Spiritual enlightenment through SEX - Turning the pleasurable act into a 'holy' experience
In a world steeped in conservatism and religious dogmas, any discourse on the pleasures of sex is taboo, shrouded in secrecy and best relegated to the back burner.
But therein lies the cause of our nagging social and psychological problems, according Dr Sasha and Janet Lessin, directors of the highly respected School of Tantra in Hawaii.
For decades, the Lessins have been sought by the media for their ground breaking work on sacred sexuality. They are therapists, lecturers and have penned influential books, such as Great Relationships, and How to Really Love a Woman.
And they have established the first Tantra Church in the United States called the Tantra Theosophical and Gaia-Worshipping Society of the Divine Human Family.
For decades, the Lessins have bucked the trend, challenging long-held traditional beliefs, while proving that the orgasmic experience is a conduit to spiritual enlightenment.
Tantra transcends sex therapy and is far removed from libertine or capricious sexual indulgence, as detractors argue. It is a holistic system that includes metaphysics, meditation, and religious rituals.
It is complex and profoundly philosophical. Its teachings, spanning thousands of years, are found in sacred texts from the East. Tantric scripture is essentially Hindu or Buddhist, with the Guhyasamaja Tantra being the most important to the latter.
The Lessins define 'Tantra' as 'weaving'. During copulation, couples are trained to become a single unit, experiencing sexual nirvana, essentially spiritual enlightenment.
Their energies become one. But this is not easy, requiring coaching and full attunement with one's body. In our hour-long interview, the Lessins detailed the seven chakras or energy centres that run along the spinal column and how they merge to bring about the desired spiritual experience.
Starting with the inner child chakra or our area of vulnerability that we fiercely protect to a fault, they went on to explain the other energy centres and how they relate to our psycho-emotional
The sexual chakra (the reservoir of our fluids); the power chakra (how we allow our partner to lead, depending on circumstances); the heart chakra (how we find balance in giving and taking); the communication chakra (knowing when to be expressive or silent); the vision chakra (clear, intellectual thinking); and the crown chakras (experiencing the union with our partner during the orgasmic act).
Unfortunately, they note, the spiritual essence of sex is lost. They produced data showing that men, on an average, take four minutes to ejaculate while women climax just around the 20th minute. The woman, they argue, is pivotal in Tantric therapy. As the woman goes, so does the relationship.
Women are taught to experience the fullness of sex. They, too, learn that ejaculation is also possible. But these autonomic sexual explosions must be controlled so that we can mutually satisfy each other and simultaneously experience union with each other and the Divine.
This is attainable when we master the mudras, a system of controlled breathing techniques involving stretching the backbone, and redirecting the awareness to the coccyx and the navel. At some point, the tightening of the anus is required. But first, "one must have control of the belly muscles", meaning that, "some level of physical conditioning is necessary".
Tantra also involves counselling to ensure that participants are intellectually attuned to its philosophy. Role playing is important so that participants will understand their boundaries and know when to be vulnerable, yet in control.
This removes barriers to enlightenment caused by religious indoctrination and cultural hang-ups. Tantra builds trust. It is a sacred experience that brings individuals closer while connecting to a broader, universal energy or the Cosmos.
They stress that when all the parts are in place and a level of maturity is reached, the orgasmic experience takes on sacred dimensions. It is what ancient alchemists called 'transmutation', or turning lead into gold. In this case, the Lessins teach turning the raw, pleasurable sex act into a 'holy' experience.
This divine pleasure can also be experienced by a single practitioner. Here, masturbation is akin to a prayerful, devotional act that includes meditation, controlled breathing, sublime intention and the orgasmic moment that bridges mater with spirit.
The power of this energy increases multifold when practised among individuals, all of whom must share the same intent and vibratory level. The Lessins drew reference to the biblical quote (Matthew 18:20): "For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them."
"The implications are the same," they note. "There is greater focus and unification of thought. It's like prayer. You can effect change."
Contrary to what is held, the Lessins promote honesty and transparency in every relationship, although they note that monogamy runs counter to our nature. They slam polygamy that is based on paternalism and believe that poly-amorous relationships can be healthy, but only "if everyone one is aware and respectful of each others desires".
They uphold that couples should play out their fantasies in a safe environment; and that lust is natural, although we should guard against adultery and duplicitous affairs.
"Sex, coupled with caring and love, is needed to raise our spiritual awareness," they tell me. "Studies have shown that sexually gratified people are happier, live longer and are more attuned with nature and others. They are far less violent. If this is not spiritual enlightenment, what is?" they ask.
- Dr Glenville Ashby is a spiritual wellness consultant and president of Global Interfaith Council Corp.