"The Power of Yin"

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Nubian Priestess"Since I heard your talk, I’ve sent your newsletter to several prospective girlfriends...just to test the water. None of them are too thrilled," said a discouraged male friend.

Alas, the prediction of J. William Lloyd in The Karezza Method [1] has not yet come to pass. Early last century he assured readers that as the Women’s Movement grew, Karezza (controlled intercourse) would come into its own:

The more frequently [orgasm] is employed, the more love dies, romance evaporates, and a mere sexuality, a matter-of-fact relation, or plain dislike, takes the place of the glamour of courtship days. …

As women learn [Karezza’s] transcendent importance to their happiness and health, they will demand it and refuse all men that cannot supply that demand. That will be a force that cannot be withstood.

Woman is by birth the Queen of Love and will certainly assume her inheritance and control in her own sphere and realm.

At the moment, however, Their Majesties are mostly pursuing what Barry Long[2] called the male model of sexual expression:

Woman has been utterly fooled by man, pathologically brainwashed. And as modern woman congratulates herself on her progress in breaking down male domination in the world, she fails to perceive that she is as firmly hooked as ever on his orgasmic sexuality and his clitoral substitute for love.

A Female Model of Sexuality

High PriestessCould a man be right? Is there a more female model of sexuality for women? If so, what might this out-of-fashion ingredient have to offer that an encounter between two skilled male-style lovers doesn’t?

Caught up as we are in the frenzy of "orgasm is good, and more orgasms are better," most women resist the concept of a different female sexuality. Certainly, orgasm feels as good to women as it does to men. And as long as we fool ourselves that the only cause-and-effect we need worry about in the bedroom is foreplay-and-orgasm, going for more orgasms seems like a no-brainer. (Actually, the cause-and-effect cycle for orgasm is far longer, and has lows as well as highs for both sexes.)

I think there's some validity in Barry Long's observation, although women have largely brainwashed themselves...not realizing that they had another option. Luckily, I backed into the "female power" phenomenon indirectly - before I realized that it would change the way I made love.

Some years ago, while doing deep spiritual work, I sensed that I needed to become more...receptive. As I did, things around me shifted. I found myself living in a foreign country, in a 200-year old converted barn with unreliable utilities. I, "Miss Self-sufficient" lawyer, and single former homeowner, frequently had to ask my landlord to tame my wayward electrical and heating equipment. To my surprise, he graciously rescued me every time with Old World chivalry - and no resentment whatsoever. This was a new experience for me. It gave me a strange, but sweet, sense of contentment.

Yin Power

Around the same time, I discovered the Taoist concepts of yin and yang. I sensed that I was exercising my long under-used "yin" muscles. Like a lobster molting its shell, I felt an unfamiliar vulnerability. Yet I also felt empowered. Wow! I could attract what I needed…and I wasn’t seducing anyone. In fact, my landlord (and others) clearly enjoyed helping me as much as I enjoyed being treated like a princess. I might add that the discovery of my yin power has not decreased my capacity for yang action; it has merely shown me that I have two gears instead of one.

Early on, however, I was troubled by the fact that "yin" was often described by words such as "passive, cold and dark." high priestessEventually I realized that the lists were incomplete and misleading. Yin is not passive. Yin is magnetic, and as powerful as yang. So powerful is yin, in fact, that in the hands of a master it can do such things as absorb the force of a bullet fired directly into someone, leaving both target and master unscathed. (This account appears in The Magus of Java,[3] a fascinating book, written by an engineer with a multinational corporation. As a result of his study with a Taoist master, he concluded that physicists really need to study the potential in the yin force.)

I now think of yin power as a receptive, balancing, absorbing, healing energy, little understood as yet, but ultimately the key to bringing balance to the world’s overheated yang state. Yin represents enormous potential awaiting humankind's refusal to blindly follow its overdeveloped yang instincts. It is the missing piece in peace.

Another form of yin energy, female sexuality (when not funneled into the pursuit of orgasm) inherently has a unique, magnetic character. It is not a mirror of male sexuality, but rather its ideal complement. When yin's magnetism and yang's enthusiasm combine in balance, the result is health giving, deeply satisfying union. Just as two electrical poles can create light - or merely a short circuit and wild sparks - so, too, can sexual union.

