It is intended to develop the "awakened mind" of meditation in a sexual context.
Mark Epstein, MD, a New York City psychiatrist and the author of Open to Desire: Embracing a Lust for Life—Insights from Buddhism and Psychotherapy, reframes this concept as the dropping of a veil between "self" and "other." Tantra is not just some postmodern Kama Sutra or postgraduate search for the G-spot, according to its aficionados.
There is now on my desk a small library of books about tantric sex, and while the explicit detailing of intimate behavior might make our grandmothers blush (and might at first be confused with garden-variety porn), the practice of tantra (based on ancient Hindu and Buddhist scriptures) is supposed to facilitate a more meaningful intimacy, an actual spiritual connection between partners.
It's not as if we don't already commit enough time and energy to sex in our society—we live in a sexually saturated culture; both Madison Avenue and Hollywood are truly obsessed with the subject—but much of what we read, observe, and experience in our bedrooms seems to be about performance, about attracting a partner and being "good in bed" and reaching some multiorgasmic goalpost.
I don't hang out in X-rated shops, but I doubt there's much pornography that talks about men and women transforming erotic energy into a refined state of consciousness.
It is, although this sounds incredibly highfalutin, about finding aspects of the divinity in one's beloved.
And what does a weekend workshop in the poconos have to do with the real thing? An urban legend with the ring of authenticity cites a survey in which tantric sex tops the list of subjects that most interest 14- to 25-year-olds—the prototype MTV generation. Who wouldn't be curious about a practice that is alleged to foster staring into a beloved's eyes for hours and hours, kissing for hours and hours, making love for hours and hours?
I don't get HBO either, so I learned only recently that Sex and the City (inevitably) seized upon the idea of tantra, veering perilously close to Hustler territory.
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