Taoism And Sex | Daoism And Sex
Taoist Sexual History | Sexual Taoism Beliefs
Many religions have a specific relationship to the nature of sex and sexuality, but few are as interesting as Taoism and sex. As you'd hopefully be aware Taoism is a philosophical, spiritual and religious tradition with its roots based in Chinese History. Tao essentially means direction, path, way, route and Taoism reflects the relationship between the path of life and one’s self. In the Chinese language there is no particular or specific word that denotes a follower or practitioner of Taoism and any such words that describe such an individual are Western in origin, and have very little use within the Chinese Culture. Therefore words, such as Taoist, daoshi, Daoism which are words which refer to followers of Taoism have very little use excepting in Western Culture and Western Philosophy of defining everything. There are various doctrines which can be applied to the nature of Taoism and these include ideologies such as Ethics, Tao and Te, Naturalness, simplicity and the three treasures. In particular when exploring the relationship between Taoism and Sex, we will need to look closely at one of the three treasures; being Jing.
What is Jing?
Jing, in accordance to ancient thought is a specific material stored within the body which provides nourishment, fuels, and helps cool the body. For these reasons it is considered to be an important aspect of martial arts, and indeed one of the few ways to restore lost Jing is by engaging in martial arts, specifically T'ai chi ch'uan, commonly referred to as Tai Chi. For some schools within Taoist thinking Jing refers to bodily fluids such as semen and menstrual fluid, though because of the recurrence of menstrual blood there are some schools of thought which refer to Jing as specifically semen since it is a controlled and conscious loss of fluid. By controlling the loss of semen, Taoists believe that they are preserving the very life essence of their bodies - and as such when there is excessive ejaculation there will be premature aging, fatigue and increased likelihood of disease and illnesses. There are conflicting thoughts, dependent on which sect of Taoism you are involved in; some firmly believe that one should never ejaculate whereas others have devised a strict formula and regime which allows one to do so when necessary. Because the idea of this keeping semen within the body they developed two main practices allowing them to do so. First, he could pull out immediately before orgasm so that the body would not experience an ejaculatory phase, or he could place pressure on the perineum in order to prevent ejaculation. This method has a high likelihood of creating a retrograde ejaculation. Whereby the semen is expelled into the bladder instead.
Whilst Taoist thought suggests that the semen travels to the brain and sustains and nourishes it by providing it with increased intelligence, as semen is considered a design of intelligence. A belief which stems throughout other cultures and religions with Semen being an important element of the transfer of intelligence, masculinity and the inseminator’s traits.
What is interesting to note about Taoist Sexuality is that it strongly recognized the need to please and pleasure both parties of the sexual act. Women had to be stimulated so that she could also benefit from the act of sex. The arousal level of sex had to be mutual, because if one longed for the sexual act more than the other Taoists believe that this imbalance would lead to the female creating more Jing, which would be absorbed by the male and therefore increase his Qi (Energy). Women were believed to hold more power during sex because they did not ejaculate and as such, since loss of bodily fluids decreases the life force, women were able to walk away undiminished in comparison to men.
It was therefore thought that women would bring the power and the life force to the act of sex. This was not always the case though, as previously women were thought of as inferior when it came to sex, and men were encouraged to have multiple sexual partners. In so far as, women were often referred to as an 'enemy' because ejaculation would deplete the sperm, which in term would deplete the male vitality and life force. Women thus were seen as drainers of the male life force and therefore a weapon against them. However, it is far more complex than that. The act of sex would also allow a male to absorb the females Qi and Jing and help sustain and prolong male life. It was therefore a balance between depletion and absorption whereby, everything needed to be done with precision.
This can be extended through the dictation of when and where sexual activity was promoted. According to beliefs, sexual engagement was to be avoided during both a quarter and full moon and also during adverse weather and natural disasters. Failure to adhere to this and they believed that any child born as a result of this sexual act would develop severe abnormalities. This includes but was not limited to everything from storms, lightning and thunder, to fog, rain, wind, earthquakes and even rainbows. Location of the sex was also critical to the health of both the people and the child, sex should not happen within the glare of the sun, moon, near or in shrines and temples.
The relationship between sex and Taoism is as complex and delicate as it looks. With the balance between the elements of Taoism it is a complex and difficult relationship. It is unfortunate that many people will firmly believe that there is an element of dirtiness or sinfulness to sexual practices and desires. However, there are people who will argue that that is simply because they were not necessarily taught correctly about the intricate relationship between the path, themselves, sex, and spirituality.
