Tantric practices address us on the physical, intellectual, and spiritual levels. There are aspects of Tantra that speak to qualities found on each of these levels. In our study of the tantric texts, we have found that extrapolation from Tantra's healing aspects can be useful as a therapy for what we might refer to as psychosexual wounds.
We use the word "extrapolation" because the kind of healing tantric couples needed five thousand years ago -- in this area, anyway -- is not comparable with the healing we of the modern age require. The early Hindu practitioners of tantric yoga experienced and taught sexual play and sexual union as an act of joyful celebration, as a demonstration of connectedness, as a symbolic affirmation of the unity inherent in a couple's relationship, and as a means for achieving spiritual sublimity. So sexual "hangups" were not prevalent, and tantric "healing" meant something quite different from what we mean when we apply it to couples today.
It's interesting that the tantric books refer to our age -- this turn-of-the-century period -- as part of the Age of Darkness, Kali Yuga in Sanskrit, and the reference is quite specific regarding our era's primitive sexual evolutionary status. Vedic scripture (a profound body of Hindu philosophy and scholarship) also identifies this time as the Age of Darkness and describes it as a period "when society reaches a stage where property confers rank, wealth becomes the only source of virtue ... falsehood the source of success in life ... and when outer trappings are confused with inner religion."
Fortunately, by the same calendar, we are at the very edge of this darkness, in the very last years of this age, and about to reenter the Age of Truth, or Satya Yuga. And we do see evidence that we are moving in that direction. There seem to be more of us who are making an effort to know ourselves and one another better, who desire to cast light on whatever darkness exists inside ourselves, and who seek to light a path for others, to make a positive difference in this world, whether with a partner or alone.
SEX IN THE AGE OF DARKNESS
Let us try now to cast light on some of the problems we children of the Dark Age are facing. We'll begin with the mixed messages we received about sex from childhood on. Most boys, for example, notice at a very young age how good sex feels through masturbation, and most are told in no uncertain terms not to do it. Most religions attempt to regulate sex with laws telling us how and when it may be practiced, and with dire penalties for those who disobey these laws. Our bodies make no moral judgment on sex, but many of us absorb the vision of our church or our parents, and whether or not we continue to accept this vision as true, we still carry with us the message that, except under special circumstances, sex is bad. Even during the sexual revolution, when a comparatively uninhibited sexual freedom was practiced, many individuals remained uncertain of the "rightness" of this freedom. It is not easy to expunge a previous generation's lessons in a decade or two.
As a result, there are a lot of people in the prime of their sexual years -- from thirty to sixty years old -- walking around with a vaguely guilty past, whether real or imagined. When you attach guilt, which is defined as "the state of having committed an offense or crime against moral or penal law," to sexuality, you make it offensive and criminal. And just as guilt often carries a measure of remorse with it, so may sex. Those who suffer with the "subtle knowledge" that what they are doing is wrong because they aren't married, or because they are not procreating, or on even deeper levels, because they feel unworthy of the kind of pleasure to be experienced from sex, are likely to feel both guilty and remorseful.
Furthermore, with the onslaught of AIDS, we have come to associate sex with the possibility of disease. Of course, this is not a new phenomenon; venereal diseases have been around for centuries. But we were born lucky; modern medicine gave us the means to avoid serious sexual infections -- until AIDS.
Another characteristic we associate with sex is shame. We learn when we are very young not to talk about or touch our genitals in public. It's okay to talk about other body parts, but not those of the second chakra. Even our healing arts, even conscious, holistic practitioners, avoid addressing the sexual center. Massage, for instance, is acceptable when applied to any part of the body other than the sexual areas.
Among the couples we work with, we find many negative imprints attached to these sexual areas. Both women and men, for example, have negative associations regarding menstruation. Some men are uneasy, even queasy, about the whole idea of it. For women, there may be an association with physical pain, with a fear of embarrassment, of "accidents," with the emotional tides that sometimes accompany menstruation. All of us associate loss of blood with injury and trauma, and no one feels good about that.
Involuntary erections and premature ejaculations can make men feel out of control and insecure. Orgasm itself is an uncontrolled physical spasm. And we have all worried about the appearance of our sexual parts at one time or another. Is it too big, or too small? Are they the right shape? Is there an odor?
Many of us also learned the truly perverse axiom that "nice girls don't do it." Boys were taught that the only kind of girl they were supposed to "love" (as in marry or have a serious relationship with) was one of those nice ones who didn't. Girls got the same message, and were therefore horrified (or pretended to be) when a boy tried to touch them -- What kind of girl does he think I am? Obviously, "love" excluded sex and vice versa.
Even though we may recognize this as an old program, most of us still carry these data within ourselves. In most cases this inappropriate indoctrination doesn't prevent us from finding a partner and being a lover; but even when we reject the original data the old programming occasionally flares up, becoming a subtle factor in the way we see ourselves, in our sexuality, and in our relationships. Even if our sexual history doesn't cause overt problems, it can have a covert effect on our ability to project love and to feel love through the sexual center.
