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September 2

What Is Tantra?

The Kama Sutra, the classical Indian text on the art of Love, enumerates the 64 arts. The text advises that these should be studying along with the Kama Sutra, preferably under the guidance of a teacher. These arts and sciences include singing, music, dancing, writing, drawing, painting, sewing, reading, recitation, poetry, sculpture, gymnastics, games, flower arranging, physical sports, martial arts, cooking, decoration, perfumery, gardening, mimicry, mental exercises, languages, mineralogy, etiquette, carpentry, magic, chemistry, gambling, architecture, logic, charm making, household management, disguise, and plus many related to the culture in time.

The Indian texts on love suggest that both men and women should be well-versed in as many of the 64 arts as possible. Here are the main reasons as to why these arts should be studied. First, a person who is accomplished in them is automatically given an honorable place in society.

Second, one can more easily win over the subject of desire, be it husband, wife, or lover, and provide more fulfillment. Third, a single person can easily be self-supporting by the application of these skills.

Indeed, without these modes of expression, our existence would be boring and restrictive. There is no Western equivalent of the Kama Sutra. And perhaps, for this reason, sex as an art form, has yet to mature in the Western world. Social repression and internalized guilt have prevented modern-day people in the West from a joyous exploration of sexuality. Practically all, that the present-day society offers in this area is pornography or clinical sex manuals, so filled with anatomical details and "techniques", that they would be enough to get a person turned off from sex for life.

One result of this repression is human sexual perversion. The sexual act is rarely tastefully portrayed in Western art or literature. We, as a society, either reject sex altogether or accept the mediocre treatment of it.

Ancient Vedic societies did not consider sex apart from spirituality. The sex act was honored and intimately connected with the other arts. Men and women alike study the Kama Sutra and similar texts.

All variations of sexual positions were portrayed in the temples and venerated as ideals. The entire range of erotic art and literature was considered a normal and respectable subject of study in the privacy of the home.

Celibacy, monogamy, polygamy, and polyandry all had a place in ancient Vedic culture. The 64 Arts should be conceived as the Paths of creative energy. They are the emanations of the Goddess. They can be likened to the flames of an inner sun, blazing from the Solar Plexus. Burning up all negativity, these flames purify the psyche and bring about an inner transformation.

The physical body is the temple of this soul, the microcosm of the universe. All the cosmic principles are found within this temple. All the elements, space, air, water, fire, and earth, are found within the body. The art of worship in the Temple of the body consists in focusing the creative attitude by channeling the sexual energy upward. This energy, experienced as an ecstatic thrill, rises up from the sexual region and flares at the solar plexus.

The 64 vital flames burn up all the negativity and purify the psychic pathways. This process manifests as the ecstatic emotion which no words can describe. The sexual experience becomes more potent through knowledge of the psychic pathways. One can consciously experience orgasm and illumination by practicing the secret Tantric techniques. The inner process of "self-worship" in the Temple of the Body" takes place on every level, from the physical to the most subtle.

It is important to regard the body as a temple. The bodily temple should be kept clean, healthy and harmonious, to respect the divinity within. By worshipping in the Temple of the Body during love-making, all desires are fulfilled. That sensual love as an act of great magical and spiritual power is one of the main principles of Tantra.

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