The fundamental difference between Taoism and other forms of religion is that a relationship with a deity or relationship with the path, is not through means such as praying or faith - rather, it places great emphasis on active practice which in turn is the development of both knowledge and discipline. Sexual power is not necessarily a demonic kind of force that separates us from spirituality, rather it ought to be considered as a powerful energy that is essential to our lives and the power with which should compel and drive us to leading fruitful, and dynamic lives. It is further different because it relies on an understanding of chi, or jing, life energy, a concept recognized by over 50 cultures around the world, none of them have any basis in Western Culture.
Taoist Sexual Practices | Sexual Practices of Daoists
Sexual Rituals of Taists | Taoist Sex Rituals
The Taoist world-view, and its associated yoga/qigong practices, is based largely upon an understanding of the flow of energy, within and outside of the human body, and includes an understanding of sexual energy which is far more sophisticated than anything produced by western culture. Integral to this understanding are what are known as "The Three Treasures." These Three Treasures represent three types (or vibratory frequencies) of energy found in the human body: (1) Jing, or generative energy, (2) Qi, or life-force energy, and (3) Shen, or spiritual energy. Fundamental to all qigong/Taoist yoga practice, including sexual/consort practices, is the waking up of Jing/generative energy and its subsequent transformation into Qi/life-force energy and Shen/spiritual energy. And then, conversely, the transformation of Shen into Qi into Jing. In other words, the Taoist practitioner cultivates the capacity to circulate energy freely between its various forms/frequencies: from the most primal/mundane to the most refined/ephemeral ... and back again!
How exactly this happens is the subject of a vast field of enquiry & practice called Internal Alchemy. If you're interested in reading about internal alchemy via classical Taoist texts, please see Eva Wong's translations (from the Chinese into English): "Harmonizing Yin and Yang," and "Holding Yin, Embracing Yang." For a wonderful presentation of a sequence of qigong practices (which include sexual practices), please check out Eric Yudelove's book "Taoist Yoga and Sexual Energy."
Here's a simple practice that you can try: sit at the very edge of a firm straight-backed chair (a wooden kitchen chair is ideal), with your feet on the floor and your knees directly above your heels. Your sitting bones should be firmly planted on the chair, at the same time as most of the length of your thighs extends out in front of it. Place your hands, palms down, on the front of your thighs, in a way that allows your shoulders to be relaxed, and let your belly be soft. Take a couple of deep breaths, letting go of any tension you find in your face, jaw, or neck/throat. Smile gently. Then, as you exhale, hinge forward at your hips, bringing your head down toward the space between your knees. With the very next inhale, reverse the process so you're once again sitting up-right. And repeat: exhale~down, inhale~up (like a crane, taking sips of water from a lake) ... Do your best, with each forward rotation, to rest the entire front-side of your torso onto the front of your thighs. Continue for a minute or two, then pause again in the upright position, and notice how you feel.
The second part of the practice is done entirely from the upright position (still sitting right at the edge of the chair, with your feet planted firmly on the ground). It involves coordinating the movement of your breath with the movement of your attention. As you inhale, feel your sitting bones becoming heavier, releasing more completely into the chair. (You can imagine that your sitting bones are two heavy diamonds, which you're going to return to their home in the center of the earth.) As you exhale, feel a spaciousness, expansion & gentle effervescence at the center of your heart-space (that place behind the sternum/breastbone and in front of the thoracic spine). And repeat: inhale~sitting-bones heavy, exhale~heart-center spacious ... Continue for a minute or two, then pause, and notice how you feel now.
This simple practice, if done regularly, has the power to wake up fields of sensation which are quite interesting, and enjoyable ... And can serve as a ground for the continuing cultivation of Jing, Qi & Shen: the Three Treasures which ~ from the point of view of Taoism ~ are the key ingredients of a healthy sexuality, among many other thing.
In "The Classic Of The Arcane Maid", an ancient Taoist text, describes several secret sex positions guaranteed to improve sexual pleasure and health.
9 Taoist Sex Positions
1. Somersaulting Dragons: -
The woman reclines on her back, while the man lies over her. She then presses her thighs into the bed squeezing her vulva, while the man enters into her. With calculated strokes (eight shallow and two deep), the man penetrates her as she continues to squeeze down on his penis.
2. Stepping Tigers:-
The woman places herself in a crawling position, pointing her buttocks upward while her head lies on a pillow or over a flat surface. As her lover enters into her from behind, they take turns thrusting into each other (eight thrusts, five times), with a brief pause after each set.
