On this Easter Sunday, I am very happy to announce formally here on this blog the completion of a new book by Dr Nida Chenagtsang and Sky Press, Karmamudra: The Yoga of Bliss (Sexuality in Tibetan Medicine and Buddhism).
As some of you may know, I have been working as editor and translator for this project since 2016. In so many ways, it has been unlike anything I have worked on before. Dr Nida will be presenting the book at the 6th annual Tibetan Traditional Medicine Sorig Congress in Pisa, Italy in three weeks and it will be launched worldwide on April 25th. Here is the blurb for the book from Sky Press’ website:
“Karmamudra refers to the ancient Buddhist practice of partnered sexual yoga. Also known as ‘The Path of Skillful Means’ or ‘The Path of Great Bliss’, Karmamudra uses powerful meditation techniques to transform ordinary pleasure, worldly desire, and orgasm into vehicles for spiritual transformation and liberation. In this ground-breaking book, Dr Nida Chenagtsang draws on his extensive training in Tibetan medicine and yoga to clarify major misconceptions relating to Tibetan Buddhist Tantra in general and Tibetan Buddhist sexual yoga practices in particular. Demystifying sexual yoga without depreciating it, Dr Nida provides an overview of the relationship between Sutric and Tantric orientations in Tibetan Buddhism, offers explanations of Tantric vows, initiations, and subtle anatomy, and explores both bio-medical and traditional Tibetan ideas about sexual health and well-being.
Speaking in a colloquial style as a physician, teacher, yogi, and parent, he addresses issues of sexual abuse, well-being and empowerment in a learned, down-to-earth and compassionate way. Aiming to inform and empower, this book offers vital context and instructions through which beginner and advanced students of any gender or sexual orientation can learn to engage with typically destructive and distracting emotions in a skillful way. Drawing on special Karmamudra teachings found in the Yuthok Nyingthig tradition that are aimed at practitioners without any prior training in Tantric yoga, it offers safe and simple methods through which students can work with the raw energy of their desire and transform it into a source of blessings and benefit in their everyday lives.
This book offers an introduction to Tibetan Tantric Buddhism or Vajrayana for general readers and does an unprecedented job of responding to and dispelling misconceptions about the place of sexuality and ‘Tantric sex’ in Tibetan Buddhist tradition. It also offers profound and accessible teachings on how ordinary readers can begin to engage with sexual desire and orgasm in more mindful, healthy, and beneficial ways. So that readers can get a taste of the level of information that is covered in this book and gain a proper understanding of the context of its creation, I am reproducing my full editor and translator’s foreword here for edification. The idea of an introductory English text on Tibetan Buddhist sexual yoga practices, aimed at a general audience, may be quite surprising for some, so I hope that the following foreword will serve to explain this project more fully and convey to readers just what an amazing and needed publication it is. May virtue and auspiciousness spread!
Editor and Translator’s Foreword:
This is a remarkable and unprecedented book. I would like to offer some context here for it, as well as some historical background for Karmamudra practice more generally, so that readers can appreciate just how special a book it is.
My involvement with this project emerged from my ongoing relationship with Dr Nida, as part of my activities as both a researcher and practitioner of Buddhism. I am a cultural anthropology PhD candidate currently based at the University of Colorado and I am interested in the globalization of esoteric religions. My research focuses on Tibetan Buddhist non-monastic, non-celibate tantric yogis and yoginis, religious specialists who are known a little more succinctly in Tibetan as ngakpa and ngakma. I first met Dr Nida through his writing. As part of my research I had read and translated some of Dr Nida’s unusually comprehensive and accessible Tibetan language essays on ngakpa/ma history and practice, which he had written for non-specialist Tibetan readers as part of his efforts to preserve and promote ngakpa/ma traditions both inside and outside Tibet. [*Dr Nida and his brother are co-founders of the Ngakmang Foundation and Research Institute, a non-governmental organization devoted to supporting the historic Rebkong ngakpa/ma community in North-eastern Tibet, of which they are both part and which is one of the largest and longest-standing communities of householder yogis and yoginis in Tibet].
Himself a ngakpa, Dr Nida is one of the most prolific Tibetan experts writing on tantric yogic practices and practitioners today. As you will learn about in this book, Buddhism was established in Tibet through two distinct yet connected communities of religious professionals: the community of shaved-headed, celibate monks and nuns and the community of long-haired, white-robed tantric householders or ngakpa/ma. While the former group of vow-holders uphold Buddhism by living and studying in monastic institutions at a remove (at least in theory) from the demands of worldly life, the latter pursue high-level Buddhist practice in tandem with raising families and engaging with village life and responsibilities.
In 2016, while I was living and studying in India as part of my doctoral dissertation fieldwork, I had the good fortune of meeting Dr Nida in person when he came to Bangalore to give some teachings on mantra healing to a small group of students. I was deeply impressed by his unaffected and kind style of teaching and his commitment to making Tantric Buddhism accessible to his audience. We hit it off immediately, and he expressed his pleasure with some of my earlier translations of his work, which I had shared with commentary online. With Dr Nida’s encouragement, I agreed to translate more of his writings on Tibetan medicine and tantric yoga and these translations subsequently became part of the rationale for the development of Sky Press. This current book is quite a different animal from the translations that Sky Press has published to date. While it does in fact feature several original English translations of Tibetan texts which I prepared at Dr Nida’s request, the bulk of its contents consists of hours and hours of Dr Nida’s oral commentary, dating from roughly 2015 until the present. This commentary, recorded during public and private teachings, telephone conversations, and in-depth interviews, has been transcribed and reworked to form the unprecedented book on Karmamudra that you are reading right now.
The Path of Transformation: Introducing Tantric Buddhism and Sexual Yoga
What then, is Karmamudra? Karmamudra refers to the ancient Tantric Buddhist practice of engaging in special, cultivated forms of sexual arousal and intercourse as a part of spiritual practice. Such Buddhist ‘tantric sex’ has been an important if controversial part of the Tibetan religious landscape since Buddhism’s arrival in Tibet in the eighth century. Known as the ‘Path of Skilful Means’ (thab lam) and as ‘The Path of the Great Bliss of the Lower Gates’ (i.e. the lower chakras or energy centers, oggo dechen lam), Karmamudra uses powerful yogic techniques to work with human desire in a mindful way and to transform ordinary, worldly sexuality into a vehicle for spiritual advancement and liberation. Practitioners of Karmamudra cultivate and refine their sexual desire and pleasure in a non-dualistic way, shifting these away from fixation on self-and-other. In doing so, they are able to use the orgasmic state as a means of eliminating their mental afflictions and obscurations and as a springboard to recognizing the ultimately empty and blissful Buddha-nature of mind and reality.
