How does one reconcile an inner spiritual life with a highly charged sex life?

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Mar 24, 2007 9:32 AM GMT
    I can talk forever about this topic, but am just wondering how you guys are doing with finding the right balance between the two seemingly disparate forces. The aim really should be integration of both, but I've found that the pursuit of sexual desires gets in the way of estabishing a sacred inner space.
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    Mar 24, 2007 1:51 PM GMT
    What is the conflict, exactly? Maybe you could take up tantric sex. :)
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    Mar 24, 2007 1:55 PM GMT
    by having an awareness of body and soul,and realizing the ,one`s real soulmate,is oneself,then one can share;balance is ,whats all about
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    Mar 24, 2007 1:57 PM GMT
    everything lies inside ourself, we have to find ,whatever we are looking for, in the only place that lies , inside ourselfs
  • christomax

    Posts: 30

    Mar 24, 2007 2:59 PM GMT
    I don't understand how the two would have anything to do with one another. A highly charged sex life isn't necessarily a bad thing. It's really a vague question..
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    Mar 24, 2007 5:40 PM GMT
    They are not desparate just the same thing on different planes of exsitence. Male/ female, ying/ yang, positive/ negative, darkness/ light ...just one big cosmic fuck.
  • candhmuscle

    Posts: 14

    Mar 24, 2007 5:50 PM GMT
    This is an interesting subject..I have worked on the balance of over 30yrs..mind.. body.. spirit....once you have gone deep into spirit, it guides you automatically....and sex becomes balanced..and more relaxed
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    Mar 24, 2007 5:51 PM GMT
    I have to agree with up on tantric sex and sex in other "neo-pagan" religions and you'll see that originally throughout time that sex and spirituallity were a part of each other. There is no sin in sexual desire, however when it becomes an addiction and a source or attachement and anything else (ie drugs, alcohol, etc.) that is when it is a negative thing.
  • dfrourke

    Posts: 1062

    Mar 24, 2007 6:25 PM GMT
    ...maybe I am "hardwired" differently, but I don't see how these are diametrically opposed to each other...

    ...I find time for myself everyday when I am in a relationship which helps with the balance...

    ...I haven't searched for sex outside the context of a relationship in about 10 years [although not necessarily opposed to this]...

    ...and I don't stress out when "I'm not getting any" happens when it happens...

    ...maybe I don't get the question...

    - David
  • atxclimber

    Posts: 480

    Mar 24, 2007 6:57 PM GMT
    From the Buddhist perspective, sex is this energy that causes attachment, and therefore suffering. As much as people talk about equanimity and balance and whatnot with sex, the fact of the matter is, sex causes attachment. His Holiness the Dalai Lama went so far as to say that of everyone he knows, and he knows a lot of people deeply involved in Tantra, that not a single one of them is actually capable of balanced, fully un-attached sex. He also said that while it is theoretically possible to have the equanimity to have sex without forming attachment, that the individual who could would also be able to eat dog shit with the same relish as chocolate cake.

    The Buddha prescribed celibacy for exactly this reason, but frankly some of the things he said about sex suggest a not-fully-healthy relationship with it, all this weird aversion stuff. I certainly don't choose to be celibate, but I also try to walk into every sexual situation as aware as I can be. Aware that it'll form attachment, aware that it'll lead to future suffering, and aware that I'm signing on for that, usually in exchange for human intimiacy, learning about myself, growing as a person, and yeah, a bunch of sensory pleasure.

    I'd say the way to integrate the two is just to exercise mindfulness. If the mindfulness interferes, maybe it's a sign that you're using sex in an unhealthy way, to cope with something or as a manifestation of denial, or something. If you can be mindful of your sexual experiences and enjoy them, that seems like a pretty solid integration to me.

