On sexuality, pleasure and masturbation
It was noon. The Sunlight appeared bringing some smiles. It was finally escaping from the prolonged grayness of Winter time. Many times in Life, we miss that which is now gone and take that for granted while with us. There, we live in the realm of memories. What is not real anymore, becomes our reality.
The disciple and the master were observing a plant in a flowerpot. The master said:” Today you look a little distant. Are you alright?”
The disciple looked down and said: “ My little brother had an ejaculation for the first time. He is feeling guilty for he masturbated. I put off our talk so I could think what to tell him. I feel uncomfortable and I do not know what to say since I am his big brother.”
The master listened to his disciple, took a few seconds and responded: “ I understand. What is your experience with masturbation?”
The disciple felt uncomfortable, that was a taboo conversation but he found some courage and said: “ I also masturbated at one time. I don’t know why I felt guilty. I used to pray to God asking for forgiveness as I couldn’t help it. It became a habit like an addiction and I felt depleted of energy as time went on. Now that habit is gone, but I understand that my spiritual efforts and inner changes have helped me to perceive and feel sexuality from a different perspective and I am afraid that my brother will take my experience and my current state as something better than his and feel guilty about it. I don’t want for him to feel guilt as I did.”
The master could understand his disciple’s emotions and said: “ Sexuality is an expression. That is all. That expression could be loving, violent, ugly, lustful, pleasurable, and any other adjective you could think of. That expression expresses who we are. Nothing else. You cannot be violent one day and loving another day through sex. That is an illusion. You are what you are and the expression will be there until your BEING changes.
There is the ideal of sexuality which is the loving expression, but there is a reality at this time as well; where many do not know what love is. Guilt arrives when the ideal is not your experience: When you unconsciously feel as if your vitality runs away even though you only look for pleasure, or when you realize that your promises not to indulge in that act, cannot be kept.”
The disciple knew that to be his case, but knew that others did not have that same experience. The disciple asked:” Master, how is it that others do not experience the same as I did?”
The master replied:”That is the wonder of consciousness. It is different for every individual. It is a matter of sensibility. There are some who can murder animals or even people, consciously without feeling any remorse. Completely unaware of the consequences. Those cannot feel the same as you but yet those are human beings the same as you are. In that realization, is how compassion arises. They require different answers to the same questions that you have. Therefore, answers are according to the level of consciousness of a person.”
Then the master immediately changed the conversation :”Do you see that plant in the pot? Like a child, its growth depends on someone else ’s care. We can water the plant, give it nourishment so it will grow and blossom. Guilt, shame and self righteous beliefs associated with fear of sexuality will only make that water leak at the bottom of that pot continuously. The nourishment will be gone. Do you understand?”
The disciple understood that comparison quite well, but still did not know how to approach and advise his brother. He wanted to hear clear cut ‘words of wisdom’ from his master and repeat that to his little brother.
The disciple said: “What do I tell my brother, then?”
The master smiled and said: “ That depends on you. There are no right or wrong answers. Perhaps tell him your experience, in that way he will know something different and more reliable than the typical social conditioning and peer pressure. Remember that what is truly important is your intention. If you intend to suppress his experience by inflicting fear and guilt, it will make him fearful and guilty if he trusts you. That water will leak at the bottom of the pot. On the other hand, if you congratulate him for he has reached a new stage in his life, where he is capable of bringing new life in a loving relationship; and tell him about the value of his seed for his own health and well being; you will be helping him by nourishing his growth. After all, that experience is only his to go through just like you had your own.”
The disciple said: “Master, sex could be very pleasurable and addictive…”
The master responded: “ Remember that pleasure is the prelude of pain and vice versa. That is the reality of duality that we are meant to experience in Life. Avoidance of both sides, is not living Life. While most will pursue only one side of that duality, the other side is unavoidable. Therefore, BE in the middle. Experiences are meant to be experienced but if you are a conscious human being, you will notice when there is no harmony in your life. That realization will steer you towards the balancing act. Nevertheless; as your spiritual stage increases you will be able to hold your seed at will naturally, and released it at will. That is the other side of the coin, which is seldom experienced.”
The disciple had one more question to redeem himself. He didn’t know how to put it, but he took the chance: “Master,” he said, “is masturbation bad?”