For readers used to thinking of Buddhism as the primary domain of celibate monks and nuns, the idea that it could have anything to do with sexual intercourse may seem counter-intuitive or even shocking. Nonetheless, when Buddhism came to Tibet from India it came in both Sutric and Tantric and celibate and non-celibate forms. Tantra refers to a diverse set of religious practices, texts, and orientations which rose to great prominence in India from around the sixth century. Tantra’s elaborate liberatory rites of initiation involving cosmological diagrams or mandalas embodying the perfection and ideal alignment of outer and inner realities, its practices of guru devotion, mantra recitation, techniques for the manipulation of body, breath and subtle energy, propitiation and visualization of often fierce and often female deities, and other special technologies for bringing practitioners beyond dualistic mind and appearances, came to have broad appeal. Its approaches were taken up and reframed at various points by Shaivites, Vaishnavites, Shaktas, Buddhists, Jains and later Muslims.
Tantric Buddhism or Vajrayana, the ‘Indestructible, Non-Dual’ Vehicle, makes use of such approaches within the broader moral and cosmological framework of Mahayana Buddhism. Here powerful, transformative Tantric methods allow for the actualization of the so-called Bodhisattva aspiration to attain Buddhahood – to ‘wake up’ and free oneself from suffering in order to help other beings do the same, with lightning speed and precision. [*Tantra is said to hold unique soteriological promise. While other vehicles of Buddhism insist that it takes eons of rebirth accumulating merit and wisdom to achieve Buddhahood, the Tantric path presents the possibility of enlightenment within one human lifetime, in and through a single human body.]
While Sutric approaches are exoteric, and tend to emphasize scholasticism and celibate monasticism, the esoteric path of Tantra emphasizes direct, gnostic realization through meditative practice and leaves room for careful engagement with sexuality and other ostensibly polluting, distracting or compromising elements of worldly life which Sutric orientated monastics are oath-bound to avoid. One way to understand the logic of this is with an analogy often used by Tibetan teachers to distinguish Sutric versus Tantric orientations (do and ngak in Tibetan, respectively): when a poisonous weed of afflictive emotion – anger, hatred, lust, pride, ignorance etc. – sprouts forth rapidly from the soil of our mind, the Sutric approach tells us that we should uproot it thoroughly and swiftly, that we should pull it out and disown it entirely. Once eradicated in this way, we should then plant the seed of a different kind of plant in its place. Having eliminated distracting, harmful emotions, we should cultivate mental stability, peace, clarity, virtue, and compassion instead. This is why the Sutric path is called the path of ‘rejection, renunciation, elimination, turning back, or reversing’ (dok lam).
Tantra takes a different tack. It too acknowledges that poisonous plants are potentially deadly, it too is concerned with producing stability, clarity, compassion and virtue. Yet whereas the Sutric orientation sees in poisonous weeds only disruption, pollution and a problem, the Tantric approach sees opportunity. Tantra is a medical or alchemical path. Just as a chemist can carefully and strategically cultivate toxic herbs to process them into powerful medicines provided they are smart, careful, and possess a laboratory and the requisite technical know-how, tantric yogis and yoginis can make beneficial use of the active ingredients of their human mental poisons. By chemically refining their desire, anger, ignorance, pride, and envy they can distil something positive and beneficial out of what might otherwise plague or endanger them. It is for this reason that the Tantric path is known as the path of transformation or transmutation (gyur/jyur lam). It is this clever, pharmacological approach which Dr Nida Chenagtsang explains with such rare insight and clarity in this book.
The ‘yoga of bliss’ or ‘alchemy of desire’ that is Karmamudra represents one particularly profound example of how potentially toxic elements of everyday, worldly life can be repurposed and redirected for the sake of liberation. That said, like other elements of high-level Tantra, Karmamudra has historically been kept highly secret. There are various levels of Indo-Tibetan Tantric practice and teachings. Contrary to popular representation, many of these require celibacy. That said, the Tantric texts and practices subsumed under the heading of ‘Highest’ or ‘Unparalleled Yoga Tantra,’ involve just the kind of alchemical engagement with impure or ‘poisonous’ emotions and experiences described above, and talk quite explicitly about sexuality as a tool on the path. As a Highest Yoga Tantra practice, Karmamudra is linked with the so-called ‘Perfection’ or ‘Completion Stage’ (Dzogrim) in Tibetan Buddhism. This stage of practice involves working with the energies and architecture of the subtle body and with highly refined states of awareness in very advanced ways. It is thus regarded as one of the highest echelons of esoteric Buddhism and has traditionally been off-limits for all but the most well-trained and elite practitioners. As Dr Nida mentions in his foreword, over the centuries secrecy has helped to ensure that extremely powerful but easily misunderstood and misapplied Tantric Buddhist practices have been practiced and preserved safely and correctly, and have maintained their integrity. Yet it is also true that in the current moment, a dearth of reliable, general information about Tibetan Buddhist sexual yoga practices has enabled ongoing exploitation and abuse under the guise of Tantra. This has regrettably contributed to great misunderstanding and mistrust of Vajrayana teachings.
This book seeks to remedy this situation by providing reliable and clear information about Tantric Buddhism, and about what Karmamudra is and isn’t. Rather than providing information about highly advanced practices that are beyond the capacities of all but a tiny minority of individuals, this book describes simpler traditional Karmamudra practices instead, ones that are intended for practitioners who lack the yogic and meditative training needed for these other levels of practice.
Countering Stereotypes: Patrirchy, Abuse, and Incomplete Pictures
As Dr Nida explains in the chaptrs that follow, Karmamudra has become surrounded by a great many misconceptions and stereotypes. These misrepresentations of Tibetan Buddhist sexual yoga which Dr Nida tackles at length in this book aren’t just perpetuated by non-Buddhists or non-specialists, however. Scholars of Tibetan Buddhism have also sometimes promoted mistaken and one-dimensional views about Karmamudra. On the one hand, some scholars have claimed that while Karmamudra may have been more prevalent in ancient India, its execution and significance all but dwindled into oblivion in Tibet, where Tantric methods became thoroughly incorporated and regulated by monastic institutions (I address this claim a little further below). In light of this, they have suggested that Karmamudra is an obscure, virtually dead tradition with only limited relevance. Conversely, some commentators have proposed that Karmamudra is in fact alive and well in contemporary Vajrayana, yet they have concluded at the same time that in practice it amounts to little more than a patriarchal, cultural cover for enabling ongoing subordination, exploitation, and abuse of women by religious authorities. To bolster their arguments, proponents of this position often point to statements in Indian Highest Yoga Tantra scriptures which recommend virgin girls and marginalized, low-caste women as ideal consorts.
While blanket characterizations of Tantric sexual yoga as inherently disempowering for women have been roundly challenged by scholars (Allione 2000, Biernacki 2008, Gayley 2018, Jacoby 2014, Shaw 1994), it is true that ‘Tantra’ and ‘Tantric sex’ continue to be used as convenient justifications for abuse today. This book emerges in direct response to this reality, and one of Dr Nida’s primary motivations in publishing this text has been to demonstrate that Karmamudra can be practiced equally by men and by women, that it can be equally empowering for practitioners of any gender or sexual orientation, even if this has not always been the case historically. By carefully distinguishing between abuse and authentic practice, and between cultural mores and the essence and promise of the teachings, Dr Nida presents a more egalitarian picture. Highlighting the contributions and achievements of female Karmamudra masters, he shows how sexual yoga has the potential to benefit all practitioners and need not further existing social inequalities.
Despite increased attention to female Tibetan Buddhist practitioners and Tantric yoga practice in academia, I have been surprised by the extent to which caricatures of Karmamudra persist among even highly qualified scholars. I once attended a meeting in which Tibetan Studies scholars had gathered to quiz a prominent, visiting scholar about his new book of on Highest Yoga Tantra scripture. There were about fifteen scholars in the room, none of whom were Tibetan. At one point, the conversation turned to Completion Stage subtle body practices and the relation of these to sexual yoga. Noticing that some commenters had started speaking about sexual yoga as if it were a fairly static cultural phenomenon across time and Indian and Tibetan contexts, I intervened to suggest that were one to look at representations and styles of Karmamudra practice in Tibet across the centuries, one would see that they were in fact quite diverse. As an example, I pointed out that the Yuthok Nyingthig (the cycle of revealed teachings on which this book is based and which I discuss further below) presents a range of different sexual yoga methods which combine levels of Tibetan Buddhist practice in unique ways not seen in other texts. A highly-regarded non-Tibetan American scholar-practitioner who has spent the better part of her life translating Tibetan Tantric Buddhist literature responded to my interjection immediately. “Huh!” she guffawed. “Those guys will do anything to get their rocks off!” Quip delivered, the rest of the room chuckled and the conversation moved instantly on to other things.
This comment amazed me. Sure, as a white, non-Tibetan scholar of Tibetan Buddhism I was no stranger to the curious way in which non-Tibetan Tibetan Studies scholars will regularly default to a kind of performative flippancy or levity when discussing technical details of Tantric practice and protocol as these relate to their research. I have witnessed scholars cultivate this sort of breezy disregard for Tibetan perspectives, authorities and priorities when they are in Tibetan-free spaces on numerous occasions. As a performance it seems to function as a distancing mechanism, and to index their ability as non-Tibetan scholars to ‘see through’ Tibetan categories and stipulations, even as they are rewarded for speaking glibly and making broad claims about Tibetan culture or ‘the Tibetan imagination’ and ‘mindset’ writ large. To be fair, I was also aware that the scholar who made this comment had spent years working to secure her authority as a female researcher in equally male dominated spaces of institutionalized Tibetan Studies and Tibetan Buddhism. And yet, I still could not believe that she could dismiss sexual yoga practices so casually as nothing more than elaborate mechanisms through which ‘those guys’ (i.e. male Tibetan lamas) could ensure they got laid. After the meeting, I found myself thinking again and again about how I would have felt hearing this dismissal if I was a Tibetan woman who happened to be the daughter of Karmamudra practitioner parents. About how I would feel to have a non-native expert reduce the potential context of my birth and my parents’ entire partnership to a punchline about horny, patriarchal Tibetan men.
The commentary on Karmamudra that Dr Nida provides in this book derives from his own experience as a highly trained non-celibate yogi and doctor, as a parent and a teacher. In many cases, non-celibate students of Tibetan Buddhism have questions about sexuality and sexual yoga practice but their monastic teachers may not be equipped to address these in satisfactory or useful ways. The information in this book comes from Dr Nida’s involvement with a centuries-old community of lay Tibetan Tantric yogis and yoginis who practice Karmamudra in the midst of everyday life and realities. Their lives and sexual yoga practices are neither jokes nor one dimensional caricatures about esoteric boy’s club conspiracies. Today, tragically, there is no shortage of stories of unscrupulous gurus manipulating and sexually abusing students but in contrast we hear the stories and voices of contemporary Tibetan Buddhist practitioners who are engaging with sexual yoga practices in healthy and responsible ways as part of their spiritual path only very rarely. Dr Nida’s text responds to this lacuna in a timely way. It seeks to bring Karmamudra down to earth without reducing its profundity. It addresses very real problems of patriarchy and the abuse of students and Tantric tradition without denying Karmamudra’s complexity and its genuine potential to benefit practitioners at the same time.
Revelations and Revivals: A Brief Historical Detour
It should be clear that there remains a considerable lack of awareness – even among scholars – about the great diversity of practices that exist within Indo-Tibetan religious traditions and fall under the extremely broad rubric of ‘tantric sex.’ [*For a useful, albeit non-comprehensive summary of the considerable range of Tantric sexual practices that existed in Indian and Tibetan contexts by roughly the start of the eleventh century, see Hatley (2016)].
Tantric sex is not an a-historical, monolithic category. As mentioned above, Tantric methods spanned across lineages, cultural communities, and religious denominations. Shaiva Tantric sexual yoga texts and practices are multiple, internally diverse and have evolved in their own ways. They both overlap and differ from Shakta texts and practices, just as Shaiva and Shakta varieties are distinct from Vajrayana ones. Equally, Tibetan Karmamudra practices are also not necessarily reducible to their Indian prototypes.
Although Samuel (2008) and Snellgrove (1987) point to evidence in a text by Asanga for the possible existence of forms of Indian Buddhist sexual yoga practice as early as the fourth or fifth century CE, most scholars agree that Tantric Buddhist sexual yoga only definitely appears in textual form in seventh and eighth century India. These early forms of Tantric Buddhist sexual yoga are found within the Mahayoga class of Tantric texts. Looking specifically at the Tibetan context, Jacob Dalton, who has studied some of the earliest extant Tibetan language Tantric texts found in the Dunhuang cave collection, has shown that the complex chakra systems and subtle body cartographies which are today associated with Tibetan Karmamudra developed as part of the formalization of Completion or Perfection Stage practices in the late ninth and tenth centuries, in line with the formalization of the third Tantric Empowerment as one involving sexual yoga practices.
