Yogic texts suggest our world to be living in an age of forgetfulness (‘Kali-Yuga’), dreaming that we are the body and forgetful of ourselves to be the Soul Eternal. A useful analogy for this concept is a drop of water believing “I AM a drop” and forgetting it-Self to be one with the ocean.
According to Yoga’s jewel, the Bhagavad Gita, there are four basic types of yoga available to us, depending on one’s disposition. Each of these yogas leads us away from what we might call ‘the dream of being a rain-drop’ (body I-dentification’, the ‘I’ or the ‘Ego’) and towards remembering the ocean of Oneness or our True Self. And at the mystical heart of each of these forms of yoga is a phenomenon known as Kundalini:
i Jnana, the Yoga of Silence & Knowing: Bringing our awareness to the illusion of being a raindrop
ii Bhakti, the Yoga of Sound & Devotion: Offering our devotion to the feet of the Ocean
iii Karma, the Yoga of Action & Works: Putting our efforts towards the ocean rather than towards the raindrop
iv Raja, the Yoga of Eight Limbs: An 8 step path taking us from 'rain-drop to ocean' (with the 5th step being ‘sense-withdrawal’ - pratyahara).
Some schools of Yoga teach the entire Bhagavad Gita (Great Song) to be part of a bigger Love-Song, which God (Krishna) wrote and sung for his Beloved, (Rhada) - perhaps exampling a 5th form of yoga - Tantra Yoga. Tantra is a yoga working WITH the senses, rather than withdrawing them, weaving energetic, physical and conscious touch: Raindrops splashing into each other.
In our view,
Jnana is the silence of the mountain
Bhakti is the song of the mountain's volcanic eruption
Karma is the rebuilding of the mountain
Raja is climbing back up the mountain
Tantra is perhaps holding hands with the Beloved through out each of these steps together. “Oh! Arunachala Shiva”
Note how these yoga’s are described from most-subtle to least-subtle e.g. Silence, Sound, Movement, Body and Touch.
Each of the yoga practices may have a 'shadow', leading us into deeper identification with the raindrop:
Jnana (Silence): Intentions for silence can often be driven from a place of dis-connecting from feelings (rather than connecting to love).
Bhakti (Sound): Intention for sound can often move away from devotion and towards performance.
Karma (Movement/Action): Intention for works can become driven from one’s own desires or greed.
Raja (Body): Intention for body-based practices may be driven by vanity or bodily-pride.
Tantra (Bodies): Intention of touch can be driven purely from gratification of the senses only.
When these shadows are at work, Kundalini remains dormant and the raindrop/s remains distinctly apart from the ocean.
Tantra: A Yoga Which Includes Touch
Interestingly, we may practice the postures of conventional yoga classes for many years (‘Yoga-Asana’, the 3rd limb of Raja Yoga) and experience very little rise or expression of Kundalini at all. Yet when physical, energetic and conscious TOUCH is introduced, we may see countless Kundalini experiences unfold, sometimes in a matter of minutes... especially when combined with BREATH, SOUND & MOVEMENT.
Yoga & Tantra
The word yoga means ‘to connect’, the word religion means to 're-bridge', the word tantra means ‘to weave’: Many words each representing the same theme. And at the heart of all yoga is the mystical awakening of Kundalini.
The Paradox of Yoga is that we ‘move the body to move beyond the body’. This is what separates ‘real yoga’ from ‘bullshit yoga’. And Tantra-yoga is no different. Some yoga ‘on the mat’ may be driven from pure intentions of union however other “yoga” may be driven from intentions of vanity or ego e.g. ‘to get to the next posture’ or ‘to become more spiritual’. Similarly, some Tantra-yoga may be driven from pure intentions of union however other “Tantra” may simply be exploitation of the yogic-arts to attain deeper bodily gratification.
