(photo taken in 2005)
... bringing Tantra from the realms of the esoteric and exotic, into practical daily life...
Interview with Raja and Puja Richardson
Q: There is so much of Tantra around, where do you position your work amongst other tantra work?
PUJA: Yes we are hearing more and more about Tantra, because of a general rise of consciousness in our society, so it is a good thing. Our approach is unique because it centres is on the sexual act itself.
Q: I thought tantra was all about sex?
PUJA: Yes and no. Certainly most of the Tantra we hear about is around the subject sex, without focusing on the core of sex – the sexual organs themselves. In our approach we become conscious of these as two halves of one whole, and discover how to create ecstatic potential between them. In this way we address the essential elements of sex. We offer a tantric vision of sex, which involves an exploration of subtle genital communication, which leads to states of ecstasy and meditation. And this can change your life. Because of our direct focus on sex we only work with couples, and during our retreats there is private time for trying it out. Also there is no sexual activity or nudity in the group room.
Q: What is the difference to ‘normal sex’?
RAJA: It is a slow approach, about relaxation and sensitivity rather than sensation and stimulation. In general, sex is about building up the energy and intensity, going for an orgasm or a peak experience. But in reality the mind and body are getting very tense and this causes problems like premature ejaculation and frustration. The truth is that if we deeply relax during the sex act we naturally become ecstatic. So the big difference is that we encourage relaxation in every way. This brings us to ‘here’ - the secret of Tantra. When we are here we become conscious and aware. And this special quality transforms sex into love. It is remarkable! Usually after only 2-3 days of making love in a new style we are see couples shining, radiant with love. Everyone looks so much happier! It is wonderful.
Q: What is it all about? What are you aiming at?
PUJA: Well, that is the incredible thing – when we understand more about the genitals, how nature designed them, we come into contact with the deepest part of ourselves. This gives us confidence and trust; we are more loving, less fearful. In love and sex most of us have experienced tremendous pain, disappointment, insecurities and confusion. We have argued about
sex and we have separated from someone we love because of sex, and so it goes on. However, with fresh input and information, we can turn the whole picture around and transform our lives. Create love, joy, fulfilment, and togetherness – through sex! It is a powerful healing force. So we want to share this knowledge with other couples – the fact that it is possible to create a loving relationship where sexual interest and attraction increases.
Q: Increases? That is not usually the case.
PUJA: No, so often after time couples become insensitive to each other, the bodies close down, habits form. In our approach the genitals get more and more sensitive to each other, like musical instruments. It is a fine attunement, and sex improves.
Q: Who is your group suitable for?
RAJA: For any couple who is interested in making love. Everyone has the capacity to make love so it is suitable for everyone. Sometimes couples attend who have stopped making love, or make love very rarely, and this approach opens the doorway to intimacy again. An important point we have found is that the information given is suitable for all ages. If you are sixteen or sixty. If you have been together for 35 years or one night. We have seen so many different combinations of
ages and nationalities in our groups, and the approach works. Interestingly, the younger the people are the easier it is for them to understand the new way.
Q: Why do you think this is?
RAJA: When we are young the sexual conditioning is not so strong, the mind not so rigid, and the body much more flexible and relaxed.
Q: So this means that previous tantric experience or spiritual preparation is not necessary?
RAJA: Yes that is right. We have couples from all walks of life. Experience in Tantra might be helpful but it is not essential.
We all have similar sexual conditioning, and this conditioning is the root of the difficulties people encounter in sex.
Q: What do you mean by conditioning?
RAJA: We simply get too tense in sex, we go on automatic, we do too much and unfortunately we finish too quickly. The satisfaction is not deep and we want more. Next time we do the same thing again, and so the feelings of dissatisfaction continue. It goes to the extreme that people lose interest in sex or feel repelled by it. Especially women. But men too. This is because of the tension and effort involved. Many men have admitted that sex has been hard work for them. So it is a relief to drop all the pressures and expectations. When we learn to relax in sex it can go on for hours, there does not have to be an end point. It is a deeply satisfying experience, one of having loved and been loved. Discovering our hidden sexual potential requires us to play around with our patterns in sex. Learning to relax in sex is an art, not an overnight thing.
