The Tantra of Lao Tzu

Tantra in the West is described as among other things, a Western teaching with Eastern roots, originating in the Indus Valley region, espousing basic spiritual principles like non-duality and the dual cultivation of energy between loving partners. This description can also be applied to Taoism. Taoism has origins in a similar area, the banks of the Yellow River in China, in what used to be the Tibetan plains. Like Tantra, Taoism talks about non-duality and dual cultivation of energy between partners. It, like Tantra, has foundations in Shamanism in the same region that is thousands of years old, too many years to count.

Lao Tzu is considered the sage founder of Taoism. He was a Historian–in those days this term meant not only a Historian but an intuitive reader and reader of celestial bodies. It is well known that Lao Tzu wrote the Tao Te Ching, one of the most well loved and translated works in the world, a founding text of Taoism.

Many people do not know that after Lao Tzu wrote the Tao Te Ching, he traveled and taught to those who sincerely wanted to learn his more advanced teachings. In the process of this, he created the Hua Hu Ching, a manuscript that influenced Ch’an Buddhism (Zen), Tibetan Buddhism, Sufism and yes, Tantra.

You might recognize Lao Tzu’s words today, almost as if they are deceptively modern rather than ancient. They might even sound surprisingly familiar, like something you’ve heard might hear from a Yoga or Tantra teacher today, as if Lao Tzu might be a founding father of Tantra. Here are some quotes from Lao Tzu.

Virtue – “Virtue is developed by highly evolved people that embrace all people and things and dispel the darkness which isolates them. Although innumerable lives are illuminated, highly evolved people do not think they have helped anyone, because to them the world is synonymous with oneself and one’s self is the world.”

Selflessness – “Following the Way (or the Tao) means practicing selflessness and extending virtue to the world unconditionally. In this way one not only eliminates heavy contamination accumulated through many lifetimes, but may also bring the possibility of restoring one’s own original divine nature…”

Non-duality – “Good people who are motivated to attain the correct awareness of a universal being should dissolve all conceptions of duality. With integral awareness of their moral responsibility, they will be able to help all people to eliminate the darkness of the dichotomous mind and the delusions stemming from the concepts of existence and non-existence so that they can finally attain the essence of integral subtle transcendence.”

The concepts of virtue, selflessness, and non-duality sure seem stated in a fresh new way here to those of us familiar with modern day Tantra workshops, yet they are actually thousands of years old, spoken by the author of the Tao Te Ching, Lao Tzu.

In most sacred texts, spiritual development can be reduced to a few concepts, eliminating illusion that creates turbulence, being generous to return to the divine nature, and finding a spirit body that connects with the cosmic force, transcending time, duality and the need for anything but compassion and love.

Lao Tzu puts these words together succinctly and perhaps many of the words we’ve gleaned from sacred texts from religions around the world are summarized here, incredibly simply and eloquently.

Did Lao Tzu say anything about gender and sexuality? As a Tantra enthusiast and coach I feel unapologetic about the Westerner’s interest and hand in reforming Tantra. I’ve seen too many modern teachers with white-hot spiritual devotion, past life remembrances, that seem to just learn and teach these timeless concepts all over again, just in a different way of going about it. No matter what epoch or location, we all seem to be looking for ideas about how to create a more sacred space between couples, perhaps with ritual, communion or just energy cultivation. As the saying goes “Tantra is the original religion,” we just seem to recreate it.

Lao Tzu seems to know how to describe what’s at the heart of Tantra. Here are some beautiful quotes from Lao Tzu on gender and sex, unmatched in their brevity and eloquency:

Single Cultivation of Energy – “The relationship of the universal soul and the individual soul is just like the relationship between the moon and the lake. Spiritual security is always present, but the clouds of the mind create the phenomena of apparent separation.”

Yin and Yang – “The subtle essence of the universe is eternal…it is called the primal female, the Mysterious Origin. The operation of the opening and closing of the Gate of Origin performs the Mystical Intercourse of the universe. The Mystical Intercourse of yin and yang is the root of universal life.” Note: The yin and yang are phases of the “accomplished”, a still, rigid state that is “yin” and the phase of the “unaccomplished”, a phase of dynamics and flexibility that is yang. The integration of yin and yang is called T’ai Chi, something that exists in all things big and small. Nothing is fully accomplished, and nothing is fully unaccomplished.

Inner Marriage of Yin and Yang – “Unless an individual is born into the immortal realm, a[n] …integration of the yin and yang cannot happen…[it] is a gradual process of practicing pure diet, energy conducting exercises, and the cultivation and refinement of one’s own being.”

Sexuality – “An individual’s approach to sexuality is an indication of his level of evolution. There is a vast difference between ordinary human sexual activity and the dual cultivation of a practitioner of natural harmony…the purpose of angelic intercourse is the union and completion of an individual’s yin and yang energy. It is a process of refinement and sublimation of energy. Once the energy is refined, it is directed upward to the higher centers of one’s being. In angelic intercourse [as opposed to ordinary intercourse] spirit unites with spirit, mind with mind, and every cell of one body with every cell of the other body. It is the spirit, not the sexual organs, which directs such intercourse.”

Dual Cultivation – “Another difference is that ordinary intercourse seeks a substantial manifestation as its culmination, while angelic intercourse seeks the intangible union of yin and yang. Angelic intercourse is not completed by a substantial discharge, but rather the integration of each partner’s subtle energy…in angelic intercourse the love union is achieved spontaneously through the male’s non action. When one remains calm and relaxed, the gross sexual impulse diminishes and subtle energy becomes more developed. The great, subtle transformation takes place naturally and in silence. The whole universe is developed in this way. It happens naturally, not through making it happen.”

Lao Tzu is thought to come from a clan with Shamanic roots, at a time when the Chinese Emperors enlisted the services of Shaman. His teachings now seem relevant as ever, as part of a “universal tantra,” spiritual practices that seem to recreate themselves, generation after generation, epoch after epoch. However, few texts show the simplicity and precision of Lao Tzu’s words.

Noelani Rodriguez is a Psychic Reader, and Tantric Coach. She is the Author of the book “How to Give Yourself Psychic Readings in 3 Days.” She does Psychic, Medical and Chakra Readings. Here are reviews: To book readings email Noelani_Rodriguez [at]

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The Tao of Lao Tzu - Taoism and Sexuality

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