Freud may have proposed that everything came down to sex, but after three decades in this business, I’ve come to understand that everything, even the sexual issues themselves, actually come down to not nourishing destiny. There’s always a lot of talk about nourishing our bodies by eating healthy organic foods, taking supplements, resting and so on, but nourishing our destiny is equally important.
I didn’t go to a Catholic school, although as a child I always wanted to, as anything to do with religion fascinated me, but when your parents are respectively, a socialist and a communist, religious education is just not an option. I treat a lot of clients who did have a Catholic education though, and have issues with sex, so maybe it was all for the best. We might not have discussed religion at the dinner table when I was growing up, but politics and sex were regular topics. Sex, in particular. My parents casually chatting about their orgasms while passing round the sauerkraut, was a normal dinner table scene. It wasn’t until I arrived in Australia and embarrassed various girlfriends by ‘inappropriately over-sharing’ on the topic, that I realised this was unusual. But this aspect of my upbringing did become an asset when I took up Chinese medicine (TCM). A person’s sex life is an indicator of their constitution and state of health, but it can also reveal whether they are ‘nourishing destiny’. This is an essential cosmic duty for all of us. Freud may have proposed that everything came down to sex, but after three decades in this business, I’ve come to understand that everything, even the sexual issues themselves, actually come down to not nourishing destiny.
You don’t go blind, but there is a link to the eyes
So TCM practitioners need to be able to comfortably discuss every sexual practice imaginable. This line of questioning still sometimes surprises or even shocks clients though, particularly those with a religious upbringing. I recently treated a single 48-year-old guy, who had come to see me because, although he had taken up the ‘spiritual path’ in life, he was feeling bitter, frustrated, envious of others enjoying themselves, and he was having ‘dark thoughts’. TCM diagnostics (pulse and tongue, and overall demeanour) revealed that he was a yang type with a high sex drive, so I asked him how often he ejaculated. He looked uncomfortable and said sex was never mentioned in his family, and especially not masturbation. When I told him that how often I should masturbate was considered a suitable dinner table topic in my youth, he couldn’t believe it. He covered his discomfort by cracking a joke about ‘going blind’. Turns out that at his school the priests had told the boys that masturbation was a sin, and that they would go blind if they did it.Interesting, because in Chinese medicine there is a connection between ejaculation and eyesight. If masturbation is too frequent you deplete your chi. This takes a toll on the kidneys. Initially you feel lower back pain and lose willpower (an attribute of the kidney). As the depletion increases, healthy yang can’t rise to the head, your eyes don’t have the chi needed to see clearly, and it feels as if your vision is impaired (overwork can tax the kidney and create this same symptom). You’d never actually go blind from masturbating though.
Suppression always leads to excess behaviour
The client said that wouldn’t be a problem for him anyway, as he had become a Buddhist and had chosen to be celibate. The minute he said this, I could see where the session was heading, I knew exactly what the context for his ‘dark thoughts’ was going to be. He was using his mind to suppress his sexual urges. But in traditional Chinese medicine, this is a big no-no as suppression will always lead to an excess behaviour. When Buddhism arrived in China, around two thousand years ago, the Daoists (whose philosophy on life underpins TCM) immediately rejected the Buddhist concept of celibacy, and the prominence they placed on the mind. The Daoists viewed sex as a primary force, and argued that a strong ‘chi-vital’ body was a necessary component of celibacy as the body controls the mind. Chi techniques were needed to transform the force. Their take on celibacy was that ‘abstinence of sex without a chi technique leads to insanity’. Sexual activity is also regulated by the spiritual resources of the organs, and in a chi-vital body these attributes shine:
Celibacy can then nourish your destiny because the power of the sexual force is used to fuel these beautiful virtues. Imagine what someone driven by altruism, purity, benevolence and wisdom could do, and you have a picture of someone nourishing their destiny.
Beyond the control of the mind
If celibacy means suppressing this force, it can backfire. The force is yang in nature; so suppression rather than transformation creates obstructions. Suppression –
in the heart meridian results in over-analysis;
in the spleen meridian, it creates fanaticism and obsession;
in the liver, bitterness and frustration ensue.
With all three, massively distorted behavioural patterns arise. The spiritual resources of the organs decline and selfishness, self-indulgence, tyranny, domination, belligerence and vanity start running the show. Underpinning this is a sense of somehow being mistreated, creating an urge to ‘punish’. The soul loses power to the senses, the person pursues distorted sexual urges regardless of consequence.
I read a newspaper article a few weeks ago which suggested a link between celibacy in the priesthood and sexual abuse. It was ignored but in TCM there is an obvious connection and it’s to do with chi. Of course plenty of people develop these same pathological sexual abuse patterns without any connection to celibacy. In the recent cases of Rolf Harris and Gary Glitter, for example, a lot of the media coverage was focused on their apparent lack of insight into the inappropriateness of their actions. The public were expecting apologies or shame, but once you have major organ imbalances, actions become impulsive, beyond the control of the mind. Add an intensive chi practice and follow the chi cycle, and it will deliver power back to the soul. All subsequent actions then unfold in accord with Dao.
