True Heart News: Does Couple-Practice Tantra of Tibetan Buddhism conform the Buddha’s teaching?

© True Heart News, 2011/06/09

(By Lin Yuyue of the True Heart News Interviewing team in Taipei) Tibetan Buddhism strongly argues that the “Couple-Practice Tantra” conforms with the Buddha’s teaching; however, the general public does not agree with this idea. Furthermore, as points out by Xiong Jun, Executive Secretary of the True Enlightenment Education Foundation, the Buddha had already provided an explicit reply over the monastic discipline as early as two thousand five hundred years ago. The Buddha was asked once, “Can temples be allowed to have drawings as adornments to enhance their magnificence?” The Buddha replied: “Apart from portraits of the copulation of a couple, all others are allowed.” This particular incident was recorded in “Ten Recitations Vinaya.”

Xiong Jun further indicates that the Buddha even specified to donate the drawing of the copulation of a couple would definitely not accumulate any merits and virtues. In another Sutra of monastic discipline, it also recorded that the Buddha had strictly forbidden the making of any sculptures or drawings of copulation of couple-practice. On the other hand, as we can see in the temples of Tibetan Buddhism today, the sculptures of copulation of couple-practice are not only expressly displayed in the halls of the temples, but they are also made into thangkas demonstrated in all the temples everywhere for people to worship. What is worse, these copulation sculptures were shipped to Taiwan for exhibition tour in the name of “Art of Tibetan Buddhism.” This would mislead our children and deceive their innocent mind! As such, Tibetan Tantric Buddhism has flagrantly violated the Buddha’s monastic rules. How can such behaviors be considered the right conduct of a practitioner of orthodox Buddhism?

With regard to the preaching of Couple-Practice Tantra of Tibetan Buddhism which is inherited by the Dalai Lama, head of the Gelug Sect, and Kalu Rinpoche, head of the Kagyu sect; Xiong Jun, Executive Secretary of the True Enlightenment Education Foundation, points out that if the public allows the promotion and circulation of books filled with such adulterous doctrines in our society, the consequence will not only affect the Taiwanese people to abandon their traditional good and honest religious beliefs, but it will also bring great instability to the society, to the extent that it might shake the entire moral basis of ethics on which our traditional values depend upon. Sociologists are deeply worried over the current situation.

The number of sexual offences has increased in the society; Xiong Jun indicates that apart from the prevalence of pornography on the internet and media, Lotus-Born, the Guru of Nyingma Sec and Kalu Rinpoche, even advocated that one is allowed to kill a husband to take his wife in the name of practicing the Couple-Practice Tantra. This is totally outrageous in the civilized world of the twenty-first century. It will only create more negative impacts on our next generation.

Gurus of Tibetan Buddhism use various kinds of artifice such as “expedient, wisdom, compassion” to conceal the real facts behind the depiction of couple-practice of copulation of Tibetan thangkas. Xiong Jun, Executive Secretary of the Foundation, states that some lamas even argue, “Only those who looked at the sculptures with impure mind will see those sculptures as bawdy and filthy.” All of these arguments are simply excuses from immoral men of the mundane world. Orthodox Buddhism is about the realization of the eighth vijnana Tathagatagarbha, not about the lustful pleasure sensed by the body (the body-vijnana) or consciousness (the sixth vijnana). Why would true Buddhists need these types of copulation drawings and sculptures as interpretations? Only those abominable beings who abide by the adulterous doctrines can be so deluded about what is right and wrong.

Executive Secretary Xiong Jun quotes from the data on the internet that Scottish philosopher June Campbell having become a Buddhist in her native Scotland in the hippie Sixties, she travelled to India where she became a nun (bhiksuni). She spent 10 years in a Tibetan Lamaism monastery and penetrated more deeply than any other Westerner into the faith’s esoteric hierarchy. Eventually she became personal translator to the one of the most revered yogi-lamas in exile outside Tibet Kalu Rinpoche as, during the Seventies, he travelled through Europe and America.

Xiong Jun points out that it was after that, Campbell accounted in her own words, “Kalu Rinpoche requested that I become his sexual consort and take part in secret activities with him.” During that time, only one other person knew of the relationship - Kalu Rinpoche’s attendant, a second monk - with whom she took part in a polyandrous Tibetan style relationship (group-copulation of the Highest Yoga Tantra) as well. Campbell recollected: “It was some years before I realized that the extent to which I had been taken advantage of constituted a kind of abuse. The practice of Tantric sex is more ancient than Buddhism. The idea goes back to the ancient Hindus who believed that the retention of semen during intercourse increased sexual pleasure and made men live longer.