Dalton explains that while Buddhist sexual yoga practices involving the manipulation of the subtle body may have existed for a long time as part of oral transmissions, at least as far as can be seen through textual evidence only:
“…later systems involved intricate arrangements of chakras and energy channels mapped across the body’s interior. In the early Mahayoga texts, however, the technologies are simpler, the descriptions limited to the energies associated with sexual pleasure which rushes through the practitioner’s torso.” (2004, 10-11)
Dalton outlines how the development of Tantric Buddhism in general and sexual yoga practices in particular depended on a sort of interiorization of Buddhist ritual that had significant implications:
“The Tantric interiorization of Buddhist ritual was not a rejection of ritual. Nor was it a psychologization…This shift took place in the physical realm. Its beginnings can be traced to the first half of the eighth century, and the ritual technologies it spawned continued to develop through the ninth century. By the end of these two crucial centuries, a new ritual discourse of the bodily interior was in place. The Tantric subject had become the site for the entire ritual performance; the body’s interior provided the devotee, the altar, the oblations, and the buddha to be worshipped.” (2004, 2)
Such developments in Indian Buddhist practice were inherited by Tibetans, who began to make them their own. During the Tibetan imperial period which spanned the seventh to ninth centuries, Highest Yoga Tantra practices in Tibet were the sole preserve of religious and aristocratic elites, and their circulation among commoners was prohibited. With the collapse of the Tibetan empire in the late ninth century, state patronage and institutional monastic regulation of Tantric Buddhism foundered, and Tantric practices and perspectives percolated more broadly. While this period is remembered by later Tibetans as a period of fragmentation (silbu dü) – a ‘dark age’ of civil war, demonic activity and the degradation of the teachings – it was also a time when Tantra became thoroughly indigenized. Centralized monastic authority broke down, and while some monks fled to Eastern Tibet and maintained their vows, Vajrayana teachings were in large part preserved by ngakpa and ngakma, through hereditary transmission (Dalton 2011). The late tenth and eleventh century saw a renaissance of Buddhist culture in Tibet, and the resuscitation of large scale monasticism, which occurred in the wake of what is known in Tibetan as the chidar or ‘later spread’ or propagation of Buddhist teachings from India (Davidson 2005). As monastic institutions and practitioners came to dominate the religious landscape, Tantric sexual practices began to be undertaken in more symbolic forms. Although evidence suggests that Tantric Buddhist practices involving ‘transgressive’ engagement with impure persons and substances, frequenting of charnel-grounds and the practice of partnered sexual yoga likely originally emerged outside of monastic contexts and were undertaken quite literally by earlier Indian non-celibate practitioners (Davidson 2002, Onians 2003, Szanto 2010) over time in both India and Tibet such methods came to be increasingly reformulated for monastic, celibate use (Samuel 1994, Wedemeyer 2012). In Tibet, as Tantric empowerments or initiations came to be overwhelmingly transmitted and received by monks, the sexual yoga elements of these rites were de-emphasized and de-literalized in ways that allowed celibate religious professionals to participate in them without violating their vows.
Non-celibate styles of Tantric engagement persisted alongside more monastically oriented models, however. A smaller demographic of ngakpa/ma communities continued to practice Tantric yogic methods within the context of lay life, with many ngakpa and ngakma beginning their training during early childhood under the supervision of parents and other relatives. As it acclimatized to its new surroundings, Indian Buddhist sexual yoga naturally came to take on different meanings and associations in Tibet. In the Indian Tantric context, the power attributed to the ritual use of sex and sexual fluids, consuming of meat and alcohol, and consorting with corpses and low-caste women derived in part from a logic of transgression, from a strategic subversion of Brahmanical notions of purity (White 2003). Tibet’s distinct socio-political context, which lacked any directly equivalent caste-system or set of social and dietary taboos to India, meant that sexual yoga inevitably came to take on a different flavour. One important way in which Karmamudra became Tibetanized and an integral part of Tibetan history and identity was through what is known in Tibetan as the terma or ‘treasure tradition’.
Tertön or ‘treasure revealers’ are visionary prophets or saints in Tibetan Buddhist tradition. They are understood to be reincarnations of the original disciples of Padmasambhava or Guru Rinpoche. An Indian ngakpa and Karmamudra master thought of by Tibetans as a ‘Second Buddha,’ it was through Guru Rinpoche’s tantric yogic power that Buddhism was successfully established in Tibet. Before he dissolved his eighth century physical form, the great master is said to have hidden various ‘treasures’ all over Tibet and the Himalayas, with the intention that these treasures would be discovered by appointed persons at a later date. Guru Rinpoche left various treasures for safekeeping with guardian spirits in the sky, under the earth, in rocks and caves, and in the mind-streams of his closest disciples. Centuries after his time and into the present, certain individuals have claimed to have had powerful visionary experiences and past-life memories which have convinced them and others that they are reincarnations of Guru Rinpoche’s elect. Attending to these visions, insights, and memories, these individuals have been able to follow the clues to unearth treasures left specially for them across space and time by Guru Rinpoche and his Karmamudra partner, the great female Buddha and princess Yeshe Tsogyal who Dr Nida discusses in this book.
Treasures take various forms. They may be special physical objects or relics: statues, ritual implements, and so on, thought to have particular power to bless and help beings. Sometimes small scrolls written in cryptic celestial script will be discovered, which provide a basis for unlocking full gong ter or revelations that have been seeded in the minds of tertön, which are subsequently decoded and written down as new-but-not new revealed scriptures. Treasure texts are considered by those who believe in them to be direct and realized transmissions from the numinous. These revelations are even sometimes said to be superior to canonical Buddhist teachings that have been passed down orally and via copying and translation from Sanskrit, for two reasons: their directness and ‘fatedness’ removes the factor of human-historical error and degeneration, and the fact of enlightened beings having assigned specific treasures to specific times, people, and places means that treasures are uniquely suited to the needs, capacities and circumstances of their specific contemporaries. One of the most important practices for revealing treasures is sexual yoga. Just as Guru Rinpoche had his destined consorts with whom he engaged in Karmamudra in order to unlock the power needed to subdue Tibet’s autochthonous deities and prime Tibet to become a Buddhist country, later generations of treasure revealers have their own karmic ‘soul mates’ and prophetic collaborators. Reunited across past lives, tertön consorts must thus work together to unlock one another’s visionary capacities to fulfil prophecy and benefit beings.
