After a long hiatus I returned to the Le Cool fold with an article about tantric sex, as you do.
Tag Archives: sex
So Allison and Alex started off by asking if we were “From Agama” the local yoga school and we continued by comparing stories about India, spirituality and the reality we live in.
I loved it, I’m not sure Marion was quite as interested (having already had an earful of philosophy from me earlier)
They told us all about the school and some of the things they had learnt (without mentioning the Tantra element actually) and I took it as a total sign that I had to go to this place. We were the last ones at the restaurant and I left having arranged to meet Alex and Allison at a lecture on the Bhagavad Gita the following night.
Agama is a controversial school but I didn’t realise that until a little while later. I was confused a little at my first Yoga class when people asked me if I knew what I was “letting myself in for” but to be honest I didn’t find it intimidating and I think there are a lot of insubstatiated stories. Certainly from the first lecture I found the Swami immensely well read, very knowledgeable and a good speaker. I’m not sure I felt in the presence of a realised being but this large Romanian guy in orange robes with quite a brash manner perhaps just doesn’t fit my restricted idea of a guru.
Marion and I spent several days together, hanging out at various beaches and exploring before we went to the Half Moon Party. I had spent a long day at Agama, walking to both the morning and afternoon classes as well as staying for the lecture with Nadine, the sparkly eyed German who Marion had met on the bus and had been another pointer to Agama, having completed the first level course previously.
I didn’t really fancy the party after this long day but Marion and I had been planning to go so I didn’t want to pull out last minute. I probably should have though because she knew some French guys there and we ended up hanging out with them. The guys were alright although it was pure Gallic Drama as one had injured his leg meaning his holiday may be cut short while his companion was in the grip of great despair due to not wanting to travel alone. I had a traditional bucket of Sang Som with Red Bull and Coke to try and enjoy the party but apart from the fire show which was, in equal parts enchanting and extremely dangerous it wasn’t really a great do.
It was this night and the resulting hangover which made me decide to quit drinking, for a while at least, and I went a good month before having anything again.
Meanwhile, the Yoga was really interesting, I arrived on the last day of week 2 of the 1st level 1 month intensive course. This proved to be a good day to start since we were taught what I would call Agama’s “Special Move” the ultimate energy-sublimation asana, Uddiyanda Bandha. This involves exhaling through the mouth to empty the lungs and then doing a “fake inhalation” pulling the chest up and navel towards the spine with knees bent and hands on the thighs to hold the exhale with a concave stomach. This causes energy to rise up the spine, moving it from the lower chakras.
The Class in general is characterised by its intense focus on these energy centres and movement, either bringing in cosmic energy from above or channelling through the Telluric Earth energy from below.
This is achieved by concentrating on particular chakras during the Asanas but also by holding the postures for much longer than I am used to.
I liked the slow, reflective and meditative style though and the classes were certainly challenging, leading to a deep final relaxation.
My first day was a big one because as well as Uddiyanda Bandha the evening lecture (led by Swami Vivekananda) was about the Yogic concept of Brahmacharya which is basically Sexual Continence.
Interpreted by most as meaning a celibate path is the only way to enlightenment, Tantra sees things differently. Outlining that the real reason behind Brahmacharya is preventing the loss of Ojas and not specificially refraining from sex.
Ojas is described in ayurveda and is a kind of “life force” which is lost in large amounts through ejaculation for men and so it is understandable that there is a correlation.
The ascetic path which takes the “fastest” route to enlightenment by cutting out all opportunities to failure by for example heading off to a cave, teaches celibacy as a way of cutting out the sexual urge at the root. Tantra however, teaches the mantra “sublime, sublime, sublime” that this energy can be harnessed and transferred to higher chakras to actually aid in spiritual development
For men this means giving up ejaculation, and in the short term the orgasm – we learnt that the two are not explicitly linked.
Orgasm causes certain muscle contractions which cause ejaculation but the two can be separated (although this takes a while)
This means that with practice and by offering the fruits to the divine it is possible for men to have multiple orgasms without ejaculation.
