Yab-yum. . . in Tibetan means “father-mother.” Im not surprised because whenever I spend meditative space in yah-yum posture with a partner I feel we shift back and forth between mother, father, shiva shakti, male, female. . . and in this gender union, gender falls away and we are both. . .I am shiva and shakti and my partner is shiva, shakti. . . we find intern union and bliss in this eye gazing, breath sharing, rocking, non physical penetration life force union. . .together. . .
You have probably seen the statues of yab- yum, its a common symbol in the Buddhist art of India, Bhutan, Nepal, and Tibet. It literally was created to represents the primordial union of wisdom and compassion, depicted as a male deity in sexual union with his female consort (he teacher of sacred sexual union). The male figure represents compassion and skillful means, while the female partner represents insight.
I use gender terms here to discuss aspects of spirit. . . In Buddhism the masculine form is active, representing the compassion and skillful means (upaya) that have to be developed in order to reach enlightenment. The feminine form is passive and represents wisdom (prajna), which is also necessary to enlightenment. United, the figures symbolize the union necessary to overcome the veils of Maya, the false duality of object and subject. Meaning, we are actually, when we allow ourselves forest into union with our inner lives, rather than an idea of who we are or who we think we have to project to others . . .we are always the object and the subject. . . we are the the Other. We do not exist without the mirror of the other. . . even when we are alone we are somehow relating to the Other. . in projection, in hallucination. . .in fantasy . . it is the most primitive experience we know. . .attached to the Other in the womb. . .gazing into the Other’s eyes in the crib, at the breast. . .growing to identify with the Other. . . and most intrinsically we are Goddess and God within. We are all aspects.
In Tantra. . .and this is something we discuss often in my sessions. . through words, through silent communications and teachings and through experience of postures and breath practices like yah-yum and other hugging, cuddling, holding poses. . . You see. . . the symbolism of union and sexual polarity is a central teaching in Tantric Buddhism, especially in Tibet. The union I describe above is realised by you the practitioner as a mystical experience within your own body.
As a Tantric practice, Yab-yum is akin to the Karmamudrā or “actionseal”. This is the tantric yoga involving a physical partner. The aim of the practice is to control your winds, your breath. We often practice yab yum in longer sessions or sessions with more advanced practitioners as we gradually create a longer sitting practice. Yah-yum is not practiced with penetration of any kind. It is meant to be an energetic sharing, gazing, breathing yogic sitting practice for enlightening one’s internal knowledge toward their own sense of union with mother father, shiva shakti, God, Goddess. . . In Tantric practice yab-yum symbolizes the dualism or duality I expressed above that must be exceeded!! The sacred Tantric practice leads to rapid development of mind by using the experience of bliss, non-duality, and ecstasy while in communion with one’s consort.