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Tantra & Erotic Trance

Volume One
Tantra & Erotic Trance
Volume One - Outer Work


John Ryan Haule

Tantra & Erotic Trance
Volume One - Outer Work
Copyright 2012 by John Ryan Haule
First Edition
ISBN 978-0-9776076-8-6 Paperback

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be used or reproduced by any means,
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the author will be pleased to make the necessary arrangements at the first opportunity.

Cover design by Ann Yoost Brecke 2012.

For the Arrow Makers
The manuscript for this book has been out of circulation for a dozen years. I am there-
fore most grateful to Mel Mathews of Fisher King Press for recognizing its value and
agreeing to publish it.
I am grateful, too, to Cornelia Dimmitt for her thorough review of the text of
this book, based in her dual expertise in Sanskrit studies and Analytical Psychology.
Thanks too to Jeffrey Timm for his encouragement and for suggesting important texts
I had not discovered on my own. Thanks to Ann Yoost Brecke for sharing her library
and acting as a sounding board for drafts, early and late, as well as for the art work on
the covers. James M. Haule read and commented on late drafts, providing strong en-
couragement. I also could not have written this book without the help of colleagues,
students and analysands who have shared their experiences and insights with me over
the past three or four decades.
Preface xi

The Brink of Orgasm 1
1. The Real and Unreal in Sex and Spirituality 3
2. The Problem of Orgasm 29
3. Beyond Orgasm to Eros 51

Transforming Energy 75
4. Serpent of Light 77
5. The Way of Longing 105
6. Scandalous Accomplishments 133
7. Beyond Good and Evil 162

Bibliography 183
Index 197

Tantra & Erotic Trance - Volume One

Writing this book has been a labor of love in several ways. It is based on some thirty
years of learning from loving relationships and sexual partners, and an overlapping
twenty years of practice as a Jungian analyst as well as decades spent in the study of
world religions with a particular interest in mysticism. I found that physiology and
psychology are deeply intertwined, that for millennia people have been training the
human body to produce mystical experiences capable of transforming our conscious-
ness in marvelous ways, and finally that mythologies and religious dogmas are the
documents that describe these transformations and their results.
A recurring metaphor in the pages that follow is that of the ladder of mystical
ascent, sometimes called the diamond ladder, evoking the Tibetan concept of dorje
and the Hindu lingam but especially the diamond body of Buddhism. An ascent is
described, beginning in the very first chapters where controversies about sex lead to
the conclusion that human sexuality has both a horizontal meaning as the founda-
tion of the nuclear family in a stable society and a vertical meaning as the engine of
consciousness change in Tantra.
We embark on the vertical path only by developing a new relationship with our
body, in fact reversing some of the assumptions most of us take for granted. This first
volume, Outer Work, describes the influence our body can have on our conscious-
ness, beginning with a new valuation of orgasm and its role in human sexuality. We
also learn that being separated from our partner can be no less important than being
together. Finally, Tantra takes us into conflict with the values of society at large and
recommends an heroic stance in which we court the most disturbing and overwhelm-
ing emotions in a spirit of equanimity. The first volume ends with the reforms of the
great tenth century devotee of Shiva, Abhinavagupta, who urged his disciples to turn
their attention away from the outer forms of their practices and to attend instead to
the changes occurring in their consciousness.
Abhinavagupta made the essential mystical move recognized in every religious tra-
dition: that we must learn to reverse our attention, away from the deity or sacred
object before us to the effects such beings cause in our awareness. His contribution,
then, becomes the foundation for Volume Two, Inner Work.

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The Brink of Orgasm

Tantra & Erotic Trance - Volume One



The linkage between sex and spiritualitywhether it be three, eight, or thirty thousand years
old1has become a subject of fascination in recent years. A visit to the Barnes and Noble
website turns up ninety-one volumes with the word Tantra in the title, all of which can be de-
livered to our doorsteps within three or four days. Many of these purport to reveal the secrets
of Tantric sex as a series of easily mastered techniques, some with glossy photographs of beauti-
ful naked models illustrating the various positions for us. Although we may find little that
is spiritual in books that gloss the merely naughty as exotic and possibly serious, scholarly
treatments of the several Tantric traditions may be more convincing. They have little to say of
positions but much about meditation techniques and the elaborate imagery of gods. There
can be little doubt that sex is sometimes employed for spiritual purposes. At the same time we
may well be suspicious. Possibly our ancestors of thousands of years ago were simply ignorant
of their human dignity, stumbling in the dark grip of their basest instincts until the voice of
God was finally heard by our more enlightened and nearer ancestors from Abraham to Jesus.
For 2000 years our Christian culture has envisioned sublime experience as the reward for
asceticism and denialparticularly of the sexual urge. The vast majority of Buddhists, Hin-
dus, Jews, and Muslims appear to be in substantial agreement. Yet there is another tradition
according to which nothing is to be repressed or denied. When used skillfully, sex can be the
1 That the linkage between sex and spirituality may be three to four thousand years old is supported by
the standard conservative estimate of scholars of the Indian Vedas, who date these ancient scriptures
at about 1500 b.c.e., and where we find stern disapproval of wandering bands of ragged mystics, the
Vratyas, who belong to the earliest history of yoga and rejected the sacrificial religion of the Vedas.
Their central rite included an enactment of the creative, erotic play between god and goddess that
constitutes the two worlds: the empirical world of space and time and the transcendent world of the
gods and spirits (Feuerstein, 1990). The figure of 8000 years is supported by Danilou: From the
beginning of the sixth millennium, the marks of Shivaism are to be found everywhere; the cult of
the bull, the snake and the phallus, the royal symbol of the horns, Yoga positions, funeral chambers
(1992: 30). Feuerstein, Kak, & Frawley (1995) are in substantial agreement. The argument that the
link between sex and spirituality may be 30,000 years old relies on interpretations of the Ice Age cave
art of Europe (cf. Clottes & Lewis-Williams, 1998).

Tantra & Erotic Trance - Volume One

engine that drives spiritual realization. But it is a dangerous engine that crashes into ravines
more often than it reaches the top of the mountain. Madness and depravity lurk just around
every bend. Psychosis is notorious for the religious and sexual delusions it may induce. The
conflict we presently see in our own society reflects only a superficial recognition of the two
mystical tendencies of denial and exploration. While a new-agey infatuation with Tantra has
been growing, we have been doing our best to expose sexual depravity wherever we find it.
An appalling underground of childhood sexual abuse, rape, and pornography enrages and
confuses us as we struggle over how to define and prosecute its evils.
Symptomatic of our contemporary confusion is the fact that in recent decades we Ameri-
cans have been obsessed with the casual virility of our presidents. We are eager for gossip but
unable to interpret it. What are we to make, for instance, of that breathy recording we have
all heard dozens of times: Marilyn Monroe in the Kennedy White House singing, Happy
Birthday Mr. President? Is this Americas goddess of love, starved for attention, offering her
calendar-enhancing body, all aflutter with sexuality, to the greatest hero of the free world, the
inspiring giant who promised to make altruism and social justice into attainable goals? Are
we Marilyn, desperate to turn our longing into a force that will change the world? Are we the
most powerful man on earth, ready to embrace and finally to satisfy all those innocents whose
hearts are in the right place but who have cruelly been wronged? Or is this rather a Hollywood
burlesque, where a curvaceous drag queen of an actress reveals the American president as
starring in a public relations drama, entertaining us with contrived photo-opportunities
and sound-bites so that the skullduggery of CIA assassinations and political corruption can
go on unguessed and unchecked?
The truth that poses and slips away ungrasped in these modern media events intrigues
us and leads us on to related matters. We wonder what to make of reports that John Ken-
nedy and Marilyn Monroe were having an affair. Was the goddess in familiar surroundings
at the White House? Did she sing for herself while she sang for us all? Did Jack and Marilyn
belong together as the god and goddess of our popular imagination, the American divine
couple, the Tantric Shiva and Shakti of the Western World? If so, what was joined in that
union of the most desired and the most admired? Both beautiful to look at, both a com-
manding presence, both a reputation for insatiable sexuality. Thousands dreamed of making
love with them. And both were dead, in their forties, within a few months of the celebrated
birthday. They live on in our memories, unchanged, unwrinkled, surviving countless tawdry
exposs of their separate lives. They have become legendary and tell us more of the American
soul than of their own private selves.
So it is with the scriptures of all the worlds religions. They speak the truth, but always
indirectly, always in stories that refuse to be reduced to simple propositions. What do we

The Real and Unreal in Sex and Spirituality

make, for instance, of Abrahams offering his wife to the Pharaoh of Egypt, particularly when
he wanted nothing more than to have a son of his own? Or of Yahwehs ordering the prophet
Hosea to take a harlot for a wife? Or of Jesus allowing a woman of notorious reputation to
wash his feet and dry them with her hair? Each of these questions has an official answer.
Abraham feared for his life. Yahweh wanted to tell Israel that she was a harlot who allowed
false gods to play with her breasts. And Jesus loved even publicans and sinners. An ortho-
dox community of faith gives us these answers, long after the scandalous incidents took place.
But what of the contemporaries of our religious heroes, what must they have thought? What
would todays media have done with such stories? Is it possible that a hidden doctrine of sex
as spiritual engine has been expunged from these accounts?
Throughout the world and over the course of at least three millennia, we have relied on the
implications and drama of stories to express our most sublime aspirations. From Genesis and
Exodus to the midrash stories of the Talmudic rabbis and the humor of that Hasidic genius,
the Baal Shem Tov; from the gospels to the lives of the saints and the rants of revivalist preach-
ers; from the Quran and Jelaluddin Rumis poetic compendium of holy and ribald tales, the
Mathnawi (often called the Persian Quran), to the Sufi trickster stores of Nasrudin; from
the Hindu Vedas to the Mahabharata and the legends of the Nath Siddhas; and from the
Buddhist transmission stories of China to the koans and Zen stories of Japanwhenever we
have been moved to speak of the spirit, whether human or divine, we have resorted to stories.
When we wish to be precise regarding our beliefs, we call upon theology and its handmaid-
en, philosophy. But in the last analysis, these more linear disciplines are themselves based on
sacred stories and often leave us dissatisfied with what they extract from them. For as Sanskrit
scholar, Wendy Doniger OFlaherty observes, Myth takes over where philosophy proves in-
adequate (OFlaherty, 1973: 6).
Stories, myths, and legends portray the delightful and exasperating imprecision of human
life, the fact that what we know about ourselves is inevitably called into question by what we
do and that our plans are overturned by events beyond our control. There is no way of map-
ping the unexpected, for it reserves the right to frustrate us at every turn. Whether we cel-
ebrate the abrupt turns in the narratives that are our lives by speaking of divine intervention,
bemoan them as diabolic temptation, or simply discard them as absurd, they are inherent to
the human condition. Only stories get them right.
Therefore, if we wish to approach such murky human questions as sex and spirituality, we
have no choice but to collect storiesstories about what people have attempted and attained
as well as those that recount utter failure, corruption, and tragic defeat. We shall reflect upon
these stories, pondering manifold meanings that can never be cleanly disentangled and telling

Tantra & Erotic Trance - Volume One

more stories inspired by the promising obscurities of the last. We shall be constantly turning
that indecent diamond of sexual spirituality to catch the light of ever new facets.