So maybe you can see why this school has a slightly “odd” reputation – I should clarify that some of the details here weren’t taught in this initial lecture – in fact Swami made a point of keeping away from the sexual side since the yoga classes are kept totally aside from the “tantric” side.
However, I did attend the separate “mens meeting” and after much deliberation I did sign up for the one week Tantra Level One workshop.
It turned out to be much more Sex-ed than I was expecting or really hoping for…!
Venerable Robina Courtin is a very challenging woman. She is on a spiritual path towards Enlightenment but it is probably fair to say that she isn’t quite there yet. Born in Australia and raised by a Catholic Mother she always had religious leanings and was expected to be a priest in her early years because it was all she talked about. Suffering abuse from her father in what was a loving but confused childhood home she says that she was always looking for the answers to life. Catholicism wasn’t to be her path though as she rebelled against boarding school life at the convent and discovered Billie Holiday.
Her life led her to London and a time of sex, drugs and Jazz; she then got heavily into left wing politics, supporting the Black Panthers and living with a group of radical lesbian feminists. I didn’t know this about her before I signed up for the Buddhist Philosophy and Meditation course at the Tushita Centre in Dharamkot, Dharamsala, but I was delighted to have the experience of learning from her. Tushita has been holding these teachings since 1971 in Nepal and since 1972 in the site at Dharamkot. It was founded by Lama Thubten Yeshe and his main student Lama Zopa Rinpoche after demand from Westerners in the ’60s. Since Lama Yeshe died in 1984 Lama Zopa has been the Spiritual Director and encouraged the current format of courses which is accesible to all.
Our 10 day residential course was one of the regular they hold between February and November each year. Mostly held in silence it consists of a series of lectures and meditation sessions for the first 8 days with only limited time for discussion, while the last 2 days are for more dedicated meditation.
By the end of our course I felt a great sense of peace and had learnt a new way to look at my problems and life in general. Covering the basics of Buddhist Philosophy from the four noble truths through to contemplating death and always bringing the thinking back to the contemplation achieved through meditation.
The teachings were really interesting and gave so much food for thought.
Since then I have watched this video of Jill Bolte Taylor with the left brain hemisphere damaged and it was quite apt because the Buddhist thing is all about living in the present moment and being mindful that your actions are subject to but also cause karma to be created so that the law of cause and effect is working.
It was fascinating to hear some of the theories. Our suffering is caused by delusions that this current physical form is inherently “me” and that actually the “mind” is beginningless and endless and that our rebirths mean that we are all interconnected but what is carried through is tendencies to certain actions. The suffering is all because we look at issues from the point of view of an “inherent I” so that however we see people it is merely from our point of view.
So we see friends as friends because they do nice things for us while we are indifferent to strangers, but this is an impermanent state which could change at any moment, so we should treat all sentient beings with equal amounts of love and compassion.
It is our “attachment” to people or things that cause us to suffer because when they let us down or cause us pain (leave us for example) we put the blame on them and we are hurt.
The path to true happiness according to the Buddha is that we should look inside our own minds for happiness and not rely on external stimulus or sensory pleasure in order to be satisfied with what we have.
It made a lot of sense for me because I guess I’ve grasped too hard sometimes for things which should have been more natural – the idea is that what causes our suffering is getting over attached to objects or people. Rather than being in a state of pure love and compassion for people, where you want to be with someone simply because you want them to be happy and you want their interests first we judge based on what they do for us and then get jealous or upset when they don’t live up to our expectations or treat us in the way that we want them to.
It gives very practical methods to deal with emotions that can be excessive in one way or another, being negative or conversely overly delighted with things are both likely to lead to suffering in the end through either disappointment or depression so it is important to find a middle way
I’m not even going to try to go into any more detail in terms of the philosophy because there are far better references than me to explain this stuff and going on a retreat like this one was also a great way of learning with a likeminded bunch of people.
Even though, or perhaps because, the retreat was held mostly in silence, there were interesting bonds created between the entire group and when we finally got together outside of the Gompa it was as if we had been friends for years.