Sex, eros and love are our most powerful drives. They are simultaneously the sources of our greatest happiness and our deepest pain. How can we balance these energies in our lives, put them into perspective and experience their benefits without their disadvantages?
Man is body, personality and soul. When one body attracted to another body, that is sex. When one personality is attracted to another personality, this is eros. And love is the attraction between two spirits.
There is much confusion today about these three subjects. We receive different and conflicting messages from the church, our parents, our friends, psychologists, doctors, T.V, the cinema, and the various magazines which circulate. Who can we believe? How can we construct a personal belief? Some of the various opinions which we hear floating around are:
1. Sex is a sin except for the purpose of creating children.
2. Sex is made pure by the sacrament of marriage.
3. Sex outside of marriage is a mortal sin.
4. Sex is okay with anyone as long as there is a feeling of «love».
5. Sex is a sacred act of union between two conscious beings.
6. Sexual activity is good for one’s health and should be carried on as late as possible in life.
7. The sexual act wastes precious vital energy which could have been transmuted into higher forms of creative activity or self-knowledge.
8. Sexual activity should be freely expressed with anyone whom one feels – even with members of the same sex.
9. One should never suppress one’s sexual urges – it could harm one physically and psychologically.
10. Men should be allowed extra-marital relationships, but not women.
11. Both men and women should be allowed extra-marital relationships.
12. Sexual attraction is a trap which causes a man to lose his clarity and reason.
13. Eros is a sacred joy in life and is worth chasing after no matter what it may cost one on other levels.
14. One’s success and manhood is measured by one’s sexual and erotic achievements. Otherwise there is something wrong with that person.
15. Real love does not exist.
16. Real love encompasses both sexual and erotic energies.
17. Spiritual growth is impossible as long as an individual is focused on his sexual and erotic energies.
18. Sexual energy can be transmuted into spiritual energy if one knows how.
Which of these opinions do you believe? Perhaps you could add another ten beliefs, or so, which I have not thought of here. Who is right and who is wrong? What is the truth in all of this? How can one formulate a personal philosophy concerning this powerful, and yet confusing, aspect of one’s life?
I cannot personally claim to have any answers for society in general. But after much experience and thought on the subject, I have come up with a personal philosophy which satisfies me at present and which may be useful to you in working out your own. The thoughts which I will express here are personal and do not represent any particular system or established philosophy, except for the fact that I have obviously been affected by all the philosophies I have studied, teachers I have met, and relationships I have experienced.
IT IS NOT A MATTER OF RIGHT OR WRONG
First of all I do not believe that it is a question of Who is right and who is wrong. All these statements are correct and incorrect depending on the path on which an individual finds himself in his journey towards self-knowledge or spiritual enlightenment. We must try to let go of the pride and guilt which are associated with the concepts of right and wrong, good and sinful. That which is «right» and «good» is that which helps us to proceed on our path towards unity with others and with God. That which is «bad» and «sinful» is that which creates a sense of distance between ourselves and others or between ourselves and the Divine which lives within us.
Thus, sexual activity for one man may be a harmonizing, unifying factor in his physical and psychological life and yet for another a little further down the road, a drain on his spiritual energies and a distraction from his spiritual focus. One man is not any better than the other, just as the college student is not better than the elementary school child. Both are good and equally divine in their inner nature. One is simply older, more experienced, and ready for more difficult lessons and responsibilities.
We must be honest with ourselves, look deeply into our lives, our goals, our desires, our habits, our attachments and motives, and determine clearly whether,r at the present time, sex or eros has helped us move towards, love or away from it. For the majority of the masses of society, sex and eros still plays a basic part in resolving differences, harmonizing energies, and bringing people closer together. The basic problem is that the means have become the goals, not only the goals, but gods. Sex and eros have become the gods of modern media, of TV, of cinema, and magazines. Everywhere we look, whatever is advertised, is passed into our subconscious through our sexual center (obviously because the advertising companies have discovered that this is the most open center of focus in people today).
Sex and eros exist for the purpose of gradually learning to love. And for this reason it is necessary for most of us at some time in our lives, usually in our earlier years, to experience these forms of contact. But we have forgotten what love really means. We confuse it with attachment, affection,desire, lust, identification, worry, anxiety, fear, pride, control and various other emotions. Thus we must ask ourselves if our sexual activity, or feelings of eros, are bringing us closer to a feeling of pure love for our loved one, and not only for our loved one, but for all our fellow souls. Or are they simply manifestations of our personal physical needs, feelings of insecurity, or need for ego-affirmation or sensual pleasure?
