Few words in the English language have the power to evoke the thoughts, images and feelings that are often associated with this one. Thinking or speaking about orgasm is bound to be replete with all kinds of ideas around it, based on what it means for us and what we’ve been taught about it. In the context of Tantra, the word is associated with even more baggage considering the heavy association with sex in neo-Tantra.
It’s true. Orgasm, particularly orgasmic energy, is a vital concept in Tantra. However, this concept is different from its common association. The phrase orgasmic energy relates to something that is more primal and far more intimate than the orgasm that we may be familiar with. It is a stance, a view, a perception. Another name for this primal and intimate stance is the bindu.
Bindu, the Orgasmic Point
Bindu literally means dot or point. On the path to awakening, it is the point or focus of convergence of our practice, contemplation and refinement, which then becomes the springboard for the shift in identity from the limited body-mind to Self or Shiva-Shakti.
The bindu is a subject of great secrecy in certain Tantrik lineages, because it is much more than a point. In Sri Vidya, the bindu is the goal and aspiration of practice, and is represented as the dot in the center of the Sri Chakra. If we view the Sri Chakra from the inside radiating out, the bindu is the starting point and the origin of creation. If we view the Sri Chakra from the outside converging in, it is the point of dissolution, and what remains when creation ceases. Either way, it is the mysterious point that holds the entire Sri Chakra together.
So what exactly is the bindu?
If you look at the Sri Chakra, immediately surrounding the central point is a downward-facing triangle. This triangle holds the answers to the bindu, including the concept of orgasmic energy. There are several ways to interpret this triangle and what this means. The one that is useful for nondual insight is that of its relevance to experience, where the three sides of the triangle represent the subject, the object, and the process of the subject experiencing the object. So if we look at just the bindu and the inner triangle, they represent the expansion of the one into three. This primary triangle then expands into the rest of the Sri Chakra, which represents everything in creation, including the five great elements, the cosmos, the body, mind, intellect, ego, and so on.
In the beginning, there is just the bindu, where neither subject nor object exist. Here, Shiva and Shakti are merged and are as one. Shiva here is prakasha, which is the light of consciousness, and Shakti is vimarsha, which is self-awareness. Although it’s tempting to think of Shiva and Shakti as masculine and feminine entities engaged in passionate lovemaking, the bindu is more than this.
Perhaps an example will help.
Shiva and Shakti as prakasha and vimarsha are intimately coupled in the bindu, and we know this in the everyday, mundane experience of deep sleep.
Bindu, the Stateless State
Our ordinary, day-to-day life can be viewed in terms of three states of consciousness – waking, dreaming, and deep sleep. In the ordinary waking state, we are in constant interaction with objects. Here, objects refer to anything that is experienced by “me” – the world, people, weather, nature, and even our own bodies, thoughts and emotions – they are all being experienced by the subject, the “me.” In the waking state, these objects feel real and tangible, including our thoughts and emotions. In the dream state, we are still experiencing objects, but they are much more subtle. The dramas and storylines played out in our dreams are dredged up from the subconscious mind and play out on the screen of consciousness. Here too, they are being experienced by the subject, the “me.”
In both the waking and dream states, the play of the inner triangle of the Sri Chakra can be observed. This triad represents all experiences between the myriad objects and the “me.” In other words, our waking and dream states necessarily require “the other.” The relationship between subject and object can be maintained only when there is a “me” and “the other.” Shiva-Shakti that were one in the bindu become split into “me” and “the other” in the inner triangle.
In deep sleep, however, the inner triangle collapses into the bindu. There is no subject or object, and hence there is no “other” to experience. This is why we don’t experience deep sleep when it is occurring; it can only be inferred. When we wake up from deep sleep, there is no memory of it, because the triad of experience was missing. Without the triad, there is no memory. On the other hand, we can and do recall dreams where this triad remains intact.
Similar to deep sleep, the inner triangle collapses in certain states of meditative absorption known as nirvikalpa samadhi. In both deep sleep and nirvikalpa samadhi, time and space cease to exist because both time and space require the triad of subject-object-experience. The “me” can experience “the other” only in time-space constraints. Another way to say this is that in both these states, prakasha (Shiva) and vimarsha (Shakti) are in union. This is the stateless state of orgasmic bliss. It is stateless because it is always present – unlike the other three, which come and go. This pulse of orgasmic bliss pervades the other states, bubbling under the surface of every experience.
Isn’t the bindu a singular point?
The Sri Chakra isn’t a static structure or diagram. It’s a dynamic representation of emanation and absorption, where the entirety of creation is constantly pulsing in and out of the bindu. On the microcosmic level, our entire world of experience pulses in and out of the bindu, the stateless state. This constant contraction and expansion occurs in every moment, exploding into perception of objects via the senses, recognition of objects through language, interaction with the world through our organs of action, and resorption back into the bindu. It’s just that all of this happens at a rapid pace and is obscured by our busy minds.
