I was dancing on an ancient silver rock. All around me, lovers were finding each other, coyly, boldly, laughingly. A force coiled up through my body from that dancing rock, and it was unmistakably sexual. This was one of those moments that set me wondering about the mysteries of the erotic.
Today, I am a practicing Tantrika. When I discovered Tantra, my whole being went: Yes! So that is what it was. Tantra teaches practices that helps us to return to the natural: the realization that sexual energy is life force that flows through all things, and that, if refined, leads us to an experience of unconditional love. An erotic ecology is one in which all things, all beings, are in a constant love play with each other. Why do we not live in this play of love on the planet all the time?
Advait Tantra says that it is because we get controlled by unconscious desires and fears – patterns of polarity, of resistance and need that start forming from very early on in our lives, and that we are mostly hardly aware of. They leave imprints on our bodies and affect everything: from our love making to our choices in the boardroom – often in surprisingly similar ways.
As a Tantrika, my task is twofold:
a) To help make conscious the unconscious patterns in our body – mind – emotional systems. Plato said that Eros leads to Logos – if you follow a person’s erotic energy, you soon find out what the knowledge is they are hiding from themselves.
b) To bring people to the power of the present moment. The ancient Taoists believed that sexual energy is potent life force – the only regenerable energy in the human being, and a source of longevity. Tantra works with prana (breath energy ), activation of organs and energy flows and meditation to open us to the fullness that the moment holds.
The great 20th century mystic Osho said: Sex is the seed. Love is the flower. Compassion is the fragrance. What a perfect metaphor the seed is for an ecology bursting with potential. An undoubtably sexual metaphor it is, too. What do we do to our children when we deny them a conscious exploration of their sexuality? Adolescents who have learnt to suppress all signs of sexual impulse become suppressed adults. Suppression builds anger and frustration that, if not released, can become some of the most dangerous anti-ecological forces on the planet. When the seed is denied, love cannot flower.
This I have discovered well and properly in my work as a Social Ecologist. I have a Ph.D. in Social Anthropology and have been monitoring and evaluating the social impact of developments for many years. When developments get big, the anger-forces become intense. In my own assessments on big developments, I have had to spend as much time in personal processing of the desires and fears that the projects awoke in me as on project research.
This has provided excellent opportunity for me to work through my own anger about the neediness and greediness of project participants, and as I had less volatile anger left, I became more able to be present with what is.
Once in a meeting with a group of environmentalists, I was listening carefully to the discourse and the tone that was prevalent. I told the environmentalists that, if I ignored the specific content of what they were saying, I might as well have been in a meeting with developers. The language was the same language of war and opposition, and all effort was focused on who had the biggest guns. This is not to say that there is no place for strong action in the world.
But strong action that is clear – without being backed by a lifetime of unlived, repressed anger and frustration – is so much more powerful and efficient. Tantra is a force of totality. It encourages us to be fully present in our lives, not to deny anything that we are experiencing. If we can be 100% present in our anger, own it responsibly, sit in the fire of the emotions, if we can be 100% present with the touch of a lover – and all that it evokes, all the tender and volatile memories and emotions – then our lives start to integrate and become simple.
My teacher, Rahasya, often talks about Pavlov’s dogs. As human beings, we have as many if not more layers of association as those dogs. For a man, the approach of a woman – even the thought of her approach – can send his whole psychophysical system into the anticipation/ exhilaration/terror response that comes from his first secret experiences of masturbation. And deeper than that, they may evoke memories of first touch – or lack of touch – by mother.
For a woman, the approach of a man may be loaded with memories of father, first experiences of invasion or inappropriate sexual contact with boys or men, and a range of body memories from previous experiences. For most humans, sexual meeting is loaded with the genetic imperatives of the species: the excitement of the hunt, of seducing and being seduced, of finding the mate with highest genetic potential. As we become conscious of these basic survival impulses in our bodies, they start to integrate and resolve.
Then we move to the next ecological development: Finding a mate that meets the requirement of the tribe, of with whom we feel some sense of belonging. When we are no more bound by “what the people will think” about our partners and our rating as sexual partners in the culture, we move up the ecological ladder to where we choose out of pure fondness, “because I like”. Beyond our personal likes resides the realm of the heart. When our sexual impulses are infused with unconditional love, a different kind of orgasm becomes possible – an orgasm of life, an erotic ecology. A planet on which all things – rocks and trees and people – dance together in a seamless flow of love.
And yes, the Taoists are right: There is longevity there – love unconditional becomes life rejuvenated.