Getting tense in sex is in our psychology, so it takes time and practise to ‘unwind’ and trust the intelligence of the genitals.
Q: Intelligence and genitals are not usually linked! How can genitals be intelligent?
PUJA: There is an underlying polarity or magnetism between male and female genitals, a subtle attractive force. This is the basis of our natural biological ecstasy in sex. But we have to slow down, become more sensitive and aware, and then this intelligence begins to awaken. This is the miracle of it. It depends on consciousness; it is not a special technique.
Q: Do you rely on tantric rituals which include all the participants?
RAJA: No, we are not concerned with big rituals, we work with each couple's individual dynamics. So it is not a group experience but a personal experience. Rituals function to bring us slowly into an awareness of the ‘present moment’. They help us to be more alive and open in body and mind. This is the idea behind them. We use other ways of bringing us to ‘here’. If a couple finds ritual helpful they are encouraged to use it before making love.
Q: What is your background? Where has your inspiration come from?
PUJA: We are fortunate to have two of the highest sources tantric of inspiration, Barry Long and Osho. Through them I was led into an exploration of sex which changed my life. I certainly never expected to end up teaching tantra to other people. I was on a search for more depth to sex for myself. For a long time I practised on a daily basis and slowly came to create a totally different experience. And this enabled me to understand their tantric guidance at deeper levels. I was able
to link the modern radical approach of Barry Long with tantric guidance that is thousands of years old – and beautifully interpreted by Osho. Barry Long is the roots and Osho the wings. Sex itself is an inspiration and a spiritual experience.
RAJA: When I first came across this approach I felt the rightness of it. It was nothing to do with having sexual difficulties in my past. My sex life was good. Except I was not aware of other possibilities. Listing to Barry’s Making Love tapes I could just feel the truth of what he was saying, It’s difficult to explain . But I was offered an approach to sex where I trust the body and leave it all up to the consciousness in the genitals. Suddenly I wasn’t on a programm in sex anymore, no longer mechanical or automatic. I didn’t need to perform or to be anxious, and that was so relaxing for me that it felt like coming home. My years of experience with tai chi may have been helpful, moving in a slow meditative way, but to be honest only when I started to relax in sex did I truly feel grounded and had for the first time access to my inner world. I was lucky enough to find in Puja somebody whose experience and trust helped me to go on with this adventure.
Q: When did you first start teaching couples?
PUJA: The first group was in 1993 with the staff of the Tantra school in Osho's Poona (India) ashram. The same year I did some groups in Italy, and in 1994 I led groups for the Tantra International organisation in Europe, so I was able to work with teachers trained in other approaches to Tantra. Since then each year we have a number of retreats in different countries.
Q: Can you say more about your retreats?
PUJA: We get together for a week in a residential place where each couple has a double room, if possible a private bathroom. It is a bit like a honeymoon – a spiritual one. Step by step over 7 days we introduce the ‘Love Keys’ which form the basis of our teaching. We focus on the body, using tai chi, meditations and different bodywork techniques to awaken our energies. Every day we take one step deeper into a new picture of sex. Practising with the ‘Love Keys’ is the most important part of the group.
Q: Your book was published last year, and is called ‘The Love Keys’. What is the connection?
PUJA: The book describes the step by step approach we give in the retreats. So it is possible to begin experimenting through reading it. That was the intention behind the book. During the retreat the information comes in a direct verbal way, so it is easier to absorb perhaps. Also we are putting the guidelines immediately into practise, not waiting for later. So this is very powerful. Raja and I are also present so this creates a basis of support when questions come up or experiences require clarification.
Q: Will the book be translated into other languages?
PUJA: Yes, it is available in German, French, Spanish, Russian, Estonian, Romanian, Polish and by the end of 2022 it will be published in Brazilian Portuguese.
Osho Times Germany
Interview with Satya Puja and Raja who together work as tantra teachers focusing exclusively on couples. Puja, (Diana Richardson), has written about this form of Tantra. "Zeit für Liebe" (Time for Love) which is published in April 2001 by Edition Innenwelt (Innerworld Edition) of the OshoVerlag in Germany, is the title of this undogmatic approach which in simple easy to follow steps shows how one can live a fulfulling sexuality and inticmacy with a partner. This book was published in English as "The Love Keys" in 1999. November 2000 it was published in Italian by Sonzogno under the title of "Come fare l'amore al massimo"(by Diana Richardson).
