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Tantra and Tantric Love - Misunderstandings and Misinformation - Swami Chidananda Saraswati

Tantra, or the practice of ‘sacred sexuality,’ is becoming very popular in the West today. Do you think these teachings offer an authentic spiritual path? Swami Chidananda Saraswati answers in detail on the topic of Tantra and Tantric Love in Hinduism and clears lot of misunderstandings and misinformation.

No, I do not think that these teachings offer an authentic spiritual path. Why? Because of human frailty, human weakness. The human mind is so made that it always takes the path of least resistance. It always wants the easy way.

Misunderstandings and Misinformation

Tantra is an approach to God through all types of sense enjoyment. Everything is offered to God and so everything becomes sanctified; nothing is profane. One enjoys sense satisfaction and sees it also as part of God's bliss. There is a view, and it has something to it, that while in all human experiences duality persists – there is an ‘I am enjoying this object’ feeling – that in the ultimate sexual experience between a truly loving male, intensely in love with the female and fully reciprocated by the female, there is no consciousness of one's individuality. There is a total fusion of the separatist consciousness in each one, and there is only the awareness of experience. There is no experiencer. They say this is a possibility when it is done to its perfection. The two cease to be and there is only one, nondual experience, experience Absolute, brahmic-consciousness. So they say that the human body is an instrument that, if properly made use of, can bring about a rising above body consciousness.

For one in a million it may click.

The pursuit of pleasure is part of the Western view of life – not the denial of pleasure. And one teacher in ten may be an authentic teacher genuinely offering something suited to the Western temperament. But nine of them are very shrewd people. They know there is a market for this, and they are wise to it.

Mind you, this was an authentic path that did once upon a time exist in India, especially in the Eastern part. Even now it exists. But it became grossly perverted. People became enmeshed in it. They said they were practicing tantra, but it was only wining, dining and sex pleasure. It took them nowhere, but I suppose it took them where they wanted to go. So it was dubbed by enlightened people of that time as the ‘perverted path.’ Two paths then came into existence: the authentic path which was called the ‘right-hand path,’ and the perverted path which was only after enjoyment. That was called the ‘left-hand path.’

There is an episode in the life of the great Sri Ramakrishna, the guru of Swami Vivekananda. He practiced all the yogic paths as well as Christianity, Islam and others, and he discovered that they all led to the same ultimate God-experience. And during one period of his spiritual life he practiced tantra also. A woman tantric approached him and said, ‘I have been sent here by God to initiate you into the tantric way of attaining God.’ Day after day she expounded the tantric way. But when it came to the final stage, Sri Ramakrishna, who swore by Brahmacharya, replied that through this body it is impossible. So she said, ‘Then I'll have the whole thing enacted before you.’ So she got a Tantric male and a Tantric female to enact the ultimate consummation of the practice before him. As he was observing it stage by stage she went on describing it to him: ‘Observe carefully. Now you see how they are in ecstasy; they are ecstatic. They are losing their own consciousness.’ And at that stage, suddenly Ramakrishna lost all consciousness. He went into deep samadhi (a blissful state of nondual consciousness). So he vicariously proved to himself that that ultimate sexual experience can lift one up into that state beyond all duality.

And so the science as such exists, but there are very few authentic gurus, and it has to be strictly followed under the personal supervision of a true guru. I am likely to be accused of being uncharitable, but I believe that most purveyors of modern sacred sexuality are interested in making a profit out of it for themselves.

As I told you, the sex force is sacred; sex is sacred. It is one of the most sacred of all things. But sacred sexuality is a misnomer. Once you get enmeshed in sexuality, the sacredness is given the bye bye. That is due to man's weakness, frailty. Therefore, I am not going to be an advocate of it.
Swami Chidananda

(Swami Chidananda (1916 - 2008) was a disciple of Swami Sivananda, the founder of the Divine Life Society, and Swami Chidananda succeeded him in 1963.)

(Source: From an interview with Swami Chidananda in the What is enlightenment magazine)