Xiong Jun explains that, as a western female victim, Campbell’s words had proven that the Couple-Practice Tantra of “Tibetan Buddhism” actually derived from Brahman Tantrism, a primitive religion which existed in a time period earlier than the true Buddhism preached by Buddha Sakyamuni in India. This primitive religion focused on the practices of reproduction worship and semen retention.

Xiong Jun also points out that when enter its later period of what historians called “Tantric Buddhism”, Hindu Buddhism was permeated by the thought of Brahmanism Tantrism. The Monasteries and temples became eroticized. Then, there came the invasion of asceticism Islamic army. The Tantric monks started to compile the “Kalachakra Tantra” and finally led to the last battle of Shangri-La (Shambhala) to quell the rival's vain hope. Today, this battle has become a myth of Tibetan Buddhism. At that time, some Tantric monks chose to exile abroad and spread the Couple-Practice Tantra to areas like Tibet, Mongolia, Qinghai, and Yunnan. Nowadays the same situation happens, the exiled Tibetan lamas spread the Couple-Practice Tantra to the western nations and the sexual scandals of lamas have become common in Europe and America.

Executive Secretary Xiong Jun of the True Enlightenment Education Foundation concludes that with the Dalai Lama’s followers increasing and Tsongkhapa’s Great Exposition of Tantra continuing to fuel to the flames in Taiwan, we are worried that the native Taiwanese good cultural belief will be subdued to a catastrophe, just like the ecological disaster caused by breeding the non-indigenous Pomacea canaliculata (the channeled applesnail). If the public continues to be kept in the dark, or keeps supporting such doctrines of sexual love, the decent local culture of Taiwan will be destroyed and the day for Taiwan to become a colony of the Tibetan religion will just be around the corner. Therefore, the Foundation is duty-bound to publish a non-profit advertisement on four of the most prestigious national newspapers with a hope that we can preserve our clean peace of minds and spare our children from the contamination of such sexual love doctrines for generations to come. (Reported by Lin Yuyue) 20110609

Editor's Note: This article is an English version of the Chinese edition published on January 29, 2011.


  1. In the mainstream, religions (and other propaganda machines) have taught people that they must observe strict "morality" in their sexual lives (for example, you must be with only one partner your whole life, otherwise you are "bad"). To those of us who have some experience of life and knowledge of real people, it is obvious that some, or possibly most, people have needs that fall outside of those strict rules, and different people have different needs. So it is clear that, in this area, the mainstream religions do not serve the best interests of the people (only the best interests of those who want to control the people). On the other hand, if there are radical religions that are used to justify abuse (as discussed in the above article), then obviously those religions do not serve us well either. What is needed is a "middle path", one that recognizes that people's needs are more important that what any religion has to say, as long as those needs are not met through manipulation, deception, or any other unhealthy behaviors. Unfortunately, there does not seem to be any religion (either mainstream or radical) that effectively supports this view. Perhaps the solution is to detach sexuality from religion, and attach it to the concept of health. If one simply takes responsibility for understanding one's own needs, and goes about meeting those needs in a way that is not abusive, or dishonest, or unhealthy, then one does not need a religion or other propaganda to tell them what to do. For some reason, this point is never made in any writings I have seen, so I am writing now to make this point.

    1. Sorry for reading this message today. I have one thing to say: Yes, the religion should understand one's need and serve him. But if its service is to make him go down to the desires instead of releasing from them, it's not the purpose of religions.

      Sex is always sex. The tantrikers say the concentrated consciousness during the sexual orgasm is enlightenment. If it was real, we have to ask: Do they still have enlightenment out of the orgasm? The answer is quite obvious. Sometimes enlighted, sometimes not, then it is not enlightenment. A real enlighted person is always in the state of enlightenment; he can experience it as he will. The Zen Meisters describe it: It is like to ovserve the jewelry in one's hand - it's clear, concrete and non-hidden.

      For your reference. And thanks for your message.