The master looked at him with tenderness and said: ” That is not a human moral issue where we label something as right or wrong. Do you remember the talk we had about the limits of adaptation in Life? To explore yourself and your potential is not bad, is not wrong. The intention behind the action drives the quality of it. However, if this becomes a compulsive habit then you are cutting yourself off from the complete experience while draining your life force. That is a consequence not a punishment. Learn from your own experience. What humans call ‘problems’ will evolve in different ways with different individuals. In your case, it went to side A, for others it will be the opposite, side B. For both sides, a learning experience will come out only if you are attentive, aware.”
Trapped in duality
Many spiritual seekers after learning about duality, may believe that there is no “way out” of that. For instance, what I hear most is in reference to the understanding of pain and pleasure. Certainly, if there is the experience of pleasure, there must be the experience of pain. That is perceived as a trap.
On a different perception, society teaches to maintain something considered “good” or pleasurable as long as possible, and to fight or have a rejection towards what is perceived as painful. On the other hand, some religions take the path of trying to avoid one side such as pleasure, with the idea that pain will be avoided as well.
Also it is believed or perceived that Death is painful, sorrowful while Life is pleasurable and a sunny experience. The observation, is to recognize that one side of that duality has been perceived as something unwelcome. Death is no longer something natural, unavoidable which can happen at any time, but something to be afraid of; thus we are taught to live with fear of an unexpected “final” experience. That is the primordial fear affecting the function of our first chakra and from that, new obstructions will occur. Because we fear death, we fear life; for the perception of separation is just in our imagination and conditioning. Both are a continuous experience.
Life will present moments of pleasure and pain as we know; while Death is something unknown to most of us, for we haven’t had the experience yet, or we don’t remember having it (if we would like to be accurate on this) but we judge and believe according to our conditioning.
I heard one time that the “art of living is to die at every moment,” or in other words, “The purpose of living is to know how to die.” These words may get lost in interpretations and misinterpretations, but they have clear meaning for some.
Those phrases are very insightful and perhaps haven’t been explored enough; but as a matter fact, they represent a healthy, sane way of living where the mind is no recording traumas or events to be rehearsed later on. The mind works almost as when we take pictures or film the beauty of Nature with the added “feature” of adding emotions to spice up the memory. However, the one recording is missing the moment, the now. We feel glad to go back and watch the pictures, but the “change” inside, the “magic touch” which happens at the moment of the experience when the mind is idle, is completely missed.
Life and Death are one movement and so is pleasure and pain. When there is something that we “like,” definitely there is something to “dislike” and so we seem destined to experience these seemingly two different movements without “escape.” Even some have said that pain and pleasure “are the same,” but our experience will tell us otherwise. They are not the same but one.
The world of duality is the world of the experience of the “I.” It is that “I” experienced by most, the one unable to experience lack of duality.
Peace, Love, Bliss. Those have no opposites when there is experience, and even more sublime when the experiencer dissolves away. However mentally; we find opposites through words: Peace with war, love with hate and bliss with misery.
Is it possible for someone to experience Love, and to have feelings of hate at the same time? In the experience of the “I,” it is possible for duality is there, but that cannot be true love, although we label that as “love.” Do we see the issue with words pretending to describe non dual state of consciousness?
True “Love” is not of the “I,” it is an experience of what is beyond that “I.” However, we cannot “get to that level” unless we clearly recognize that “I, ” acknowledge it, study it, observe it, become aware of it. We need to become our own scientist.
The idea to reject pleasure so the experience of pain is not, takes away the experience of being human. Some religions are using the mind and its “natural” duality to express something which is only idealistic. Thus, we may need to get away from the experience of the mind to know what lies “above it,” what is known as the “heart,” for lack of a less romantic label, but it is the world of feeling.
So what is the “solution” to get away from the trap of duality?
As long as someone dwells in the “I” without ulterior awareness, that person will not be able to acknowledge “no-I,” and with that “no-mind,” and with that, a different kind of perception which is beyond the experience of duality.
Yes, “we” can go beyond duality. That is what is known as the state of witnessing.
Will resume writing on August 27th. Until then! 🙂
The word AWARENESS is not understood. It just becomes another theory to “practice” once in a while. Something like becoming your own police at particular times until this “practice” gets tiresome and our “normal” self takes over.
Perhaps a better way to convey the meaning of awareness is when we feel in balance. Health is part of that. Health is ONE but we divide it in 3 general aspects; physical, mental and emotional.
The physical aspect is the most noticeable. That is what we recognize as being “healthy.”
