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Interview with a Master of Tantra

World-renowned Tantra teacher Hanna Katz explains there's much more to the ancient discipline than long sex sessions

 

IC:

Hello Hanna and thank you for talking with us. Let’s start by asking what exactly is Tantra?

 

HK:

My pleasure! Tantra is embodied spirituality. It’s an Indian word and actually means weaving energy and consciousness together. It is the marriage between spiritual awareness and the fact that we are physical beings, and it is also an inner marriage between the masculine and the feminine. In the Indian tradition, Shiva and Shakti represent the god and the goddess but they also represent consciousness and energy. Shiva is consciousness and awareness; the masculine aspect of our being. Shakti is energy and anything that changes such as: emotions, phenomena, experience. This is the feminine aspect of our being.

 

We’re spiritual beings, divine beings with a vertical alignment representing our aspiration to spiritual fulfillment and a horizontal alignment representing our human beingness, in other words, the physical plane. We have a body. We need to eat, to drink and to do something with our sexual energy; whether to sublimate it, transmute it, or use it. In Tantric practices we use sexual energy to raise consciousness and to transform raw sexual energy to a refined expression of love and benefit for all sentient beings or to bring transformation to our lives. Tantra is about harnessing the energy of sexuality and merging it with awareness, seducing the powers of nature to raise vibrations, to manifest transformation for the benefit of the individual and the world.

 

IC:

Wow! How did you found out about Tantra, and how long you have been practicing it?

 

HK:

I was born into it; my father was interested in Buddhism and I was born with a birthmark on my third eye. I grew up playing at pretending to be Buddha from the age of two and at thirteen and a half I had an initiation into Tantric practices. I’ve studied it over many years, looking at different traditions, such as Tibetan and Kabbalist ones and others from all over the world. So I’ve been on this path for many years and since 1998 I’ve been teaching in the UK and around the world.

 

IC:

The way you have described Tantra is very different from what many people will know of it. For example, many people will have heard Sting claiming that his Tantric sex sessions with this wife last for hours and hours...

 

HK:

Yes, so let me put the record straight. Tantra has everything and nothing to do with sex - it’s a spiritual path that embraces every aspect of our being. The Dalai Lama practises Tantra and wrote a book about it; Lama Yeshe, also from the Tibetan tradition, wrote a book about Tantra too but there’s no mention of sex in either book. Although most Tibetan Buddhist monks practice some sexual Tantra...

 

And then, of course, there is Neo-Tantra. This is New Age Tantra and is very much engaged with sexual practices. It’s very alluring and seductive, because that’s something that thrills people in the West. A lot of Neo-Tantra deals with psychological issues too, so there’s a lot of psychodrama, Gestalt practices and preparation for Tantra in the form of psychosexual therapy exercises.

 

IC:

You said most Tibetan Buddhist monks practice some sexual Tantra. Are they not all celibate?

 

HK:

Some of them are but most of them are initiated into sexual practices by a ‘living goddess’ about three times during their monkhood. And many Tibetan Buddhist lamas and teachers have to have a wife.

 

IC:

I didn’t know that.

 

HK:

Most people don’t know that!

 

IC:

Can you tell us more about Tantra in other traditions?

 

HK:

Certainly. Alchemy, which led to chemistry, was the European Tantra. The Kabbalah is the Jewish Tantra, Sufism, which predates Islam, is the Middle Eastern Tantra, and in England there are the pagan practices akin to it. So Tantra is a universal tradition, a spiritual path concerned about nature and energy that was given different names in different cultures. Tibetan and Vajrayana Buddhism are Tantric too, and Yoga is an offshoot of Tantra. Satyananda Saraswati, the founder of the Bihar school of yoga, the first university of yoga in the West, said: “Tantra is the mother, yoga is the son”.

 

IC:

What about the Catholic Church and Tantra?

 

HK:

It’s interesting: For many, many years the Vatican has forbidden men from engaging in homosexual activity and denounced gay sexuality. Now we are starting to learn about the sexual practices that have been taking place in the Vatican and amongst Catholic priests around the world. The thing is, when you allow people freedom with sexual expression, you actually connect them to direct experience of God - or divinity, the Universe, existence, Nature, Elohim, Allah, call it what you may - and through experiencing God, we remember who we really are. We are God, there is nothing other than God.

 

In the scriptures they talk about the fact that we are the image of god; Christ was talking about the Living God that is within. The Catholic authorities knew that allowing people freedom of sexual expression would be dangerous because then everyone would have a direct line of communication with divinity and wouldn’t need their priesthood as the meditator with God. You know, the name of God is shouted with more passion during sexual union than in any place of worship I have ever been to.

 

IC:

You call the prostate gland the “Gateway to Heaven”; can you say some more about that?

