Art of the Bedchamber

Art of the Bedchamber: The Chinese sexual yoga classics including women’s solo meditation texts is a comprehensive anthology of the Chinese sexology classics, the world’s oldest and most advanced tradition of sexual yoga.

Wile isolates ten precepts of Chinese sexology:
  • Energy is lost through ejaculation. “Ejaculation brings enervation not relaxation, homeostatic holocaust not emotional catharsis.”
  • The activation of sexual energy (ching) floods the entire system with positive vital energy (ch’i). “These positive effects are immediately negated, however, if the energy elevated through sexual play is lost through [orgasm].”
  • Sexual potency declines with age. Some “believed that it is not age that causes sexual decline, but rather sexual mismanagement that causes aging.”
  • Ejaculation, although depleting physical reserves, has the opposite effect on sexual desire. “After an immediate postcoital letdown, there is a rapid psychological rebound and an intensification of erotic interest [and wet dreams]”. This suggests a cure for sexual addiction. “When the ching is full one is free of lustful thoughts.”
  • “Women are depleted significantly by orgasm and menses, but intolerably by childbirth….”
  • The period from infancy to puberty is characterized by abundant energy. There is no leakage of semen or menses (as well as the absence of sexual desire). This is wholeness.
  • Abstinence from intercourse, voluntary or enforced, produces both psychological and physiological aberrations. “By abstaining from intercourse the spirit has no opportunity for expansiveness. Yin and yang are blocked and cut off from one another.”
  • Man’s arousal time is faster than woman’s, but even he should warm up slowly. “Only with full arousal is the semen secure.”
  • Mingling of sexual essences has the power to create new life. “If the ching goes forth, it creates new life, but if it is retained, it gives life to one’s own body,” until finally reaching in the sexual alchemists the spiritual parthenogenesis of what [one text] calls “forming the holy fetus.”
  • “Careful regulation of sexual energy is the foundation of conjugal harmony”. Through exercising self-control and calming the passion, love actually increases, and one remains interested in one’s lover.

Available for purchase


Alan Watt’s perfect orgasm, “the bursting in upon us of peace,” from the point of view of Chinese sexual practices is what the Roman historian called “creating a desert and calling it peace”. From the Chinese perspective, relaxation should not be achieved at the price of depletion: relaxation is achieved by relaxing. The function of sex is to send a charge of bioenergetic ching electricity through a conductor whose resistance has been lowered by relaxation. The Chinese have made an art, a yoga, a ritual, a therapy, and a meditation of sex. Watts, and the West in general, have left all of these possibilities completely out of the discussion….

Watts seemingly has not considered that a bit of art or yoga may actually enhance the interpersonal goals he has in mind. That without art and a mastery of internal energy, spontaneity may be only the spasm of a few seconds. And that the anticipated human communion may become an exercise in frustration…In China, the medical emphasis on ching conservation led to an epicurean esthetic that maximizes pleasure by moderating the price. Truly a strategy for “having one’s cake and eating it too.”

Chinese sexual practices attempt to seize the prize of immortality from the jaws of impermanence, to separate the desire for “release” from the experience of loss and transform the orgasm into rebirth…This is an esthetic of happy endings rather than climax and catharsis, of long volleys rather than smash and point, of riding the swells and avoiding the breaking waves…These techniques may contribute greatly to the forging of a truly egalitarian sexual covenant, offering as they do enhanced sensitivity and control and providing a greatly enriched vocabulary for sexual communication.

Chinese versus Western ideas

To some Freudians, then, the Chinese male may look “orally arrested”. But it is worth remembering that to many Chinese, the Western male looks hopelessly addicted to the adolescent thrill of genital orgasm. It is a two-way street

Reich’s theory of “sexual energy” and “orgone” in many ways answers to the Chinese concepts of ching and ch’i. Taoist meditation, yoga, and sexual practices are aimed at breaking down what Reich called “muscular armour”. Reich’s opposition to monogamy, of course, sets well with the Chinese custom of polygamy and the insistence in sexual practice on multiple partners. Both Reich and the Chinese share a common fear of sexual repression and belief in the importance of sexual contact for maintaining psychological health. However, Reich’s vision of social revolution through sexual liberation and China’s pursuit of health and immortality through sexual yoga diverge in the interpretation of orgasm.

For Reich, the function of orgasm is to discharge sexual tension, and full orgasmic potency is characterized by “involuntary muscular contractions” and “the clouding of consciousness”. The feeling of pleasure is derived from the decline in tension and the return to equilibrium. This to the Chinese makes a narcotic of sex. For them, contact and arousal are the most fundamental biological needs, not orgasm. The energy discharged during sex should not be drained from the body, but shared with the organism as a whole, and particularly the brain. This results in a state of spiritual illumination (shen-ming), which may be said to be diametrically opposed to Reich’s “clouding of consciousness”. The spiritual “irrigation” experienced by the Chinese sexual yogis is a far cry from the Western waters of oblivion.

Wile, Douglas. Art of the Bedchamber: The Chinese sexual yoga classics including women’s solo meditation texts. SUNY Press, 1992.