Tantra in South Africa

Since Vasco da Gama's re-discovery of the sea route to India, South Africa has been a natural meeting place of Eastern and Western understanding.

At the dawn of modern tantra teaching in the 1970’s, South Africans were prominent among the disciples of the major teachers, particularly Osho.

Tantra has spread far and wide, but in South Africa, it has also gone deep.


South Africa has always been a meeting point of all things Oriental and Occidental.
Our South African Website: tantraschool.co.za



The quality of much Western interpretation of Eastern understanding and methods suffers on account of the extreme differences of environment, culture, language and attitude in the East.

The early Westen tantrikas were brave explorers and did their honest level best to communicate what the had found. More than that, they made as much as possible out of what they had learned.

From information about or (very rarely) from personal experience of a single school’s initiation ritual, they interpolated connections to other things oriental that they had picked up along the way. They were often very clever, and their interpolations were often right. Sometimes, they were flat out wrong, and every now and again, their ideas amounted to ridiculous silliness.

It can be very difficult to separate an understanding or a practical method from a cultural background which one is having to learn at the same time. Rituals, methods and meditations are almost inseparable from the cultural environment. Their effectiveness often requires a pattern of thinking or a relationship to information that is almost impossible if one has not been a child in that culture.

This difficulty is multiplied when a seeker returns to the West as a teacher. Let us guess that it has taken five years to take on his Guru's culture, and four years to make some significant progress on his own path.

He has had experiences that are very difficult to communicate to his homies. He faces a tricky dilemma: Should he create a miniature version of the culture he studied in … Perhaps he should teach the Eastern language, or at least many key words … Does he need to teach the legends, myths and Deity systems? … What about the particular dietary restrictions, hygiene methods, social and/or shamanistic drugs? Perhaps the precise exercise routines, the philosophy or the chanting are absolutely vital, essential to progress, and, until invstigated, perhaps not.

Over time … considerable time, and with many students basically being experiments, our hypothetical teacher has the possibility of pruning the non-essential and finding ways of making his understanding more accessible to seekers of his culture.

This situation is certainly getting easier these days. Seekers in the West travel more, and many have parents and friends from older generations who endured the consequences of these difficulties and developed some discernment. In some ways, foreign is not as foreign as it used to be.

South African seekers have been fortunate with this situation, on account of South Africa's physical location, halfway to India.

Eastern, African and Western cultures are strongly represented here by large permanent populations that are strongly in touch with their roots. Especially (en)during the apartheid years, there was very little integration of culture. Very little heat on the melting pot indeed.

The rebellious urges and insistent love of truth automatic to seekers generally made them opponents of apartheided. They were interested, on many levels, to understand and relate to the cultures they were apartheided from. They were made very aware of the ugliness and stupidity inherent in the governing principles and attitudes of the ruling faction of the Afrikaans tribe.

A seeker has to break with her culture. Not that she has to become its enemy, just that she has to become able to distinguish between cultural assumptions and truth. The exploitative and incestuous threesome of Church, State and Business was as blatant and unapologetic in SA of the 1970’s as in America of the new millenium. It is easier to make that personal break with one’s cultural way when it is also a moral imperative to do so!

Since the miraculous bloodless revolution and the dawning of the New South Africa, the Rainbow Nation, South African seekers have had a much easier time of things generally. The wonderful (at least on paper) new Constitution has removed much of the shadow of illegality that apartheid imposed on free thinkers and others of a non state-religion inclination. The country has eleven officially recognised languages and many South Africans speak more than half of these fluently.

Because of these factors, or possibly for no particular reason at all, South African seekers have a relatively easy time becoming trans-cultural – able to connect with and learn from many cultures without being owned by any of them, especially the one they were born into.

At any time, several teachers, students or friends of this school are in India, Sedona, Cologne or wherever there is teaching and/or learning to be done.

South Africa's seekers are in the main, sincere and strong in intent. Owing to the immense practicality required for life in South Africa (One has to respond to situations of all sorts as they are, not as they, according to rules, should be) seekers here tend to have pretty good bullshit filters, and are mostly immune to the Emperor’s New Clothes syndrome.

The many visiting teachers of everything from Reiki to Rolphing can confirm that running groups, retreats and workshops with South Africans is a delight. The sincerity with which they engage and their commitment to learning, once they are clear that you indeed have something worthwhile to teach, is deeply gratifying.

South Africa has several teachers in the area of sacred sexuality. Two of the most venerable have a lot of nervousness around publicity, but have been quietly making a difference in many lives over the last fifteen or so years.

Osho tantra groups continue to be available here. Through the 1980’s, a particularly powerful and loving facilitator of these was a South African, living in Germany. The most recent was in November 2009, facilitated by the lovely Halima.

South Africa has a few notable spiritual exports. Isaac Shapiro and Leslie Temple-Thursdon are probably the best known, and we love their work. Isaac's way of teaching the philosophy of Advaita is unique and accessible. Leslie's mind-processing techniques are powerful, yet simple to use.

At this school, the Dakas, Dakinis and Rahasya run a comprehensive programme of individual sessions work, short courses, workshops and retreats in and around Johannesburg, Cape Town, and gorgeous country venues.

For seekers interested in Tantra, and especially for seekers who have had a good taste of the teachings available around the world, South Africa is, at the moment, a very, very special place to be indeed.

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