Sexuality and spirituality: the relevance of eastern traditions.
This article outlines some of the major Eastern sexual and spiritual traditions (primarily Hinduism, Taoism and Tantrism), and discusses their relevance for the contemporary Western world. The article begins by examining the sources of Eastern sexual traditions, before and after the "Axial" period, the turning point at which male consciousness and power gained ascendancy over the female principle. Although a phallocentric view of the world came to dominate the East, Eastern cultures -- unlike the West -- maintained a respect for nature. According to this view, health and spirituality are gained only when humanity respects its place in the cosmos and lives in harmony with nature. The article then examines the sexual traditions of Hinduism, in which sexual asceticism not only coexisted but also complimented the celebration of sexual desire and pleasure. The article then discusses the Taoist traditions, which, among other things, stressed the importance of female sexual satisfaction. Taoism argued that men cannot experience true sexual ecstasy unless they develop the ability to control their ejaculation. The Tantric sexual tradition, the article explains, maintained that ultimate sexual pleasure would enable one to experience the true nature of reality. The article then goes on to review variations of these traditions: the Hindu Tantric Doctrine (Shaktism), the Buddhist Tantric Doctrine, and Tantra and Yoga. Finally, the article considers the relevance of these Eastern philosophies to the Western sexual tradition, which has tended to view sexuality as antagonistic to spiritual liberation.