Oceana & Icarus met at sunrise on the top of a peak in the Himalayas. Together, they have become the world’s foremost tantra teaching married couple, offering weekend workshops and residential retreats throughout Australia. Their teachings are for people of all mature ages and are equally beneficial for single people and those already with partners. The atmosphere they facilitate is totally safe and within each individual’s own boundaries.
Exploring Tantra, Connection with Ecstasy
by Oceana & Icarus
“Most people think that the thing we are looking for in life is meaning. I don’t think that’s it at all. I think that most people are looking for an experience that connects them to the ecstasy of what it could feel like to be totally alive. To know the unburdened state of total aliveness… is the pinnacle of the human potential.”
- Joseph Campbell, Anthropologist
By studying the best examples that the human species had produced to date, he created his theory of self-actualisation: an individual’s potential to achieve the highest state of being.
One of the interesting by-products of this research was the discovery that the more self-actualised a person became, the better orgasms they had.
In his ground-breaking book, The Function of the Orgasm, published in the 1940′s, Wilhelm Reich espoused the view that a person’s emotional health was related to his or her capacity to experience complete, whole-body orgasmic release in the sexual act. He felt that a full-on orgasm was one of the most healing experiences, both physically and emotionally, that a person could have. The healthy person, according to Reich, is one who regularly engages in lovingly uninhibited sexual exchange leading to a thoroughly satisfying orgasm. He was also the first Western sexologist to consider that healthy sexual functioning is connected with an ability to experience higher states of consciousness.
In the East, the connection between health, sexuality and higher consciousness has a long history. Tantra has always existed, for as long as humans have wondered about the mystery of existence, and stood in awe of the primordial power of their sexual nature. The capacity for two individuals to mate and create another life form is the original nuclear fusion. Tantra yoga is the sexual path, a vast and ancient system of rituals and practical techniques which use the most powerful creative energy in our body/mind system, that of sexual passion, to propel one into higher consciousness. Tantra has a known history going back at least 7000 years, far longer than any of the religious/spiritual practices popular in the world today.
Freud, Jung and Reich have prepared the background in the Western world for the popularity of Tantra. They may not have known anything about Tantra, but they created the context for Tantra to evolve in the West. Interest in Tantra is growing exponentially and many forms of this age-old wisdom are being taught all over the world. We believe that the reason Tantra is currently having such a rebirth of popularity on every continent is two-fold. People want to have a direct spiritual experience. They no longer are willing to go through (nor do they trust) a third party or intermediary. Secondly, they are capable of being responsible for their own spirituality, no longer being needy. or lacking the confidence of self-empowerment.
The one thing that is unique about Tantra is the recognition of our sexual nature. No other esoteric practice, religious belief, or spiritual system celebrates our sexuality. All others repress it, put a shame or guilt trip on it, or ignore it (this is the context with which we have all grown up). As Tantra evolved in India, Tibet, Egypt and China, adepts of yoga tapped into increasingly powerful techniques for safely accessing the cosmic forces inherent in sexual energy.
The problem with the celebration of sexuality in many cultures (but not all) has been that it has led to sexual license, abuse and excess. This precipitated the inevitable reaction that comes with things being out of balance – repression. The practice of Tantra was wiped out or had to go “underground” in Europe (the Inquisition, which wiped out more people than the Nazis), the Orient, and Egypt, as well as India. Historically for the human race, it has been difficult to open up the door to our sexual nature and maintain discipline and control. Learning not to “leak” energy, and particularly sexual energy, is a difficult task, even for many Tantrikas, or practitioners of the art and science of Tantra.
Confusion and ignorance
It takes enormous courage and dedication to be tantric in your view of sexuality. Our culture is very confused about sexuality. On the one hand, there are cultural pressures to inhibit your sexual expression. But you can never free yourself from sex by repressing it. Trying to avoid sex creates obsession. Unexpressed sexual energy turns into neurosis and violence. We are enslaved by our sexuality and yet not permitted to enjoy it, so the hunger is never satisfied. Tantra teaches us how to be the master of our sexual energy, not a slave to it.
Until now, most human beings have remained quite ignorant of their own loving potential. We are able to make love more frequently and sensuously than perhaps any other animal. Yet we are often disappointed after lovemaking. Why? Because most of us are like owners of a precious Stradivarius violin that we have never learned to play. Each of us has the built-in ability to experience ecstatic states of consciousness. But how do we access these states?
