Sunday, November 27, 2011

Thankfulness and atheist spirituality

  • We atheists should not forget about the power of thankfulness just because we realize that there is no god. There is always something to thank for, and it is good practice to do so.
    And of course, there is always a lot to blame someone for, too.
    Now, it is interesting to see, so many theists think that when they let go of god, their lives will somehow become pointless, as there will be no-one to thank for.
    I find that the exact opposite happened to me. Back when I believed in god, I would have a very hard time dealing with bad things that happened to me. The question of why god would let something like that happen always hung around like in a speech bubble in a comic-strip. Even if I tried not to think of it, it was still in the back of my head.
    I think it is just natural for humans to put the blame on someone. The only remedy is to take up responsibility for one’s own life. This is a gradual, slow, painful process that, I believe, all of us have to go through. Nobody can ever really claim to “be there”, because that tendency can bite you in the back unexpectedly at any time. But we can gradually become better at accepting our own responsibility for ourselves.
    I have personally found that theism is a huge stumbling block in that process. The idea of a personal god practically necessitates praising him for the good, while blaming him for the bad. Christians will, of course, try to only go for the praising part while leaving out the blaming part, but in my experience this is always a dance on eggshells. “Lamma sabachtani” – even the purported founder of the religion fell for it; how would his disciples not?
    In my life, there is no-one to blame for whatever disaster should strike me. That knowledge gives me radical freedom.
    And here is the real interesting part: I can still be thankful. And I should – human beings are social animals, and thankfulness makes them feel good and and helps them be more kindly towards their fellow beings. So we should cherish those feelings.
    ESPECIALLY as atheists, we should do so. We should not give up on thankfulness just because god does not exist. We should not let christianity, or any other religion, have a monopoly on thankfulness. (The same goes, of course, for many other good things that religions reclaim for themselves.)
    I can be thankful to all the people who supported me. I can be thankful to my parents for bringing up a child with cerebral palsy, for not having an abortion when chances were that this child would be much worse off than he actually is today. I can be thankful to my teachers, my friends, my work-buddies for making my life as rich and colourful as it is. I can be thankful to my customers for giving me enough money to live comfortably. I can be thankful to my cats for their never-dying purring and sweetness.
    And on top of that, I can be thankful to all the coincidences that led to my being alive. And I do that, knowing full-well that it is irrational. As a human being, I can deliberately choose to make an anthropomorphic image out of… well, out of basically anything. I can act as if “fate” was something real, I can act as if it was a decision-taking instance, and then give my thanks to it. I do not have to actually believe that this is factually true. It is simply my imagination, nothing more – and I can play around with my imagination as I please.
    In short, we can use our own minds in as many creative ways as we want – after all, it’s my own mind, and I should take care of it as good as I can. Practicing thankfulness is one important act of spiritual cleanliness, and we shouldn’t let the fact that god does not exist keep us from exercising those very healthy, very pleasant, very beneficial practices.

Friday, October 14, 2011

"You wanna see public orgasms? Go to a pentecostal church!"

I rather like that quote, though my beef with the girl in the video is that she seemingly sells "healing", but also says that "healing can only take place if there is complete surrender without expectations". So the customer shouldn't expect anything. And probably still has to pay.

Doesn't sound very promising to me.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

That hilarious crossover of mysticism

While researching kundalini yoga, I came across a lot of criticism from evangelist/fundamentalist christians.

Some have even come up with their own set of yogalike postures, combining them with christian praise music and calling the result "Christoga" or "ChristMoves", neatly allowing for a whole new bunch of DVDs and books.

Not that I'm opposed to making money of course. Stretching + prayer certainly is equally valid as stretching + chanting. As long as it gets people to exercise, that is a good thing.

But what strikes me is that deeply rooted magical mindset, that mystical-mindedness behind all this.

Isn't it somewhat odd for a christian to assume that a yoga pose has a spiritual effect in and of itself? Inside hinduism, this might make sense, since they assume that body and mind are essentially the same. But clearly, the hinduist explanation is invalid from a christian point of view. "Because it comes from a hinduist context, and because the pose is originally meant as an expression of devotion for a hindu deity - therefore practicing it must lead christians astray." - Well... aren't those hindu gods merely figures of stone? How can a physical pose somehow force your mind to succumb to a deity you don't even believe exists?

What they basically say, over and over again, is that the chakras actually DO exist, that the kundalini snake really IS there - only it's not a source of healing energy, but basically a demonic force.