BODY – PERSONALITY – SOUL
Where there is love, then eros or sex play a natural role of manifesting the already existing spiritual unity now at the level of the personality and the body. Whenever there is sex or eros without love,then there is little real unity and usually many drawbacks and eventual problems. All three are attempts to erase a sense of separation, loneliness, or emptiness. All three express the need of the soul to reunite with the others, who are simply parts of its own true being – the universal spirit. But sex and eros alone can seldom, if ever, bring about a total sense of unity, if there is not simultaneously that pure and lasting love to unite the souls rather than only the bodies or the personalities. What we usually call love is really sexual attraction or eros; the attraction between two personalities. The proof of this is that if the other personality starts to change, or our interest changes, our love withers and becomes disappointment and sometimes anger, hurt, bitterness and resentment. Our love is not unconditional. Usually the attraction is on the level of our personality needs, sometimes purely on physical needs, and seldom, if ever, on our soul needs.
A wide section of society today advocates and practices free sexual activity with the claim that this is the modern and psychologically healthy way. They claim that all the church dogma is simply an attempt to suppress the masses. My personal observation of both my own life and the lives of many others, however, has shown me that there are some practical reasons why this free sexual attitude does not bring real happiness, or harmony, which people are seeking. One reason is that the satisfaction of the sexual orgasm is short lived and the sense of unity (which is the basic underlying motive; whether we know it or not), if it was ever achieved, soon disappears, leaving both partners in approximately the same state as before. Perhaps they have released a little physical or emotional tension and are temporarily more relaxed.
Unfortunately, in most cases, these moments are seldom used to further the spiritual contact between these two souls. Rather, most often, it is simply a mechanical process of releasing accumulated tension. The men are usually more guilty of this mechanical approach, lacking in affection or deep communication.
Moreover, this source of momentary pleasure starts to become an addictive habit for some, and rather than add something meaningful to their lives, they become slaves to its power over them, just like any other addictive pleasure, such as cigarettes, drugs or tranquilizers. In many cases, when one becomes so addicted to this pleasure, he is often ready to sacrifice his principles and beliefs in order to fulfill it. He may cheat on his wife, or she on her husband, even though he or she would not like the other to cheat on them. Often relationships are developed with others who are already married. Although one would certainly not like others to have sexual relations with his own spouse, he is forced through the power of sexual urge, or eros, to do to others what he would not want others to do to him. He is creating a «karma»; the act will have to come back to him in some way.
Besides the «karmic» reaction, there is the problem of a lack of consistency in the individual’s beliefs, values, thoughts, words an deeds. This creates a schism in his character and a conscious, or subconscious, confusion and scattering of energies which usually prevent him from finding the happiness and contentment which he is seeking. He is trying to find happiness and pleasure through the other relationship, but in the end he gets only confusion and inner conflict. An individual who becomes addicted to the excitement of momentary pleasure of his sexual activity or eros with someone, often loses his clarity and is fully capable of lying to others in order not to lose his source of pleasure and, often more sadly, is fully capable of lying to himself. All the above, of course, can be a great obstacle to one’s spiritual growth and can even create physical and mental problems.
THE SEA, THE WAVE, THE FOAM
When we are focused on the sexual level, we tend to see others around us as bodies. We see them as sources of pleasure or perhaps if they are contenders, as threats to our pleasure. Thus we cannot see the other as a soul and sometimes not even as a personality. How many young people have rushed into marriage, through their sexual adventures, only to find out in the end that they have completely different personalities, goals, and interests in life? And how many have felt the powerful excitement of eros gradually subside, when time passes and life is full of responsibilities, bringing up children and making a living? It is usually at these moments that married people seek out new extra-marital relationships in order not to lose that feeling of excitement, of youth, of joy, or pleasure.
But the nature of eros is that it passes. It is like the big wave which grows bigger and bigger gaining momentum, creating an orgasmic flurry of foam and slowly disappears into the sea again. It was nice, but it ended. Love is like the sea: deep, steady, unchanging, uniting all. How many waves do we have to ride into the crash of disappointment, confusion and sometimes depression, in order to start preferring the sea itself. The sea is love, the wave is eros, and sex is the foam on top. The foam is short lived, the wave survives somewhat longer, and the sea is forever.