What exactly is this “ecstasy” Campbell claims we quest for on the hero’s journey? We would define it as the continuous experience of the divine achieved by transcendence of the ego (Latin; ex = to stand out of, stasis = a state of being). This is, most likely, a natural state that we “come in with” as an infant. Gradually, education and the ubiquitous wounds of childhood erode this. Eventually, our capacity for wonder, absolute confidence, and openness to the world, and the freedom of our heart, fold up and close down tightly.
Stanislov Groth, in Beyond the Brain, speaks of Tantric ecstasy as being “characterized by extreme peace, tranquillity, serenity, and radiant joy. The individual involved…experiences a blissful, tension-free state, a loss of ego boundaries and an absolute sense of oneness with nature, with the cosmic order, and with God. A deep intuitive understanding of existence and a flood of various specific insights of cosmic relevance are characteristic for this condition.”
Through the processes experienced in Tantra, we see people regain and, hopefully, retain their capacity for wonder. Returning to this childlike state is the door that reopens the heart. We believe it is this possibility to which Christ referred in our favourite Biblical quote, “Unless ye be as children, shall ye enter the kingdom of Heaven.” It is this reclaiming of our innocence, with the wisdom of maturity, that constitute a divine state of being.
The four principles of tantra
The four basic principles of Tantra follow along in sequential order, like stair steps. They are (deceptively) simple, but not easy.
1. Be totally present
2. Open your heart
3. Dissolve the ego
4. Merge with the divine
Be totally present
The ability to be totally present is what meditation is all about. It’s easy to think you know how to be totally present. However, like most skills worth learning, it takes practice, as the mind is accustomed to wandering. The rewards of success are awesome. Most people on the planet spend their whole life churning over the past and having fears and anxiety about their future. They rarely are able to relish the here and now.
Open your heart
Once you are totally present, you then allow your heart to open. Again, we like to think that we are Mr. or Ms. Bigheart. But it’s not that easy. We can’t just snap our fingers and our heart is open. This skill requires practice too.
Dissolve the Ego
Now this step is really difficult, and tricky. We call it dingo medicine. The dingo is so good at fooling people he can even fool himself. The ego loves to be in charge, to run the show, to tell you who you are – or should be. Some of its more pervasive aspects are the critic, the judge, the blamer and the projector. These aspects are all important survival devices in the ordinary day-to-day world. However, they don’t serve you well when you are attempting to be in your higher self. In fact, all of these ego games serve to separate us from others and from our own divine nature. When the limited concept you have of yourself (your ego) dedicates itself to the expanded self (your divine nature); then, you have entered the path of surrender, rather than the path of will. And remember, surrender is not defeat. It is the mind sinking into the heart.
If you have successfully followed the first three steps all together, you will automatically go to the fourth step. You will be in a divine place, a divine state of being. If you can do this simultaneously with another human being in a loving and sexual context, it is absolutely magical. Almost all of us have been there at some time in our lives, and we all want to go back as often as possible. When two beings are connected at the body, mind, heart and soul all at the same place at the same time it is truly magical. Tantra teaches the techniques which make it possible to achieve this bliss.
Now isn’t it curious that in describing the four principles of tantra the word S-E-X has never been mentioned? That’s why Tantra is described as sacred sex. Perhaps the emphasis should be on the sacred part. One of the paradoxes of Tantra is that it’s all about technique, and eventually, it’s about no technique. Sex is just the beginning, not the end. However, if you miss the beginning, you will miss the end as well.
Sex Is Dirty
The lotus flower is used as the icon symbolising enlightenment in the Hidu/Buddhist tradition. The “thousand petalled lotus” represents the expansion of consciousness. This awesome flower grows out of the rich mud and muck down below (the sexual centre), nourished by the Earth Mother (Shakti Kundalini), coming up through the mystical waters (sacred feminine), and uniting with cosmic consciousness (Shiva, sacred masculine). The central prayer of Tibetan Buddhism is “Om mane padme hum”, which is often translated as, “Behold, the jewel in the lotus!”
We’ve always enjoyed Woody Allen’s rejoinder when asked, “Isn’t sex dirty?” he remarked, “Only if you do it right.” For years we’ve repeated Mae West’s one-liner, “When I’m good, I’m good; but when I’m bad, I’m great!” When writing this article we finally realized what makes these one-liners funny. It is the irony of the fact that we don’t accept our sexual natures. We’re always struggling against them. It’s the animal part of us we don’t want to accept.