    I mean, that's really hard, though. I know I don't always do it, for sure, but we can aspire, right?
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    Mar 24, 2007 7:44 PM GMT
    In my experience, Buddhism isn't a helluva lot clearer about sexual conduct than Christianity is. I do know, though, that one of the precepts condemns "sexual misconduct." What constitutes sexual misconduct includes masturbation and fucking the same woman more than five times, among other Levitcus-like oddities.

    The Dalai Lama makes the same tedious distinction that many fundamentalists do between the "person" and the "behavior" in order to accommodate homosexuality's existence. (Love the sinner, hate the sin, blah blah blah.)

    It's also demonstrably true that celibacy, the repression of sexual behavior, took a very negative toll on American Buddhism in the last few decades. One leader after another ended up in a scandal because of fucking members of the sangha. It wasn't as widespread as the Catholic church's scandal, but it was very intense about 15 years ago.

    More generally: As I wrote someone in an email, spatial terms that distinguish the "inner" from the "outer" self are dangerous because they reiterate a questionable dualism. When clients talk about their inner this-or-that, I always ask them to show me exactly where in their body this "inner" reality is located. A long silence usually follows.

    A different way of thinking is that we are within "soul," not that soul is inside us. I would go so far as to say that the body, being our interface with greater reality, is where the unconscious most reveals itself.

  • Starboard

    Posts: 242

    Mar 24, 2007 8:48 PM GMT
    If sexual desires are somehow interfering with your "sacred inner space", perhaps it's time to examine your sexual behavior. If for some reason you feel bad or ashamed about your sexual lifestyle, that will probably affect you on a mental, spiritual and potentially physical level as well.

    Being promiscuous, or somehow placing yourself in high-risk situations [for some people] is more likely a self esteem issue than a spiritual one, but such sexual habits would likely be hard to reconcile with genuine spiritual relfection. But as others have communicated better than I in this thread, there is nothing disparate between a healthy sex and spiritual life.

    Coming to terms with the fact that you are a sexual being should really serve to enhance your spiritual awareness, but you won't be able to get to that place if you are somehow ashamed of things that you find sexually gratifying.
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    Mar 24, 2007 9:05 PM GMT
    Yep, I think the whole sexual repression thing is just an invention of controlling people. Religion is a creation of people too. So when you understand that the conflict is a creation of man and not nature maybe you can try to be a free human and learn to think for yourself.

    I imagine there is enough to learn about being a human and being sexual that you can toss out what other people tell you and find out for yourself. After all, we are creations of sex and desire, therefore all mans creations and belief systems are a creations of sex and desire.

    Consider this if you are of the Judaic/Christian/Muslim belief system. In the story of Adam and Eve, it was the villain, the serpent, that taught man that being naked was bad - see the bad guy likes to lay on the guilt. God told man to "get it on" i.e. have sex i.e "be fruitful and multiply. Just because you may be a homo and not be able to multiply with the same sex .. well the same desire is going to be there. Sex is a design of God/Nature either way you look at it.

    With any other activity there are always those who have problems/addictions that can harm you (sex, food, drugs, etc), but those are all questions you have to ask yourself and not preach to others.

    Anyway, you can go on feeling guilty about lots of things in life, but it is better to be wise and go learn for yourself.
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    Mar 25, 2007 7:45 PM GMT
    Once I stopped listening to human beings who demonize (and deify) everything, I started looking toward science, and began thinking for myself. I have found that really good sex feeds my spirit because it makes me happy, and from there, I spread goodness and love wherever I go.

    If you want to believe in God, the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus, go ahead and be ashamed of these sexual impulses you are getting, and blame it on Satan. Good sex, with no ulterior motives other than pleasure and satisfaction helps me toward happiness, because it allows my spirit to resonate properly within the universe, and from there, I go on to do good things.

    It is a shame that corporate religions like Christianity and Buddhism and Judiasm and (you name it...) have been responsible for so much pain, shame and embarassment for so many otherwise intelligent people. Sex is not bad!
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    Mar 25, 2007 8:02 PM GMT
    I agree with STARBOARD! Sex is great, one of the best things on earth! If you feel at ease with what your doing without any guilt it will not affect your soul. Once you cross the line of your value system, guilt will set in and your inner spirit will seem ill.

