Some Taoist sects during the Han dynasty performed sexual intercourse as a spiritual practice, called "Héqì" ("Joining Energy"). The first sexual texts that survive today are those found at the Mawangdui. While Taoism had not yet fully evolved as a philosophy at this time, these texts shared some remarkable similarities with later Tang dynasty texts, such as the Ishinpō.
The sexual arts arguably reached their climax between the end of the Han dynasty and the end of the Tang dynasty. After 1000 CE, Confucian restraining attitudes towards sexuality became stronger, so that by the beginning of the Qing dynasty in 1644, sex was a taboo topic in public life. These Confucians alleged that the separation of genders in most social activities existed 2,000 years ago, and suppressed the sexual arts. Because of the taboo surrounding sex, there was much censoring done during the Qing in literature, and the sexual arts disappeared in public life. As a result, some of the texts survived only in Japan, and most scholars had no idea that such a different concept of sex existed in early China.
The basis of all Taoist thinking is that qi is part of everything in existence. Qi is related to another energetic substance contained in the human body known as jing, and once all this has been expended the body dies. Jing can be lost in many ways, but most notably through the loss of body fluids. Taoists may use practices to stimulate/increase and conserve their bodily fluids to great extents. The fluid believed to contain the most Jing is semen. Therefore, Taoists believe in decreasing the frequency of, or totally avoiding, ejaculation in order to conserve life essence.
Male control of ejaculation
|Statue of an Immortal|
Many Taoist practitioners link the loss of ejaculatory fluids to the loss of vital life force: where excessive fluid loss results in premature aging, disease, and general fatigue. While some Taoists contend that one should never ejaculate, others provide a specific formula to determine the maximum amount of regular ejaculations in order to maintain health.
The general idea is to limit the loss of fluids as much as possible to the level of your desired practice. As these sexual practices were passed down over the centuries, some practitioners have given less importance to the limiting of ejaculation. Nevertheless, the "retention of the semen" is one of the foundational tenets of Taoist sexual practice.
There are different methods to control ejaculation prescribed by the Taoists. While, if done incorrectly can cause a retrograde ejaculation, the Taoists believed that the jing traveled up into the head and "nourished the brain."
Proponents of the bedchamber techniques theorized that if one could suck up the genital fluids of one's partner during sexual intercourse without releasing any fluids of one's own, one would emerge from the encounter with an increased store of qi — at the direct expense, of course, of the partner, who would eventually waste away and die if the technique were performed on her repeatedly.
Some Ming dynasty Taoist sects believed that one way for men to achieve longevity or 'towards immortality' is by having intercourse with virgins just under 14 years of age and women older than 18 should be avoided.
One danger for some weak men is that they might activate an endless outpouring of jing that never seems to stop, which can actually kill them, so in the old days the women would wear a needle in their hair and then take it out and punch the man’s buttocks with it — like acupuncture –to stop the leakage of jing to prevent him from fainting. They actually stabbed the man in the buttocks if this deadly scenario happened.
In the early days of Taoism, men were running the show and they were writing the rules on sexual practices. As you might guess, the practices they came up with, largely favored male advancement and illumination. The female was getting screwed, literally.
|Queen Mother of the West|
Women were often given a position of inferiority in sexual practice. Many of the texts discuss sex from a male point of view, and avoid discussing how sex could benefit women.
While the man had to please the woman sexually, she was still just an object. At numerous points during the Ishinpō, the woman is referred to as the "enemy"; this was because the woman could cause him to spill semen and lose vitality. In later sexual texts from the Ming, women had lost all semblance of being human and were referred to as the "other," "crucible", or "stove" from which to cultivate vitality. The importance of pleasing the woman was also diminished in later texts. The practice was known as Caibu, as a man enters many women without ejaculation.
Women were also considered to be a means for men to extend men's lives. Many of the ancient texts were dedicated explanation of how a man could use sex to extend his own life. But, his life was extended only through the absorption of the woman's vital energies (jing and qi). Some Taoists called the act of sex “The battle of stealing and strengthening.”
So a group of Taoist women came up with their own practices, which favored the female or at least offered equal favor for their own advancement and illumination.
These women conducted their work in secrecy and were rumored to be illuminated master of sexuality, eternal youth and healing. A woman of this lineage was known as a White Tigress.
The unique aspect of the White Tigress is their claim that women have their own unique process for acquiring the physical and spiritual goals of Taoism, namely restoring youthfulness and ultimately achieving immortality through a disciplined use of sexuality. Tigresses viewed their sexuality as a spiritual gift, and they knew how to use it well to stay healthy and young.
The female practitioner of the White Tigress Teachings practices oral sexual union with as many men as she desires. During these sexual unions she is absorbing the jing energy from the male's penis and then focusing it into her body to revitalize herself. When a male partner or Green Dragon ejaculates usually on her face or body the semen is looked upon as a badge of honor. She will rub it into her body since it is one of the most powerful skin rejuvenation creams known to ancient man. This is where the concept of the White Tigress and the stripes come from and why Geisha girls had white faces in Japan.