    2. Sorry TK, but your explanation is still black-and-white, indicating a fixation on two extremes. The two extremes you speak of are "make him go down to the desires" vs. "releasing from them". You fail to recognize an important third alternative, which is to experience desire in a healthy and non-harming way. Desire is human, and finding a healthy way to experience one's own humanity, including desire, is legitimate. If "enlightenment" does not affirm a healthy experience of humanity (and its diversity), then it is misguided, and that's what your statements reflect. While I agree with speaking out against abuse and dishonesty, I disagree with your black-and-white explanation and any religion that promotes similar concepts ("sex is bad", etc.), because it is neither a constructive discussion nor respectful to the human condition.

    3. The sexualty is the most heavy desire of our world (in desire realm 欲界). The sentient beings in upper worlds of desire realm do not need intercourse. Men and women there are satisfied sexually when they just look at each other or hand in hand. They do not need to go to bed to experience sexual orgasm. Could we say it is not healthy and human?

      If one is not interested in becoming Arhat, he could stay in desires, especially in sexualty. Otherwise he has to give up the sexual desire which hinders him from becoming Arhat.

      If one is interested in getting enlighted, he has to see through the sexual desire belongs to conscious mind (the 6th vijnana) which is impermanent and thus empty. This is a way of eliminating of self-view (斷我見). He has to eliminate self-view first, then trains his concentration to find the Alayavijnana (the 8th vijnana) in him. This is called "enlightenment".

    4. I accept the legitimacy of an individual finding value in some religion or spiritual tradition, and stating what value they found. When that individual becomes a self-appointed guru, and claims authority to state what is true not only about himself, but also others (even those he hasn't met) or the world, then that's where the legitimacy of his position comes into question.

      "The sexualty is the most heavy desire of our world"... Your statement probably reveals more about you, or the circles you've encountered, than it does about the world. The fact is, there are some people whose heaviest issue is sexuality, and there are some people who are more caught up in some other issue. You can paint the world one color, but what service does it do for those you paint on?

      To give a concrete example, some people have had an issue with an aversion or fear of sexuality. Some of them were helped by some means, perhaps psychotherapy, to overcome that and develop a normal and healthy sexual life. On the other hand, some of them might read writings such as yours, and become more deeply entrenched in their sex-averse pathology. Therefore, your message can do a disservice to such persons. Without going into detail, I can say that I speak from personal experience and observation. The question is, what is this "enlightenment" that does not recognize what is in the best interests of a person's healthy development?

      To respond to your question, "The sentient beings in upper worlds of desire realm do not need intercourse.... Could we say it is not healthy and human?" If they exist, and I meet them, then I will ask them. I don't know them, and I claim no authority to say what is healthy for them.

      While I can respect that there are many spiritual paths (and other modalities such as psychotherapy) that provide some benefit to their followers, it becomes less respectable when they claim to know what is true, right, useful, beneficial, or applicable for all beings. That's when it becomes religious dogma.

    5. Before 2500 years, Buddha Sakyamuni said there are “little worms” in a bowl of water. Nowadays we all know that the little worms mean bacterial. Buddha Sakyamuni said, there are “see of worlds” (世界海) and the world we live is a very very little one within it. Nowadays we all know that the Milky Way is just one Galaxy of the universe. How coule we believe what we perceive? Our eyes are limited, our knowledge also. I know what Buddha Sakyamuni said is all true and it is no doubt that there are other worlds and sentient beings there have fine bodies and less desires.

      One who has to have sex is because he or she is limited in his/her perceptions. If one day he/she knows exactly the perceptional senses are unreal, he/she will give the desires up. It doesn’t mean that he/she doesn’t eat, drink… anything more. He/she does for sake of living. He/she just doesn’t keep delicious foods, beautiful scenes… in mind anymore. It’s the same with the sexualty.

      Maybe I do not anwer you directly. It is difficult to explain TRUE Buddhist dharma which teaches us how to know the reason of sufferings, how to release from them, how to break the circle of rebirths and not be born in any world of the Three Realms (三界).

  2. Oldnerdguy, I do agree with your viewpoint. You are right, to experience every healthy aspects of life is normal for humanity.

    Perhaps you skip the key focus of Buddhism, its goal is to liberate sentient beings from reincarnations. Sangha have chosen to renounce normal family lives, instead, they will seek ultimate liberation as their final goal. That is why there are five Buddhist precepts to facilitate their cultivation path to liberation, and no sex is one of the five precepts.

    The point is that monastic monks are not allowed to have sex, and this is a precondition every Buddhist knows; maybe you are also well aware of it.