My friend and chiropractor Mike, discovered how detrimental a diet based on simple sugars could be. Sugar could ruin our health. He wrote a comment in the blog, the other day:
“As an observer you can help others examine how sugar is evil and the start of disease so you stay hooked sick and have to take medicines for life to support the corporate sugar and pharmacy industry.”
Today, I will take up the subject of health which is very “Spiritual.” In fact, wholesome health is the purpose of any worthwhile spirituality.
Ahnanda has discovered that in Life, rejection of something will bring consequences. We cannot understand something if we have previously rejected it.
I wouldn’t label sugar as “evil.” Sugar is sugar. It is said that Life is sweet as sugar…
When we are out of balance, we will try to compensate what we lack by overdoing something else, thus; unwillingly hurting ourselves, creating disease. We are not aware of that. Let us say that I experience anxiety or that I experience sleepless nights. Compensation could be emotionally achieved by overeating or taking higher amounts of sugar. Over time, this translates into a disease.
Eating is one of the few Life pleasures which hasn’t been condemned by our society. It is a good outlet for many. Emotionally, that is a safe way to enjoy Life, thus any restrictions to food will definitely have a bitter consequence.
“No more sugar from now on” will be a miserable experience for many. The answer is not in that extreme. However, there are exceptions: There may be many individuals who are killing themselves by the ingestion of too much sugar. For them, “no more sugar from now on” could be a Life saver. Observe how the closer we are to one extreme, we will need another extreme solution in the opposite direction to regain balance.
To enjoy Life, is a matter of living in Balance. In harmonious relationship “within” and “without.”
Health (mind, body, emotions) is definitely observable in this balance.
Our minds are usually extremist. As we become acquainted with our “gut feeling” to move in Life (rather than making “thoughtful” decisions) there will be less mind, meaning a greater “sense” of balance.
A glass of Coke may be full of sugar, but if that drink was used as a “reward” when you were a kid, that Coke acquires the importance of “emotional food” when adult; which will be helpful in some low moments in our lives. That is an example of balance.
Emotional needs are as important as physical ones. Priorities will continually change in a healthy balance. That is why they cannot be pinned as: “This is the way,” or “This is evil.”
Our minds are so used to labeling something as “good” and other things as “evil.” That extremist labeling will only reduce our ability to observe.
It is in true observation, where taking sides do not exist. We may be in one side to go to the other side.
You are informed about Sugar. Now experience it, then you will know. No need to proselytize. 🙂
Beyond the “spiritual” vision of pleasure and pain
When the mind is caught up with a duality, it has no option but to choose. Paradoxically, is that choice the one that will bring a terrible fight with the nonchosen one.
Pleasure and Pain are one example of such duality.
For centuries, the religious and moral teachings have been made to frown upon pleasure. Even the word “sinful” has been used to label it.
The “spiritual” teachings to deny the physical world and the senses, in the imaginary pursue of something “pure” in the “spirit” world; is utopia.
Life has many dimensions. Every dimension has a particular consciousness, a particular experience.
To deny the physical experience for the sake of pretending to attain a subtler state of being, is to deny Life.
When we deny Life in pursue of an ideal, we are not living harmoniously in the “now.”
The conditioned mind, understands what is “right” or “wrong.” That is the duality that our minds feel comfortable with.
Throw the word “harmony,” and the mind can only think of that as being the opposite of “imbalance.”
A dictionary definition does not bring the experience.
Harmony is the equilibrium of opposites.
Life works through opposites. Pain and pleasure are opposite experiences which are part of living Life in our dimension.
To deny them to attain the ideal of “freedom” is to become paradoxically, slave of such duality.
Humans throughout time; have chosen to embrace pain, sacrifice, martyrdom as the epitome of goodness, moral, sainthood, etc. In this “choice,” rejection of pleasure has brought an unbalanced Life.
Others have embraced pleasure as a reaction, as to desperately indulge in it to take their painful existence away from it; but as we deny one side of a duality, it will appear stronger in our lives.
Overcoming a duality is not a matter of rejection. It is a matter of balance, that is the ability to live Life in harmony with the internal and external elements, moment by moment. This balance needs to have the capacity to change and modify according to the circumstances, it is dynamic.
As we could see, it is not about defining ideals by embracing some and rejecting others.
