Saturday, 19 May 2018
It Takes Two, Baby...
Modern culture has a schizophrenic attitude towards sex and sexuality. On the one hand, sex is everywhere. Advertising on television, in magazines, on the underground, dishes up a constant barrage of sexual stimulation. Hollywood, where sex generally seems to come quick and easy, with minimal fuss. A few clicks of the internet button, and all manner of people can be easily seen doing all manner of things. Drunken Friday nights ending up in the bed of a stranger, and good for a laugh at work on Monday morning, remain de rigueur.
On the other hand, we live in an extremely puritanical age. Behavioural constraints are ever more tyrannical, ones sexuality demanding constant caution unless it expresses itself in inappropriate channels. You dare not comment on a woman's appearance, for fear of losing your job. You hold back from expressing sympathy with a touch of a hand on a shoulder, in case you end up hauled up before an employment tribunal. Whatever you do, do not smile at a young girl: you may well end up on a sex offenders register. We are all potential abusers and paedophiles today in this frightening and frightened brave new world of emotional repression.
There is also the topic of 'loss of depth, loss of passion' which has unfolded during the course of my lifetime; I shall leave that for another day.
In modern culture, sex has three functions: producing babies; finding a partner in life; entertainment/recreation. All these, I contend, are valid in their own right, if they are things that turn you on. But society's oscillation between indulgence and repression of sex works as a false dichotomy. Allied with this insistence on sexuality as having these three functions, and these only, this serves to deflect from, indeed to deny, the other aspect to sexuality and the erotic, the really dangerous one. The sacred, higher dimensional aspect to sex.
In the beginning God created man and woman. The two poles of existence, just one tiny step from the One, the Undifferentiated, the Absolute. It's so bloody obvious that it shouldn't need saying, yet is avoided by any means possible. It is a mystery known to some alchemists both past and present, to some Gnostics, some Tantriks and Tantrikas through the ages (yab - yum), those with active kundalini, and a scattering of others who are mystically-inclined. It is notably a mystery which all major world religions have ignored, suppressed, or chosen to try and deny, whether through belief systems or through attitudes towards physicality and the body: false mind-body, body-spirit dualisms and the rest. Whatever happens, religions must keep this reality at bay, since it is a reality which will destroy their power in a flash.
Alchemical sexuality, kundalini conjunction, yab - yum of the inner, all bear little resemblance to 'normal' sexuality. It's the Universe's dirty little secret, that God is a sexy beast. When he sits down for supper, he does so at the table with Dionysus, Aphrodite, Pan, the Goddess of the dark moon, and an entourage of raving maenads.
And then there's porn. Yes, I know. Some people get addicted. Some people use it instead of, and to escape, interaction with real human beings. Just like Facebook and Twitter. Some people get the wrong idea of their own body image. Like High Street fashion ads. And I know of the 'conspiracy theories' linking the porn industry with Jewish nefariousness - as most things have been linked with Jewish nefariousness by somebody or another. But on balance I think pornography is a good thing. It's one corner of human affairs where Dionysos can still reign supreme, or Pan can at least show his shaggy head. It's a corner where political correctness hasn't yet wrung the entire life and soul out of the party. It's a kick in the balls for sick northern puritanism.
Anyhow, the term 'pornography' covers a vast range of people and activities. The word is a bit like 'sport'. Snooker and rugby are apparently both sports, but their similarities are few and far between. So it is with porn. One person's porn is another's not-porn. Like sport, it's a catch-all for people nasty, nice, and somewhere between. For sure, there are some free-spirited characters involved bringing a deal more pleasure into people's lives than do most lawyers and other folk sat behind desks.
And there's 'renunciation'. As pragmatic declaration of attitude - of giving up the nonsense and non-essential, and living simply and humbly - it is great. However, pragmatic renunciation easily tips over into something else, something more ideological, which involves a backing away from ones basic energies. People become monkish in mind, holy in the brain. It's an attitude that's reinforced by monotheistic religions that see 'body' as bad, or systems of oriental origin, which take 'desire as the root of all suffering' as their basis. Passion, desire, love with a carnal element, all come to be viewed with suspicion, distaste, horror even. They are hindrances rather than revelations. The weakness of human flesh. With such a mindset, the mystical nature of duality in general, and the masculine/feminine pairing specifically, will never be realised.
And then again there's 'tantra'. What tantra essentially is has got buried under the plethora of so-called tantric stuff around nowadays. Tantric sex workshops: not necessarily un-tantric, but the meaning of the word has got rather narrowed down, to say the least. If it's about anything, tantra seems to be concerned with using basic energies, especially desire, rather than renouncing them. Embracing the absolutely miraculous and sacred nature of desire, experiencing it as a gateway to liberation, unbounded joy. The Two becoming One, then becoming the Divine Syzygy once more.
So it's been a great revelation, really. It is a little more than a year ago when 'She' appeared in a meditative waking vision. She was perfection manifested in erotic form, oozing sensuality, the ultimate turn-on but without most of the normal physical and emotional accompaniments to being turned on. She embodied, I realised, all the longings, the yearnings, the unfulfilled desires of my life so far. All were distilled in her form at that very moment. At that moment I too realised that these feelings, which I had learnt to label 'neurotic desire' and 'hindrance' during my years in Buddhism, were no such thing. Each and every pulse of desire was sacred, and Blake was more correct than we could imagine when he declared energy to be eternal delight. At that moment I became a child of Tantra, albeit an old and grizzled one. Each and every pulse of desire was a hymn to Eros, the god of attraction, and the holder of the key to gnosis: attraction, that eternally recurrent event, bringing together the Two, the Two yearning for One, and to become Two in One. Yearning to embody the greatest secret of the universe.
'She', the fiery spark, the catalyst, the initiator. It was five months after her first appearance that Kundalini unmistakeably arose within my physical body. Such is the power of the Two-in-One.
Images: Buddha Nature, unbornmind.com
From 'Donum Dei' series of alchemical illustrations
Two of Chalices, Royo Dark Tarot