In her recent book about the lives and love letters of Golok based Tibetan treasure revealer couple Khandro Tare Lhamo (1938-2002) and Namtrul Rinpoche (1944-2011), Holly Gayley (2018) underscores the importance of sexual yoga practices in treasure revelation and decipherment. She outlines a situation where a talented yogini was the primary initiator of tantric partnership, where a woman was in charge and had considerable agency. She shows how ideals of selfless tantric sex are navigated and actualized as part of Tibetans’ everyday experiences as a thoroughly marginalized and disenfranchised ethnic minority in contemporary Communist China. By detailing how this Tantric couple envisioned and enacted a shared destiny to heal the damage done to Buddhism in Tibet under Chinese occupation and rule prior to and during the Cultural Revolution, Gayley challenges stereotypes of female consorts as exploited tools of men. Moreover, she underscores the way in which authentic Tibetan Karmamudra is not just about personal realization, longevity or gain but is predicated instead on altruistic intention. As a mechanism for creating continuity with specific culturally meaningful pasts in the face of trauma and upheaval, Karmamudra in its specifically Tibetan forms is implicated in greater visions of large-scale, collective healing and social upliftment. This capacity of Karmamudra to be of benefit to both individuals and their larger societies is precisely what Dr Nida emphasizes in this book.
Ancient Teachings for Current Problems: The Special Qualities of the Yuthok Nyingthig Tradition
Understanding terma is important for appreciating the nature of this book in other ways. Quite significantly, all the texts and teachings on which the instructions in this book are based are treasure texts. In Chapter One of this book, Dr Nida notes that many scholars of Tibetan Buddhism read injunctions relating to sexual yoga in important Highest Yoga Tantra scriptures and then imagine that they then know exactly how Karmamudra works on the ground, that taken together these statements represent the entirety of Karmamudra practice. Dr Nida reminds us however, that there are centuries-old, living, oral traditions relating to Karmamudra in Tibet. Specific lineages, regions, and religious communities have their preferred texts and styles of practice, and as Dr Nida demonstrates, oral-lineage interpretations and emphases may diverge markedly from standard formulas repeated in foundational texts. Given that terma are understood as more targeted teachings, intended for specific times and places with specific problems, it should come as no surprise that particular families and communities in Tibet have come to rely on the approaches and advice of specific terma.
The main source of Karmamudra teachings for this book is an extensive cycle of revealed teachings known as the Yuthok Nyingthig or the ‘Heart-Essence of Yuthok’. These teachings were transmitted via visions by the Dakini or Tantric goddess Tsomo Palden Treng to ngakpa and physician Yuthok Yönten Gonpo the Younger (1126 – 1202), one of the fathers of Sowa Rigpa or traditional Tibetan medicine. Yuthok the Younger subsequently taught these revelations to his close disciple Sumtön Yeshe, who made notes based on Yuthok’s direct oral instruction. After this, Yuthok edited these notes himself and these came to comprise the first edition of the complete teaching-cycle of the Yuthok Nyingthig. Called in full ‘The Heart Essence of Yuthok, the Sunlight of Compassion, the Dharma-cycle of the Blessings of the Practice of the Guru that Dissolves all Suffering and Darkness,’ Yuthok’s set of revealed practices were later included in the ‘Nectar of Good Qualities’ section of the Mahayoga cycle of teachings in the Rinchen Terdzö, the so-called ‘Treasury of Precious Terma’ or collection of revealed scriptures assembled by Tibetan scholar Jamgön Kongtrul Rinpoche in the late nineteenth century. Yuthok the Younger was part of a hereditary lineage of traditional Tibetan doctors and ngakpa, and the Yuthok Nyingthig mirrors his own overlapping domains of expertise as a realized tantric yogi, meditation master, and physician.
The Yuthok Nyingthig is a complete collection of teachings on Tantric Buddhism. It includes instructions on every aspect of the nine vehicles of the Nyingma or ‘Ancient Translation’ school of Tibetan Buddhism. It offers rich yet remarkably concise instructions on preliminary practices, Guru Yoga and Dakini procedures, all the six traditional tantric yogas mentioned in this book, every aspect of Mahamudra and Atiyoga or Dzogchen meditations, protector deity practices, daily practices, sundry tantric rites of healing and exorcism, and of course Karmamudra. While it predates the formal rimé or non-sectarian movement launched in Eastern Tibet by some seven centuries, its instructions are presented in a consistently and strikingly non-sectarian manner. A tradition of Vajrayana for working medical professionals, the Yuthok Nyingthig acknowledges the potentially diverse sectarian backgrounds of its chief target audience, and stands as a spiritual complement to the exoteric curriculum taught in the Gyüshi or ‘Four Medical Tantras,’ which form the foundational textbook of Tibetan medicine. As such, it comprises the only comprehensive set of Higher Yoga Tantric practices involving the Medicine Buddha in Tibetan Buddhist tradition.
Importantly, the Yuthok Nyingthig teaches two forms of Karmamudra practice. A ‘classic’ version of sexual yoga which requires elaborate training in subtle body ‘channels-winds’ (tsa loong) and inner heat or Tummo yoga practices, and a ‘Karmamudra for Dummies,’ a more entry-level practice for yoginis and yogis without such expertise (tsa loong ma jangpai naljor pho mo). Before I met Dr Nida and began studying and practicing the Yuthok Nyingthig, I had no idea that such a thing was possible. I also had no idea that the Yuthok Nyingthig taught unique condensed ngöndro or tantric preliminary practices, or that it included a special level of such procedures that incorporated explicit concerns about social justice and upliftment into Buddhist practice. There were a lot of things I didn’t know. When I first heard that Dr Nida was teaching about seven-day ngöndro retreats and was offering instruction in other Yuthok Nyingthig practices that I had never heard of, I was suspicious. I initially imagined that Dr Nida was somehow dumbing down traditional practices to pander to the interests of foreigners thirsty for Tantric exotica. After I met with Nida, picked his brain, received initiation into the Yuthok Nyingthig lineage, and began to study and practice its teachings, however, I came to understand how wrong my original perceptions were. I developed a deeper appreciation for Dr Nida’s mission, motivation, and inspiration. Yuthok is said to have attained the ‘rainbow body’ (jalü), or full Buddhahood at the point of death where one’s body shrinks and dissolves into multi-coloured light. It is said that in his omniscience, Yuthok foresaw that in later times practitioners would find themselves saddled with considerable obstacles in the practice of Vajrayana. For this reason, he recorded for posterity a collection of teachings that included various versions and levels of traditional Vajrayana practices, suitable for students of diverse capacities. He transmitted comprehensive yet condensed Tantric practices that working, lay practitioners who lacked the time or resources to engage in prolonged, difficult and expensive training and retreats could integrate into their lives and use to benefit themselves and others.