As we dare to live outside of the conditioned mind, we will observe that balance as a gut feeling will take us back to the sensation of harmony. In that state, the word “overcoming” has no meaning. The “inner equalizer” will bring the stability to BE life itself. Equal to Life.
How do I get there?
You don’t. There is nothing to accomplish. Nothing to “work on.” When you ARE, you will not know it.
It is openness. There is no method to “achieve it.”
Be AWARE that only something that is closed, could be open.
Your potential to be open, is equal to your potential to be closed.
That is why, inner knowledge is about finding out how closed we are.
But we don’t want to see that. We want the fairy stories of “achieving” love and happiness, we “want” the utmost open state of BEING; when we ARE closing down… However, once the door is shut down, it could be open.
The Spirituality of sensuality
Perhaps most “spiritual gurus” out there will not take this topic into consideration. It is a taboo.
For most individuals, pleasure through the senses is confined through moral standards and preconceptions of what is “good” and proper and what is “bad,” sleazy.
Our senses and the pleasure that they can bring harmonize our existence in the physical plane. Sensuality, sexiness, eroticism, seductiveness, etc. All words relating to sensuality. “Sinful” is the connotation most have in their minds.
Because of ideals of morality and prudishness; the simple enjoyment of our senses is limited and even avoided.
Out of all the pleasures that man could enjoy, to eat is considered “good” by most cultures.
As other senses are included, restrictions will arise. Pleasure becomes a mental task limited by imaginary lines. Fulfilment is not experienced through these self-imposed limits which appear through our conditioning.
What is the result?
A human who is incapable to relax, to enjoy. Deep enjoyment is deep relaxation.
Our society has been conditioned to accept that to endure pain and suffering is a way to show “spiritual maturity.” Pleasure on the other hand, which is the other side of that duality; is dismissed or secretly embraced.
Sex is one of those pleasures which humans have looked for ways to control, deny or splurge on in the name of “spirituality.”
The acknowledgement of sensuality starts in little things: walking in grass barefooted, taking the time to smell the fragrances of flowers, swimming in the Ocean unencumbered of thoughts, taking sunshine and becoming aware of the Sun’s rays caressing your body, etc.
When pleasure takes effect, an automatic relaxation will be felt as our breathing slows down rhythmically: We have surrendered to that experience. The moment will cease to be when pleasure transforms into uncomfort, even pain. That is the natural course of this duality.
Nevertheless, for most; it is the mind and thoughts which will end the experience in a premature way; thus there will be unfulfillment.
This continuous state of unfulfillment craves for more pleasure to counter pain/sadness/anguish/anxiety therefore, addiction sets in.
An addicted individual will end up hurting himself. That is why our moral standards, our prudishness is there as protection, but the emotion of guilt is the outcome.
The culprit is not pleasure or sensuality. The issue is our constant thoughts who will not allow us to enjoy. Thus, “(I can get no) satisfaction…” 🙂
Therefore, many “new age” spirituality concerned with “freedom” of expressing ourselves and sending the message to the masses to “liberate themselves” through the experience of sensuality; are missing a very important point: When there is mind, there cannot be fulfillment. Without fulfillment, there is no joy. Thus, inner awareness of our mind, beliefs and traumas is the first step, without it there is exhausting debauchery.
Sensuality starts when the mind ends. That state of “spirituality” hasn’t been experienced by many.
The mirror of “truth.”
AWARENESS is not something to practice. It is something to be aware of…
How to make sense of that sentence? We heard so much about being AWARE, but all we have are beliefs, interpretations, concepts, information of what that is thus, useless stuff for self-realization.
“Useless” is the right word. It has to be experiential to be able to understand, to know.
Here is an “exercise.” It is not something to “practice.” It is something to fully experience. If you cannot fully experience it, if you cannot let yourself go, then repeat it again.
Find a full size mirror, those that will allow you to observe most of your physical body.
If you are fully clothed, you will probably be alright. The conditioning is to look at the clothes to see if they are wrinkled, if they match, if they look good on you, etc.
Now, take your clothes off. Observe your body and your face fully while doing this “exercise.” Did you notice your tummy? The size of your sexual organs? The color of your skin? The wrinkles in your face?
Did you notice how you feel while observing those elements of your body?
AWARENESS resides in that.
Did you feel shame? Did you blush and feel embarrassed?
In that moment, that is who YOU are.
Isn’t it silly to get embarrassed by looking at your own body?
That is where the hang up resides. Look for the root of it.
