(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 looks like it will be available in German, French, and Italian during 2001.