The bindu isn’t technically present in the center of the Sri Chakra. It is the at the center of everything in creation as the point from which the subject-object-experience triangle arises. For instance, the element of water can be known only through the expansion of the bindu into the “me”, the subject experiencing water, the object. Prakasha and Vimarsha are present simultaneously in the grossest to the subtlest object in creation as the inner triangle in relationship between subject and object, as well as in the bindu as the union of the two.
One way to conceptualize this is to say that creation in every moment is the emission (visarga) of the orgasmic energy of Shiva and Shakti in union (bindu). More accurately, every moment is the visarga of the bindu since both time and space are created in this ecstatic emission.
Bindu and Lalita Devi
bindutarpaNasantuShTA -pUrvajA -tripurAmbikA
– Lalita Sahasranama
The most common way this half-verse is interpreted as:
bindutarpaNasanthuShTA: Lalita Devi is pleased by offering libations to the bindu of the Sri Chakra.
pUrvajA: the ancient one, referring to Lalita Devi
tripurAmbikA: referring to Tripuramba, the presiding deity of the inner triangle.
In practice, however, bindutarpaNa is to constantly favor the bindu in every experience. Our seeking of the bindu and its discovery in day-to-day life is the libation. In this libation with our attention, we find Devi as Purvaja – she’s ancient because she lies prior to the triad of experience. Creation and experience, of course, begin with her explosion into the triad where she is known as Tripuramba.
Lalita Devi is the bindu, the inner triangle, and all of the Sri Chakra. She is the orgasmic energy of the bindu but also the explosive power of emission. She is the very essence of creation, ecstatically throbbing in every bit of it.
Bindu in Practice
In Sri Vidya, the purpose of practice is to discover the bindu, the shimmering stateless state that underlies all experience. Ordinarily, this experience is discovered most easily in the sexual act. At the moment of orgasm, there is a concentration of energy into a seemingly single point that then explodes out with a temporary collapse of “otherness” with the beloved and three (subject/me-object/beloved-experience/union) become one. In orgasm, there is just this, which transcends time and space. Although it feels like the energy is concentrated in the genitals, if we pay attention we see that it is our mind that is directing the energy there. If we can relax into it, it is found to be in no particular place or part of the body, or even in the body. For a brief timeless-spaceless moment, we experience the core of our being, the bindu, where the distinction between “me” and “the other” ceases to exist. The bindu then explodes as visarga, the process uncovering the inherent bliss (ananda) that lies beneath our conditioning. However, this experience is so temporary and brief that even before we recognize it, the veil of conditioning promptly obscures our perception.
The experience of orgasm is so primally ecstatic that we long for it again, mistaking the ananda of the stateless state for the company of the specific person, the sexual act, or both.
The bindu need not be accessed only in sexual contact. It is accessible in every experience, throbbing and pulsing immediately prior to the split of the one into three. We just need to slow down enough to “catch” it as it pulses up. Accessing it does not mean that we can have it or harness it or own it. or control it. Accessing it means to become it. Orgasm in sexual encounter is an act of surrender, of giving in. So too in the practice of accessing the bindu from moment to moment – it requires effortlessness and surrendering “into” it, rather than efforting or grasping for it.
The first pre-requisite is to slow down. Restless mind activity makes it impossible to access orgasmic energy. A daily meditation practice and a lifestyle centered around it cultivates a deliberation that allows for the subtleties of the practice.
If we notice very carefully, at the first contact with an object, there is an ecstatic thrill of recognition. The subject/me and the object become one at the point of contact. This is immediately followed by labeling or storytelling about the object, arising from memory and conditioning. This ecstatic contact is the union of Shiva and Shakti, the orgasmic energy that Tantrikas aspire to melt into. If this can be accessed, the visarga that follows will be a sweet, pulsing explosion.
Sitting with an isolated sense experience is a good way to practice. Place an object in front of you. Close your eyes. Open your eyes and look at the object. There is a tiny gap between the sense of seeing meeting the object, and before the object is recognized. The gap is the bindu, the meeting of the sense and object is the visarga. There is another tiny gap between the object being recognized and being labeled by memory. The gap is the bindu, the arising of the label is visarga.
It is in these gaps that the bindu is pulsing in and out. It can be dipped into in the gap between thoughts, the tiny gap between thought and reflex, the that between memory and emotion. With slowing down, cultivation of discernment and equanimity, and the right view, the practice becomes a moment-to-moment living of life from the vantage of orgasmic bliss. When we surrender into the bindu, the pulse of ecstatic bliss colors our perception, even when outer circumstances are challenging. The very act of perception becomes ecstatic, in the pulse of the bindu and visarga; the circumstance becomes secondary. In this practice, the Sri Chakra becomes a lived experience.
Importantly, if we can access these tiny gaps, we tap into the juice or flavor of experience, known as rasa, the topic for another post!
(For more on this particular practice, check out the chapters on Chinnamasta and Bagalamukhi in Shakti Rising!)
For an in-depth study of the Lalita Sahasranama, check out the self-study course.