Your Guide to Gender Energies in Tantra
The God and Goddess
In Tantra, the ancient art known for its sexual elements, male and female are represented at their highest as a god and goddess. Lord Shiva and his consort, the goddess Shakti, are often seen in oriental art. They are popularly depicted in scenes where they show unbridled affection for each other. They can be found wrapped around each other while standing, sitting or even dancing. Together, this Hindu couple stands for perfection but each on their own is also a symbol for different things closely linked to masculine and feminine energies.
Shiva Is Strength
The god also represents the following:
- A powerful creator
- Bliss and ecstasy
Shakti Is Smart
The supple Skakti is not only beautiful and a good dancer, but she also harbours the following qualities:
- The essence of energy
The Divine in Your Partnership
A pair of happy gods is dandy and all that, but what do they have to do with us mere mortals? By now, you must have realized that tantra loves symbols. Not only does Shiva stand for men and Shakti for women (an obvious one there), but it goes much deeper than that. Their union represents a couple's worship of each other. In other words, tantra practitioners must treat their partner with the same respect shown to a god or goddess—no pedestal required.
Pedestals have no place in an equal, respectful bond. However, there is an element of surrender involved; to the god or goddess in your loved one and also yourself. This “surrender” is more of an opening of the chest and expelling suspicion. Many of us, especially when it comes to relationships and sex, suspect ulterior motives in our partners or behave in a certain way that is not our authentic selves. Opening yourself to your sacredness and your mate's brings a wonderful instinctive spontaneity where fun and wisdom are born.
A Closer Look at Yang and Yin
Also known as the male energy force in eastern traditions, Yang stands for several manly bullet points. Here they are:
- Heaven and sky
- Light and heat
Yin, the female force, is always the opposite and can range from the less desirable to the more respectable elements:
Unfortunately, it has become all too common to see Yin and Yang as opposing forces in a dual world. It is definitely not that one-dimensional. Yin and Yang are two equal energies within the same space, be it a body, a relationship, society or the world. When one is off-keel, the symptoms are very clear – illness, war, people suffer because of another's beliefs or actions. For example, in a house or society where there's too much Yang, women are often suppressed or abused. Too much Yin can lead to indecisive or stagnant situations. That both masculine and feminine energies are needed for balance counts just about anywhere, not just in the tantric bedroom. At their best, Yang brings action and Yin yields it with wisdom.
Tantra Fights Gender Stereotypes
Traditionally, men and women have always been pigeon-holed according to their gender. Even in modern life, stereotypes persist. Whether you are a man or a woman, you've probably encountered times when it felt good to be your gender. Perhaps you were complimented on your strength or beauty. But more often than not, gender was used against you. That uncle who told you not to cry because you're a boy, but you just fell off twelve steps and broke seventeen bones. You know, don't cry. Or that well-despised phrase, “You're not allowed because you're a girl/woman.” Both genders take swats at each other but once again, whenever that happens, the swatter's energies are unbalanced, and he or she religiously pushes that imbalance down on those who don't fit their fractured views.
Sometimes, the uninitiated view Yin as something girly and not as the powerful energy it truly is. Practitioners understand that when a man needs to increase his Yin, it doesn't mean he must now wear a dress. Yin is hesitation before anger, consideration before impulse and refusal in the face of a harmful vice. Instead of taking the male/female polarity in a literal sense and creating stereotypes that limit and even destroy lives, tantra seeks to balance the energies as a powerful unit. This does not turn girls into boys or men into women, but vanquishes fears, problems and unhappiness born of the heaviness from too much of one energy. In the end, tantric practitioners celebrate their physical gender but not at the cost of the other. Women are given the respect they deserve and men receive the acknowledgment many look for in the wrong places and friends.
Why Opposites Attract
Each of us has admired or fallen in love with somebody who is completely different. A girl raised in a home where her confidence wasn't a priority might be dazzled by the first daring and carefree teenager who comes along. Her Yang is lacking (no confidence) and he radiates Yang like a sun. Since she seeks this missing energy in him, the girl fails to notice his lack of Yin; he's selfish, makes sexist jokes with his friends and makes all the decisions. Only when her energies equalize is she able to step back and realize the situation is unhealthy. Apart from this example, opposites can and do make fantastic partners. One can be very “Yang” without being abusive or selfish, or very “Yin” without being weak or submissive. But both cases, whether it is falling in love with the right or wrong opposite, come down to the same thing—you are drawn to that individual's abundant Yin or Yang because it happens to be stronger in them.
Tantra and Desire
Desire is to want something (or someone) because you believe possession equals good feelings. That hot babe will boost your self-esteem or that dashing guy at the office is just perfect to be a knight in shining armour. Both are knee-jerk reactions from how we were raised and society grooms boys and girls. Get the girl. Wait for your knight. Undeniably, there's excitement but little depth to such expectations. It's no small wonder then, that people proceed to engage in their relationships with flatness. The other partner is expected to fulfill a desire, a fantasy — which is not fair. Nobody can rescue you or boost your self-esteem forever. Superficial attractions are weak energies that cannot last. In the moment, they may feel great, especially when the other person responds exactly as you had hoped. After a while, however, reality comes knocking and the realization dawns that babes and knights are people and not the fix-it-all props fantasy promised. Usually, the partner is then blamed, dumped and the search begins all over again. The truth is that neediness and the possession of another never satisfies. It's tail-chasing at its best.
In tantra, energies are never mined from a lover to satisfy some lack or hunger. The tantric novice is taught to balance his or her own until they abandon the desperation that haunts so many singles and couples. Once this is achieved, energies are shared with another tantric partner instead of demanding or clinging, which leads to healthier relationships.
© 2018 Jana Louise Smit