Sexual Alchemy FAQ’s

sexula alchemy faq

What is the difference between Taoism and Tantra?

There are many similarities between the two traditions.  Tantra is an Indian system which aims to activate energy in the body, like Taoism did in China.  Both are famous in the sexually repressive west for using sexual energy as a spiritual tool, although this wrongly has become the understanding of the main focus of tantra. The first place that I studied tantra, I realised I was ending with more questions than answers and some things weren't making sense. I researched deeper into the topic and found there was a break in lineage of teaching with many self proclaimed tantra experts moving to the west and teaching practices that were not authentic.  

I have studied and practiced tantra for over a decade and while it contains useful insights and practices,  practitioners often end up burnt out because they activate a lot of energy but are not told how to store it or use it. The focus of tantra is to open the chakras, activate the spinal fluid (sushumna) and balance the ida and pingala nadis so that the kundalini energy can flow. Opening the microcosmic orbit activates the sushumna and usually clears the chakras. The chakras also open as the thrusting channel opens moving the energy from the tan tiens upwards. Tantra refers to the moving of kundalini energy, which could be compared to moving jing up the body in Taoist practice. Taoists clearly understand and define the energy as having three forms, jing, chi and shen, and work with each in different ways as part of the transformation process of spiritual enlightenment. Taoists also emphasise grounding, saying that energy should never be left in the head ('Don't cook your Brain').

Both practices activate energy but in Taoism it is activated, transformed, recycled and stored with a major focus on retaining and refining the energy. It is really powerful energy that we are using and not something that should be taken lightly. Personally there have been times I have been going through major activations and felt so much energy coming up into my head I felt slightly drunk and dizzy. I practiced Iron Shirt Chi Kung and grounded the energy. Many tantra schools teach to sent up the energy to the head where it is often either blown out of the top of the head and lost, or becomes stuck there. This causes lack of concentration, tinnitus, headaches and mental illness. To be honest I didn't experience the major energy activations with tantra that I did with Taoist practice, but I have personally known men who have become really ungrounded and weird, and one who ended up with a psychiatric disorder while practicing tantra. I think men tend to be more affected by this because, according to Taoists, the nature of male sexual energy is highly unstable. Grounding is essential to keep ourselves balanced and stay in our body. We can leave our bodies as a result of trauma, and badly practiced energy work can be traumatic to the body, so if there was trauma already this can have a double effect.

Taoism is a scientific formula which explains in detail about different kinds of energy and what you can do with it, the effects that this has, and what happens to it in different parts of the body. Acupuncture is based on this formula, and it is arguably the most detailed understanding of the human body, even surpassing the understanding of western science. If you increase, recycle, refine and store your energy and become stronger and healthier because you are not just stimulating sexual energy, you are using it, improving it and storing it.  I have noticed most tantra educators, like myself, use Taoist methods. I now focus more on the Taoist side as I find it more of a complete system, but I still refer to tantric teachings and have met some beautiful people as part of both communities.  Labels aren't essential and these two practices are just working with a part of human nature that is there to be used. These traditions are describing the same thing is different ways.

What is the Taoist view on Pornography?

There is nothing wrong with eroticism, pictures of nudity, or any sexual activity in itself between consenting adults. However energy being created by the commercial porn industry has been reprogramming people's brains away from our original purpose of connections which is affecting our views on sex and relationships. People and sex have been turned into a commodity.

Pornography tends to be the junk food of eroticism and it has a huge influence on people.  When we are sexually aroused we are in a vulnerable position and will take in what is around us very easily.  We should be in the arms of our beloved but instead we are in front of a screen and connected to Hugh Heffner, watching people on viagra who are probably completely bored acting out what someone thinks our sexual fantasies should be.  

Taoist and Tantric traditions both warn about the dangers of frequent ejaculation which is depleting men's energy. The more negative energy you have, the more you will feel the need to ejaculate, as the body attempts to remove the negativity. Pornography influences people's energies and consciousness. When we have a sexual experience we should be feeling the energy with the attention turned inwards, this is how we work with energy. Turning the gaze outwards, in particular at a screen, is draining of energy. working with energy is actually way more fun. Ancient Taoist texts warn against viewing erotic images when trying to conceive a child, this could be because looking externally is viewed to be a drain on energy because of turning the attention outwards, or because in some other way it was considered to create bad energy, perhaps by diverting the lovers from their connection with each other.

In the sexual practices of both Taoism and Tantra, the connection within ourselves between our Hearts and sexual energy, and with our partners, is essential. It's about creating a circuit of energy which is spiritually transformational and blows your mind. There is little place in that for pornography. It is surprising me how large a percentage of the men who have come to me talk about having an unhealthy relationship with porn. Whilst my approach is that this is something that people go through and nothing to feel bad about (I have never watched porn so can't speak from experience) they are telling me it makes their energy feel bad, and I can understand how that might be. Disconnecting from porn is a process of reprogramming your mind back to it's original connection of Heart and sexual energy. It's a gradual process and judging yourself or others has little use. As you progress spiritually, like most people you are likely to experience it just does not have a place in your life anymore.

How does Taoism View Homosexuality?