Tantra made the front page of the Wall Street Journal on December 7, 1998, in an article
stressing the hot market it has provided for those who teach sexual practices in the language
of new-age spirituality (Nomani, 1998). The article speaks of $700 weekends which law
enforcement authorities complain [are] sometimes simply a front for prostitution. Learning
new techniques and attitudes about sex, as well as sexual healing, seems to be the explicit
theme of such gatherings. Several prominent marketer-instructors are interviewed with spe-
cial attention to what they are earning and questionable aspects of their personal lives. Huge
profits are to be made on the borderland of therapy, libertinism, and feel-good spirituality by
individuals and couples whose lust and greed have compromised their publicly espoused mo-
rality. The customers are evidently wealthy, bored, and naive. The story ends with the image
of a beaming Monica Giles, just back from spending the night with a partner she had selected
from the full complement of male workshop participants in blindfolds the evening before.
Ms. Giles will confess only two things: Her goddess has been served and, Oh, my God, my
best friend is going to think Im nuts.
Story-tellers and their audiences being integral parts of any narrative, the reputation of
the Wall Street Journal is essential to this storyits hard-headed interest in the bottom line
and its skepticism for anything that falls outside the domain of common-sense capitalism. It
speaks with confidence of the engine of commerce but hardly represents itself as a competent
judge of spiritual engines. In the sphere of religion it is like the art critic who has never been
inside a museum: It knows what it likes. It likes profits and eschews nonsense. Therefore we
are not surprised to find that Tantra makes the front page of the Journal when fortunes are
being made by what seem to be snake-oil salesmen.
Still, the most avid proponents of spiritual sex will find much to agree with in this account.
It has always been the case that flagrantly unorthodox spiritual practices have attracted far
more of the gullible, the lazy, the criminal, and the psychologically unstable than of the de-
vout and the earnest. Fads come and go even in the realm of religion. There are certainly plen-
ty of affluent Americans vaguely dissatisfied with their lives and on the lookout for exciting
alternatives in the way of uplifting recreation. Surely the veneer of ancient respectability may
serve the very practical function of justifying what would otherwise provoke painful feelings
of guilt among those paying hundreds of dollars for a weekend of sexual exploration. Such
games take place outside the boundaries of real life. Possibly insights are gained. Perhaps

The Real and Unreal in Sex and Spirituality

marriages are reinvigorated, broken, and made. Perhaps a few lives are changed. Probably few,
indeed, will look back on such weekends ten years from now and see them as anything more
than sensuous adventures. The philosopher of eroticism, Georges Bataille, says that sensuality
is to mysticism as a clumsy try is to perfect achievement (Bataille, 1986: 249). We find no
evidence of perfect achievement in the Wall Street Journal article. Evidently financial gain
is the bottom line.
B. Bhattacharya, a novelist, English teacher, and secondary school principal who grew up
in a Tantric environment in the North Indian holy city of Varanasi, has nothing good to say
about the tawdry doings that take place under the undefined umbrella of yoga and tantra.
In his autobiography, The World of Tantra, he says, Tantra has become an easy escape for the
degenerate (Bhattacharya, 1988: 32). The crux of the matter is that for a hundred of such
urbanized and sophisticated institutions, there could be just one genuine school (Bhattacha-
rya, 294).
Bhattacharya was born in 1910 to a Brahmin family that spoke Bengali but was so im-
mersed in the texts and practices of Hinduism that he calls the dead language of Sanskrit
almost my mother tongue. His father and uncle were locally famous yogins, and Tantra was
the very air I had to breathe (Bhattacharya, 1). His family was dedicated to the deity Kali,
the Dark Mystic Lady, of horrifying appearance. He presents himself as a care-free, naked
child,2 known by the neighbors (and his mother?) as obstinate, precocious, determined, and
hopelessly wayward (Bhattacharya, 2-3). He spent his entire growing youth in [the] com-
pany of the proprietor of a coconut shop (Bhattacharya, 23), a plump woman of about fifty3
who earned her living spinning the rough fibers of coconut shells into thread. He often fell
asleep with his head on her ample thigh as she spun. She was silent, feared, and avoided by
her neighbors unless they had a sick child in need of healing (Bhattacharya, 4). He refers to her
only as the Lady in Saffron.

In later life, I discovered that she had indeed been a fallen girl (to me a fallen angel) who
had run away from her widowed girlhood with a man of very low caste, and was later
abandoned by him; to toss around for a while in the multitudinous waves of the street, until
she found her footing, and rediscovered herself in the light of her inner glory and grandeur
(Bhattacharya, 6).

2 He does not tell us when he began to wear clothes; but in an incident when he was sixteen he is
asked, Where is your dhoti (loincloth)? Probably he was expected to cover his genitals at about
the age of puberty.
3 In his boyish mentality, she was an old lady. Since she died in her eighties, probably around 1955,
she must have been about fifty during the significant events that occur in 1921, when Bhattacharya
was eleven.

Tantra & Erotic Trance - Volume One

His uncle, the Tantrika, impressed upon him the great privilege he enjoyed in being her
favorite, saying, She is one with Space and Time. Awed and puzzled by this expression, the
boy asked his father what it meant. The respected yogin answered: She is one with Time and
Space! She is continuity. For her there is no death, no birth. She takes her body just as a body,
and nothing more. . . . She belongs to the ocean that never changes. That is Space and Time.
She is it (Bhattacharya, 13).
Bhattacharya wrote his Tantric autobiography when he was in his late seventies, and we
can well imagine that the dialogues he recounts have gained a certain embellishment.4 We
have to read them as the truths of his old age, as the realities they have become for a man in
whom the world of Tantra was simply the world during the first two decades of his life. The
chronology in his account is often hard for the reader to reconstruct. We learn that around the
age of twenty he became politically involved in fighting British colonialism and had to go into
hiding for a couple of years in the early 1930s. Then he became heavily involved in academia
and skepticism for perhaps another two decades. In 1954, at the age of forty-four, he returned
to the mystery of love, power, bliss, and eternity as a result of an experience he had while on
an expedition in the Himalayas (Bhattacharya, 240-5). The autobiography was written more
than thirty years later, some time after the completion of his two-volume compendium, Shaiv-
ism and the Phallic World (Bhattacharya, 1975).
His childhood peers were in awe of his daring, sitting in stillness beside the notorious
Lady in Saffron as she meditated for hours in cremation grounds. He himself saw nothing
strange or terrifying in these activities. At one point, when he was eleven, she asked him how
he occupied his mind while sitting beside her. She had never taught him to meditate. Medi-
tation was only a word for him. He had no idea what it meant. He answered, You! I love
you . . . I love to watch you absorbed in delight. She responded that that is meditation, and
proceeded to speak to him at some length about it. At the end she embraced him and he felt
her vibrationsa total transmission (Bhattacharya, 20-2).
Some days thereafter she led him to a ruinous temple renowned for the poisonous snakes
it harbored. She pulled a straw mat from a crevice in the wall and sat down to meditate. He
sat beside her on the flagstones of the floor and closed his eyes.

After what could be ages, I felt her touch. On opening my eyes I was astounded. . . . She was
totally naked, and stretched flat on her back on the floor. Her legs were locked in a double

4 Although Bhattacharyas English is generally excellent, the book is filled with typographical errors,
misspellings, and occasional turns of phrase that may be confusing for the reader of this book. In or-
der to avoid burdening the text with notations and explanations, I shall silently correct these defects
without drawing attention to them.

The Real and Unreal in Sex and Spirituality

lotus posture; her head was on the floor; between the bellys mound and the sloping valley,
down to the bottoms of her feet and the heels there yawned a mysterious cavity where a mo-
ment before some flowers had been strewn. For the first time I knew that this area of the body
too grew a patch of hair. Without minding my conscious confusion she invited me to assume
my seat between her thighs. . . . She appeared quite transfigured. Nothing was human about
her. . . . Her forehead as well as the grim hairy triangle were besmirched with ashes, and dabs
of red and black. . . . My hair stood on end, and my gooseflesh surprised me. The nakedness
of the familiar Lady made her appear as a new being from another world.
. . . Another call came. This time heavy, unearthly, magnetic. Tarry not, delay not dear one.
This is your moment. Take what I alone give you. Sit; and cover the yoni. . . . I climbed over
the sacred body, and sat over the dark space left by the folding of her legs. At the very first
contact I was aware that her skin was burning. The heat was forbidding. But I knew it was
not for me to question. . . . Minutes passed; perhaps hours. Who cared? A stream of delight
rippled through the 84,000 nadis (nerves) of which she had always spoken. At the base of
my spine I experienced a half-tickling, half-singing urge which ran up and down my spine. I
closed my eyes.
. . . [She spoke:] I am the Lotus; you are the Brahman. I am the dead body, you are the liv-
ing flame. I am in time; you are Time eternal. I am the sky, you are the sun. I am the sound,
you are the sense. Now take up the book. Open it. Open. Carefully, slowly, deliberately read
from it word for word. Start chanting aloud. Spread the book on my bare chest. Hesitate not.
Tarry not. Proceed and progress. Be in me. I shall read though your tongue, your voice, oh
my darling. Read. I am the dead matter; you are the spirit. I am stone; you are the message. I
am soil, you are the stream. Now! Now!! Open the book. Start. Start. No stopping, until you
find a hymn, the first hymn.
. . . And entranced I started. . . . Gradually and gradually I lost all sense of her presence. . .
. The verses swam in luminous clarity. Then, at last, came the hymn, and came a strange de-
lightful, absorbing, self-contained darkness. Time passed. . . . I felt several strokes of gushing
heat-waves lashing my eyes, my head, and what seemed to me very unbearable, deep within
my bowels, my heart. The 84,000 nerves were on fire. My heart seemed to jump out of me
and float in the air, and mix with the incense smoke that filled the air. I lost consciousness. I
became a zero.
Something was happening to the mound around my penis. A vibrating, thrilling, hot, deep
throb hammered beat after beat. The more it came in waves the more I was pushing out my
spinal base. I sat straight as straight could be. . . . Erection, sexual urge and reflex belong to a
world I had left long ago. I had shed my body; I was only a being (Bhattacharya, 40-5).

In the following years, they worshipped like this on a fortnightly basis. Sexual meditation
became the supreme joy and central concern of Bhattacharyas young life. His Lady in Saffron
was methodically leading him to a state of total impersonality, i.e., the art of detachment in
attachment; love without emotional stress; sleeping when awake, and awake while sleeping

Tantra & Erotic Trance - Volume One

(Bhattacharya, 163). When his classmates tried to interest him in the giggling naughtiness of
sexual exploration, he found himself disgusted and perplexed. Addressing that confusion, the
Lady in Saffron said:

Tantra plays with sex indeed; gets absorbed in sex, but does not allow the sex to indulge,
covet, lust or get passionate. Tantra worships it; venerates and adores it. Sex in Tantra is a bath
in icy fire. It excites without losing calmness, loves without passion. It reflects the illuminated
state of Grace as sunlight reflects the dewy innocence of the colours on a lotus just bloomed
(Bhattacharya, 209).

If there is a structure to the autobiography, it is the alternation between mystical tran-

scendence and losing ones way. In the beginning others are seen to have gone astray, and
Bhattacharya has to learn the difference between divine attainment and demonic possession.
Later on, it is our narrator himself who gets lost on the profane paths of political activism and
academic skepticism. The book ends with the death and cremation of an octogenarian Lady
in Saffron, ill and wrinkled, her sagging breasts resting on her thighs. Bhattacharya is eighty
miles away in Allahabad. Her smell pervades his room, and he has a vision of her standing in
the doorway. He feels himself unworthy of her, having spent three or four years in sensuous
self-adulation and careless bohemianism. He forgot that physical craving for a momentary
thrill . . . [is] always to be consummated only on a spiritual level (Bhattacharya, 371). But
he cannot resist her call. He rushes home to Varanasi and searches for her everywhere. No
one knows where she is. He wanders in out of the way places. Finally he feels the old familiar
vibration in his body and follows it like radar. She is in a falling-down temple. His Lady is
not upset by his confession. She reminds him of a constant theme of her teaching:

In order to train the tiger one must be close to the tiger. Master the serpent by serving it. In
order to master the sex organs, one must remain very close to the sex organs. If an opposite
body sets me on fire, I shall cling to that fire, to that body, and discover the secret of the source
of that power and utilise it (Bhattacharya, 325).

He sits and prays with her for the last time, both naked, his arms around her depleted
body. Two snakes wrap around their waists and pull them forcibly together. The Lady in Saf-
fron has prepared everything. She has hidden a pair of bamboo poles and length of fabric so
that he can fashion a drag on which to pull her body through the streets of the city to the
cremation ground of the Manikarnika Ghat5 on the Ganges, where they had meditated regu-

5 Ghat: a set of steps leading into a river or other body of water for ritual bathing. Many, like the one
at Manikarnika, are equipped with cremation facilities.

The Real and Unreal in Sex and Spirituality

larly some thirty years before. Although still feeling very much unworthy, he officiates at the
cremation of her body.

The cool breeze of the hour before dawn fascinated my consciousness, and made me take a
good look at myself, at my relationship with this strange lady. I tried hard to think what the
world without her would feel like. The flames were lapping the body with intense hunger. I
was petrified to see the two large snakes crawl through the ash-covered sand, and approach
the pyre. Soon they could be seen wrapping around the flaming body. And I had a vision of
the Lady in Saffron sitting on it, with two fire vessels resting on her two palms, and another
on her head. This was the second time I had a flame-wrapped vision of her at Manikarnika
(Bhattacharya, 457).

The stories of Bhattacharya and the Wall Street Journal could not be more contrasting, two
entirely different worlds of perception and discourse. For within the world of Tantra there is
nothing salacious or recreational about its practices. No double-think such as we encounter
from the starry-eyed Ms. Giles, who asserts in a single breath that she is serving her god-
dess and generating gossip for her friends. Bhattacharyas earnestness and sorrow rings too
true for us to doubt the genuineness of his account. Although we can hardly fail to grant him
his visions, we may wonder about those snakes. Evidently in his eyes there is something so
compelling about the Lady in Saffron who has trained her sexual organslike a tiger, like a
serpentthat the cold-blooded denizens of her ruined temple cannot part from her. Their
instinct to avoid fire has been wholly overcome by their devotion to the notorious saint. If
that detail be literally true, the world of Tantra must be characterized by a transvaluation
of values the profane world takes as immutable. If, on the other hand, we conclude they
were visionary snakes, that Bhattacharya cremated his beloved guru in an altered state of
consciousnessas surely he must havethose snakes represent the deep instinctual forces of
the human organism; and their counter-instinctual behavior implies that the natural course
of instinct may be reversed. Their devotion in the face of fire stands for the essence of Tantra.
The lust that poisons our profane lives with its unrelenting compulsiveness can be retrained
as an engine of spirituality. What crashes downward into ravines of immorality and spiritual
death can be redirected upward.
The story of Bhattacharyas sexual initiation at the age of eleven by a suspiciously antisocial
neighborhood woman of fifty would generate a scandal of monumental proportions, should
it occur today in any of our American towns. Our news media would reframe the events in
terms of childhood sexual abuse, paranoid schizophrenia, possibly Satanic ritual. Experts
would be found. Litigation prepared. Rumors would fly. In Bhattacharyas world of Tantra,
however, that event constitutes the greatest blessing, an improbable stroke of good luck. For
to be introduced to the spiritual engine of the sex organs before the turmoil of puberty and

Tantra & Erotic Trance - Volume One

the corruption of public opinion are able to do their work, means to learn to operate that
engine upon safe and level ground, to have gained confidence and skill before reaching dan-
gerous ravines. That it is no panacea is proven by Bhattacharyas forgetting. But because the
lesson had been securely learned, the journey could be resumed with confidence.

Those who learn Tantra after having attained adulthood are forced to unlearn what they
have been taking for granted. We can see this process operating in the discipleship of Robert
E. Svoboda, an American-trained physician who has lived many years in India, beginning
when he enrolled in a college of Ayurvedic medicine. Knowing that he was supporting him-
self by writing articles on indigenous healers and therapists, his Sanskrit professor directed
him to an eccentric holy man who lived only a few blocks from Svoboda in the town of
Poona. Almost immediately the Guru Vimalananda became Svobodas helmsman in his
voyage through Indian society (Svoboda, 1994: 29-30). Svoboda spent eight years and three
months with Vimalananda and then cremated his body according to the disreputable customs
of the Aghora sect, which Vimalanandas family refused to attend. He managed the gurus
racehorses, absorbed his teachings, and has written three books describing what he learned
(Svoboda, 1986; 1994; 1997).
Svoboda, the partially informed Westerner, sits at the feet of a man who lives inside the
world of Tantra and tells extravagant stories designed to impress us with the wholly otherness
of a life lived close to the tiger and serpent. He knows that his disciple is acquainted with the
ravines into which sexual compulsion can lead us and works to convince us of the rigor and
self-analysis (Bhattacharya, 1988: 31) we must gain if we are to redirect our instincts. The
following story concerns an exercise in sexual yoga that is known in Sanskrit as vajroli, an
advanced technique in which sexual partners are said to reverse the natural out-flow of their
sexual fluids and deliberately absorb the fluid of their partner. Older texts speak exclusively
of the males efforts to absorb vaginal fluid through the penis, though more recent accounts,
such as the one that follows, imply an equality of gender in vajroli. The underlying rationale
for this technique is the metaphysical notion that the sexual fluids of the opposite sex contain
a sort of energy which is necessary if the practitioner is to attain a transgender wholenessa
preliminary to the ultimate realization of his or her oneness with the creative energy, Shakti,
that constitutes the universe. The universe itself is seen in myth as the eternal, non-ejaculatory
love-play of god and goddess. In some versions of the myth, the divine partners take turns

The Real and Unreal in Sex and Spirituality

absorbing one another into themselves, so that in one moment all is Shiva and in the next all
is Shakti.6
Here, in Vimalanandas own words as recalled by Svoboda, vajroli is presented as a rollick-
ing contest:

I know I said that the female should under no circumstances climb on top of the male. I stand
by this statement as far as sex between ordinary people is concerned, but the situation is differ-
ent, vastly different, when two people know Vajroli. Then it becomes a friendly competition. I
start off with one posture and try to take her off guard and overwhelm her with the sensation.
She will respond by changing my posture into a slightly different one, trying to get the upper
hand. A rhythm of its own develops, a musical melody, and both of us begin to dance while
we are still making love. Theres nothing like it; you just cant imagine the feeling.
Suppose she tries to maneuver herself on top of me. If she succeeds she will gloat: Ha, what
sort of Shiva are you? Now I will be in control. I cant allow that, so as soon as she comes on
top I will suddenly, effortlessly, and gracefully transform that posture into one in which I am
in control. Then I can tell her, You dare not try to control me; I am your controller! And
as I speak those words she will be converting that posture into another one more favorable
to her.

When both partners have full knowledge of Vajroli there is mutual benefit. She releases a little
of her secretion to him, just enough to lubricate his prostate; he releases just enough of his
prostate fluid to rejuvenate her. . . .

Vajroli is not a joke. A man who uses full force Vajroli on an ordinary woman will cause her
to bleed. She may even lose control over her sphincters and soil the bed. It can cause complete
revulsion for sex, or it can create nymphomania. When a woman who knows Vajroli milks
a man of his semen he discharges and discharges until he is empty and still must discharge.
The tension becomes so great he cannot bear it. So this knowledge is not to be toyed with, lest
you ruin yourself and others with you. When both partners know Vajroli, though, well, there
is nothing like it in the world. Youll forget all about sex except with that partner.
Vajroli is only the beginning. After Vajroli there are Rajjoli, Sahajoli, Amaroli, and Gaupya
but no one knows about Gaupya except Lord Shiva Himself. These techniques are very dif-
ficult to describe in words and can be practiced only when the two partners can leave their

6 This view is perhaps most fully described in Dyczkowski (1987), who explicates the visionary expe-
rience and underlying metaphysical doctrine of Kashmiri Shaivism, the Shiva religion of Kashmir.
It has much in common with tantric sects of all sorts and is a close kin of Vimalanandas style of

Tantra & Erotic Trance - Volume One

bodies at will. The Vedantins7 talk about Atma krida, atma ratih, atma maithunam, meaning
the love play, eroticism, and sexual union of the Universal Soul, but they dont understand the
true meaning of it. What happens is that the male must enter the females body with his subtle
body, and vice versa. Then the man will be able to feel the spasms his mate undergoes as each
erogenous zone is ignited, and she can do the same thing in his body. They both thoroughly
enjoy each others play before the final coitus occurs.
Vajroli is a mutual clashing, interaction, and union of two personalities into one. Shiva and
Shakti merge together into Sadashiva; the proton and the electron reunite to form the neu-
tron. Just as in physics such a union is associated with tremendous energy, the union of Vajroli
is associated with awesome Shakti, which can be used for great spiritual advancements. It is
the achievement of a lifetime (Svoboda, 1986: 287-9).

According to Vimalananda, a vajroli contest consists in each partner attempting to sexu-

ally arouse the other beyond the point of no return while maintaining control over her own
level of arousal. To succeed in such an endeavor, it is clear that each has to be completely
familiar both with his own body and with that of his partner. Amidst this give and take in a
high state of sexual excitement, each maintains her own personal control. Nevertheless the
boundaries between them are significantly blurred. They find themselves participating in a
unitary process, like music, like dance. A rhythm develops; a larger whole comprised of
their separate activities contains them within its larger identity.
Furthermore, an altered state of consciousness obtains, a condition of ecstasy, a standing
outside oneself (ek-stasis) where, without losing mastery over their sexually aroused bodies,
each partner becomes primarily aware of her subtle body. As a preliminary formulation,8 we
can postulate that the subtle body is a universal psychological reality. In ordinary consciousness
we fail to notice our subtle body, for there is no difference between our bodily senses and our
psychological apprehension. Vimalananda, however, describes a split in consciousness. One
part is aware of the gross body and its degree of arousal while the other leaves its own gross
body and, as a subtle entity, enters the body of the partner and feels the spasms his mate
undergoes as each erogenous zone is ignited. Here is another blurring of boundaries. Partici-
pants in vajroli are aware not only of the rhythm and choreography that unite them, but of one
anothers sensations as well. This, evidently, is the psychological foundation for Vimalanandas
claim that Vajroli is a . . . union of two personalities into one.

7 Those who follow the classical tradition in India (Vedanta), basing their philosophy and practice
upon the Upanishads. Vimalananda quotes the Upanishads when it suits his purposes but accords
them no doctrinal priority over other traditions.
8 The nature of the subtle body will be more fully examined in a later chapter.

The Real and Unreal in Sex and Spirituality

Vimalanandas warnings about the dangers of vajroli imply not only physical damage,
pain, bleeding, and unbearable tension, but psychological injury as well. When vajroli goes
awry, it can cause obsessions, compulsions, and phobias: complete revulsion for sex or
nymphomania. Although these comments are explicitly applied to women, there is no rea-
son to think that the same sorts of psychological damage may not be visited upon men. Even
his claim, Youll forget all about sex except with that partner, has an ominous ring to it. All
of these comments imply that vajroli belongs to a path that is fraught with danger. If we fail
at vajroli, we have left the path of spirituality and perhaps been hopelessly corrupted. If we
stir up forces we cannot master, we will wind up much worse off than when we started. What
might have been spiritual becomes merely pathological.
On the other hand, Vajroli is only the beginning. Vimalananda describes a path with
stages he fails to explicate. Only one thing is clear: in the five stages from the extraordinary
mastery of body and consciousness in vajroli to the mysterious technique of Gaupya, a path
is traced from the adept of sexual yoga to Lord Shiva Himself. This implication is confirmed
when Vimalananda calls the union of two personalities the merger of Shiva and Shakti into
Sadashiva. Sadashiva is the Eternal Shiva, represented iconographically as a god whose left
side is female and right side male (Svoboda, 1994: 313). Thus, Vimalananda claims that the
male and female principles of the universe are united in the persons of the practitioners of va-
jroli so that in some sense they jointly become the ultimate divine principle. He emphasizes
the cosmic dimension of this union by speaking of the nuclear transformations discovered by
modern physics. Thus partners in vajroli effect and realize in a heightened state of conscious-
ness the unitary principle of the cosmos, the Reality of Shiva-Being.
What we are to make of such claims has a great deal to do with what we think of that
race-horse-owning guru who calls himself Vimalananda. Specifically, three questions are up-
permost in our minds: (a) who is this Vimalananda, and why should we take him seriously;
(b) what is the Aghora sect in which he claims membership, and what credibility does it have;
(c) what are we to think of vajroli?


