In Northern India when I was there, in many places there were concrete casts of what they call the lingam and the yoni. You’d see a concrete penis sticking out of a concrete yoni, the female part. We in the west are so superficial we wouldn’t have a clue what that means. The psychiatrists wouldn’t know. They’d put all sorts of interpretations on it. I think Freud said that sex is behind everything. That’s true; sex is behind everything – but love is behind sex. The conversion of sex into love, the conversion of the raw God into the God of love, that's what our job is. Or what’s the spiritual life about if it’s not about converting sex into love? Sex is all there is – until it turns to love.

The power between man and woman was already recognised in one of the oldest of true religions and was represented in India by the tantric way; the power of the lingam to bring about power in the yoni was worshipped. There is nothing like man worshipping at the entrance to woman, for her private part represents the gate that he must go through. If he is perceptive enough, and not sexual, he will see in that part his heart’s desire. Although of course it is not in the part at all; but that part he loves to gaze upon, and that he loves to enter, symbolises the place that is hidden away, his way back home, to freedom, to the womb of life.

In the West, there doesn’t seem to be any idea of this tremendous, wonderful desire in man. I don’t know what the psychiatrists say about it. I’ve seen them in movies – about the closest I get to a psychiatrist! – but I never hear them talking realistically about love, sex and truth. They might say man’s great desire is to get back to the mother, to the womb. But do you believe that? Or do you think it’s possible that woman’s womb represents the womb of God? That chamber of God where the flame of God flames in woman... That is what we men can’t resist, in our endeavour to be consumed, to have my self consumed in that fire, so that I am no longer my self – but just the divine love that is possible in a man’s body in a woman's body.

These things are ignored by western culture, unless a religion is made of them. People all around the world say they practise ‘tantra’ – which is just ridiculous. For a tantric teacher is made by God. Tantra is the love of God to the point of self-destruction – the complete obliteration of the self – until what is left is the love of God, which then makes love.

© Barry Long. Edited from a talk in Sydney, Australia, Sunday 15 December 1996