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May 28, 2004

Tantric Sex

You can read a serious-faced, scholarly discussion about Tantra here. (Link thanks to ALD, here.) It's an interesting piece, I guess. But the question arises: if you're interested in Tantra, why would you want to read this kind of thing? Don't you want instead to read about sex, spirituality, and art? Don't you want instead to pick up some handy-dandy sex tips?

The writer of the piece and the book under review both seem to think that Westerners don't take Tantra seriously enough. I'm hardly one to think that eroticism can be boiled down to "fun," as American pop cult too often does. Fun can be a component, but let's not limit ourselves, or our erotic experience. On the other hand, where sex is concerned, is what's needed really a gloomy, studious scolding, let alone a graduate degree in anything? As far as I'm concerned, that's an attitude that misses even more of the point than the pop-fun attitude does.

I confess that I'm guilty -- and have been for years! -- of dabbling in superficial ways with Tantra, and with various other Eastern approaches to sex too. (Yes, thank you, I do know that Tantra isn't just about sex.) And you know what? Even if all you do is experiment with these notions and techniques in the most EZ kind of way -- and provided only that you keep a straight face and do your best to tune into the moment -- they work just grrrrr-rrreat.

It's mystifying to me why more people don't take advantage of these approaches. Blissfully altered states and extraordinary erotic experiences, yours for the asking. Calorie-free too -- what's not to like? Taoist, Tantric ... Don't look to me to play the choosy scholar, because as far as I'm concerned it's all good. I find the Indian thing more dreamy and poetic -- and hence, for someone as impractical and suggestible as I am, sexier -- than the Chinese thing, which strikes me as a little harsh and direct. But that's just personal taste. Both approaches have a lot to offer.

Here's a useful book about Taoist approaches to sex. I see here that there's a "Complete Idiot's Guide to Tantra." Here's a perfectly fine Westernized "Kama Sutra." Here's a book that, IMHO, does a great job of spelling out the general Indian/Hindu/yoga-ish approach to eroticism -- of this bunch, it's my fave. Here's a sumptuously visual version of the "Kama Sutra" that's full of images of sexy Indian paintings and sculptures. Here's a helpful-seeming Amazon reader's list of suggested books; here's another.

My own reflection is that these mystical theories and codified techniques are to be respected and cherished. Like French cooking techniques or classical oil-painting techniques, they seem basic to the creation and experience of more complex kinds of pleasure than we're able, left to our own devices, to treat ourselves to.

Hey, here's a likable, if rather scattershot, online guide to the Indian view of art and the erotic.

posted by Michael at May 28, 2004


Whoa! Tantra has something to do with sex? Suddenly that joke in A Fish Called Wanda, when Otto says that the early Tantric form of meditation in which he is engaging was something "the monks used to do before they went into battle", is even funnier.

Posted by: Jaquandor on May 28, 2004 04:57 PM

My favorite renderings of Indian sexuality and eroticism are the carvings of the caves of Ajanta and Ellora. You'll enjoy looking them up.

Posted by: Neha on May 29, 2004 01:18 AM

The Tantra?
Heck, I prefer the Andrew Greeley approach to spirituality and sex...(As shown in his novels, and confirmed by his sociological statistics) you pray with your husband, then he gets horny...and your marriage is better.
Even John of the Cross notes that when prayer inspires love in your heart, the fleshy side effect is...well, a distraction for monks but a nice side effect for the rest of us.
And when you pray, you have to forgive others--so holding a grudge against one's spouse has to be given up...and boy, it makes the making up all the better...
Now, if you just want sex techniques, forget it...I'm old and too arthritic for the Kama Sutra. That's what hookers are for...but you will be lonely in the morning.
But if you want great SEX, try making love with one you care for and trust and who loves you back.

Posted by: Nancy Reyes on June 1, 2004 08:00 AM

Another good, all-round general tome on techniques Chinese, Hindi and otherwise is Sexual Secrets.

I've found Taoist techniques, particularly some of their shortcuts (compared to Tantra) for males to be a great place to start (especially pressure on the perineum); Tantra proper is much easier after proficiency with some of the Taoist stuff.

Biographical note (too much information alert, if you're pruddish, close the window now!):

Around 2 months before (finally!) losing my virginity, at the tender young (for hardcore computer geeks) age of 19, I fell into Eastern meditation and Taoist solo sexual practices. Particularly those regarding prolonging the time a male stays "at attention".

End result? The first time I had sex I went for an hour and a half. Made it seem worth the wait! And she had No Idea I was a virgin, and this from a stone cold fox, borderline nymphomaniac. Thought I was Don Juan incarnate or something, not a beginner!

So while I agree with the above comment that love making is always better with one you truly love (oh is it indeed!), combining that love with field-tested technique is worlds better yet still.

Posted by: David Mercer on June 1, 2004 05:09 PM

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