Bodily gratification is okay, actually, very beautiful and one of the reasons our souls chose to incarnate into physical form. However if this is the only intention for making love or coaching a client, this is not Tantra. Tantra intimacy is a meditation inviting us to see past the ego and return to it as something sacred. When we engage tantrically, we dare to open our hearts. We dare to risk being hurt. We dare to give, again and again. We dare to love with fire and passion. With fullness of body, heart and consciousness. And we dare to connect with Spirit as there is a silent knowing that we are joined to the force of life and we remember that there is more connection than separation. Physical and bodily gratification is only a very small piece, and a piece that can never fill the yearning gap in our soul for wholeness.
Bhagavad Gita (Chapter 07, Text 03)
‘Do the extraordinary for the extraordinary, not the ordinary’
Lovemaking is extraordinary, there is no doubt about that. It creates the most beautiful thing on the planet, a newborn baby…how can this not be extraordinary? But if we engage in it mainly for bodily gratification, then we are reducing a miraculous act to the ordinary. So what is extraordinary? Spiritual love. Tantric Relationship. Sacred Union.
There are two basic Tantric relationships, ‘Lover and Beloved’ and ‘Teacher and Student’.
Both of these relationships involve the raising of Kundalini through exercising the four Yogas of the Bhagavad Gita: Silent-Awareness (Jnana), Devotion & Sound (Bhakti), Loving Actions & Service (Karma), and Pranayama (4th Limb of Raja). A Tantra Teacher may act as a guide for the student to raise their own Kundalini, however the ‘Lover and Beloved’ is the only relationship involving ‘Sacred Union’; an authentic manifestation between two mature, EQUAL beings raising EACH-OTHER’S Kundalini together, in a bond of Love.
Teacher and Student
Similar to the ‘Parent and Child’, a ‘Teacher and Student’ relationship is not one of Sacred-Union, as their relationship is not equal. Indeed, a lot of the healing taking place between a Tantra Teacher and Student is often actually healing the inner child whose sexuality has been in some way tarnished, abused, shamed, tamed, suppressed or never even really addressed beyond the physical.
As we help to guide a student to heal, we are helping them to “grow” into maturity…to move beyond the consciousness of the inner-child (who is often running the show) and into the consciousness of the adult who is a sovereign being. It is our opinion that as this maturation process is taking place, engaging a client sexually is not in their best interest. Certainly, sexual energy may be present but this energy is being utilised to release trauma from the client’s body, to guide them into the awakening of their own kundalini and capacity to be their own Lover. To feel pleasure? Yes. To release fear guilt and shame around their sexuality? Yes
…to engage in sexual acts with a practitioner, often under the guise of “sacred union”? hmmmmm perhaps not.
Lover and Beloved
Sacred Union is a radically authentic, respectful, creative and beautiful dance of giving and receiving. It is a mature, EQUAL relationship where you are both capable of doing your own deep work individually and with each other, so your relationship is fluid, embracing both form and formlessness, heights (ascension) and depths (descent into the emotional body). There is no one playing victim or martyr, feeling as though they give more in the relationship and there is no one taking advantage and acting selfishly, feeling squeezed or imprisoned. Where there is sacred union, at certain points in the relationship, it is not possible to move forward until more inner growth occurs. This inner growth takes effort, so there is a willingness to commit to spiritual, psychological and emotional development.
Sacred Union between Lover and Beloved is a Dance that requires lots of leaping. You are constantly being called to confront yourself and your ability to cultivate a rich fulfilling life dedicated to Love. It is a dance that allows for a higher frequency to find expression on the physical level, including through lovemaking. Lovemaking in this context, is a spiritual experience, that is, a ritual bringing you both closer to Spirit (if you break down the word spiritual you will find the marriage of spirit and ritual).
