Human Nature and Sexual Freedom - Tantra, Tao, Meade and Reich and the politics of sex.
Updated: Feb 2
I’d like to begin the discussion by addressing the development of our sexual mores, practices and taboos as they are shaped by our society.
Margaret Mead in her seminal book, Coming of Age in Samoa (1928) asked: “Are the disturbances which vex our adolescents due to the nature of adolescence itself or to the civilization, that is, the cultural context?” She found that teens in Samoa had a much more casual attitude toward sex, and less angst.
Mead was challenging the prevailing perception that adolescence and puberty was by nature a turbulent and disturbing time for children. We will see that her stance is supported by Wilhelm Reich, with his theories that all of our neurosis and personal AND social ills stem from a suppressed libido, a theme he picked up from Freud. He is credited with coining the phrase, The Sexual Revolution. He was a respected Psychiatrist who aimed to meld politics and sexuality, and also referred to Marxist theory that propagated communal marriages and “free love”. He claimed that the Bolshevik revolution failed due the lack of balls by the fathers of the revolution, who were themselves repressed, and failed to implement the sexual revolution.
The following is my extraction from a Paper presented at the Utah University Childhood conference titled:
CHILDREN AND SEXUALITY
The image of the sexually innocent child lies at the heart of Western constructions of childhood. While there may be debates about whether children need to be kept ignorant about sex or whether they simply have no sexual feelings, the notion of childhood as a protected space leaves little room for discussions of children’s sexuality. Although puberty is generally acknowledged to bring with it the start of sexual feelings and experimentation, this, too, causes great anxieties and attempts at adult control. Children’s sexuality is one of the great concerns of early 21st-century Western societies and lies at the heart of discussions about personal and social identity. It is not a topic that has been studied in great depth by anthropologists, but what is apparent from a cross-cultural comparison is that what are seen as universal, biological drives from a Western perspective seem very different elsewhere and that the cherished characterization of the child as a sexual innocent is not ubiquitous.
The number of ethnographies that focus directly on children and sexuality has been very limited and descriptions of children’s sexual experiences have often been given as part of broader discussions of children’s and young people’s lives. Malinowski, for instance, discussed Trobriand ( Papua New Guinea) children’s sexual games and sexual behaviors claiming that “at an early age children are initiated by each other, or sometimes by a slightly older companion, into the practices of sex. Naturally at this stage they are unable to carry out the act properly, but they are content themselves with all sorts of games in which they are left quite at liberty by their elders, and thus they can satisfy their curiosity and their sensuality directly and without disguise”. Other anthropologists have also noted that certain forms of sexual behavior are common amongst young children, even if they are disapproved of or denied by the adults in the community, and there is an awareness that young people do have sex, even if it is not talked about. Melvin Konner (2005), writing about the !Kung of northwestern Botswana, takes it as self-evident that sexual experimentation went on amongst young people and that although it was disapproved of by adults, they also admitted it was a normal and inevitable part of development.
Margaret Mead, looked at adolescent girls’ sexuality as part of a larger analysis which aimed to challenge the prevailing idea that the “storm and stress” of adolescence, first identified by psychologist G. Stanley Hall in 1904, was biological in origin. Coming of Age in Samoa was Mead’s attempt to refute Hall’s argument that this was a universal, biologically driven stage and she argued that it was culture, as much as biology, which affected young people’s lives in adolescence. This book contains some of the earliest work on children and young people’s sexuality, and while sexual behavior was not the primary focus of her work, its descriptions challenged ideas about the universality of sexuality. In the book Mead analyzed the daily lives of Samoan girls from infancy through early child-hood until adolescence, aiming to make explicit comparisons between the USA and Samoa by looking at how adolescence, and the effects of puberty and sexuality, were managed differently in the two societies, thereby emphasizing the importance of culture. According to Mead, the girls whose lives she studied started to take a series of lovers just after puberty. Usually a girl’s lover would be much older than herself and, before her marriage, she would expect to have many lovers or casual sexual partners. Sexuality was identified as a source of pleasure, rather than tension, and the flexibility of adolescent girls’ sexual behavior gave them freedom from many of the problems suffered by their counterparts in the USA. In Samoa, stress and strain were not an inevitable part of adolescence, and Mead concluded: Adolescence represented no period of crisis or stress, but was instead an orderly developing of a set of slowly maturing interests and activities. The girls’ minds were perplexed by no conflicts, troubled by no philosophical queries, beset by no remote ambitions. To live as a girl with many lovers as long as possible and then to marry in one’s own village, near one’s own relatives, and to have many children, these were uniform and satisfying ambitions. Mead identified several cultural reasons why growing up in Samoa was less stressful to both individual and society than it was in the USA, and sexual freedom was one of them.
Mead’s work has generated much debate, and a certain amount of hostility, ever since, but she was one of the first anthropologists to take children’s experiences of sex seriously. In showing that the “problems” of adolescence were as much cultural as biological, she also showed that sexuality has to be discussed within its cultural context, that sexual morality was not universal, and that children’s experiences, and enjoyment, of sex depended very much on cultural expectations.