Taoism is a non-judgmental philosophy that advocates balance in all things and sees our interactions as being in terms of energy.  One of the Eight Immortals of Taoism was transgender and Tu'er Shen is the Taoist god of same sex couples. Bisexuality among women was the norm in ancient China, and women would normally start their sex lives with activities among themselves.  When a man would go away leaving his wives and concubines alone he would leave a jade dildo shaped on his own member for the women to pleasure each other with.  Homosexuality among men was not considered healthy in ancient medical texts, because yang energy is unstable and it was considered that a man needed female yin energy to stabilise his yang through sexual intercourse. Celibacy practice by men was also warned against for this reason. However, the Taoist view on what is a man or woman was not absolute as it is in Judeo Christian culture. Men in particular are accepted fitting into different gender categories and unique balances of masculine and feminine energies within a person is recognised also.  The medical advice about homosexuality was a general comment on the nature of yang energy.  A place with many men and few women more likely to be volatile, and crime statistics show that about 95% of crime is committed by men.  We all have both yin and yang energy and if we can balance that both wihtin ourselves and with a partner, that is healthy.  The idea that Taoism is only for heterosexuals is a misunderstanding of the traditions.


Is Celibacy Healthy?

Celibacy is an advanced practice, to be able to continue for periods of time. Everyone goes through periods of abstinence and being able to cope with this in a healthy way is a good tool. There are two things we can do with our sexual energy at this time, repress it, or channel it. Repressing it will result in stagnation and the energy going toxic. Channeling and transforming is the true practice that a nun or monk should be doing.This involves moving the energy up the body and transforming it into spiritual energy, a healing love practice. Mantak Chia has taught healing love to nuns to help them in their celibacy practice. Using sexual energy in this way is a powerful spiritual tool.

In ancient texts, Taoists generally warned against celibacy.  This is because abstaining from sex where the energy is being repressed can cause energy blocks and yin/yang imbalances.  It was believed that it was good, especially for men, who's sexual energy is unstable, to exchange yin and yang energies with another. Sexual stimulation was considered healthy (to activate the jing energy), however ejaculation was not (as jing would be lost).  Jing is the raw energy form that is converted to chi (physical energy) and then shen (spiritual energy), the ultimate goal in Taoist practice. Self management is very important, but that is through energetic flow, not repression (or correct movement of chi established through practices meaning that the chi was flowing as opposed to being forced down an unnatural path) as opposed to willpower.  

For a man to avoid women and masturbate, especially with ejaculation is not healthy. Alan Watts makes the point that celibacy and promiscuity are too side of the same coin because they are both a mechanism to avoid intimacy. Intimacy is an important part of our development as human beings because when we are in relationships all sorts of stuff that we need to deal with comes up and we have the opportunity to progress. We are opened spiritually.

It is good to have the skill to be able to go through periods of celibacy without becoming frustrated (knowing how to transform sexual energy) and also knowing how to channel jing is an essential skill for a meaningful spiritual/sexual life. I don't think that humans are supposed to be celibate and I struggle to find an example of a healthy celibate. I personally know people who have developed sexual and health problems (the Kidneys can be affected and blockages form around the Liver) whilst attempting to practice celibacy without using Healing Love practices. Love is an essential part of being human, and even if you avoid sex in itself, some sort of intimacy is important.

How do Polyamorous Relationships fit in to Taoism?

In traditional Confuscionist China it was normal for a man to have many wives and much Taoist literature on the topic is written in that context.  Mantak Chia teaches a form of Taoist sexual practice which is designed to be practiced within a relationship of some form with a healthy connection between the lovers.  He learned this by word of mouth from four masters with direct lineage to Taoist teachings going back thousands of years.  If you are going to be sharing your energy with someone and combining your microcosmic orbit together, engaging in deep healing, it seems obvious why it's best to do with someone special in a deeply intimate and loving relationship.  The likelihood of bringing all sorts of unpredictable energies in from doing this with multiple lovers, some of whom may be distressed about the situation, is pretty high.

Modern western society focuses hugely on the individual and on the level of the material and mundane. In a capitalist society it is inevitable that quantity is valued over quality and so called individual freedoms, often to destroy ourselves, are highly rated.  When someone is not feeling fulfilled it is natural they will look elsewhere for fulfillment, and this often leads to a sequence of unfulfilling encounters. This is a reflection of the individuals lack of personal fulfillment due to inability to experience intimacy, a mirroring. Personally after cultivating my energy to a certain level, I found having a lover who was not suitable would drain me. My energy was much to strong for my lover and it caused him to develop a block in his Liver, and he started to have angry outbursts. Now I am so careful about what I do with my energy and who comes near. Not many people cultivate energy to such a high degree so if you do find someone it is worth keeping them around.

Through Taoist practices you become a complete person, complete in body, mind and spirit with not just the physical body interacting with another but also the energetic and spiritual body.  When these two fields become active you experience yourself as a whole new entity.  You realise that you don't need constant new external stimuli to feel fulfilled because you are fulfilled within yourself and just a slight brush of the hand of your beloved will send waves of orgasmic energy shooting through your body. Then you realise that the whole universe can be explored within yourself and your beloved and that will take an eternity and you feel contentment. There is nothing like sharing energy with a conscious minded person who is also cultivting.