 

HK:

Yes. It’s now known that both men and women have a G-spot. The male G-spot is actually the prostate gland, which is located inside the rectum and accessed via the anus or through external pressure on the perineum. As well as making seminal fluid, this gland’s main purpose is pleasure and sexual activity. And so it seems extraordinary how the Catholic Church has forbidden that pleasure. From all the gay and straight men that I have worked with and taught about male prostate massage, I’ve learnt that what they experience is something near enlightenment, it is really profound. They experience Oneness. There is a difference between a normal orgasm or ejaculation and the G-spot experience, where they feel they really touch Divinity and become One with the Universe, shattering into pieces and feeling profoundly enlightened by the experience.

 

The female G-spot is much larger; it starts around the clitorous and goes all the way inside the vagina (known as the ‘Yoni’ in Sanskrit, meaning the source of all). Sexual pleasure has been frowned upon by the church and manipulated to control the people, by dictating when they can have sexual union. Even marriage was invented in order to control people, to pay taxes for religious establishments and used as a financial transaction. In a way, it started as legalised prostitution.

 

IC:

How would you recommend men find out more about their prostate glands?

 

HK:

I’ve written a few books on the subject: My first book, Tantric Lovers, includes pictures and descriptions of the male prostate gland, as well as a lot of information about the female G-spot. You can explore the prostate gland, learn about your body sensations and learn to control ejaculation. There’s a product on the market that some men use to explore and heal their prostate called the Aneros prostate massager. Also there’s my DVD, Tantric Healing Massage for Lovers, which shows how to do prostate massage. Jason, who runs Tantra 4 Gay Men calls it "certainly the most exquisite, exciting and juicy Tantric massage video in a long time." and Joseph Kramer PhD, the ‘Grandfather’ of Erotic Massage, said: “These Tantric Massage Rituals will change your sex life... Profound teachings and stunningly beautiful, there’s no competition.”

 

IC:

I’ve heard it said that Tantra is something that can only be practised by a man and a woman because it requires both genders but you’ve talked about Tantra for gay people. Is it possible for two gay men to have a Tantric experience?

 

HK:

Absolutely. The first clients that I taught Tantra to in the UK were two gay men on their wedding night in 1998. Recently I was the only woman invited to teach Tantra to gay men at a Tantra 4 Gay Men festival. In Neo-Tantra, where the lineage only goes back to Osho (Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh), there was misconception and perhaps a bit of homophobia when it started in the 70s and 80s.

 

Growing up in Israel, homosexuality was normal for me but there’s a lot of fear and misunderstanding about it the world. We all have the male and female within us. Within a gay relationship, one partner will express their feminine side more at certain times and sometimes they will change roles and express their masculine side. For me there is no difference between gay men and straight men because I believe that we are all bisexual.

 

I always read the Hebrew bible with interest, as I wanted to know about the love between David and Jonathan. King David ‘knew’ Jonathan, and in the bible to ‘know’ someone is to have carnal intercourse with them. Look at the beautiful songs and poetry that David wrote when Jonathan died. The ‘Tree of knowledge’ in some schools of thought is perceived as the tree of sexuality and creativity.

 

IC:

Do you think that some of the homophobia in the Hebrew bible was the priest wanting to get between the people and God, as with the Catholic Church?

 

HK:

Being raised in Israel, I’ve never experienced homophobia. Israel is very open; Tel Aviv is its gay capital. Gay Pride is much bigger there than in London. The Jewish tradition has been one of the first, if not the first, in the world to embrace the gay community as part of their priesthood. Some Jewish priests were among the first to be publicly gay: Rabbi Lionel Blue was the first Rabbi in the UK to reveal his sexual preference. Gay female Rabbis were among the first women to get public and social recognition as officially ordained priests. Rabbis are required to engage in life fully, to have relationships and families, otherwise how can they counsel their parish?

 

IC:

But isn’t there a line in Leviticus that says if a man lies with another man, he shall be stoned? That’s the one that is often thrown at homosexuals.

 

HK:

I would have to have a look at the Hebrew bible because what it actually says in those scriptures varies greatly from the English translation. And please remember, scriptures were actually written down by people, mainly men in authority, and some scriptures were omitted, especially regarding the roles of women. I am sure some were edited and altered to suit the culture and governing authority at the time, as we know happened with the Christian bible.

 

IC:

Any final comments?

 

HK:

A word of caution: Tantra will change your life and should perhaps come with a health warning! Neo-Tantra is suitable for the modern spiritual workshop junkie seeking a quick thrill, the original Tantra transforms your life, integrating into your being and enhancing your view that all beings are Divine and everything is perfect just as it is. It’s a lifetime practice, a way of being.

 

IC:

Thank you very much Hanna.

 

HK:

Namaste.

 

IC:

Namaste.

 

 

You can find out more about Hanna and her work on her websites: tantric-healing-massage.com, hannatantra.com & hannakatz.com

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