By James Bean
Copyright June 2008
Exploring the World Religions — Book Review
"From OM to Orgasm — The Tantra Primer for Living in Bliss."
by Chandi Devi and J. Ram Sivananda
Published by Author House:
Now I know what you’re thinking: "Oh no! What does sex have to do with spirituality and exploring the world religions?" There’s this funny saying I once came up with: ‘If your parents never had sex, chances are, you won’t either.’
On a more serious note. The art of tantra, despite what some in the West have done to present it in a way that is divorced from it’s holistic, traditional Hindu context giving it a different sort of reputation, one might say, nevertheless is very spiritual and integrated with other aspects of Hinduism and the Yoga system.
I recently interviewed Chandi Devi, one of the authors of an impressive new book on Tantra yoga. Below is part of that conversation.
J: Thanks for joining me Chandi to talk about your new book.
Chandi: Hi James and thank you for having me.
J: It’s my pleasure. What really impresses me about your book on Tantra is how Hindu it is, which actually makes sense of course! Tantra is a practice that come from the Indian tradition, emanates from the subcontinent of India, but I notice it’s a book as much about Hinduism, Yoga, and spirituality as it is a book about sexuality. For some reason here in the West, Tantra often gets abused, reduced to sex only. I notice that sort of cultural filtering or tampering sometimes can be an issue or danger with certain teachings from other parts of the world. I can think of several examples where groups or teachers based in the West have gone into business, grabbed, repackaged ideas they have picked up on, perhaps without even being on good terms with Eastern Masters, ending up giving reduced or edited versions of teachings or techniques, yet actually claiming to speak for, or represent, a certain discipline. But if one should happen to get acquainted with the original path or discipline back in India, one realises that the "imported" version is only providing part of the picture, not the whole thing, as we’ve seen with Tantra, in this case: just the physical component perhaps without the spiritual being included. Sometimes imitation is NOT the highest form of flattery. [Laughter.]
Chandi: Yes, Tantra has it’s roots in Hinduism. It’is very spiritual and there are no shortcuts. Like you were saying, the subject of Tantra has been treated in the West as merely a yoga of sex, and with no preparation necessary, you just get into it and get as much of it as you like. They have reduced it to that when it is so much more. Tantra is so divine. We wanted to show the people of the West in particular that Tantra is a path. It is not a recreation, and it is not pedestrian sex. Sex is a part of it because in Tantra we accept everything as worship to God. If you approach everything that you do as a method to reach God or as an acknowledgement of His divine-ness, then your approach to living and your way of thinking — everything, becomes transformed. Tantra is about transformation: transforming the base into higher states of consciousness.
J: And meditation is part of Tantra as well, visualisation, or what you would call inner techniques?
Chandi: Oh definitely! Meditation is the first step. Before even approaching Tantric sex with a partner it would be very helpful if the parties involved would have already established some kind of meditation practice, because in the love-making they can bring this meditation knowledge or awareness into the sex act. This is what gives it all its power and makes it so ecstatic.
I think it is very important if you have some knowledge of the Right-Hand Path, which is the meditation practices, chanting, reciting mantras, journaling, contemplation — all of that. It’s important to have a little bit of that background, because when you approach Tantra without that, it can wreak havoc on you — it really can…… and I had first-hand experience…..but with the knowledge that what you are doing — all the techniques, it just makes Tantra a lot more understandable. If you just dive into Tantra and say, "Wow, this is great. I can have sex all night long!" That’s not Tantra. It can be part of it, but that’s not it. So basically, Tantra is about energy, taking that energy — sexual energy, and transforming it from the base of your spine all the way up to your Seventh Chakra. You can do it through meditation, or chanting, reciting mantras — it’s also done with a partner. The whole process is for evolvement of the soul and not a de-volvement. Now, what’s happened is that, if you bypass or skip the preparation part of Tantra, you miss a whole lot of the practice. That’s where the joy is. That’s where the permanence is. You can experience temporary awakenings if you want to call it that, or experience a shooting energy going up your spine and showering over your head and everything, but, unless it is maintained and cultivated and nurtured, you can lose it. You don’t want to lose something like that. Once you have it you want to keep it. You want to treasure it and take care of it. For this reason you do the other practices we mentioned earlier, all the practices, the basis of Hinduism.
J: So Tantra practice is part of that same journey of ascension: going up the chakras — consciousness raising, in other words. It is another yoga or path towards that same ultimate experience?
Chandi: Oh yes. Positively it is a yoga, with all the same terms, concepts and principals, such as karma, ego, dharma, maya, being mindful…….all of this is included in the practice. It is not a frivolous path of pedestrian sex. That is not what Tantra is, and there are consequences and dangers if you approach it in that way. That’s why we wrote the book, because we’re trying to show people how they can maintain this ecstatic state by just doing some simple things. Granted. It is hard. We don’t have enough time to do all the things that we want to do, much less to sit for an hour or two a day when you’re in traffic for an hour or two a day, but what we did was try to also include exercises that can be done in five minutes or less. Just simple things you can do.
The book is for people who have very busy schedules, also want to practice in private and not have to go to workshops or classes, but they want to improve their relationship with their partner. Tantra is the best way to improve your relationship and build intimacy with your beloved. If you want to experience spiritual sex, all of these things have to be considered. In the book we cover exercises to do. There are many illustrations as well, quick tips, and charts that can help the seeker, the practitioner as they try to experience this path called Tantra.
In this book we have attempted to present the facets, the gems of light that make for a successful and orgasmic life, not just sexually, but spiritually as well.
Once you have the information, it is important to get out of your head and into your heart, for there is where the real magic and transformation takes place. This is our true center, where all the reflected light of the galaxies, the stars, and the planets affect our entire being. Nityananda said, "The heart is the hub of all places; go there and roam."
Quote from the book:
"We can meditate, chant and do all the practices with reverence, and we can still be "light", and at ease about it. We can laugh even in the midst of a meditation, or dance, or during sex and savor the moment. Meditation doesn’t have to be serious business and it should not be. Have fun with it, have fun with your partner. Laugh, love and live with passion. Being spiritual doesn’t mean you should become pious, have no sense of humor, or become rigid in body and mind."
Prayer at the end:
May your life be blessed,
May you see only beauty
Know only peace
Hear only harmony
And feel only bliss.
May you live always in sex, love and joy.
Hari Om Tat Sat