Q: Puja, how did you come into this work?
Puja: For many years I was teaching bodywork, including at the Osho Commune in India. Most especially I loved massage. At this time i began to experiment with the power of relaxation whilst touching people. Another aspect was to focus on remaining centred in myself and not getting lost into the other. What I noticed then, was that the contact between me and the person who I was touching could be enormously deepened through my relaxation and my being centred. So the "Love Keys" which i now share in the tantra groups for couples, some of them go back to that time when I was teaching massage. Through my work as a body therapist I quickly found the key points in the body which are important for relaxation. These points can help one to stay relaxed in the here and now while making love.
Q: When did you start to teach Tantra to couples?
Puja: In 1993. I started with a five day group. All the participants were from the Tantra department of the Multiversity in Pune. The group became popular very quickly. I had never actually had the intention to teach tantra to couples, but so many friends asked me about it, and it was easy for me to talk on the subject. Because I had been teaching bodywork for years, and because love is made between two bodies, it was a natural step for me to offer Tantra for couples.
Q: What is in your opinion the difference between the way you teach Tantra and other schools?
Puja: Tantra, as we understand it, is the transformation of sex into love, and it happens through the awareness. The sex energy then becomes meditative energy and love grows. There are only very few tantra teachers who focus on the connection between sex and meditation. Most forms of tantra focus on ecstatic experiences, to get a better or longer orgasm. You have to do something, to get something. In contrast we try to take away all doing and be completely in the moment. The intensity is created through awareness. And then sex happens all by itself. In lovemaking we must learn to relax and find a new form of communication between penis and vagina. This communication exists in reality, whether we are aware of it or not. So the biggest difference is to drop all doing. Because in reality it is about becoming more authentic, and more and more people come to the point that they want to apply this in sex.
Q: What exactly are these "keys" in lovemaking? Earlier you spoke about different places in the body where we can relax. Can you say a bit more about this?
Puja: There are a great many keys to help a person to be more relaxed during sex. The basics are of course your awareness and presence. The breath can help in the same way as do certain body positions. I will give an example: in general woman hold the vagina tight during lovemaking, and this constricts the penis. Therefore women must learn to be as wide and open as possible in the vagina. This contradicts many common beliefs. Many woman have real phobias that their vagina is too wide and relaxed, and that the man will not be able to feel anything. She thinks that she must "entertain" the penis. The basic idea with us is: when the woman is not open, then also the man is not able to flow with his energy. As soon as the feminine canal is open, then the male energy begins to flow. For men this means to relax the pelvic floor and buttocks. As soon as the buttocks get tense the genitals automatically become tense. Another important aspect is the polarity which exists within our bodies. Osho spoke about this a great deal (see discourse) The first chakra in man is positive and in woman it is negative. in the heart chakra it is exactly the opposite. through this a circle of energy can be created between man and woman. the breasts of a woman are the doorway to her sexuality. The vagina does not open itself until the energy in the breasts is flowing.
Raja: Men often have a strange idea of how to excite a woman, for example by rubbing the clitoris. But if they knew that they simply have to place attention on the breasts, and women becomes automatically open. We must love her through the breasts. Men always think that women function in exactly the same way as we do, and even the woman begin to think this, they must also function like men. But when we are able to value our opposite polarities, then a circle of energy is created.
Puja: The breasts of women are often blocked because they have many complexes regarding their breasts, they are too big, too loose, too small....these blocks must be released so that the female pole of the woman can become clear and energy can flow. Basically we have to unlearn everything what we have learnt in sexuality until now.
Q: So do you basically teach meditation and use the sexual energy to become more conscious?
Puja: You cannot really separate these two things. Whether you meditate or want to make love, it is the same way in. The beauty of lovemaking is that the genitals keep you present. And here I am not speaking about genitals in the old understanding where you use friction to give pleasure, to excite yourself and then to discharge the energy. No, we understand the genitals as bio-electrical poles, the penis as the positive and the vagina as the negative - and together they create an energy. This energy is also the meditative energy, the source of ecstasy. The first step in lovemaking is to come back to yourself and not place the attention on the other person. The more you can allow yourself to open, the more this energy can flow.
