Taoists say: "Sex is the reason we are born and it is the reason we die." What they mean by this is that it was sexual energy that gave us life and it is the misuse of sexual energy that causes premature aging, illness, and eventually death.
To understand how to achieve immortality we must look closely at three energies that the Taoist call the Three Treasures. The Three Treasures are our essential life energies that create everything physical, mental, and spiritual.
The first treasure is "Ching" or "Jing". Ching is our sexual and physical energy and is related to P'o or Earth Spirit energy. It's physical manifestation is the sperm, the egg, as well as the whole body. Ching's primordial energy is to motivate us to procreate and be sexual. It is expressed in the blood and sexual fluids of both sexes. The emotional expression for Ching is sensuality and giving.
The second treasure is "Qi" or "Chi". This is our breath and vital energy. We could not live even a moment without Qi. Qi animates the physical body and activates the mental function. It also animates and attracts us to be sexual. The physical expression of Qi is through the orifices of the mouth and penis for men, and mouth and nipples for women. The emotional expression of Qi is passion and kindness.
The third treasure is "Shen", the mind and spirit energy. Shen relates to the Heavenly Spirit or Hun. It has to do with our spiritual existence and creates the consciousness of sexuality. Shen is expressed through the eyes, and this is where the saying "the eyes are the windows of the soul" comes from. Both compassion and wisdom are the emotional expressions of Shen.
A Taoist could not achieve immortality without fortifying these three treasures. Each treasure builds upon the next. Ching is needed to create Qi. Qi is needed to build Shen. In that order. But there is a limit to the amount of Qi (life energy) we have. We are born with a certain amount and when that Qi is used up the body can no longer exist and we die.
Fortunately, Ching (sexual energy) can be cultivated and made stronger. The Taoists found if they could increase their Ching they could restore and revitalize their Qi. When a person's Qi was strong enough it activated Shen (spirit) and illumination of the mind/spirit was attained. For this reason, the conserving and gathering of Ching was of utmost importance to a Taoist seeking longevity and spiritual enlightenment.
So how does a person increase their Ching?
Before we can begin to look at ways to increase sexual energy, we must first look at the ways we loose sexual energy. A woman loses Ching every time she has her period. A man loses his Ching every time he ejaculates. To conserve Ching, a man must decrease (not eliminate) the amount of times he ejaculates and a woman's needs to decrease (not eliminate) her menstrual flow. Some texts on Taoist sexology state that a woman needs to limit her orgasms to conserve her Ching. This perspective comes from a male centered philosophy that has mistakenly treated a woman’s restoration the same way as a man’s. Nothing could be further from the truth. Females Taoists know that orgasms do not deplete a woman's Ching. Rather, by using certain techniques, she can make full use of it's energy to benefit her health and well-being.
Conservation of sexual energy is only one part of the equation. For full physical restoration and revitalization a person needs to do more than just conserve his/her Ching. One must also practice methods to build and cultivate it. The techniques for doing are different for men and women.
Sexually speaking, Taoist view men and women as equal partners. To restore youthfulness and vitality, each must capture in the other what is lacking in themselves. Men tend to be more yang in nature; their sexual energy tends to be more active and external. A woman is more yin in her nature and therefore her sexual energy leans towards receptivity and internal experience. One need only glance at male and female genitalia to find legitimacy in this theory. To restore his sexual vitality a man must seek out yin experiences. For a woman to restore her youthfulness and vitality she must seek out yang energy. It is by looking beyond our inherent natures we find methods and techniques that bring greater longevity and health.