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The Business of Bliss: The Relationship Between Tantra and Raw Food

written by Bast copyright 2002

Cocaine. Heroin. Hash. Speed. Crystal. Ecstasy.

Coffee, cold drinks, snacks.

Centerfolds, designer clothes, new toys, chocolate, fast red cars.

We are constantly seeking bliss, satisfaction, happiness. There is knowledge of this state of being planted in our hearts, in our every living cell. It is the magnetic, instinctive home we are always driven to return to in almost every waking moment.

Bliss is our birthright.

If bliss is our birthright, why then does it seem so far away sometimes? Why do we seem to need such synthetic and/or external things to just barely taste it for fleeting moments? We continue the chase, masterbating the hope that it can be achieved through our ever-elusive next conquest, our next fixation... and even then it seems that one fix only weakly medicates the side effects or come-down of the last.

Does the never-ending cigarette exist?

I am in the business of bliss... the brand of bliss that has no come-down, is sustainable indefinitely, carcinogen-free, and not externally derived. Is this a ridiculous claim? Maybe for some...

They come to me one by one in grown up clothes, full of questions rooted in determined logic, emanating from the conceptual mind. They have exhausted all the synthetic and external choices looking for bliss, and this has finally led them to my door. They have torn open all the shiny packaging and were left still hungry. They do not know how they know, but they know that there is a more exalted bliss than the one that is born from a double-mocha. They instinctively sense that this bliss, fueled by a deeper source, can live as a constant, inextinguishable flame, and it does not require any synthetic or external vehicle to access it. They come to me for the map leading inwards.

They come to me, these aspirants, and I stand guard as they let their armor melt away. Eyes become soft and wet. They take on the smile of a newborn as they reveal that most guarded part of themselves that seeks to give and receive love in a state of transcendence. Ironically, as they learn to genuinely release self-gratification, they experience a profound new bliss that may have previously been beyond the scope of their imagination. These women and men leave cracked open, happy, and reconnected to their essential ecstatic nature. They have a new light in their eyes. (This has just been my experience thus far. If you ever seek out and find your special teacher, come naked... suspending both belief and disbelief... without expectations or attachments to another's story. Come as soft as a virgin.)

The only other occasion I've witnessed such intense, prolonged, transcendent ecstatic and orgasmic energy (without even necessarily a conventional orgasm) is through the use of chemical ecstasy, the drug. It is beautiful to watch this energy in its pure and freely sustainable form, free from the grinding, synthetic chemical edge and subsequent crash.

There are many different paths to bliss and I am just one of many different kinds of teachers. I call myself a teacher, but in truth I only help someone to rediscover the answers and treasures that have always been inside their own ribs.

I serve as a human dakini, a complex symbol embedded within Tantric mysticism. The complete definition cannot be contained in words, so I will spare you the long-winded, yet ultimately insufficient esoteric babble. I will give you the oversimplified version: I am a guide, artist, and intuitive teacher, though not a guru. I facilitate a very personal journey deep into the heart of Tantric practice. To truly know the dakini, however, is to feel the warmth of her breath.

What is Tantra? Contrary to popular belief, Tantra is not a religion with a set of dogmatic beliefs to adopt, nor is it a strictly sexual practice. Tantra is a yoga, spiritual path, and vehicle of self actualization that has stretched over many millenia into countless lineages which can have certain fundamental principles in common. It is an exacting science of harnessing and refining the raw creative force, or kundalini, inherent in the spirit, psyche, and physical body of human beings. In the same breath, Tantra is an organic, magical, and infinite art... ultimately surpassing any limiting definition. I can say, however, that the practice is founded on the motivation of expanding and nurturing our awareness, compassion, and joy for the benefit of all sentient beings. I know, I know... this sounds a little fluffy, but - hey, why not? The struggle for world domination gets so stressful and lonely, no?

Tantric practice and ritual can include pranayama, subtle-body yoga, yoga asana (postures), meditation, tummo (the practice of generating internal heat), physical connection, verbal communication, all forms of artistic expression, wild dancing and singing, feasting, and standing at the brink of madness, among many other fun activities. This path is the exact opposite of self-mortification (the denial or repression of the body and the senses), though it still is not a path of hedonism or wreckless indulgence. Tantra is a journey of divine transcendence by practicing meditative awareness in the face of artful stimulation and manipulation of the senses. Endorphins, seratonin, adrenalin, retinal photoreceptors, and patterns of brain and nerve activity are all part of the physiological palette with which the Tantrika paints... all the while with the realization that it is all just a painting.

Tantric practice is also known for its healing capabilities, especially relevant to modern Westerners. Fruit of the practice can manifest as profound healing emotionally, spiritually, sexually, and physically. Results vary according to each individual.

Tantra is the cultivation of our selves into more loving beings. It is the weaving of contradictory aspects of our selves into a harmonious whole. I will stop... these are just more half-empty words that do not do the experience justice. These words and the words of all books on the subject are, to some extent, riddles and euphemistic dry seeds that will only spring to life behind the metaphoric doors of the teacher's temple. Ultimately, the essence of Tantra can only be truly known by direct, raw experience, initially with another experienced practitioner.