Prior to the twenty first century, the overwhelming majority of practitioners of the Yuthok Nyingthig in Tibet were highly qualified traditional doctors, who for the most part would have had considerable training in tantric Buddhist meditation and ritual and would have already been involved in other lineage-practices when they came to implement Yuthok’s teachings. Today, however, things are little different. Dr Nida’s promotion of the Yuthok Nyingthig can be understood in light of the profound benefits he himself has experienced as a lineage-holder and practitioner of the tradition. At the same time, his promotion of the tradition is motivated as well by his appreciation that Tibetans and non-Tibetans alike are today facing just the sort of obstacles to practicing Vajrayana that Yuthok prophesized. Many practitioners of Tibetan Buddhism around the world today are not monastics but are instead busy lay people with families, day jobs, and limited training and opportunities. Embodying an ideal of integrated tantric and medical practice (ngak men zoongdey), the special practices of the Yuthok Nyingthig can be understood in terms of Yuthok’s unique commitment to uniting the earthy empiricism, humanistic realism, and ‘worldly’ concerns of medicine with the profound view and lofty goals of Tantric Buddhism [For more information about the distinct features of the Yuthok Nyingthig, see my translation of Dr Nida’s essay titled ‘The Importance of the Yuthok Nyingthig, or its Twelve Uncommon and Special Characteristics,’ (Joffe 2016a)].
Earthy Mysteries: Lelung Rinpoche and Erotic Visions of Real Life
Yuthok is not the only influential Tibetan adept who presented an accessible and down-to-earth style of sexual yoga practice. In 2016, while we were in the midst of working on other projects, Dr Nida contacted me to ask if I could produce a full and thorough translation of a Tibetan text he had in his possession. The text in question was another revealed terma text and it dealt explicitly with Karmamudra practice. It described teachings that had been received in a vision by an eighteenth century monk-turned-ngakpa called Zhepai Dorje, otherwise known as Lelung Rinpoche or the fifth incarnation of the Lelung reincarnation line in Tibet. Dr Nida granted me permission to read the text and I set about translating it. I had never read anything quite like it before. In the grant proposals I had written to secure funding for my research about ngakpa/ma living in exile, I had clearly stated that although I was deeply interested in the social histories and politics surrounding the circulation of esoteric knowledge and expertise, I would refrain from focusing my attention on personal or technical details of ngakpa and ngakmas’ Tantric yogic practices. At the time, I did not feel that it would be especially necessary or appropriate for me to ask Tibetan lamas about these topics as a researcher – certainly, lamas were under no obligation to humour me and any questions I might have as a scholar and non-disciple about anything at all, let alone the intricacies of secret Tantric practices.
Yet, fast forward several months, and here I was being asked by a Tibetan ngakpa who had become one of my key research interlocutors as well as my spiritual teacher to do what I had initially set out to avoid – to engage with, analyse, and translate esoteric material about Tantric yoga practices and to ask direct questions about them. Diving into Lelung’s text, I was immediately struck by the extremely down-to-earth way in which Nyima Zhönnu (‘Youthful Sun’), the Dakini or Tantric goddess who relayed these visionary teachings to Lelung spoke about such matters. Before meeting Dr Nida and encountering Lelung’s text, Karmamudra had seemed to me like an impossibly remote practice. In my limited understanding, Karmamudra was something practiced exclusively by figures of mythic proportion, almost-and-already-Buddhas whose level of spiritual accomplishment positioned them far above and beyond the realities and limitations of quotidian, human life. And yet here was Nyima Zhönnu transmitting remedies for dampened libidos composed of real-world ingredients, here she was transmitting practical Tantric sex instructions that took for granted that some practitioners may well be engaging with Karmamudra without perfect prior training in more advanced Completion Stage subtle energy practices. While Lelung and his goddess Youthful Sun’s subject matter and language were rich, sublime, and evocative, their instructions were hardly the stuff of idealized hagiography. Here was pragmatic and auto-biographically informed advice, meant to be applied by and to benefit properly prepared readers. I was fascinated and awed. Finishing my preliminary translation, I was left with a number of questions and Dr Nida encouraged me to do my own investigations into Lelung Rinpoche’s remarkable career and to write down some of my subsequent reflections for the public. I quickly prepared an essay discussing Lelung’s life and the text which had inaugurated my entry into Karmamudra and this project, and published it on my research blog (Joffe 2016b).
Medicine for Every Patient: Teaching Karmamudra Responsibly and Accessibly
A translation of Master Lelung’s terma appears in the appendix of this book, along with a range of other texts specifically selected by Dr Nida to demonstrate the great vitality, profundity and diversity of Tibetan Karmamudra teachings. This translated traditional material strikes a somewhat different note to Dr Nida’s colloquial tone in the body of the book. Although these texts include practical instructions, readers should not mistake them for DIY Buddhist Tantric sex manuals. Practicing Tantric Buddhism is not like buying and assembling furniture from IKEA. As Dr Nida explains in significant detail in Chapter Four, individual Tantric practice texts or sadhana can only be safely and successfully practiced under the guidance of a qualified personal teacher or guru, after one has completed specific preparatory exercises (ngöndro)and received special Tantric transmissions known as wang (empowerment or initiation), loong (reading transmission) and tri (direct, personal instruction) that are specific to that practice. Two different Tibetan Buddhist practitioners may both do the same broad category of Tantric practice – Dream Yoga, Tummo or Karmamudra, for example – but the way they will each implement the practice will be specific to the lineage they have been initiated into and the individualized instructions they will inevitably receive from their teacher. This is one of the most unique aspects of Tantric Buddhism. As Dr Nida explains in Chapter Two, such tailor-made strategies and vital, personal relationships are at the heart of Vajrayana and are part of what make it so powerful and special.
