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Can You Bhoga All Night Long? An Introduction to Tantra, East and West

Author: Magdalene Meretrix

When you hear the word Tantra, what images come to mind? Turbans and
Sitar music? Mind-blowing sex? Most people in the Western world have heard the
word Tantra, but few know anything in detail about what it means.

The situation in India isn't much different. Many people in larger
cities have adopted the Western view of the world, including the Western view
of Tantra, while those in the smaller towns and villages often to equate Tantra
with sorcery and black magic. The truth appears to lie somewhere in between.


Tantra is a form of Yoga (see glossary below) -- another word that to
mean something different in the West. It may make you think of people bending
themselves into pretzel shapes, but those physical exercises, part of a system
called Hatha Yoga, are a tiny fraction of this ancient and complex
philosophical system.


Tantra is also a very ancient system of spiritual philosophy and way of
life. Most scholars agree that Tantra is even older than the Hindu religion.
Sanskrit words have a great depth of meaning. It would take an entire essay
just to go through the various shades of meaning included in the word
"tantra," but one simple translation is "an extension of


Even though Tantra is so old, it's been controversial from the
beginning. Teachers of Yoga, a spiritual path that teaches separation from the
world, and of Bhoga, a spiritual path that teaches that physical pleasure can
lead a person to divine enlightenment, have nearly always been at odds with one
another. Gurus, even today, will often tell you that bhoga is just hedonistic
self-indulgence and tantra is very dangerous.


But Kaula Tantra, the form of tantra that Westerners are most familiar
with, is a way to unite yoga and bhoga - to discover the divine through
enjoying the pleasures of the physical world. Traditional Tantra is not a
single unified thing but rather a collection of schools of thought and action,
many very different from one another. Consider the word "Christian"
and think of how different a Quaker meeting house is from a Roman Catholic
cathedral. Similarly, there are some forms of Tantra that include magical
incantations, some that include eating of feces or copulation with corpses and
some that advocate complete sexual celibacy. Kaula is the school of Tantra that
includes the Maithuna ritual -- sacred sexual intercourse.

To the Kaula Tantrika, pleasure is not an end in itself but a way to
contact divinity -- to reach a state of Samarasa. A person in Samarasa views
the world with equality -- sort of like the phrase I'm sure you've heard:
"All are One." The ancient saying adopted by the neo-pagans, "as
above, so below," finds its place in Kaula Tantra, where the sexual union
of a couple represents the union of the god Shiva and the goddess Shakti. This
union of the gods, in turn, represents the mystical union of the universal
forces of creation and destruction.


Unlike most Eastern philosophies, tantra doesn't deny the physical
world. While other religions teach that the physical plane is an illusion we
must escape, Kaula Tantra considers concrete reality to be a magical condition
that we can use to propel ourselves to a higher state of consciousness.


Western Tantra, an eclectic blend of select beliefs from Kaula Tantra
mixed with new age and neo-pagan beliefs, is not necessarily any less effective
than Eastern Tantra. For the practitioner who was born and raised in the
culture and mindset of the New World, Western Tantra is often more effective
and accessible than traditional Kaula Tantra with its complex rituals, foreign
vocabulary and multiple godforms.


I grew up with a form of Yoga that was filtered through Western
teachings much as tantra has been Westernized. As a child, I learned about
chakras (powerful energy centers in the human body) and prana (life-force
energy) from my father. The colors I learned to associate with the chakras,
however, are not the traditional Indian colors and many traditional yoga
teachers would consider some of the prana exercises I use unorthodox. My
approach to tantra yoga has, from the outset, been a blend of Eastern and
Western traditions and likewise these techniques I'm going to introduce to you
here are an eclectic blend of both worlds.


I have used many of these techniques over the years in my sex work as
well as in my personal life. Using these teachings, and many others too
numerous to relate in an introductory article, I have helped my clients and
myself develop a greater connection between spirit and body. These exercises
are also useful for a variety of specific issues such as premature ejaculation
or inability to reach orgasm.


The first step to practicing transcendent sex is to tone your body. The
better condition your body is in, the better sex will be for you and your
partner and the more chance you have of reaching that transcendent Divine state
through bhoga. This doesn't mean you have to look like a centerfold or a
bodybuilder. Good condition looks different from body to body - what matters is
not how your body looks but how it feels to you. Practicing Hatha Yoga will
condition your body as will any exercises or activities that strengthen your
endurance and your flexibility.


One of my favorite books for learning Hatha Yoga is Richard Hittleman's
Yoga: 28 Day Exercise Plan. This book appears to be written for the
housewife of the 70's and there is no mumbo-jumbo in it. It's filled with clear
photos and lucid descriptions of the asanas, the "pretzel positions"
that you most likely associate with yoga as a whole. But there's no pretzeling
here! Hittleman stretches your learning out over the course of 28 days, giving
your body time to adjust to the new routines, and finishes the book off with
three routines to alternate among for the rest of your life.