THE PROBLEM OF ENERGY DRAIN
Another problem which results from free sexual activity and multiple relationships is one of energy drain. Each individual has only so much energy with which to sustain his balance, and his health, and simultaneously cope with his responsibilities and problems. When one person enters into sexual union with another, their auras or energy fields intermix. There is momentary blending of their emotional and physical energies. If they are spiritually attuned, then there can also be a uniting of their spiritual energies which is a beautiful event. But this is, as yet, seldom the case. When one engages in sexual contact with another person a few times, there starts to build up between them linking emotional channels which make one very open emotionally to the other. Identification and attachment result. Emotional dependencies and expectations start to develop. One becomes more vulnerable to the energies of the other. One can be easily hurt, disturbed, and can more easily lose one’s calm and peace of mind, when things do not go well with the other person, which can occur quite frequently. This is draining enough on one emotionally, mentally and spiritually when one has one sexual relationship. Imagine what happens to one’s emotional,mental and spiritual reserves when he has more than one relationship. He becomes torn, drained, depleted of clarity and cannot reasonably fulfill one’s responsibilities to any of these relationships.
We are continuously affected by the various psychological atmospheres of our various relationships, unless we cut ourselves off emotionally altogether, as some men do, but then the condition simply exists on the subconscious level and one soon has some serious physical or mental problems. I have seen this problem occur more frequently in men of about forty years of age ,who try to «regain» their youth by chasing after many women often much younger. Needles to say, neither happiness nor health nor spiritual growth are possible under such conditions.
Every attachment is another chain on our legs which limits our freedom. We become slaves, serving our desires. What we usually call love is often an attraction, which is based on our need for security, sensual pleasure or ego gratification. Consider how we would feel if our loved one died. Would we be sad? Why? Our loved one is a soul who is very happy to be free from the limitations of his physical body. He would be in a much better state after leaving the body. Then why would we feel sad? Because we have lost something important to us, something we need, or believe we need, something which gave us a feeling of security, pleasure or a sense of affirmation. This is what we usually call love.
When we enter into relationships on the basis of needs, it means that we expect the other to create within us a feeling that we do not have, such as security, happiness, or self-acceptance or self-worth. But it is seldom, if ever, the case that someone else can create this feeling in us if we do not have it in our selves. These are inner feelings which are the result of experience and inner work, and not object which can be transferred from one person to another. The result is that we become disillusioned because the other is not giving us what we need, what we want. We fail to realize that he cannot. This creates tension between us and thus 50 per cent of all American marriages result in divorce.
PERSONAL LOVE VS. UNIVERSAL LOVE
Another problem with sex and eros is that, because they are based on the physical and personality levels, they are necessarily limited to expression toward a few people, and not toward society as a whole. In our spiritual evolution, our love must expand to encompass a wider and wider circle of beings. Sexual attraction can be felt only for a few beings, usually of the opposite sex, who are physically attractive to us personally.
Eros in the same way can only be felt for a few beings who happen to match the personality traits which we value and which excite us. Thus our focus is naturally limited to a few people whose body or personality are attractive to us. As we mentioned earlier, for someone who is feeling isolated or has not experienced a feeling of union with other beings, sex and eros may be stepping stones toward love. But for someone who has frequently tried the sweet and sour taste of sex and eros, to continue chasing after such experiences may simply retard his emotional, mental and spiritual evolution. And it will certainly limit his energy flow to a small group of people, when he should start to express his energy as love to hundreds and thousands of people through social service. The sexual energy itself is perhaps the most powerful expression of the universal cosmic energy in man at this stage of his evolution. Perhaps in a thousand years man will have evolved to the state where the value which he gives to sex and power today will eventually be given to love and service. We would then get the same orgasmic pleasure in simply loving, or serving, or feeling unity with another person that we feel today with eros and sexual contact. And some thousands of years later on man will get the same orgasmic joy out of his feeling of oneness with God, the universal energy which resides in every being. He will feel total unity with all of the beings of creation and thus there will be no «other» to be attracted to.
But we are not there yet. Each person must see where he stands on his evolutionary path and evaluate his needs and his goals. What does he want to do with his life? He must use his life energy for the achievement of that purpose. He does not have any other way of achieving it. If he uses all his energy in sexual activity, emotional games, all his time seeking security, pleasure and ego-affirmation through chasing after various relationships, he will, of course, have no energy left over to direct towards those goals, whatever they may be. Neither will he have the time, peace of mind and clarity to spend time on techniques such as meditation and prayer which may help him find inner-security, happiness and self-affirmation.
