The history of tantra

I’ve been in touch with Paul Jenner this week, a writer on spiritual sex, happiness, health and personal growth. Paul lives in Girona, Spain so I was curious to know how the erotic boutiques over there compare to those in the UK. He says there are plenty of sex shops, especially in the frontier town of La Jonquera, because of the huge volume of lorry traffic. Lots of sex workers on the highways. Nothing as glamorous as Coco de Mer.

Paul has been reading Victoria Coren and Charlie Skelton’s book, Once More With Feeling, about their adventures in home-made porn, and has been inspired to make a private film for him and his partner to enjoy. He says Tantric sex is really wonderful outdoors, day or night. Send him a suggestion for a sexy scenario (in 60 words or less) and the best scriptwriter will win a copy of his book: Kama Sutra.

In the meantime, here’s a post from him on the history of Tantra.

Words: Paul Jenner

‘Tantric sex’ goes back at least one thousand five hundred years – probably much, much more. So what was it like then?

I deliberately put ‘Tantric sex’ in inverted commas because, in fact, there never was any such thing. Some Tantrikas – and it’s important to stress ‘some’ – used the energy created by sexualised religious rituals to try to achieve a special state of bliss known as ananda (jagadananda when they were really flying) with the aim of attaining  samadhi (enlightenment) and eventually moksha (liberation from the cycle of death and rebirth).

But no one in that era would ever have used the term ‘Tantric sex’ any more than someone nowadays would talk of ‘Christian wine’ or ‘Catholic candles’.

What defined sex as used in traditional Tantric ceremonies was its spiritual aim. Those ceremonies, of course, were conducted as a group. You didn’t have to be in love with your partner to have ‘Tantric sex’. You didn’t even have to know the other person to have ‘Tantric sex’.

Nevertheless, the kind of ‘Tantric sex’ I teach, while being as genuine as possible, is aimed at couples. So how can the authenticity be preserved?

Well, there’s nothing to say you can’t be in love. And there’s nothing to say you can’t create sufficient sexual energy as a couple in the privacy of your own bedroom, or wherever you like to be. To me, as long as the aim of the sex is spiritual, then it’s ‘Tantric sex’.

What, in this context, does spiritual mean? The early Tantrikas were undoubtedly Hindus, but Buddhists and Jains soon adopted versions and I see no reason ‘Tantric sex’ can’t be practised by followers of all religions or none. If you’re an atheist you’ll be aiming for a sense of oneness with your partner and with the whole universe.

Sting once quipped that he and Trudie had given up Tantric sex in favour of Tantric shopping. You spend hours going round the shops, he said, but never buy anything. In that joke he captured two important aspects of the physical technique. Firstly, sex has to continue a sufficiently long time to arouse the necessary sexual energy (known, in the Hindu tradition, as Kundalini). Secondly, to achieve that, the man has to be able to control the powerful desire to ejaculate. The man can ejaculate – eventually – but everything becomes more mystical if the number of occasions is restricted. Instead, the man enjoys a series of ‘mini-orgasms’ whose cumulative effect goes far beyond anything experienced during ejaculation.

Kundalini is envisaged as a snake goddess, lying coiled at the base of the spine. As more and more sexual energy is unleashed, through a variety of physical and psychological techniques, so Kundalini straightens out and begins to rise up within, or alongside, the spine. As she rises, guided by visualizations and aided by special breathing practices, so she ‘pierces’ various chakras and gradually becomes transformed from raw sexual energy into something spiritual and mystical.

During ‘Tantric sex’ the woman becomes a goddess (usually Shakti, in the Hindu tradition) and the man becomes a god (usually Shiva, in the Hindu tradition). But I teach that you should treat one another as goddess and god at all times.

You can learn more about traditional Tantric practices on my website Full details of the techniques involved can be found in my book Get Intimate With Tantric Sex.

I wish you all ananda!

Erotic sculpture in one of the temples of Khajuraho, India

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