Returning to celibacy, adding an intensive chi practice to a celibate lifestyle means you have the techniques at hand to bring the sexual force up to the heart and transform it into cosmic love. Sex is a force which is in play regardless of your opinion, beliefs or religion. Sperm is regularly produced. It is a cycle which, like the menstrual cycle in women, can’t be controlled by the mind. You can’t just not ejaculate.My client’s pulse indicated a deficiency-excess pattern in the heart and liver meridians – so he had become trapped in theories and was living via ideas; not experience. This was why he had become rigid and could no longer enjoy social interaction. An underlying sense of deprivation, driven by sexual suppression, was manifesting in an increasing attraction to violent porn (it emerged that this was what he had meant when he said ‘dark thoughts’). He had been seeing a psychologist and trying to change this ‘behaviour’, but addressing excess patterns from this perspective is a waste of time. An excess behaviour is instinctive and impulsive. Focus on that, and ‘right and wrong’, and you are powerless. You have to engage with the force underpinning the behaviour.
Working with force and chi
The Daoists developed the chi techniques specifically so that we can all feel force, align with it, regulate it, store it and enhance the spiritual resources of our organs, and thus, we can nourish our destiny. So learning chi techniques would be a critical part of this client’s journey to both correct the unwanted behaviour and to make celibacy support rather than derail his spiritual progress. This takes time though and the immediate concern was to reduce the blockages in the meridians and move stagnant chi. So I suggested that (in addition to acupuncture) he ejaculate once a week (a healthy rate for his constitution). This moves chi and when chi moves we feel happy. He resisted the idea. He was still attached to theories of right and wrong and, despite his attraction to unwholesome porn, he still felt that masturbation was somehow ‘dirty’ – and definitely not something spiritual people did. But, as I explained to him, we didn’t create our sex drive – it’s a gift. If you stimulate yourself sexually you can merge with the force and, as the force is Divine, it can be a sacred act. I told him that I had a spiritual guru who once said to think of masturbation as ‘making love to God’. Now the client was truly shocked. He came in to see me because he was worried about dark sexual thoughts. The last thing he expected was a therapist telling him to forget about that, and to ejaculate and imagine it was Divine. But this is classic TCM. It is all about working with force and chi. Sexual behaviours are never addressed from the perspective of morality. They are a barometer of a person’s internal imbalances. These, in turn, are put in the context of a bigger cosmic picture, of nature, purpose and destiny.
Was his celibacy nourishing his destiny?
So the next question for this client to explore would be whether his being celibate was, in fact, nourishing his destiny. Wanting to be spiritual doesn’t necessarily mean being celibate. In Autobiography of a Yogi, Yogananda, one of the great spiritual gurus, tells of how his Master, Sri Yukteswar, said that celibacy was not for everyone. It takes a toll on the body. It is not an easy path. There are many other ways of being of spiritual service. Sri Yukteswar, suggested that Yogananda first explore sex before heading down the celibate path. Yogananda didn’t, as he was one of the rare individuals born with certainty about his nature and purpose. Like Yogananda, it is our cosmic duty to express our nature and purpose effectively, as the universe then expands in accord with Heaven. But, unlike Yogananda, we live in a way that deprives us of chi, disconnects us from purpose, hands the controls over to the mind and we start planning our lives according to concepts of what is right –we follow ideas. We develop excessive patterns, sabotage our own destiny, lose sight of the big picture. When we get caught up in our own dramas in this way, we accidentally interfere with the will of Heaven. We shirk our cosmic duty.
By the end of our session, the client had become fascinated with chi and the Daoist world view. He decided to take up a chi practice, follow the chi cycle, discover his nature and see where it would lead him. His was a great case, with lots of lively theological debate, but also a highly unusual one. Wanting to be celibate is rare in this era of f**k buddies, drug-fuelled sex binges, and female clients who happily tell me that they carry a vibrator with them to satisfy their own needs. I’m much more likely to be seeing sex-addicts, porn-addicts, people who love their partners but still have serial affairs and, most commonly now, people getting into rough sex (stagnant chi in the liver is affiliated with anger and aggression –hence the growing rough sex phenomenon). Chi-deficient destiny-disconnected lifestyles underpin all of this. Develop a chi-vital body and follow the chi-cycle and we realign with the forces. Then we can feel our purpose and destiny, and all excessive behaviours fall away. There’s always a lot of talk about nourishing our bodies by eating healthy organic foods, taking supplements, resting and so on, but nourishing our destiny is equally important. It is something precious that we should treasure, cherish and care for every day. We can then be healthy, happy and purposeful, and we can fulfil our cosmic obligations. Then the universe will expand in accord with the will of Heaven.
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