Think of it: This is a practice that was invented by a religion that all those fundamentalist christians deny has any merits. It is a lie. It is simply not true. Inside christianity, there is no such thing as chakras. They're never mentioned in the bible, and St. Augustine of Hippo certainly never pictured them.

And furthermore, there is no objective evidence pointing to the existence of chakras, or the kundalini (or meridians, for that matter). All there is is anectdotal evidence that can easily be explained as autosuggestion.

The same people do the same thing with basically all things mystical. The ouija board, spiritist séances, dowsing rods, aura photography, you name it - it all boils down to one thing: demonic, satanic influence.

But... why assume that practices of another religion, that were invented in a totally different context, that are based on radically different ideas - ideas that those folks clearly deny - have any effect at all? And to be clear, the reason they dislike it is not because it leads people away from christianity (which it probably does, by the way). It is because actual demonic forces cause actual effects in humans - the kundalini snake IS the serpent from the garden of eden in the minds of those folks.

In order to come up with that explanation, you have to assume that the effects of kundalini yoga are real. You have to assume that the effects of, basically, all esoteric practices from all religions and ideologies are real - and you can never let any critical thinking come in your way.

They inadvertently affirm the validity of all religions, really. And of all other ideologies. Of everything that claims to be mystical, ultimately. Only that they then put the label of "demonic" on it and therefore reject it.

Think of it... The question is, how do they ever tell the difference between a mere physical effect, and demonic influence?

For example, if I were to tell one of those preachers that I have developed a practice of regularly fondling my left nipple, and after a while my nipple started to hurt - is that, then, demonic influence? I hope not. What if I told them that after years of that practice, I was able to produce milk from my nipple? What if 100 people were convinced of the same?

What if those 100 people didn't claim that they can produce milk, which is probably too easy to debunk, but that they experienced sudden visions of beautiful colors? Getting closer, folks, aren't we? What if I can produce ancient chinese texts describing the practice? What if those texts mention the names of boddhisattvas and devas?

And suddenly, I have a vision: I see agent Mulder's big poster that he keeps in his basement office and that says in huge letters: "I WANT TO BELIEVE." Because that's what's really going on, isn't it? They want their world to be full of mysteries, of things to be afraid of, and it doesn't matter one bit to those people whether there might be other, less mystical explanations for the same phenomena.

Ironically, those christian fundamentalists are in that regard pretty much the same as their esoteric, new age, buddhist, hinduist, muslim counterparts: gullible to the extreme, afraid of the dark, and deeply mistrustful of anything and anyone that doesn't fit their worldview.

I sit, I breathe, I clench some muscles. Good feelings arise. What exactly are the criteria for deciding whether this is demonic or not?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

On being soft

It seems that a lot of people equate male "sexual prowess" with being hard, probably for extended periods.

Once you let go of that weird and completely unnecessary presuppusition, you discover a lot of interesting facts. One of those is that a flaccid penis is actually way more sensitive than an erect penis. Another is that the erection will come back in the course of your lovemaking. So I'd suggest to just enjoy the flaccid phases along with the erect phases, probably using them for slightly different activities.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

A sorta kinda warning

When practicing tantra, it can happen that you enter a state where you feel extremely energetic, and yet you don't get anything done because you lost your focus.

Just happened to me today.

So I'll keep you posted on how to re-gain that focus, while still preserving the energy.

(And it's still no mytical energy! It's still just a metaphor for something physical that we don't quite understand as of yet.)

Practice in a sitting position!

For the males among us who practice on their own, I strongly suggest giving the lotus seat, or a similar sitting position, a good try. I think this bears mention, since most of us - such as myself - probably got used to masturbation lying down (right before sleepy time, probably), adn to be perfectly honest I found it rather amusing when I realized how obviously stupid this is.

I mean, think about it: When you're lying on your back, how easy is it to reach your penis? If you're not well-endowed beyond all human possibiltity, it's probably not all that comfortable, right?

But even then - can you reach your perineum (aka "Million Dollar Point" or "Male G-Spot") with your OTHER hand? If so, I applaud you - you've just evolved back into a monkey! I rather think it safe to assume that most people are rather built like myself - mere mortals - and cannot easily pull off that feat.

However, sitting up in a lotus-like position, it is ridiculously easy to do that. And boy, will it make your practice more enjoyable!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Don't be shocked!

Don't be shocked if you start doing tantra, and then find yourself getting into yoga, or qi gong, or karate, or green smoothies, or generally a more healthy diet, .... or the other way around. All those practices will get you more in tune with your body, and that each one will naturally lead to others.


