Tantra has become famous for embracing open relationships, where people engage in more than one romantic relationship with mutual consent. However, the stereotype misses the key aspect of traditional Tantra: all our relationships should be based on love. When we have multiple love relationships it is known as polyamory.
What Tantra should be famous for is allowing God’s way of loving to come through us as human beings. Whether alone, with one person, or with many, a Tantric uses relationships to become closer to the ultimate goal of integration with the divine will.
Polyamory is not common in the cultural context in which we live. Where we do see it, in movies and celebrity culture, there are all kinds of negative impacts. Even when we see it being done well, we don’t quite believe that it can work. There is a common belief that you will eventually find ‘the one and settle down to monogamy. However, we should be careful of cultural norms. Fifty years ago, inter-racial marriage was unusual and thought to be very difficult. Now there is nothing unusual about it.
Research shows that 20% of westerners have tried polyamory and that polyamorous relationships are as functional as monogamous relationships.
Tantra does not shy away from getting in touch with relationships and sexuality. While other spiritual traditions may avoid the erotic, Tantra embraces every facet of life, including this one.
For love relationships to be a spiritual tool, they need to be aligned with the goal of divine integration. There is no limit to love, and in any relationship, we are aiming to love the other as God would; freely, enthusiastically and unconditionally.
Each of us needs to seek out the Godly will for us. An open heart and sharp awareness will enable us to discover the way to God and unfold our personal path for integration. It could be abstinence, monogamy, or open relationships and we see all of these amongst the Tantric saints and masters.
Open relationships can be likened to swimming in a very stormy sea. We need to be ready for it! If you have barely any muscles and have never swum across so much as a pond, you may wish to reconsider before jumping in. If you have trained in the school of opening the heart and listening wisely to what is going on inside, maybe it is time to give it a go and see if you will come out stronger.
Like any other aspect of transformation, polyamory requires care and courage and it is important that we are aware of the limits of what we can currently take.