Monday, November 24, 2008

Equanimity and Sacred Sexuality

Here is a school lunch. Today's is especially vegetarian: rice and seaweed paste, carrot-onion-mushroom soup, mashed potatoes, fried tofu in a sweet-n-sour orange sauce topped with green peas and a cup of warm green tea. Damn I love school lunch.
Here is a picture from the drum circle I went to Saturday night. Afterwards we all feasted on lentil curry, cooked potatoes, salad, Kyoto cakes and red wine.
And here we have the Yanagi's treating me to a Korean lunch (The Yanagis are part Korean). This was a feast, my god, and nearly everything you see on the table is vegetarian. There were lots of different kinds of seaweed; so healthy. Who out there likes seaweed? I sure do.

I've been watching all these old family videos my sister sent me, stuff from when I was three and four years old!, and naturally it's making me think about time and change and death, again. Luckily, here in contemplative/spiritual land, death is not a darkness but is a Light that shines onto/into Life, bringing it into radiant focus. I find that thinking about death quickly brings life's fleetingness into light, which generally results in a rapid forecast of panic, fear, acceptance, love, appreciation, energy, and a new desire to open as love, right now, get shit done!, connect with others, generate compassion, and embrace all of it now. There is no time to loose.

And sex is a "tiny death"?

Keeping with this theme of sexuality, I'd like to talk a little bit more about erotiphobia (aka genital phobia), and tantra, or sacred sexuality. In my particular tradition tantra is known as the highest level of the Buddha's teaching. (Moreover, one can practice it effectively only after they have developed a stable, mature equanimity, a state of mind that can now embrace everything consciously and equally. Essentially equanimity is the "mirror mind" in you right now that is absorbing everything, reflecting everything, piercing through bias and just seeing things as things. It is a view that is not attached to any one view. It is a spaciousness, and even-hovering awareness, a mirror, aware of these words right now. Missing the equanimity is like missing the surface of a mirror. We miss it all the time. But we can practice resting on the unmoving surface. We can develop our abiding equanimity.

The development of equanimity is preliminary to any sort of stable realization, and is, according to the above link,"one of the most sublime emotions of Buddhist practice. It is the ground for wisdom and freedom and the protector of compassion and love. While some may think of equanimity as dry neutrality or cool aloofness, mature equanimity produces a radiance and warmth of being. The Buddha described a mind filled with equanimity as 'abundant, exalted, immeasurable, without hostility and without ill-will.'"

Sounds amazing, and a lot like the ecstatic, radically embracing mind found in orgasm.

Interestingly, from a spiritual point of view, equanimity develops with practice just like orgasm (or erotic energy). They grow as the consciousness grows. "The view gets bigger as the climber gets higher," it's that simple. When what you are aware of becomes greater, the mind aware of it gets bigger too. Gets fuller. And the content of the mind gets richer, and darker, and juicier. A great analogy used by one of my teachers is how the sun's light, while at dawn is very weak, soon grows in power to fiercely embrace and embody all the life within it. Once one's awareness is like the sun, able to shine light onto all thoughts and things equally, it is truly free, and can now exercise or play with all life, holding nothing back. It can open as a love without end. It can effortlessly incarnate passion, communication, sexuality; it can flow freely as a tantric, alchemical power in an individual influencer. Here is a great article I just read on RealitySandwich explaining some basics behind "intentional sexuality," and I've gotta say, it was a very nice read, clear and integral. I especially liked the description of Taoist massage, as well as the explanation about why sexual ecstasy can induce mystical experiences (passionate equanimity). Here is a clip:

"Great, open awareness can exist in the silence of ecstasy. Essentially, intentional sexuality is an ecstatic practice, a concentration, and an energetic practice -- all three of which lead to a quieting of the ordinary mind, with the attendant cognitive effects noted by mystics worldwide. It is an ecstatic practice not in the sense of the soul literally leaving the body, but in the broader sense of an excitement practice, which "turns up the volume" of sensory input (speaking loosely here) to flood the neurons of the brain. Like ecstatic dance or ecstatic vocal work, intentional sexuality drives out the ordinary faculties of discursive thought, creating a stillness akin to that experienced in samadhi meditative states; thus intentional sexuality becomes a concentration practice as well."

Great way of putting it!

Sexuality as spiritual practice is a powerful way to heal a negative self-image. Too bad our culture is so erotiphobic, shaming completely natural things such as genitals, masturbation, and even basic nudity. "Put that away!"

But on a lighter note, from the article:

"Experiencing the body as holy can bring great emotional healing. Even if one never has a mystical or realization experience during the practice of sacred sexuality, just knowing that the body is a temple instead of a latrine is a precious liberation."

And how exactly can we begin to experience the body as more holy? Well, to begin with, we need to not be so irrationally ashamed of our genitals (we need to start thinking about them differently), and we need to get over the fear of our ability to love our own sex. I agree with John Ince and his book The Politics of Lust; Homophobia is the best recognized type of erotophobia. Just about everyone I know is homophobic to some degree.
How do we get rid of our homophobia? Well, "same-sex love" includes your own body (in most cases), yes? So, how well can you love, sexually, erotically, spiritually, your own body? How well can you celebrate your genitals and those of others as the glorious stairway into the temple of God?
Which is to say, how well can you masturbate?


Nicholas said...

I like how you start this post talking about food.

I'm a fairly skilled hand, having daily practice. But it's always more rewarding firing up some tapas by abstaining for periods. Difficult, self control.

Rod said...

> you can take a collage level course on it for Christ's sake!

I'd definitely feature Freddie Mercury quite prominently in my collage.

David said...

oh, my typo. Nice.

May all beings be Free and in Love.

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