Taoists say that the male is like fire and the woman is like water. The man’s fire (penis or lingam) boils the woman’s water (her womb or yoni). If the man is not trained in the art of lovemaking, her water will extinguish his fire. Thus, the soft and yielding (yin) can conquer the hard (yang), just as the proverbial flowing river conquers the hardest of rocks.
Taoists do not merely teach exercises to enhance the pleasure of partnership. They also encourage self-mastery and self-awareness for improved health and vitality. They clearly teach the importance of drawing in the sexual energy and experience, rather than focusing on sexual organs and external stimuli. Any focus on the sexual organs is used only to introduce the practitioner to more advanced concepts. Taoist master Mantak Chia says that the goal of Taoist sexual practices is like that of making chicken broth: If you boil a chicken in water and extract the vital essence into the water, which is more valuable, the chicken or the broth? Clearly, the Taoists believe the valuable energy generated during lovemaking is more vital to one’s well-being than the stimulation to the organs.
In the Taoist tradition, sexual energy is nurtured and valued for its role in the overall well-being of the body, mind, and spirit. It is the water of life, or life-giving essence, for all that exists in the material world. Taoists see sexual energy as the fuel behind the body’s chi (energy, vital essence or life-force). Stimulation of the sexual organs and sex glands enhances this life-force and thereby encourages the secretion of hormones from the other major endocrine glands (adrenal, thymus, thyroid, pituitary, and pineal). Therefore, Taoist sexual exercises assist in the production of potent hormones and stimulate the healthy function of the endocrine glands, the master controls of the body.
Taoists are emphatic about the value of semen retention, or in-jaculation. The ancient Taoist masters referred to a ten-day process that procured the invaluable results of ejaculation retention. In one ancient text they wrote:
“If a man has intercourse once without spilling his seed, his vital essence is strengthened. If he does this twice, his vision and hearing are made clearer. If three times, his physical illnesses will begin to disappear. The fourth time he will begin to feel inner peace. The fifth time his blood will circulate powerfully. The sixth time his genitals will gain new prowess. By the seventh his thighs and buttock (muscles and meridians) will become firm. The eighth time his entire body will radiate good health. The ninth time his life-span will be increased.” –Canon of Taoist Wisdom