In Sex, Sorcery, and Spirit, Jason Miller draws upon his training in Eastern and Western mystery schools to produce a frank, comprehensive exploration of sexual sorcery and spirituality. In clear language he will show you how to take your magic to the next level. Today we start with a story from the east.
Spiritual stories are important. Stories and myths have an ability to convey meaning on multiple levels at once, as well as place sometimes odd beliefs and practices into a useful context within our particular culture and the world at large. Before we delve into the factual history, theory, and practice of sex magic I want to share two stories that illustrate the role and importance of erotic magic. One story is from the East and another one is from the West, and each has had a deep impact on the mystery traditions of its respective hemisphere. (Look for the story from the West to follow next week)
A Story from the East
The Guhyasamāja is one of the earliest tantras in existence. Dating from the 3rd or 4th century and attributed to the Siddha Asanga, this text is one of the first in Buddhist Literature to extol the virtues of sensory pleasure as a path to enlightenment. The story of how the teaching came into existence is a curious one that involved a Buddha and a King...
It is said that King Indrabhuti, ruler of the country of Uddhiyana in what is now Afghanistan, observed a strange phenomena every night and every morning: a flock of yellow birds that travelled north into the Himalayas at night, and south back to India every morning. The king consulted his ministers on the odd pattern the birds were taking, and they informed him that they were not birds at all, but the Buddha and 500 Arhats all dressed in yellow robes. They would fly to Mt. Kailash in the evening to practice meditation in the solitude of the holy mountain, and fly back to Varanasi in the morning in order to teach the Dharma.
The king, being impressed by this, decided to invite the Buddha to teach in his kingdom. The next day he arranged a massive Puja with heaps of offerings and hundreds of prayers. The Buddha appeared along with his retinue of 500 yellow-robed Arhats. The Buddha then began to teach on what most of us think of as Buddhism: the need for renunciation, abstaining from intoxicants, the benefits of meditation, and of course the value of monastic celibacy.
After a few days of this manner of teaching, King Indrabhuti protested that it was all well and good to renounce the world and become a monk, but that he could not possibly do it. He was responsible for the well-being of his kingdom, the raising of his many children, and of course the happiness of the queen, whom we assume would be upset if the king were to suddenly abandon sex with her. The king asked if there was not another way to attain enlightenment, one that did not abandon sensory enjoyment.
The Buddha smiled at this request and transformed himself into the glorious Guhyasamāja, a being of many arms and heads who sat on a lotus seat in sexual union with a woman who also had many arms and heads. They were in turn surrounded by a mandala of other beings doing the same. Because they were very pure monks, the 500 Arhats who attended the Buddha, as well as all the others in the palace, fainted, which explains why the events are not recalled in the Sutras. The Buddha then taught the king the method of secret conduct which involves using passions that are ordinarily thought of as poisons and alchemically transforming them into the basis of enlightenment itself.
The king and his wife practiced the Guhyasamāja Tantra and attained enlightenment in their own lifetime, a difficult if not impossible task with the Sutric teachings. The king taught the tantric method to all his subjects, who also became fully enlightened, thus depopulating the country of Uddhiyana. Before the inhabitants of the kingdom became beings of light, however, the king write down the tantra and concealed it in a stupa. A sea formed around the stupa and became filled with Nagas (serpent people) who also became enlightened through the method of the tantra. A thousand years later the great Mahasiddha Nagarjuna came across this sea and was allowed by the Nagas to open the stupa and take the text back with him to India.
This story is mirrored very closely in the Kalachakra Tantra. Here it was at the request of King Suchandra, who was from the kingdom of Shambhala, and the Buddha taught it to him as a way of attaining enlightenment that did not require him abandoning his 50 wives! The king took it back to Shambhala (the famous hidden kingdom that has fascinated both East and West, inspiring the stories of Shangri-La from James Hilton’s Lost Horizon, as well as being the location of Madame Blavatsky’s Great White Lodge in her theosophical teachings). The Kalachakra Tantra contains prophesies about the Kingdom of Shambhala: it says the kingdom will come back into phase with our reality sometime around 2424 ad and lead a huge army to vanquish evil forces and usher in a new Golden Age of humanity.
Whatever the merits of such prophesies, it is amusing to wonder if the thousands of people to whom the Dalai Lama gives the Kalachakra initiation each year, who walk away with six-session Guru Yoga prayers, ever dig deep enough to know that, at its core, it is a bedroom practice.
The point of this story, in whichever version you hear it, is to convey a spiritual truth. In this case the takeaway, in my opinion, should be that there is an outer teaching and an inner teaching, which sometimes contradict each other, but which ultimately lead to the same state. The outer teachings tend to be outer teachings because they are easier to understand, can be worked by most people, and are safer than the inner teachings. The inner teachings are meant for special people, thus in both the Guhyasamāja and Kalachakra versions, the person receiving the teaching is a king. In the inner teaching, sex and the other passions that might ordinarily lead one into further materialistic grasping and suffering can be applied through Ghuyacharya, secret conduct, and become a medicine precisely for those things.
The practitioners of the outer teachings will deny the efficacy of this approach. Some are not even aware of its existence. That is okay, and perhaps as it should be. But as monasticism and renunciation seem to be becoming less and less attractive in both the East and the West, some feel that it is time for the inner teachings to become more widespread and lead to a new definition of what spirituality actually entails.
Jason Miller (Inominandum) has devoted the last 23 years to traveling the globe and studying practical magic in its many forms. He is the author of Protection and Reversal Magick, The Sorcerer's Secrets, and Financial Sorcery. He also runs the Strategic Sorcery Training Course and Strategic Sorcery Blog. He lives with his wife and children in the New Jersey Pine Barrens, where he practices and teaches magic. His popular blog can be found at www.inominandum.com/blog.