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The Erect Penis Symbol in Bhutan

Can the penis symbolize a good thing?

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By amanderson2 - https://www.flickr.com/photos/amanderson/2420971544/in/photostream/, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=11119905

If you grew up in the Western world, chances are you were told about modesty. About protecting your “private parts.” For many the penis and vagina are seen as dirty words. The body parts you don’t speak about. Yet, they are crucial for our survival, for creating new life and for creating intimacy with our partners.

In many ancient religions and traditions around the world, the reproductive organs were cherished and even used in symbols of worship, particularly surrounding fertility. Back home in Sweden we still erect a penis that we dance around every June. That’s to say: on midsummer night’s eve, we erect a maypole, which we dance around. The maypole is a symbol for the penis though. I don’t think I figured this out until in my twenties, as I’d never considered what the maypole symbolized. To me, midsummer was simply a celebration of summer and the maypole a pole filled with flowers.

While a maypole might not immediately make you think of penises, the penis paintings on the walls in Bhutan certainly will.

Drupka Kunley (1455–1529) was a monk from Tibet who moved to Bhutan, where he became famous and it’s much thanks to him that you find phalluses all over Bhutan today.

Kunley was trained at the Ralung Monastery in Tibet where he was taught in the Drupka Lineage of Tibetan Buddhism. After that he moved to Bhutan as a missionary and set up the Chimi Lhakhang monastery.

Kunley is also known as Kunga Legpa, the Madman of the Dragon Lineage and The Saint of 5,000 Women. The most impressive nickname, however, is perhaps the one given to his penis: Thunderbolt of Flaming Wisdom.

The reason Kunley (and his penis) got these nicknames is because he was on a mission to prove that you could be enlightened without living in celibacy. He also wanted to show that enlightenment could be imparted in different ways, including via sex.

However, Kunley was likely not just someone who was a proponent of sex as a means of connecting on the spiritual plane, but also a womanizer that abused his position as a saint, given he required anyone who wanted a his blessing to show up with a beautiful woman and a bottle of wine. Then again, there are no records of him ever having sex with anyone against their will — in fact, rather the opposite. Many women came to him during his lifetime as they wanted his blessing themselves and he became known as the fertility saint.

Thanks to tantra, sex has a different connotation in the East, than it does in the West. Sexual encounters and spiritualism go hand in hand in some instances. However, tantra as a practice is a way of life, not just about sex. Kunley himself was, at large, popular because he went against the uppity clergy and made pleasure a way of life.

Thanks to Kunley it became popular to paint an erected, ejaculating, penis on the walls of houses and other buildings to ward off the evil eye. Other traditions linked to this also developed, such as erecting wooden penises on the roof of a house when moving in.

Today in some parts of Bhutan phalluses are worshiped with flowers, ara and milk during part of the year. It’s also common to dip a wooden phallus into a drink before drinking it. And big wooden phalluses are used as scarecrows in the fields.

Whether Kunley was enlightened, or not, is debatable, but his way of questioning norms is something well worth remembering — how many traditions do you partake in without questioning their origins? How many societal norms do you agree to, without questioning why? Or even if they’re beneficial? And in a day and age where sex is shown on silver screens, but sexually transmitted diseases still come with stigma and the thought of saying the word “vagina” out loud still comes with embarrassment, maybe it’s time to question some “norms.”

While Kunley may have failed to make sex sacred, I, for one, think it’s time we do look at what it means to view both sex and our reproductive organs as sacred and honor both pleasure and human connection, while also teaching people that attraction and desire can lead us astray if we don’t watch out. In fact, desire might be one of the most misleading forces you’ll ever come across. And that’s not just sexual desire, but any form of desire that doesn’t come from your heart. Learning discipline to be able to see beyond it is a much needed tool for leading a happy life.



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I get so much joy in helping fellow travel-lovers solve annoying problems and otherwise make their travels easier and more enjoyable. Toward this end, I’m indelibly on the lookout for noteworthy innovations that can resolve common annoyances and foster fun and functionality while getting from point A to point B. And, of course, I’m ever on alert for fabulous destinations that’ll proffer a pleasurable experience. Here are a few of my finds that fit the bill this summer season and beyond.

