Monday, March 8, 2010
Right Use of Sexual Energy
This is a yabyum mudra picture, though it is hard to see the female in front.
"Divine Co-Creation: A Transmission of Love" 3ft x 4ft.... watercolor by Sarah Collins
The above picture was reposted from the Sarah Collins Facebook page with her permission.
This picture was taken recently. The original statue was a gift given by a good friend named Julia Papps a few years ago. The statue is only about two inches tall. Unlike some of the other yab-yum statues, it is very simple and bare bones, more true to how it could be in actual life. The third eye in this case is radiating the multi-colored rainbow light which usually arises during Dzogchen level realization of our primordial state. The magenta-red color is radiating from the sacrum of the Mahadakini. I call this the "Hreeh engine". Hreeh is the seed syllable of the Padma family of Amida Buddha which includes Amitayus Buddha and the Mahadakini Pandaravasini. Mandarava, one of the two Tantric partners of Padmasambhava, is considered to be an emanation of this Mahadakinis energy. Pandaravasini translates to "Queen of Fire". The seed syllable "Hreeh" is visualized at the sacrum, in neon red, pulsating in rhythm and in sync with the exhale, with the intention of generating actual feel-able heat. This is part of Tumo Meditation, but in a form tuned to the Padma family and Amida Buddha (who is the yab-yum of Amitayus and Pandaravasini). It is an advanced practice, so there is a need to know what you are doing and have mastered certain preliminaries. If I were to name some of them here: (1) mastering Rebirthing breathing to the point where you can generate a wave of tingling sensations in your body in about 15 minutes, (2) understand how to "abide in awareness as awareness" beyond thought and subject/object duality, (3) being able to ride an emotional wave without clinging or resistance until it dissolves into primordial presence, and (4) being able to visualize a red dot at the sacrum, synchronize the pulsation of light with the exhale, and generate actual feel-able heat, (5) mixing the two bindus (the hreed fire and the om white light liquid from the 3rd eye pituitary/pineal gland) at the heart to produce the silvery blue energy that charges up the red blood cells with orgone/prana, understand in life the 12 nidanas, and (6) ideally having established a daily meditaiton practice.
The above picture was graciously allowed to be posted here by Krystal Powers (Scotthuckabay.com). It gives a feeling how the YabYum position actually looks in practice. The picture even shows a polarity mudra similar to the one described below. The picture shows male with left hand at sacrum and right hand at occiput (polarizing the spine downward) and the female with right hand at sacrum and left hand at occiput (polarizing the spine upward). This is allows an energy circulation between the bodies. What is described below is where both male and female have right hand at sacrum and left hand at occiput which is "double ascension" (energy flowing up both spines simultaneously).
The fourth subprecept of the Eightfold Path reads roughly like this, "Not to misuse sexual energy, but contain to sexual energy within a celibacy or within a faithful loving relationship". The deeper side of this precept has to do with understanding that sexual energy is cosmic creative energy and learning how to honor its sacredness. The same energy that births stars also births human children and also can rebirth ourselves. Sila Parmita, ethical idealism and healthy self discipline, is considered one of the "crossing over virtues" of the Mahayana Buddhist path. What this means is that we can base our life on this virtue and reach the depths of enlightenment. When Sila Parmita is taught, the mechanics of karma and the ten worlds of sorrow are taught. Through Sila Parmita we can raise our life condition and transcend the afflicted karmaic patterns that bind our lives. I have chosen to translate Sila Parmita as "ethical idealism". Sometimes it has been translated as "Creative Altruism". The issue I have with this is the altruism implies an element of self sacrifice. While this is sometimes what is needed and what is noble to do, there is a sermon of the Buddha that I call "be the fourth" that goes:
Buddha: There are some who know how to be good to themselves but not good to others. There are some who know how to be good to others but not good to themselves. There are some who are not good to themselves or to others. There are some who know how to be good to themselves and to others. Be the fourth.
The biological classification of this orientation towards goodness is "mutualism". This is where we learn to serve each other within community. It is the reason why the Sangha emerged. We are meant to help each other and build a life together. Ethical Idealism is not merely about how we treat others, but also how we treat ourselves. This is why Ethical Idealism also includes how to eat, how to meditate, how to exercise, how to work at our jobs, how to earn money, how to speak, and even how to think. There is a danger of emotional repression in practicing this parmita. This is why it is important to know how to be good to ourselves and to let ourselves feel whatever emotions that we have. Our ethical idealism needs to become psychologically and emotionally mature. There is a natural kind of care and attention that Sila Parmita cultivates where we learn to gently correct our behavior and our thoughts in order to manifest our ideal. This attitude leads to the "four inexaustible states" which are (1) friendship and kindness, (2) sympathetic compassion, (3) sympathetic joy, and (4) unconditional acceptance. These are four aspects of love that are cultivated in Buddhism. They are innate to our Buddha nature and shine forth when we are enlightened. They still need to grow and develop within us. They need to become skillful when interacting with all sentient beings. It takes some time and growth to understand how to do this.
