by Ordo Templi
The retention of sperm:
For a Buddhist Tantric, the
retention of the male seed is the sine qua non of the highest spiritual
enlightenment. This stands in stark opposition to the position of Galen
(129–199 C.E.), the highest medical authority of the European Middle Ages.
Galen was of the opinion that the retentio semenis would lead to a
putrefaction of the secretion, and that the rotten substance would rise to
the head and disturb the functioning of the brain.
In contrast, the tantras teach that
the semen is originally stored in a moonlike bowl beneath the roof of the
skull. As soon as a person begins to experience sexual desire, it starts
to flow out, drop by drop, passing through the five energy centers
(chakras). In each of these the yogi experiences a specific “seminal”
ecstasy (Naropa, 1994, p. 191). The destination of the sperm’s journey
within the body is the tip of the penis. Here, through extreme meditative
concentration, the adept collects the lust: “The vajra [penis] is inserted
into the lotus [vagina], but not moved. When lust of a transient art
arises, the mantra hum should be spoken. ... The decisive [factor] is thus
the retention of the sperm. Through this, the act obtains a cosmological
dimension ... It becomes the means of attaining enlightenment (bodhi)” (Grönbold,
Asiatische Studien, p. 34). “Delight resides in the tip of the vajra
[penis]", as is said in a Kalachakra text (Grönbold, 1992a).
With the topic of sperm retention,
an appeal is made to ancient Indian sexual practices which date from
pre-Buddhist times. In the national epic poem of the Indians, the
Mahabharata, we can already read of ascetics “who keep the semen up” (Grönbold,
Asiatische Studien, p. 35). In early Buddhism, a holy man (Arhat) is
distinguished by the fact that his discharges have been conquered and in
future no longer occur. From Vajrayana comes the striking saying that “A
yogi whose member is always hard is one who always retains his semen” (Grönbold,
Asiatische Studien, p. 34). In contrast, in India the flowing of the male
seed into “the fiery maw of the female sexual organ” is still today
regarded as a sacrificium, and therefore feared as an element of death
(White, 1996, p. 28.
The in part adventurous techniques
of semen retention must be learnt and improved by the adept through
constant, mostly painful, practice. They are either the result of mental
discipline or physical nature, such as through pressure on the perineum at
the point of orgasm, through which the spermatic duct is blocked, or one
stops the seminal flow through his breathing. If it nonetheless comes to
ejaculation, then the lost sperm should be removed from the mudra’s vagina
with the finger or tongue and subsequently drunk by the practitioner.
Yet that which is forbidden under
penalty of dreadful punishments in hell for the pupil, this is not by a
long shot the case for his guru. Hence, Pundarika, the first commentator
upon the Kalachakra Tantra, distinguishes between one “ejaculation, which
arises out of karma and serves to perpetuate the chain of rebirth, and
another, which is subject to mental control ...” (Naropa, 1994, p. 20). An
enlightened one can thus ejaculate as much as he wishes, under the
condition that he not lose his awareness in so doing. It now becomes
apparent why the vajra master in the second higher initiation (9) of the
Time Tantra is able to without harm let his sperm flow into the vagina of
the mudra so as to be able to offer the mixture (sukra) which runs out to
the pupil as holy food.
In the traditional Buddhist
conception an embryo arises from the admixture of the male seed and the
female seed. This red-white mixture is referred to by the texts as sukra
Since the fluids of man and woman produces new life, the following
analogic syllogism appears as obvious as it is simple: if the yogi
succeeds in permanently uniting within himself both elixirs (the semen
virile and the semen feminile), then eternal life lies in store for him.
He becomes a “born of himself”, having overcome the curse of rebirth and
replaced it with the esoteric vision of immortality. With the red-white
mixture he attains the “medicine of long life”, a “perfected body” (Hermanns,
1965, pp. 194, 195). Sukra is the “life juice” par excellence, the liquid
essence of the entire world of appearances. It is equated with amrta, the
“drink of immortality” or the “divine nectar”.
Even if many tantric texts speak
only of bodhicitta, the male seed, at heart it is a matter of the
absorption of both fluids, the male and the female, in short — of sukra.
Admittedly the mixing of the sexual fluids does seem incompatible with the
prohibition against ejaculation, but through the so-called Vajroli method
the damaging consequences of the emission of semen can be reversed, indeed
this is considered a veritable touchstone of the highest yogic skill.
Here, the tantra master lets his bodhicitta flow into his partner‘s vagina
in order to subsequently draw back into himself through his urethra the
male-female mixture which has arisen there. “After he has streamed forth,”
Mircea Eliade quotes a text as saying, “he draws in and says: through my
force, through my seed I take your seed — and she is without seed” (Eliade,
1985, p. 264). The man thus steals the seed of the woman under the
impression that he can through this become a powerful androgynous being,
and leaves her without her own life energy.
Some of the “initiated” even succeed
in drawing up the semen feminile without ejaculating any sperm so as to
then produce the yearned-for sukra mixture in their own body. The mastery
of this method requires painful and lengthy exercises, such as the
introduction of small rods of lead and “short lengths of solder” into the
urethra (Eliade, 1985, p. 242). Here can be seen very clearly how much of
a calculating and technical meaning the term upaya (method) has in the
tantras. Yet this does not hinder the Tantric Babhaha from celebrating
this thieving process in a poetic stanza:
In the sacred citadel of the vulva
a superlative, skillful partner,
do the praxis of mixing white seed
with her ocean of red seed.