Svoboda presents his guru as a chain-smoking lover of horses and racetracks who died
December 12, 1983, of the coronary condition that had plagued him for several years. He
may not have been known as Vimalananda before Svoboda published his first book in 1986,
for we are told that the name was deliberately selected by the two of them from the many
names he used during his lifetime (Svoboda, 1986: 31). The name means Bliss of Purity
(vimala = pure; ananda = bliss) as well as Son of Vimala (Vimala, his mothers name; nanda

Tantra & Erotic Trance - Volume One

= son). He inherited the money he spent on promising but relatively inexpensive race horses.
His Guru Maharaj disapproved of his horse racing. Vimalananda accepted this opinion
with good graceafter all, a guru is supposed to be interested only in the disciples spiritual
development. But what he doesnt realize is that without something to attract my interest,
Im not going to be able to stay in this body (Svoboda, 1997: 311).
In his earlier life, Vimalananda had been a wrestler (Svoboda, 1997: 75) and spent some
time in a cave on the side of Mount Girnar as a Sadhu (Svoboda, 1997: 91). A Sadhu (saintly
one) is a naked ascetic with matted hair who generally follows his own practices in a solitary
fashion (see Hartsuiker, 1993). At presumably a later time, Vimalananda earned a masters
degree in Mughal history, from which he drew a number of his teaching stories (Svoboda,
1997: 40). Doctrinally, he was shamelessly eclectic: He shopped the metaphysical mall, don-
ning and doffing assumptions until he found one that resounded with his experience, which
he would then wear so long as it continued to fit (Svoboda, 1997: 13). Probably his central
doctrine was that we must submit to reality, including all the karmic connections between
people, events, and even horses.
These sketchy details are about all we learn of the enigmatic guru. But if the truth be told,
the cautious reader cannot even be sure of these. For Svoboda also confesses: Vimalananda
cared nothing for historical accuracy. He was interested only in emotional accuracy (Svo-
boda, 1994: 183). Thus his stories have surely been shaped, and their details may not be
accurate in the sense that we Westerners expect. Furthermore, one of his names was Bandal-
e-aftab (Sun among exaggerators) (Svoboda, 1986: 31). In this Vimalananda was perhaps
just another Indian guru; for as Malcolm McLean points out, India is not interested in
historical detail but in the kinds of meaning that the lives [of the saints] had for the devotees
and which only the true devotees comprehend (McLean, 1998: 14).
Svobodas first book (1986) was convincing enough for the very scholarly David Gordon
White, whose book, The Alchemical Body: Siddha Traditions in Medieval India (1996) traces
the confluence of alchemy, hatha yoga, and Tantric sexual practices. White cites Vimalanan-
das description of vajroli as evidence that the medieval traditions are still being practiced (D.
G. White, 1996: 201). Nevertheless, Svobodas books leave the question open as to whether
Vimalananda may be no more real than Carlos Castanedas Don Juan Matus.9 In the Preface
to Svobodas second book, Aghora II, psychologist and investigator of altered states of con-
sciousness Robert Masters writes:

9 After initial confusion, Castanedas books have generally become accepted as novels. See, for ex-
ample, Noel (1997). Castanedas wife, who does not doubt that her husband studied with one or
several Mexican Indian informants, believes the name Matus derives from the Mateus wine the two
of them loved (Margaret Runyan Castaneda, 1997).

The Real and Unreal in Sex and Spirituality

Finally, I feel obliged to say that I do not know whether Vimalananda was an actual person.
His name, and other names in the book, are said to be pseudonyms intended to prevent read-
ers from being distracted by externals. We are told that Vimalananda died about ten years
ago, so that there is no question of searching him outas many tried to do with another such
mysterious character, the shaman Don Juan in the books of Carlos Castaneda.

In personal conversation with the author, he states that Vimalananda was indeed an actual per-
son and that the mystery surrounding his identity is merely at the insistence of Vimalanandas
own family. Considering the shock content of various of the Teachings, that is quite under-
standable. Some may wish to pursue this matter further. Most will find it sufficient to benefit
from the extraordinary contents of Aghora II and its predecessor (Svoboda, 1994: 15).

For all his uncertainty, therefore, Masters finds Svobodas books as valuable as I do. In
the end, they speak truly and revealingly of body, soul, and spirit regardless of whether Vi-
malananda was an actual person, whether he is a composite figure compiled of several gurus
who influenced Svobodaor even whether Vimalananda is a disguise behind which lurks
Svobodas own experience. Svoboda, himself, leaves a disturbing hint near the end of his third
book, where he says, Vimalananda, like Carlos Castanedas Don Juan, looked to omens as
agreements from the world, clues of Natures approval or disapproval of proposed human ac-
tion (Svoboda, 1997: 275). Thus, in the last analysis, Svoboda gives us stories within stories;
and the big story that contains all the others is the legend of Vimalananda the story-teller.
The central question that only the reader can decide is whether the emotional accuracy of
the stories is sufficient to override doubts about historical accuracy. For my part, I shall go
on talking of Vimalananda without caring whether he was an actual person. It is enough to
know that he is the story-teller. Whether he is a stand-in for Svoboda makes little difference,
for we have never doubted that Svoboda is telling the story-tellers story.


Most of Svobodas material on the Aghora tradition is contained in his first book, Aghora:
At the Left Hand of God (1986). He tells us that the cover of the book was designed by Vi-
malananda himself. It is a wrap-around cremation-ground (smashan) scene in ominous colors.
A bearded, long-haired Aghori sits naked in a half-lotus position on the back cover, his body
smeared white with the ashes of human remains, a skull in his right hand, mala beads in his
left, surrounded by human bones and cremation fires. He is rapt in horrified awe as he gazes
on the scene depicted on the front cover, a supine skeleton consumed in flames that rise high
into the air, surrounding a blue-skinned, naked goddess standing on the skeleton with lolling
tongue, wearing a necklace of severed heads and a skirt of severed arms. On the page facing

Tantra & Erotic Trance - Volume One

the Table of Contents is a paragraph describing this scene that was dictated to Svoboda by

Ghora is darkness, the darkness of ignorance. Aghora means light, the absence of darkness.
Under the Tree of Knowledge is an Aghori, a follower of the path of Aghora. He has gone be-
yond ignorance thanks to the Flame of Knowledge which billows from the funeral pyre. The
funeral pyre is the ultimate reality, a continual reminder that everyone has to die. Knowledge
of the ultimate reality of Death has taken the Aghori beyond the Eight Snares of Existence:
lust, anger, greed, delusion, envy, shame, disgust and fear which bind all beings. The Aghori
plays with a human skull, astonished by the uselessness of limited existence, knowing the
whole world to be within him though he is not in the world. His spiritual practices have
awakened within him the power of Kundalini, which takes the form of the goddess dancing
on the funeral pyre: Smashan Tara. He is bewildered to think that all is within him, not ex-
ternal to him; that he sees it not with the physical eyes but with the sense of perception. The
Flame of Knowledge is that which preserves life, the Eternal Flame, the Supreme Ego, the
Motherhood of God which creates the whole Maya of the universe and thanks only to Whose
grace the Aghori has become immortal (Svoboda, 1986: 4).

The reader is not apt to guess the personal meaning of this scene for Svoboda until the
second volume in the series (1994: 30), where we are told that Vimalanandas first words to
him were that he would be the one to cremate the eccentric guru. In effect, Vimalananda took
Svoboda as his student in order to have someone to perform traditional Aghori funeral rites
after his coronary condition finally got the better of him. Thus, we can hardly avoid the con-
clusion that the cover scene of Aghora depicts Robby Svoboda in the role of the ash-smeared,
naked ascetic. The cremation took place three years before Aghora appeared, at Bombays
Banganga Smashan. Vimalanandas wife and children refused to attend because they were
still angry with him for failing to attend his daughters weddingnot to mention their dis-
approval of his Aghora ways. At his gurus request, Svoboda played over and over a tape of
Jim Reeves singing Precious Lord Take My Hand (Svoboda, 1997: 313). Thus in the last
analysis, Svobodas narrative resembles Bhattacharyas in that it begins in fascination with an
eccentric and disreputable guru and ends in the saints cremation at the disciples hands and
the image of a goddess wrapped in flames.
Like everything else, the meaning of aghora is unstable. At the beginning of the third
volume, it is defined not as without darkness but as without gall, unagitated (Svoboda,

The Real and Unreal in Sex and Spirituality

1997: 7). This definition agrees with scholarly accounts. Georg Feuerstein (1989: 207) says
that aghora means non-terrible, which is one of the names of Shiva in his terrible aspect. He
goes so far as to quote Vimalananda on the divine madness of the Aghora path. Feuerstein
says that practitioners of Aghora are venerated and feared in India to this day, that they aspire
to obliterate all human-made distinctions, that they live in smashans or on dung hills, that
they drink alcohol and urine as readily as water, and breach all social conventions by eating
meat and the flesh of human corpses. Eliade (1969:296), who may have been Feuersteins
source, calls Aghoris ascetic worshippers of Shiva. Aghora means non-terrific. They eat from
human skulls used as bowls, and still practiced cannibalism at the end of the nineteenth
century. The only meat they refuse to eat is horse-flesh.10 Eliade also says, Even as human
excrement fertilizes sterile soil, so assimilating every kind of filth makes the mind capable of
any and every meditation (1969: 297). He adds that outside of God, Aghoris respect only the
guru; they live a life of vagabondage; and every guru is always accompanied by a dog (297).
There is a rather vicious-looking dog in front of the meditating Aghori on the cover of Aghora,
but Vimalanandas own dog, Lizoo, appears to have been quite gentle.
The cremation ground (smashan) is the preferred location for the Aghoris ritual of sexual
union, performed as a circle of couples with the guru and his consort sexually joined in
the center. In her book The Madness of the Saints (1989: 123-4), June McDaniel presents a
lengthy eye-witness account she found in the autobiography of a wandering holy man, Pro-
mode Chatterjee. In his travels, Chatterjee had met an aghori bhairava tantrika, a male Aghori
who was initiated as a Tantric Bhairava, or expert in sexual yoga. (The female counterpart
of a Bhairava is a Bhairavi.) This unnamed Aghori invited Chatterjee to attend a sexual circle
ceremony that took place at night amidst a thunder storm in the Bhairavas hut, located in a
Chatterjee describes the passing of wine in a skull used as a drinking bowl. The Bhairava
enters the circle entirely naked and sits on a tiger skin rug, where he worships his naked
Bhairavi, as she stands before him like a statue. Then she sits in his lap and they both remain
in meditation as the other couples, one by one, perform the same ritual. It was not erotic,
but rather it evoked a sense of holiness and sweetness and I felt a continuous, ecstatic mood.
The men and women feed one another from a plate of meat and fish (foods forbidden to the
orthodox, as is wine). Eventually the couples that make up the circumference of the circle

10 This is not only an interesting commentary on Vimalanandas equine avocation, but probably a ref-
erence to a tradition that reaches back to the Atharva Vedas depiction of Vratyas, surely forerunners
of the Aghora tradition, who went out of their way to outrage practitioners of the sacrificial religion
of the Vedas. The principle rite described in the Vedas is horse sacrifice (cf. Basham, 1959: 243).

Tantra & Erotic Trance - Volume One

begin to act intoxicated and lustful while the Bhairava and Bhairavi remain absorbed in

At the end, I found myself rooted to the spot, and in a flash of lightening saw the scene as
divine: light-figures of naked gods and goddesses in the midst of their divine play, surround-
ing a large statue of Hara and Gauri,11 as still and profound as the Himalayas. I was not sure
how long I remained in this state, but when I returned to normal consciousness, the sun was
rising in the eastern sky (McDaniel, 1989: 124).

We might well imagine that, as a holy man, Chatterjee was more susceptible to altered
states of consciousness than we, and surely more steeped in Hindu imagery. Possibly we would
not have had the vision he had. We may have been impressed, however, with the holiness,
sweetness, and ecstasy of the occasion, convinced that something earnest and worshipful
was taking place despite the nakedness, intoxication, and lustful behavior. Without trying
to draw any theoretical conclusions from this story, we can surely gather that the Aghora
tradition is not idiosyncratic to Vimalananda; that it does indeed favor cremation grounds,
sexual forms of worship, forbidden substances, and grisly objects. Possibly the choreography
of the vajroli contest describes the lustful conduct of the couples Chatterjee saw on the
circumference of the circle. Or perhaps Vimalanandas contest was a sort of training exercise
for the Bhairava and Bhairavi, so that eventually they would be prepared to maintain that
absolute stillness while in high sexual arousal that renders the central couple as majestic and
profound as the Himalayas.
Vimalananda believed his Bhairavi was the most experienced sexual initiatrix in all of In-
dia. She made up for all his deficiencies (Svoboda, 1986: 291). He left her only because
he was ordered to return to the world to continue his work. Theirs was not a temporary and
purely physical relationship, nor even a mental relationship that might last a lifetime. It
is permanent and eternal, a spiritual relationship (Svoboda, 294). The eternity of this
spiritual relationship, however, takes some fantastic turns:

When she came to me she looked like a fifteen-year-old girl, but she is much, much older
than that. . . . She remains naked, but covers herself with her long, matted locks, and she car-
ries a trident, Shivas symbol.

Once I playfully asked her, Why dont you let me see your real form? She showed meand
my God! it was horrible! I was nauseated by the sight: All her skin was wrinkled; her eyelids

11 McDaniels text has Gouri instead of Gauri. Dr. Cornelia Dimmitt informs me that ou is not a
Sanskrit form. Gauri, however, means white, yellow, shining in female form and is a well-known
epithet of the goddess.

The Real and Unreal in Sex and Spirituality

drooped down on her cheeks and she had to pick them up with her fingers in order to see me.
She had become immortal through the use of mercury (Svoboda, 1986: 291).

This Bhairavi sounds less and less like an actual person. The reader of Svobodas three-
volume story will recall an incident in which Vimalananda describes a meditation ritual em-
ploying five skulls, four human and one animal, in which the aspiring Bhairava can invoke
an enchanted woman.12 The trick, he says, is to resist this Bhairavis advances and thereby
attract the attention of a goddess. Take her for your Bhairavi, if you dare. Otherwise, steer clear
of sex and treat her as a mother (Svoboda, 1994: 168). If you cannot reach such divine favor in
this life, pray to ready yourself for your next life or the one after (Svoboda, 1986: 295). You
must work at your own rate of speed toward your own goal; no one is required to do anything
(Svoboda, 1986: 168).
In Svobodas trilogy, it is impossible to tell whether this Bhairavi was as much comprised
of (perhaps middle-aged) flesh and blood as the Bhairavi who attended Ramakrishna13for
she certainly resembles her in nakedness, matted hair, and trident (Kripal, 1995: 113-6). But
other passages suggest Vimalanandas Bhairavi was an enchanted apparition, even a goddess.
Possibly she was all three: an actual woman whom Vimalananda saw differently when in
altered states of consciousness.14 Moving outside the Aghora tradition to the related practice
of Tibetan Buddhism, Geshe Kelsang Gyatso says that the best training is to be had with a
properly experienced consort; but failing this, a safer and more easily available resource is an
imagined consort (Gyatso, 1992: 136-8).


It is one thing to imagine that a woman can gain sufficient control over her vaginal muscles
as to milk her consorts penis. But the notion that a man can gain such power over his urethra
as to reverse the orgasmic spasm reflex and deliberately absorb vaginal secretions seems fantastic
in the extreme. Many commentators have taken this position and dismissed the physiological
claims of Tantric practitioners as absurd. Eliade admits the difficulties in interpreting such
texts when he says, The tantric meaning is usually erotic, but it is difficult to decide whether
the reference is to a concrete act or to a sexual symbolism (1969: 252). Nevertheless he cites

12 Bhattacharya (1988) describes two such rituals.

13 Ramakrishna, however, worshipped his Bhairavi as a mother.
14 This possibility of an actual woman who can take on frightful and divine appearance is also re-
ported by the French Tantrika, Daniel Odier, in the account of his initiation (Odier, 1997).

Tantra & Erotic Trance - Volume One

an article in which Dr. Jean Filliozat15 translates a passage in the Hathayogapradipika that
describes the yogin training his urethra over a period of several days by learning to blow air into
his bladder through a curved pipe inserted like a catheter (Gyatso, 233). Filliozat also describes
his personal observation of a yogin sucking up water with his penis under circumstances that
made it highly unlikely that he had first inflated his bladder. Possibly urethral retraining is an
example of the sort of conscious control over our involuntary smooth muscles that the yogic
tradition claims regarding the intestines.16 It is, in fact, widely accepted that yogins can train
their intestinal muscles to reverse peristalsis and thereby cleanse their bowels while sitting
in a tub of water.17 Furthermore, several passages in the Chinese literature of sexual mysticism
make similar claims for vajroli (cf. Wile, 1992: 52-3).18
Not surprisingly, Vimalananda is uncompromising in taking the physical possibility of va-
jroli for granted. In the passage cited by D. G. White as an example of how medieval Tantric/
alchemical/yogic practices survive in contemporary India, Vimalananda describes a middle
phase of vajroli training in graphiceven painfuldetail:

After you have been able to suck up water through the penis and hold a bladder full of water
for three hours you proceed to use milk, to cool the genital organs. Then ghee (clarified butter)
to lubricate. Honey is next; it is very sticky and hard to make flow upward. Finally, you do it
with mercury, which is extremely heavy. You must use mercury which has been purified and
prepared in the Tantric way; otherwise it is a deadly poison. When you can hold a bladder
full of mercury for three hours without spilling a drop you have reached the level of the first
qualification (Svoboda, 1986: 280).

Even granting Vimalanandas penchant for exaggeration, we can see that he is making two
related claims about Tantric sexual practice. The first is that our involuntary, instinctual
processes can be reversed with careful training, reminding us of Bhattacharyas snakes crawl-
ing into the funeral pyre. The second is that if we are to achieve this reversal, a gradual process

15 J. Filliozat. Les Limites des pouvoirs humains dans lInde, Etudes carmelitaines (1953): 23-38.
16 The striated muscles of our arms and legs are under our voluntary control, while the smooth
muscles of the intestines, urethra, etc., do their peristaltic work automatically and independently of
the conscious willalthough we know that additional factors, such as stress, can interfere with this
involuntary function.
17 A humble man from the rural American Midwest has assured mewithout demonstrationthat
he has learned this technique, albeit imperfectly.
18 For example: Following the womans first orgasm, which is absorbed by the man, she should bring
herself to orgasm again to give him a second opportunity to absorb her chi. Finally, they both should
reach climax together during which time she uses vaginal contractions to absorb his ching (Wile,
1992: 52-3).

The Real and Unreal in Sex and Spirituality

of desensitization must be involved. To avoid the involuntary spasmodic release of orgasm, we

have to be able to train ourselves in a step-by-step fashion to resist the automatic reflex.
Eliade makes this latter point comprehensible when he discusses the Sahajiya tradition in
which a neophyte prepares himself for physical interaction with a Bhairavi:

He must . . . transform her into a goddess through an interiorized iconographic dramaturgy.

Thus, for the first four months, he should wait on her like a servant, sleep in the same room
with her, then at her feet. During the next four months, while continuing to wait on her as
before, he sleeps in the same bed, on the left side. During a third four months, he will sleep
on the right side, then they sleep embracing, etc. The goal of all these practices is the autono-
mization of sensual pleasureregarded as the sole human experience capable of bringing
about the nirvanic blissand control of the sensesthat is, the arresting of semen (1969:

This autonomization of sexual excitement is certainly the aim of the vajroli contest.
As each partner strives to stimulate her partner past the point of no return so as to absorb
his genital fluids, she is gaining more and more control over her own arousal. The natural
response of uncontrolled spasms is held immovable by superior conscious control. Thus,
regardless of whether vajroli is possible as a physical reversal of the urethral spasm reflex, it is
surely the aim of the contest to disengage from that reflex so that higher and higher states of
sustained arousal become possible. Sexual arousal, being the engine of spiritual realization,
the Tantric practitioner has to learn to avoid the ravine of involuntary ejaculation.
Furthermore, it appears that vajroli has a psychological meaning. Whether or not we can
suck fluids out of one another, it is clear that we can victimize our partners. We can take from
one another without giving in return. No doubt we are all familiar with sexual partners
married or otherwisein which one is habitually depleted to the benefit of the other. An
integral part of the Tantric discourse on vajroli concerns the belief that the partner who
sucks up fluids from the other is depleting his partner for his own selfish gain. Bhattacharya
describes such a case, in which there is no talk of vajroli as a physiological reversal (Bhattacha-
rya, 1988: 113-4).
When he was sixteen, a communal worship of the goddess Tara in one of her terrible as-
pects was conducted at the very doorstop of Bhattacharyas family home. In the midst of the
ceremony, the teenager found himself called away. He followed the call in a kind of trance
and was brought to a temple at Manikarnika, where he found a naked yogin with a powerful
body and matted locks seated on the entranced naked form of a woman Battacharya calls his
favorite auntieevidently not a blood relation, but a venerable lady who had often fed

Tantra & Erotic Trance - Volume One

him with her own hands. He himself fell more deeply into trance in the presence of this rite,
and time stood still.

Aunties open body lay before me like a corpse. I recalled the relevant scriptural lines. Was I
not already quite familiar with this part of a seance where a woman offered the sacred seat?

As I watched, she appeared to me as a distant neighbor from another planet. Her staring eyes
with their burning look fixed on me expressed both sublime rapture and undisturbed stillness
of peace. The animation in the look compelled me to adore her. I would love to be sitting
there myself. . . . Gradually she turned into a ball of blazing light. I saw my body too becom-
ing another ball of light, and the two balls were gradually coming together (Bhattacharya,

Bhattacharya is brought nearer his senses by a sudden drizzle of rain and has a vision of
his Lady in Saffron wrapped in flames and calling out to him, Come to me at once. Later
he asks her why she called him away with such disapproval. She speaks of reversal and of
winding clocks backwards, saying there must be no short-cut, no compromise.

Did you notice the position of your auntie in the group asana?, she asked.
The yogi was using her as his asana of course, I said. But that is also your position as my
asana. Isnt it? What is then so strange about it?
This is true. But in the process I am the giver. In her case she was the victim, and was being
sucked from. In wishful dedication there is the virtue of positive gain. One could gain by giv-
ing away. In forced extraction there is evil. This would leave her very weak. I would not like
you to be in her position (Bhattacharya, 124).

Much later he learned that his beloved auntie had been forced to serve in that position
for over three days without a moments break (Bhattacharya, 125).


As we circumambulate the story of the vajroli contest and more stories proliferate, we see
that there are at least a few tenuous historical and cross-cultural connections. Even though
this fails to establish anything like historical accuracy for the legendary story-teller, perhaps
it softens our firmest initial doubts and enables us to trust whatever we find of emotional
accuracy in the stories of Svobodas guru. Surely the vajroli contest is not wholly foreign to
human experienceeven though it may lie entirely outside our own personal narrative. We
may retain our skepticism regarding the physiological accuracy of urethral reversal. But the

The Real and Unreal in Sex and Spirituality

existence of Bhairavis in India (however few they may be) can hardly be doubted. The occa-
sional reader may even have met one of their Western sisters. Undoubtedly, sexual initiatrixes
in the West, lacking a supportive tradition, are more likely to suffer from guilt and extreme
self-doubt than the trident-bearing, matted-haired women of India. But even in India, a sexu-
al initiatrix will be viewed with horror and scandalized suspicion by ordinary upright citizens.
Indian women are generally viewed either as safe and saintly mothers or as dangerous and
sexually insatiable savages (Kakar, 1989). Widows, for instance, are held in great suspicion as
having weakened and brought on the deaths of their husbands through their inordinate sexual
demands (Kinsley, 1997: 183).
If we are to draw any dependable conclusions from the story of the vajroli contest, we will
have to cautiously restrict ourselves to universal characteristics of human sexuality and spiri-
tuality. In doing so, we must remain open to broad, cross-cultural claims that may lie outside
our own personal experience as well as the canons of respectability. I think we can identify
six different areas or domains of human sexual experience that meet these criteria. The brief
sketches of these six domains that follow set the agenda for the rest of this book.
1. Physical Orgasm. Surely no one will deny that sexual arousal is characterized by an in-
crease in tension which seeks release in orgasm. The drive for orgasmic release is one of our
strongest psycho-physical impulses. It has long been held dangerous for the individuals psy-
chological balance and the stability of society. If we find Vimalanandas story disturbing, it
is very likely because it challenges the broad cultural consensus that is our Western heritage.
Indeed, the rollicking indulgence of the vajroli partners appears to come very close to what
Freud called the infants polymorphous perversity, which, in normal development leads
to a mature sexuality that strives for an orgasmic encounter between penis and vagina.
Traditional Christianity has sanctioned the orgasmic encounter between husband and wife
as a permissible pleasure, which God has instituted to ensure compliance with the biblical
command to increase and multiply. Recent literature of the Sex and Love Addicts variety
largely accepts the same view of human sexuality, insisting that the sex addict must learn
that he or she has no control over the sexual instincts drive for orgasm and must look to a
Higher Power for assistance. The vajroli contest plays with and subverts the sort of sexual
experience we all take for granted.
2. Sexual Longing. If we read Vimalanandas story in the context of Indian and Chinese
schools of mystical sexuality, we discover a long-standing tradition of holding back from
orgasm. Selectively borrowing from texts generated in these traditions, Western sex manu-
als give us a myriad of techniques for resisting automatic ejaculation, some with a spiritual
interest and others with an eye merely to enhancing sexual pleasure. Raising sexual tension