I think that there is a deep and problematic misunderstanding regarding the idea of something being "higher" or "more advanced". We usually mean these words to imply something being "better" in the ethical, moral sense along with it just being an additional skill you've developed - and of course, the other being worse by comparison.

This is simply a halo effect, and it's good to be aware of it. I think that many "authentic tantrikas" do fall for that, and I think that it is one of the most basic mistakes most religions make, to assume that the "higher", which is often associated with the spritual, the non-material, the "heavenly", stands on a higher ethical ground by definition.

It doesn't. It simply doesn't. "Your body is divine" can be a way of saying that you have to stick to certain rules in order to deal with your body in a "godly" way - I personally much prefer it to be a way of saying that your body is, by definition, something to be cherished and enjoyed, regardless of your looks, your intellect, your way of life, your moral and ethical positions, your philosophy, your... whatever, really.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

"The way is the goal"

Of course, it is not about not ejaculating. (If that were the case, tantra wouldn't make any sense for women, for one.) Nor am I convinced that a mystical energy resides in the semen that gets lost.

To me, it is mostly about letting go of any "you HAVE to"s. When you cultivate this inner pleasure that is not dependent on an outer result, after some time the outer result actually does become rather unnecessary, and you gain more independence of outside influences.

So it would be illogical to say, "you HAVE to hold back the ejaculation". Maybe at the beginning, you'll have to do that, because the urge is so strong, and you're so used to associating sexual pleasure with it. But at some point you realize that that's just the prep school. That prescription, that restriction was good for a while, and then it just fell away. You found a pleasure that is so much deeper than the ejaculation, so you will automatically go for that. And if that is not the case (because no prescription fits every human being), then perhaps the wise thing is to just let go of tantra, and do something else!

It is more a practice than an idea or a prescription. Like practicing, I dunno, let's say karate, or rock-climbing. Sure you accept some restrictions, maybe stick to a diet or a harsh training routine - but the restrictions are not the point. You just commit yourself to whatever it is you are doing, and after a time, you discover that there's even more to it than you thought - or perhaps something completely DIFFERENT from what you expected. And then you might stick to it for life. Or, quite possibly, you lose interest, other things become more important, and you just stop practicing... maybe to pick it up again a few years later.

Here's what I've learned from practicing zen: The urge to turn it into a "MUST --- or otherwise...", into an eternally true prescription, into an "only way", a religion, is extremely strong. I certainly fell for it, and I took the decision to stop the meditations at least for a while. And I still stand to that decision, I think it was the right one. Because once you start doing that, you have an internal struggle going on, like a competition - who will win the race, me or me? And that is precisely what it is NOT about. Quite the opposite, really.

But then, sometimes, you "get it", you realize that it's about the doing, not about the result. Those are the times that are really, really good. Those are the times that keep you wondering what else you might discover on this path you've chosen. And those are the times that deepen your commitment.

Friday, September 30, 2011

I'm hazarding a guess: When you're standing on a busy street and smiling because you can feel pleasure all down through your body to the tip of your toes, you might have done somethhing and achieved a lot.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The real oddity is that you deliberately make yourself open, vulnerable, receptive, sensitive and soft, and by doing so you gradually become bolder, stronger, and more assertive.

It's the grass that grows through the concrete.

A real odd thing

This is really just breathing, and stroking, and clenching your PC muscle. THAT'S IT. We would like to have it more complicated, to have more techniques - and yes, these techniques do exist and are useful. But basically, it's breathing, stroking, clenching muscles. And so much enjoyment can come from it.

Okay, it's breathing, stroking, clenching AND FOCUS ON INTERNAL FEELINGS. Given that I have a few years of regular zen meditation under the belt, this will probably help with the last part enormously.

But really, THAT'S IT!

I'm not claiming that all the good stuff that happened recently, like getting to know way more people (yes that includes young pretty females of the species), becoming more bold and assertive on the job, getting more done on my private projects, doing more sports, adhering more to my diet, etc. .... I'm not claiming that all this is due to tantra. I think this is a system of mutual reinforcement, a feedback loop... what the tantra adds is the good feeling of being able to produce good feelings at will. (Notice what I did there? *g*). From that comes more boldness, which helps with the sport and diet routine, which in turn produce more good feelings and make it seem easier to do more tantra, and so on.

It's one part, not the whole thing, to be sure. But it's a highly useful part!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Other blogs / links related to tantra

This is really just a starting point for a list... I'm hoping to amend this and be able to comment on it later on...