3. Wrestling Apes:-
As the woman lies on her back with her knees bent toward her head, the man supports her thighs, pushing them into her chest, while raising her buttocks. As he penetrates her deeply, she can rock and rotate her thighs and hips, stopping when she climaxes.
4. Cleaving Cicadas:-
The woman lies on her stomach while her partner reclines on her back, penetrating her deeply. He can lift her buttocks slightly by placing a pillow underneath her and thrusting (9 thrusts, 6 times), until she reaches orgasm.
5. Soaring Phoenix:-
The woman lies down and raises her legs while the man places himself in between her thighs while holding onto the bed. This sex position allows for deep penetration.
6. Bunny Licking It's Fur:-
The man stretches out on the bed on his back as the woman straddles his body, facing his legs. She lowers her head, while holding onto his feet. This is a shallow penetration position.
7. Cranes Entwining Necks:-
The man squats while the woman sits on his thighs, holding onto his neck and wrapping her legs around his hips. Both partners can move in this position.
8. Fish Linking Scales:-
In this position, the man lies flat on his back with the woman straddling his body on top. He does not penetrate her deeply, but rather focuses on tantalizing her breasts with his hands and mouth.
9. Mounting Tortoises:-
While the woman lies on her back with her knees bent, the man presses them into her breasts. This position allows the man to alternate between deep and shallow thrusts. It is said that if there is no loss of semen during sex, in this position, a man's vigor will multiply a hundredfold.
According to Taoist philosophy there can be no joy in yin without yang. Often, a man will desire sex, while the woman is unhappy, or the woman desires copulation when the man lacks desire. In other words, when hearts are out of tune, there is no arousal of the essences. By merging mind and desire, both man and woman can delight in each other’s hearts.
Chi is the energy that is part of everything that exists. Another related concept is "jing," an energetic substance in the human body. When you lose all your jing, you will die. The Taoists believed that jing could be lost through bodily fluids, including semen, and so Taoist men would avoid ejaculation in order to conserve their jing.
There are different ways that a man can conserve his jing, or life essence. One way is to pull out just before orgasm when having intercourse. A second way is to press the perineum (the area between the scrotum and anus) in order to send the ejaculate back into the bladder. (Don't try this at home!) Another way is for a man to learn how to separate the events of ejaculation and orgasm. By stopping the pelvic floor from contracting, a man could keep himself from ejaculating and still have an orgasm.
Fortunately, jing can also be created through sexual union between a man and a woman. Lots of sex was considered to be good for a man's health and longevity. (So go for it!) Unfortunately, as might be expected from ancient Chinese practices, women were sometimes seen as a means for a man to retain his jing. On the other hand, because women did not give up any fluids, they were seen as being strong.
Taoist sex manuals also include information on when and where to have sex. For example, lovers were to avoid making love during storms, eclipses, earthquakes, and other events, which could cause ill health or offspring that were defective in some way. Taoist lovers were also to avoid having sex by the light of the sun, moon, or stars, near a temple, in a well (!) or near a grave or coffin (!)
If you want to adapt these ideas for your own Olympic sex marathon, one good thing to do would be to think of sex as creating jing, or energy. Many people complain of being "too tired for sex." Can you imagine how tired you would be if you were a Chinese person living 1500 years ago? If you looked at sex as creating energy instead of taking it, you might have more desire!
Another idea to quickly and easily put into practice is chi. When you have sex, think of you and your partner raising and exchanging energy. Energy is a sacred substance, and so when you are making love you are doing something special and sacred. Slow down, look into each other's eyes, and breathe together to honor and create chi.
The Taoist Diet | Healthy Tao Diet
What Do Daoists Eat | Natural Tao Food
To truly understand the Taoist diet you have to first understand a little bit about Taoist beliefs. Taoism comes from the core of East Asianand Chinese culture and has roots as deep as 2000 years, although it has only spread to the west in more modern times as people begin to reject materialism for deeper spiritual understanding.
Taoists are egoless humble people that emphasize compassion, humility and moderation - the latter of which is stressed through their minimalistic eating habits.
Although not known for their rule breaking because of their caring non active views, Taoism focuses on the human connection with nature and therefore they do not believe in the rigid and orderly ways of modern society, preferring to follow the natural flow of the Universe. The common Taoist term Yin and Yang refers to the positive and negative energies of the Universe.
The five colors blind eyes.
The five tones deafen ears.
