The way of Yin & Yang
The way of Yin and Yang is of paramount importance in the
Taoist system of health and longevity.
It is also one of the most ancient elements of Chinese
thought on record.
The Yellow Emperor's Classic of Internal Medicine (Huang Ti
Nei Ching) and the invaluable Classic of the Plain Girl (Su Nu Ching), both of which date
from the third-fourth centuries BC, are based on materials handed down through ancient
China's Imperial Archives ever since the time of the Yellow Emperor and his various Taoist
As with the Tao itself, the essential elements in the Tao
of Yin and Yang are balance, harmony and the union of opposites:
For a man to nurture his male powers, he must nourish his
yang essence by absorbing Yin essence. When men and women indulge freely in sex,
exchanging their bodily fluids and breathing each other's breath, it is like fire and
water meeting in such perfect proportions that neither one defeats the other. Man and
woman should ebb and flow in intercourse like the waves and currents of the sea, first one
way then another, but always in harmony with the Great Tide.
In this manner, they may continue all night long,
constantly nourishing and preserving their precious vital essence, curing all ailments,
and promoting long life. Without this basic harmony of Ying and Yang, neither medicines
refined from the five minerals, nor the most potent aphrodisiacs, will be of any use. If
the vital essences are dried up due to excessive emission or complete neglect, they can
never be revived. [Su Nu Ching].
When sex is performed according to the Way, it
becomes an inexhaustible source of energy, like a well that never runs dry, rather than an
exhausting ordeal. However, sex can also 'drown' you if you don't know how to stay
'afloat' during intercourse.
Unless you are a highly accomplished adept who has mastered
the transmutation of sexual energy into pure spiritual power, celibacy will harm your
health as much as reckless indulgence:
Yellow Emperor: I do not wish to make love any more.
Plain Girl: As human beings, we must not do anything that
contradicts nature. Now, your majesty wishes to refrain from sexual intercourse and that
is entirely against nature. When Yin and Yang are not in contact, they cannot complement
and harmonize each other. We breath in order to exchange stale old air for fresh new air.
When the Jade Stem is not active, it will atrophy. That is why it must be exercised
regularly. If a man can learn to control and regulate his ejaculations during sex, he may
derive great benefits from this practice. The retention of semen is highly beneficial to
man's health. [Su Nu Ching].
Preserving semen lies at the heart of Taoist
bedroom arts, as illustrated in the following line from a commentary on the adept
Pein Chang's biography in Dynastic History of the Later Han:
The art of bedroom consists of suppressing emissions,
absorbing the woman's fluids, and making semen return to strengthen the brain, thereby
Thus a man must treasure and conserve his semen during
intercourse; whenever he does emit it, the loss must be compensated by absorbing the
'essence' of woman's secretions. That is why ejaculations through masturbation or
homosexual relations are regarded as being especially harmful to the Yang essence and
By now, male readers must be wondering, 'How can there be pleasure in
sex without ejaculation?'
This question also occurred to the Yellow Emperor after his
advisors encouraged him to start regulating his ejaculations. The Emperors inquiry on this
matter sparked the following exchange between two of his closest counselors, Peng-Tze and
the Rainbow Girl, recorded in Secrets of the Jade Bedroom:
Rainbow Girl: it is generally assumed that a man gains
great pleasure from ejaculation. But when he learns the Tao of Yin and Yang, he will
ejaculate less and less. Will this not diminish his pleasure as well?
Peng-Tze: Not at all! After ejaculating, a man feels tired,
his ears buzz, his eyes get heavy, and he longs for sleep. He is thirsty and his limbs
feel week and stiff. By ejaculating, he enjoys a brief moment of sensation but suffers
long hours of weariness as a result. This is no true pleasure!
However, if a man regulates his ejaculations to an absolute
minimum and retains his semen, his body will grow strong, his mind will clear, and his
vision and hearing will improve. While a man must occasionally deny himself the fleeting
sensation of ejaculation, his love for women will gently increase. He will feel as if
could never get enough of her. Is that not the true and lasting pleasure of sex?
The last point is a particularly subtle and
significant observation; a man who maintains consistently high levels of testosterone,
sperm, semen and other male-essence by practicing ejaculation control will experience an
overwhelming enhancement in his love and affection for his woman. He well also gain the
capacity to act upon that loving urge over and over again.
Compare this with the adolescent attitude toward sex
revealed in the best-selling book Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Sex, written by
the self-styled American sex expert David Rueben. He writes:
In eating, the first bite is tastiest, the first helping
the most appetizing. The third helping of strawberry shortcake just doesn't taste as good
as the first time around. The third copulation of the evening is more for the record books
than the enjoyment of the participants.
Ruben writes from the point of view of a man who has
already ejaculated twice and must now force himself to rise to the occasion once more,
'for the record books'. He doesn't even consider the feelings and point of view of the
woman, for whom a third round is no effort whatsoever and who, like water slowly simmering
over a fire, is still hot after the first two rounds. For a man who knows the Tao of Yin
and Yang, there is always room for a 'third helping of strawberry shortcake'.
In Taoist lovemaking, the emphasis lies not on romantic
love but rather on correct technique; therefore it's like a football game or cricket
match; wanting to win is not enough- both teams have to be 'in shape', in practice, and
know the rules of the game. This approach is well illustrated by the traditional Chinese
literary analogy of the boudoir as a 'flowery battlefield'. But the Chinese image of sex
as battle is not at all the same notion as the Western 'battle between the sexes'.
The latter indicates a fundamental conflict of wills and
severe competition for sexual supremacy that extends beyond the boudoir, while the Chinese
metaphor stresses the practical, tactical aspects of actual intercourse- what the Chinese
call 'bedroom strategy'. In the Mind Dynasty erotic novel Prayer Mat of the Flesh by Lee
Yu, we find an amusing rendition of this martial approach to sexual relations:
Apart from the number of combatants involved, are there
really any difference between battles fought by armies and those fought in bed? In both
cases, the commanders first priority if to survey the terrain and assess the opponent. In
sexual encounters, it is the hills and valleys of the woman that first attract the mans
attention, while she is most curious about the size and firepower of his weapons. Who will
advance and who will retreat? In bed, as in war, it is just as important to know yourself
as it is to know your opponent.
Unlike battles found with swords and spears, however, it is
woman who hold the advantage over men in sexual engagements, and therefore men require the
most 'training' to prepare themselves for battle. Most men, however, fondly regard
themselves as 'stronger' than women and therefore consider their five-minute blitzkriegs
in bed to be par for the course.
In order to fully satisfy his partner in bed, as well as
nurture rather than deplete his essence and energy, a man must learn to prolong the act as
long, and resume it as often, as is necessary for his partner to experience complete
satisfaction. The Plain Girl calls this method 'contact without leakage'. In Secrets of
the Jade Bedroom, the Taoist sage Peng-Tze urges men to treasure and preserve their semen
as a fundamental source of life:
In sexual intercourse, semen must be regarded as a most
precious substance. By saving it, a man protects his very life. Whenever he does
ejaculate, the loss of semen must then be compensated by absorbing the woman's essence.
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