I meditated on the fourth subprecept of the Eightfold Path a lot, because I was wondering what it meant. It seemed that "right use of sexual energy" simply meant to follow all the other precepts around it. For instance, being faithful to our loving partner means to not lie to them, but to speak kind and truthful words, not to kill them but to nourish the roots of goodness within them, and not to put pressure on them or take anything from them that is not freely given. If we did this much with our loving partners, many problems would simply go away. Yet I found that the Buddha did not waste words. He illuminated sexual relationships, because he wanted people to end sorrow in their lives. Sexual relationships can be the place where our deepest sorrows are played out. It is strange, because the energy of the first contact seems to promise heaven and sometimes later on offers our most agonizing pains. People forget that Buddha was a married man, the son of a king, and had a lot of experience with sexual relationships. He was only celibate for 7 years before his enlightenment. One of the experiences that lead him to renounce the world and seek enlightenment was waking up from a drunken party and seeing all the people sprawled all over floor, some of them drooling. The beauntiful, handsome, and sexy beings that seemed to flirt with sexual energy the night before now had wrinkles shown, tension on their faces, and had lost their elegance and charm. The Buddha had a moment of consciousness that transcended the sexual dance and even some mild horror at how much was an illusion.
Part of why the Buddha included the precept about right use of sexual energy is because this is a place where much sorrow can arise. Sexual pleasure can become biochemically addictive, too, and people can exhaust their sexual energy, rather than raise it up the spine and use it for their evolution. Sexual repression, too, can harm our bodies, lock up our backs at the L4-L5 vertebral junction, and even cause a cancer that starts with the sexual organs. As an energy healer, I have seen a lot of cases where emotional repression has caused very intense psychosomatic illnesses and have sometimes witnessed cures that would be considered miraculous to conventional science. The key in each of these cures was to breathe, energize, and refeel the neglected emotions locked within the body. Emotions are too powerful an energy to repress without severe psychosomatic consequences. I consider emotional repression to be both endemic and a major cause of aging and death. Emotional acceptance and emotional honesty are necessary in order to be psychologically and spiritually healthy. Most cultures on this planet have taught a kind of "emotional morality" where certain emotions are considered unworthy of being felt and have unwittingly taught emotional repression. A certain kind of nonjudgmental acceptance is needed to explore our emotional life so that it can evolve to emotional maturity, into deep wisdom and loving compassion toward all sentient beings. We need to be okay with being angry, afraid, and sad, let them have their time to be felt and explored, and then transmuted into their wisdom aspect, where they actually become part of our clarity and kindness.
My concern about the Buddhist and Hindu teaching about celibacy is that it might not lead to this emotional maturity. I feel that there is something that can be learned within loving partnership that is difficult to learn when we are merely meditating into serenity on some mountaintop. I consider a loving relationship to be a superior vehicle to evolve into supreme perfect enlightenment than merely being celibate. I consider that lack of valuing of a loving partnership as a spiritual and evolutionary vehicle to be a vestage of the Patriarchal Era that started to end around the 1800s. During this time, the feminine was devalued and considered inferior to the masculine. The wife was to be subserviant to the husband. The ethical ideal of this relationship is that it is meant to be a relationship among equals who can exist in mutual respect. When one is subserviant to another, there is no depth of intimacy possible and a certain kind of emotional growth cannot happen. A certain kind of emotional maturity has only rarely flowered among human beings.
One of the prophecies in Buddhism is that the Maitreya Buddha would only appear when the lifespan of human beings was only 12 years. I feel that this prophecy is not about a literal 12 year lifespan, but about the emotional lifespan of human beings. When I have had people consciously breathe, infuse their bodies with prana, relax their chronic muscle tension, and refeel the emotions that were locked in bodies, the emotions that surface are about their childhood. It seems that our mental abilities have been evolving at the expense of our emotional growth. So people are mental adults and emotional children. The highest emotional age that I find among the people I have worked with is about 14 years. Oddly enough, this higher age is usually due to having emotional traumas so strong in childhood that they could not repress them and therefore had to explore those emotions and grow from them. If you take the developmental models of Margaret Mahler, Piaget, Erik Erickson, and Kolberg, and use them as a map of determing the emotional ages of people. This is what you get. Oddly enough, there is no direct emotional map, but you can get a sense of it by the parallel growth of sensory motor abilities, moral reasoning, and life challenges. If you get some sense of what emotional growth would match these phases, you can get a full map of where people are. In reverse, one temporal indicator is the sensory motor patterns and speech patterns that the emotional subselves that emerge with also allow time indexing of when the repressions happened. Very often, an adult parent is teaching the children to repress. Sometimes by telling them they have a bad attitude and that they should not feel what they are feeling. The ability to choose your emotions at will is an ability I have not seen even in most adults and yet adults are telling the kids to have this! Emotions can change, but through acceptance, exploration, and awareness. If an adult has done this homework, then they can help his or her children grow emotionally.