Q: Are there any keys which in the beginning help more to stay in contact with yourself?
Puja: Not only the beginning but all the time you have to stay in contact with yourself.
Raja: We want to really look at what we are doing in sex. We do not say that you must change something, we say only: "Let us bring awareness and consciousness into the act to see how we make love." Then there are many things to discover, for example what thought patterns we approach sex with. We do not use a special technique, we only bring the awareness into play, and this changes the way we make love. In the very moment that you can see that you follow a fixed programme, and sex has become mechanical for you, then naturally you want to come out of this pattern. As soon as you recognise your life energy as a unit, as one energy, and you start to relax into the base of this energy, namely sex, then in general you will be more relaxed in life. All the other areas where we express our energy become more relaxed, with less goal orientation, less ambition, less excitement. One participant came to us at the end of a group and said" Wow! this was the most important experience of my life. I see the world now through totally different eyes."
Puja: Now and then we also get very young couples in our groups, who are just nineteen and twenty, and they say to us: " Hey, that was a relief! " because they were just starting to feel how much performance pressure and expectation is connected with sex. " It is fantastic, i do not necessarily have to have an orgasm and i do not have to help my woman to an orgasm. I do not have to come every time". From the beginning we try to take this excitement out of sex, because as long as the focus is on the excitement, the more subtle things happening during lovemaking are completely missed.
Q: What about the people who are coming to your groups? What do they expect from the group? Are they interested in meditation and spiritual growth or do they simply want their relationships to improve?
Puja: They come from all age groups from nineteen to sixty nine. They come because they have a longing for a deeper experience, an experience which is more fulfilling. They have the feeling that they are stuck in a one way street. And even when they change partners they eventually come to this same point. Each one, and especially women, feel intuitively that there must be more. The possibility to bring sex and meditation together is for many a genuine revelation.
Q: Osho speaks in his Tantra books about holding the energy in and not releasing it. How does this aspect come into your work?
Puja: What we have learned is to keep the energy down in the genitals, and during orgasm to discharge it. But when you keep the energy in the body it automatically rises upward. the only thing we have to do is to break our habit of releasing energy and discover that there is something beyond this climax. For the man it means beyond ejaculation, and for woman it means beyond orgasm - which is hard work, to first build up the energy and only to discharge it. What we need is a new orientation concerning our sexuality. Within each of us exists an intrinsic energy circuit, but we always use only a part of this. We must learn to allow energy to circulate within us, so that it can rise. We must also ask ourselves "What does an orgasm really give us? Why is it so important for us? Make yourself a list of all the things that go with orgasm: hard work, tension, performance pressure, pretending, competition etc....when you have orgasm as a goal in sex then you cannot enjoy the moment, then you miss the present. We have to learn that lovemaking can happen without any effort. The body wants to make love, and it does not need the mind. Another important point for couples is how they manage their emotions. Often we do not notice how emotions can destroy love.. This is because we are not aware of how our emotions function. We work a lot with emotions and look at them from a totally other perspective.
Raja: We also work a lot with the body in our groups. Ultimately it is the body that makes love, and not the mind. The society brings us to live a sexuality of the mind: through fantasy and imagination , for example, pornographic films and magazines. It is important to develop awareness of the body, because most people are living in the head.
Puja: Our work revolves around a change in consciousness, not the learning of a special technique. We do not want people to have the impression that one way is right and the other is wrong, we only want to encourage them to enter sexuality with consciousness and awareness. It is not about breaking with your past and the old way of making love, and then to learn something new, but to experience yourself in sex with awareness. If this is the were the case you would try the new for a few weeks and then your old style would creep in again through the back door.
Q: Can we come back to the point where you said you work a lot with emotions and feelings? Can you say more about this?