Southern California Hilton Hotels / The Magic Castle Partnership (Travel.Hilton.com/MagicCastle)

First is a truly amazing travel option for those traversing through Southern California this year. SoCal Hilton guests now have coveted access to the iconic Magic Castle in Los Angeles! This unique Hilton partnership allows hotels guests the privilege to experience one of the most extraordinary and exclusive clubs in the world, plus a highly sought-after fine-dining destination in LA.

While access to The Magic Castle is typically available only to members and invited guests, for the first time through the 2019 calendar year guests staying at participating Hilton hotels will be able to dine and see world-class illusion at the regal, Edwardian-era mansion in historic Hollywood. In addition to dining and viewing a variety of magical styles in multiple theaters, guests can also explore the property and enjoy drinks at one of five bars, including the Owl Bar or the Hat and the Hare Pub.

Magic Castle is the most-recent, elite Southern California partner secured by Hilton to curate unique local experiences for hotel guests. As part of the Hilton and Magic Castle partnership, patrons must book at least six weeks in advance of their preferred visit date through Travel.Hilton.com/MagicCastle.  From there, participating Hilton representatives will secure guests’ requested reservations at Magic Castle based on availability. 

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Wearbuds Smartband-Housed True Wireless Earbuds (www.Kickstarter.com) 

Aipower, an innovative smart device developer, has launched a Kickstarter preorder campaign for Wearbuds—the world's first wristband-housed true wireless earbuds designed for ultra-portability, compelling sound and with fitness tracker features. Wearbuds are the world’s first true wireless HiFi earbuds that are actually stored inside a fitness band. Both earbuds can be placed perfectly in the fitness tracking wristband which can also charge them with no need for carrying a charging case. The earbuds also feature flawless audio streaming with an advanced Qualcomm chipset and Bluetooth 5.0 technology, reproducing booming bass and crisp highs through fine-tuned, graphene-augmented drivers.

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Amber Wave Wearable Towel (www.AmberWaveFashions.com)

Next I want to tell you about an ingenious item perfect for your summer vacations and adventures. It’s the Amber Towel, which is actually much more than just a towel because it converts from a towel to a blanket to a robe. It’s perfect for the beach, pool or bathroom.

With the Amber Towel, instead of carrying one or multiple towels to and from your outing, plus a bag for personal belongings, you simply wear it and put your precious items in the pockets, keeping your hands free. So rather than having to carry a bag with a change of clothes, a towel and your essentials, you can just wear your swimsuit under the Amber Towel and be DONE. And it’s great to use as a blanket, because it spreads out to be a full 49” by 53”! I also love that it’s lightweight and 100 percent cotton. The Amber Towel has terry loops on one side for absorbency and on the other side loops have been sheared off for velour-like smoothness. So, it’s designed to be soft but also keep you dry and warm.

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Solo New York Parker Tote (www.Solo-NY.com)

When seeking a chic carrying solution for more city-bound occasions, you can soirée and jet set in style all summer long with The Parker Tote from Solo New York. This is a hybrid backpack and tote designed for the working woman driven by her passions. The sophisticated, sleek gold and black style of the Parker Tote is inspired by the heart and soul of New York–creating a chic look that goes with everything. 

The bag itself is embezzled with gold hardware and interlaced through the zipper with golden undertones. It includes a fully padded, 15.6" laptop sleeve compartment, interior organizer section and padded hideaway backpack straps. The back panel of the tote also slides over the luggage handle for efficient transformation and all-around easy access to whatever compartment you need at any time. 

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As the Executive Editor and Producer of “The Luxe List,” Merilee Kern is an internationally-regarded consumer trends expert and hospitality industry voice of authority—a travel, dining, leisure and lifestyle expert who spotlights noteworthy marketplace innovations, change makers, movers and shakers. She reports on exemplary travel destinations and experiences, extraordinary events and newsworthy products and services across all categories. Reach her online at www.TheLuxeList.com, on Twitter at www.Twitter.com/LuxeListEditor, on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/TheLuxeList and on Instagram at www.Instagram.com/LuxeListReviews.

***Some or all of the accommodations(s), experience(s), item(s) and/or service(s) detailed above may have been provided or arranged at no cost to accommodate this review, but all opinions expressed are entirely those of Merilee Kern and have not been influenced in any way.***

Source: https://research.skift.com/reports/skift-global-travel-economy-outlook-2019/

Photo Courtesy of Magic Castle.Ed Alonzo (Copyright Taylor Wong)

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