For millennia man has sought to understand energy, his own consciousness and the bond between the two. Shivaratri, which falls this year on the seventh of March in the Hindu month of Maaga, is the festival that symbolizes this search for union with the divine forces. This is the day on which we celebrate the divine marriage of Shiva and Shakti within ourselves.

In the west a false concept of union has been gaining strength for some time and is beginning to make its presence felt in India, despite the strong influence of the tradition of brahmacharya. This misconception is that orgasmic sex is absolutely essential to physical, emotional and mental health. The light of attention is being focused on one note only of the melodious tune of human relationship.

From the tantric viewpoint life is harmony. For harmony to exist, however, each note must be sounded correctly - neither played over and over again so loudly that attention is drawn away from all the other lovely sounds, nor plucked so timidly that it cannot be heard. Marital love can be an ongoing exchange of positive energy between two people, and sexual activity is an expression of that loving relationship with one's partner and all of creation. Everywhere we look, however, we see a lack of balance with regard to the approach to sexual life - we are either over-emphasizing it or pretending that it doesn't exist.

The essence of tantra is awareness and the aim of yoga is union. When this awareness is applied to the expression of the primal urge, it too can become yoga. This incredible power can become a usable force in our lives, a way to bring us closer to our essential selves. Sexual energy is a physical manifestation of cosmic energy. Absorbed and transformed, it can be the greatest power for spiritual development. It is the power which has illumined all the great saints throughout the ages. Used properly it leads us to divine union and abused it leads us to separation from our self.

When we approach sexual activity with a view to satisfying soma isolated demand or compulsion, it can become obsessive and result in fact, in alienation rather than union. For a moment there has been distraction. The tension that was there disappears for a little while, although its cause has not been removed and has probably even been aggravated. For a short time you have been able to lose yourself, but really what you need to do is to find yourself.

Orgasm is not something to be striven for. It is an instinctive procreative function, an unconscious demand to guarantee race survival, and neither the quality of the marriage nor the health of the partners depends upon It. Undue emphasis either from the point of view of trying to achieve or repress it will even disturb the harmony of the union. The relationship, the complementary exchange of energy, the play of Shiva and Shakti from day to day is the union, is the communion, not the sex. Orgasm is a generative thrill which, as it becomes an activity naturally controlled through increasing awareness, seems less and less attractive than the regenerative bliss of the higher faculties.

The 'true love' of song and story is not a peak of physical or emotional sensation with its subsequent ebb, but rather an ongoing process of intensification - standing in love rather than falling in love.

in marital relations, as you exercise awareness of your partner and yourself (who is experiencing?), control of the orgasmic process develops. As you begin to experience the bliss potential of the married state, your sensitivity and perception will become heightened and transformed. This will carry over into year day to day life in terms of respect for yourself, your partner, and all of creation.

Conception also becomes controlled. When Shiva and Shakti unite on this level the product is not more humans but spiritual awareness.