by Kelvin Chin, Life After Life Expert
To be clear, this essay does not address the issue of power and sex, or non-consensual sex, which is a different topic that I cover in my blog essays on Cruelty.
Power — either emotionally, physically, or intellectually over another in order to get happiness by causing them suffering or pain —
is “cruel” behavior.
Clearly, that is not spiritual behavior.
In this essay, we are talking about consensual sex, where neither person is pushing their power over the other.
Lots of people are good at being sexual, but how many people can be sexual when they are ‘being good’?
OUR BELIEFS ABOUT SEX
How many people between the ages of 18 and 99 do you know who would like to have more sex? Maybe as much sex as possible...?
Ok, maybe not everyone has that level of appetite, but I’m pretty sure that most people on the planet would have a lot more sex if they didn't feel burdened by various beliefs and other restricting factors.
Let’s talk about some of those beliefs and see whether they make sense or not.
WHAT PUTS ON THE BRAKES?
So, what stops most people from having as much sex as they’d like?
Most people would say things like — STDs, pregnancy, or various beliefs about it being “socially unacceptable,” or even “against one’s religious beliefs.”
To be clear, I'm not here to promote indiscriminate sex, violating marital vows, or ignoring safe sex guidelines.
I am here, however, to discuss the guilt or negative thoughts often associated with sex. I also want to explore some alternative perspectives on sex itself.
Here we go...
IS SEX WRONG?
Why is sex considered “bad” or “wrong” by some people?
Aside from the possible health-related concerns that some in our society may have regarding sex, the most widespread source of negative views about sex seems to be from various religious beliefs.
And these beliefs are not isolated to any particular cultures or scriptures — they are worldwide. These beliefs have been passed down for generations — they have influenced our great grandparents and parents, as well as our political leaders. And therefore, these beliefs have influenced many countries' laws and cultural norms — and ultimately, they have impacted our personal relationships.
SOURCES OF THINKING THAT SEX IS WRONG
Many different religions have long-held beliefs that it is “more spiritual, more godly” to spend as much time thinking about or devoting one’s life efforts to seeking God.
I think this is because many of the originators of that thinking came from more ‘reclusive lives’ — perhaps even as monks or nuns in the Western traditions, or as gurus in the Eastern traditions. Their life choices dictated that they divorced themselves from physical sexual activity, and over time I think they developed a negative attitude towards it — a view that it was somehow “lesser” than their spiritual choice to be celibate — that by being celibate, they could more quickly and effectively be “closer to God,” or “become Enlightened.”
Very few of them chose the “householder” lifestyle of having a family with children, and all the responsibilities that go along with that choice. As a result, their experience database became more and more limited over the many generations of monks, nuns, and gurus who came through those various traditions.
And with each passing generation of recluses came more and more justification for the sex-free lifestyle they had each chosen. To them, having sex and having relationships with the opposite sex was a distraction from their focus on “being with God,” towards “seeking Enlightenment.”
So, you see, it does makes sense. There may very well be a logical genesis to this line of thinking by religious and spiritual leaders over the millennia. I think it’s explainable as a choice they made for seemingly good reasons at the time, not only because they believed it was good for themselves, but also because they believed it was good for us.
But...let’s think about this ourselves, for ourselves. Does it make sense to view sex as inherently 'good' or 'bad' — spiritually speaking?
COULD SEX BE MORE 'NEUTRAL' THAN WE REALIZE?
Sex in our world is definitely 'loaded' — for most people it is loaded on many different levels — emotionally, psychologically, even spiritually. To some people sex is a good thing, and to others it is not.
We often associate various emotions, as well as content, with it — intimacy — “he or she loves me (or at least is attracted to me…)” — or, self-deprecation — “I've been having (too much) sex, I'm slutty, I'm dirty,” etc. Those are just a few of the positive and negative associations that we project onto sex from within the social norms of our respective cultures.
But, is sex inherently loaded with this emotional and social content, outside of the associations we project onto it?
I think not.
And why is this important to our discussion? I think it is important because if we can start by recognizing and acknowledging that we all project our own values — both emotional and social — onto sex, then we can begin to understand and perhaps 'unwrap' this very loaded subject.
Without all of the associations — if we strip it all back (no pun intended...) to its essence, to its core elements, what is there?
What we have left is a physical act through which procreation occurs, and the continuation of the species is ensured. That's it. I know, I know — that hardly sounds like much fun. But, I think if we're all being honest with ourselves, we'll realize that is factually accurate. Not emotionally appealing. True. But, it is accurate.
In that sense, I think sex itself could be considered 'neutral.' It is not inherently loaded emotionally, psychologically, or spiritually. Not all by itself.
It is analogous to going to shop for a new pair of shoes...or eating chocolate. For some, those may simply be neutral acts — merely tasks on their 'To Do List.' But, for others, the odyssey of shopping for new shoes or the experience of savoring the richness of chocolate in one's mouth is an emotionally stimulating, almost ‘religious’ experience eliciting pleasure responses from a whole host of sensors. Or, for my dad it was window shopping for car accessories, and for my friend Jimmy it was buying a new power tool...and, to our self-proclaimed "spiritual seeker" friends, it may be the purchase of some rare incense or esoteric tea from Asia that sends them into ecstasy...but, it's the association, not the buying of the incense or tea itself.
So, see what I mean?
Now, don't misinterpret what I'm saying here...