Tantra & Erotic Trance - Volume One

while avoiding orgasmic release increases our ardor and brings new dimensions of our long-
ing to consciousness. From the Western phenomenon of Courtly Love to the Hindu path of
devotion (bhakti), erotic desire for an unattainable partnerbe it a high-born Lady beyond
the lovers station or a divinityconstitutes the foundation of spiritual longing. Many of the
bhakti saints claim that longing is more important than union. We need to examine more
closely the benefits that are claimed for the physical process of non-orgasmic intercourse and
the parallel psychological experience of unrequited longing.
3. Scandalous Propensities. The vajroli contest catches our attention and perhaps stirs our
outrage because it is so scandalous. Deliberately flouting the sexual mores of ones society for
the purposes of political dissent and mystical attainment has a very long tradition. Examples
of this can be found in the Bible, the Rig Veda, Kashmiri Shaivism, the Witness Game in
Sufism, the followers of Rasputin, the American proto-Theosophist Pascal Beverly Randolph,
and the hippies. Hindu practitioners strive for a state of mind in which there is truly no
longer a difference between the lawful and the unlawful, the savory and the disgusting. All
these people are trying to free themselves from the letter of the law in order to awaken the
spirit. Even if antinomianism has become an ideal with which they never cease to struggle,
their aspirations have a spiritual intent which requires investigation if we are to understand
the broader implications of human sexuality.
4. Sexual Doorway to Alternate Reality. Sustained sexual arousal without orgasmic release
results in an excitement that can be felt in the whole body. Hinduism has called this the ris-
ing of kundalini, a sort of energy that is described in the language of esoteric physiology.
Centuries of experience with this energy have led to detailed descriptions of a subtle body
that includes the aura, the chakras, and the pathways that connect them. Apparently sexual
arousal may induce an altered state of consciousness that is available to anyone willing to ex-
plore it. But, as with meditation and shamanic journeying, the non-ordinary conscious state
generated in sustained sexual arousal constitutes an opportunity one must learn how to use.
Certainly the vajroli contest implies just this sort of initiation and mastery, as it invites higher
and higher levels of arousal without losing control while demanding that each partner use the
subtle body to enter the others gross body in order to feel her spasms.
5. Experience of Divine Union. The slipperiness of Vimalanandas language, as it glides back
and forth between the description of a fleshly consort and the traits of a shapeshifting demon-
ess who may sometimes be a goddess, appears to refer to an uncertain line dividing the merely
human from the divine. Identification with the gods represents a specific kind of altered
state of consciousness characterized by superb control together with extraordinary openness.

The Real and Unreal in Sex and Spirituality

Intense states of bodily arousal open imaginal capacities that strain toward divine union. In
Julius Evolas (1983) language, a metaphysical leap is made when the partners shed their
individuality and become Shiva and Shakti in eternal love play. Eliade calls it a rupture of
plane. The prerequisite for this attainment is not only a high degree of sexual training, but
above all direct, personal experience of the Absolute as it is variously named by the differ-
ent religions. Subjectively, the energy of the subtle body is perceived to be identical with that
constituting the universe. Buddhism calls it emptiness; Shaivism refers to it as the cosmic
vibration of Shakti.
6. Mutuality. The vajroli contest involves the partners in a rhythm and a dance that is
greater than both of them, that turns two personalities into one. While each experiences
herself and her partner from the inside, their separateness softens into a mutual participa-
tion in a single, larger reality. We catch a hint of this whenever we find that anothers state of
arousal has an effect upon us, producing a common emotional state, which is experienced as
an intimacy of profound depth. Hinduism knows this as the shaktipat, by which the gurus
mystical arousal awakens mystical experience in his disciple. The point is that what obtains
between people in the form of intimacy and mutuality exceeds what any of us can attain by
ourselves. Except in the case of masturbationand sometimes not even theresexuality is
always first and foremost a mutual experience, where my sensations and discoveries are not
separate from yours. In the various Tantric traditions, we become Shiva and Shakti, male Bud-
dha and female Buddha, yab and yum. Becoming one with the divinity responsible for the
world begins in and is realized through the mutuality of coupled consorts.
After investigating these six domains of human sexuality, the book ends by considering,
What next? What happens after the most sublime encounters with and participations in
divinity? How does life go on once the altered state of consciousness comes to an end and
we re-enter the ordinary world? Vimalananda presents the vajroli contest as an extraordinary
episode and assures us that life will never be the same for us again. We will never be satisfied
with ordinary sex or ordinary partners. Will we be able to abide the ordinary world? Or will
we, like Vimalananda, have to take up something like horse-racing to keep us from leaving
the empirical world forever?
Shaw (1994) and Allione (1986), feminist researchers in Tibetan Buddhism, have revealed
the importance of female incarnations of the Buddha as the original gurus of the Vajrayana
tradition. Real life and legendary stories portray a sort of sexual anchorite, alternately sed-
entary and wandering, practicing liberating intimacy (Hershock, 1996) with other accom-
plished masters/mistresses. This appears to be a variation of what has appeared again and
again in Sufism. The wandering dervish follows a path that cannot be planned but is rediscov-

Tantra & Erotic Trance - Volume One

ered anew in every moment as the serpentine edge where this empirical world intersects the
mundus imaginalis, the non-ordinary world. Putting these two traditions together, Bhairava
and Bhairavi become sexual wayfarers, living simultaneously in the two worlds, where every
stone and tree is a reminder of the eternal love play of god and goddess.



Vimalanandas story is certainly exotic and a far cry from the experience of the average West-
erner some 2000 years after the death of our collective guruwho preached a kingdom not of
this world, was born of a virgin, and remained a virgin himself. Svobodas guru by contrast
although he remained in the ordinary world with difficultydescribes a sexual way of life
that he finds satisfying and liberating. No doubt few of us can be so enthusiastic about the
role of sex in our lives and fewer still are able to see sexuality as our primary form of worship.
Western mystics have said they were thankful not to have faced two obstacles as formidable
as sex.
Peter Trachtenberg, tells a story about our conflict with sex. In his rueful and intelligent
account of his life as a sex addict, The Casanova Complex, he says he slept with at least two
different partners a week for close to two years, until his wicked moral hangovers drove
him to seek help that he evidently found in the form of twelve-step programs modeled after
Alcoholics Anonymous (Trachtenberg, 1988: 16, 69). His addiction to sex, he believes, pre-
dated his sexual experience. This apparently means that he had been unconsciously longing
for what sex could do for him over a period of some yearspresumably through adolescence.
He was afflicted with feelings of worthlessness and a tenuous sense of self which the rush
of sexual adventure seemed to ease by promising safety and reassurance (Trachtenberg, 28).
Although pretty sure that such promiscuous behavior is not normal, he suspects that
ninety percent of American men will be able to see themselves in his story (Trachtenberg,
17). Not that we are all sex addicts, but our day-dreams and misadventures intersect with
his narrative often enough to give us a profound sense of discomfort.

When I met a woman, my desire for her was immediate and cripplinga hammer blow to
the heart. Whether I wanted to sleep with her or marry her and give her children didnt mat-
ter: it usually took me some time to figure out what I wanted. In the beginning there was
just that longing, and the sense of myself as a starved orphan gazing through a window at a
room where a happy family is sitting down to dinner. To attain that happiness I would do
anything, say anything, make myself into whatever kind of man I thought most likely to be
admitted into it. At the moment I first knew that she would sleep with me, I felt a triumph as

About Tantra and Erotic Trance: Volume Two - Inner Work

In Volume One of this study, Outer Work, we described managing our orgasmic
response so as to cultivate erotic trance, the altered state of consciousness that is the
foundation of all Tantric activity; and we used it to climb the diamond ladder of
mystical ascent to a rung characterized by the management of overwhelming emo-
In Volume Two, Inner Work, we turn our attention away from outer goals
having to do with our physiology and our relation to society at large and its prescrip-
tions, to the much more subtle interior changes occurring in our consciousness.
Continuing our climb up the rungs of the diamond ladder, we are introduced to the
landscape of mysticism, a topography whose several regions are each characterized by
the mastery of a different psychological capacity.
Yoga gives us an interior ladder in the form of the subtle body that is comprised of
the chakras, each of which opens onto a distinctly different emotional realm. In this
work our feeling function becomes highly differentiated. Tibetan mandala medita-
tion disciplines our imaginative capacity, as we bring the heavenly palace of copu-
lating gods and goddesses into being. By cultivating emptiness, we pare away our
attachments to the memories that have been holding us back and the aspirations that
narrow our future so that we can dwell in the present moment, without the props of
doctrine and method.
Passing beyond our personal self, we are introduced to the divine oneness of the
cosmos, pulsing between accomplished union and the vision of that with which we
are united. We return from such ecstasy to live our temporal lives on two planes si-
multaneously as spiritual wayfarers.

Tantra and Erotic Trance: Volume Two - Inner Work

ISBN 978-0-9776076-9-3

Tantra & Erotic Trance - Volume One


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* NOTE: References to the Collected Works of C. G. Jung are designated by volume number, as CW 1, CW
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Symbols Bhagavad-Gita 113

Bhagavata-Purana 113
!Kung 62, 80, 93, 95 Bhairava 19, 20, 21, 28, 31, 34, 49, 149
Bhairavi 19, 20, 21, 23, 28, 30, 31, 34, 36, 49, 51,
A 96, 171, 172, 174, 175, 180
Abhinavagupta xi, 103, 162, 181, 182 Bhattacharya, B. 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 18, 21, 22,
Acteon 70, 71, 73 23, 24, 61, 97, 121, 122
Adonis 106, 107 Shaivism and the Phallic World 8
Afghanistan 157 The World of Tantra 7
alchemical 22, 102, 103, 153, 178, 179 Blavatsky, Madame 153
alchemists 97 bliss 8, 15, 23, 53, 58, 80, 82, 92, 97, 98, 99, 103,
Alcoholics Anonymous 29 108, 109, 117, 118, 119, 129, 132, 146,
Al-Sheikh al-Akbar 72 147, 165
amrita 47, 48 bohemianism 10
ananda 15, 58 bonobo 38, 39, 42, 45, 46, 48, 49, 51, 54
anger 18, 31, 58, 106, 125 bonobo paradise 45, 49
antinomian hero 138, 140, 141, 143, 148, 149, brahman 102, 103, 124, 134, 138, 167, 172, 181
150, 151, 160, 170, 176, 177, 179 brahmanic priests 138
antinomian saints 138, 155, 178, 180 Brahmin 7, 36, 150, 167, 168
aorta 94, 95, 174 Branch Davidian disaster 156
Artemis 70, 71 breathing 60, 84, 109, 110
artificial eros 106 Bregman. Lucy 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 44, 45, 47
art of detachment 9 British colonialism 8
Aryan invasion 100, 101 brow chakra 175
Aryans 101 Buddha 27, 34, 52, 53, 65, 114, 147, 149, 164
Assassins 152, 153, 154, 155, 156, 157, 159 Buddhism xi, 27, 52, 93, 122, 143, 145, 149, 176
atman 85, 102, 105, 124, 134, 142, 172, 181 Buddhists 3

ballistocardiogram 94 Caitanya 115, 116, 117, 118, 119, 120, 121, 141
Barks, Coleman 79, 112, 125, 151, 158, 172 carezza 58, 61, 62, 64, 65, 66, 77, 78, 98, 105,
Bataille, Georges 7, 142, 143, 144 107, 109, 110, 118, 119, 120, 126, 128,
Bengali 7, 117, 119, 120, 121, 122, 123, 130, 129, 133, 139, 173
134, 154, 155, 168 Carr, Juliet 46, 47, 48, 49, 51, 53, 54
Bengali holy man 168 Castaneda, Carlos 16, 17, 68
Bengalis 122, 126, 127, 131, 133, 154 celibacy 35
Bentov, Itzhak 94, 95, 96, 97 chakras 26, 81, 89