Then absorb, raise, and spread the nectar—
A stream of ecstasy such as you’ve never known.
(quoted by Shaw, 1994, p. 158).
Now what happens if the yogi has not
mastered the method of drawing back? Fundamentally, the following applies:
“Through the loss of the bindu [semen] comes death, through its retention,
life” (Eliade, 1985, p. 257). In a somewhat more tolerant view, however,
the adept may catch the sukra from out of the vagina in a vessel and then
drink it (Shaw, 1994, p. 157). It is not rare for the drinking bowl to be
made from a human skull. The Candamaharosana Tantra recommends sucking the
mixture up with a tube (pipe) through the nose (George, 1974, p. 75). If
one sips the sukra out of his mudra’s genitals with his mouth, then the
process is described as being “from mouth to mouth” (White, 1996, p. 200).
Without exaggeration one can refer to this drinking of the “white-red
bodhicitta” as the great tantric Eucharist, in which semen and blood are
sacredly consumed in place of bread and wine. Through this oriental “Last
Supper” the power and the strength of the women are passed over to the
Shadow of the Dalai Lama," by Victor and Victoria Trimondi
"The Scented Garden of Abdullah the Satirist of Shiraz"
power of retaining the semen, is one of the most interesting and important
branches of Hathayoga, the Hindu "Physical Culture". The following from
the Shiva Sanhita, concerning the Vajroli Mudra, affords an adequate
example of the method and aim:
53. Actuated by
mercy for my devotees, I shall now explain the "Vajroli Mudra", the
destroyer of the darkness of the world, the most secret among all secrets.
54. Even while
following all his desires, and without conforming to the regulations of
Yoga, a householder can become emancipated, if he practices the VAJROLI
55. This VAJROLI YOG
practice gives emancipation even when one is immersed in sensuality;
therefore it should be practised by the Yogi with great care.
56. First let the
talented practitioner introduce into his own body, according to the proper
methods, the germ-cells from the female organ of generation, by suction up
through the tube of the "meatus urinarius"; restraining his own semen, let
him practise copulation. If by chance the semen begins to move, let him
stop its emission by the practice of the YONI MUDRA. Let him place the
semen on the left hand duct, and stop further intercourse. After a while,
let him continue it again. In accordance with the instruction of his
preceptors and by uttering the sound "hoom", let him forcibly draw up
through the contraction of the "Apana Vayu" the germ-cells from the
57. The Yogi,
worshipper of the lotus-feet of his Guru, should in order to obtain quick
success in Yoga drink milk or nectar in this way.
58. Know semen to be
moon-like, and the germ-cells the emblem of sun; let the Yogi make their
union in his own body with great care.
59. I am the semen,
Sakti is the germ fluid; when they both are combined, then the Yogi
reaches the state of success, and his body becomes brilliant and divine.
60. Ejaculation of
semen is death, preserving it within is life; therefore, let the Yogi
preserve his semen with great care.
61. Verily, verily,
men are born and die through semen; knowing this, let the Yogi always
practise to preserve his semen.
62. When through
great efforts success in the preservation of the semen is obtained, what
then cannot be achieved in this world? Through the greatness of its
preservation (i.e. through celibacy) one becomes like me in glory.
63. The "vindu"
(semen) causes the pleasure and pain of all creatures living in this
world, who are infatuated, and are subject to death and decay. For the
Yogi, this preservation of semen is the best of all Yogas, and it is the
giver of happiness.
64. Though immersed
in enjoyments, men get powers through its practice. Through the force of
his practice, he becomes an adept in due season, in his present life.
65. The Yogi
certainly obtains through this practice all kinds of powers, at the same
time enjoying all the innumerable enjoyments of the world.
66. This Yoga can be
practised along with much enjoyment; therefore the Yogi should practice
67. There are two
modifications of the VAJROLI, called "Sahajoni" and "Amarani". By all
means let the Yogi preserve the semen.
68. If at the time
of copulation the "vindu" is forcibly emitted, and there takes place an
union of the sun and the moon, then let him absorb this mixture through
the tube of the male organ. This is "Amarani".
69. The method by
which the "vindu" on the point of emission can be withheld through YONI-MUDRA
is called "Sahajoni". It is kept secret in all the Tantras.
ultimately the action of them ("Amarani" and "Sahajoni") is the same,
there are arisen differences owing to the difference of nomenclature.. Let
the Yogi practise them with the greatest care and perseverance.
71. Through love for
my devotees, I have revealed this Yoga; it should be kept secret with the
greatest care, and not be given to everybody.
72. It is the most
secret of all secrets that ever were or shall be; therefore let the
prudent Yogi keep it with the greatest secrecy possible.
73. When at the time
of voiding urine the Yogi draws it up forcibly through the Apana-Vayu, and
keeping it up, discharges it slowly and slowly; and practices this daily
according to the instructions of his Guru, he obtains the "vindusiddhi"
(power over semen) that gives great powers.
74. He who practises
this daily according to the instructions of his Guru does not lose his
semen, were he to enjoy a hundred women at a time.
75. O PARVATI! When
"vindu-siddhi" is obtained, what else cannot be accomplished? Even the
inaccessible glory of my godhead can be attained through it.
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