Raja: We make a distinction between emotions and feelings. Feelings happen in the moment - that what you are experiencing and feeling here and now. Each feeling makes you more open, more vulnerable, more intimate, and brings you ultimately closer to your partner. Emotions on the other hand have their roots in the past. In emotion you make the other responsible, you feel rather separate, and you start blaming the other. As soon as I can see the difference, and for example realise that I blame Puja, then i know immediately that this is an emotion and it is coming from my past. Puja was only the trigger, not the cause. Then I can take back the emotions to myself and I can find a way to release them, and come back to my partner fresh. We have the tendency to dump our psychological garbage on the other, on the one we love the most, because we believe he or she is the reason for our not feeling well. In general women are seen as more emotional than men, but that is absolute nonsense. Men that are only concerned about satisfying their own sexual needs, deposit in the woman all their tension while making love. And what remains is a container of tension in the woman that she keeps in herself. And then this manifests in emotions. We believe that many problems, like for example premenstrual syndromes or problems with menopause have their roots in a life of making love in a tense way.
Q: What are the concrete signs that I am caught up in emotions?
Puja: You are emotional when you start to blame the other. Or when you feel separated and not connected. And when you cannot look somebody in the eyes. Or you hear yourself repeating the same sentence again and again over years. " you always do.../ you never do ...." or : "you are never.../ you are always....", then you know that you are in emotion and that the past is ruling your life.
Q: What do you suggest to your participants how to deal with their emotions?
Puja: First we tell them that it is not important to understand the root or cause of these old emotions. Second it is important to tell your partner that you are emotional. We suggest that they move their body in a physical way, go jogging, shout or beat a pillow, or to do dynamic to get rid of those emotions. The most important thing is that you stop dumping emotions on your partner.
Q: Do women find it easier to have an access to this way of tantra than men?
Puja: For sure women recognise the truth of what we teach much faster than men. The old form of love making with tension and too much doing does not acknowledge at all the female energy. Therefore women suffer more through superficial goal oriented sexuality than men.
Raja: Of course it is difficult for men to let go of the old conditioning, if for example you are told that you are a lousy lover, this is the worst hit on you ego imaginable. This shows how important sex is to us men. Often we do not know how we can simply be in sex without doing. And to let it simply happen and flow with it.
Puja: With this new approach of awareness and not doing in sex finally the man can also relax and does not need to keep things together anymore. Already after a week men can feel the difference of sensitivity in their penis. So therefore there is no truth in the prejudice that tantra is good for women and men do not have fun. Only if the women are able to open sexually men can experience the flow of his energy. In the sexual area women play a key role, she creates the climate and she has much more power in sex than she might realise.
Q: You said that many couples that come to you are not directly interested in meditation but what you both are doing is nothing else but working with consciousness. Can your participants integrate their experiences into daily life?
Raja: For most people the love making is at the end of their priority list. First you have to finish a thousand and one things and then at the end of the day short before falling asleep, or in the morning, you have got fifteen minutes for lovemaking. And this we call spontaneity, but it is rather accidental. We tell the people that they have to put it back on top of the list. And when they are very busy that they should even make appointments for lovemaking, and put it in the calendar. Generally it works very well when you know that on Thursday afternoon at 5 pm you have 2 hours to make love to your woman. Our participants have had good experiences with this - instead of going to the cinema, or having a chat with friends, or reading the newspaper, to use this time for lovemaking. And that really changes their lives.
Puja: People see that they do many things in life that are not really important and which do not really give them anything. Then they let go of the more unimportant things, and focus on meditation and love. We have a lot of contact with our participants. They write to us, call us, or send us emails. and our first question is always "How often do you make love?", and couples who make love often are usually in a much better state than those who take time for it only once a month. The more love you make the more loving you become. It is also interesting how parents behave with their children at this point. They always think they have to do something with the children, have to entertain them, and do not have time for making love. But children are very sensitive how the parents are with each other. Some children of a couple who did the group with us even sent their parents off to bed to make love, if there was a lot of tension and fighting between them!
Q: Puja you wrote a book The Love Keys with the German title Zeit für Liebe, where you explain your way of Tantra. What was the intention behind the book?
Puja: I wrote this book to change our awareness in lovemaking. And I already had some feedback from readers who report that after reading it, their love life changed completely, with out doing anything for it. The book is not only intended as a group support but it is very much addressed to people who cannot come to the group.
Raja: The actual difference from other ways of Tantra is that our approach is very simple, without specific rituals or techniques.We do bodywork, teach a new orientation in sex and practice lovemaking. We always tell people: "We do not give you the flowers, just the seeds. The real work starts after the group. You have to take this information back home and integrate into your life. And you have to take care of the seeds, that they can grow, get sun, nourishment and love.