Monday, February 01, 2016
THE ACCIDENTAL TANTRIC
I have written my story elsewhere many times. How I, a (closeted) lesbian feminist English professor in a Midwestern university, was reading one morning in a text that mentioned Kundalini––how it was an “energy” that rose up the spine and into the head, where the crown became a lotus where a “thousand petals opened” as the effulgent forces of the universe flowed in as ineffable bliss. And how then I decided on impulse that I could do this––bring the energies up and feel them as divine bliss entering my body from invisible regions, from unknown sources, and I and “it” would then be united always as one being.
And such, of course, is essentially what happened. How the energies rose up like a rocket ascending, a flag ripped up on a flagpole, a heron taking sudden flight. Thus it was that I attained, in an instant, what untold numbers before me had striven years to achieve, had sometimes starved and mutilated their bodies, had left society and lived for countless years in caves, in forest retreats, in monasteries locked away in cells, courting the divine favor, seeking the embrace of the unseen Beloved Within, the source of all that is.
So after years of silence, I finally came forth and told my tale. At least a certain part of it.
And people wondered and asked how I achieved this sudden success where so many had striven for years to accomplish and had failed. What was my secret? they asked. How was it possible? they queried.
Yes, I had told the skeleton narration of what had taken place.
But there was part of the story I did not tell. I mentioned that I was in a personal emotional crisis, for I feared I was about to lose my relationship. ButI did not reveal what had happened immediately before the Event, what was, I later realized, clearly the essential preparation, the lead up, the necessary preliminary. I am telling the story now because I realize that it is now time to tell my experience, lest my account be like a piece of music that is disappearing into the distance, perhaps never even heard.
That morning my lover and I had indeed made love. We were well matched, and the typical outcome was that we both reached climax and thus were left happy and fulfilled. But that day, such a release had not happened for me––contrary to my usual experience. However I was not particularly upset by this outcome. I knew that many such ecstatic experiences had occurred in the past and others were sure to happen in future. I was not deeply concerned when I left my lover sleeping in bed while I went into the living room and began reading in a certain book the passage that was to change my life forever.
The book mentioned Kundalini, said it must rise up the spine into the crown, and there the aforementioned thousand petaled flower would open as if by a hidden spring, a silent command from an invisible source. I knew virtually nothing of this mysterious force called "Kundalini," but I was fascinated by what it might involve.
This book also contained illustrations. One was the famous Tibetan representation of the divine couple in union, sometimes called Shiva/Shakti, sometimes described as Vajrasattva (a major guru in Hindu spirituality) embracing his consort, and sometimes said to reflect the marriage of various other, less sensuous opposites.
Another was a photograph of Bernini’s we known depiction of Saint Teresa of Avila in full ecstasy, with the angel hovering near with his lance aimed at her heart. (Only much later was I told that the opening of the heart chakra is the most ecstatic of all, and indeed I have found this to be true.)
I had read somewhere that tantrics sometimes did not work with partners but simply meditated on an image to arouse their energies, and so I began to contemplate Shiva and Shakti embracing. I had for some time (as a teacher of feminist topics) contemplated the essential nature of male and female, sometimes described as “aggressive” vs. “receptive” aspects of the human make up.
So I easily “threw” my energies into the male, then into the female, finally into both locked together in their intimate embrace. And, because of where I was in my own process at that moment (sexual energies aroused but not released), I quickly felt the sensuous flow within, mainly in the lower chakras. Then, when I focused on bringing these energies up (through breath and attention), they literally shot into my cranium, which became a “sexualized brain” as the thousand petals opened in pulsation after pulsation of indescribable bliss.
Without prior intention or instruction, I had intuitively followed an ancient tantric ritual, one practiced for years in certain parts of the world, in which males deliberately employed their female partners to arouse them sexually until they could through intention and design bring the energies up and enjoy the exquisite sensations of the opening of the head, the “thousand lotus petals unfolding” in sensuous delight as they experienced ultimate “union with the gods.”
This was indeed an “awakening experience.” The results have echoed through my life in one form or another for all the years thereafter. What I learned from the experience was, mainly, that we as separate entities do not exist, that we are infinitesimal particles in the vastness of this divine flow, and that when we are in correct alignment with this cosmic flood, we can experience some of its ineffable delight, as it “enters us and claims us” for its own.
Yeats said, “Man can embody truth but never know it.” Likewise, we can never untangle the full mystery of the universe, though we can on occasion taste or glimpse it as our own bodies participate in its infinite splendor.
And as for me, I also learned that anything can happen to anyone anywhere at any time, if the conditions are right and the cosmic overseers feel that this is the right time for us to be “opened.”
In my most recent post I discussed the contribution of bliss energies to the overall "love field" of the world. That post was written as I approach my 88th birthday. I am amazed that the bliss still "visits," albeit in a much subtler and more delicate form.
However, this more recent post describes my original awakening experience, at the age of 53. It was indeed a surprise, not scripted or intended by me in the way it happened but it changed my life forever, for it revealed to me "who I really was."
P. S. I never repeated my experiment. I did not need to, for the bliss energies were now fully awakened, and I experienced rapture/bliss many times through simple practices--meditation on Shiva (too strong); then Krishna; basic yoga (while I was able); movement;
music--such as Krishna Das, Jonathan Goldman, Brahms' "German Requiem"; crystals (just once, but powerful); essence of frankincense/amber; trees and flowers; receiving the vibrations from my sacred Buddha thongka; and now mantra repetition. I have lived alone for many years and am happy in that state. The energies still flow in subtle ways even now. For me, the inner bliss energies are the sign of the true Tantric.