The entire being is a conduit for the transmission of Tantra. Here enters the relevance of raw food: I find that I am the most effective, sensitive, and powerful conduit when I am nourished by raw, organic, vegan food.

So how then, when I am eating exclusively raw, organic food, does it help me to be a better conduit? Eating 100% raw has certain side effects, but this information does not come from the results of any extensive clinical studies as the idea doesn't seem to be too popular with the pharmaceutical companies that generally fund such endeavors. These side effects, however, are well known to many who have experienced the diet in a well balanced way for any sustained period. In other words, raw food (especially in combination with yoga and any amount of naked time in the sun) is the best high on the planet. But please, don't take my word for it. Conduct your own experiment. These lovely side effects can include...

intensely heightened senses  (even colors get brighter)

vastly increased energy

decreased anxiety

increased creativity, mental clarity, attention span

diminished unhealthy cravings

decreased need for sleep and better sleep

increased patience and sense of calm

glowing skin

a far more delicious, yet less compulsive, sexuality

a stronger, faster, leaner, more beautiful body

a more delicious natural body smell/taste

Raw food is also known for its own healing properties. I know personally numerous individuals who had suffered various physical and mental/emotional ailments who were either deemed hopeless or completely failed by mainstream Western medicine and psychology. They now attribute their recovery to a raw food life style.

Raw food nourishment adds a whole new dimension to my existence. My whole human experience becomes dramatically more lucent. In addition to the above listed benefits, there are many more for which no words can do justice.

This diet also supports certain spiritual functions. Meditation becomes almost effortless due to the increased mental clarity and tranquility. Practicing yoga asana becomes more of a natural and constant drive rather than a discipline. Ever see a freak holding their leg over their head and breathing deep while waiting for the bus? Chances are it's a raw food junky. Compassion and altruism grow and deepen naturally, without pretension. I am less attached to my own self-gratification as I am so deeply nourished and, thus, not unconsciously engaged in the vicious cycle of constantly seeking some kind of food stimulant/depressant or mental distraction to medicate the last poison I may have ingested. I am far more aware of the welfare of others, as I have the increased mental and emotional energy for it. I consider myself a scientist and skeptic, but I have found that "living in the raw" actually nurtures what could be called psychic abilities. This may sound far-fetched to the uninitiated and must be experienced first hand to truly grasp. I get sensitive beyond anything I'd previously known, to the point where it feels as if I become somewhat of a human x-ray, and can peer through another's skin into their very heart and mind. Ordinary human interactions become more rich and luminous.

Raw food is the greatest drug. Raw food feeds my practice and helps me to be a better teacher of these beautiful, ancient arts. Both Tantra and raw food are vehicles that can bring the body to new levels of extreme sensitivity, awareness, and experience, thus creating a powerfully synergistic combination.

I do not claim that the path of raw food and Tantra is the answer for everything. I believe that there is no one answer for everything that's right for everyone. It's a human drive to take a moment of perfection or a blissful discovery and make a religion or set of rules out of it. This is one manifestation of attachment. It is also dogma. Dogma is so seductive, to think that it will excuse us finally from the cumbersome task of having to think, to be fresh and fluid in gaging what the right course of action is in the ever-organic present moment. But then again... maybe that's not the answer! All I can give you is the story of my own experience and the discovery that raw food and Tantra are my own personal never-ending cigarette. If it resonates with you, then take something from it.

As I am struggling to concentrate on this piece of writing, trying very hard to say something profound and intelligent, my three year old son is becoming a distraction. He is gnawing on his third apple, and is tenaciously demanding hugs, kisses, cuddling, and my participation in one of his favorite sports... eye gazing. He is standing with his arms wide open and chanting his new favorite phrase that he picked up from some girlfriends today... "I want to be one with you." I was getting frustrated and kept trying to refer this warm little guru to his crayons and coloring book.

I'm done. Good luck in your own grand experiment, fellow beings. I'm going to cuddle and eat apples with my baby, and nurture bliss now.

Recommended Reading:

Introduction to Tantra by, Lama Yeshe

The Art of Sexual Ecstasy by, Margo Anand

Sacred Sex by, Jwala

Sexual Secrets: The Alchemy of Ecstasy by, Nik Douglas and Penny Slinger

The Dakini’s Warm Breath by, Judith Simmer-Brown

Raw by, Juliano

Nature’s First Law: The Raw Food Diet by, Arlin, Dini, & Wolfe

Survivor by, Chuck Pahlaniuk

Ha! by, Fernando Elvira

About the author: Bast currently works as a Tantra educator, Dakini, artist, and writer. She has been trained as a facilitator of the Tantric arts by many venerable Western teachers including Margo Anand and Jwala. She is an advocate and activist for the raw food movement and hosts related events and feasts in her community. She will be opening a raw food restaurant in San Francisco this year with the renowned former head chef of Organica, Laci Fairless.

Contact Bast via email at


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