While the practices that appear in the appendices of this book are ‘bracketed’ and cannot be used straight off the page or fresh out the box, the simple suggestions, visualizations and breathing exercises drawn from the Yuthok Nyingthig that Dr Nida outlines in Chapter Four can be practiced by anyone. This book introduces and sketches out the terrain of Vajrayana for general readers so that if they decide to venture into Tibetan Buddhism or Yuthok’s tradition they can do so in an informed way. At the same time, it provides readers with methods through which they can begin to engage with desire, sex, and orgasm more mindfully, regardless of who they may be or whether they end up seeking Tantric empowerment or a guru. In teaching more accessible styles of traditional Karmamudra practice instead of emphasizing more advanced and prohibitive practices, Dr Nida seeks to address contemporary students’ needs and realities in an appropriate way and to bring his Tantric and medical expertise to bear on current problems responsibly. In doing this, he draws inspiration from spiritual forebears like Yuthok and Lelung who both opened up Karmamudra in their own ways. Both these adepts and their respective treasure Dakinis taught that it was possible for less trained practitioners to engage with Karmamudra safely at their own level, provided they were properly educated, a view that Dr Nida shares.
Dr Nida’s teaching in this book of simple esoteric tantric yoga practices that can be safely and usefully applied by less initiated and experienced readers is far from some idiosyncratic innovation on his part. Physicians in Tibet have prescribed simple tantric yoga techniques as therapies for their non-yogically trained patients for centuries. For example, Tantric yogic practices like nejang (physical exercises involving self-massage and breathing) and yookchö (so-called ‘stick therapy’ which involves tapping repeatedly on key points on the body with specially prepared rods) have been recommended and applied by physicians over many generations. Notwithstanding the fact that nejang exercises were first developed as special supportive practices within the context of the highly esoteric and advanced procedures of the Kalachakra Tantra or that yookchö practices arose in the context of tantric virtuosi’s self-treatment in retreat, Tibetan yogi-doctors recognized these methods’ more immediate medical efficacy and value for ordinary individuals and applied them accordingly. Rather than representing some sort of dilution, degradation or cannibalizing of esoteric techniques, such reorientations testified to practitioners’ compassion and deftness at mobilizing their Tantric expertise to benefit beings. They were also fully in keeping with Tantric scriptures’ own dual concern with both the ultimate, soteriological and more immediate, ‘temporary’ outcomes and benefits of yogic practices. This medical orientation pervades the Yuthok Nyingthig and animates this book. Dr Nida explained this approach to me once during a chat we had in 2016 in Amdo, Tibet about an earlier translation project. When lamas teach Dharma as ‘religion’, as they most typically do, Dr Nida said, they tend to speak of the ‘worthy’ or ‘karmically fortunate’ (kaldenpa) student. By contrast, when a great physician and ngakpa like Yuthok transmitted Dharma, it was as medicine. When Dharma is taught as medicine no patient can be turned away for want of a cure. Instead, medicine is dispensed judiciously, in the proper form and dosage, for all and any who suffer. Priests may minister to supplicants based on religious affiliations and qualifications after all, but compassionate and dedicated doctors can make no such distinctions.
First of its Kind: Some Final Notes on How this Book was Produced
As Dr Nida notes in Chapter One, today there are all kinds of introductory books available on Tibetan higher yoga practices like Dream Yoga, Atiyoga, Mahamudra and so on. Tibetan teachers around the world have seen fit to offer accessible information on these topics and yet there remains resounding silence and consistent awkwardness and confusion around the topic of sexual yoga. Tibetan Tantric Buddhism identifies four primary conditions or states of consciousness: waking consciousness; deep, dreamless sleep; dreaming; and orgasm. Lamas have made various traditional meditative techniques aimed at working with each of these states as springboards to realizing the ultimate nature of non-dual mind available to students at varying levels, but as Dr Nida observes in this book, traditional methods for working with orgasmic consciousness have been strikingly neglected. Students all over the world have sex and experience sexual desire and orgasm in ordinary, thoughtless ways every day. These experiences continue to contribute at worst to students’ suffering and at best to only temporary happiness. If safe and simple methods for working with these experiences in more mindful and realized ways are available, why not offer them in an appropriate fashion? This is a question that this book asks and answers.
Today many books on the subject of ‘tantric sex’ are available. These range from dense texts about traditional Asian religions written by professional academics to more popular, how-to guides on New Age ‘sacred sexuality’. While the former are often highly specialized and theoretical and so dense as to be impenetrable, the latter often cobble together distinct histories and traditions of practice in a confused and misrepresentative way. This book steers between these extremes in a refreshing and timely fashion. Dr Nida draws expertly on his initiated, lineage-based knowledge while maintaining an accessible style and a focus on the practical value of traditional practices throughout. His book represents perhaps the first text ever published to address the topic of Tibetan Karmamudra for a general audience. I have full confidence that it will bring enormous benefit to readers everywhere.
In closing, I would like to offer a few words about how this book was written. After enlisting my help in producing a translation of Lelung’s terma in May 2016, Dr Nida shared with me an early draft of this text which he told me he and some of his students had been working on for some time. Dr Nida felt strongly that a book on Karmamudra, especially as taught in the Yuthok Nyingthig, was sorely needed but at that point the text was still a fairly jumbled and discordant collage of hastily written raw transcripts, bullet-point lists, and blocks of text cut-and-pasted from Dr Nida’s other publications. A lot of the material that Dr Nida was keen to incorporate into the text was also scattered across multiple files. I recognized the value and uniqueness of all this material immediately, but knew that it would need to be significantly overhauled and reorganized if it was ever going to take on a form that would do justice to the amazing insights it contained. The earliest draft of the book did not have a single or coherent voice. Some of the transcribed material was less transcript and more summary; some of it referred to Dr Nida in the third person, while other portions reproduced Dr Nida’s comments as direct speech. A lot of crucial information was also contained in transcripts of question-and-answer sessions connected with particular teachings, and needed to be integrated into the main body of the text. Chapters were ill-defined or non-existent and most of the material had yet to be thematically organized. In short, things weren’t pretty.