English language:

German language:

Hey, another "skeptic":

It is... weird... when you realize that you have no urge for ejaculation; when your orgasms do take place only inside. I'd have thought it feels "female", but that isn't correct. It feels deliberating. An interesting aside: Since you don't need an erection for it, you can probably do that for all of your life.

Most of all, it feels empowering.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

A few news

It is utterly refreshing to encounter a tantric masseuse with a good sense of humour. Down to earth, slightly edgy humour. Yes, that means you, "N". We had lots of fun together, didn't we?

And also, I enjoyed the utter honesty with which she admitted that this is not "authentic tantra". It sure isn't. It's sensual massage with a spiritual bent. It is utterly exciting, and extremely relaxing. It is great for the body and excellent for the soul. But it surely has next to nothing to do with traditional indian tantra. "N" even said that a few indians came to her place, to find out what europeans mean by the term, "tantra". According to her, the consensus was that it's completely unauthentic, but utterly enjoyable. Sounds cool to me!

And also, the different styles of different tantrikas!

"M" is lascivious, forceful, dominant, and uses her whole body as an instrument.

"N" is more subtle, more refined.

With "M", you get a full-body massage with a happy ending, and she'll happily invade your ass for a "prostate massage" that is quite reminiscent of a dominatrix.

With "N", you will not get the happy ending, but boy will she give your lingam a good time. I wanted it to end, I wanted to cum, and at the same time, I wanted it to go on and on and on... Now, this is what I refer to as fun!

It has also inspired me to go further down that road. I want that energy, I want that feeling, I want that!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Another link...
- one of the many therapeutic approaches to tantra.

You might note that in the video on the "Exit Massage" technique, the narrator shows a lot of humour - aaaalways a good sign!


Tantra is the opposite of perfectionism.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

My Tantric History, Part 2

In the first days of august, 2011, I had what you might call my "initiation".

I was in my holidays, and I was back on one of my infrequent, unscheduled intervals of non-ejaculatory experimentation. And for some reason, I decided to do what I had not done in years: Grant myself a real tantric massage applied by a professional.

I decided on a rather high-priced offer - mainly because I wanted to know whether the price made any difference. And also because I liked their webpage, and the lady who owned the place seemed rather attractive (even though they have to hide their faces and obscure their real identity, because tantric massage is legally considered prostitution in my country).

When I called, I didn't reach the owner, but talked to a woman with a very deep, rich, very erotic voice. I was slightly disappointed to hear that the boss was out of town and I would get a session with the lady from the phone; I still went for it, because I knew that if I hesitated now, it would take me forever to get back to a point where I would grant myself this expensive, somewhat forbidden and time-intensive pleasure.

The studio was in a faraway corner of the town, tugged in between a major train station and the economic university - both aren't exactly friendly buildings, but the street was slow and small, and ironically, a fundamentalist christian friend of mine lived nearby, so I could count on some spiritual help, should things get ugly.

There was an extra door beside the main entrance to the building - a door obviously leading into a below-street level apartment. A stained-glass door. I was a bit nervous when I pushed the nondescript button for the doorbell.

The lady with the deep and rich voice opened the door, wearing only that colourful cloth that they always wear in tantra seminars and the like. She warned me to behave as silently as possible, because another session was in process, and showed me where to leave my shoes. Then she silently led me to the little room where my tantra massage was to take place.

I am happy to admit that I was overwhelmed.

The room was only dimly lit by a few electric candles flickering some red light on the luscious fabric that covered all the walls, and a wide mattress on the floor. There were several cushions of different shapes and sizes on said mattress, there was a chair for me to undress myself, and there was an already-heated pot full of massage oil.

The lady, whose name was Michelle, asked me if I had any questions - which was a bit odd as a conversation opener, but I figured that her education was in erotic massage, not in communication, and politely declined, since I already knew the basics. I was told where the shower was, and was left alone to undress, proceed to said shower (wearing one of those stylish tantric cloths... which I can never get to really stay on my body by themselves, so I always have to awkwardly hold them with one hand), and make myself comfortable on the mattress.

So then I was there, properly cleaned, and didn't wait long until she came back, sat with me on the mattress, bowed before me and gently put my hand in hers, telling me to relax completely.

I will not go on to bore everyone with the long-winded narration of every single stroke. I will say as much as the following: She did use her hands. She did use clothes (the same tantric... I think). She also used beads. And she used her whole naked body covering me, which must have been one of the most intense experiences I've ever had in a setting like this.