When an emotion is repressed, there is a corresponding sensation in the body part that is feeling it. When we do not want to feel an emotion, we tighten the muscles surrounding the sensation until the sensation is not felt. The muscle usually remains chronicly tight. I also feel that addictions are related to emotional repression. When a person does not want to feel an emotion, they can choose some substances the overwhelms the sensation. In a oversimplified sense, alcohol represses fear, nicotine represses anger, marijuana represses sadness, and overeating represses anxiety. Emotions are interconnected, and sometimes there is anger in the sadness or sadness in the anger, or fear in both. So sometimes marijuana can repress a very deep anger, but when this anger is willingly felt, it can become a deep grief and anger at life for taking away someone we had loved. Allowing one to fully feel these emotions and moving them to completion, closure, or resolution is how we grow emotionally. Telling ourselves that we should not feel the emotion and stuffing it in our bodies keeps us emotionally stunted and blocks a certain kind of growth from happening.
When people fall in love with each other and become sexual with each other, the sexual experience can move through an elemental wave. These are "earth into water" where the muscles start to relax, "water into fire" where tingling sensations appear in the body, "fire into air" where orgasms happen, and "air into space" where we rest in the airglow. There is a need to have a meditational balance through the experience, learning to not resist what wishes to happen and not rush to orgasm, but to let the experiences arise, abide, change, and pass away without pressure. For the male, it is wise to "sacrifice orgasm," to let go of trying to get there, of trying to push toward this goal. It is learning to be present and to let it unfold. You surrender to the movement of sexual kundalini energy and do not force it to go faster than it wants to go. Sexual energy is actually very fast and responsive. It responds to our thoughts quicker than we sometimes even notice our thoughts. If there is a thought wave with an attachment to orgasm, then sexual energy will mobilize towards this goal. It takes the mind being very silent and present centered inside to stay with the process. Some restraint is needed to slow down the tendency to rush the experience. The recommendation is to have the intention to prolong the foreplay as long as possible. At some point the energies will feel right to shift to the next phase and then to prolong this phase as long as possible, and so on. Another intention that helps the experience to go as long as needed, it is to let go of trying to get anything from sex and to focus instead on loving the other person. One Tibetan Master said, "The happiness of other people is my happiness." This is mudita, the sympathetic joy aspect of love. In sexual communion, we can feel this.
The main point I wish to make here is that, as the muscles relax in "earth into water" and "water into fire", the repressed emotions will surface. They can project on to the partner and starting causing problems to appear in the relationship. Power struggles can appear. This emotional undercurrent is below the entire Patriarchal Era. It can and will arise in sexual communion with a loving partner. If the couple can create a safe container for this process, they can use the surfacing of the emotions as an advantage and move through them, deepening their love for each other, and evolving further within the dual vehicle. The surfacing of the emotions can also arise and destroy the relationship as well. Every emotional issue that a person has repressed inside his or her body will surface during sexual communion. Premature ejaculation is in some sense a defense against letting the process be long enough and deep enough to allow the emotions to surface. It is settling for a local orgasm, or genital orgasm, rather than a full body orgasm. In Tantric Buddhism, one of the names for enlightenment is "Mahamudra" which could be translated as "Great Orgasm". This is because the ego gets totally obliterated in deep orgasm. This is a mechanism of biological evolution that children are birthed from a nonegoic energy. In a sense, everyone has a natural small enlightenment in sexual communion. It may last for a few seconds, but these few seconds keep the species birthing itself into existence. The key is to consciously ride this process to the very end without short circuiting it or resisting it.
There is a level of sexual indulgence that exhausts our sexual energy and does not make it available for our evolution. Right use of sexual energy requires that we conserve our energy and not merely indulge in it because it is pleasurable. This kind of indulgence has sometimes been called "masturbating in the womb". It is sexual communion without loving the other person being a relevant factor. It where the intention is to "have sex", rather than "make love". When we are involved this way, then orgasm becomes energy discharge, rather than "air into space".
