This posting will be about sex and spirituality. It will not be about the much broader topic of sexuality. Sexuality, as opposed to sex, refers to our total femaleness and maleness.
If I were writing about sexuality and the spiritual journey, there would be references to Dante and Beatrice and The Song of Songs. There would be allusions to the “mystical marriage” experienced by mystics like Teresa of Avila and Catherine of Siena. There would be an explanation of the animus/anima principle of Jung as well as the role of relationships and spiritual growth. I have written about those topics before and will do so again in the future. But here we will be examining the specific role of sex and spiritual growth.
First of all, is there any relationship between these two seemingly opposite aspects of human nature? Yes, indeed, there certainly is. We can say this with some certainty because it can be observed that the activation of the spiritual impulse often goes hand in hand with a sexual awakening of the individual. And vice versa.
Think about it. The sexual awakening is in some ways the beginning of our spiritual journey. For it is through the sex drive that Higher Power tells us that fulfillment does not come with feelings of separateness and self-absorption.
Granted, the first attempts at going out of oneself are frequently clumsy and far removed from a mature self-donation to Higher Power. But, as the Catholic philosopher G.K. Chesterton puts it, the young man knocking on the door of a brothel does not know it, but even he is unconsciously looking for God.
For many people, the sex drive has never been fully integrated. It represents an area of physical and psychological repression. But the real problem with sexual repression is that we also end up repressing our spirituality. This is because the sex drive and the drive to spirituality are located in similar areas of the brain. Repress one and you repress the other. Stimulate one and you unwittingly may be stimulating the other.
This invariably comes as a considerable shock to people who are beginning the spiritual journey. As long as they were “religious” and stayed on the level of rites and rituals and belief systems, the genie is still kept in the bottle. But once they begin to truly explore the depths of their souls, they almost invariably experience very powerful sexual fantasies and temptations.
Needless to say, this scares the heck out of most people. They were trying to become “spiritual” and they have now had to come to terms with the fact that they are sexual beings as well.
What has happened is the we have opened up the Pandora’s Box of the unconscious. To find the God within, we must also come to terms with our “animal” side. Ultimately, these drives are not enemies at all. They can, with trust and courage and surrender, become companions on the journey. Sex and spirituality are not opposites; they are two sides of the same coin. But, granted, it may take us some time to find this out.
Next posting: Myths are Powerful, but Not All are Valid
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