This is the usual way: you first get your back massaged, and then the real fun starts - it's a classic dramaturgical trick that works every time. So when she asked me to turn around, and I was now lying on my back, it became increasingly difficult to stay in the completely passive mode that is required of the recipient of a tantric massage.

I lived through some rather wild fantasies, and I believe that, for just that little time, I was utterly in love with this person.

In the end, she brought me to orgasm, and by her breathing along with me, I had the impression that she did enjoy this part - perhaps not as much as I did, but this was definitely not a handjob deliverd by some professional sex worker who wants to get things done and pick up the money.

I shall also say that the orgasm itself wasn't really the important part. I'm quite serious here. It was a nice addendum, but I could have done without it. What really mattered was the buildup, and what really really blew my mind was the intense feeling of touch, especially when she had covered me with her whole body. It's relaxation and intense erotic arousal at the same time - maybe this is really the secret of it: doing away with the stress of "getting the job done" or "achieving orgasm".

Coming to think of it, I would really like to share a tantric experience where the orgasm actually is not the goal - neither for the giver, nor for the receiver. I think this is one thing I shall pursue in the future. And I'm also fairly certain that this is not to be found in a professional tantra studio. I somehow cannot imagine that this would work for the masseuse, even though I'm prepared to give it a try... next time.

And I'm 100% positive that there WILL be a next time. This is far too pleasurable to not be repeated. It has proven tremendously "sexual healing" in the sense that it boosted my self-confidence enormously, and gave me a lasting sense of relaxation and energy that I have rarely experienced before. It actually enabled me to do some stuff that I was afraid of doing before. In the weeks since, I have had lots of overwhelmingly positive experiences, and managed to steer my general attitude even more in the direction I want it.

So, in summing it up, I can only recommend it. Have an open mind, stop thinking about outcomes, and enjoy.

List of possible topics

These are a few of the topics that Skeptic Tantrika plans to cover, explore and define in the clearest terms possible, at some point:

* Energy healing - fact or fraud?
* What on earth might sexual healing be, and does it even exist?
* So, what exactly is an energy orgasm?
* If Qi or Chi does not exist - what, then, goes on in an energy orgasm?
* Are Male Multiple Orgasms at all possible?
* The relationship of experience and interpretation, and what they have to do with science, religion, and spirituality
* How can western science claim to say anything about tantra, qi, energy healing, etc.?
* What do you know about female tantra?
* How can a scientifically minded skeptic not be convinced by tantra and other eastern schools of thought, once they have experienced energy orgasms and tantric sexual healing?

Please, do feel free to add suggestions or critizisms. This blog is a living entity, a complex, strange feedback loop!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

A link

Because is always a good place to start... the approach they describe is slightly different than the one I'm promoting here. But it's all about experimentation, and ultimately about feeling good!

BlogHub - Blog Directory And Search Engine!

Blog Directory & Search engine

Good girl!

Starting Point for an Explanation

So, assuming that tantra actually does something for its practitioners - a fact that many seem convinced of, so it cannot simply be disregarded - what is a non-mystical explanation?

Let's look at one classical instruction (for guys - it's actually the one I practice the most):

"Focus on your breath. Upon inhaling, breathe as deeply as possible into your pelvic floor. upon exhaling, clench your PC muscles and direct the energy from the sex chakra up the spine."

This roughly translates to: "Focus inward - feel your breath - feel its flow - breathe deeper and deeper now - and as you go deeper and deeper inside, disregarding conscious thoughts that only come in the way, relaxing and feeling those good feelings, notice how the energy flows..."

To me, this sounds suspiciously like a trance induction. I'd hazard the guess that that's what it really is. Shifting the focus around inside your body helps to abandon verbal thinking, thereby driving you deeper into the trance. And of course, clenching the PC muscles does have a physical effect and produces sexual feelings, because it massages your prostate, and because the anal area is an erogenous zone (even if many males don't like to admit that).

As an experiment, you can try focusing the breath on totally unconnected areas. I don't know about you, but if I inhale into my left leg, and then exhale into the right leg, I get pretty much the same results. If that's not quite as much fun, probably that's because focusing on the organ that is producing those delicious sexy feelings is the best way to intensify those feelings?

I think we might be on to something here. No voodoo involved, no hindu gods invoked, no transcendental energy fields presupposed.

It simply makes sense, that's all! I strongly feel that this practice makes me stronger, that I'm actually more energetic and have more willpower if I do not ejaculate, but practice tantra instead.

This factor remains unexplained, for the time being. I have no frakking clue why not ejaculating makes me more energetic. If I had to guess, I'd say it's simply because I'm more horny, and tantra is a clever way to sublimate this horniness into useful actions.

