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Om Aha Mani Foundation

Introduction to Taoist "Dual Cultivation"

The Quest for Sexual Love.

"What a pity! A mountain peak as tiny as one square inch has been the source of great inspiration and misery for centuries."

- Anonymous Chinese Poet on man's obsession with woman's sex.

Thousands of books have been written attempting to help men and women resolve the problems arising from the endless search for sexually fulfilling love. What could possibly be written that is new?

Taoist Secrets of Love is not just another flowery philosophical treatise on the ecstasies of oriental love. Rather it is a pragmatic handbook that distills the secret teachings on sex of four different living Taoist masters sought out by Mantak Chia during fifteen years of travel and study in the Far East. As he put it, "I read a ton of books telling me how great esoteric love-making was, but none of them explained precisely how it was done. So 1 decided to write it myself."

Most books on Taoist sex fail to instruct on how to transform sperm energy once it is held in, where to store sex energy in the body, how to best exchange it with a woman, and give cursory treatment to the retention of semen. Chia synthesized the ancient Taoist practices into simple but powerful methods that can be easily learned by western men. This first volume is directed primarily at men, simply because most men are sexually weaker than women and lose moic eneigy through sex than women. A later volume will describe the esoteric Taoist sexual practices for women, which includes voluntary arrest of the menstrual flow.

The sexual imbalance between men and women is obvious. A woman can sexually receive her man for as long as she pleases, and thus the Taoists say her yin essence is nearly inexhaustible. A man's love making is limited to the amount of energy he has to keep his erection. His yang essence is more easily tired. A woman is sexually stronger than a man because biologically she needs to be. Her reproductive organs must bear the strain of physically producing children and nurturing them. The effects on men of this primal biological inequality are profound, setting off a chain reaction that can permeate male thinking and feeling on all levels, from marriage to work to cultural roles we choose to play and to the spiritual models we choose for our inner growth.

At heart most men are as terrified of women's infinite sexual capacity as they are fascinated by it. The general effect on men is to make them feel sexually insecure and causes them to attempt to compensate with some other strength. Sexual insecurity may be the primary reason men have sought physical, political, financial, intellectual, and religious advantage over woman. Correcting this sexual imbalance could have significant side benefits in establishing a more harmonious society, although the primary goal of the Taoist teaching on cultivation of sexual energy was personal health and spiritual fulfillment.

The quest for sexually fulfilled love has taken on the dimensions of a religion amongst those who are too liberal or too scientific to believe in any traditional vcrsion of God. The power behind this belief in romantic love, in an ultimate commitment to one person, is the power of sexual experience. If offers something tangible to be shared, a sacrament that is personal and present.

The decline of religion in the west may have begun when the experience of sex became more powerful than the spiritual experience offered by religion in prayer or in fellowship. The current revival of religion in the west ironically may be due in part, to a sexual exhaustion following on the heels of the sexual revolution. Sex became a drug, an opiate for the discontent. Total sexual freedom did not supply the stability people needed most. Today, people are turning back to either marriage or religion to seek their sense of an absolute.

The Taoists offer neither religion nor marriage as the solution to stability, unless it be the marriage of subtle energies they identify as yin and yang. They simply encourage each individual to cultivate his natural inner life-force, or chi. It is in this context the ancient Chinese developed highly refined methods of increasing sexual vitality for the single and the married man. There are two main ways that these energy cultivation methods can be used and this book will accordingly attract two distinct kinds of students.

The first student seeks worldly happiness in the form of physical, emotional, and mental satisfaction. This includes any layman interested in strengthening his personal love relationship, in alleviating sexual frustration, in relieving boredom with sex, in curing impotency, wet dreams and premature ejaculation and in general increasing his longevity and good health. If he is disciplined and does the practices taught in this book, he can attain all of these benefits. The other student considers himself on a spiritual path and wants to somehow integrate his sexual desires with his meditative practice or spiritual beliefs. The students already drawn to study the Taoists secrets of cultivating sexual energy with Master Chia have come from an amazingly broad range of spiritual disciplines, including every type of yoga: Kundalini, Hatha, Kriya, Tantric, Siddha and martial artists as well as T.M., Zen, Buddhist, Sufi, Hindu, and Christian adherents. The suggestion is that many Americans, however satisfied they are with their basic spiritual beliefs, feel the need to better integrate their sexuality with their spiritual growth.

