Human sexuality cannot be understood outside the concept of Yin and Yang. In the tantric view, a human being and his or her relationships are a mirror of the universe—or even better, the whole universe in microcosm. The universe itself is seen as a union of the male and female principles, as represented by the divine couple Shiva and Shakti.
In tantra, the male Shiva and the female Shakti are revered as both the divine couple and as the archetypes for consciousness (Shiva) and energy (Shakti). The ancient Vedic texts, which are sacred to yoga and tantra, describe through metaphor and myth a person’s relationship to his or her energy field and the energy field’s relationship to other people and the cosmos. The most well-known Vedic texts, the Upanishads and the Bhagavad Gita, tell us that after the universe was created, Shiva and Shakti emerged from the singularity called Universal Consciousness via the tattvas, which are steps in the evolution of the physical and non-physical universe.
Thirty-six tattvas are responsible for the incredible diversity of our universe. The first tattva was the original world as it emerged from Universal Consciousness, a world without form. From this, Purusha and Prakriti emerged. Purusha, the predecessor of Shiva, was the primordial consciousness and Prakriti, the predecessor of Shakti, the primordial source of power (sexual energy). The next tattva, which resulted from their joining, was called Mahatattva. It was at this stage that perfect balance in the primordial, nonphysical universe was disrupted and evolution—as human beings can conceive it—began. In the next tattva, Shiva and Shakti emerged, and it was at this point that sexual ecstasy first made its appearance.
In tantra, evolution is considered to be an ongoing process through which Shakti (Yin) is continuously impregnated by Shiva (Yang). This constant act of creation and its associated sexual delight are central to tantric experience and to the tantric view of transcendence (enlightenment). The universe is continuously being created through the union of opposites: Yin/Yang, Shiva/Shakti.
The divine couple serves as the archetype for sexual love (Eros) and a transcendent relationship. The sexual ecstasy that two individuals experience together is seen as being fundamentally the same as that experienced by the divine couple. This is why, in tantra, human sexuality is elevated beyond the mere act of procreation, it becomes a vehicle for achieving transcendence. Sex is used to break down the barriers that make people feel separate, and transports them into a state of union with each other and with Universal Consciousness.
Like the ancient tantric masters, you can experience similar states of sexual ecstasy. You can use the previously dormant powers of your energy field to achieve transcendence or enlightenment, where pleasure, love, intimacy, and joy emanate spontaneously from within you, and you can share those uplifting qualities with your partner.
Keith Sherwood is a master of the four classical Yogas and the author of nine books on energy work, healing, and transcendent relationships. The exercises, mudras, and meditations that he has developed are used throughout ...