The History of Tantra, by Mark A. Michaels and Patricia Johnson with a Foreword by Rudolph Ballentine, MD
"The history of Tantra in the Western world is a checkered one," note Mark A. Michaels and Patricia Johnson, a devoted married couple who have been teaching Tantra and Kriya yoga together since 1999. "Serious attempts to both understand and explain Tantric traditions to Westerners have long been hampered by common misconceptions that Tantra is somehow scandalous, depraved and even tantamount to black magic." In their highly anticipated new book THE ESSENCE OF TANTRIC SEXUALITY (Llewellyn Worldwide, July 2006), Michaels and Johnson do for Tantra what Kinsey or Masters and Johnson did for human sexuality: they clear the air, explaining Tantra with a frank, powerful and commonsense examination of the history, principles, and practices of the authentic Tantric. The result is a book which encourages a reverence for the body and its potential for ecstasy and an appreciation for the body as an obvious, natural asset in the spiritual quest, rather than an evil saboteur of it.
"Tantra gets at the heart of the most profound and sacred mystery, the essential activity of human life, both in terms of the species and in terms of its potential for connecting us with the transcendent," note the authors, whose book demystifies both Tantra's terminology and symbols and offers a wealth of explanatory diagrams. Drawing on the historic - not to mention delightful and unconventional - lectures of Dr. Jonn Mumford (Swami Anandakapila) as well as rare personal interviews and study with Dr. Mumford, Michaels and Johnson have made it their mission to share Dr. Mumford's rare gift for placing authentic Hindu Tantra, including its sexual aspects, within a conceptual framework that makes it accessible to Westerners, without overemphasizing sexuality, watering down the teachings or coating them with New-Age trappings. Michaels and Johnson offer detailed descriptions of these and other practices - as well as advanced esoteric information - which, for the most part, have been kept secret:
- Profound Kriya Yoga techniques to regulate the flow of Prana or vital physical and psychic energies, inducing deep states of relaxation and higher levels of consciousness.
- Vama Marga Tantra practices for focusing the mind and prolonging the excitement phase and discovering new sexual dimensions
- Concrete methods of masturbation and other visualization techniques which help partners find divinity in the most familiar and yet most challenging of places.
- Practices of perfume magic, which operates on the most subtle level and draws on the strong connection between the olfactory sense and the unconscious.
- An examination of the Tantric Erogenic Zones or Kama Marmas, an understanding of these zones' erotic power and an exploration of how these zones can be explored in a systematic, methodical way.
- Cycles of massage techniques for altering consciousness. The secret of Amrita, the deepest teachings of Tantra and the key to achieving true spiritual life.
"The greatest challenge a human being can face is that of actually evolving through involvement in a relationship," note Michaels and Johnson. "Relationships are extraordinarily complex and challenging, and one always has the option to decide whether or not it is worth it." Neither a sex nor relationship manual, THE ESSENCE OF TANTRIC SEXUALITY offers couples a way of committing and recommitting themselves to relationships, with practices to aid them in maintaining an attitude of reverence toward a partner and in striving for parity, equality and kindness and ultimately experiencing transcendence.
Mark Michels and Patricia Johnson are a devoted married couple and have been teaching Tantra together since 1999. To watch a brief video of one of their TV appearances on the subject of Tantra go to You Tube Video on Tantra