Yin is an inner receptive quality that has nothing to do with a capacity for multiple-orgasm. Indeed, one cannot tap it by striving for performance of any type. It does not row; it flows. It is inexhaustible, and profoundly nourishing.

Seeing my inner power differently has changed the way I relate to men. I discovered in myself a "high priestess" energy - beneficent, but principled. Not only am I more likely to allow men to help me, I’m also conscious of my gifts for them. I am generous with my open, admiring yin receptiveness and they find it as delicious as I find their sunny yang force. No need to feign helplessness; genuine appreciation for their help, or for their shiny presence in my life, creates a satisfying exchange in itself.

In the past I was aware of my sexual magnetism, but confused about how to use it. I thought of it as manipulative and slightly dishonorable. Now, I see it as a healing, enlivening quality, which I am careful to use with integrity. That is easier, of course, because I practice controlled intercourse. Since I seldom suffer the aftereffects of orgasm, I have plenty of energy to give.

In the bedroom, I also try to use my power with integrity. I see male sexual energy - the yang complement to my yin - as something to treasure, transmute, and return to my husband in an enhanced state. Not as something to be fanned into a dazzling display that rapidly burns itself out - leaving us both with a subconscious sense of depletion and a need to recover...or find another high.

sirenAs a female friend recently discovered, it's not so easy to lay aside the hooks of our inner seductress. For as long as the planet has been out of balance, women have used seduction as a way to create a precarious balance of power (or even abuse of power) between the sexes. Of course, it backfires as the man begins to associate a woman with a sense of depletion. Yet until women experience the alternative of sex based on mutual giving rather than mutual itching, it is not easy to relinquish our most obvious weapon.

The solution, if you are a woman? Adopt the outlook of a high priestess, not a courtesan. Firmly place the wellbeing of your partner first, and understand that his wellbeing is best served by a nourishing exchange of energy that leaves you both glowing with wholeness. You can delight your mate with your sensuous magnetism, without insisting that he orgasm to prove that he cannot resist you. This is not a matter of sexual technique; it's a mindset.

What’s the Difference?

I liked Lloyd’s description of the difference between the two models of sexuality for women:

There is a passion which grips and dominates its subject, greedy, jerky, avid and, as it were, hysterical - like the food-appetite which bolts its meal…. But there is another passion just as strong, or stronger, more consciously delightful, in which the emotion is luxurious, voluptuous, esthetic, epicurean, which lingers, dallies, prolongs and appreciates, which is neither hurried nor excited, and which invites all the joys and virtues to the feast. This is the passion of true Karezza [lovemaking without orgasm], especially of the woman who is perfect in the art. She is then to her lover like music, like a poem, not like a bacchante or a neurotic.

He adds helpfully:

relaxed womanThe woman, at first, should be in a state of complete muscular relaxation. Strong passion in her feeling is…excellent, if it is under complete control, if the muscles are not tensed by it, and if it is wisely and helpfully wielded.

Before leaving Lloyd, here's his position on the popular belief that women need orgasm. After reviewing the arguments in its favor, the one that he finds most convincing is, "to give her pleasure." However, having known women who gave up "perfect orgasm" completely in favor of Karezza because orgasm was less satisfying, and having known women who had never had orgasm to be beautifully satisfied and blissfully happy as well as healthy employing Karezza, he concludes that orgasm is entirely unnecessary.

He notes that:

  • after her orgasm the woman is less magnetic, enthused and delightful as a partner, enjoys Karezza less, and quite often soon becomes indifferent, depressed or irritable.
  • Indulgence in the orgasm on either side cultivates the merely sexual at the expense of the affectional, the romantic, the spiritual.
  • Self-control is more difficult for the man where the woman thus indulges herself.

The real issue, Lloyd concludes, is that the "typical male orgasmal embrace" seldom satisfies the woman. In contrast, sex with orgasm gives her some satisfaction and therefore seems beneficial - and is accordingly endorsed by the medical profession. Yet the same woman could be better satisfied with perfect and prolonged Karezza, and then orgasm would be needless.

Lloyd's observations are borne out by the research we have reviewed. It suggests that orgasm is as addictive for women as it is for men, because of its effects on the brain. So both a high and a low cycle are inherently part of conventional sex.