Did you like your body?
That is sick! You are supposed to like someone else’s body but not your own. Perhaps you have some homosexual issues… huh?
That’s it! You found another trauma. Go to the root of it. A body is a body. There is beauty in the body. Appreciate it. Enjoy the moment.
Want to go on with the exercise?
OK. Caress your face while looking at the mirror. What do you feel? Caress your chest. What do you feel? Caress your sexual organs. What do you feel?
Masturbation is “bad”! I shouldn’t touch myself! Do you recognize that thought? What is the difference between touching your face and your sexual organs? Find the beliefs, the taboos. Observe how you feel. Be aware of it.
How could you enjoy pleasure with all of those hang ups, taboos and beliefs in morality and decency?
You cannot. Your mind will not allow you. It is not the ACTION what makes something “sinful.” It is what you feel while DOING it.
How do you “love yourself” if you cannot accept what you see and what you feel by touching your own precious body?
Do you take care of it? Now you are aware…
Want to go deeper? Now self-pleasure yourself in front of the mirror. Look at your face but even more important, observe what you feel. Observe the taboos, the moral standards, the traumas flowing…
Do you feel shame? How about guilt? Someone watching you?
Be AWARE of all of that to discover who you truly are.
Observe how all of that inside you is being covered by decent words, spiritual concepts, Godly morality, that stuff is defining you, coercing you to comply with the conditioning. Discover the root of it, liberate yourself!
There cannot be innocence while looking at your image in that mirror and caressing yourself, until that rust accumulated over many Life experiences, is cleaned up, cleared. For that stuff will be the “inheritance” you will give to others close to you.
Become AWARE of that.
The duality of suffering and pleasure
In our society suffering, immolation, sacrifice, etc. have a “good” connotation. Typically, it is the “I” giving up itself for others.
Pleasure, sensuality, sexiness, etc. have a “bad” connotation. It is the “I” being ego centered, hedonistic, indulging himself rather than “helping others.”
Our morality is based on the dichotomy of those values.
Pleasure is mostly condemned and suffering exalted, considered “spiritual.”
Suffering, immolation, sacrifice are always of the “I.” It is the “I” suffering for others, to become better, to accomplish things. This could be easily labeled as Love but it is not. Giving yourself for others without the “I” in between, is indeed Love. The difference cannot be told by the media, the masses, the lawyers… Thus, behind an action there is always an intention, not known by the “others” and mostly rationalized by the “I” to fit an image of sainthood. In time, this becomes absolute hypocrisy.
Paradoxically, pleasure is fulfilling in the experience of “no-I.” If there is an “I” wanting to experience pleasure, that pleasure will be unfulfilling for the “I” cannot reach satisfaction, the ego-mind will continually disturb the experience of pleasure.
Sex is a great example to illustrate the above.
Individuals condemning pleasure in the name of morality, have already a strong conditioning against sexuality. The “I” wants to be in “control” in an experience which is meant to abandon the control of the “I.” A person is unable to be fully present, in the “now” while thinking about being in “control.” We can learn a lot about ourselves from our sexuality.
When the “I” looks for pleasure, it cannot resist the sensations but yet the experience may be unfulfilling. Thus, it becomes addictive. The mind will keep a dream of pursuing full satisfaction which cannot exist.
Thus, the avoidance or regulation of sensual pleasure is preached by many religions and societies. The “rebels” of this sort of morality act in rejection of established moral values, but they are still influenced by the morality of guilt and sin, deep inside.
Their reactionary movement lacks awareness, for with awareness there is no need to be reactionary.
Suffering is used by religions and moral laws as expiation of “sin.” The morality of guilt and shame is created through the exaltation of suffering as a means to redeem the individual from “sin.”
Suffering and pleasure are 2 ends of the same experience. The experience of one side, brings necessarily the other. Therefore, moral values rejecting one side to promote the other are unrealistic, utopic.
Our conditioning is to reject one side of a duality. At this time, that teaching/belief is outdated and detrimental. Integration of all energies, is very important at this time. Here is where the balancing act resides, where harmony in the self means harmony with the world, the Totality.
Suffering and pleasure are part of living Life at this time.Embrace them. They are not meant to be a traumatic experience unless we make it that way; but only a particular and passing experience of the vast range of experiences in Life. It is the dolphin swimming in the ocean: Now you see it, a minute later you will not… yet the Ocean remains with Life. 🙂