    It has nothing to do with religion either. For example: Stealing and cheating on your partner are wrong. A religeous denomination does not need to teach us basic living ethics. Just turn the table and you will know if it is right or wrong.
  • atxclimber

    Posts: 480

    Mar 25, 2007 8:37 PM GMT
    obscene: As I was raised Catholic, I have to admit one of the primary things that drew me to Buddhism was that it doesn't make value judgments; there is not "good" and "bad", just "skillful" and "unskillful", where unskillful actions are those that don't get you any closer to enlightenment. That said, it doesn't make you a bad person to do 'em, just means you're not closer to enlightenment. No big deal, really. Anyone putting Buddhism into practice in a way that judges, condemns, or guilts is just plain misinterpreting it, period.

    Plus, Buddhism emphasizes personal experience above all things. With sex, for example, if you're in an unhealthy sexual relationship but things are murky and you're genuinely not sure what the right thing to do is, it's actually imperative that you keep exploring it until you understand. The less skillful scenario is when you are knowingly and voluntarily having sex in an unhealthy relationship that is feeding neurosis. But again, it's not like it makes you an awful person, and you need never beat yourself up for it (unless you enjoy that kind of thing, that is. ;) )
  • atxclimber

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    Mar 25, 2007 8:39 PM GMT
    Uh, just noticed that you've been a practicing Buddhist for 20 years, so, yeah, you know that all a lot better than I do. :)
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    Mar 26, 2007 2:08 AM GMT
    ATX: I wouldn't call myself a practicing Buddhist in the usual sense. My involvement with Shambhala began some 20 years ago when it was a secular branch of the Dharmadatu, mainly engaged in mindfulness training.

    About five years ago, maybe more, it began to identify itself as a form of Buddhism itself. I have mixed feelings about it. I think on the one hand that it's good that an American form of Buddhism, much more oriented toward meditation than devotion, is developing here. On the other hand, I don't really like the baggage of doctrine.

    Dunno if you are familiar with Shambhala, but its founder, Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, who also founded Naropa U., was "bad to drink" and quite a womanizer. He was also a genius and kind-hearted man, a practitioner of the Tibetan "crazy wisdom." So this particular sangha has struggled for some time with the question of skillful means.
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    Mar 26, 2007 2:31 AM GMT
    This is all too deep for me, but Onscenwish is my spritual healer and my spirit guide..oh wait this is too deep for me, he is just sexy.
  • cityguy39

    Posts: 967

    Mar 26, 2007 3:01 AM GMT
    The two have nothing to do with eachother. I think a person can be sexual (whatever that means) and still be a spritual person.
  • atxclimber

    Posts: 480

    Mar 26, 2007 3:57 AM GMT
    Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche was guru to Pema Chodron, right? I've read a ton of her stuff; she's a good writer, very insightful.

    As practice goes, when I lived in San Francisco I sat at the SF Buddhist Center in the Mission, which was founded by another Theravadan Bhikku, but the classes I took there were largely what I'd think of as pretty pure Mahayana, taken fairly directly from the original teachings and Sutras, more about principles than specifics of practice.

    In Austin I don't have a sangha right now, I just practice on my own and read a lot.

    Noah Levine, a teacher in LA, a former junkie-turned-Buddhist, is something of a "fundamentalist" too, in that he's finishing up a book about essential Buddhism from the original works and stripping off a lot of the accumulated cruft that comes from religions put into practice.

    To bring this back to the original thread question, Noah Levine actually has a thoughtful lecture (downloadable as an mp3) about Sex & Buddhism, and generally, how to relate skillfully to one's sexuality:

    Unsurprisingly, it's the one entitled "Sex & Buddhism"
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    Mar 26, 2007 3:58 AM GMT
    Humm... For Obscenewish....

