost all of these sites focus upon sex. Sex is huge. Sex sells. We are a sex obsessed planet. And to many people, sex and tantra mean the same thing. This, however, is simply not true.
There is great confusion today about the word tantra, and understandably so. Depending upon the culture, tradition, viewpoint, teacher and level of awareness, “tantra” can mean different things to different people. At healing sounds we’ve investigated numerous sources and were astounded by the variety of meanings that were applied to the word tantra and the teachings behind it.
Not surprisingly, here in the West, the meaning of tantra is almost always synonymous with sex and sexual yoga, taken from specific paths and teachers in the Hindu tradition. Yet, in the Buddhist tradition—particularly Tibetan Buddhism, tantra has nothing to do with sex—at least not from the physical aspect of sexual relationships.
An internet search for the word tantra, which found over a million and a half websites advertising aspects of tantra, revealed that the vast majority of these sites centered upon sex. We speculated that at least 90% – 95% of the sites we visited involved some aspect involving sexual relations—with everything from sexual aids to sexual surrogates beings advertised. Many times these sites offered techniques for improving sexual capability in sexual relationships. Many times, however, these sites were not nearly that subtle.
Yet, in our research we also discovered sources that were of seemingly pure tantric traditions, and they were almost all adamant that tantra had little or nothing to do with sex as it is currently perceived of in the West. In Fact, the word “neo-tantra” frequently emerged when talking about these newer perceptions of tantra which many authorities considered a corruption of the word. What then, is tantra? I will share the meaning of tantra in my next post.