    Just for your reference, hope my explanation will serve you well in some way. Thank you

    1. Yes, I was aware of these points already. My point is that if the teachings promote an either-or view of sexuality (either one "goes down to the desires" or "releases from them"), then this is a kind of inaccuracy at best, and intellectual dishonesty at worst. There is no effective promotion of a "third alternative" (as I mentioned above).

      In the context of there being vows of celibacy, I can understand that that's a special case where certain rules apply. But the above discussion did not state that it was restricted to that context. Statements were made as to what is true about people (not just monks). I'm sure you know, there are many Buddhists who are not monks. They are reading this too.

      I, too, hope that my explanation has served you or someone well. For reasons I described above, it appears that there is an element of dogma on this site, and it is rarely useful to point it out when it happens. But it can't hurt.

      It appears that the purpose of this website is to criticize Tibetan Buddhism. I certainly agree with the criticism of the abuse cases, but it's unclear that this disqualifies Tibetan Buddhism in its entirety (just as it's unclear we can say Catholicism is not real Christianity, due to the abuse cases).

      The authors on this site are free to express their opinions about different forms of Buddhism, that's fine. But who are they? On what authority do they speak for Buddhism? Are they the Buddha? Or direct disciples? They can point to scripture, but maybe there is something beyond those scriptures they have not yet learned. Or perhaps they cannot admit that there could be something beyond their knowledge. So, if they can assume that authority, then so can I. I took the Vipassana training, and I could claim that nothing taught outside of that training is real Buddhism. But I don't claim that authority, because it would be a position of arrogance.

      Whether or not a person should be a Buddhist, or a Tibetan Buddhist, or a monk, or go get psychotherapy, is all a matter of opinion, and only that person has the authority to say what choice is valid for him. He may make a choice that does not benefit him, but you have no authority to claim that your choice will benefit him, or anyone for that matter. This is an admission I do not expect to see on this website (at least not prominently).

    2. The point is that monastic monks are not allowed to have sex. ← Well said!

      And the home-staying Buddhists (non-monks) are not allowed to have sexual misconduct. Sometimes lamas who have sex with female followers say they are not monks and allowed to have sex. It's not true. Because the sex with female students or wives of students... etc belongs to sexual misconduct. Any lama who has such sexual misconduct breaks the Buddhist precepts.

    3. oldnerdguy, maybe you are interested in these posts:

      The Bodhi Way:

      And the posts of "True Wisdom of Buddhism" in my blog.

      Just for your reference. And hope it will be helpful for you to know Buddhist teachings.

    4. Yes, of course. It was Forumosa that led me to this blog. Reading further, I see that others have raised similar points of discussion as mine. To summarize my points thus far:

      1. As I have already mentioned, I agree with condemning the deceptions and abuse that have occurred in some religious groups.

      2. While it is reasonable that a person may follow a particular faith, religion, sect or tradition in order to find self-realization, ultimate truth, or whatever purpose (and possibly even achieve that), it is a mistake to claim that your way is the only true way and that other ways are false. The reason this is a mistake is that others may have achieved such results in their own way, outside of your experience, so you lack the authority to deny their claims of their experience. You may have found nirvana through Buddhism, and someone else may have achieved the equivalent through Jesus, tantric sex, or staring at a flower. Until you can show how your claim of authority over the experience of others is legitimate, it is a mistake for you to comment on their experience as if you had that authority. (In fact, making such a claim implicitly legitimizes their choice to claim that authority over you. If "A" can do it to "B", then "B" can do it to "A".)

      3. There is also Direct Realization Tantra which has nothing to do with tantric sex. In your haste to condemn tantra, you seem to have condemned everything connected with tantra (again, without having authority). This is a mistake.

      4. Various traditions have teachings that tell you what is true about people, life, the universe and everything. Unfortunately, they state their principles as absolutes, thereby denying the possibility of conflicting descriptions of truth. For example, Christians say that Jesus is the only way, therefore other religions are false. In order to be objective, it is necessary to say that their principles are true within some context. In some context, yes, Jesus is the only way. In some other context, the Buddha is the only way. An example of this mistake: you said, "One who has to have sex is because he or she is limited in his/her perceptions." First of all, it can be reasonably argued that there is no person who "has to have sex", although it is clear that they are strongly motivated, but they still know it's a choice. Another example of a mistake: "If one day he/she knows exactly the perceptional senses are unreal, he/she will give the desires up." I can present to you a person who knows exactly what is real and unreal and still engages such desires, and this would directly disprove your assertion. If you want, you can fix this mistake by saying, "the following is true within the context of our tradition" or "the following is true within the context of my own nature and people I have come to know." What is true outside of your tradition, and what is true for people you have never met, is not within your scope of authority.

