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Sex and Tantric Buddhism

Subject: Sex and Tantric Buddhism

"Religious cultivation was carried furthest, perhaps, by devotees of the Tantric or Esoteric sect (Mi-tsung).  During the Republican period, Tibetan lamas had almost as much of a cachet in China as they had in Europe - and for similar reasons.  Rich laymen became their desciples to get their instruction in the exercise of paranormal powers.  Others went to Japan to study Tantrism in its Japanese form of Shingon (Chen-yen).  Not all Tantric masters had been ordained.  Some were laymen who after studying under Tibetan or Japanese monks took disciples themselves."
The Practice of Chinese Buddhism, 1900-1950,  by Holmes Welch, pgs. 385-6.

"Although...a Tantra of desire flourished in India and Tibet, its teachings were less appealing to Buddhists in other countries....  In Japan, however, there was one sect that went as far, if not further than any Tantric school in India, China, or Tibet:

"One of the patriarchs of the Tachikawa-Ryu was Monkan.  For more than two decades Monkan had faithfully observed the monastic precepts; he had read every volume of the enormous Buddhist canon, debated with the most learned doctors, subsisted on the thinnest gruel, and spent years in solitude, meditating each day on the vanity of existence.  Still, nothing could quench his inner fire and the desire for passionate human love.  One night a dakini appeared to him in a dream and said, 'You must learn to experience the Great Bliss, the union of a man and a woman.  Liberation can only be realized through the act of sexual love.'

"Thus Tachikawa texts state unequivocally, 'Buddhahood resides in the yoni of a woman.'  'If you are afraid to embrace a woman (or man) you will never become a Buddha.'  'Sexual intercourse is the supreme Buddhist activity.'  The boudoir, not the temple or the meditation platform, Tachikawa masters proclaimed, was the best, indeed the sole place to win enlightenment....

"...Ejaculation was terms the 'Assembly of Dragon Flowers,' while female lubrication was known as 'Diamond Lacquer.'  (Ejaculation, incidentally, was not as widely discouraged in the Tachikawa texts as in Indo-Tibetan Tantric literature; the Tachikawa maintained that ejaculate was a shower of love that contained thousands of potential Buddhas.)  The male partner was perceived as Fudo Myo-o, the Immovable One of fierce intensity who bears the flaming sword of wisdom; the female partner was Aizen Myo-o, the goddess stained with love, not confused by or afraid of sex but open to all its splendor.

"The mandala of the Tachikawa-Ryu was a couple engaged in ritual intercourse.  Since the mingling of the cosmic elements was the supreme act of worship, the school denounced autoeroticism and homosexuality as sterile and counterproductive.  Participants in Tachikawa rites wre encouraged to transform themselves into enlightened beings and were therfore instructed to first manifest the physical form of male and female Bodhisattvas.  Tachikawa texts delineate 
beauty exercises for women practitioners.  The buttocks, for 
instance, can be shaped into lovely half-moons by doing special prostrations and leg raises in which the woman imagines herself walking on air or fluttering through the sky.  To enhance the breasts, one should place the hands together in the gassho posture of worship and expand the chest muscles.  Men were similarly counseled to strengthen the body and sex organs through yoga and to develop restraint through breath control.

"Before reenacting the union of Buddha with his Consort, the practitioners thoroughly washed themselves and anointed each other with scent.  Their temple was the boudoir, adorned with the best Buddha-image of all - their naked bodies.  Intercourse itself proceeded slowly and reverently; it was suggested that the ritual begin at midnight and not reach climax until the 
first crow of the rooster.  During sexual congress, the breath should be harmonized according to the a (in) un (out) rhythm; the optimum beat is eight (or nine) shallow strokes followed by one deep thrust.  'Turning the Wheel of Dharma' was recommended as an excellent means to circulate the vital juices, allowing the partners to savor each other's nectar.  The instant of orgasm was the moment of truth, a state of pure bliss, an unobstructed blending of emptiness and form, the Jewel in the Lotus - all hail!

"Tachikawa apologists claimed that its sole purpose was to elevate men and women from base animals to enlightened beings, a fulfillment of the Buddhist scheme of universal salvation.  Most couples, they contended, are caught up in their own delusions and so are usually totally ignorant of each other's real feelings even in sexual intercourse.  In the Tachikawa-Ryu, couples were enjoined to always attempt to be in mutual accord, to worship each other as precious jewels and rare flowers.

"Unrestrained indulgence in sexual intercourse was never advocated by the Tachikawa-Ryu.  Fast days and periods of abstinence were mandated.  Sex must be avoided in the following cases: just after menstruation and other inauspicious times; when either parner has skin eruptions; when either partner is in mourning; when either partner has a high fever; and when the female partner is pregnant or in mental distress.  Since the sex drive must 
be sublimated until it can be used properly, yoga exercises for self-control were taught to Tachikawa practitioners.  For the Tachikawa teachings to be truly effective, these conditions must be present: the couple must have faith in, and carefully observe, the principles of the school; they must be in total accord with each other, emotionally as well as physically; they must not overeat or -drink (sic); they must not argue; and they must not conduct unauthorized rites or experiments.

"Despite the seemingly noble aims of the Tachikawa-Ryu, it was condemned and persecuted by rival Buddhist sects and the conservative Samurai authorities.  The Tachikawa-Ryu did have some grotesque features - worship of skulls (coated with effluvia of sexual intercourse, the most potent potion there is) and horse penises, for example - and many of its professed adherents lacked the proper discipline, engaging in orgies and black magic.  The Tachikawa-Ryu went underground and was finally suppressed.  But it was not forgotten, and the cult still has devotees, in different guises, in modern Japan."  Lust for Enlightenment, pgs. 80-84.

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