On the other hand, as long as we are in these physical bodies our sexual polarity is a reality. We are like electrons and protons with opposite charges who cannot help but attract each other. This is something which no one can overlook. Yet man is more conscious (or should be) than the electron and proton. He has the ability, through conscious spiritual growth, to start to harmonize himself and reduce his charge which means to develop the qualities which are missing from his being. A man is attracted to the woman for the qualities which she has, which he has not. And a woman is attracted to a man for the qualities which are not yet incorporated in her conscious self. But as souls we are neither male or female. We are both, and yet neither. Thus, as men develop more love, affection, tenderness, sensitivity, purity, peace and humility, and as women develop more strength, courage, self-confidence and philosophy, the two will feel more whole – their charge will not be so opposite and thus their love can be expressed towards all, without being limited by sexual needs or eros. This wholeness and harmony of male-female characteristics has been exemplified in Christ, the Mother Mary, and many saints who embrace a beautiful and complete combination of love and peacefulness, combined with determination, strength, and the courage to fight.
THE TRANSMUTATION OF SEXUAL ENERGY
It is known in many circles of esoteric philosophy that the sexual energy can be transmuted into spiritual energy for greater creative power or for the purpose of enlightenment. It must be understood here that transmutation does not mean suppression. When we suppress something it just remains as it is, stored up building pressure somewhere within us. If we learn to transform it, it becomes something more subtle and is eventually expressed in another way, such as writing, dancing, music, art,social service, meditative states, etc. But the art of transmutation of sexual energy is often dangerous and requires a spiritual teacher, and, of course, a suitable consenting marriage partner. And even more important, it requires great self-control and discipline, years of vegetarianism, meditation, abstention from drugs of any kind and impeccable control over the movements of the mind. Otherwise the mind will be overcome by the surge of sexual energy and it will be lost, or worse, may travel in dangerous directions, creating physical or mental problems.
ONE UNIVERSAL SPIRIT
The key to the process of transmutation of sexual energy is the transmutation of the way we see the world. When we manage to see our loved one as an incarnation of God, when we manage to experience everyone as a manifestation of the same one universal consciousness, of which we are a part, when this ceases to be a thought and becomes an experience, then all our energies will be transmuted and everything we do will be divine. Thus, what is really necessary is a transformation of our way of seeing the world – a purification of our mind, beliefs, thoughts, desires and motives, so that we may see the world more clearly and not be overcome by the illusion of temporary forms.
It should be clear in our minds that that body or personality which we desire so much and believe we «need», is simply a temporary formation of earth which will some day again become earth. The spirit within there, however is eternal – but it has no sex or personality.
THE ROLE OF AFFECTION
Let me close with a bit of practical advice which I have found very useful. What we are really looking for is love. We all want to be loved, to feel it, to give it. The showing of affection between relationship partners is a very important balancing mechanism in this exchange of love and vital energies. If there were more innocent hugging and kissing as the children do, there would be much less need for sexual contact. The energy would be transmitted and our sexual potential charge reduced.
If we can again become like children and have more innocent affection, touching, holding, embracing and hugging, then there would be much less feeling of separation, doubt concerning the love of the other, and much less need for sexual contact, which may waste precious spiritual energies. Often the need for verification of love, of unity, or caring creates in us the need for sexual contact. When there is no doubt, there is less need for verification.
SEX AND OLD AGE
Let us close with the question of sex and the aging person. I have met many people who try to keep up their sexual activity as far into their later years as possible, often in conflict with their failing body energies. They keep up their energies psychologically out of the need for affirmation from others, or out of a belief that it is healthy, or that it keeps them younger. It is sad to waste those later years of life in this way. These later years are a great opportunity for inner work, i.e. to satisfy that psychological need from within through inner work, to start to identify with one’s soul and not with one’s body and personality. The body and personality have only some more years to live, say 20 or 30 at the most. Why chase after such temporary solutions to problems? When one’s children have grown up and one is also able to retire, it is such a wonderful opportunity to let go of all those activities which draw one towards identification with the body and personality. One is free to start a life of intense spiritual activity, meditation, prayer, reading, social service, and thus end one’s life in dignity, with purpose and peace of mind.
In summary, each will have to make his own decision concerning this aspect of his life. It is not a matter of right or wrong, but a matter of what is effective in bringing him the happiness which he seeks and what is likely, in the long run, to leave him empty and still seeking it. This decision should be made consciously and with objectivity. One should be sure that he is not suppressing an important part of himself but at the same time that he is not being blinded by habits, desires, and social conditioning. One needs to very clearly decide what he wants out of life and see how he can best achieve it.