These insights have all been supported by others who have focused more directly on children’s sexual behavior. In many societies, young children are very knowledgeable about sex and it is part of their daily lives. In communities where privacy is not valued, children are likely to grow up hearing adults talking about sex, seeing, and even watching, their parents and other adults having sex, and its mechanics are no great mystery to them.
Cora Du Bois (1944) claimed that in her study among the Alor of Java, young boys openly masturbated in public and that sexual knowledge was freely available to children. She assumed that by the age of five, young children knew the terminology and meanings of words concerned with intercourse and birth.
Thomas Gregor, who has written extensively about the sexual behavior and sexuality of an Amerindian group living in Central Brazil called the Mehinaku, claims that parents openly attribute sexual motivation to very young children, joking about it and viewing it with amusement. Sexual knowledge, and the open acknowledgment of sexuality by children, is not uncommon. However, this does not mean that children’s sexuality is always viewed as unproblematic or that Mehinaku society does not distinguish between acceptable and unacceptable behaviors. While little attention is paid to children’s sexual experimentation, the situation also changes as children get older, and boys in particular are subject to strictures once they reach the age of 12 or 13. The Mehinaku believe that boys do not mature and grow into men naturally and and around the age of 12, therefore, boys are secluded at one end of the communal house behind a palm wood barrier. Here a boy must take medicine, follow certain dietary rules, speak softly, and above all avoid any sexual contact with women and girls. The important point here is that sexual contact must be appropriate and that appropriateness is culturally defined.
Evidence from other ethnographic sources stretches understandings of cultural relativity much further.
The Canela, another Amerindian group living in Brazil, have no taboos on premarital sex, and children are encouraged to have frequent and early sexual experiences. Amongst the Canela, it is considered necessary and desirable for both boys and girls to begin experimenting sexually from a young age (around six) both before their marriage, which takes place for girls between the ages of approximately 11 and 13, and after. Sexual generosity is important in this community and is viewed as an ancestral custom. Girls are expected to take part in “sequential sex” where they take on multiple partners at once, and girls who show any reluctance to do this are described as “stingy” and scolded by their female relatives. Children up to 6 or 7 grow up watching and hearing adults being open about extramarital trysts and sequential sex and learn how their role models enjoy these activities. Extramarital sex thus becomes a valued expectation of these young people. Experiences continue to enhance this expectation for both sexes into adolescence, when young people become thoroughly involved in extramarital sex themselves. The general atmosphere of joy and fun surrounding extramarital sex may be the principal factor which influences young people to accept and enjoy sequential sex.
This is not simply a society where girls experience great sexual freedom or where they are able to control their sexuality, but is a society with very different ideas about the body and the nature of sex. The Canela, like other Amerindian groups such as the Huaorani (Rival 1998), believe that once a woman becomes pregnant, any further semen she receives from other men becomes a biological part of the growing baby. Therefore children have several fathers, known as co-fathers or contributing fathers. Sexual intercourse with many men is desirable and necessary for women for the formation of their child. To outsiders these practices may seem bizarre and even repugnant, yet William and Jean Crocker point out that there are strictly observed rules about who can have sex with whom and that child abuse, as it is understood in the West, is very infrequent in this society.
Our concept of child abuse includes the destruction of the child’s trust in kin and others who are supposed to be her or his protectors. We also think of such abuse as involving pain and physical damage to the sexually immature child....The experience of pain in first sex is not a part of Canela sexual lore. Although girls had some anxiety before their first sequential sex, I never heard any discussion of painful experiences. Here again, cultural expectations heavily influence the physical experience. These examples point to the complexities of studying children’s sexuality and the impossibility of doing so without linking discussions to much wider issues of gender roles, reproduction, marriage rules, and even cosmology.
In other instances this becomes even more complicated when sexual acts carry very different meanings cross-culturally. The clearest example here is Papua New Guinea, where certain communities practice a form of “ritualized homosexuality.” In his work with the Sambia, Gilbert Herdt has shown how, from the age of seven, boys are gradually initiated into manhood by a series of rituals in six stages that involve fellating or being fellated by other men of the tribe. All males pass through both erotic stages, being first fellators, then fellateds: there are no exceptions since all Sambia males are initiated and pressured to engage in homosexual fellatio. On reading this passage it is difficult to see anything other than sexual activity, and possibly sexual abuse, going on. Yet it is arguable whether these rituals have anything to do with sex at all. To understand what is happening here involves looking at gender roles in Sambian culture and the cultural meanings placed on semen. Sambian society is rigidly split into male and female. In order to turn boys into men, they must be taken away from their mothers, whose milk they have drunk in their early years, and turned into men through the ingestion of semen. Semen is the essence of manhood. Younger boys therefore have to take semen into their bodies from older partners, and once they have reached a certain stage of maturity they will then pass semen onto others in turn. As they become older, boys become betrothed to a preadolescent girl and enter a bisexual phase. When the girl is mature, her husband will give up the homosexual rituals of his youth and become exclusively heterosexual. In this instance what is seen as a sexual practice in Western terms becomes something very different when looked at from a Sambian perspective. The expectations on boys to perform fellatio and the cultural meanings given to semen mean that boys cannot become men without being initiated and initiating others in turn. Therefore it is debatable whether these initiation practices have anything to do with sexuality or even if they are sexual acts. Yet Herdt (1999) writes that after an initial reluctance, the boys come to enjoy these activities, and there does seem to be some element of sexual gratification in them, complicating understandings and raising questions about sexuality and sexual pleasure.
These excerpts from the paper illustrate the immense contrast in social and sexual conditioning between some indigenous cultures and the Western or Modern society most of us live in. The point is merely to illustrate that our sexuality is shaped by our upbringing. We should acknowledge the tremendous strides we have made in individual freedoms in our modern society, enshrining the rights of women and children, and that the image of the "noble savage", is not all rosy and romantic. Many primitive practices and modern religious and cultural conditioning both have positive and negative aspects.
When the British arrived in the east, in their golden age of expansion during the Victorian era, the East suffered the loss, not just of their material treasures, but of their sexual freedom, innocence and play, and today in India and China and Japan, we find only remnants of what once was. The West is not the only culprit, much of the Egyptian erotic motifs were destroyed by Christian Missionaries as well as the Muslim conquerors. And everywhere in the world, the church destroyed the goddess and earth based religions.
This discussion has to include my, and many others’, theory, of why and by whom this suppression takes place. Easily identified as the Patriarchy, the Church and State, The Inquisition, the fascists and capitalists who destroy the earth for profit and control the masses. They who dethroned The Goddess, in all her many guises, the crones, the maidens and muses, the sirens, and divas, the dakinis and sky-dancers, and planted their one and only male god supreme. Christianity must be the main culprit, but both Judaism and Islam are guilty of suppression of women. As are many tribal cultures today and in the past. We all know about the persecution of paganism and the brutally suppressed Cathar and Ablegensian rebellions against the Catholic Church a thousand years ago. The battle for the rights of women and the prominence of the Female Deity has been going on for quite some time.
The surviving instances of matriarchal systems in India and China are the exception. The walk-in husbands of a remote Chinese society, where women are heads of the household. All children carry on living in their mother’s house, and young women when they come of age are given a bedroom with an outside entrance where she can invite and entertain any man for the night. In the morning he leaves to go back to his mother’s house. Any children born to these matches, are cared for and supported by the mother, her mother, and her brothers. This frees the love relationship from the classic stresses of all coupledom - finances and caring for children. In India there is also a more remote mountain tribe that permits two brothers to share a wife in cases of limited land and resources.
In contrast to male dominated religions, in the tantric tradition, the power of the female deity Kali is seen as superior to Shiva, she stands over him with a bloody sword, a demon’s blood dripping from her tongue. In some depictions she’s removed his head, slain his ego, or he’s depicted with a contented smile, totally surrendered. It is recognized in Buddhist Tantra too, that the first Tantra Teacher in “modern” times, was a woman, a village arrow maker, encountered by a Buddhist Scholar and prince in a market place. She took him in hand and showed him how to lift the veils.
The so called battle of the sexes is an eternal dance, and the pendulum has swung in our games of power exchange. It will swing again and again, and our only hope is to see the rhythm, the dance between light and shadow, the pay of leela, recognizing the illusions that we project onto the world, and that appearances are not reality.
We have to assume that sexuality is the domain of women. Not only is she capable of bringing forth life, but also endless orgasms, while a man has to train to come anywhere near having a few in succession. And she can satisfy 10 men, in a morning, or an hour. The average man has to be trained to satisfy even one woman. We might perceive that this female power, deeply revered by the ancients in prehistoric matriarchal societies, and the divine role of man and men, as the counterpart, the steward, the consort of the goddess, protector of nature, has been lost today. First nations everywhere also saw the harmony and balance between mother earth and father sky. The Catholic Church, after being instrumental in the suppression of women and the persecution of the Goddess over 2000 years, all over the world, made a late recovery by raising the status of Mother Mary, the Virgin, in the 50’s, (apparently she also ascended to heaven), but still downplay the Magdelen, Jesus’s most loved disciple, whom he kissed on the lips. Priestess, not prostitute.
Of course, the political and economic powers of the world, the religions, multi-national corporations and the deep state, and our own subconscious programming, will not allow a direct link to god, to bliss, to happiness, to non materialism, to sharing, love, and thus the entire domain of women and sex itself was shut down, to preserve power in their own hands. Sex and the genital portals are instrumental in maintaining our personal power and freedom and access to higher states of consciousness. Expressing your sexual nature is expressing your core essence in the physical universe. The suppression of women and sex are linked, and related to politics and economics. Church is and has always been big business. You need a male priest to speak to a male god. And you pay a massive 10% tithe for the privilege.
No discussion of Sexual Freedom can be had without mention of the work of Wilhelm Reich.
Wilhelm Reich 1897 –1957 was an Austrian doctor of medicine and psychoanalyst, a member of the second generation of analysts after Sigmund Freud. The author of several influential books, most notably Character Analysis (1933), The Mass Psychology of Fascism (1933), and The Sexual Revolution (1936), Reich became known as one of the most radical figures in the history of psychiatry.[n 1]
Reich's work on character contributed to the development of Anna Freud's The Ego and the Mechanisms of Defence (1936), and his idea of muscular armour—the expression of the personality in the way the body moves—shaped innovations such as body psychotherapy, Gestalt therapy, bioenergetic analysis and primal therapy. His writing influenced generations of intellectuals; he coined the phrase "the sexual revolution" and according to one historian acted as its midwife. During the 1968 student uprisings in Paris and Berlin, students scrawled his name on walls and threw copies of The Mass Psychology of Fascism at police.
After graduating in medicine from the University of Vienna in 1922, Reich became deputy director of Freud's outpatient clinic, the Vienna Ambulatorium. He tried to reconcile psychoanalysis with Marxism, arguing that neurosis is rooted in sexual and socio-economic conditions, and in particular in a lack of what he called "orgastic potency". He visited patients in their homes to see how they lived, and took to the streets in a mobile clinic, promoting adolescent sexuality and the availability of contraceptives, abortion and divorce, a provocative message in Catholic Austria. He said he wanted to "attack the neurosis by its prevention rather than treatment".
Reich, then 30, opened six free sex-counselling clinics in the city in 1927 for working-class patients. Each clinic was overseen by a physician, with three obstetricians and a lawyer on call, and offered what Reich called Sex-Pol counselling. Sex-Pol stood for the German Society of Proletarian Sexual Politics. Reich offered a mixture of "psychoanalytic counseling, Marxist advice and contraceptives", He wrote, and argued for a sexual permissiveness, including for young people and the unmarried. This unsettled other psychoanalysts and the political left, but the clinics were immediately overcrowded by people seeking help.
He also took to the streets in a mobile clinic, driving to parks and out to the suburbs with other psychoanalysts and physicians. Reich would talk to the teenagers and men, while a gynaecologist fitted the women with contraceptive devices, and Lia Laszky, the woman Reich fell in love with at medical school, spoke to the children. They also distributed sex-education pamphlets door to door.
Beginning in 1924 Reich published a series of papers on the idea of "orgastic potency", the ability to release the emotions from the muscles and lose the self in an uninhibited orgasm. Reich argued that psychic health and the ability to love depended on orgastic potency, the full discharge of the libido: "Sexual release in the sex act must correspond to the excitement which leads up to it." He wrote: "It is not just to fuck ... not the embrace in itself, not the intercourse. It is the real emotional experience of the loss of your ego, of your whole spiritual self." He argued that orgastic potency was the goal of character analysis.
His message of sexual liberation disturbed the psychoanalytic community and his political associates, and his vegetotherapy, in which he massaged his disrobed patients to dissolve their "muscular armour", violated the key taboos of psychoanalysis. He moved to New York in 1939, in part to escape the Nazis, and shortly after arriving coined the term "orgone"—from "orgasm" and "organism"—for a biological energy he said he had discovered, which he said others called God. In 1940 he started building orgone accumulators, devices that his patients sat inside to harness the reputed health benefits, leading to newspaper stories about sex boxes that cured cancer.
The FDA spent an estimated $2m investigating and prosecuting Reich, who was jailed and died in prison. What was happening in cold war America that led Reich to become an emblem of large-scale fear? In 1954 the American Medical Association, which had encouraged the FDA to bring Reich to court, accused Kinsey of sparking a "wave of sexual hysteria" with the publication of his 1953 report, Sexual Behavior in the Human Female. If Kinsey's libertarianism was attracting attention, bringing Reich to trial promised to help stem that tide.
I will share with you some of Wilhelm Reich Quotes:
Sexually awakened women, affirmed and recognized as such, would mean the complete collapse of the authoritarian ideology.
Once we open up to the flow of energy within our body, we can also open up to the flow of energy in the universe.
It is sexual energy which governs the structure of human feeling and thinking.
There is only one thing that counts: to live one's life well and happily.
You beg for happiness in life, but security is more important to you, even if it costs you your spine or your life. Your life will be good and secure when aliveness will mean more to you than security; love more than money; your freedom more than party line or public opinion; when your thinking will be in harmony with your feelings; when the teachers of your children will be better paid than the politicians; when you will have more respect for the love between man and woman than for a marriage license.
MAN IS FUNDAMENTALLY AN ANIMAL. Animals, as distinct from man, are not machine-like, not sadistic; their societies, within the same species, are incomparably more peaceful than those of man. The basic question, then is: What has made the animal, man, degenerate into a machine?
Fascism is the frenzy of sexual cripples.
Only you yourself can be your liberator!
The working masses of men and women, they and they alone, are responsible for everything that takes place, the good things and the bad things. True enough, they suffer most from a war, but it is their apathy, craving for authority, etc., that is most responsible for making wars possible. It follows of necessity from this responsibility that the working masses of men and women, they and they alone, are capable of establishing lasting peace.
The character structure of modern man, who reproduces a six-thousand-year-old patriarchal authoritarian culture is typified by characterological armoring against his inner nature and against the social misery which surrounds him. This armoring of the character is the basis of isolation, indigence, craving for authority, fear of responsibility, mystic longing, sexual misery, and neurotically impotent rebelliousness.
Every muscular rigidity contains the history and the meaning of its origin.
I know that what you call "God" actually exists, but in a different way from what you think: as the primal cosmic energy in the universe, as your love in your body, as your honesty and your feeling of nature in you and around you.
The pleasure of living and the pleasure of the orgasm are identical. Extreme orgasm anxiety forms the basis of the general fear of life.
The "stiff, dead, retracted pelvis" is one of man's most frequent vegetative disturbances. It is responsible for lumbago as well as for hemorrhoidal disturbances. Elsewhere, we shall demonstrate an important connection between these disturbances and genital cancer in women, which is so common. Thus, the "deadening of the pelvis" has the same function as the deadening of the abdomen, i.e., to avoid feelings, particularly those of pleasure and anxiety.
This brings us to the Chinese and Taoist Perspectives.
Elizabeth Reninger on Taoist Practices:
Comparable to the Reich’s concept of orgone, central to Taoist world-view and practice is qi (chi). Literally, the word qi means "breath," 'air" or "gas, but figuratively, qi is life-force -- that which animates the forms of the world. It is the vibratory nature of phenomena -- the flow and tremoring that is happening continuously at molecular, atomic and sub-atomic levels.
This principle of a driving life force is, of course, common to many cultures and religious traditions. In Japan it is called “ki,” and in India, “prana” or “shakti.” The ancient Egyptians referred to it as “ka” and the ancient Greeks as “pneuma.” For Native Americans it is the “Great Spirit” and for Christians, the “Holy Spirit.” In Africa, it’s known as “ashe” and in Hawaii as “ha” or “mana.”
Practitioners of Chinese Medicine and qigong have identified many different kinds of qi. . According to Taoist cosmology, the two most fundamental forms of qi are Yin-qi and Yang-qi--the primordial feminine and masculine energies. Many qigong practices utilize heaven qi and earth qi, as well as the qi that emanates specifically from trees, flowers, lakes, and mountains.
The fundamental insight of qigong and Chinese Medicine is that balanced and free-flowing qi results in health; while stagnant or imbalanced qi leads to disease.
Healthy and loving sexual relationships can be one component of a Taoist lifestyle. Like good food and ample exercise, physical intimacy and touch provide nourishment and support for our bodymind. It's natural to desire and enjoy sexual connections, at this level.
The role that sexual energy plays in formal Taoist practice is, however, quite unique, and perhaps very different from how you're used to thinking about and relating to sexual energy. It has little or nothing to do with sexuality or our feelings and preferences in relation to being sexually attractive or attracted to specific others as part of our personal or social identity. Rather, sexual energy is understood simply to be a form of energy – a creative potency whose flowing intelligence can support our practice in all kinds of wonderful ways.
In what are known as the Three Treasures we find Taoism's most general description of the energy manifesting as a human bodymind. What are these Three Treasures? They are: (1) Jing = reproductive energy; (2) Qi = life-force energy; and (3) Shen = spiritual energy. Sexual energy, in relation to this model, belongs to the category of Jing – reproductive or creative energy. Though Jing is rooted in the reproductive organs, its home is in the lower Dantian – a subtle-body “space” located in the lower abdomen.
Joining Heaven And Earth
In the context of various Qigong and Inner Alchemy practices we generate, circulate and store Jing/sexual energy. Most generally, we are working to transform Jing (reproductive energy) into Qi (life-force energy); and then to transform Qi (life-force energy) into Shen (spiritual energy). This process marks an ascension along a vibratory spectrum – from the more densely-vibrating Jing to the higher-vibratory Shen. But this is only half of the story: having transformed the dense Jing into a more rarified Shen, we then allow Shen (spiritual energy) to once again “descend” – infusing the Qi and the Jing with its essence. Eventually, the three distinct energetic “substances” – along with the three subtle “spaces” known as the Three Dantians -- are allowed to flow as one continuous circuit – a joining described metaphorically as the “merging of Heaven and Earth” within and as the human bodymind. Within such continuity, the identification of sexual energy with any one physical location (e.g. the lower dantian) also dissolves, as sensation spreads out to cover the entire bodymind.
The Alchemical Marriage
What's important to remember is that – in the vast majority of Inner Alchemy practices – all this happens within the body of an individual practitioner. The sexual energy drawn upon for the practice is circulated internally, rather than being projected outward, in the direction of a hoped-for or actual romantic partner. In this way, the fruits of the practice – the power and joy and happiness generated – are not dependent upon another person. This isn't to say that we won't then choose to share these benefits with others – friends, colleagues, lovers – just that our sense of satisfaction and fulfillment will not be dependent upon an external source.
Becoming adept in this way at working internally, on our own, is considered a prerequisite for any kind of “dual cultivation” practices – in which we exchange energy with another person, and jointly create a “merging of Heaven and Earth” circuit. To engage in such practices -- in which sexual energy is being exchanged in a way that has nothing at all to do with conventional dualistic notions of sexuality or romantic involvement – requires great maturity and clarity.
Dual cultivation practices of this kind, while in a sense "impersonal," can also be profoundly intimate -- representing, perhaps, the purest form of love -- precisely because they operate within a sphere defined by nondual assumptions. When you and your partner are realized already to be not-two, dynamics based on objectification, ownership, conquest, etc. simply do not arise. Instead, you're able to support and enjoy each other as manifestations of a common source.
All this is, of course, easier said than done. To create a conscious relationship with our sexual energy requires, for one, consciously entering the territory of the Snow Mountain and Lower Dantian areas – or what in Hindu traditions is known as the first and second chakras. This is the root of our nervous system – related to the so-called “reptilian brain” – and home to some very primal survival-based instincts.
In other words, the part of the nervous system associated with the root of the spine has to do, for one, with sympathetic nervous system “fight or flight or freeze” responses to perceived danger. It's what kicks into play when we're being chased by a tiger, or are hot on the tracks of the antelope that will be our dinner, or feeling the evolutionary imperative to increase the presence of our gene pool on the planet. And for these sorts of situations, it's quite useful.
Unraveling The Knots
What's not so useful is when a “fight or flight or freeze” response is triggered by a situation that doesn't actually require this heightened level of nervous system involvement. Why would this happen? If at some point in our life we have an experience which we register as being life-threatening – and for whatever reasons are not able fully to process that experience – there’s likely to be a residue of the experience left within our nervous system. These residues then color our present-day perception, leading to “false alarm” sympathetic nervous system responses. The various man-made electromagnetic fields now present on the planet—from computers, cell phones, etc.—can also contribute to an overactive sympathetic nervous system.
How is this all related to Taoism and sexual energy? As we learn to gather energy in the lower Dantian, we may well unearth some of these residues of old traumatic experiences, and with them their habitual caveman/cavewoman-like responses. This is really good news – if we can simply let those old patterns unravel, without getting sucked into their dynamics. Think of it as being something akin to the unblocking of a long-clogged pipe: sometimes you catch a (perhaps scary) glimpse of the “stuff” that had been clogging the pipe, for weeks or years or lifetimes. And then it’s gone – and you’re a bit or perhaps a lot more free in your conscious relationship to that aspect of your being.
Eventually, the lower Dantien—or "belly-brain" as it's sometimes referred to -- will come to feel like a wonderful home: a place of deeply-grounded comfort, relaxation, and joyful power. As we remember in this way the fluid security and intelligence of our root, our capacity to skillfully engage in Inner Alchemy practices will expand. Our conscious relationship to Jing -- reproductive/creative energy -- will allow for its continued transformation into life-force energy (Qi) and spiritual energy (Shen). Our precious human bodymind, more and more, will come to be experienced as the meeting-place of Heaven and Earth. How wonderful!
Let's take a quick look at Tantra. The Vajrayana, Kalacakra and Tibetan Tantric Buddhism, and the Hindu Tantric concepts of Shiva and Shakti.
We will start with a quick definition of the Three Vehicles of Buddhism:
Hinayana, the lesser vehicle, as practiced in most of Asia, helps the person stay on the path and leads them towards the mountain. Follow the precepts. Stay away from poisons. E.g. Meat, alcohol, sex. 10 commandments. Exoteric Religions.
Mahayana, the greater vehicle, as practiced in Tibet, with the aim of becoming a bodhisattva, an awakened one who strives for the enlightenment of others. The long way winding around the mountain to the top, over many lifetimes, a safe route that acknowledges that small amounts of poison can be bitter medicine.
Vajrayana, the diamond path, a direct route to the top, most dangerous, and immediate. The practitioner sees that all things are empty, both nectar and poison. S’he uncovers the illusions of the mind to reveal an indestructible core, our true nature. The source of everything.
Uncover the Layers - these are the tantric techniques. Tantra also means method, or technique.
Our Sadhana, or spiritual practice, is to uncover the layers of our illusions that hide our true nature. Every level is characterized by different kinds of illusions or distortions that are subject to the state or condition of our:
Energy Shakti – the foreground experience
Awareness. Shiva – the background I AM
Agitated or lack of energy will dissipate awareness
Without awareness to direct it, energy will fade, or cause chaos.
Practices for awareness: Meditation on emptiness calms the mind (which calms the energy)
Emptiness: Nothing has an existence separate from the whole. All phenomena are passing and impermanent. Inherent in every “thing” is this fundamental nature of emptiness, which is paradoxically also the infinite potentiality behind every phenomena. I am everything, and I am nothing.
Practices for energy: Visualizations, mantras (sound) smoothen our energies (and our mind)
If the practitioner wants to work with their anger, they visualize a wrathful deity to attain the purity of anger that can dispel illusions, cutting like a diamond.
For romantic or lustful practitioners: visualize the deity of the opposite sex, then bring that deity into your heart, shrink your body into the image and become that deity. Visualizing yourself as that deity in sexual union with the deity of the opposite sex (your own) can help bring us to compassion and union within ourselves.
The unity of these two deities, male and female, symbolizes the unity of compassion and wisdom that must be realized in order to attain enlightenment and help others liberate themselves from suffering.
Tantra is about facing the very thing that we have turned away from, and overcoming our aversion or craving, and seeing that both poison and nectar are in essence empty, like ourselves. Rising above the dichotomy, the paradox, and finding the harmony, the rhythm, between opposites. Tantra is the path of integration.
Various knots and obstructions might block the flow of energy and cause our passions and delusions of our normal consciousness that obscures the inner awareness and knowing of our divine nature.
The practitioner can visualize mantras and deities in these knots to cause them to untangle and flow. Once the energy is flowing freely, the yogi can shift the flow into the central channel where it becomes purified and activates the psychic centers and deeper levels of mind. The aim is to reach and release the innermost mind locked in the heart center. Then the visualization ends, and the yogi slips into a state of bliss from which s/he emerges refreshed, awakened and cleansed of illusions.
(The most advanced and secret practices of the Kalacakra describe the use of secretions of the human body, namely semen and female blood and visualizing these essences as white and red drops flowing through the energy system.)
The yogi identifies with the tutelary deity and the world around him with the mandala that surrounds the deity, the people around him with the other deities, and the horizon with the ring of fire. This visualization then creates a mental atmosphere which s/he maintains in daily life so that everything around him can start to reveal it’s divine nature. S/he starts to see this world as Nirvana, hears all sounds as mantras, and sees all beings as Buddhas. S/he begins to see that other people reflect various aspects of ourselves and through them we can discern hidden parts of that can be awakened. Every person can teach you something of great value. In the perfect composition of the mandala lies the potential for realization of the hidden relationships that link and unify everything in the universe.
Mystical experiences from visualizing the mandala as the body, the central part the spine and the four corners the four limbs, can bring the yogi to the realization that everything they need or wish for is in their own body, and there is no need to cling to or desire anything outside of him/herself.
What are the distinctions between sacred sexuality, normal enjoyment of sex, kinky pleasures, and perversions?
There is an old joke: what is the difference between kinky and perverted?
Kinky is the feather, and perverted is the whole chicken. But really, if you think playing with a feather is kinky, then you should probably stay away from the kink scene. There is a huge sex positive movement all over the world, and Tantra (or rather Neo Tantra, the Swinging Lifestyle, and Kink & Fetish, are three distinct, but sometimes overlapping sub-cultures that are sex positive. I went to a kink party a few months ago, and was introduced to what is largely a BDSM scene. I am fascinated by the deep vulnerability that I have long realized to be the only space in which true healing and change happens. In the BDSM community extreme protocols are in place. Safety and consent are paramount, and the people all seem to be really mature, progressive and also plain and simply normal, with a very healthy and open minded and accepting attitude towards others and their sexual predilections. Time does not allow us to look at the psychological implications of exploring the realms of submission and dominance. Revisiting trauma is known to be necessary to expunge it from your cells, and consensual exploration in safe vulnerability can do this. Much of the BDSM scene seems to me a revisiting without much resolution. Trauma and abuse is clearly a closed circuit that is not easy to escape from. Someone in the BDSM community told me that 90% of them were abused as children.
What is perverted? As we have seen, the most common and universal taboos are incest, which is directly related to the negative effects of inbreeding, and sex between children and adults. The acceptance of sex play between children of the same or similar age seems to be common in many indigenous cultures, and only frowned upon or prohibited by our more modern religious sensitivities that comes from the idea that sex is bad, dirty, naughty, or even the root of evil, unless practiced between a married man and women, and then in some cases only for the purpose of reproducing. The facebook meme goes: Eskimo Tribesman to the missionary: So, if you didn’t tell me that Jesus died for my sins, I would go to heaven, but now that I know, I might not? So why did you tell me?
I would support Reich’s ideas that our social ills are a result of repressing the libido from an early age. These social ills in his view are fascism, and the results of authoritarianism, and the suppression of free will and determinism for the masses. The very obvious results perceivable by many health professionals are sexual repression and the deteriorating health of the physiological system and emotional and psychological health, but also of the incidences of violence and perversion in the forms of rape and child abuse and the myriad forms of misogynistic behavior in the streets, homes and work places of the world. The prevalence of prostitution, and the porn industry, shows a massive interest and need for sex work and yet those are also rife with exploitation. The healthier outlets for this need are the previously mentioned sex positive sub-cultures, and all three are seen as deviant or perverted and the participants either face being ostracized, or have to keep their activities secret.
I was on Sandy Bay last week, my old favorite haunt, and as a student I spent countless days with my friends there. This week day there weren’t many people, but one lone man on a prominent rock, facing passers by and masturbating openly. Sandy Bay was always a hangout for gay men, but this was the first time I had seen this, although I’ve heard it from women who go there. Flashing, and masturbating in full view on a public beach, or anywhere, is a clear transgression of socially agreed upon boundaries. We have to assume that our consensual agreements are there for a reason. Sex in public? Paul McCartney sang, “Why don’t we do it in the road?”
What is acceptable and what is not? Where is the line between naturism/nudity and public sex? I found an open secret in France once when googling public sex. I found some secretly filmed scenes on porn sites, of a place called Cap D’Agde in France. A Wikipedia search revealed the history of this family-owned farm that became a camp site and popular beach many decades ago, that become a naturist camp site. Naturism is big in Europe, family orientated nudism. No funny business.
