Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Tao of Love and Sex: Strengthening The Sexual Energies


Nearly two thousand years ago the Chinese philosopher Mencius said, "Hunger and sexual desire are both part of human nature." In the book The Union of Yin and Yang, it is written that "the sexual act allows vital energy and blood to circulate through the vital organs of the body." The Book of Prescriptions explains that "sexuality can be harmful or beneficial: those who know how to use it can protect their good health, whereas those who abuse it can die before their time."
The oldest of the treatises on sexuality, however, is the Su Nu Jing (The book of explanations about sexuality). It has been attributed to the mythical emperor Huangdi, who is also the reputed author of the Neijing, the Chinese medical classic. Taoists consider the Su NuJing the theoretical foundation of healthy sexual practices based on the balancing of yin and yang. This treatise, now more than two thousand years old, begins thus:

The Yellow Emperor said to Su Nu, "I am tired, my entire being is out of balance. I am anxious from morning till night and can feel that my days are numbered. How did this happen?" And Su Nu answered, "This trouble is caused by an overall imbalance between your yin and your yang, resulting from inadequate sexual activity. If the woman is stronger, sexually speaking, the man will dissipate his forces and lose his sexual vigor. This state resembles a fire that goes out when water is poured on it. Sex is like cooking: to get a tasty dish, it must be cooked just right, with only as much water and fire as are necessary. Similarly, one must experiment with the principle of the union of water and fire; in this way one can experience the right sexual pleasure. Otherwise, disharmony will result and your life will soon come to an end."

In ancient China, sexuality was considered an activity that could bring happiness or unhappiness, particularly in the area of human health. The key to a harmonious sex life lies in understanding the yin and yang energies of the universe, in achieving a balanced equilibrium between the passive and active forces that govern life and death.

Westerners tend to think of sexuality solely from the perspective of the immediate gratification it can offer, without trying to understand its energies and its physical, social, and spiritual implications.

Taoists, although sometimes reproved for having free morals, were nonetheless extremely careful and meticulous as far as energies were concerned. For Taoists, the sexual act is a serious matter that involves a man's and a woman's most intense energies. Making use of these fantastically powerful energies requires a thorough knowledge of the processes and forces that sexuality brings into play.
Sun Si-miao, a Taoist physician of the Tang dynasty period, was renowned for his medical expertise. He lived to be more than one hundred years old, an achievement generally attributed to his having followed the precise sexual prescriptions he gave others. These concerned the frequency of sexual relations—which, according to Sun Si,were to vary in accordance with a person's age—as well as techniques for making love.

Apart from their precepts having to do with sexual energies, Taoists also viewed male-female relations as a question of interpersonal harmony and understanding. As Su Nu advised the Yellow Emperor, "A happy and harmonious sexual life depends in large measure on there being harmony and understanding between the two partners."
Civilizations the world over have sensed the power of sexuality, and throughout the ages rulers have sought to control and sometimes repress many of its facets. The world's religions have weighed in with their views as well, and all of them have sought to exert some influence in the sexual domain. The twentieth century brought its ideas of sexual liberation to the world, but whatever sexual freedom men and women may enjoy today, they are often totally ignorant as to the workings of their sexual energies; more often than not, they are slaves to their pleasure rather than its masters.

For Taoists, sexuality is the root of life—what the ancients spoke of as vital essence, or jing, one of the "three treasures" [son bad). This jing, or sexual energy, is also the motor of human, evolution, and because it can be transformed into spiritual energy, it can play an active role in the development of one's being. Squandering this precious energy during adolescence, young adulthood, or later in life can have grave repercussions oh a person's physical and mental" health.
The Taoists' first observation about sexuality was concerned with the proper frequency of relations-according to a person's age and physical constitution. The ancient Taoists offered other advice as well, explaining how to carry out the sex act by coordinating it with breathing and with Taoist energy practices. For the most part, however, their teachings are concerned with,strengthening the basic energies through special exercises'.

The first piece of advice that Taoists would offer young men and women was to warn them of the dangers of beginning a sex life too early. The ancient Taoists compared the loss of sexual energy during youth to the weakening of a sapling's roots. One way of losing precious jing too early in life is by masturbating on a regular basis. Masturbation provides no opportunity for .contact with the opposite sex; as a result, the two energies, yin and yang, cannot nourish each other and the young man or woman ends up losing some of his or her vital substance. In the Treatise on Longevity, it is said that "the opposition and union of yin and yang are the universal law of Nature." Young men can emit their semen at most twice a month. Regular masturbation directly affects the root of life, or jing. Practiced at a young age and on a regular basis, masturbation is all the more likely, in both sexes, to diminish longevity and weaken immunity.

In the Su Nu Jing, the legendary emperor receives the principles of a healthy sexuality from "a woman of knowledge." The first thing she teaches him is the value of the three treasures.

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