Beyond Tantra: Healing Through Taoist Sacred Sex
Posted on 12. Feb, 2009 by LvKohn in Review
Wik, Mieke, and Stephan Wik. 2005. Beyond Tantra: Healing through Taoist Sacred Sex. Forres, Scotland: Findhorn Press. Bibliography, glossary of main terms; 154 pages; ISBN 1-84409-063-9; $ 18.95
The authors of this book are a respectably married couple living in Ireland who began their quest for sexual healing when Mieke at age 44 began to have heavy, prolonged periods and found herself faced with the rather radical ways of Western medicine: drugs or operation or both. They looked online, they bought books by Margo Anand and Mantak Chia, they studied, discussed, and experimented, and after many setbacks, difficulties, and failures started to find a profound truth in the ancient Daoist path, which they discovered was easier to complete and more efficient than the more commonly known Tantric work. The book is the result of the exploration, and it makes Taoist sexual healing easily accessible to the layman without betraying the demands of the specialist.
It is written in distinct voices, allowing each partner to express his or her view and experiences, and shows clearly how similar and yet different the exploration of sexual wholeness is for the sexes. It is also very much partner oriented, that is oriented toward being with one committed partner, and as such quite different from the exercises of inner alchemy that are solo practices focusing on the transformation of internal energies and the so-called bedroom arts, which demand multiple partners. There is a very fortunate and highly effective balance in the book between personal narrative, technical background information, and practical advice. It is very well written and never boring—in fact, I read it right through from beginning to end, without putting it down once! It divides into two major parts.
The first section is called “Healing” and discusses the Wiks’ first discoveries of the sexual path and provides a general theoretical framework, contrasting Eastern and Western modes of viewing and treating sexual functions. The second part is called “Practice” and makes up more than three quarters of the book. It has eleven chapters (chs. 4-15) which each present one step of the path. Having learned from bad experiences the authors provide very gentle and easy access to the practice. As a Taoist scholar and teacher, I have read many of these books over the years and they were either highly technical and complicated or very quickly demanded actions that I felt in no way prepared for. This book, in contrast, seems entirely doable and the descriptions of the practices are so positive and unintimidating that one finds an eagerness to try them. The gentleness in approach stands in stark contrast to Stephan Wik’s admitted tendency to rush through the preliminaries in his own practice and to get quickly to the “juicy” parts of the books he studied. In fact, the first five steps are not at all sexual in the activities required. They begin with a general introduction to the practice, then present the necessity to understand and change some fundamental beliefs one has about sexuality, guiding readers through a “belief awareness exercise,” which examines ideas one has adopted from family, friends, and popular culture which may or may not still serve a good purpose. The next chapter is called “Building Trust.” It teaches how to learn to completely trust one’s partner and how to become a competent and non-judgmental listener. All too often we are not heard, or not heard properly, so that if we say “no” or “not like this,” the comment is all too often ignored. For a harmonious sex life, it is essential to really listen to one’s partner and to know that one will be heard at all times, that “no” means “no,” period. After this, practitioners are ready to engage in some basic touching—not sexual, not arousing, but with the goal of releasing tension and translating the trust that was established verbally into physical reality. The partners alternate in giving gentle massages of 15-20 minutes to each other, holding a giving attitude of mind and gaining relaxation and ease. Following this, in chapter 8, the book outlines the practice of internal energy circulation, the classic microcosmic orbit of inner alchemy. It is important that practitioners be familiar with this practice because once sexual energy is aroused, it has to be circulated along this path. This is solo meditation, but that too can be done in partnership and togetherness. Following this, the more specifically sexual practices begin, a massage of each partner’s sexual areas, advice for practices that can be done every morning and evening, ways to manage orgasms, and special sessions of sacred sex. Readers will have to obtain the book for details on these practices, but let it be said that the descriptions are clear, the instructions easy to follow, and the methodology entirely reasonable and simple. The last two chapters of the book introduce variations to the practice and comment on related Taoist arts, such as visualizations, Qigong, Tai Chi, herbal supplements, and the like. The book is a pleasure to read and as Michael Winn says, “the best introduction for the ‘next generation’ practice of Taoist sacred sex.” It is friendly in outlook, charming in tone, illustrated appropriately, and works very gently and patiently with areas that are often fraught with tension and “dirtiness” in our culture. The authors are to be congratulated on their courage to open their intimate lives to a large public audience and on the amazing skillfulness in which they manage to bring this esoteric art into a practical modern setting.
Livia Kohn Boston University November 10, 2005