In terms of evolution, the higher levels of sexual communion are deeply telepathic. The link made with a lover is something we feel even when they are not within the range of our physical senses. Many lovers feel this during part of the relationship unfoldment, as least for a while. It can only be sustained by someone who is oriented to meditation, who has committed to the evolutionary process, and is willing to mutate into the next species that is meant to appear on Earth. Otherwise sex collapses to robotic repetition of an energy losing pleasurable ritual or becoming a family formation survival and security bond where jealousy, territoriality, and possessiveness will arise to maintain the attachment. Sexual communion is meant to be generally pleasurable and meant to create a family matrix, but it is also meant to move beyond these two orientations. It is an evolutionary energy.
The sexual renunciation that was taught in early Buddhism was about letting go of sexual addiction to pleasurable robotic sex and security addiction to social bonding sex. The third possibiity, sex as an evolutionary force and how to work with this energy, was not yet discovered and still is not taught much except in Tantric Buddhism, Tantric Hinduism, Sufism, and Taoism. Even to this day, it is still somewhat of an revolutionary orientation. Almost all human cultures are a little afraid of sex, because deep down the ego knows it gets annihilated by deep orgasm. It clings to itself and resists this deep death and rebirth experience. This self clinging is at the root of all sorrow. Almost every culture has many rules and taboos about what sex is appropriate and what is not. Many of the rules about sex have to do with when a person is of age to have sex and making sure that sex is consentual. In Buddhism, you are not meant to have sex with anyone who is still under guardianship. This would include children and mentally handicapped people who cannot really consent to having sex and know what this means. Many cultures have rules against premarital sex and against having sexual affairs outside the marriage. My own sense is that we are meant to keep the agreements that we make with a partner about this. It is possible to have multiple loving partners and still use sexual energy rightly. I think eventually we are meant to have just one partner and learn to love them fully. Whatever agreements and boundaries we have consciously decided with another person we are meant to keep. What makes most sexual affairs a misuse of sexual energy is the lying and violation of trust when an agreement is broken. If one has reached a point where one does not feel able to keep an agreement to limit sex to just one partner, then this agreement must be consciously dissolved before going to someone else. Beyond this level of sexual ethics, however, there is a deeper sexual yoga. It is implied in the original formulation of "right use of sexual energy". The earliest teachings are about seeing sex as energy and not merely as a pleasurable act or bonding act. There is an energy ethic involved.
My sense of this is that sexual energy is sacred and is meant to be yielded to. In Tantric Buddhism, there are three geometries to define three phases of relationship, the square, the triangle, and the circle. In the square, there are four elements meeting, the higher self and ego of the male and the higher self and ego of the female. There four interactions going on and sometimes a subtle power struggle. This kind of relating is conventional and not evolutionary. Then when both people understand that sexual energy is sacred and a higher power invoked in the relationship, then both the male and female surrender to this higher power and the energy moves up their spines toward the omega point above their crown chakras. In Tantric Buddhism, this is done in the Yab-Yum Asana with certain hand mudras and breathings being done. If it is not possible anatomically to do the Yab-Yum asana, then there are alternatives to explore until the right one is found. When "valley orgasm" happens (versus explosive orgasm), a circle eventually forms where the energy is circulated within the dual alchemical factory which is the male and female conjoined. The male and female glandular system usually produces hormonal chemicals that the other gender does not do as much or as well. This dual vehicle is alchemical biological transformation unit. Together, the male and female have the "32 marks" of an enlightened Buddha, a perfect balance of male and female hormonal energies. It follows the alchemical formula that Jesus gives in the Gospel according to Saint Thomas (which did not make it into the New Testament Nicene Canon):
I will make the female into male,
I will make the male into female,
and the two into one,
and then the kingdom of god
The Patriarchal Era was so horrified, by the way, at this alchemical formula that it may have been the reason why this gospel did not appear in the Nicene Canon. In some versions of this gospel, the second line, "I will make the male into female" is often omitted. Biochemically, however, this is what is happening in Tantric sexual union. Each is flooded with hormones of the opposite gender and each becomes the other and then arrives at balance and unity. Each eventually is both male and female biochemically and then is enlightened.
Understanding this sexual yoga, I do feel that multiple partnerships are less servicable than just one partner. There is a Taoist saying that goes: "It takes seven years to understand the body of your partner, another seven years to understand their mind, and then another seven years to understand their heart." In other words, through living with each other and loving each other, it takes about 21 years to fully understand the heart of just one person. There is also a need to understand, from living experience, how to work with the sexual kundalini energy and how to allow it to totally transform one.