      I present the above simply as information, and to help point out mistakes, which may be helpful to you, in the interest of logic, objectivity, and truth.

      If I have any further comments, I may be more likely to post them in Forumosa as it may be more convenient. Regards.

    5. May I ask:
      1. Are you a Buddhist?
      2. Do you read Buddhist Sutras?
      3. What are you looking for by Buddhist teachings?
      4. How to definite “true” or “false”?

      Since you came from Forumosa, you have read the Buddhist teachings which were/are posted there. It seems you are not interested in them? Thus, I have nothing more to say. Thanks for you message.

    6. For convenience, I have posted my response on your Forumosa thread ("Tibetan Buddhism is not Buddhism; Lamas are not Buddhists"). Thanks.

  3. To me, it is very important to remain skeptical about any metaphysical claims - regardless of whence it came from. That goes for monotheism as much as for buddhism's karma and, of course, the "energy" supposedly kept when refraining from ejaculation. I can well imagine that there is a strong psychological effect, a huge empowerment, in this form of self-control; and separating ejaculation from orgasm can't hurt (I've never managed, though).

    On the other hand, it is equally important to remain skeptical about supposed dangers. If I do not believe in qi or chakras, then it follows that they can be neither powers of good, nor of evil.

    I see the dangers more in group-think, peer pressure, cultish phenomena etc. I'm trying to come up with some kind of guidelines for people interested in (neo)tantra - maybe you want to look, share, use it, modify it or give feedback. Here it is: http://ssc-faq.blogspot.com/2012/11/the-tantra-ssc-faq.html

    1. We have to find a "new language", a language that translates the mataphysical expressions and meanings into a clear language that understand all people of the 21. century.

      Of course there are chakras, I feel everyone of them. But I know, at the same place in my body there are nerve centres which are in connection with my nervous system. Of course there is energy between people and there is energy in my nervous system, called Kundalini Energy. And at the same time I know that I'm living in an electromagnetic field. After a tantric ritual women have big problems with their appliances, they see light and there is spook in their houses. And they are not crazy, that is reality and they all are telling about it. I know some people don't want to hear but we need scientists who are ready to deal with this all.

      In trauma research you can find a very important sentence: "Energy flows where attention goes". That doesn't apply only to the own body but also to the energy between different bodies.

      There is still alot we have to learn.

  4. The Jonang Sect of Tibetan Buddhism with Doctrin of Emptiness (Shunyata = Doctrin of Alayavijnana) is Buddhism.

    Other Sects with Tantric Sexual Practices are FALSE Buddhism.

    by the way THE DOCTRIN OF EMPTINESS HAS EVERY SECT OF THE tibetan TANTRIC BUDDHISM......and also the sacrifice of the women in this tantric rituals.

    1. You do not need to blame my English expression. The English is not my mother language. This is my answer to your "WHAT A wise DESCISION! NICE TO TRANSLATE IT FROM THE CHINESE INTO ENGLISH."

      "THE DOCTRIN OF EMPTINESS HAS EVERY SECT OF THE tibetan TANTRIC BUDDHISM" --> Let me ask you: Do you really know the true meaning of emptiness? Yes, the Tibetan Buddhism uses the terms of Buddism (eg. Emptiness), but it's content is different from the real Buddhism.

  5. Also nochmals auf Deutsch : ich finde es eine weise Entscheidung, und das meine ich durchaus ironisch, dass ihr die Jonang Sekte des tibetischen Buddhismus als Buddhismus bezeichnet ,aber alle anderen Sekten des tibetischen Buddhismus als falschen Buddhismus.
    Und das diese Sekte im Gegensatz zu den anderen tantrischen Sekten Tibets die wahre Doktrin der Emptiness lehren, halte ich für nicht glaubwürdig....

    1. Meine Antwort siehe bitte:
      Jonang Sect with Doctrin and Practice of Alayavijnana – the Only Real Buddhist Sect of Tibetan Buddhism (mit Antworten zu Leserkommentaren)

  6. @TK.
    You're right that contradictions are about! The opposite argument loses! Make amends w/ grace! Empty solutions! Endless suffering! Hahaha!