    If I was your patient and you aske me where my inner self is on my body, I would point to my head, the center of my sense of awareness and nervous sytem.

    And not everyone believes in souls. Some very giving and loving people can believe that our entire existance, physical and otherwise, are all functions of a complex biomachinery, our body.

    And that included our "inner" or other sorts of "selves," dualities or not. One brain can function as there are many parts at different times, different situations, etc. Are we defined by what we do or what goes on in our heads? What we do and what goes on in our heads can sometimes contradict or be cohesive, I think it changes all the time...

    All a figure of speech and manipulation of language, that is all...
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    Mar 26, 2007 4:35 AM GMT
    That is the usual reflexive response, NY, but the brain does not simply process information that is self-contained. It interacts, via the nervous system, with the world, so that from a phenomenological perspective, it cannot be said to be an "inner" reality with much distinction from the outer except in its material composition -- which you could also say of the tree it is processing. But my background is in phenomenology.

    How thinking is languaged or how language frames thinking -- see Roland Barthes, Chomsky, all the recent neurolinguists -- is paramount. You can't dismiss the very foundation of thinking as mere manipulation. It's no accident that the Cartesian duality,the rendering of the body as veritably unconscious, was formulated by the same man who said, "I think therefore I am."

    Anyway, this is too f*cking heavy for the context.

    ATX: I know Levine's work superficially, heard him speak and have copy of his memoir, but I ain't read it yet. I have read a lot of Pema Chodron's stuff. There is a Shambhala Center in Austin. You might wanna check it out:

    MUTZ: As your spirit guide, I would like for you to remove your clothes and assume the yogic asana of the Precious Jewel of Incipient Sodomy.
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    Mar 26, 2007 4:48 AM GMT
    You have to educate me.. I dont know what phenomenology is...

    Therefore I am not sure if I understand exactly what you meant.

    My experience is limited in scope. I just know that watching many patients die, consciousness seems to correlate with brain function. One part is damaged, the result is usualy predictable. So I don't know much beyond this setting, but it seems to explain a lot of things to me very well.

    I would like to undersand what you meant...
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Mar 26, 2007 5:28 AM GMT
    Phenomenology (see Hussserl, Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty) basically posits that all reality is relational, co-created, and suggests that consciousness exists everywhere.

    In the classic analogy, you take a person into a black-lit room and hand him an object made of chalk and ask him what color it is. He says, "purple." You take it out into sunlight and, of course, it's white. Thus the color of the object is totally dependent on the interaction of the two phenomena (light and matter). This goes beyond perception, since it's co-constituted.

    Phenomenology takes this to some interesting extremes. You pick up a pencil. Did you, under purely autonomous authority, initiate the gesture or did the pencil beckon you? After all, the act can't occur without both things present. Spend a day thinking in this way. Actually, it's pretty Buddhist.

    So....I'm saying the brain and what it interacts with is a similar operation. What the brain apprehends is really dependent upon outside stimuli. If you deny it stimuli, its "existence" ceases as felt reality. So, I'm positing, you cannot truly speak of an inner existence apart from an outer one. This may seem self-evident on the surface, but we have become a culture of people walking around talking about our inner lives, inner children, inner thoughts, etc -- as if they are independent of the world in which we live.

    But I see your point about dying and consciousness. (I was not positing the existence of an individual soul, but using it in its original meaning as "psyche," consciousness.) Because I was around early in the AIDS epidemic, I watched many, many friends die, including my first partner. A good many of these were assisted suicides.

    I heard so many strange stories from friends during their dying days, that I don't really know what to make of...death and consciousness. I also had the experience of being resuscitated after clinical death and had the mind-blowing experience of watching the entire thing. Of course, my brain was not dead but my entire sense of awareness was outside my body -- just as my friends reported repeatedly experiencing in their dying process.