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Art of the Bedchamber: The Chinese Sexual Yoga Classics Including Women's Solo Meditation Texts [Paperback]

Douglas Wile
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Book by Wile, Douglas

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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent translations on sexual alchemy. Oct. 6 2000
By A Customer
This is a compendium of translations of over 20 classic Chinese texts on Taoist esoteric sexual practice. For those with this particular interest, I highly recommend it. There's no other book like it.
This is not a 'new-age relationships' book, nor a 'light-reading sex-tips' book; it's a scholarly and faithful set of translations of Taoist texts originating from the second century B.C. through the early 1700's.
These might be rather heady for the beginner, but if you've studied alchemical Taoism (especially the sexual aspect) from more modern sources - and would like to peruse some of the classics (from the 1000's of years that the Chinese have been studying this stuff), then this is THE book. It's extremely well written; the introduction alone is worth the price of the book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars the art of the bedchamber Dec 18 2001
By A Customer
I'm just a beginner on this subject,I started with some photocopies on the subject(nothing special)and found them not very elucidatory. I wanted to know more!...then I bought this book,although I haven't read it all,from the pages I read, I felt I could comprehend easier what was being said.It explained certain doubts that came accross from the other texts I read.
I think(from the little insight I have)that this book is perfect to understand the subject, if one already knows something about Taoist ancient sexual practices.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Very complete. documented and Annotated March 8 2003
This is a work of scholorship and not simply a book about the ancient Chinese view of sex. It's very complete and contains both usuful material for moderns and very interesting historical material regarding alchemy, Qi Gong and Chinese medicine as they relate to sex.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.8 out of 5 stars  9 reviews
51 of 52 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent translations on sexual alchemy. Oct. 6 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
This is a compendium of translations of over 20 classic Chinese texts on Taoist esoteric sexual practice. For those with this particular interest, I highly recommend it. There's no other book like it.
This is not a `new-age relationships' book, nor a `light-reading sex-tips' book; it's a scholarly and faithful set of translations of Taoist texts originating from the second century B.C. through the early 1700's.
These might be rather heady for the beginner, but if you've studied alchemical Taoism (especially the sexual aspect) from more modern sources - and would like to peruse some of the classics (from the 1000's of years that the Chinese have been studying this stuff), then this is THE book. It's extremely well written; the introduction alone is worth the price of the book.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very complete. documented and Annotated March 8 2003
By Richard L. Rankin - Published on Amazon.com
This is a work of scholorship and not simply a book about the ancient Chinese view of sex. It's very complete and contains both usuful material for moderns and very interesting historical material regarding alchemy, Qi Gong and Chinese medicine as they relate to sex.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An important reference work for the serious student Nov. 26 2004
By AlchemistGeorge - Published on Amazon.com
Here is the largest collection of historical Chinese texts on Taoist sexuality in English, excellently translated and footnoted. A must have reference work for the serious, advanced student.

This is not an introductory text, and I think a beginner would be hard pressed to understand and practice many of the techniques in the book.
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding collection and translation April 10 2006
By wiredweird - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
This book collects nearly two dozen classical writings on the use of sexual energy in achieving health and long life. It's a distinctly non-Western tradition, but presents a unified, interlocking set of ideas.

The largest part of this lore corresponds to Western alchemy. It uses many of the same metaphors, such as mercury, lead, and the crucible, and much of the same elliptical language. In a few places, the metaphors or code-words are so obscure that translators disagree wildly on their meanings, and even on whether the meanings can be reconstructed correctly. Other parts of the writings draw on mystical Taoism, Buddhism, and the same vital energies that explain acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine. Not surprisingly, much of the tradition is aimed at male readers, with relatively little concern for the women. Despite the over-all male orientation, the last few selections do address women, with needs that sometimes match and sometimes differ from the men's. Even the men's writings address the importance of the woman's excitement, though, and describe the outwardly visible signs of its many stages.

However it is phrased or whoever it is addressed to, this set of practices is based on summoning and channeling sexual energy. Many of the authors use the "paired way" of coition to raise that power. Others use solo exercises in self-stimulation for the same purpose. This seems especially common in the women's texts, possibly because placing her needs before the man's would have been culturally unacceptable. The emphasis is on yogic self-discipline rather than exotic poses. Still, one author does offer a list of couplings with poetic names such Mandarin Ducks United (a pose I enjoy very much, because of range of additional caresses it makes possible). I recommend this book very highly to students of Asian thought and to anyone else who wants to see different perspectives on the practice and power of human sexuality.

//wiredweird
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent! Aug. 24 2010
By Prokopton - Published on Amazon.com
If you are practicing any of the modern Chinese-style sexual practices and want to ground your understanding in tradition, don't hesitate -- you will love this book. Scholars of Chinese spirituality won't need to be told, since Livia Kohn endorses strongly on the back. Anyone else (as the 3-star review here demonstrates) might be a little confounded by what they read.

Wile is truly a consummate scholar, and plainly a practitioner as well, and his introduction is priceless. He charts the territory and chronology expertly, mops up past western scholarly mistakes, shows a great appreciation for the subtleties of terminology, and handles cultural clash with aplomb: "For the Christian, sex is for procreation; for the Chinese, orgasm is for procreation, but sex is for pleasure, therapy and salvation." Exactly!

I have no Chinese but I suspect the translations -- copiously annotated -- are very reliable. The texts themselves are full of eye-openers; for example P'eng Tsu's wonderful elaboration on what the Hermetics (after Franz Bardon) call 'sexual larvae', in the Su Nu Ching, is more or less identical to modern understandings. The early herbal recommendations are very interesting. Especially if these kinds of books and practices mean anything to your personal way at all:

Taoist Secrets of Love: Cultivating Male Sexual Energy
The Tao of Sexology: The Book of Infinite Wisdom [Illustrated] (Hardcover)
Energy-Karezza: How To Make Every Wife Sexually Wild About Her Husband: Fascinating And Powerful Sex For Marital Fidelity And Bliss

... etc., don't miss this opportunity to deepen your understanding. Those first two books are themselves intelligently reviewed by Wile as well, and you will be very interested in his enumeration of the different locations of tan tiens and different terms for the microcosmic orbit that appear over the many, many centuries during which these practices developed.

I can't imagine a better book on this subject.

"The ignorant regard this as indecent, but it is not a teaching that encourages lust and leads people to desire. In reality it is the marvellous art of cultivating life." -- Su Nu miao lun
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