The five tastes blur tongues.
Fast horses and breathtaking hunts make minds wild and crazy.
Things rare and expensive make people lose their way.
That's why a sage tends to the belly, not the eye, always ignores that and chooses this.
- Tao Te Ching, Part 12
Historically, the Taoist diet has consisted of mainly fresh fruits and vegetables, with little meat and no grain - as they thought during the digestive process demon like creatures would be released from the rotting grain and attempt to eat them from inside out. During more contemporary times, the diet has changed to be primarily based around the acceptance of whole grains, as well as the fresh fruits and vegetables of tradition.
Taoism is all about the natural, and humans being part of nature. One of the most important beliefs is to 'eat only food' - meaning to avoid unnatural man made substances that the body cannot process and may contain unbalanced flavors, such as artificial additives, drugs etc. Heavily processed foods that contain little or no nutritional value, such as white flour, sugar and fast food are also considered inedible. These are not things that the body is designed to consume and do not grow from the earth, so are not really natural 'foods' fit for human consumption.
In much of the classic Taoist literature, a lot of mention is made of the sagacious men of old - or, people who existed in pre-history. Several of the texts talk about them existing only on breath, and not consuming food at all. They lived as they were born and only gained sustenance from the qi or Yin Yang from the Universe.
This practice, known as "Bigu" is sometimes employed within some of the Taoist hermit traditions and mythological ideas, but it's not something that's practical or even safe for modern people, living in normal society to try. Taoists believe that the human state has altered and the ancient state has since fallen, meaning it is perfectly acceptable to eat foods.
The earliest Taoists are believed to have had a diet that reflected this notion of sagacious and enlightened masters from before history - and also before the development of agriculture. Thus in the earliest traditions, grains were not to be consumed by Taoists.
The reasons for this could be many - from health concerns, to a reverence for some mythological, pre-agricultural past, and even other social factors. The minimalist approach is often used to explain it, stating that Taoists live off more than food alone and subconsciously gain energy from the cosmic.
However, as alluded to earlier the reason provided in many of the early texts for not eating grain is to not arouse the "Three Worms".
The early, mythological explanation for abstaining from grain is the 3 worms.These are literally 3 demonic worms that were said to live in the intestines of human beings that were responsible for the decomposition of your body after death.Of course, as their goal is to devour your body, it's in their best interest that you die as quickly as possible.Before death the 3 worms would live in a person's intestines, feeding off the rotten bio-matter being digested.
Therefore, as your intestines digested the grain, the 3 worms would eat the waste that was produced. As they fed on the grains, they would grow stronger, and later be able to feed off of the rest of your body, causing you to die more quickly.Since longevity for continued cultivation is one of the primary goals of many Taoist practices, the object of the diet was to "starve off" the 3 worms, by lowering your intake of grain, or eliminating it completely.
From a modern perspective, it could be that the earliest Daoist simply noted a correlation between caloric intake, and aging, or ill health.
Assuming that a cell has a finite number of possible divisions during it's life cycle, it would be necessary to dramatically slow down the metabolic process in order to slow down the process of cell division.
Another possibility is just the reverence for a pre-civilized, pre-agricultural period in time, where men neither farmed, nor were they engaged in the social activities and games of a surplus food producing culture.It is important that vegetables are eaten in the right seasons and are either steamed or stir fried. Boiling takes out the natural goodness. Fruits tend to be dried or baked and eating tropical fruits is frowned upon as unbalancing the five flavors due to their strong, often citrus tastes. It is also important that they are seasonal, and free of any man made intervention.
Generally, all red and blue meats, including pork, rabbit, snails and the like, should be avoided. Poultry and game birds are OK to eat, as well as fish. However, fish and other seafood should only be eaten once a week because of their high Yin quantity. Some fish like salmon, shark, swordfish and mackerel, which are highly Yin should be completely avoided.
Consuming alcohol, caffeine and chewing/smoking tobacco is frowned upon because of their refined nature.
The Modern Taoist relies on moderation in their eating habits, and should try to avoid consuming anything too pungent (garlic, ginger, onions, etc,) and stay away from as many preservatives as possible.
Differences Between Taoist And Modern Western Diets
In the west, the life style and dietary habits have contributed to the dramatic rise in such problems as heart disease, obesity, stress, cancer, arthritis and so on.The emphasis has moved away from the initial prevention (by eating naturally and healthily) towards drugs and surgery. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure however. Why try to fight a disease once it has taken root, when with some simple guidelines we can avoid it in the first place?