I am not saying that it is better to treat sex as a neutral act. I am, however, pointing out that if we peel back the proverbial 'layers of the onion,' we are left with an emotionally neutral act onto which we have projected lots of emotions and social stigma. And if we acknowledge that, then we can begin to look more clearly at how and why we make those associations, and we can choose to make those associations (or not) more consciously, more intentionally — and less automatically 'by default' due to religious, social, or other influences.
Perhaps by viewing sex as neutral, we as a culture might be more easily able to view sex as "Guilt-Free," and realize that the guilt that some stigmatize sex with is an association that is projected onto sex — that guilt or wrongness is not inherent within sex. And, note that this guilt-free approach is not in any way meant to espouse being irresponsible in our actions sexually or in our relationships, but instead to help us be free from any guilt of having sex.
Much of what we do in life are mere acts to which we attach and associate certain emotionally-charged and socially-driven experience. But, in a vacuum, the act is merely an act, a process.
I think sex is largely the same.
CAN SEX BE MORE THAN NEUTRAL?
Although having sex may be largely a neutral process, can it be more than that? Can it be more of a positive experience — in a physical, emotional, and spiritual way?
I think it definitely can be…
- A source of physical pleasure
- A way to relax, release stress, improve sleep
- A way to release endorphins
- A way to let go and ‘surrender oneself’ completely (albeit momentarily)
- A means of connection with another — emotionally, mentally, spiritually
Since so much has already been written by others about sex in the first four ways listed above, let's focus on sex as a means of 'connection'...but first, I'd like to emphasize an aspect of our behavior that tends to get overlooked...
NOT JUST THE “WHAT”
Instead of looking at sex through 'the guilt lens' — the 'right or wrong' lens, as is often done — let’s look at it through the lens of “Personal Choice.” I think this is a much healthier way of looking at sex.
Some may choose to engage in being very sexually active. Others may not. Since exercising our Free Will may be the most important aspect of our being ‘self-aware minds,’ both are choices to be respected.
And, within the concept of Personal Choice is “The HOW,” not just “The WHAT.”
In other words, I think our intent is key, and while merely having a good intention is not good enough by itself — i.e., actions and their results do matter — when all things are equal, when the actions are basically the same, the intent behind them becomes critical to look at.
For example, in dating, breaking up is a normal process that couples go through. But, “How” they break up — i.e., the process and how they treat each other within that process — is critical. Is there an intent to hurt the other person? True — in a break-up, often one or both parties get hurt. But, is there an intent to hurt, and moreover is there an intent to lessen the hurting of the other as much as possible?
I think we need to look at that more closely when we are assessing how “spiritual” we are in our dealings with others. Not just looking at the “What,” but also paying attention to the “How.”
So…what about “Spiritual Sex”…is it an oxymoron or is it something we can aspire to and perhaps experience in our daily lives?
We’ve discussed above several ways for us to experience sex in more than a neutral way — and, in the various ways we can experience sex as a positive experience without hurting others.
Let’s focus now on sex as a means of “connecting” with another person, because ultimately I think connection both with ourselves and with others is the essence of what spirituality is about.
MORE THAN THE TRADITIONAL VIEW OF 'SPIRITUAL CONNECTION'…
This is where I might depart from many writers and thinkers about sex...
I see sex as a vehicle through which we can experience the full range of connection — mentally, emotionally, physically — on all levels. Both with ourselves and with others.
Those who may be more familiar with language from the many spiritual schools that exist worldwide often use terms like “chakras,” “energies,” etc. They typically view sex as a lower chakra, a lower energy experience. And sometimes, if there is a special connection between the sexual partners, they may view sex as an isolated higher energy experience.
However, I think that is too limited — it does not have to be an ‘either-or’ proposition. It can be BOTH.
In fact, I see it as possibly even more than that. Even more than just a choice between a 'lower' and 'higher' energy experience.
I see sex as a possible vehicle for ALL connection — through all the many levels of chakras — not just the so-called ‘higher energies’…the higher chakras...nor just the lower chakras. This experience of being able to access and experience any and all of the chakras and energy centers throughout the body, mind and heart during sex is what I would redefine as "spiritual." It is full connection on all levels.
If our experience of ‘turning within’ has been effective and we have developed a strong connectedness within ourselves, then we can translate — and by choosing through the power of intention — seemingly ‘transfer that energy and connectedness’ out to others — in this case, with our sexual partner.
This would truly be "spiritual sex" — a liberating experience and at the same time an intimate connecting experience both with oneself and one's partner.
Most people experience sex simply as physical connection. Some experience it as emotional connection. And a few people experience it as spiritual connection with oneself and the other person.
But, ultimately, everyone experiences it as some form of connection. This is where I think the emphasis should be.
Connection with oneself and with others is where life happens. Looking at sex as yet another vehicle through which to enrich and experience life, perhaps in one of the deepest ways, would only enhance the life experience of people worldwide.
After all, isn't it our relationships throughout our life that really mean the most to us?
When people are on their deathbed, it's not all their cars and houses and jobs and money that they have (or don't have) that flashes through their mind — that's not what is most important to them at that moment. It's their loved ones, their friends, their teammates, their colleagues, who are the most important to them in the end.
So, why wait 'til you're on your deathbed to enrich and explore...and cherish those relationships?
We all need to start now.
And, while I'm not suggesting that everyone go out and have indiscriminate sex with strangers, I am recommending that we take another look at how we view sex. I am strongly recommending that we look at sex as another vehicle through which we can connect in many ways — in perhaps the most sublime and beautiful way — with another human being.
And that we come at this with respect, kindness, and without guilt.