Monday, August 15, 2011

My Tantric History, Part 1

I'm not an expert in the field of tantra. Nor do I feel that the concept of experts is particularly useful in this context. These days, I'm often reminded of Shunryu Suzuki's book, "Zen Mind - Beginner's Mind". It seems to me like expert knowledge gets in the way of actual experience.

That doesn't mean that we shouldn't know things, of course... but I'm getting off topic, so let me get back.

How did I start out with tantra? It must have been in 2005 or so, and I remember I was extremely unhappy and unsatisfied with my job. I had read a little bit about tantra, had some vague idea of it being sexual and esoteric, and it was the closest I could allow myself to get to actual prostitution. I have actually tried prostitution twice in my life, but both times I wasn't even able to have an erection - the atmosphere of sterile professionalism was such a huge turn-off, and my knowledge about the violent circumstances surrounding it rendered the experience even less overwhelming.

Depressed as I was, I needed to show to myself that I was doing something good to myself. A sign of self-love, symbolizing my hope of self-improvement. So I looked through the classifieds in some small weekly magazine, and I dialled some tantra practitioner's number with trembling fingers.

It was a rather mixed experience. The lady practiced in her own flat, which was a rather shabby apartnment, on a mattress on the between her bed and her desk. She answered the door clothed in a cheap negligée. I had the impression that she had just finished some weekend course in tantric massage and was seizing the opportunity to make a little money on the side. It wasn't a bad experience, it was really what you might expect from classified ads in this price range - maybe the best description is "dedicated layperson". Yeah, that fits well. She was dedicated all right. And I was trying my best to relax. But something just didn't click. Maybe I just wasn't ready.

I forgot the whole thing. Other matters had to be taken care of, I switched jobs, had a relationship, and got into zen.

That whole zen meditation thing is worth talking about - it really helped me see things from a different perspective, and it taught me how to deal with some emotional problems that I had - on the other hand, I soon found myself getting into a somewhat rigid mindset: Zazen has  to be performed every day, you have to let go of your judgments, you have to stay present... and furthermore, there were frequent moments of seeming breakthroughs, sudden states of bliss that felt "enlightened", and every single time I thought that this time, it will stay with me - but of course, it never did. (Indeed, I am convinced today that it just doesn't. I think our brains are not made for what the buddhists call enlightenment. At least for the huge majority of people, this seems to be the case.)

So I let go of zen after a few years. I wouldn't want to miss the experience, and I can definitely say that it has improved my life in many ways - the ability to look into one's own states and feelings with a clear, nonjudgmental mind is obviously a treasure worth diving deep for.

In short, I <3 buddhism as a training of mindfulness and non-judgment, but I deeply mistrust the religion they built around it.

I won't go into detail here about all of the techniques I've tried. Some were more useful than others. Some are a bit more out there. Some are surrounded by huge marketing schemes. Some are huge marketing schemes. And some are just plain stupid.

I looked into tantra through the years, infrequently, with some entusiasm that usually lasted for a few days. I liked the idea of spiritual sexuality, I had an inkling that there were transformative opportunities in there, but I never really got into the whole thing.

Anyway, in the summer of 2011, I had 2 weeks of holidays, and I decided to give it another try. Only, this time, I went for a real professional (and rather expensive) offer. As it turned out, this was a wise decision. This really set the mood, or the topic, for the time ahead, and helped me with some emotional trouble I was going through.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Tantra - Skeptic's Dictionary Entry

I'm really disappointed to see that the Skeptic's Dictionary doesn't deem tantra worth a real rant, calling out all the bullshit that well-meaning tantrikas such as myself have spewed out over the centuries!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Quick update

It is truly amazing to sit at a coffeeshop sipping on coffee, while at the same time experiencing glorious feelings of bliss.

I wonder why it happens so often that I just forget about this. It's so easy - sit down, relax, breathe. And yet, when you're entangled in your web of thoughts, you just don't realize that you could feel better right now, if you wanted to.

One word of warning - what it does NOT do is make me more sociable. It's a shame, really, and I would have expected it to - after all, if you're more relaxed and more easygoing, it should also become easier to talk to people. Instead, it makes me more calm - which is fine and dandy, but not quite what I came here for.

Anyway, it's not like somebody could force me to practice, or like I had no choice. The moment you feel that this is not leading you were you want to go - just do something else!

I Do Not Believe In Energy

Okay, let's be more specific here.

