Tantra has become famous for embracing open relationships, where people engage in more than one romantic relationship with mutual consent. However, the stereotype misses the key aspect of traditional Tantra: all our relationships should be based on love. When we have multiple love relationships it is known as polyamory.
What Tantra should be famous for is allowing God’s way of loving to come through us as human beings. Whether alone, with one person or with many, a Tantric uses relationships to become closer to the ultimate goal of integration with the divine will.
Polyamory is not common in the cultural context in which we live. Where we do see it, in movies and celebrity culture, there are all kinds of negative impacts. Even when we see it being done well, we don’t quite believe that it can work. There is a common belief that you will eventually find ‘the one’ and settle down to monogamy. However, we should be careful of cultural norms. Fifty years ago, inter-racial marriage was unusual and thought to be very difficult. Now there is nothing unusual about it.
Research shows that 20% of westerners have tried polyamory and that polyamorous relationships are as functional as monogamous relationships.
Tantra does not shy away from getting in touch with relationships and sexuality. While other spiritual traditions may avoid the erotic, Tantra embraces every facet of life, including this one.
For love relationships to be a spiritual tool, they need to be aligned with the goal of divine integration. There is no limit to love, and in any relationship we are aiming to love the other as God would; freely, enthusiastically and unconditionally.
Each of us needs to seek out the Godly will for us. An open heart and sharp awareness will enable us to discover the way to God and unfold our personal path for integration. It could be abstinence, monogamy, or open relationships and we see all of these amongst the Tantric saints and masters.
Open relationships can be likened swimming in a very stormy sea. We need to be ready for it! If you have barely any muscles and have never swum across so much as a pond, you may wish to reconsider before jumping in. If you have trained in the school of opening the heart and listening wisely to what is going on inside, maybe it is time to give it a go and see if you will come out stronger.
Like any other aspect of transformation, polyamory requires care and courage and it is important that we are aware of the limits of what we can currently take.
Guidelines for Spiritual Polyamory
These preparatory steps are useful for all of us. The key point is to use and enjoy the path, whatever it is.
1. First have one relationship
The challenges of open relationships are such that for most people it is necessary to learn to truly relate to one other soul before trying it with many. You can be sure that any problems you have with one lover, will get worse with two.
In the light of Tantra, a relationship is only worth the love and transformation that it generates. It takes practice to continually find the place in which you can grow and transform, irrespective of what the other one is doing.
Two key indicators of where you are at with this are your capacity to love and your ability to fulfil another person though your time, presence and erotic power. Be honest with yourself about the problems you need to solve. Deal with your lack of interest in others, your selfishness and ways in which you are continually defending your ego.
Keep asking “If I or my beloved were to love several people, what would it take?” The answer will shine a light on ways that you need to transform, not just to get better at human relationships, but also to grow closer to the divine.
2. Be clear about your choice
Work to be clear what the choice of your heart is and what it is ready to explore right now. Follow it as well as you can and keep updating it as you grow and transform. It may take a lot of effort and meditation to be clear about this.
Look out for grey zones. These are the doubts and unconscious half-choices that are detrimental to couple relationships.
3. Check your reasons
There is just one reason to embrace polyamory: to transform into a godly being.
If you detect other reasons, such as “maybe the gaps I feel with lover A can be fulfilled with lover B and I will feel better”, take it as an opportunity to sit down and have a good chat with your heart. Recentre yourself and contemplate how to transform towards a liberated way of loving.
Use these reasons to help your transformation. They can shed light on how to return to a heartful and aware attitude.
4. Make active steps towards the next stage
Even if polyamory seems inconceivable to you, huge transformation can come from preparing for it. Make active steps towards it and use the transformation that results.
5. Keep your heart open
The invitation to all of us is to be totally and unconditionally centred in the heart: practising heart opening to everyone and everything around us. Train your heart to observe the differences between attraction, desires and love. Evolution has given us an urge to act on attraction and desires, but the Tantric will not engage in a relationship without love.
When you feel the grace of love manifesting in your soul, acknowledge it and remain untouched by the push and pull of desire. Look deep into your heart to decide how to respond. It may be that you choose to act on it, or it may be that you choose to love the other without them ever knowing anything about it. Whatever happens, let the love that God places in your heart pour out into the world in an integrated way.
Based on a lecture by Blandine Wegener, 10th May 2020.
If you would like to know more, watch the lecture below: