Maybe there are some who can find spiritual enlightenment in a monastery. But most of us live in a world which makes continual demands on us and in which our desires pop up wherever we look. How best to work with them?
Remember Tales from the Riverbank on TV a long time ago? I don’t mean the one with Ratty and Hammy the Hamster. I mean the Chinese stories. The stories were always interrupted at various points by Chinese proverbs, like, ‘Do not despise the snake for having no horns, for one day he will become a dragon! Even so, one just man can become an army!’ Great stuff.
Anyway, in one episode the Chinese proverb was, ‘It is said that Heaven is the absence of all desires. Even so, here was one man prepared to risk all to see his sweetheart!’
You see the problem here? How can you deserve a sweetheart if you are not prepared to risk all to see her? But how can you risk anything if you have no desires?
Don’t try to resolve the paradox too quickly. I believe it is true that Heaven is the absence of all desires. At the same time, I believe it is necessary to follow one’s desires where they lead (tempered by common sense, inner discipline and consideration for others, of course). If you resolve the paradox too quickly you will miss the point.
Anyway, of this, enough. Here is the link I wanted to share with you. It is Osho’s view. You don’t have to like (or dislike) Osho to consider what he has to say.
The waking share one world in common, but each sleeper turns away to a world of his own. – Heraclitus (6th century BC)
Do we separate mind, heart and body when we have sex?
The best sex is when mind, heart and body are all involved together. Without the involvement of the heart, sex is merely mechanical pleasure.
A ‘sleeper’ in Heraclitus’s meaning is not necessarily one who is physically asleep, but one who is asleep to the reality of now, not here in body and mind, away with the fairies, in imagination of things not present.
Being truly present to your beloved is to enjoy a union far more pleasurable than the mere friction of body parts. At the same time, being present is the only way fully to enjoy the physical pleasures of sex.
Unless you are a monk I recommend making the effort to achieve your desires.
The main and consistent focus of my life is looking for and finding ways of living in the present moment as much as possible. Along the way I came up against a number of very strong obsessions that were not connected with this effort, and that were occupying most of my waking thoughts. These were (1) the need for love and a life partner and (2) sex.
If you believe yourself to be on some kind of spiritual path, it is easy to convince yourself that you are working with transforming a lack – but this may be the coward’s way out.
Ask yourself whether the truth is that you have not yet found the courage to tackle these problems. Ask yourself whether you believe achieving what you want is too difficult, therefore you never start. Ask yourself whether the effort to achieve what you want might not be more challenging, more liberating than trying to live with frustration.
At some point I realised that, as Mr Gurdjieff put it, a roast chicken was not going to fly into my mouth. Just as anything I have ever achieved required effort, this was going to be no different. Then a friend pointed me towards some good advice, and another passed on his own techniques in the field of dating. I soaked up many ideas, some good, some that didn’t suit me, and I started applying the ones I thought were good. It was a steep learning curve, but I got there. Luckily for me, when I had it pretty well sorted, I met the love of my life.
One thing you learn along the way is that you are not who you think you are. This in itself is worth the price of the journey.
Later on I understood how to overcome unsatisfactory sexual performance too, and I have already provided some pointers to this in previous blog entries. Remarkably, the answer to this is being in the moment – and so we arrive back where we started.
Frequently I meet others who so obviously need to know what I have learned. What better time to write down what I know when the steps are still fresh in my mind? Hence two books: one on dating which I intend to publish soon, and one on sex which is already available.
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When other bloggers like my posts I usually pop over to their blogs to see what they are up to. If it’s relevant I like to comment here or post a link.
Here is what struck me as significant in NewHeavenOnEarth’s blog post on Spiritual Marriage:
Physical marriage is meant to be the training wheels for the real spiritual marriage of the soul to the Beloved. Spiritual marriage is the crucible of transformative love that is able to transform each partner into the divine complete self or anthropos, and reunite each completed self with God.
After that she lost me a bit in the discussion of different levels of inner and outer marriage. I don’t like to write about what I haven’t personally experienced, at least in some degree, so I’ll pass over what I don’t understand.
I think of sex as fuel. It’s high-octane. As such it is neither good nor bad. It’s up to us to use it wisely. Used correctly it can be the door to more presence and more real love, but only if we make the effort to be present to it.
I think that is why there is a connection between sex and the striving for clearer states of consciousness in many religions. Sometimes sex is integrated with religion, as in Tantra and as shown in some Hindu temple carvings. At other times the two are deliberately separated, as in some Western ascetic traditions where monks try to be celibate, perhaps in an effort to transmute sexual energy into a spiritual state.
(Note: I should have liked to avoid terms like ‘spiritual’ because such terms are often poorly used and the use of them closes more doors than it opens. But try as I might, I cannot avoid association-laden terms altogether. We need a new vocabulary.)
I also think it is essential, if a long-term relationship is to be happy, that the couple have some third point that completes the triangle. That third point should be a common aim and it should look beyond the couple’s own personal happiness to the happiness of others, whether it be some great cause or simply considering the needs of the people they come in contact with every day.
In this way a couple can assist each other on each one’s journey to the inner marriage of that which strives to that which is.
This is for that small (or maybe not so small) group of people who imagine that sex and the spiritual quest had better be kept in separate compartments – a blog post on my publisher’s blog at Narrow Gate Press.