Recently the Tantra world was rocked by yet another sexual abuse scandal affecting a well-known Tantra school.
Unfortunately, this is not the first accusation of sexual misconduct being levelled at this Tantra school, which potentially points to a deeper underlying thread of systematic abuse within that organization.
The world of Western Tantra is filled with so many different Tantra schools and styles of practitioners, it’s hard to know how to protect yourself and where you should go to learn Tantra without subjecting yourself to abuse and sexual misconduct.
In my opinion, ongoing issues of abuse and sexual misconduct within a Tantra school or spiritually based organization point to an underlying flaw in the practice and/or methods being taught.
The world of sexuality education can be a slippery slope, and when a Tantra school is not deeply anchored in clear intent and altruistic motivation for practice, it can be easy to slide off into unethical territory.
Traditional, authentic, lineage-based Tantra has clear guidelines for practitioners to adhere to in order to be in integrity with the discipline, and achieve the desired results of their Tantra practice.
In the Tantric tradition in which I and my team have been trained, the motivation and guidelines for practice are very clear:
Before every business meeting or session with our clients, we take refuge in and ask for guidance, direction, and protection from the “3 Jewels and 3 Roots” of Tibetan Tantric Buddhism.
We state openly and clearly that our practice is for the benefit and welfare of ourselves and all sentient beings.
We declare our commitment to practicing the six perfections which are; generosity, morality, patience, diligence, meditation, and the development of wisdom, in order to attain enlightenment for ourselves and limitless sentient beings.
Our entire motivation to practice is for the benefit and welfare of ALL, and the ultimate goal of our Tantra practice is the complete and total embodiment of our own true, open, and blissful nature.
Not sexual gratification, not ego enhancement, not even money or fame.
The motivation for our practice is to transform suffering on every level of body, mind, spirit and sex, and to share that healing and transformation with as many people as possible.
That core underlying motivation is what makes this style of Tantra so effective, so healing, and so profound.
It’s impossible to even consider engaging in sexual misconduct when both your motivation and your method are correct and in alignment with the ultimate goal of true, authentic, and legitimate Tantra.
So how do you know if your Tantra school fits the bill?
Here are 3 things to look for when choosing a school for Tantra:
#1 – Authenticity
In an age where Tantra can mean anything from giving someone “energy orgasms” to yogic breathing practices, it’s important to know exactly where and from whom your teacher has received their teachings.
Where have they studied and who have they trained with? Does this person have a Teacher they can ask for guidance? Do they have an actual lineage of practice or is their entire modality based on something they read in a book?
How long have they trained in their practice? How many hours have they dedicated to cultivating their practice and experience of Tantra?
My Teacher is a Tibetan Buddhist Lama. He sanctioned me to teach Tantra on my own after 4 years of diligent study, practice, and accomplishment.
I completed 3 Vajrayana Deity Yoga practices before I was given permission from my Teacher to teach on my own.
Completing a Vajrayana Tantric Deity practice consists of reciting the mantra of that deity 111,111 times in sitting meditation while visualizing at the same time.
Depending on the practice it can take anywhere from 4 months to 4 years to complete one practice. I completed three of them in 4 years.
It is said to be extraordinary for someone to complete just ONE practice in this lifetime.
Before I became a Tantra practitioner in 2008, I had been a monk of the Ishaya order for nearly 10 years. I averaged 4-16 hours per day in meditation throughout this time period.
My Tantra practice is no joke. This is not a hobby. This is not something I read in a book or took a weekend “intensive” to learn.
This is my spiritual path. Every method that I teach you as my student has been practised by me several hundred, if not a thousand times.
My Tantra teaching is a direct result of my Tantra practice. My Teacher often says “Teach what you practice”… and that I do.
#2 – Code of ethical conduct
Tantra is not currently recognized as a valid healing modality by the U.S. government, and therefore there is no regulation in the field of Tantra.
That means it is up to us as practitioners and founders to create our own guidelines regarding the ethical conduct of our student, facilitators, and graduates.
The Institute of Authentic Tantra Education is currently the only Tantra school whose certification program is bound to an ethical code of conduct for our graduates.
That means you can trust that all of the practitioners listed on our website have read, signed, and agreed to adhere to these codes.
Sexual abuse and misconduct are simply not tolerated. Nor is being an abusive asshole in general.
#3- What are the results of the practice?
When you observe the Teacher and their students, what do you see?
Do they live what they teach? Do they practice what they preach? Are they evolving? Have they demonstrated their own healing and growth?
Nobody is perfect, perhaps most especially our Teachers, so while evaluating our guides and role models it’s important to allow for their humanity as well.
That being said, if your Teacher is walking their talk, the results of their practice should be evident.
What are some of the results you should look for?
In our tradition of practice we look for an increase in empathy, compassion, loving-kindness, generosity of spirit, integrity, clarity, authenticity, and altruistic intention…just to name a few.
Inner qualities can show up as greater peace of mind and emotional stability, less conflicting thoughts, (fewer thoughts in general), more ease, more flow, more connection, more joy, more bliss in daily activities.
Because of my history of sexual trauma, some of the very noticeable and deeply needed results of my practice have also been:
- The ability to speak my truth with clarity and without fear of retaliation
- The clarifying and deepening of healthy boundaries
- The willingness to advocate for those boundaries even in the face of pushback or negativity
- A greater ability to prioritize meeting needs for self-care. For me, this means saying “no” to experiences and situations I am merely “tolerating” as opposed to feeling enriched and nourished by.
In short, if the modality you are investigating is correct and the Teacher is doing their own homework, you will see tangible signposts of growth in them, as well as their students.
These signposts of growth will be clear indications of the growth you can expect to see inside yourself as a result of following in their footsteps.
As Tantra becomes more and more widely recognized in Western culture, it becomes increasingly important that the Tantra school you choose to work with is rooted in Truth and aligned with altruistic intent.
In closing, I want to leave you with a Tibetan Buddhist prayer that I recite every morning. This is the root motivation for the work that I do in the world and the core motivation of my Tantric practice.
I invite you to use it as a compass to guide you in your own practice and guide you to those Teachers who can best support your learning and growth along the Tantric path.
“May all beings have happiness and the causes of happiness by my practice of loving kindness.
May all beings be removed from suffering and the causes of suffering through my altruistic compassion
May all beings experience the ultimate bliss which is a result of my meditation practice
May all beings live the great equanimity which is the stabilization of the emotions of attachment, aversion, delusion, pride and jealousy.”
Just FYI- The Tibetan Five Element practices are the antidote to the 5 root poisons of anger, attachment, aversion, pride and jealousy.