An Interview with Margo Anand
Margo Anand is a teacher of Tantra (sacred sexuality) and is the author of the highly acclaimed book The Art of Sexual Ecstasy. Her new book, The Art of Sexual Magic, has recently been published by Jeremy Tarcler, Inc. Margo is the founder of the Skydancing Institute, which promotes the teaching of Tantra throughout the world. I spoke with her recently from her office in Mill Valley, California.
Robert: Your first book, The Art of Sexual Ecstasy, has been very popular. Why is there so much interest in a spiritual approach to sex?
Margo: Well, we live in an anti-ecstatic society where we have suffered tremendously from the teachings of organized religions. These religions somehow taught us that the body is the abode of evil instincts, that we have to separate the flesh from spirit, and that what is basically at the root of our life is evil and original sin. This incredible projection of darkness and evil onto our sexuality has made us lose the perspective that sexual energy is actually the physical expression of our spiritual dimension, or at least can be. When it is not recognized and honored and held in reverence as such, then sex becomes just the manifestation of a mindless instinct and is kept away from the heart and spirit, and the pleasure it procures is very fleeting. When it is reconnected and held in reverence as a sacred event and as a sacred connection, then sex can open the door to the deepest creativity in ourselves - not only in our love life and our sexuality but it completely transforms our whole attitude to our work, to our creativity, even to our ability to create magic and miracles in our lives.
People are beginning to feel that there is a tremendous lack of -- a cutting-off from -- self-development and sexuality. Sex until now has had to be relegated into the darkness of our bedrooms and it's just time now to change that. It's absolutely time and people are feeling that. They want to have more of a connection between sexuality and spirituality so that they no longer have to feel the guilt and shame that goes with something which is potentially very beautiful.
Robert: I want to go back to something you said at the beginning. You mentioned that we live in an "anti-ecstatic society." I think that is a very powerful idea given that ours appears to be a sex-obsessed society and yet is clearly anti-ecstatic. Could you say a little more about that?
Margo: Yes. The reason we are obsessed about it is that we have lost the real connection to our sexuality. Sexuality has been so repressed that it has become a mental habit. Sex is something we think about and fantasize about but it is not something that we have a chance to do very much. When we do it, it is impregnated with fear and guilt because no one is taught the incredible feeling that goes with it.
According to the statistics, the average orgasm is only ten seconds long. The average frequency of intercourse is once or twice a week for most couples. That's 20 seconds a week, about one and a half minutes a month, or 18 minutes a year. In 50 years that's about 15 hours. This data is from Dr. Brower's book on extended orgasm. He says for 15 hours of ecstasy, we devote how many thousands and thousands of hours to thinking about sex, worrying about sex, daydreaming about sex, wishing for sex, planning for sex, so sex has become a very mental occupation.
We have lost the connection to the source. That is not about adding more and more orgasms, but about being orgasmic, which is our very nature. Children are born orgasmic. Being orgasmic means that you fully enjoy your life, fully express yourself, and fully connect with all the joy that sex and love can bring us. This is what has been repressed and cut off from us. That is why I say that we think more about sex than we do it. The second point about an anti-ecstatic society is that due to the separation of flesh and spirit, our culture loses its connection to sexuality and the understanding that sexuality is the physical expression of our spiritual power. The culture loses the awareness that this is the power to unite and create and rejoice and feel free. That is the spiritual power which is associated with our sexual energy.
When we hold sexual union in reverence we call this power forth. When we deprive sexuality of this connection to spirit, it becomes purely an instinctual drive. When this happens, the life energy turns against itself and is often misused. The result is rape, sexual violence, and the collapse of the immune system which leads to AIDS. We stand on the threshold of a new millennium with a tremendous urge to introduce a new vision, a new understanding of sexuality as a healing and bonding power between men and women; a sexuality that is more conscious, expanded, and joyful; a sexuality that is no longer relegated to the basement where shame and guilt and the simmering violence of our nation's repressed libido are stored. I agree with Havelock Ellis that sex lies at the root of life and that we cannot learn reverence for life until we learn reverence for sex. The damage done to society by the repression of sexuality is incalculable.