The Taoist practice of chi cultivation focuses on integrating the divine or subtle energies into the human body, with the goal of achieving a dynamic balance of opposing energies called yin and yang. The Tao is the indescribable sum and absolute source of these energies, which manifest in ever changing form. The Taoists, being practical, proposed that a man can begin with the most ac- cessible energy at hand, namely the sexual attraction between men and women, and use that as a springboard to more subtle realms.

Taoist Esoteric Yoga is neither a religion, nor a path to salvation. Its vision reaches very far, teaching that enlightenment and physical immortality are only stages in a process of coming to wholeness as a human. It also remains very near and practical. The raw materials required for this evolution can be found at any given moment within the life of an ordinary human being.

The Taoist teaching of physical immortality doesn't suggest men no longer die. It means that before they die they have the opportunity to cultivate a "solid" or substantial spiritual body, also known as the Immortal Body, the Solar Body, the Crystal Body, and other names. In the west the closest parallel to a Taoist Immortal is probably an angel. This is different from schools that teach how to become a holy man by dissolving the individual ego into the bliss of cosmic oneness. The Taoists insist each adept preserve his individual nature within a body (physical or spiritual) so he can oversee the growth of his soul until final union with "wu chi," the nothingness from which the oneness of the Tao emerges. This "staying in your own body" precludes the adept from totally surrendering to any guru or divine being or religious authority. No one else can do your spiritual work for you.

Chia sees his role as simply that of a teacher who helps his students empower themselves through cultivation of their chi energy. He passes chi (or "shakti") to his students only so they will have a better sense of what to cultivate and refuses any dependent emotional relationships. He describes himself as the lead driver in a caravan of cars. "I can give each student a road map, a set of tools and instructions on how to fix his car. We start out together, and help and love each other as mitch as possible along the way. But ultimately everyone has to make it on his own. Some will break down, get lost, or choose a different route. Some may find a better road than the one I plotted. As a teacher, there's no kindness I can offer beyond the map and tools and precise instructions for driving safely."

The Taoist premise is that few men ever penetrate the secret of fully tapping the sexual power that is sleepirg deep within their own body. It is revolutionary for the avei age man to think he can enjoy a deep and radiant pleasure in sex that penetrates perma- nently to the core of his being, an experience far superior to ordinary genital orgasm. "The kind of prolonged "total body and soul orgasm" cultivated by Taoists is normally thought to be the exceptional gift of passionate and sensitive women. It has even become the greatest myth of western culture-the woman as passionate object of romantic love, the one who brings love to its real tender ness, The Taoists taught that men can participate equally in love through a truly exquisite balancing of sexual energies that is as tangible as any physical sensation of genital orgasms.

How is it possible for a man to so radically transform his sexual experience and through it his whole experience of life? Para-doxically, this "higher orgasm" can be discovered only when the "normal" or genital orgasm which so preoccupies America's sexologists is de-emphasized. The beginning three basic stages of Taoist "dual cultivation" of sexual energy for couples are:

1) The male learns to hold the penis erect for as long as desired and does not ejaculate any sperm.

2) Man and woman re-direct sexual energy through specific bodily channels into higher regions of the heart, brain and glands.

3) Man exchanges his super charged energy with the complementary energy of woman.

For the man, it is opening his feelings and subtle energy chan- nels to the woman's essence and absorbing it during sex that is the key.

If you are without a lover, the Taoists offer a modification of this practice known as "single cultivation." This teaches a single man how to put his sex energy to work creatively in daily life or simply to enjoy life in good health without the plague of sexual frustration. The goal of the Taoist masters was not to create a new myth of a super macho orgasm which everyone would struggle to achieve and thus create competition. Rather it was to teach men and women practical ways of using natural energies to go more deeply into life's greatest gift, the freedom to love.

