Tantra is a potent field. What makes it so potent is that it works directly with the lifeforce energy, known traditionally as “Shakti”. This energy is sourced in the sexual energy, but can rise to higher levels than sexuality. This ancient Sanskrit word can be translated as “energy” but also as “power”, highlighting the fact that this energy is extremely powerful.
Therefore anyone entering the field as a facilitator or therapist, would be wise to ask themselves soul searching questions in order to keep this power aligned to the highest good. Misused power can cause a lot of harm in the world. A powerless person may perform harmful deeds, but the effect will still be small. A powerful person’s actions will have a big effect, and this may be a huge positive effect or of course a huge negative effect. The effect of action is known as the “karma” of that action, and ancient Tantric teachings taught practitioners of Tantra the laws of karma.
These days, many of the ancient wisdom that was taught alongside the tantric practices has been left behind. In our ever-eager hunger to gain the skill and build the energy, modern consumers of Tantra have leapt into the practices without the wisdom of how to use the power they gain in alignment with the highest good.
Thus Tantra has a bad rep…and often rightfully so! We hear of teachers who use their power to sleep with students, massage therapists who cross boundaries of their vulnerable clients, facilitators who are teaching tantra only to gain prestige and egoic glory…. and so on and so on. And Tantra is supposed to be the field that is bringing more consciousness to sex and power, not less!
What can be done? Is it time to abandon the whole field of Tantra? Or is it time for a purification of the field? Is it possible for the teachers and therapists to stand together and choose to dedicate this whole path and practice to the highest good of all….and have the self-honesty to look within and purify any self-serving aspects that they have brought into their role with them. In my ceaseless optimism, I like to think so. But it’s a choice we all have to make if we are going to carry the precious gifts of Tantra on into the modern world without harm and destruction.
I once had an incident in my own teaching that rocked me to my core. I was leading an energy-raising ritual in partners, and one woman did not want to partner up with the last guy left. Although I said they could just be apart from each other, not even touching, I encouraged her to stay in the class. It didn’t seem like a big deal to me. Many months later I found out that she had felt traumatised by the experience because they guy reminded her of a man who had harmed her in the past. Of course I didn’t know at the time how serious her resistance was, but I felt so bad for having created a stressful situation for one of my students. I really took some soul-searching reflection, prayed for forgiveness and healing of any harm I had been part of, wrote the student a letter to apologise and modified my language in facilitating to be more open and inviting rather than insistent.
I also made clearer guidelines for students highlighting their right to sit out of any process. The whole experience helped to deepen my understanding on Tantra and the way it works…it can push buttons, that is its very way of working. But I understand now that participants have to choose to press those buttons themselves…it is not the responsibility of the facilitator. In fact they need to choose, because their strong intention is what carries them all the way through their process. Their strong intention and dedication is what marks the difference between transforming and traumatizing.
It was a life lesson. But of course it is better we do not simply learn by mistakes, for then we are causing havoc along the way on our path of learning. Better we learn the underlying principles that create harmonious situations, and look within ourselves to purify any misguided intentions.
So if you feel drawn to hold space for Tantra classes, or to step into the role of being a therapist or massage therapist, here are some soul-searching questions that can help to save you from making mistakes that can be harmful to others. Be honest as you answer them! Soul-searching is not about answering to anyone else’s authority, but appealing to your own inner sovereign truth:
If, after some time of soul-searching, you have a sinking feeling that you are not fully-equipped with the wisdom, experience or purity to facilitate this path…there are several steps you might want to take:
I would like to see the whole field of Tantra elevate itself into a trustworthy and respectable field of empowerment, so that it can really offer its tremendous fruits to those who would benefit. In this modern world of sexual trauma, relationship issues and spiritual drought, tantra has so much to offer. May it be part of the solution and not part of the problem!
If any facilitators or therapists have been through their own soul-searching already, and perhaps learned from mistakes and found ways to do things better…I’m interested to hear from you. What did you find? Where were you finding problems? How did you resolve them? Did you find useful resources or guidance somewhere? Please post your finding in the comment below. (And please, this is not a space for criticising others, but for sharing from our own wisdom!!!)
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