In the Mahayana Buddhist approach, it is recognized that personal love can be a heart-opening spiritual experience. Even the briefest experience of unconditional love can be transformative. Human love can give the serious practitioner a concrete, visceral glimpse into the meaning of universal love and unconditional compassion. Thus intimate relationships, family life, and sexual energy can be viewed not just as a hindrance to spiritual development, but also as a means of combining passion and compassion in such a skillful way that we will be able to be more engaged and intimate with others and the world.
In the later-developed remarkable tantric teachings which utilize all of our energies as part of the path, sexual energy is recognized as a very powerful and potent force that, like electricity, can be harnessed. Tantra talks about integrating and assimilating all our life experiences into the path rather than excluding any aspect of life as monastics choose to do. Tantric texts tell us to find the right partner, or consort, with whom one can practice tantric sexual exercises as a transformative consciousness-raising practice. The numerous specific tantric practices to accomplish such a goal include visualizing yourself and your partner as deities rather than as an ordinary lustful human couple. There are a variety of ancient traditional yogic practices such as seminal retention, withholding orgasm, touch and hand gestures, special internal muscular movements, rotating the breath and holding it in and out.
Tantric practice, if authentic, is a way to use the natural concentration of intense passionate desire to direct our minds further beyond ourselves.
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