Of course there is energy. It is equivalent to mass times speed of light squared. It is present as electromagnetism, the weak and the strong force, as sunlight and movement, and of course, it runs through all of our bodies in the form of chemo-electrical nerve impulses and chemically bound ions, as long as we're alive.

What I do not believe in is chi (or qi), a mystical fluidum that cannot be measured or otherwise objectively perceived, but is still supposed to somehow "be there", ready to be influenced and manipulated by puny humans.

I think that there is good reason to only believe what is actually proven to be there. And there is also excellent reason to mistrust anyone who claims to be able to manipulate unproven mystical powers, even moreso if they make a big fat show of it and have a huge flock of followers.

Ever wondered about those qi gong "masters" who are seemingly able to throw people around the room against their will and beyond any physical explanation - just by focusing their qi? Well, duh... perhaps it's time to look into why those "masters" only ever seem to be able to demonstrate their magic powers on their own followers - and how, as soon as they are to work their qi on a non-believer, they always come up with the wildest of excuses. Like, "today is a bad day for qi gong" (lame), "It would be unethical to show this to the uninitiated" (really? why?), or my all-time favourite "I would hurt him so bad it's not worth it" (at least that one's funny, albeit unintentionally so).

So... no qi going 'round. And still, I'm an avid qi gong practitioner, and as the title of this blog suggests, I'm also into tantra... an awful lot, actually.

So how can I rationalize this obvious contradiction away?

Umm... *rolls up biblical sleeves* well, it's all symbolic, ya knows?

Naaah. Not symbolic AT ALL. Quite the contrary, actually.

I like to distinguish three seperate elements: a) my actual physical/mental experience at that moment; b) my conscious visualisations; c) my theory and interpretation of the experience

In other words:

I feel whatever I'm feeling while I'm consciously breathing and working my PC muscle; this feeling is there whether I can explain it or not. If I start conceptualizing this feeling, I can compare it to other things - it feels LIKE an energy flow through my body. (That obviously doesn't mean that it IS an energy flow; big fat conceptual mistake there! Our inner perceptions are obviously flawed, as our nervous system isn't very much equipped for that - ever had a wound in your mouth, and touched it with your tongue? It feels much bigger than it really is, doesn't it?)

By visualising this energy flow, the feeling gets even more intense. The line between the feeling and the visualization gets blurred and sometimes completely vanishes, and thus in my mind at that moment, the feeling IS an energy flow. My mind has no other frame of reference, and thus, this is what it will come up with.

Now, when theorizing about it later on, one will most probably turn to the philosophical framework one is used to: If you're a christian, you might interpret this as the Holy Spirit moving through you (though I highly doubt that there are many christians out there practicing tantra, but what do I know). If you're a taoist, you might call it the qi flowing through your meridians. The yogi might find her kundalini awakening. And if you're a materialist like myself, you will perhaps look for clenched and stretched muscles, nerves transmitting signals of relaxation, and the reward center in the brain getting activated.

In all those cases, the experience itself can only be beneficial. Your ideology or your interpretation really doesn't change the experience, at least as long as it doesn't keep you from having it. (I have already been tempted to teach a few past-middle-aged christian ladies how to breathe into their pelvic floors... believe me, resisting this temptation wasn't easy... NOT AT ALL EASY!!!)

So the interpretation doesn't really matter, there might as well be none at all... does it?

Well, yes and no. Sure, we can all just join hands and enjoy.

But for one, as the buddha taught, coming up with explanations is so deeply human as to be almost unavoidable.

And secondly - and, I think, much more importantly - if we can come up with a good and solid scientific explanation, tested with the utmost scientific vigour, then we can use this knowledge for even more pleasure, even more healing, even better orgasms. Of course the trap is to make a sport and a tournament out of it and thus spoil the fun - but this trap is there anyway, even the most "spiritual" people somehow manage to engage in contests of who is "even more spiritual" than the next person.

So, to sum it up: Enjoy the experience, and enjoy making up an explanation for the experience later on! And if you cannot find any explanation, don't worry - it'll be fun anyway.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

So... What Exactly IS Tantra, Anyway?

Let's start our journey by looking at terms. Otherwise, we won't know what we're talking about, and chances are we'll talk past each other.

Tantra is an old religious teaching deeply rooted in ancient hinduism. It poses that the world of phenomena is a world of dualistic oppositions - black/white, male/female, active/passive, etc.; and that beyond those phenomena, there is absolute, unspeakable unity; every word we use to describe this unity is inherently wrong, because words, too, are phenomena and thus subject to dualism.