A part of Hatha Yoga that often gets left out in Western yoga classes
is the science of breath. You will be amazed at the difference conscious and
complete breathing makes in your sex life and in your life in general. If you
don't believe that your sexual pleasure is affected by your breathing, try
masturbating while holding your breath or while hyperventilating and observe
the differences.


A complete breath is a breath that fills your entire lungs. Yoga speaks
of a life energy called prana that is inhaled through the nose and fills the
body. This is the life force that is called Chi or Qi in other systems.
Learning to charge your body with prana and offer an exchange of prana to a
sexual partner can enhance your pleasure in union. I have also found that
concentrating on sending prana to an injured person when there are no medical
options available at the moment can effect a "laying on of hands"
type of pain relief.

I learned breathing and prana from a book called Science of Breath
by Yogi Ramacharaka. My father had some old Ramacharaka books from 1904 (they
are currently in print again, thanks to Samuel Weiser publishing) and we
studied the entire series together. The information in this little book is
marvelous and so easy to understand that I was able to use the techniques
effectively at age twelve to comfort my pet dog with prana while we were in the
car on the way to the vet after he'd had a heart attack.


To take a complete breath, pull air in through your nose while letting
your abdomen relax to a fuller position. Letting your stomach pooch out changes
the position of your diaphragm and pulls air to parts of your lungs that often
remain untouched. Once you've filled your lungs as much as you think you can,
pull your diaphragm in slightly and raise your shoulders slightly and fill that
last little bit of your lungs. Hold the air for a moment and then slowly let it
all flow out, using your diaphragm at the end to push out the last little bits
of air.


Just this breathing technique alone will make you feel more alert, more
energetic and more peaceful. Practice it until it becomes second nature to you.
Your objective is to be able to breathe like this through sex and orgasm. Most
people pant and hyperventilate during sex but would find that their sexual
pleasure is greatly enhanced if they can maintain a steady complete breath
during sex and throughout orgasm.


If you want to use breathing to work with your prana, your body's
natural energy field, visualize the energy entering your body as a golden
flowing light and filling your body with each breath. As you breathe out,
imagine impurities and negative thoughts leaving your body, visualized as a
black or noxious green cloud. Continue breathing until your entire body is
drenched in the golden light and then practice visualizing that light flowing
from your heart out through the ends of your fingertips as you breathe out.
Practicing this with a partner can be great fun, syncopating your breathing so
that you are taking turns sending one another energy in an even rhythm of
unison breaths.


Once you've begun to get the hang of full breaths and energy play, the
next step you might want to take is learning to "recycle" your sexual
energies. This technique works for men and women both but in men has the added
benefit of helping to teach a man to be multi-orgasmic. But before we go on, I
should make something clear about male multiple orgasm. While some men,
especially younger men, can ejaculate several times in an evening, this Western
tantric technique will teach you to orgasm several times in a row without
ejaculating. The parts of your brain that control erection, ejaculation and
orgasm can function separately and the effort spent training your body and
brain to orgasm without ejaculating will reward you with wave after wave of
pleasure that leave you energized rather than tired and drained.


So how can an ordinary person learn to separate orgasm and ejaculation?
There is a technique that sounds deceptively simple but, with practice, can
greatly enhance both male and female pleasure. I will describe the technique
using the male sexual terms but women should not be afraid of trying these
techniques for themselves as well. I have found deep sexual and spiritual
satisfaction from pulling my orgasmic energies up through my heart while
self-pleasuring or during sex.


Begin by masturbating. Some people find it helps them to concentrate in
their early practice sessions if they allow themselves to ejaculate once and
rest for a while before beginning the practice in earnest. Once you feel you
are ready to get down to work, masturbate until you feel that you are as close
to orgasm as you can get while still maintaining enough control to keep from
coming. Stop at the last possible moment and focus on letting the sexual
feelings rise through your body until they pass out through the top of your
head. As soon as you are ready to begin again, repeat the process --
masturbating until you reach that brink and then sending the energy up through
your body.


Some men find that they have an easier time stopping at the last
possible moment if they press on their perineum -- the flat area between the
testicles and the anus -- with a couple of fingers. This puts pressure on your
prostate and helps to send the energy back into your body rather than spurting
out with semen. Women might want to experiment with their male partner's
perineum as well. I have been able to cause an orgasm without ejaculation in a
man who had never practiced these techniques before just by applying the right
amount of pressure to his perineum while I was sucking him.


After you have practiced this technique for a while, you will reach a
point where you begin to experience waves of pleasure that last a very long
time and, in the case of men, are not accompanied by ejaculation. There are
many theories about what the sexual energy and the unreleased sperm do within
the body. The thing I've found most important about it all, however, is that
practicing this technique enables a man to have many orgasms during the course
of having sex with his partner rather than one exhausting burst of brief


If you'd like to learn more about the exercises that can teach men to
become multi-orgasmic, read The Multi-Orgasmic Man: Sexual Secrets Every Man
Should Know
by Mantak Chia and Douglas Abrams Arava.


