Phallic door painting, Tongra, 2002

Phallic door painting, Tongra, 2002

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The Tantric Buddhist world view sees physical as well as spiritual reality as a duality of inner and outer realms--the inner realm female, the outer male.

 
Inner tantric rights are seen as more important than outer rights as they empower life source and creation. The outer rights (Father Tantra) cultivate protection through the practice of “blissful awareness”; the inner rights (Mother Tantra) focuses on enlightened awareness through the cultivation of “pure light” through desire.

 

The phallus is a good luck symbol to the Bhutanese. Phallus paintings drive away evil spirits and protect the sacred inner realm of home and hearth—protecting the wealth of the family.  Carved wooden phalluses are hung from the eaves in the four corners of a house to further ward off demonic forces.

 

In Bhutan, the phallus as a religious symbol pre-dates Buddhism and was enshrined in the Drukpa Kagyu tradition by Bhutan’s 16th century “divine madman” and patron saint, Drukpa Kinley.   Kinley referred to his phallus as “the thunderbolt of flaming wisdom” and used wine, women, and song to teach “crazy wisdom”. 

 

The hard-drinking dropout monk gained enlightenment at an early age then spent the rest of his time as a licentious beggar, roaming the country, performing miracles, mocking nobility as well as clergy, playing with the girls and singing the path of Dharma.

 

His songs are still sung in Bhutan, celebrating a blessed life of “never working, letting reality hang loosely/ Whatever arises is the Path of Enlightenment . . . Recounting whatever occurs with flippant delight ...”

 

From BHUTAN: Hidden Lands of Happiness, by John Wehrheim (Serindia 2011)