Instead of celebrating sex as a creative and fertile life force, we have turned sex into a negative and guilt-ridden affair and this has influenced our entire world view. For instance, this effort to heal the planet, to bring peace to warring factions, to protect the environment - how can any of this happen when the very source of human love is poisoned? How can love for the planet and love for each other flourish when the basic teaching of organized religion says that the sexual life force itself is evil and there is an unbridgeable gap between flesh and spirit? It's such a frustration for everyone and we don't know the way to change it.
When you turn on the TV, do you see couples kissing wildly and having ogasms? No. You see me. drawing guns and shooting to kill and people dying in writhing convulsions that look like orgasms. Actors play-act their pretended manhood with the premature ejaculation of their erect guns, spewing the fire of death in likeness of their penis which can only be shown spewing the fire of life in low-grade, animalistic porno flicks. It's ironic, huh? We are told "Don't talk about sex, and don't do it because it's bad, it's dirty." When society preaches that the source of life - our very roots - are polluted by original sin, what can we expect but to reap pain and mayhem? It's time to change this, which is why we are working so hard. This line of thinking is ridiculous and it's absolutely not the case. Sex can be sacred and our world will be a much better place when we can acknowledge it as such.
Robert: So you feel that there is a political dimension to your work?
Margo: Absolutely. I ecently realized that I must take the message of Tantra beyond the context of the individual and the couple into the context of the society. The work is not based on awliim that you go and tickle so-eone's G-spot and you know all about Tata. There is a misunderstanding in this country about Tantra - it is eally a spiitual pat], which leads to enlightenment. It's a path just as yoga and Zen are paths. One aspect of it has to do with sexuality because it teaches that sex can open the door to the diine. Tantra is basically a mystical path.
Many of the people who are teaching Tantra in this country are really teaching sexual healing, which is so needed here, but this is basically a kindergarten level of Tantra. They are sensual games and play which we need to go through, but the true depth of Tantra is phenomenal. Who needs to take acid? All you need to do is understand what Tantra is about and you have the inmost psychedelic experiences of your life: ongoing, nonstop orgastms which last for hours and bring such a healing and a love in your life it's just a blessing. That's what I am here to spread around.
Robert: You mentioned several times the connection between sexuality and creativity. Beyond that initial level of unxual healing, do you find that through Tantra you get into a creative enegy which expands into evey dimension of life?
Margo: At the root of the Skydancing Tantra practice I teach - which is a metaphor for the art of dancing in the sky - is learning the art of experiencing ecstatic states and integrating them into your love life. Basically, Skydancing Tantra is not just about satisfying physical needs, it is a holistic approach to sexual loving. It teaches you how to stop destructive patterns around the contradictions we experience with sex.
For instance, we may have a mental message that sex is bad which contradicts our intuition about it ("I love this person, and I really want them") which may in turn be overridden by emotional fears that I will be abandoned if I open myself or I will have something bad happen to me. This, then, may trigger unhealthy food habits ("Nobody loves me so I'll eat lots of candy") which blocks the flow of libido ("I'm not really in the mood"), and on and on it goes. We all experience this with our sexuality.
Skydancing Tantra teaches us to stop these destructive, contradictory patterns and to cleanse and harmonize our energy fields so that the body becomes free of tension; the heart opens to trust; and the mind learns the art of visualizing, focusing, meditating, letting go. It is only when this has taken place that you are ready for a sexual experience in which physical pleasure is transformed into a delight of the heart and an ecstasy of the human spirit. Then you merge sexuality with spirit and you open the door to what I call magic, which is the ability to manifest what you want in your life. This is where the creativity comes in.
The way you do this is by learning how to expand and prolong your orgasmic capacity so that you don't have a ten-second orgasm, but rather one which lasts ten minutes or more, and the concept of orgasm gets expanded beyond the genitals. It becomes a whole body energetic concept which can then be experienced independently of sexual penetration. After you have gathered this power, this potency, you learn how to implode it, to channel it through your chakras or your energy centers.