There are so many more exercises and visualizations that I'd love to
talk about, but I'll just leave you with one last one -- the puja. Puja means
"worship" and that's exactly what you do when practicing puja:
worship your partner. Puja is a ritual wherein you are able to see the divine
shining through your partner and reveal the divine to your partner similarly.
Puja can be performed externally, using a partner or even your own genitals, and
it can be performed internally as a meditation without actual sex.


Traditional Eastern tantra has many beautiful puja rituals but some of
these might seem awkward or even silly to a Westerner. It depends on the person
-- if you feel comfortable telling your partner that his penis "shines
with the light of a thousand suns" then you might want to look into the
traditional rituals. For many of us Westerners, a slightly different symbolism
resonates better.


For that matter, you don't have to tell your partner anything. The
important part of puja is to remember that you are worshipping, that your
partner's body is a sacred shrine or temple and that you are touching the
infinite divine when you touch your partner. You can even use puja when you are
with a partner who knows nothing about tantric sex. Your partner may never
realize that you were making love to God when you were with him or her, but
they will definitely notice the difference in how you approach them. Puja can't
help but make an impression.


The best, though, is when a couple decides to practice puja together.
Offering prana and love and bhoga to one another, worshipping at each other's
bodies, the couple becomes God loving God, a sacred and eternal union. Couples
who have found this point in their lovemaking tend to describe it as a
transcendent experience. You'll hear comments like, "I hit such a euphoric
high that I was fulfilled physically, sexually, mentally and emotionally for
weeks afterward," or, "The sex became so intense that I could no longer
tell where I ended and my partner began."


So next time you feel an urge for that Old Time Religion, reach for
your genitals, reach for your partner and reach for the divine. Your body truly
is a temple of the divine and every day can be a holy day when you learn to
bhoga all night long.



face="Times New Roman">Glossary of Tantric Terms


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Asana - "posture" - Any of the
body positions taught in Hatha yoga.

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Bhoga - "pleasure" - To some,
hedonistic pleasure for pleasure's sake. To the kaula tantrika, pleasure for
the purpose of uniting with the divine.

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Chakra - "wheel" - One of the
many points of concentrated energy on the body (some believe they are
ganglionic centers in the nervous system).


While there are many chakras throughout the body, western tantra
focuses on seven of them. Westerners
attribute the colors of the rainbow to the seven major chakra although
traditional yoga follows a different color scheme.


Working with the energies of the chakras can help develop your
kundalini energy. For more information about the western version of the
chakras, visit the SahajaYoga Center's Chakra Page at href="">


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Guru - "teacher" - A spiritual
guide or teacher in one of the Yoga traditions.

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Hatha - "Sun-Moon" - A system
of yoga that attempts to open one to the divine through perfecting the body and
its vital functions. The primary components of Hatha are breath work, prana
work and asanas.

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Kaula - "knower of kali-kala" -
A branch of tantra that includes sex in some of its rituals. Kaula tantra is
symbolized by an eclipse which represents the union of Sun and Moon.

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Kundalini - "spiritual force" -
An energy, considered by some to be sexual, that flows up and down the spine.
Kundalini is represented by two serpents, Ida and Pingala, and is said by some
to "awaken" and "rise" at some point in one's yoga


Some gurus teach that it is dangerous to attempt to raise one's
kundalini by oneself and thus it can be difficult to find solid information
about raising one's own kundalini energy. For further information, consult the
Kundalini Resource Center at


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Maithuna - "sacramental
intercourse" - One of the panchamakara, five sacred rituals in kaula
tantra: maithuna (sex), madya (liquor), mudra (bean), mamsa (flesh) and matsya


Kaula tantra teaches that there are three types of people: Divine,
Heroic and Beastlike. The Beastlike may not perform panchamakara because they
are not enlightened and approach these rituals as sins. The Divine no longer
need these rituals in order to connect with divinity because they have
assimilated the sacred. The Panchamakara rituals are only for the Heroic.


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Prana - "life-energy" - The
energy of your life force that keeps you alive and healthy when it is plentiful
or diseased and dead when it is not. It flows throughout your body like an
electric current and can be shared with others. For a more in-depth look at
prana, read David Frawley's article, style='font-style:italic'>The Secret of Prana, at target=_blank href="">

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Puja - "worship" - While this
word is used to mean any sort of worship ritual or festival, in kaula tantra it
often takes on the special meaning of sexual worship. It can also mean magick
in some circumstances.

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Samarasa - "equal interest" -
Also called samadrishti. The condition of enlightenment wherein one sees
oneself as the world and the world as being in oneself.

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Shakti - "strength" - One of
many Hindu goddesses used in tantric practices.

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Shiva - "the destroyer" - One
of many Hindu gods. Shiva is said to create and destroy worlds through dancing.

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Tantra - "to extend" - A
collection of philosophical systems found traditionally in India and Tibet.
Traditional tantra is very complex and involved. For more information about
traditional Eastern tantra, The Hindu Tantrik Home Page at is a good place to start. For a more Western view
of Tantra, visit at href="" target=_blank>

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Yoga - "yoke" - A philosophy
meant to yoke the practitioner with the divine through meditation, asanas and
"right living."