I think that for most serious practitioners of meditation, the aim is personal recognition of the inherent transcendent wisdom – i.e., Bodhi-mind, Christ Consciousness or Buddha Nature – consequently, each tradition has its own ideas about which technique works. Yet most seem to agree that some form of meditation, specifically mindfulness is essential.
I can also attest to the significant benefit of this practice, especially when coupled with supplemental practices such as maitri or loving kindness, tonglen (breathing in pain, breathing out compassion), prajna-wisdom slogans for working with various emotional mind states and so on. Until recently, I’ve found little instruction for using karezza-type (non-orgasmic) sexuality between a man and woman, as a tantric method for achieving the Great union, transcendent experience, i.e., fullness & emptiness, non-dualism.
The problem lies in the basic unwillingness to face our root fear and begin to experience life through sensual touch, and the natural elements (earth, water, air, ether, fire) purely, and without aversion, without pushing away our accumulated emotional pain. This is perhaps the biggest stumbling block we all must inevitably face in the end. Our endless wandering thru samsara goes onward and outward, seemingly forever, until we’ve personally reached the limit of our pain in avoiding reconnecting with the transcendent nature that is essentially, eternally, within ourselves.
What I have realized is that meditation methods such as shamatha-vipashyana (mindful awareness) and even some of the 112 methods of Shiva (as described in the Vijanabhairava Sutra) are all very useful, yet in themselves, often tends to be difficult, cumbersome, sometimes painful, uncomfortable, not to mention, boring. The fact is meditation requires effort, discipline and daily practice, training the body to endure sitting still long enough so that the mind can settle, letting go and focusing on present moment awareness - such as the outbreath – or dissolving the sense of self and realizing a momentary flash of expansion.
Ironically, these benefits can happen quite effortlessly with karezza sex. Without struggle, a couple can eventually settle into a natural quality of softening, where all sense of pain and physical discomfort seems to disappear (at least temporarily), while waves of sensual pleasure lead the mind to states of expanded awareness, and with little or no effort whatsoever. I have noticed this state consistently over the last two years. By keeping my breath centered and flowing “in and out” of my heart, I often find that my perception shifts toward the divine (higher chakras). Furthermore, when the sexual experience is over, my sense of completion and expanded connectedness, feelings of compassion and loving kindness seem to linger for hours – sometimes even a day or two.
Surely, the more a couple can engage in conscious lovemaking in this way, the more they’re simply extending kindness and compassion toward each other, and softening around the pain of their individual sense of separation.
In truth, I can honestly say, even after years of practicing meditation, I have never achieved a similar, profound effect or sublime sense of well-being through meditation alone. And yet, that is what meditation teachers and practitioners continue to advise in Dharma centers, Buddhist meditation retreats all over the world. Meditate, meditate, meditate (and don’t have sex).
Few, if any, agree that karezza, as a specific, prescribed spiritual tantric (continuation) discipline, can significantly enhance one’s personal meditation practice. I feel now, that the more one engages in loving, non-orgasmic karezza sex, the more that solo meditation practice becomes easier, less difficult and genuinely more limitless.
The key to this is simple: apparently, on our animal level (of which the human body is programmed and hardwired in the first three chakras), we really want only food, comfort, warmth, safety, sexual pleasure and a sense of tribal companionship. Through the practice of sitting alone, silently in mediation, sensing and touching phenomenon at a pure level, one may begin to “see” this programming for themselves. This in turn offers us an opportunity to choose to step around the unconscious tendency we hold toward grabbing or clinging and satiating these sense desires in harmful or selfish ways. All in all, transformation is a slow process. It takes years of effort, dedication and commitment to working with the mind in this way. I have found that, for me to stay engaged in present time awareness, I must continuously attend and allow all sensations within and around me – and mindfully feel what is happening at the moment – whatever sounds, smells, the play of light, physical touch, even thoughts, whether pleasant or painful. Even without a sexual partner, it is fully possible to engage life in this simple way. (Again, this is beautifully explained in the classic Sanskrit text, the Vijanabhairava Sutra).
And yet, with karezza, especially when a person is engaged in a loving, monogamous and committed relationship, one can experience the satiation of the basic survival desires, but in a wholesome way. Though it does take a lot of practice in the beginning for a couple to adjust to the slowness of this kind of sex - over time, the body’s sensitivity becomes fine-tuned to a high degree - which leads to everyday life experience becoming sensual and totally satisfying. I have found that using karezza, along with breath meditation, prayer, chanting, loving kindness practice, dzogchen or tonglen (anything that enables you to overcome the animalistic tendency and let go of ignorance, grievances and lust) creates a simple, holistic path toward awakening to our inherent, transcendent wisdom.