But nudity, and permissiveness, in our deeply troubled and repressed world, attracts all kinds, as we see on Sandy Bay. Of course France is special. It seems completely normal, for people, even presidents, to have mistresses and affairs. It is also the home of a radical phenomenon that happens on the beach at Cap D’Agde. Last year, instead of flying directly from Paris to Ibiza, where I was to give a CNT course, I traveled by train and stayed near Agde in the south of France for a few days. I arrived by local bus at the end-of-the-line bus terminal, and bought my ticket to enter the nudist village. Immediately upon entering and walking towards the beach, I passed residential blocks, and restaurants and shopping centers, and everywhere there were nude people going about their business. Arriving at the beach, I started walking along first the family section, where there were many families and children doing the beach thing, mostly naked or topless. Then about half a km further on, what seemed like a buffer zone, there were only adults for another half a km. I then realized that I had arrived in what is known as the libertine section. Only full nudity, no bathing suits at all, And every now and then, there were people having sex. Right there on a crowded beach, on their towels and in the dunes and in the shallow and warm Mediterranean Sea. I won’t go into more details, but I’d encourage you to just use your imagination at this point. Not a massive orgy by any means, just a normal beach, but a totally permissive environment. Couples with each other, and sometimes people joining in. What I’d read about, that the French swinging scene had taken hold of the resort, was clear. And what is a given in the swinging scene, is the authority of women. Everything happens according to their directions. There are sex clubs now in the nudist village, and a sex beach, but protocols, buffer zones and space for naturism and nudism is also in place. You got to admire the culture of the French.
The book, Sex at Dawn: The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality is a 2010 book about the evolution of monogamy in humans and human mating systems by Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jethá, in opposition to what the authors see as the "standard narrative" of human sexual evolution, they contend that having multiple sexual partners was common and accepted in the environment of evolutionary adaptedness. The authors contend that mobile, self-contained groups of hunter gatherers were the norm for humans for millennia before agriculture led to high population density, and private property and paternal inheritance laws. Before agriculture, according to the authors, sex was relatively promiscuous and paternity was not a concern. This dynamic is similar to the mating system of Bonobos. According to the book, sexual interactions strengthened the bond of trust in the groups. Far from causing jealousy, social equilibrium and reciprocal obligation were strengthened by playful sexual interactions. In the book they contend that the cries of pleasure of a woman while having sex, is biologically designed to attract more men to participate.
We might conclude that we had a sexually permissive past, and that we are now largely facing a sexually repressed reality, leading towards misery and abuse. We had the pendulum swinging from Matriarchy to Patriarchy, and hopefully we are now self correcting into harmony. As a healer I believe in self healing. The body heals itself if given the opportunity. We can create space for healing through removing energy blocks and fasting, resting, etc. I also believe that humans can self regulate their societies and large centralized authoritarian governments are out of touch with the people’s needs. The break down of old traditions that initiated children into adulthood have been lost. The loss of the male role model in our Black South African households due to Apartheid and the loss of land ownership and self and tribal determination, enforced labour, mining compounds filled with men, and children left at home without a father, often without a mother too, as she brings up, nurtures and feeds the young of her masters, plus the mass emasculation and subjugation of African men, must be a contribution to the gender violence and xenophobic attacks we see today. When brutalized men cannot hit upwards, they hit downwards.
In esoteric analysis, all actions are either an action of love, or a call for love.
Gender Based Violence in South Africa and The World.
The wounded and caged animal is the most dangerous. There is no condoning violence and rape, and safety of women and children demands swift trials and incarceration to protect the innocent. As men we have a task to speak out and defend the vulnerable As Reich wanted to prevent fascism by addressing our orgiastic needs, as a healer, I also know that prevention is the best cure. My first meditation teacher, Godwin Samararatne, a Sri Lankan librarian and scholar of psychology, said, in Asia, if two people talk about their problems on a park bench, they refer to what happened last week. In the west, we often have to go back to what happened to us as children. The intact extended family, and intact tribal villages, and socially coherent modern communities, can ensure that children get adequate attention from grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. They know they belong and are cared for and protected. They develop self esteem and consideration and compassion. The Jesuits famously said: give me the child till he’s 7, and I will give you the man. The modern nuclear household, with little time for children, and paid carers, does not deliver a holistic environment for children. It takes a village to raise a child.
As a healer I deal with the scars and wounds, the sanskaras as they are called in Sanscrit. As a line drawn in water disappears quickly, and a line drawn in sand takes a bit longer, and a line carved in rock stays for ages, our experiences that are charged with emotion can stay with us for a day or a month or a year, or many years or even over lifetimes, depending on the level of charge or trauma. Healing the wounds of humans and society is a full time job.
If we are to prevent the wounds, we can start with safeguarding the moment of conception. How conscious, present and clear are we when we conceive a child? Our own emotions and thoughts create the quantum field. (The mind of God, as Einstein called it.) What are the experiences of the fetus in the womb? Toxicity, malnutrition, and the mother’s stress and anguish, or peace, harmony and material abundance. What about the birth? And early childhood. How do we teat our children. The pathology of Apartheid, and the poverty, and the way all boys are systematically beaten into submission, to obey the father and the system, and caned at school, has left a legacy of a wounded and caged animal. We need outlets, we need healing. And I believe, we need a radical social, economic and political revolution. In the words of Reich again: Fascism is the frenzy of a sexual cripple. Does the revolution we really need, still include a sexual revolution, a loosing of shame and guilt around our sex and genitals, and a return to a playful innocence.