Our right to pleasure
Our vitality and health arise from our capacity to experience pleasure. Our bodies are even designed for pleasure! Research has shown that the more empowered we become in our ability to feel pleasure, the more confidence, creativity, passion and purpose we will feel in our lives as we live our dreams and contribute meaningful to life. In Tantra, sexuality, touch and pleasure are amazing tools that support us in transformation and heal our relationships to our bodies, our sexuality and our sensual experience of life. We use these tools to either enjoy the moment or to increase awareness of what is preventing us from experiencing our natural state of love and pleasure. When we feel pleasure, we begin to open up, to surrender, and say 'yes' and in that pleasure we become more present; one of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves and another.
I love this story of Cupid and Psyche and how it shows the weave between eroticism and spirituality and gives birth to Pleasure. Cupid, who is also known as Eros, or Amour, is the god of erotic love and Psyche represents the beauty of the soul. When the goddess Venus becomes jealous of Psyche's beauty, Venus asks Eros to cause Psyche to fall in love with some unworthy man. Instead, Eros takes Psyche away to his own secret place where he protects her and visits her under the cloak of darkness so that she never see his face. Eros explains to Psyche that although he is a god, he doesn't want her to fear or revere him, but to love him as an equal. Herein, the story reveals the importance of mutuality and equality in a relationship of love. Eventually, Psyche is coaxed by her envious sisters to break her vow to Eros and to attempt to see her lover in the light. So while he is sleeping, she takes a candle to his bed to see his face. But the hot wax drips on his shoulder and awakens him. Sadly, Eros flies away on his white wings after telling Psyche ''Love cannot dwell with suspicion''. This story conveys the invaluable lesson that trust is necessary if lovers are to remain united. In breaking their agreement to honour the mystery, Psyche attempted to know her lover through the eyes and mind, instead of allowing the knowing of her heart to be sufficient. Hence, in her attempt to limit and control Eros, she sacrificed everything. Later, after Psyche is put through seemingly impossible initiations by the goddess Venus (tests which Eros secretly helps her pass), the goddess is satisfied and allows Psyche to drink the sacred ambrosia and become immortal. Thus, Psyche is reunited with Eros and they begin an eternal union.
Eventually, the union of Eros and Psyche (sexuality and spirituality) produces a daughter, whose name is Pleasure, suggesting that true pleasure can only be attained through the healthy union of the loving soul (Psyche) with the passionate body (Eros). Just love it!
In Tantra, pleasure is in the very movement, the very nature of the universe itself. Where most spiritual disciplines insist that we must control longing, desire and pleasure to reach higher states of consciousness, Tantra teaches that we cannot experience complete personal and spiritual liberation while restricting a part of our being. Pleasure becomes so much more than what it looks like from the outside; it is this beautiful dance with the senses, an explosion of energy and colour and a heart wide open to life's possibilities. Pleasure does not need to come from an object. It could simply be the incandescence of being alive. It is this surrender to pleasure that makes a Tantrika's gaze shine so brilliantly, what makes them perpetually in love with reality and so alive. I think it was Osho that once said that the essence of Tanta cannot be captured in either verbal or written words. To truly understand Tantra, it has to be experienced.
And I have a feeling there are more of us that are stepping fully into pleasure, creating change from the inside out - nurturing ourselves and our desires through pleasure. This life requires us to choose pleasure for ourselves, creating new pathways and letting love flow.
David Deida captures so much pleasure in these words:
''I love to watch you move. Your body is so open. I want to embrace you and hold your heart against mine. When I see you eat chocolate or your favourite foods, I am amazed at how your body responds by opening and softening in pleasure as if love were moving through you. You often quiver and make sounds of such delight. I wonder why you would choose to live any other way but this open to love. I know you can't always be eating delicious delicacies, but I wonder how you would live if you were breathing and feeling divine ambrosia moving through your body right now.''