Tantra, now, aims to achieve a state of enlightenment - i.e., as it were, unity with this universal unity - by various means: meditation, breathing techniques, visualisations, mantras. One of those means lies in the acceptance and transcendenc of one's sexuality.

As far as I know, the "authentic" traditions of tantra put a lot of focus on asceticism. Which is probably not what one thinks of when one hears the word "tantra", but it does fit in well with the strong ascetic tradition inside hinduism.

It also used to be a highly secretive, esoteric system of stepwise initiations by a guru.

Somewhere along, or rather alongside, the "spiritual" re-awakening of the 1970s and -80s, the tantric teachings were imported into the western countries. Of course, the west in our times being what it is - far from "wild", but eager for money, and at the same time eager to fill the perceived spiritual vacuum that the eagerness for money brought with it, the teachings were sucked up, well... eagerly..., and at the same time were completely transformed.

Basically, what we did was that we stripped tantra of almost everything related to hinduism (except for a few words, which I will probably talk about in a later posting), specifically of the guru doctrine and the relations to the hindu pantheon, and on the other hand, we added a therapeutic slant to it.

While for the more spiritually-minded, a few "energetic" teachings were added.

The basic idea in all this was that a gentle touch can not only bring good feelings and strong orgasms, but also emotional healing, a better connection of body and mind, and whatever one sees as spiritual awakening.

Thus, neo-tantra was born: Adaptable to the needs of prostitutes and their customers (we shall have to talk about whether professional tantra is prostitution later on); but also appealing to the spiritually inclined esotericist, as well as the couple in their best years who would just like to rekindle the flames of their slowly burning-out sexuality. You can explore your intimacy in groups without ever running any risk of getting an ugly STD or (heavens forbid!) having to ouch another person's genitalia - or you can get a "tantric massage" with a slight smell of incense, a few candles and a very Happy Ending for your lingam, from your run-off-the-mill prostitute arond the corner.

Maybe this does sound a bit - shall we say "skeptical"? Well, it's probably not - at least not in the way you might expect.

You see, I happen to be convinced that pleasure in all forms is a good thing, as long as nobody gets hurt. And orgasms are probably one of the most intense forms of pleasure that we puny humans know. I also happen to think that roughly 95% of the male population haven't even begun to explore their full orgasmic potential (with women, it's probably different, I don't know - though my impression is that there's not a lot of difference there).

My experience has been that those intense tantric pleasures make me more peaceful, confident, balanced and energetic. So far, I haven't seen any bad side effects - that is, if we disregard the occasional sore PC muscles, the back pain from far too much lying on my back, and the blistered fingers (okay, just joking here...). All of which are, of course, very real dangers of the tantric practice, which I feel obliged to share with you, in case you meditate on walking down that path.

But apart from that, I simply cannot find anything even remotely bad in the idea of a practice that gives you almost instant ecstatic pleasures, while making you more aware of your physical sensations, getting you to lie calm for an hour or two - and all of that while you're own your own (completely free of charge) or with (a) partner(s) (free of charge if you find a willing partner). It gives me a tremendous sense of power to know that a little conscious breathing can make me feel better than I probably ever felt in my whole life. And the best thing is that nobody can take that away from me, except some serious brain damage or, obviously, death itself.

So, what AM I skeptical about?

Well, let's just say I find the religious overtones rather... misleading. I don't need to call my cock lingam just to feel more enlightened. In fact, I'm pretty sure that enlightenment in the strict sense of the word just doesn't exist. I find the idea of guruism and stepwise initiation based on the whims of another man's fancy disgusting - in fact, I think it's just a thinly veiled power game. (Please don't tell me I would have to know the hindu religion better to judge that - religious hierarchy is religious hierarchy and an abomination as such, whether it be the catholic clergy, tibetan lamaism or hindu gurudom.)

On a more general level, I'm really pissed off by the idea that only "authentic" tantra is valid, or that neo-tantra is somehow a watered-down, wishy-washy thing that does more harm than good. If you happen to be of this opinion: How on earth is it your business to decide what I like to do in order to feel good? How come you know better than myself what's best for me? If you want to make a point about spirituality, or why it's a bad idea to pay for sex, okay, make your point and let's talk about it. But please don't play the "authentic" card without ever having defined what you mean by "authentic", or why you think it's important. And also, please avoid words such as "superficial", "materialistic", or "western" as general terms of disagreement. These are overgeneralized, vague terms that don't actually convey any meaning, and thus my only reaction will be to kindly ask you to define what you mean.