When you do this you completely revitalize your whole endocrine system. It has a profound effect on your physical well-being, a transformation takes place, and you open up to a whole new potential of functioning. You learn a whole new way of connecting the power of your thoughts and the clarity of your energy with the way you act in the world. It's - just phenomenal. This connection to our sexual energy is tremendously important in activating our independent thinking, our rebellious spirit, our wild self, our creative genius. This is how I see it.
Robert: Where does the moral compass come into play here? When the sexual energy is liberated, where does the integrity come in as to how it us used?
Margo: Well, that is a very good question. A lot of people don't have the maturity and moral understanding to balance the liberation with a sense of responsibility. Liberation goes hand-to-hand with integrity, the ability to respect others and not to profit from your power and want to - to put it bluntly - fuck everything in sight.
If you integrate sexuality and spirituality, you see the divine in your partner; you see the god or the goddess in your lover. This is what Tantra teaches. You realize that your partner is the focus or the fulcrum of an indefinitely creative ability. To me, saying that someone is a god or goddess means that basically they are magical beings, that they are infinite potentialities in manifestation, that they can create their lives as they wish to see them created.
We are the source of our own orgasm, not what our partner does to us. It is originally our ability to channel our energy to manifest what we want. It is our energy and we must take the responsibility for it. Then we honor in our partner this same ability to use energy to manifest the highest. This is where the concept of surrender comes in. Surrender has been confused with submission, which means that you are passive and that you want someone else to do something for you. Surrender, as I use it, means to open, to receive, to melt into that which is the highest. People who don't understand this will say, "I'm going to lie here until you give me an orgasm, You are in charge of my orgasm and without you I cannot do anything."
The people who really understand what I am talking about open themselves consciously to the highest aspect of their own potential and their partner's potential. To get to that they create the dream and its manifestation, which is a very beautiful path for couples to take. If someone truly understands their spiritual dimension, that's the attitude they are going to have.
Now, whether a person has one partner or several partners, or whether they intend to marry, is up to their own individual creative decision. I don't believe that you fall in love at 18 and love the same person forever. I don't believe that we are necessarily monagamous as human beings. Some people are. For some people it is very important to have a stable family and a beautiful, harmonious relationship with one person for 30 or 50 years and to raise your children. That's a beautiful model. But some people don't want to have children. I myself decided that I did not want to have children, so I don't want to have a husband and a family. I don't want to have the same man for 30 years; I would find that terribly boring, Our society has lead us to believe that we have to choose one partner for life and this is a legacy of our Puritan past, but it doesn't have to be like that.
Robert: What would you say to a peson who is not in relationship but nevertheless wants to experience the path of Tantra. Is it possible to do alone?
Margo: Yes, they can begin. First of all, it is a myth that they need a partner to do Tantra. It is absolutely important to drop that myth, otherwise people cut themselves off from the possibility of a major personal transformation. I would say as a single person, go into Tantra, explore the practices and do them for yourself, and be involved ith the sangha, the community of people who are also into this exploration. You can do this on your own. When you begin to harmonize your energy centers, a shift happens and you start to be attractive and you magnetize to yourself the people and the partners that you need.
I have seen this in my work over and over and over again. I can't tell you how many times a person has come to my work as single and ended up happily narried. And we now have Skydancing babies who come to my year-long trainings and are part of the team. It all begins with going into the root of yourself and understanding how to harmonize the energies. When you do, you are automatically attractive to another.
I would just say to people that it is very important to drop the fear, the shyness, and the guilt and disgust associated with sex. Understand that it is time to completely recondition your way of thinking about your sexuality, your way of understanding your body in the context of sexuality. You will slowly build for yourself a new perspective that is the absolute basis for having a happy love life, whether you are married or single. It is time to wake up to our spiritual dimension as sexual beings, to our incredible potential as magicians of love.
Margo Anand will give a public lecture Friday, October 13, 7-30 p.m. at Seattle University Church, 200 8th Avenue N. She will lead a workshop on Tantra at the Seattle Center on Saturday and Sunday, October 14 & 15. Call the Center for Creative Education at (206) 524-3858.
Robert Mann is a musician, writer, the founder of the Center for Creative Education, and the executive director of the Pauline Oliveros Foundation in Kingston, New York.