"A Green Dragon serves no other purpose than to be a provider of semen and sexual energy, and he does so in most cases unknowingly. A Green Dragon is led to believe that he is being seduced by the White Tigress purely for sexual pleasure... After a White Tigress had sexual interplay with a Green Dragon and she depleted him of all his sexual essences and energy, he would be symbolically considered a "Fallen Dragon". -Sexual Teachings of the Jade Dragon
The process was totally in favor of the woman. The man got nothing really other than gratification. With sexual intercourse the female creates a material child. With oral sex, her past childlike affinities are re-created.
Master Ch’ung Ho said: “It’s not only male sexual energy that can be cultivated, the female can cultivate hers as well. Western Royal Mother is a female who obtained immortality by replenishing her yin forces with the yang. Every time she engaged in sex with a man, he fell ill, but her own face would be so smooth and glowing that she had no use for facial powders or rouge."
In China, where the preservation of the male lineage has dominated religious and political laws for centuries, little importance was given to women maintaining their youth or health. The truth is White Tigresses were imprisoned in China for their practices and those that survived went underground for many reasons.
Lao Tzu himself states, “The mysterious female is inexhaustible.” How the Yellow Emperor achieved immortality and how Western Royal Mother achieved immortality cannot be compared. Each has its own path, each seeks the other's essence to become complete.
How does Qi transfer from one partner to the other, during sex?
First, its easy to tranfer qi from one person to another. If you look at systems like Reiki, energy easily passes from one person to another - with or without touching - no sex involved.
The same is true during sex - energy can easily pass from person to person. But here we are not speaking about simple energy, its about Jing. Jing is a special form of qi, and for the vast majority of people you have a finite amount of jing - the amount you are born with.
No one can be obligated to give energy to another. Unfortunately, there is a rich tradition of sexual ‘vampirism’ associated with the sexual practices. And there was abundant misogyny in Ancient China.
Bai Mudan is a character from Chinese mythology. It is said that one day, the immortal Lü Dongbin took a walk in Luoyang spotted Bai Mudan, and was heavily attracted by her beauty. Lü Dongbin slept with her many times. However, she became very weak since Lu practiced "cai yin bu yang" on her. Meaning he absorbed her yin essence, without losing his own yang essence. Mudan was taught by other immortals how to make him ejaculate and to absorbe his Yang essence. Later she cultivated herself and became immortal as well.
I’d like to point out that there are many many Taoist lineages in which sexual contact is not required or is strictly forbidden - a sexual partner or their energy is not needed to ‘become one with the Tao.’ There are many paths to the Tao, only a few involve sex.
You can exchange energy voluntarily
This does not require male ejaculation. The male can ‘release’ his jing without ejaculating.
During sexual intercourse, at an agreed moment, the female ‘pours herself’ into the male as the male ‘inhales and pulls his energy (and hers) inward and upward along his du mai to the bai hui’. Then the male exhales, and pours all of that energy (his and hers) down his ren mai into the female as the female inhales and pulls her energy (and his) up her du mai to her bai hui. When she exhales, she let the energy run back down her ren mai, and they run the energy back and forth between them - up his du mai, down his ren mai, up her du mai down her ren mai - with the energy crossing between bodies at the genitals - in a pattern called ‘figure eights’ - until they have equalized and balanced the energy between them. This is called ‘dual cultivation.’
The same can be done between two skilled practitioners without any physical contact.
You can absorb sexual energy from nature
Man and woman are not the only sources of yin and yang but small reservoirs of these energies which stream through creation.
Heaven is male and earth is female. Thus the man who needs yin energy but prefers not to receive it from its human container will absorb it from the earth; and woman will draw in the male potency from its source, the heavens.
For the man to draw in the yin energy, he lies belly down, embracing the earth. One leg is straight and one bent at the knee. He will pull in the energy from the earth. He must try to have no sexual thoughts. The genitals should not touch the ground, but hang a little above it. Relax and gather your concentration by breathing deeply in and out through the nose. Think the power from the earth slowly into the penis. This basic practice applies to man: think the power up through your breathing.
As you inhale, draw the power up as if you were absorbing up fluid in a Straw: the fluid is the power and the straw is the penis. From the penis draw it past the hui yin, chang-chiang, and up the back to the head. Store the yin power in the head. In due course it will overflow the crown and move down the front of the body and return to the hui yin. When this point is reached, you may bring it up the front of the body to the navel and work the centers navel, solar plexus and heart, respectively, in the manner described in the Yin-Yang Exchange. Put away all obsessive erotic thoughts or it will cause the power to drain out.
How to absorb sexual energy from the sun
This method of absorbing the solar power into the penis is regarded as top secret and rarely revealed.
Practice: Morning sun from 7 to 11 is much preferred or 3 to 6 in the afternoon. If the sun is not too strong we can gradually absorb its power into the glans (head) of the penis much easier.
To expose to the sun, hold stem of the penis with one hand and use it to rub the glans until penis is erect. Put it down facing towards the sun and imagine the power coming into the glans, absorbing it, so that it fills the organ with warm power. It will fill the entire organ with energy if your thought is properly concentrated. When your penis softens, do the whole procedure again. Do this exercise three to four times.
- White Tigress Sexual Teachings
- The Three Treasures and Sexual Energy Cultivation
- Jing –Your original life force, and how to nourish it