The Dark Side of the Tantric World
This morning I woke up reading an article titled "Women Accuse Agama Yoga Founder Swami Vivekananda Saraswati of Sexual Assault" on Medium. You can read the full article here.
I am not surprised at what this article says, and I am glad someone finally speaks up. I have been wanting to write an article sharing my own experiences and rather bizarre encounters in the tantric world and the dark side of it, and now I feel it is the time.
There is a lot of confusion in the Tantric world about what Tantra is. Tantra has been a word that is widely used and perhaps abused by many, and it is normally associated with the aspect of sexuality or sacred sexuality.
Tantra is not so much about sex, but about energy, meditation, consciousness and presence (there are a few well-known tantrikas throughout the history who were actually long-term celibates, for example RamaKrishna – at the highest state of consciousness, there is no sex).
In tantra, we do work with sexual energy, which is our life-force. However, sex and sexual energy can be separate things (this could be where the misunderstanding comes in). One person can have sex without much sexual energy and the other person may not have so much sex but have abundant sexual energy, and if the person knows how to use tantric techniques to channel sexual energy into higher spiritual growth, then it could be tremendously beneficial for our spiritual evolution.
And in order to have this transformation happen, one must be in meditation first. While sacred sexuality is one aspect of tantra, but sacred sexuality will not happen until meditation happens. It is like in yoga, if you only practice asana (the physical aspect of yoga), then you are not doing yoga at all. Yoga also will not happen until meditation happens.
In fact, one must go very deep in meditation for tantra to happen. Otherwise, tantra is a dangerous and easily misunderstood path, as our sexual energy can show itself so powerfully that in the name of tantra it could just become a sexual orgy.
Meditation and Presence are what tantra truly about.
Real and authentic tantric training is actually quite difficult to find. Now when I looked back on my tantric journey, I did seven tantric related pieces of training (actually more than that, if plus yoni massages, it would have been ten) and out of all the teachers I studied with, so far, I have only encountered one truly embodied teachers (check out Renetsu @ Ecstatic Presence on Facebook).
I believe for genuine, authentic and embodied tantra teachers, he or she should not teach about sex or sexual techniques, rather meditation should be taught. When one is in meditation, that is when the energy can transform and that’s when sacred sexuality can happen (knowing techniques without being in meditation will not help so much).
As a reflector in my human design chart, I am here to sample life and when I want to learn something, I also sample around for teachers, to have a taste of their energy and frequency, and to decide for myself, so I have definitely learned a lot of lessons through my own tantric journey.
About Agama Yoga
Agama Yoga is perhaps one of the most well-known yoga and tantra schools in the world. But I will not recommend Agama Yoga at all specifically for their tantra courses (except female empowerment courses by Monika Nataraj, which is kind of separate from Agama but hosted by agama).
I did one tantra course at agama with two of the most famous senior teachers and did not feel what they were teaching was tantra at all, and I actually had to walk out halfway through the course. I just could not be bothered wasting my energy and time there anymore, and I felt I should have my money back.
There was absolutely NO PRESENCE in the teachers' teaching, most of the lectures the teachers were just talking about their own sexual experiences (I still remembered the lead female teacher shared her threesome experience with the lead male teacher and she described that she was laughing so hard because the male teacher was trying so hard to fuck the other girl and was sweating and it actually hurt).
And I kept thinking to myself, how was that tantric?? And to be honest, I had zero interest in their own sexual experiences and I didn't pay all the money to hear their stupid stories. Most of the time there was nothing tantric about what they were teaching.
The tantra course at agama is a JOKE!! And luckily, I didn't meet the Swami. If he dared to do anything to me, he would not get away with it.
The thing is a lot of women didn't speak up because they were not so connected to themselves and they didn't know what they were doing. If you felt that you had been violated, then most likely you probably had. Trust your intuition and your body (I also had to learn my lessons through my journey).
A lot of people in the tantric world also offer yoni and lingam massage services, but really watch out for the fake practitioners out there.
My first yoni/tantric massage experience was quite a nightmare and I felt tremendously violated in hindsight and could very well be traumatised but for all the inner work I've done over the years. It was with this “experienced tantric practitioner of 15 years” who was recommended by a friend.
There was no presence in what he was doing, no consecration, no meditation. There was nothing divine or sacred about his service and I felt a weird energy (I was extremely sensitive to energy), but for the presence of my friend in the same room, this practitioner could very well jump on me.
Why I did it you might ask? Because I was curious at that time of my journey, I wanted to try out what a yoni massage was and I was in the explorative stage and also wasn’t totally connected and grounded. But still, all the spiritual work I did in the past made me realise there was something fishy about this (I had enough foundation in me to distinguish the real and the unreal). I did two or three more yoni and lingam massage trainings after that, still I did not feel there was so much presence in the teachers who offered the training.
Genital work shouldn’t be performed randomly. It truly requires a lot of presence, integrity and experience of the practitioners. To all the yoni and lingam masseurs out there, if there's no presence in what you do, please do not offer this kind of service; and if you do, please do not label it as tantric massage.
About Tantra teachers sleeping with their students
And I know many Tantra teachers who sleep with their students or clients (particularly male teachers) – to me, this is not okay! (yes, unless both of you fall deeply in love with each other, but at least wait for some time after the retreat - to know for sure, and take the necessary time to integrate, not during the retreat).
You see a lot of women come to Tantra for healing, they try to understand themselves, and try to connect with themselves. They are likely to carry trauma, past wounds, and could be in very vulnerable situations - and sometimes they may not be so connected to themselves and they don't know how to say no, or what's a maybe or a full yes. It's important for teachers to remain their integrity and not to sleep with students during the retreat while the students are still going through their periods of healing, they will also need time to integrate and to feel connected to themselves.
Tantra teachers should try to hold a safe space for their students, not to exploit vulnerable students with their power.
So, to the teachers who are sleeping with their students - please don't take advantage of the students in the name of Tantra or Tantric transmission...
What it means to be an embodied teacher?
An embodied teacher is a teacher who walks the talk, who is fully present with the students. An embodied teacher is a teacher who holds a safe space for the students to explore, to expand, and not to take advantage of the students.
On my journey, I only look for studying with embodied teachers and I am grateful at least I found one after sampling around in the tantric world.