A Grand Theory of Tantra

What is the big idea behind tantra? Is it just about “good sex” or reaching some kind of personal mythical “enlightenment”? If tantra is the path of the transformation of desire, what exactly does this transformation amount to?

According to the French anthropologist and celebrated thinker René Girard (1923-2015), humanity began when we evolved into efficient copying machines. This is how we can learn complex behavior like speaking and so on. Unfortunately, this also led to something called “mimetic desire”: we want what others want. And that leads to conflict due to competition and ensuing envy end jealousy in the tribe. The way out of that conflict is to blame a random scapegoat and to release the tension in the tribe in an orgy of orgasmic violence. Then there’s peace again until mimetic rivalry and tension rise again and another orgasmic, violent release is needed.

Given this celebrated and ingenious theory, let us speculate a bit.

Let us assume that this cycle of tension followed by violent, orgasmic release that goes on at the level of the tribe is also reflected on the level of the individual in our peculiar human sexuality: a cycle of rising tension followed by orgasmic release.

Thus, Tantric practice that involves developing a non-ejaculatory sexuality aims at going beyond the mimetic tension-and-release cycle in an embodied way at the personal level. And in that way, Tantra also indirectly aims to strike the core of the global destructive tension and release cycle that plays at the tribal level.

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