Bliss and emptiness

Bliss and emptiness

28 Dec 2019

"Intensify and elevate your practice, broadening the horizons of your bliss; But if bliss and Emptiness are not identified, Profitlessly you stray from the path of Tantra: Apprehend the intrinsic unity of bliss and Emptiness.

Guard the samaya [oath of Chastity] of Guru and Dakini like your eyes; In various skillful ways enjoy the five sacred substances; Practice to perfection the skill of retaining your seed-essence [semen, bodhichitta]; Be attentive to obstacles and hostile powers [your egos, defects, vices]; If the samaya [Chastity] is impaired strive to restore it.

About the body: do not let it slip into old habits [of lust and orgasm] Or you will become like ordinary men and women [who are animals]; With the confidence of the deity, meditate charged with power And inform your focal points of energy as a principal and his circle of deities.

About speech: concentrate upon mantra and energy flows - Without energy control your sexual activity is Fornication; Properly execute the exercises of 'drawing up' [the spine] and 'saturating' [brain and heart] And with the [iron] nails of your imagination apply an hermetic seal [to prevent any loss of energy].

About mind: identify the conditioned mind with seed-essence [bodhichitta] itself; If seed-essence [semen, bodhichitta] is lost in actuality [through orgasm] The karma of slaying a Buddha is incurred; At all costs gain self-control [over lust and orgasm]."

- Sky Dancer: The Secret Life and Songs of the Lady Yeshe Tsogyel, by Keith Dowman

The ongoing debate about the nature of sexual practice in traditional Tantra stirs up many opinions by scholars and would-be practitioners. Some plainly deny it's validity or place of importance in the tradition whilst others are overly enthusiastic about the mere idea of it's existence and project all kinds of fantasies into the picture.

Yeshe Tsogyel is known to have been the main consort of the great Guru of Tibet - Padmasambhava. An Indian Tantric master who established Vajrayana Buddhism in Tibet.

The excerpts above, if they can be fully trusted, raise some interesting questions as to the nature of this sexual practice. It speaks of sexual retention and the 'dangers' of ejaculation, the intensification of practice through sex and the channeling of sexual energy during intercourse.

If this is indeed what Padmasambhava was teaching and practicing where did he learn it from and where is the evidence of these practices in the Indian Tantric teachings? We find such advice's in the teachings of Hatha Yoga but scholars seem to regard this as a deviation of the 'original' Tantric teachings.