Tantra and Sex

What is Tantric Sex?

The word tantra means ‘technique’. Siva used the word in his 5,000 year old book ‘Bhairavi Vigyana Tantra’. The title translates as ‘techniques for going beyond consciousness’. It is the first book we know of which records a list of meditation techniques.

Because of this little book the word tantra became associated with Siva’s approach to meditation and life in general, and Siva was a passionate man. Some of the meditations involve a love partner and the act of sexual intercourse, particularly the 48th which reads: “At the start of sexual union keep attentive on the fire in the beginning, and, so continuing, avoid the embers in the end.”

Siva and Parbati

Siva and Parbati

What Siva is suggesting is a conscious approach to sex, maintaining the state of anticipation and not rushing to orgasm.

This is especially important to women who have historically been dominated sexually and whose needs have often been ignored. A longer union gives the woman a better chance of achieving orgasm.

In the 1960s this idea was associated with tantra and a lot of people thought this was an enlightened approach to sex, whch is fair enough, but it misses the point, which is the importance of consciousness to sex and every other field of human endeavour.

Later tantra became associated with group sex and other varieties of sex which were thought of as ‘kinky’. Again the connection of tantra to sex was reinforced, and again the central idea of Tantra, the spiritual tradition, was overlooked.

This is hardly surprising as sex is an obsession with most of us and we are all (well, nearly all) fascinated with sex.

Tantra is the opposite of Yoga, which focuses on control, discipline and the containment of desire. Tantra has nothing against desire, in fact it values desire as a manifestation of life energy in a pure form. The desires for sex, food and comfort have driven humanity forward. These are primal instincts. Why suppress them? Why demonise them?

Well, all kinds of churches have urged people to suppress their sexual desires as a trick to keeping them under control, at least in public. Control sex and you have the keys to the kingdom, and this is what the fake religions have done.

Tantra celebrates sex. It should be celebrated. It has given more pleasure to more people than any other activity, and it is vital to our survival. What’s not to like?

Tantra is about techniques to increase consciousness and awareness, and it does not look down on human desire, in fact it sees desire as a source of energy. It sees the orgasm as a moment of oneness, where the normal mind is temporarily obliterated by a rush of natural ecstasy. A meditation in itself, if done the right way: consciously.

Hence Tantra is vibrant, colourful and respectful of the female. Whereas conservative religions like Christianity have excluded women from official positions, Tantra embraces them whole-heartedly. Women feature in Tantric stories and not just as whores and mothers, but as godesses in their own right. Siva’s consort Parvati is as powerful and significant as Siva himself and it is she who inspires Siva’s book of meditations.



Any form of sex can be tantric if it is conscious. It is consciousness which is the key. Tantric sex is the opposite of a quick, drunken roll in the hay.

To Tantra the body is a temple and sex is a celebration of the pleasures of life.

If you want to try a Tantric exercise, the next time you finish having sex, rest quietly afterward and see how easy it is to go into meditation in that warm afterglow. Don’t talk or light a cigarette, just lie silently on your back and drift away thoughtlessly.

At that point meditation happens easily and naturally, and it is an experience open to all of us who are capable of orgasm. It is a gift to be treasured and expressed with delight.

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