Nonetheless, thoroughly convinced of the book’s importance and potential I agreed to take on the task of editor as a side project alongside my ongoing translation and doctoral work. One of Dr Nida’s immediate concerns was that his English be edited for clarity and flow. Students who have had the good fortune of attending Dr Nida’s teachings will know that he is an extremely capable and engaging English speaker. Nonetheless, even the most brilliant and electrifying spoken words can lose much of their power and clarity when transcribed directly onto paper. Along with concerns about register, structure, and intelligibility, Dr Nida also wanted to ensure that his book would be comprehensive in scope and useful and accessible for the widest possible spectrum of readers. My work as an editor and translator for this book was undertaken on-and-off between May 2016 and March 2018. The bulk of the material found in the chapters that follow was developed out of transcripts of teachings and Tantric empowerments that Dr Nida gave in Oradea, Romania in April 2014, in Amsterdam, Holland in May 2016, in Boulder, Colorado in June 2017, and in Topanga, California, U.S.A in December 2017. The Oradea and Amsterdam recordings represent two days’ worth of introductory teachings on Karmamudra and sexuality which Dr Nida conveyed to small groups of students along with Yuthok’s more condensed empowerment. I was not physically present at either the Oradea or Amsterdam teachings. While I personally transcribed recordings of the teachings given in Amsterdam, parts of the Oradea teachings were transcribed by other students of Dr Nida and were already included in the body of material present in the earliest draft of the book which I received from him. Teachings in Boulder and Topanga in 2017 were delivered as part of Dr Nida’s transmission of the full set of empowerments for the entire cycle of practices in the Yuthok Nyingthig. I attended both of these multi-day empowerments in person. As it happened, Dr Nida provided unusually detailed commentary on Karmamudra during the Topanga event and these insights proved especially useful for fleshing out portions of this book. I took personal notes and made recordings during both empowerment events and transcribed relevant sections of Dr Nida’s commentary with help from Christiana. Transcribed material was coded thematically, carefully edited, and re-arranged extensively.
The aforementioned material was supplemented further with transcribed commentary drawn from several hours’ worth of semi-structured interviews that Christiana and I conducted with Dr Nida individually and together, in person and over the telephone. As part of these question-and-answer sessions, I was able to ask Dr Nida a number of questions about gender and the subtle body and lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex practitioners. Dr Nida is remarkably outspoken in his support of LGBTI practitioners and is quite comfortable discussing topics like homosexual desire. As a queer person, I was very grateful that I had the opportunity to make my own inquiries about the usefulness or relevance of Karmamudra for non-straight, non-cis-gender practitioners. I have encountered many queer people who believe that traditional Tantric sexual yoga is an inherently and irrevocably conservative and heteronormative practice, and that it has nothing to offer them or to do with their lives and experiences. While this book does not explore same-sex sexuality or questions around gender in any kind of exhaustive detail, I am confident that the crucial insights that Dr Nida provides on some of these issues will be of great use to LGBTQI readers. Few Tibetan lamas have acknowledged LGBTQI practitioners in their work as directly as Dr Nida does in this book, and the considerable efforts he makes in promoting a less male-centric and more inclusive vision of Karmamudra will undoubtedly be of great value and interest to sexual and gender minority practitioners.
Along with interviews, I also translated sections of some of Dr Nida’s Tibetan-language writing on topics like the ngakpa tradition (Chenagtsang and Drolma 2015, Joffe 2017) and Kamasutra (Heruka/Chenagtsang 2014a, 2014b), which I then used to round out parts of the text. All translations in the body of the book and in the book’s appendices – apart from the translation of Yuthok’s Song – are my own, and were executed in close consultation with Dr Nida. I have tried throughout this text to preserve as much of Dr Nida’s unique style of speaking as possible, while still transforming his direct speech into a shape suitable for paper. Dr Nida and I made the early decision to have all material in the body of the text in the first person, with the hope that it would lend the book a more colloquial and engaging flavour. I will leave it up to readers who know Dr Nida to determine how successfully I have managed to capture his characteristic lucidity, creativity, and frequent hilarity in print. At points, Dr Nida requested that both Christiana and I prepare paraphrased versions of some of his statements and asked that we fill in small gaps in the text in our words according to his instructions. In all cases, I have aimed to maintain a reasonable level of uniformity in style and expression. In a further effort to preserve such uniformity, I have also relegated all my own commentary to footnotes. Section headings are for the most part my own invention, albeit thoroughly inspired by Dr Nida’s words.
When it comes to transcribing Tibetan technical terms, we have refrained from using direct Wylie transliteration. Knowing that non-specialist readers will likely find this confusing and counter-intuitive, we have opted instead for roughly phonetic and hopefully intelligible renderings throughout. In a few notable cases (for e.g. Karmamudra, Mahamudra, Atiyoga), Dr Nida prefers to use Sanskrit technical terms in place of their Tibetan equivalents. Although the Tibetan name for Karmamudra – lekyi chagya – is a direct translation from the Sanskrit, the term Karmamudra seems to be more widely known and used among non-Tibetan speakers than lekyi chagya. This seems to be in keeping with broader trends in the global North, in which Sanskrit technical terms have come to be widely favoured over Tibetan ones for many converts. With sincerest apologies to Sanskritist readers, we have decided not to include diacritics for Sanskrit terms in this book. We have left more familiar Tibetan terms like Dzogchen, as well as Tibetan proper nouns, unitalicized. Other technical Tibetan terms appear italicized and without English-style pluralizations. Sanskrit terms are unitalicized. Citations appear in the body of the text and in footnotes as (Author Year, Page Number) and full references are listed in the bibliography at the end of the book. Tibetan texts appear there in Wylie but when cited in the body of the book I have rendered authors’ names in English.
This project has been a demanding but enormously rewarding one. I feel deeply blessed that Dr Nida would entrust a task like this to someone as minimally qualified as me, and I am profoundly grateful that I have had the privilege of playing a part in bringing such an important and ground-breaking work to fruition. Since 2016 until the present, Dr Nida has made himself constantly available to answer my questions, to go over translations, and to provide precious oral commentary and advice relating to both this book and my life. Except when in retreat, it has been rare that he has ever been more than a few hours and a few voice notes away. The attentiveness and support he has shown me has been incredible and is all too easy to take for granted. I thank him from the bottom of my heart for his enormous kindness and I have no doubt that by the time they finish reading this book, readers will too. This text is positively brimming with precious insight into Vajrayana and even readers who have no intention to pursue ‘mindful sex’ in any significant way will come away from it informed and enriched about Buddhism and their own human potential. I would like to express my deepest gratitude to Christiana and Pearse for the enormous amount of work which they have put into making this book a reality. Christiana and Sky Press joining in on this project gave it new focus and momentum, and I doubt that I would have ever been able to complete the charge that Dr Nida gave me without her crucial assistance. I bow my head with utmost reverence to the great yoginis and yogis of the past, present, and future who have preserved and will continue to preserve with purity and positive intent the great teachings of Karmamudra, the Path of Great Bliss-Emptiness. May this book bring boundless benefit to beings!
སྨན་རྒྱལ་གཡུ་ཐོག་པ་ལ་ཕྱག་འཚལ་ལོ། མཆོད་དོ། སྐྱབས་སུ་མཆིའོ།།
Ben Joffe (Jigmé Dorje)
March 30th, 2018
Denver, Colorado, U.S.A.