Tantra of the Tachikawa Ryu: Secret Sex Teachings of the Buddha / John Stevens’ Tantra of the Tachikawa Ryu: Secret Sex Teachings of the Buddha is a graphically sexual, arousing and entertaining tale of a young monk who learns the ways of tantra from the alluring Zen practitioner Lady Hotoke. The experience of writing the book gave Stevens, who lived in Japan for 35 years but now calls Oahu home, the energy and drive to conquer a life-threatening bout with diabetes.
Stevens spoke to the Weekly about practicing the practice.
The narrative of this book feels like a novella. What were these events based on?
They’re actual text and events. The original idea was to do a straight scholarly study but that wouldn’t have been as interesting. Some of it’s disguised.
Well it’s a tantra, which means twilight language, so it’s not as clear as day and not as dark as night. It’s in-between.
You said it was supposed to be a more scholarly tract?
Well I’ve been collecting material for it, illustrations and all that stuff… I got a little older, and when I was very ill, I thought, I better do this and make it accessible.
Certain passages… Gosh…
In your face?
It’s downright racy, ain’t it? Would it be fair to categorize this as erotic literature?
I would. Tantra is better, though, because tantra involves the entire range of human passions.
There’s a lot of massaging “little buddha” in here. And lotuses “opening.” My favorite is the “Great Pussy Temple.”
That’s the name of the place.
Yeah, that’s real. They’re all actual places. It’d have been terribly dull and boring if I’d done it straightforward.
Boring, it ain’t. Where exactly is the Great Pussy Temple?
It’s in Shikoku. Way down south.
No pun intended.
Right. There’s these shrines everywhere. I think Japan’s the sexiest country in the world. Everywhere you go, in the remotest parts of the country, you see the statues of male-female couples and there’s shrines in the middle of nowhere with all kinds of phallic symbols, carvings… I’ve been astounded in my wanderings.
Not to “beat this” to death, but what does a Great Pussy Temple look like?
It’s just a temple. That’s the name of it. Every temple has an inner shrine. And that’s where the secret Buddhas are kept. And in this case, the Great Pussy Temple is just a big space–
[Bursts out laughing uncontrollably] I’m sorry.
No, that’s funny. Please laugh. It’s great, I love this. It’s unmistakable, the shape of the temple…
I’m glad you’re enjoying this. It’s a spiritual thing, but it’s also where we live.
You mention it’s a secret Buddhist sect, but how much of a secret is it–
If everyone knows about it? Well some of the orthodox Buddhist sects and authorities tried to keep it suppressed. But how can you suppress sex?
How regularly is this form of Buddhism practiced these days?
These days I think it’s gone even deeper. I don’t like to say underground but it can be misused very easily. Sex can be the greatest elixir of enlightenment or a deadly poison. So you have to be very careful. That’s why the monk takes a suicide vow in the book because you can’t take this lightly otherwise you’ll destroy yourself and other people. The training is 1,000 days and that’s considered the minimum.
In a nutshell, how is practicing sex in this manner a form of Buddhist worship?
True intimacy with the right person in the right time at the right place with the right attitude is the most transforming experience that human beings can have. And that’s Buddhism, the enlightenment experience.