I’m leaving this place. Just one more short session and it’s goodbye to everybody. Just hold on for a few more minutes. I’ve survived the whole weekend, the last few moments won’t kill me. “One thing is certain. A weekend spent with all of you was a great experience for me and it showed me many things still stuck in my head. Thank you.” I’ll finish up my speech in the group and get the hell out of here. It takes a minute to pack all my stuff. Something inside me is almost shouting: “Move it! Get out of there as fast as you can! Do it!” I obey and take two steps. I’m leaving the building and heading as quickly as possible back to Prague. I need to sort through my thoughts and feelings from the last two days. Days spent at a course for tantric massage for gays. I knew as much about Tantra as most of those around me. I knew it concerns an Eastern philosophy, which includes massage, extended sex and, of course, incense and oils. Perhaps that was enough for me to decide to expand my horizons and get a firsthand look at it during a weekend spent in the company of men learning about Tantra. My expectations went from next to zero to a purely pragmatic view of my entire stay. The plan was for me to come, see, describe and disappear. I managed only the first and last parts of it. The course took place in the Old Town Hall building of Brno. All those participating gathered together shortly before ten in the morning. The group consisted of a various makeup of men. They shared the same sexual orientation, inclination towards Eastern thought and were interested in the spiritual side of life. An excellent combination, it later turned out, for an inwardly enriching experience. Of course, nothing was said about that in the informational email for participants. We managed to easily unwind in the friendly atmosphere we created at the outset. We spent most of the time in a meditation room decorated with thematic paintings, candlesticks, censers and sarongs – wearing, of course, the typical articles of clothing necessary for performing tantric massage correctly. An introductory presentation was followed by a series of physical and tactile exercises. We did exercises based on Taoism (another Eastern philosophy) with the goal of relaxing the body and mind, and then went through a “dry run”. The only difference between that and the “real thing” is that we kept our clothes on and omitted intimate parts. Of course, I immediately wondered what I would do if I drew as my massage partner some guy I didn’t really want to get so downright intimate with. Only later did I realize that what’s on the surface can be misleading and often obscures the true face of the person. In the case of my partner, a person with an extremely big heart... What was surprising for me is that this massage was a very pleasant experience despite the fact that I probably wouldn’t have chosen my massage partner under normal circumstances. But looks don’t matter at this course. The attendees treated one another as if a person isn’t defined just by the physical body. That struck me as rather abstract. We got to know one another better within a few hours and were able to talk and even touch one another with ease. The atmosphere in the group was relaxed, a pleasant sort of energy permeated the entire hall, putting smiles on our faces. We had clearly achieved our goal. Another item on the program was the “real thing”. I broke out in a sweat. Just feeling comfortable wasn’t enough for me to get up the courage to take my clothes off. Complete nudity was only voluntary, but necessary for the massage... I don’t know if it was the atmosphere or I just didn’t want to be the only one dressed and on the sidelines for the next action, but I finally got undressed. The complete massage takes about two hours, during which the masseur relaxes your entire body using a smooth touch, peacock feather, oil and other “tools”. First the back, then the chest, legs... and finally to massaging intimate areas. With rapid, protracted movements, the accumulated sexual energy in the lingam (the symbol Hindus use to worship the god Shiva; in tantric terminology it refers to the penis) shifts during this phase to the chest, the area around the heart, where the massage continues. This is the point where even the biggest skeptics like me stop rationalizing about all the surrounding perceptions and are forced to face a feeling they didn’t even know existed before. A feeling which in my case generated a bag of mixed impressions. It was, on the one hand, a very intense experience, friendly, close to that of sexual satisfaction, only stronger and longer. In contrast came a rather strange feeling. I unexpectedly came face to face with the discovery that what we really miss is completely at odds with what we’re consciously seeking. The fact that I wasn’t able to identify this contrast earlier on left me feeling dejected. I spent the next twenty minutes motionless on the mat in an attempt to calm my trembling body and especially my mind, which got a decent slap in the face. Time to wake up... “Tantra allows more promiscuous guys to find exactly what they’re looking for and cannot in the never-ending search for sexual opportunities – a kind of love, a connection between carnal instinct and the heart, attention and satisfying pleasure. They mainly discover love of themselves, which relieves them of the need to organize sexual hunts,” said David Kopecký, the organizer of the course. Just yesterday I had other more specific questions, now I just nodded that I understood... I’m beginning to understand that many things we often search for in life but cannot find are not in some other location, in a place that is seemingly unattainable for us; rather they are in ourselves. Only we don’t know it. Tantra doesn’t tell us what to do. What this ancient ritual helps us understand is the correct perspective on the problems that plague us and seem unsolvable. And it doesn’t even have to be about something crucial. Many times it happens that our consciousness deceives us and we haven’t got any clue about the stimuli that affect us. In these and other cases, Tantra can turn the light on in places where we cannot see.
Text: Jakub Starý Photo: www.tantraflow.net