Tantra, Personal Energies and Kundalini
Ancient yogic proverbs suggest the relationship of the ‘Teacher and Student’ to be the deepest, even deeper than that of the ‘Lover and Beloved’, this is in spite of the ‘Lover and Beloved' being able to enter into Sacred Union together. Although a teacher and student may both be adults on the outside, there are often times in healing encounters where the student is actually moving from the vulnerability of their inner-child. So, similar to how a parent would guide a child in their path to understanding sexual maturation, without engaging with them sexually, a true Tantra teacher guides the student into Tantric maturity, whilst maintaining the erotic innocence of student’s heart. Often what is needed most, is for the client to be held in the great arms of loving presence.
Yoga, Tantra and Commitment
Similar to yoga practiced on the mat, Tantra-yoga requires the ingredient of commitment. Over time, the roots of commitment lays a foundation for the fruits of the practice to be yielded and for the soul to rise and flower and the heart to unfold, it is contained but not constrained.
The maturation of intimacy grows in equal proportion to the tests of commitment the relationship endures over time and therefore, it could be said that a relationship born of Sacred Union is monogamous by nature rather than the contrary. This is the paradox of experiencing freedom through commitment.
‘As the mind is only able to hold one thought at a time, let it be the heart of the Guru or the heart of the Beloved’, this is true Bhakti-Yoga (Devotion).
Where there is a commitment to a consistent level of piercing love and loving embrace, the feminine feels safe and worthy of love not just in the bedroom but also out of the bedroom. Sacred Union is happening in every moment…when we share our day, when we hold hands, when we express our thoughts and feelings, when we cook together, watch a sunset together and tend to menial tasks somehow becomes magical because they are enlivened by the power of Love. This is the true blessing of sacred union.
Sacred Union and Kali
When “sacred union” is taking place in “the bedroom” and not out of the bedroom it can be really difficult, confusing and traumatic for the feminine…to say the least! The act of sacred union is so deep. You are entering and being entered with a level of loving presence that if not maintained when the “act” or ritual is complete, feelings of worthlessness, longing and pain in the heart naturally arise. Perhaps the belief even forms, that I am only good enough to be completely loved, embraced, seen and worshipped when my body is being traded, but when it is just me and sex is not involved, I am not good enough.
No wonder the feminine can become ‘pissed-off’, needy, angry and bitter (‘Kali’ AKA a woman’s wrath) . If sacred union is happening in the bedroom but not out of the bedroom, it is not true sacred union.
Dependence, Interdependence & Distance
‘We must learn to love ourselves before we can love another’.
The Lover & Beloved must have their own independent practice before being able to merge fully or integrate a shared practice together. It is healthy to be in a position of wanting to be together but not needing each other. This takes Maturity. Although couples may advance in their own yoga practices, no real growth in relationship can be found until the separate practices are combined into human experiences e.g. holding space with and for each-other so that vulnerability may unveil and express through the EMOTIONAL BODY – The house of Kundalini-Shakti.
While practicing Yoga or Tantra, a partner may have a profound experience (either on the ‘yoga-mat’ or in the bedroom) however it is the commitment to remembering the profundity of this love throughout time (and throughout the mundane) which is telling of the true yoga practice.
The promise of Tantra Yoga is the experience of Sacred Union with the Beloved even in the absence of their physical touch or proximity. Over time, the love of Sacred-Union may be remembered while in distance from the Beloved, a form of Tantra unfolding; more subtle, yet more profound.
Call for Change
Prayer for Sacred Relationship from Divinized Sexuality: The Birth of the Divine Human through Sacred Relationship: “Beloved Mother Father...We pray for you to bless our Union and our heart’s desires to birth a committed relationship. Please bless us with all that it takes to transition out of the Old Paradigm and into the New. Grant us the courageousness of heart to feel all our feelings, to tell the microscopic truth and to keep all our agreements that we make to ourselves, to one another and to you, our beloved, most divine creator. Thank you Mother Father…for the burning desire within us to do this, to feel the urge for change and to take the kind and loyal steps to do this. Amen
With love, Chantelle & Simon
‘May the Truth Nourish the Roots’