"Don't urge me to leave you or turn back from you.
Where you go, I will go, and where you stay I will stay.
Your people will be my people and your God my God.
Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried.
May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely,
if anything but death separates you and me."
~ Ruth 1:16 - 17
In the Western Judeo-Christian culture in which we live, a polarity exists between sexuality and spirituality. Sexuality is often laced with a negative connotation. Even in the Church teachings, which bless the sexual union within the state of marriage, no further elaboration is offered, and the negative image is perpetuated, invoking feelings of self-consciousness, guilt, a feeling of "dirtiness," and an overall uncomfortable disassociation from our inherent sexual nature. Our ability to understand, appreciate, and participate in sacred sexuality is dependent upon our attitude, culture, and any negative conditioning which we may have received. The predominance of a patriarchal society produces an imbalance in power. As we become more "degenderized" in our society, the balance between the masculine and feminine eliminates barriers and creates a more equal reciprocation between the sexes. The ancient teachings of the East embrace sexuality as a significant aspect of the spiritual journey, believing that the state of ecstasy attained in sexual union is synonymous with spiritual ecstasy.
One of the earliest Eastern philosophies concerning the sacred nature of sexuality is Tantra, which focuses on tactile sensation as a means of transcending and forming a union with the Divine. In his 1964 book Tantra: The Yoga of Sex, Omar Garrison introduced the concept of sex as a religious rite to the generation who lived on the fringe of initiating the sexual revolution. Tantra is not yoga as the book states, nor is it limited to sex. The origins of Tantra associate it with "mind-body-spirit-soul connection." It has been referred to as a spiritual science whose purpose is "to awaken the powerful consciousness or the psychic consciousness in man in order to make it possible for him to have the vision of a greater reality in himself." (Ecstasy Through Tantra - Dr. John Mumford). The essential message is to look within oneself in order to discover and express Divinity using certain techniques described in the philosophy. Tantra exists on the premise that if we are able to express Divinity in our sexual union, we will demonstrate Divinity in the rest of our lives and all that we do. Afterall, if we believe that "God is love," then doesn't it serve true that our most powerful loving relationships should be an expression of the Divine? Tantric practice infers that love is the most powerful experience, and builds upon that love. The connection of the male and female polarities represents a wholeness, which becomes holiness. God created us male and female in God's image. Therefore, the uniting of the male and female represents the dual-gendered nature of God. The uniting of the sexes is a physical representation of this divine union. All things and beings are of God. Uniting this divine nature amplifies its presence. Through worshipping the physical temple of one another, we can pay homage to the image of God in each other. Tantra expresses the consciousness of BEING through the meditative engagement in sexual activity; the moment of climax inducing the expansion of consciousness, leaving behind an aftermath of lucidity.
"Tantra is the science of the Earth-mother,
substituting feelings for logic,
sensation for celebration,
and active touching for passive viewing."
~ Ecstasy Through Tantra - Dr. John Mumford
Other religious traditions and philosophies also illuminate the intrinsic link between sex and spirit. A.E. Waite, in his book entitled The Holy Kabbalah, wrote that the conjugal relationship is a most suitable time for the descent of the Shekinah (Hebrew, meaning "the Dwelling") upon man and woman, resulting in a transmutation of the couple through the automatic invocation of the Shekinah. In some ancient Greek schools of "occult" philosophy, neophytes were anointed with an ointment composed of seminal fluid in order to accelerate their academic and spiritual growth. Still other religious philosophies have likened the vagina to a "communion cup" which holds the alchemical fluids produced during the sexual union. Perhaps the most famous of the ancient texts on sexuality is the Kama Sutra, the "rules of love." This compilation of ancient Indian premises teaches that the final aim of sexual pleasure is spiritual and that sexuality is a transcendental aspect of human love. Jack Zimmerman, Ph. D., and his wife of twenty-three years, Jaquelyn McCandless, M.D., wrote about their own personal journey of integrating the sexual with the spiritual in Flesh and Spirit: The Mystery of Intimate Relationship. They realized that the moments just prior to orgasm were much like moments spent in meditation, producing the same euphoric effects, and that these effects were the result of a relationship built on honesty, reconciliation, constant re-evaluation of the self (with continuous growth and change in response), synergy, and the realization that the union produces a spiritual presence of its own identity. By opening the heart and allowing the spirit to inhabit the flesh, a "sexual communion" is achieved, transcending the secular nature of the relationship. Zimmerman and McCandless assert the concept of "primary partnership as a spiritual path." It is their observation as to the spiral nature of relationships in which we cyclically revisit areas, each time with a deeper understanding, moving toward growth while building on previous experience. In order to experience our relationship as a spiritual pathway, we must make a practice of treating it in like manner, much like the way one participates in the practice of one's religion.
"In order to arouse his desire, she embraces him and wakes him
with a kiss,
so that he immediately understands her intentions."
~The Complete Kama Sutra - Alain Danielou
Sexuality is an internal desire which expresses itself in the physical act of copulation. It encompasses much more than the single act of intercourse. The transcendent spirituality of sexuality can be experienced in the electric moment when two sets of eyes meet in extended gaze; in the powerful moment when hands interlock for the very first time; in the sensation where lips meet, warm breath blows against the delicate pink skin and mouths combine as they wantingly taste and devour the object of their passion. Sexuality is inherently a spiritual experience. Those who practice it "amorally," excessively, carelessly, uncommittedly, who derive pleasure from others' pain or pursue the act against one's will are not engaging in the true intended nature of sex. These participants are searching for what is missing in their lives: the spirituality which they lack. The sexual act is something which brings them limited, transient satisfaction. Devoid of its full intention to attain unity with Divinity, that spiritual quest remains fruitless for these misguided individuals.
For those who can't seem to conquer the hurdle set forth by predisposed notions of sexuality as a negative, godless, selfish action and come to the ability to attribute sex with spirit, it is best to realize that we are, in fact, created in the image of God. Our physical bodies are the vehicle of our souls. The intimate meeting of the souls on a physical level is the act of sex. If we see ourselves as sacred like the Creator intended, we should naturally experience shared intimacy as a sacred event. We should consider the intermingling of bodies, minds, and spirits during the act of consensual passion as an anointing.
© 2000 Jennifer N. Ayers, Starr-Rhapsody Creations. No part of this article may be printed or copied without written consent from the author.
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