As if these enormous negative imprints on the issue of sexuality were not enough of an encumbrance, we of this Age of Darkness are further burdened by the fact that we are uneducated in sex. Unlike the eastern Tantricas of days past, we come to our sexual awakening awkwardly, fearfully, and very much in the dark. Even sophisticated, sexually experienced, well-educated, otherwise worldly people operate on fallacious sexual assumptions and misinformation. Many of us never realize, even after years of sexual relationships, the full potential possible in sexual union.
In addition to all of these factors, which are really just a composite layer of influence that is to a major degree external, we are toting around an internal personal memory record that is even more immediate than our cultural indoctrination. These personal sexual experiences may have disappointed, or hurt, or frightened us far more than they provided us joy. According to the tantric books, these experiences are as much a symptom of the Age of Darkness as they are a product of the individual.
Obviously, all this negativity is going to have a negative effect on our present and future sexuality. The application of tantric principles can eliminate the scars etched by our sexual history, both personal and cultural. Time and again we have seen this happen, because Tantra addresses negativity on the very deepest levels. It encompasses every yin, or dark, aspect of it and matches it with its opposite yang, or light, quality.
Tantric yoga is a balancing act. When disharmony occurs the tantric couple makes a purposeful, conscious revision in the atmosphere by balancing their bodies' opposing or negative impulses. When Tantricas exchange sexual love, they draw on their separate impulse centers or bodily chakras to balance yin and yang, feminine and masculine, negative and positive. In the same way, balance can be achieved for the negative sexual histories we bring to a relationship. Tantra directly addresses the area where psychic or physical injury may exist. It uses love as a salve, as a tonic, as a panacea for sexual wounds.
It is not easy to image a system of therapy -- Freudian, Jungian, or gestalt, group or individual -- that doesn't require, for openers, shining light on the problem. Lighting something is a very yang, or positive, gesture that immediately affects a negative situation. Tantra asserts that negative imprints from sexual preconceptions and past experiences make their home in the region of the second chakra, just as injuries sustained by ambition or fear rest in the third chakra, and heartbreaks in the fourth. Tantric healing requires that we address the afflicted chakra directly.
The first step toward healing our sexual scars is to shine light on the second chakra so we can "see" what is creating the short circuit, or the block, or fear, or coldness, or anger, or just plain craziness. We use tantric meditation techniques to make the light -- to create an atmosphere we can see through, one that is radiant, that has the power to uplift us and move us through the darkness.
PARTNERS AS HEALERS
When partners are healers to each other, when they create light inside each other as a kind of radiation therapy for pain or fear or distrust, they make a profound connection. This connection involves two forms of energy: the energy of intimacy and the energy of sexual passion. These are the two main ingredients in tantric loving.
Tantric texts identify the fourth or heart chakra, which is the seat of intimacy, as a center of distinctly retrograde energy for men and progressive energy for women. The man's fourth chakra may be pictured as a wheel spinning in a counterclockwise direction, while the woman's is spinning clockwise. His is in a state of reversion, hers is capable of conversion. This is the nature of men and women, say the ancient writings. Because of this, for most men psychosexual difficulties and negative sexual imprints lodged in the second chakra find a compatible negative atmosphere in the fourth chakra, and often translate into difficulty in achieving and expressing intimacy.
On the other hand the second chakra, home of sexual energy and motivation, is a center of retrograde energy for women, while for men it is a focal point for transmutable power. So negative sexual propaganda is drawn to a woman's negative second center and lodges there as difficulty in expressing herself sexually, and often as difficulty in achieving a satisfying sexuality at all.
So here we are, men and women, each proficient in an area of deficiency in the other. In combination, in balance, the couple can nullify deficiency by teaching one another the secrets of their separate strengths. They can use the art, science, and ritual of tantric lovemaking to achieve a powerful healing yoga, or union -- to open doors to one another, for one another, and for the relationship itself. This yoga can replace dark memories with a bright present, create a new understanding of the meaning of sex and sexuality and partnership, and banish jealousy, possessiveness, and other ghosts of the past in the face of the absolute self-assurance the tantric couple gains in the practice of the art.
This article is excerpted from Tantra: The Art of Conscious Loving, by Charles & Caroline Muir. ?1989. Published by Mercury House Inc. Reprinted with permission of the authors.
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About the Authors
Charles and Caroline Muir run the Source School of Yoga and Tantra: The Art of Conscious Loving Seminars on Maui, Hawaii. They have appeared on national television as tantric sex experts. For more information about Charles and Caroline Muir's Tantra home study programs on audio and video cassettes and their Hawaiian vacation seminars, contact: Source School of Tantra, P.O. Box 69-B, Paia, Maui, Hawaii 96779 or visit their website at http://www.sourcetantra.com