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chi 22, 62, 80 Crime and Punishment 162

childhood sexual abuse 4, 11 Dowman, Keith
China 5, 62, 139, 149 The Divine Madman 145, 146, 147
ching 22 dragon 172, 173, 174, 176, 178, 180
Christian fundamentalists 156 Drukpa Kunley 145, 146, 147
cocaine 30, 31, 49 Dyczkowski, Mark 13, 138, 148, 149, 150, 162
co-dependency 33
coitus interruptus 56 E
Cold War 156 ecstasy 14, 20, 42, 56, 58, 59, 63, 66, 109, 117,
colonialism 8 122, 134, 149, 169
Common Era 99 ecstatic longing 121
convulsions 93, 94 ego-gratification 31
cosmic orgasm 53, 98 Eliade, M. 19, 21, 23, 27, 32, 42, 53, 63, 99, 104,
cosmic vibration 27 118, 123, 149, 164
Couliano, Ioan 111 enlightenment 53, 73, 134, 170, 180
Council of Elvira 36 envy 18, 31
Courtly Love 26, 111, 112, 116 erotic intoxication 136
cranial vault 98, 99 Erotic longing 120
crown chakra 48, 87, 119, 165 erotic trance 63, 65, 69, 70, 71, 72, 73, 77, 78, 79,
D 80, 86, 97, 98, 103, 104, 108, 119, 124,
128, 130, 131, 145, 146, 147, 149, 163,
Danilou, Alain 3, 51, 52, 58, 59, 143, 146 166, 170, 175, 176, 177, 178, 179, 182
Dark Mystic Lady 7 esoterism 166, 177
David-Neel, Alexandra 135, 136, 145, 176 Evola, Julius 27, 62, 63, 72, 77, 78, 82, 86, 98,
delusional ego 31 104, 135, 140, 163, 164, 171, 173, 174,
dervishes 27, 149, 157 177
devils advocates 155
dharma 99 F
Dharma 147 faked orgasm 33
diamond body xi, 81 fedayeen-terrorists 154, 155
diamond ladder 81, 104, 105, 119, 120, 128, 131, Feuerstein, Georg 3, 19, 43, 44, 81, 100, 101, 102,
134, 143, 147, 182 103, 104, 118, 119, 135, 137, 138, 164,
Dimmitt, Cornelia vii, 20, 117 170, 171, 180, 181
Dimock, Edward C. 114, 115, 116, 117, 118, 119, Encyclopedic Dictionary of Yoga 100
121, 163, 178 fidelity 107, 111
The Place of the Hidden Moon 115 Filliozat, Jean 22
Dionysian frenzy 71 fondling 38
Dionysos 70, 71 forbidden pleasure 45
disgust 18, 31, 33, 107, 125, 138, 141, 167, 168, Freud 25, 150
171, 173 Fromm, Erich 92
Doctrine of Vibration 162
dorje xi, 146 G


Gandhi 168 homosexuality 39

Ganges River 10, 101, 102, 103, 104, 137 horse sacrifice 19
Gaupya 13, 15, 35 Huxley, Aldous 96
ghee 22, 163 hypnosis 77, 86
gnosis 72, 160
Gnosis 158 I
Gnosticism 152 Iblis 159, 160
goddess of love 4 Ibn al-Arabi
godhead 98 Bezels of Wisdom 72
God of Yoga 175 The Interpreter of Desires 72
Gopi Krishna 87, 88, 90, 91, 92 Ice Age 3, 38, 40, 41, 42, 43, 104
Gorakh 178, 179 I Ching 139
Goraksha 164 imaginal world 78, 79, 133, 169
greed 6, 18, 31, 52, 57, 155, 156 India 12, 14, 16, 19, 20, 22, 25, 36, 42, 62, 80,
grief 150, 151, 157 81, 87, 96, 100, 101, 102, 113, 114, 137,
G-spot 47 138, 148, 153, 157, 159, 163, 167, 173,
guilt 6, 25, 46, 128, 141, 142, 145, 156, 157 177
Gurdjieff, Georgei Ivanovitch 83, 84, 85, 86, 91 Indian Vedas 3, 44
Gyatso, Geshe Kelsang 21, 22, 63, 82, 95 Indra 52, 53, 60, 61, 65, 69, 73, 99, 147
H intercourse 26, 33, 34, 35, 38, 42, 46, 55, 56, 59,
61, 62, 63, 66, 106, 109, 110, 118, 122,
hallucinations 94 146, 148, 163, 175, 177
Hammurabi 44 Iran 157
harlot 5 Islamic medieval Mafia 155
Hartsuiker, Dolf Ismailis 152, 153
Sadhus: Indias Mystic Holy Men 137
Hatha Yoga 163, 164, 170 J
Hauer, Wilhelm 82 Janet, Pierre 77, 86
Haule, John R. Japan 5, 145
Perils of the Soul 85 Jaynes, Julian
headaches 94 The Origins of Consciousness in the Breakdown of
hedonism 32, 34, 47, 50 the Bicameral Mind 100
Heidegger, Martin 92 jealousy 45, 47, 55, 70
Hera 70, 71 Jelaluddin Rumi 5, 149
heretical 166 John of the Cross 82
Hermes 42 Johnsen, Linda
Hershock, Peter 27 Daughters of the Goddess 123
Himalayas 8, 20, 101 Jung, C.G. 68, 82, 83, 134, 141, 162, 170, 175,
Hinduism 7, 26, 27, 124, 125, 133, 134, 166, 176 189
Hindus 3, 114, 116, 177
Hite Report 32 K
Holy Grail 149
homo sapiens 36, 37, 38, 41 Kakar, Sudhir 25

Tantra & Erotic Trance - Volume One

Kalahari Desert 80, 93 174, 175, 176, 177, 178, 179, 180, 181
Kalandar(s) 159
Kali 7, 90, 91, 167 M
Kalsched, Donald madman 141, 143, 145, 149, 154
The Inner World of Trauma 71 Mad Woman of Calcutta 123, 125, 128, 131, 134,
Kama (God of Lust and Concupiscence) 175, 176, 135
184 Mahabharata 5, 81
Kashmir 13, 81, 98, 148, 150, 162 Mahayana Buddhism 143
Kashmiri Shaivism 13, 26 Mana 142
Kinsley, David 25 Manson, Charles 156
Kripal, Jeffrey Mantra 127
Kalis Child 167, 168 masturbation 27, 35, 56
Krishna 86, 87, 88, 89, 90, 91, 92, 93, 99, 113, Mathnawi 5, 112
114, 115, 116, 117, 118, 119, 120, 121, Maya 18
124, 131, 132, 133, 136, 141, 154, 163, McDaniel, June 19, 20, 115, 117, 121, 122, 123,
180 124, 125, 126, 127, 128, 131, 135, 136,
kundalini 18, 26, 79, 80, 81, 82, 83, 84, 85, 86, 138, 168
87, 88, 89, 90, 91, 92, 93, 94, 95, 96, 97, McDaniel, June
98, 99, 100, 102, 103, 104, 105, 106, 107, The Madness of the Saints 19, 121
114, 119, 124, 127, 129, 133, 136, 137, McLean, Malcolm 16
165, 170, 171, 172, 173, 174, 175, 176, Devoted to the Goddess 120
177, 178, 179, 180, 181, 182 Mead, Margaret 92
L Mecca 159
Meditation 8, 47, 93
ladder of ascent 51, 53, 58, 61, 73, 81, 114, 126, Melanesians 142
128 menstrual synchrony 41
Lady in Saffron 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 24, 121 Merkur, Dan 63, 77, 78, 123
Laeuchli, Samuel 36 Mesolithic period 43
Landers, Ann 48 metaphysical 12, 13, 16, 27, 134, 159
Lerner, Gerda monogamy 34, 36, 39, 49, 55, 140, 144
The Creation of the Patriarchy 43 Monroe, Marilyn 4
Levine, Stephen and Ondrea Motherhood of God 18
Embracing the Beloved 34 mujahideen terrorists 156
liberation 32, 97, 146 Muktananda, Swami 64, 65, 66, 67, 68, 69, 71,
linga 97 73, 77, 106, 125, 179, 180, 181
lingam xi Muktananda, Swami
lotus 9, 10, 17, 80, 81, 87, 91, 146 Play of Consciousness 64
love-making 59, 70, 77, 109, 110 multiple orgasms 59, 60
LSD 91 mundus imaginalis 28, 78
lust 6, 10, 11, 18, 31, 47, 52, 53, 99, 147, 148, Muslims 3, 153, 167
149, 150, 151, 156, 157, 161, 163, 172, mystical attainment 26, 176


mystical sexuality 25 Prince of Darkness 160

mystical union 34 procreation 36, 59, 104
mysticism xi, 7, 34, 79, 114, 155, 160, 170 Promode, Chatterjee 19, 20
prostitution 6, 59, 155
N puritanism 38, 165
Nanda 52, 53, 65, 164 Q
nectar 47, 98, 165
Nietzsche, F. 162 Qalandars 157, 158, 159
nirvana 53 Qiyamat 153, 154
Noyes, John Humphrey 54, 55, 56, 57, 58, 59, 60, Quran 5, 165
62, 65, 66, 106, 109, 146, 154
n/um 62, 80, 93, 95 R

O Ramakrishna 21, 114, 121, 167, 168

Ramprasad, Sen 82, 120, 121, 122
Odier, Daniel 21 Randolph, Pascal Beverly 26, 62, 153
OBrien Richard P. rape 4
The Cloud of Unknowing 176 real orgasm 33, 59
OFlaherty, Wendy Doniger 5, 99 rebirth 127, 148
Siva: The Erotic Ascetic 99 religious longing 120
Oneida community 54, 57, 66, 152 Reverend Jim Jones 156
orgasm xi, 22, 23, 25, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, Rig Veda 26, 100, 101, 102, 103
40, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 51, 54, 58, 59, 60, Rougemont, Denis de 111, 112
61, 62, 63, 73, 95, 98, 99, 103, 107, 108, Rumi, Jalaluddin 79, 112
109, 128, 133, 144, 149
orgasmic needs 33 S
orgasmic spasm reflex 21 Sahajiya movement 118, 121
orgiastic promiscuity 140, 148 samadhi 168
orgy 39 Sannella, Lee 92, 93, 94, 95, 96, 97
ovulation 37 Sannella, Lee
P Kundalini Experience 92
Sanskrit vii, 5, 7, 12, 20, 81, 102, 115, 117, 146
Paleolithic 40, 42 Satanic ritual 11
Parvati 99 Satprakashananda, Swami 96
patriarchal repression 45 Semele 70, 71, 73
pelvic thrust 146 Sex and Love Addicts 25
perfection 36, 54, 57, 103, 151 sexual apprenticeship 47
Perry, John Weir 126 sexual arousal 20, 25, 26, 31, 47, 60, 63, 64, 90,
polymorphous perversity 25 91, 95, 96, 98, 133, 148, 164, 169, 171,
pornography 4, 42 179, 180
Porn Star 46 sexual demands 25, 48
Powell, Colin 156 sexual desire 118, 180
prana 62, 89, 97, 181 sexual hang-ups 35

