In the previous article in this series on Sacred Tantra, I spoke about what might be considered the necessary ingredients for experiencing Tantra. In that article I said, "Quite simply, what is required is: a quiet mind, an open heart, a loving "sacred attitude," an increased personal vibration, and the ability to skillfully move internal energy, including sexual energy. Each and all of these require cultivation. Cultivation requires practice, so that skill and reliability can be developed. And each of these feeds, and is fed synergistically by, the others, thus creating Tantra."
The importance of cultivating a quiet mind (or shall we say the ability to consistently access a quiet mind) cannot be underestimated, and certainly is a cornerstone of authentic Tantra. When people ask me, how does one distinguish between a teaching or path of Tantra versus a path of Sacred Sexuality? I say that the litmus test is whether or not it includes and emphasizes some form of meditation. Although this may seem simplistic, it does indeed cut to the core of the comparison.
The ancient yogis gave a term to the chatter of a busy mind - they called it "monkey mind" - modern Psychology relegates this activity to the Ego. The yogis and mystics set out to build a body of knowledge that would enable them to understand and reliably control the chatter, and ultimately enable them to experience extended bits of time nearly or completely free of the monkey mind.
The influence of a distracted, distractible, wandering mind is immense and pervasive, and mind chatter is the antagonist of deep intimacy. In fact, one could postulate an inverse relationship between a quiet mind and true intimacy. Thus, most people, most lovers have never really experienced deep intimacy or spiritual connection with another, nor do they even understand what it is, because their minds rarely, if ever, are quiet. Furthermore, most people have rarely if ever experienced deep intimacy with themselves as well, simply because their mind chatter won't allow it.
Here's how it works: the chatter of the monkey mind, busy thinking about, regretting, or glorifying the past, or concerned about the future and fantasizing, has a way of separating the thinker from the present moment by all its comparisons, judgments, attachments, and aversions, constantly wanting something (past, present, or future) to be different than it is. This dissatisfaction with the way things are, were, or will be, is an agenda, and it has the effect of separating us from the way things actually are, and thus separating us from ourselves and, furthermore, separating us from others. Consequently, intimacy is denied, and any possibility for deep intimacy is sabotaged. For most people such is the norm, and that is why newcomers to most meditation practices, and especially authentic Tantra, are so stunned and mind-blown at their first experience of quiet mind.
Sacred Tantra evolves from what can only occur when the monkey mind subsides and a spaciousness is created so that another type of consciousness can emerge. Actually, that other consciousness is invited, it emerges, and it must be embraced. The invitation is the very spaciousness itself, the crucible of a quiet mind. In that state another awareness naturally arises. It's as if it arises naturally because it is our true nature, inherently there all the time, typically drowned out by the chatter of the busy mind. And that natural spacious consciousness, often called "emptiness" by the great yogis and gurus, holds the key to deep intimacy. Without the separating influence of the busy mind, without the constant agenda of wanting things to be different, what emerges in the emptiness is a release of effort, a peacefulness, and an awareness or sense of what has been called "oneness" or "unification." In the absence of the agenda to want things to be different there is an embrace and acceptance of what is. In the absence of separation there is unity. At some point (and a very blessed point it is, indeed!), that sense beyond separation can expand to an awareness of the all pervading oneness of intelligence and of energy everywhere. Thus, it becomes clear and obvious that there exists an intelligence and energy pervading everything - hence "God!" This is, of course, a very spiritual level of intimacy.
The ancient yogis, lamas, mystics, masters, Tantrics, and gurus of the Far East realized that an experience of the Oneness, of God, could and sometimes did happen to some individuals almost magically or as a consequence of unusual circumstances. However, they also discovered that most people would never experience God because of miraculous circumstances. Rather, the steady practice of meditation, cultivating an ability to reliably quiet the mind, is what would serve most people on their gradual journey towards that Oneness experience. Obviously, quiet mind requires training and practice, and the ancient teachers knew this, for it was through practice that they themselves typically achieved mastery, eventually stabilizing in unity consciousness, the awareness of the Oneness.
Tantric masters expanded the map even further. They realized that in addition to solo meditation practices that led to the deepest intimacy with self and with all, there existed another possibility - sharing the Oneness with another. Hence, partner practices. When two meditators fully quiet their minds and adjust into an alignment of consciousness and energy, no longer judging or wanting to change each other, identities begin to merge and "I and Thou" truly become one. So the merging of two individuals Tantrically becomes a microcosm of and catalyst for the greater merging with All that is. Cultivation of skillful, regular application of the partner practices then serves to take Tantric meditators through the doorway of partner intimacy and into the vast intimacy of merging with the Oneness of All.
In addition (could there possibly be more?!), the Tantric masters also discovered that simply quieting the mind and creating deep intimacy was not always enough! At some point the Ego attempts to return and the monkey mind sets out to reintroduce separation. This shows up in relationships typically on a more mundane level: some people have fear of intimacy while others have an inability to sustain intimacy even though they can easily merge and be present (with another or with themselves) for short periods of time. As it turns out, it's one thing to merge in deep intimacy, and yet another thing to develop the ability to sustain intimacy and merging. Sustaining deep intimacy is a decidedly more evolved level - it requires sustaining the quieting of the mind and maintaining awareness of the Oneness of consciousness and energy. More advanced practices are required.
Sustaining a state of Oneness and deep intimacy has a tendency to yield profound results. Tantra, Kriya yoga, and Taoism discovered that extending the time of residing in Oneness allowed cycles of energy and consciousness to unfold and build. The process of quieting the mind to the point of attaining unity consciousness is a process of transformation; when that consciousness of Oneness is sustained what naturally occurs is evolution - evolution into levels of mastery and enlightenment. Regular application of the practices that cultivate sustaining Oneness eventually generate a type of spiritual momentum, and it is that very momentum that propels the Tantric individual or couple forward on the evolutionary progression, the limits and stages of which no human mind can comprehend.
In the next and future articles I will speak about the interplay of the other primary ingredients of Tantra, the open heart, sacred attitude and intention, heightened vibration, mastery of energetic flow, sexual practices, and partnering with the masters through linking to lineages. Each and all of these synergistically enhance the deep intimacy and Oneness state invited by a quiet mind. If by chance you find yourself chomping at the bit for more about sexual Tantra, please be patient - I encourage you to focus that energy on learning to meditate and quieting your mind. Trust me, you will be very pleased at the benefits that will bring to the sexual practices (and I will get to them!).