Accept whatever you are. Especially, learn to accept what your partner is. Acceptance is the biggest struggle in relationship, and the key to a successful one.
Acceptance is hard to accept
It’s easy to be a holy man alone in your cave. Relationship is definitely not for cowards! Just get into a relationship and see what happens. Tantra, at some point, requires mucking around in relationship – i.e.getting out there and actually creating a blissful reality.
So, what are you going to do when your divine is sitting right in front of you, staring deep into your eyes? There’s no escaping. There’s no place to hide. There’s no putting it off until you die and go to heaven. Intellectualising is a waste of breath. There’s no ignoring your divine mirror. They know all of your faults, even better than you do. And in spite of these, they still love you.
Now, we’re really talking about acceptance. Always, and especially when stuff comes up, honour the divine in your partner.
Why is sex likely to get better as you get older, even though you don’t have the testosterone of a teenager? It is for the same reason that Maslow discovered. You are more likely to be further along the path of self-actualisation. You’re more accepting of who you are. You’re more likely to have come to terms with accepting who your partner is.
Sex is the doorway to your soul
Over years of teaching Tantra, and observing thousands of participants, we have discovered that, for some strange reason, sex is an incredible doorway to one’s soul. Exploring one’s sexuality allows one to peel off more and more layers of shame, guilt, fear and anxiety. It give’s you huge clues to your childhood wounds and core issues. When these are brought up to the light and healed, your self-empowerment is regained, along with your innocence and wonder.
It became evident to us in the 1990′s, when we formed our partnership, that we should spend our time and energy on some endeavour that would address the major crises on our planet. We defined these as: the threat of war, the ecological crisis, the distribution of food, global economic inequities, and the disparity between men and women. We felt that the last issue was one in which we had experience and expertise, both having graduated from failed 20 year marriages, and the area in which we could make a significant contribution to the planet.
Our decade of personal experience, and time spent teaching tantra to others, supports the conclusions of Maslow and Reich about the incredible healing powers and growth potential of super sex combined with super intimacy and love, in the context of a conscious committed monogamous relationship.
We have experienced each other as glowing light bodies while making love in a completely dark room (we discovered several years later that this phenomenon was being studied by Wilhelm Reich in the 1940′s). We have both had multiple orgasms, “orgasms” at the third eye (sixth chakra), the heart centre (fourth chakra), and involving the whole body. We have had ecstatic lovemaking that goes on for hours. By using the techniques of tantra, we have experienced states of being beyond the material plane, beyond the realm of our physical bodies, beyond words, and beyond time, into the (so-called) fifth dimension. We have experienced states of altered consciousness (bliss, ecstasy, samadhi, satori) that have lasted for 8 to 21 hours.
We have dedicated our lives to teaching Tantra because we believe the benefits go beyond simply enhanced pleasure, or just “getting high”. It is our experience that when individuals realise a state of higher consciousness, they realise certain “truths”. The information they bring back from such experiences has a positive effect on their creative contribution to humanity, and inevitably serves to heal and enrich the planet.
Relationship can be an exciting path of acceptance and awakening. For us, relationship is our spiritual path. We go with Joseph Campbell’s advice: “Follow your bliss”.
Recommended reading and viewing
- Anand, Margo, The Art of Sexual Ecstasy, Jeremy P. Tarcher, Inc., Los Angeles, 1989.
Chang, Jolan. The Tao of the Loving Couple: True Liberation Through the Tao.
Campbell, Joseph, The Power of Myth, Doubleday, New York, 1988Campbell, Joseph, The Hero with a Thousand Faces, Harper Collins, London, 1993
Odier, Daniel, Tantric Quest, Bantam Books, Sydney, 1996.
Saraswati, Sunyata and Avinasha, Bodhi, Jewel In The Lotus – The Tantric Path To Higher Consciousness, Sunstar Publishing, 1987.
Sarita, Ma Ananda and Geho, Swami Anand, Tantric Love – A Nine-Step Guide to Transforming Lovers into Soul Mates, Simon & Schuster, New York, 2001.
Tanner, Ron and Connop, Cynthia. The Secrets of Sacred Sex – A Guide to Intimacy and Loving, video by Tantric Arts Pty. Ltd., 1995