Tantra & Erotic Trance - Volume One

sexual indulgence 150 Tantric sex 3

Sexual Longing 25 Tantric sexuality 153
sexual mysticism 22 Tantrism 51, 155
sexual performance 48 Tara 18, 23, 41, 42, 49, 167
sexual pleasure 53 Tate, Sharon 156
sexual urge 3, 9, 73 Taylor, Timothy
Shaivism 8, 27, 121, 122, 138, 162 The Prehistory of Sex: Four Million Years of Human
Shakti 4, 12, 14, 15, 27, 90, 97, 121, 122, 142, Sexual Culture 36
170, 176, 180 tension headaches 93
shamanism 104, 122, 123 The Great Resurrection 153
shame 18, 31, 33, 142, 147, 150, 157 The Unknown Lady 111
shape-shifting 146 third eye 175
Shiva xi, 4, 13, 14, 15, 19, 20, 27, 42, 90, 97, 99, Tibet 135, 145, 146, 176
104, 120, 121, 122, 138, 143, 162, 164, Tibetan Buddhism 21, 27, 95
165, 166, 170, 172, 175, 178 Tillich, Paul 92
Shri Krishna-Caitanya 114 Toomer, Jean 83, 84, 85, 86, 91, 93, 105, 106,
Siddha 16, 103, 179 124, 179
Siva 35, 98, 99, 165 A Jean Toomer Reader 83
Sixties Revolution 44, 47 Cane 83, 85
slut 47 Trachtenberg, Peter 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 36, 41, 42,
Smith, Huston 96 44, 45, 49, 53, 61, 148
spiritual body 126, 127, 131, 132 The Casanova Complex 29
spirit worshippers 153 Transcendental Meditation 93
Stevens, John Trighantika 148, 150, 151, 156, 157, 161, 162,
Lust for Enlightenment 52 163, 164, 166, 168, 169, 171, 172, 180,
St. Ignatius 67, 82, 112 181, 182
St. Teresa of Avila 112 Tristan 113
Stubbs, Kenneth Ray 47, 48 troubadour 111
Women of the Light 46 twelve-step programs 29
subtle body 14, 26, 27, 81, 88, 89, 98, 104, 110,
111, 169 U
Sufi 5, 79, 82, 84, 112, 115, 160 Upanishads 14, 72, 85, 96, 113, 170
Sufism 26, 27, 72, 78, 79, 112, 113, 121, 155,
158, 181 V
suicides 156
Supreme Ego 18, 31 vajra 81, 146
Svoboda, Robert 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 20, Vajrayana Buddhism 27, 63
21, 22, 24, 29, 35, 41, 64, 80, 85, 86, 90, vajroli 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 20, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26,
91, 114, 137, 139, 166, 167, 168, 170, 171, 27, 31, 35, 36, 47, 48, 61, 62, 66, 81, 109,
172, 176, 179 110, 147, 165, 175
Vedantins 14
T Venus 40, 41, 42, 49, 69, 70, 71, 72, 73, 77, 106,
taboo 39, 47, 122, 142 Venus of Willendorf 40, 41, 49


Viagra 48
vimala 15
Vimalananda (story-teller) 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17,
18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 25, 26, 27, 29, 30, 31,
34, 35, 36, 41, 42, 47, 51, 52, 61, 62, 65,
80, 85, 86, 90, 91, 96, 97, 107, 109, 110,
114, 122, 137, 141, 146, 149, 159, 165,
166, 167, 168, 169, 170, 171, 172, 176,
virgin 29
Vishnu 93, 94, 115, 120, 121, 122
Vratyas 3, 19

Western World 4
White, David Gordon 16, 22, 48, 97, 98, 99, 102,
103, 104, 114, 138, 153, 163, 165, 178,
The Alchemical Body 16, 97
White, John
Kundalini, Evolution and Enlightenment 92
whore 47
Wile, Douglas 22, 61, 63, 139
Wilson, Peter Lamborn 113, 154
witch 47

yang 61, 139
yin 61
yoga 3, 7, 12, 15, 16, 19, 63, 87, 92, 104, 122,
125, 127, 131, 153, 164, 170
Yoga positions 3
yogic rituals 81

Zarathustra 162
Zeitgeist 47, 68
Zeus 70, 71, 73

Tantra & Erotic Trance - Volume One

About the Author
John Ryan Haule holds a doctorate in religious studies from Temple University. He
is a Jungian analyst trained in Zurich and is a faculty member of the C.G. Jung Insti-
tute-Boston. In addition to Tantra and Erotic Trance I & II, his publications include:

Divine Madness: Archetypes of Romantic Love.

Carmel, CA: Fisher King Press, 2010.

The Love Cure: Therapy Erotic and Sexual.

Woodstock, CT: Spring Publications, 1996.

Perils of the Soul: Ancient Wisdom and the New Age.

York Beach, ME: Samuel Weiser, 1999.

The Ecstasies of St. Francis: The Way of Lady Poverty.

Great Barrington, MA: Lindisfarne Books, 2004.

Jung in the 21st Century, in two volumes.

London: Routledge, 2010.
Evolution and Archetype.
Synchronicity and Science.
Other Jungian Psychology Titles

Re-Imagining Mary: A Journey Through Art to the Feminine Self

by Mariann Burke, 1st Ed., Trade Paperback, 180 pp., Index, Biblio., 2009
ISBN 978-0-9810344-1-6
Threshold Experiences: The Archetype of Beginnings
by Michael Conforti, 1st Ed., Trade Paperback, 168 pp., Index, Biblio., 2008
ISBN 978-0-944187-99-9
Marked By Fire: Stories of the Jungian Way
edited by Patricia Damery & Naomi Ruth Lowinsky,
1st Ed., Trade Paperback, 190 pp., Index, Biblio., 2012
ISBN 978-1-926715-68-1
Farming Soul: A Tale of Initiation
by Patricia Damery, 1st Ed., Trade Paperback, 166 pp., Index, Biblio., 2010
ISBN 978-1-926715-01-8
Transforming Body and Soul:Therapeutic Wisdom in the Gospel Healing Stories
by Steven Galipeau, Rev. Ed., Trade Paperback, 180 pp., Index, Biblio., 2011
ISBN 978-1-926715-62-9
Lifting the Veil: Revealing the Other Side
by Fred Gustafson & Jane Kamerling, 1st Ed, Paperback, 170 pp., Biblio, 2012
ISBN 978-1-926715-75-9
Resurrecting the Unicorn: Masculinity in the 21st Century
by Bud Harris, Rev. Ed., Trade Paperback, 300 pp., Index, Biblio., 2009
ISBN 978-0-9810344-0-9
The Father Quest: Rediscovering an Elemental Force
by Bud Harris, Reprint, Trade Paperback, 180 pp., Index, Biblio., 2009
ISBN 978-0-9810344-9-2
Like Gold Through Fire: The Transforming Power of Suffering
by Massimilla & Bud Harris, Reprint, Trade Paperback, 150 pp., Index, Biblio., 2009
ISBN 978-0-9810344-5-4
The Art of Love: The Craft of Relationship
by Massimilla and Bud Harris, 1st Ed., Trade Paperback, 150 pp., 2010
ISBN 978-1-926715-02-5
Divine Madness: Archetypes of Romantic Love
by John R. Haule, Rev. Ed., Trade Paperback, 282 pp., Index, Biblio., 2010
ISBN 978-1-926715-04-9

Eros and the Shattering Gaze: Transcending Narcissism
by Ken Kimmel, 1st Ed., Trade Paperback, 310 pp., Index, Biblio., 2011
ISBN 978-1-926715-49-0
The Sister From Below: When the Muse Gets Her Way
by Naomi Ruth Lowinsky, 1st Ed., Trade Paperback, 248 pp., Index, Biblio., 2009
ISBN 978-0-9810344-2-3
The Motherline: Every Womans Journey to find her Female Roots
by Naomi Ruth Lowinsky, Reprint, Trade Paperback, 252 pp., Index, Biblio., 2009
ISBN 978-0-9810344-6-1
Jung and Ecopsychology: The Dairy Farmers Guide to the Universe (DFGU)Volume 1
by Dennis Merritt 1st Ed., Trade Paperback, 250 pp., Index, Biblio., 2011
ISBN 978-1-926715-42-1
The Cry of Merlin: Jung, the Prototypical Ecopsychologist: DFGU Volume 2
by Dennis Merritt 1st Ed., Trade Paperback, 204 pp., Index, Biblio., 2012
ISBN 978-1-926715-43-8
Hermes, Ecopsychology, and Complexity Theory: DFGU Volume 3
by Dennis Merritt 1st Ed., Trade Paperback, 200 pp., Index, Biblio., 2012
ISBN 978-1-926715-44-5
Land, Weather, Seasons, Insects: An Archetypal View: DFGU Volume 4
by Dennis Merritt 1st Ed., Trade Paperback, 200 pp., Index, Biblio., 2012
ISBN 978-1-926715-45-2
Becoming: An Introduction to Jungs Concept of Individuation
by Deldon Anne McNeely, 1st Ed., Trade Paperback, 230 pp., Index, Biblio., 2010
ISBN 978-1-926715-12-4
Animus Aeternus: Exploring the Inner Masculine
by Deldon Anne McNeely, Reprint, Trade Paperback, 196 pp., Index, Biblio, 2011
ISBN 978-1-926715-37-7
Mercury Rising: Women, Evil, and the Trickster Gods
by Deldon Anne McNeely, Revised, Trade Paperback, 200 pp., Index, Biblio., 2011
ISBN 978-1-926715-54-4
Four Eternal Women: Toni Wolff RevisitedA Study In Opposites
by Mary Dian Molton & Lucy Anne Sikes, 1st Ed, 320 pp., Index, Biblio., 2011
ISBN 978-1-926715-31-5
Gathering the Light: A Jungian View of Meditation
by V. Walter Odajnyk, Revised. Ed., Trade Paperback, 264 pp., Index, Biblio, 2011
ISBN 978-1-926715-55-1
The Promiscuity Papers
by Matjaz Regovec 1st Ed., Trade Paperback, 86 pp., Index, Biblio., 2011
ISBN 978-1-926715-38-4
Enemy, Cripple, Beggar: Shadows in the Heros Path
by Erel Shalit, 1st Ed., Trade Paperback, 248 pp., Index, Biblio., 2008
ISBN 978-0-9776076-7-9
The Cycle of Life: Themes and Tales of the Journey
by Erel Shalit, 1st Ed., Trade Paperback, 210 pp., Index, Biblio., 2011
ISBN 978-1-926715-50-6
The Hero and His Shadow: Psychopolitical Aspects of Myth and Reality in Israel
by Erel Shalit, Revised Ed., Trade Paperback, 208 pp., Index, Biblio., 2012
ISBN 978-1-926715-69-8
The Guilt Cure
by Nancy Carter Pennington & Lawrence H. Staples
1st Ed., Trade Paperback, 200 pp., Index, Biblio., 2011
ISBN 978-1-926715-53-7
Guilt with a Twist: The Promethean Way
by Lawrence Staples,1st Ed., Trade Paperback, 256 pp., Index, Biblio., 2008
ISBN 978-0-9776076-4-8
The Creative Soul: Art and the Quest for Wholeness
by Lawrence Staples, 1st Ed., Trade Paperback, 100 pp., Index, Biblio., 2009
ISBN 978-0-9810344-4-7
Deep Blues: Human Soundscapes for the Archetypal Journey
by Mark Winborn, 1st Ed., Trade Paperback, 130 pp., Index, Biblio., 2011
ISBN 978-1-926715-52-0

Fisher King Press publishes an eclectic mix of worthy books including Jungian Psycho-
logical Perspectives, Cutting-Edge Fiction, Poetry, and a growing list of Alternative titles.

Phone Orders Welcomed Credit Cards Accepted

In Canada & the U.S. call 1-800-228-9316
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Tantra and Erotic Trance: Volume Two - Inner Work
ISBN 978-0-9776076-9-3
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psychology / movements / jungian

Human sexuality is a problematic thing. It gets us into trouble, breaks our hearts, involves us
in painful compulsive relationships, even transmits deadly diseases. It would surely scare us
off, if it were not for its siren call to higher forms of union and moments of bodily bliss. When
examined more closely, however, and especially when we turn our gaze inward to see what
sexual arousal is doing to our consciousness, we find we are in an altered statea form of
erotic trance that reveals dimensions of ourselves, our partner, and possibilities for human
life that otherwise would not have been discovered.

Procreative sex forms the foundation of the nuclear family and the glue that holds society
togetherwhat we might call the horizontal potential of sex. Tantra, however, is about its
vertical dimensionabout tuning our awareness to bring higher, spiritual realities into
focus. It all begins by mastering our bodily reflexes. This first volume of Tantra and Erotic Trance
deals with the preliminary stages of mastery and the transformations of consciousness that
they make possible. The whole project is imagined as a ladder with its feet on the earth and
its top leaning into Indras heaven. Each rung represents a new level of awareness, a mastery
of what just the rung below had appeared to us as a poorly understood gift.

John Ryan Haule holds a doctorate in religious studies from Temple University. He is a
Jungian analyst trained in Zurich and a faculty member of the C.G. Jung Institute-Boston. In
addition to Tantra and Erotic Trance I & II, his publications include: Divine Madness: Archetypes
of Romantic Love; The Love Cure: Therapy Erotic and Sexual; Perils of the Soul: Ancient Wisdom and
the New Age; The Ecstasies of St. Francis: The Way of Lady Poverty; and Jung in the 21st Century,
in two volumes: Evolution and Archetype and Synchronicity and Science.

Cover design by Ann Yoost Brecke 2012.

To order books call toll free

in Canada and the U.S.