Taoists believe that what is of primary importance is natural health, not doctors and medicines, and this can best be achieved through eating natural foods. Remember that the body regenerates itself, the skin tissue and organs take about 2-3 years, even the bones are replaced after seven years, and it is all built from what goes into your mouth.
Nature can do its work but only if given the right tools. Ideally natural foods have been grown organically without the use of artificial fertilizers, chemicals or pesticides.
The Modern Taoist diet, in contrast to the modern western diet is:
- Low Fat
- High Energy
- Vitamin and mineral enriched
- Easy for the body to digest
- Unrefined and processed
This means daily western items like bread and milk, which we think are perfectly healthy are considered almost toxic to strict Taoists. Instead rice and soya milk is used as a replacement and skimmed milk is generally accepted.
The "Ground Up" Approach
refers to the set of Taoist exercises used to maintain and move with the qi (energy of the universe). Methods include meditation and focused physical movements. This helps to maintain physical and mental health.
Generally, in many types of Taoist Qigong, energy is drawn from the earth, upward. Similarly, the concept of "rooting" is the base of tai chi and many of the Chinese and Taoist martial arts, so historically, and within the Taoist context of power, from the ground upwards was thought of as the best way to get vital energy from food.
As with Taoist Qigong, Taoist diet also generally stresses a "ground up" approach to the consumption of vegetables. That is, that plants should be consumed in high percentage of total diet, especially those below ground (root vegetables) as opposed to those higher up, e.g. an apple.
The main reason for this was that the earth bound vegetables have more energy and the ability to deliver more qi to the body. Yams, all types of root crops, potatoes, carrots, turnips to name a few, were thought to deliver good earth energy, which helped the spleen (immune system) become stronger, and made jing qi more "rooted"
Online Taoism | Taoism and The Internet
Daoism Online | Practice Online Tao
The Tao of The Internet
Use your Online Time Effectively - That may mean taking ten minutes to make a note of what you intend to do when you get online, but that time will be tripled in terms of results.
Check your Mail less Often - Your workflow and focus on the task in hand will be interrupted by constantly checking for new mail. Get into a pattern where the first thing you do online is check your mail. Decide which can be binned and which need attention. Get offline and compose your replies, then send them off next time you reconnect. Now forget it - with one small change in your routine you've significantly reduced the amount of clutter in your life.
Follow the Footsteps of the Masters - Using search engines is recommended for finding more obscure material, but your first stop should always be hierarchical index. Why? Because someone else has already done the hard work for you. Concentrate on browsing, rather than searching.
Not everything needs to be Done Straight Away - Prioritize activities for the appropriate time. Search for material when your energy levels and concentration are at their peak level (usually when your online session starts). Bookmark the interesting stuff in a folder - then take a break. When you return, you can start browsing through your booty, feeling refreshed.
Use Waiting Time Effectively - We all know the Net is slower than we all want it to be - so turn it into an advantage. Save up tasks that will tie up your connection, like long FTP sessions, for a time of the day when the Net is going to be faster and phone charges cheaper. Set your client to retrieve the file, then go and do something else away from your computer. Trying to browse while you are downloading will increase the time it takes to transfer to your hard drive, while staring at the status bar is simply a waste of your energy.
Resist Materialism - Banner advertising slows down your connection and tempts you to divert from your path. Remove them by running a program that prevents banner displays.
Bigger is not Necessarily Better - Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox are the most popular browsers but they are also bloated and buggy. Taoism preaches that the path to enlightenment begins within the self, and free will is an important component in this. Try a smaller, speedier browser like Opera, or another. Your computer will love you for it.
Know Yourself - By now you've probably established a predictable pattern in your online life. Use this to your advantage and organize your bookmarks or favorites by adding folders that categorize your interests, file bookmarks you use frequently and delete those you don't.
Opt Out - Most of the spam in your mailbox is self-inflicted. Remove yourself from mailing lists that have little of interest to say and remove newsgroups that are flooded with nonsense. If you must keep up with developments afterwards, check the list's archive on the Web and search through Usenet. Make sure you use a program to automatically remove junk mail. But don't make the mistake of removing yourself from our online newsletter; otherwise you'll never achieve Net Nirvana.
Switch Off your Computer - If you're tired, turn it off. If you're bored, don't bother turning it on in the first place. Go for a walk, get out with your mates, or read a book. Channel your energies into positive activity - that way, when you want to go online, you'll enjoy it.