So what does all this cultivation of sexual energy have to do with love, of either the personal romantic type or the compassion- ate religious variety? The Taoists teach it is the responsibility of man and woman to balance the powers of Heaven and Earth harmoniously within themselves and that harmony in other spheres of life will follow thereafter. On the esoteric level, all acts of human love are the spontaneous transformation of our seed essence. Our seed essence, the seed of our very soul, is physically stored in the body as sperm or ovarian energy. When we love someone, we not only help them, but we also transform some of our own essence to a higher level of energy. Thus the Taoists see sexuality as a primary source of power behind love on the human level. Anyone following "the path of the heart" - the spontaneous and continuous loving of all that one meets - will find their way much strengthened by the Taoist insights into using the power of sexuality to that end.

At the same time it is the larger unseen cosmic harmony of the Tao that is always present that allows the experience of personal love to occur. Thus the Taoist term "harmony" is probably the closest equivalent for the western concept of "love" or compassion, on both the personal and universal levels. The Taoist goal is not to fulfill the human ego with its insatiable desires. It is to quiet the ego and calm the mind so that the subtle energies in the body can be first observed and then cultivated to a high level of awareness. Then the mind can see its true role in the larger order of things and work harmoniously to keep the forces in balance. Personal love relationships can be one valuable stage in this process, a microcosm of the larger subtle energy field' of the universe.

Western sexologists will undoubtedly dismiss these methods as having no statistical or verifiable scientific basis and accuse them of using vague terms such as "energy." It may be shunned by Western religions who are against sexual pleasure as well as by Eastern ascetic schools who believe spiritual enlightenment can be found only by austerities that include sexual abstinence. The fact is that the early Taoists were scientists who based their practices on precise observation of human biology and psychology. They were neither hedonists nor ascetics, but sought a middle path to create the highest spiritual harmony possible between man and woman in accordance with natural laws of the universe. The deeply philosophical poetry of the Taoists, from the I Ching to Lao-Tse's "Tao Te Ching" to the "Secret of the Golden Flower," all testify to the sublime heights of their vision.

The fact these Taoist practiecs have survived by secret oral transmission for several thousand years is the strongest testimony that they work. The interviews I have conducted with dozens of modern western couples using these Taoist sexual practices, confirmed they still work for an ordinary cross section of urban men, young, old, white, black, Chinese, married and unmarried. Students of yoga, martial arts, and meditation have found it especially easy to learn the technique of seminal retention. Many people were already aware of the importance of sexual energy in their spiritual path, but simply lacked the method of expressing it directly in love making.

The Taoist methods may appear to be similar to the tantric sexual techniques becoming popularized in the west. The principle of balancing male and female and using the body as the crucible for transformation are essentially the same. As Nik Doulgas and Penny Slinger suggest in their authoritative "Sexual Secrets" (Inner Traditions N.Y. 1980) Indian tantra may have originated with ancient Taoists in China and then re-entered China hundreds of years later with the effect of re-vitalizing Taoist sexual practices.

For westerners today the fuiemost practical diffcrcncc is that esoteric Taoism never assumed the cloak of secret rituals and invocation of religious deities that can make tantra seem strange and ill- fitting when transplanted to this culture. Sex was used more openly in China as a medicinal form of healing and natural path to spiritual balance without the same religious overtones. I strongly recommend that you obtain Sexual Secrets as a companion volume to this book, as it contains fresh translations of the classical Taoist treatises on sex and has dniens of superb illustrations of Taoist love-making positions not offered in this book.

It must be stressed that Master Chia does not teach his Taoist methods of transforming sexual energy as separate from his practice of meditation, Tai Chi Chuan, Iron Shirt Chi Kung and other Taoist arts. Sexual balance is a very important foundation for building a healthy physical and emotional life, but the Taoist goal is ultimately to gather the primal energies driving all our desires, emotions, and thoughts and cultivate them back into their original state of pure spirit.

The Taoist Masters of ancient China were no fools. They knew love between man and woman is a mystery which cannot be taught.

Sex may be only the hand maiden of higher love, but our sexual limitations often confront us with the feeling that our relationships with our lovers or that our life in general is incomplete.

The techniques taught in this book are not mechanical substitutes for love. The Taoist secrets of love are meant to be mastered and then discarded when the transformation of sexual energy is experienced as a natural creative power of man, as easy as walking, talking or thinking. Then the pleasure of sex can be ecstatic beyond orgasm and love tender beyond belief.


Michael Winn

June 1984


Taoist Secrets of Love: Cultivating Male Sexual Energy.

Mantak Chia and Michael Winn.

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