Advice for Men

Isis & OsirisYou may be wondering what you can do to help your lover relax into her magnetic yin nature. Here are some suggestions:

  • Inspire her to try something new, at least for a few months. You can both always return to conventional sex, but if you are going to try this approach, it’s good to start with it. Otherwise, projections of depletion may swiftly set off subconscious bells of alarm for one, or both, of you.
  • Learn to cultivate your sexual energy. Use a discipline, like the Exchanges in Peace or some other system, to move past the addictive cycle of sex and strengthen your inner balance.
  • When you do make love, consciously send your partner your yang energy, and absorb her yin energy. Imagine the energy moving between you in a figure "8." Go slowly, and deliberately avoid conventional orgasm so you are increasingly stable and less impulsive and greedy.
  • Help her to sustain the waves of pleasure that accompany sex - without insisting that she orgasm.
  • Be chivalrous and generous with your muscles and know-how. You will see that as you and your partner learn to balance your energies, she will no longer remind you of a bottomless pit of exhausting demands.
  • Forego trying to get something for your gifts; it creates defensiveness. Think of your partner's yin energy like an oyster. Make it safe for her to stay open and receptive to you.
  • Your yang energy and "urge to merge" are vital for the sexes to reach their full potential. Think of the male symbol. Your force and yin's balancing influence create an upward spiral.

male symbolfractal spiral

To unite with the immeasurable heart and all-knowing mind of the Mysterious Mother, you must integrate yin and yang within and refine their fire upward. This is what is known as true evolution. Lao Tzu [5]


Men often justifiably complain about confusing, shifting gender roles. Women now find themselves in an equally confusing shift. Sexual passivity, or "lie back and think of England," was clearly resentment-producing, unhealthy, and aligned with the absurd view that women were mere objects for men's use.

No wonder it seemed obvious to recent generations that the pursuit of orgasm was everyone's right and that the way for mates to stay in love with each other forever was "more orgasms for all." At a neurochemical level, however, this strategy is like buddies cementing their friendship by promising each other a steady supply of recreational drugs. Cracks appear.

Sexual dysfunctions now trouble many, pushing lovers relentlessly toward artificial stimulants and risky sex-enhancing pharmaceuticals. Addictions have mushroomed. Worse yet, mutually-supportive relationships - with their many health and emotional benefits - still elude the majority. Studies have predicted that up to 67% of all new marriages will end in divorce in the United States,[4] and the rest of the world is not far behind. In short, equality and a joint focus on more passionate sex have not fulfilled their promise.

Why not relinquish the popular model of sexuality that "more is better, even if it is addictive?" In each request (or urge) for hot sex, hear only the underlying cry for true fulfillment. Goddess Isis restoring her mate Osiris to lifeWe can meet that call as the Goddess Isis did when she restored her dismembered mate to wholeness and life - namely, by using our magnetism strictly to heal and balance. It's possible to achieve a sensual, relaxed equilibrium in place of the familiar fireworks. This change may even lead to a less frenzied lifestyle as humanity regains its inner balance.

Many men welcome women's equality. Now women can make their special contribution to lovemaking. Overheated sex leads to feelings of extinguishment and projections of depletion for both partners. The influence of yin power, by contrast, keeps lovers magnetic, affectionate, and brimming with life. Could this be why the Taoists taught that it was a path to immortality?

Some men are ready to experiment. So Ladies, the next time a man asks if you’re interested in moving beyond conventional lovemaking, close your ears to the pro-orgasmic din around you...and allow your inner priestess to decide.

  1. The Karezza Method, by J. William Lloyd, printed privately (1931). Reproductions are available from Health Research books for $12.30, plus shipping and handling. An updated version of The Karezza Method should be published by summer, 2006 according to its author, Edward M. Gomez. For more information, contact White Cloud Press. A version in French is available here.
  2. Making Love: Sexual Love the Divine Way, by Barry Long. Available from Barry Long's web site. View excerpts from book.
  3. The Magus of Java: Teachings of an Authentic Taoist Immortal, by Kosta Danaos, Inner Traditions (2000).
  4. "Recent trends in marital disruption", Demography 26 (1): 37-51, by Martin and Bumpass (1989).
  5. Hua Hu Ching : Unknown Teachings of Lao Tzu, trans. Brian Walker, Harper SanFrancisco (1995), sections 65-70.