Look for what resonates and don’t ask any questions. Except to understand that it isn’t about sex. It’s easy to think it’s about sex. When we are dealing with the kind of resonation that is sexual attraction, it’s easy to think it’s about sex. What’s sex about? Well, it can be an avenue to the ecstatic, to the wonder of merging with, and being lost in, another. It can be a miracle of presence, absorbing and being absorbed by another. It can be an enraptured experience with attentive, loving, knowing. The two become one. Thou art That.
Except, of course, Thou really aren’t That. That picks its nose, lets the dog have the run of the house, and leaves its socks in the hallway and the sports section on the back of the toilet. How could Thou ever have been so blind to the obnoxious, disgusting, wholly un-Thou-like side of That? How could Thou even think of having sex with That? Waking up to the un-Thou-ness of the That is the beginning of the end. Or, the beginning of the beginning. Depending on Thou’s depth of perception.
Here’s how it works: Sex has a spiritual side. We cannot be intimate if we will not be vulnerable. Intimacy and vulnerability are spiritual pathways. The physical and the spiritual become inseparable in the sensual. It is a spiritual hunger that we try to appease, a spiritual longing that we try to satisfy, with sex. And, it’s all glorious and magnificent while it lasts, but then we wake up to the That-ness of the That, and it’s all over. Or, just beginning. Depending on our level of acumen.
To ask more of sex than human warmth and comfort and the joyful, life-giving nature of physical pleasure is to stretch it to the breaking point. Sex is not a substitute for spiritual engagement, and spiritual engagement is not a prelude to sex. The two are easily confused and can feel like the same thing because they awaken us to our hunger and longing, and open us to our need for union and communion, attachment and connection, but they are not the same thing. Sex eventuality comes to grief upon the That-ness of the That. Spirituality carries us past the That-ness of the That into That’s Thou-ness, something sex aspires to, but cannot begin to do.
Sex is sex, and, at its best, is a suggestion of the union we seek with more than we can say. But, sex is sex, and cannot sustain the illusion of oneness with another over time. What is the hunger we try to satisfy with sex? It is more than we can say.
What is the flame to the moth? What is the power of the attraction? What is the moth trying to “get”? The moth cannot say. What is our “flame”? Our “strange attractor”? Toward what are we being pulled? We cannot say. But the gift that seems to center us, calm us, and bring us peace is the gift of self. Not the self of the other, but our own. The “pearl of great price” seems to be the discovery of our own voice, the uncovering of the path with our name on it, the unveiling of who we are and what we are about. If you are going to give me anything, give me, me.
Of course, it is not just any “me” that I am after—not just the “me” that has “my” best interest at heart. The “me” that wants one, no two, of everything. That wants all the advantages. That is not the “me” I will be satisfied with. I am after a much bigger “me” than that. I am after the “me” that is, well, you. And you. And you.
Here is an interesting aspect of the mystery. When I am singing my song, and you are singing your song, we are in, what might be called, perfect harmony. We are one. When I live with you in ways that enable you to be you, and you live with me in ways that enable me to be me, we make a space for each other, for one another, in which the That-ness of the That is actually created, and encouraged, and cultivated, and born, and brought forth, and nurtured, and guarded, and protected, and defended, and enlarged, and deepened, and expanded, and you become more than you could ever be without me, and I become more than I could ever be without you, and we make the joyful, shocking, foundational discovery that Thou ART That, in ways Thou could have never imagined before Thou became truly Thou and That became truly That. In becoming me, I become you, in becoming you, you become me, and we connect at the level of the heart, and know ourselves, and each other, as though for the first time.
So. True love is about me doing everything imaginable to help you be you, and you doing everything imaginable to help me be me. Within that matrix, the Thou-ness of the Thou, and the That-ness of the That are mutually respected, and self-limitations apply, so That’s dog doesn’t have the run of the house, and That’s socks aren’t left in the hallway. We don’t walk “all over” each other, we walk with each other, in Thou-ness and That-ness. The trick is that both Thou and That have to be waking up to do it. We cannot experience True Love if even one of us is asleep at the wheel.
Because we die, we feel like we have to get it done now. We are running out of time. We will run out of time. And so, we must bear the pain. We will die with things undone, with books yet to be written, with photos yet to be taken, with relationships yet to be developed and enjoyed, with sights unseen. We are always having to adjust ourselves to something. We have to adjust ourselves to death. That’s just the way it is.
In bearing the pain, and coming to terms with the fact that we will not have enough time, we give ourselves more time, in that we don’t lose any time worrying about not having enough time. We don’t have enough time. And, we have this moment right now. Don’t throw this moment away bemoaning the fact that you don’t have enough moments! Live this moment now! And the next moment then! Do what is to be done now, and let that be enough, because it is all that it can be.
I am likely to die with another photo trip in mind. I don’t care how many times I go to the Canadian Rockies, I am going to want to go back one more time. And, to Yellowstone, and to the Grand Tetons, and to Death Valley… No matter how much time I spend with the children and the grandchildren, it won’t be enough. No matter how much time I spend talking with people whose presence I treasure, it won’t be enough. I have an insatiable appetite for life, and living, and being alive. And, I am appalled at the very idea of dying. I have better things to do. But, I can spend what time I do have being appalled, and depressed, and woebegone, or I can spend what time I have living, doing right by the moment, loving what is to be loved, enjoying what is to be enjoyed, making wherever I am a good place to be, and waiting until I die to be dead.
There is that which, by its nature, brings me fully into the moment with it, and creates a space in which being there with that is enough. A cup of morning coffee does that. Loving presence does that. Sunrise at a scenic vista does that. “Aesthetic arrest,” I think it is called. We are stopped by a wonder, and brought to life by it, in the moment with it. Surprising gifts of life come out of nowhere to wake us up and make us alive.
Certain paths within Buddhism make use of a bell to wake participants up to the moment of their living, to call them out of the press of life and enable them to step into the now with consciousness, mindfulness, awareness as those who are alive and fully present. Tibetan singing bowls (do a Google search) ring us into the here and now, call us to remember our breathing, and to be present with what is present with us. The Buddhist have the advantage of someone with the responsibility to strike the bowl, to ring the bell. We are left to our own devices. Where is that woman with the bowl? We need her always at our side. Bringing us back to the now, inviting us to be alive.
What needs doing? What needs to be done? What needs us to do it? There are cars all over the world which need to have an oil change. Not one of those cars needs ME to do it. I am not the person to change oil. Just because something needs to be done, does not mean that I am the one to do it. What needs ME to do it? Where are MY gifts, inclinations, aptitudes, talents, interests, and abilities being called for? What is being asked of ME? We have to have a sense of our own “me-ness” and of the world’s need in order to find ways we might be of help to those about us. What are we suited for? Where do we fit in? How can WE be of service to the world? What can WE do to make where we are a good place to be?
Ram Dass once asked Joseph Campbell, “Joe, what form does your yoga take?” To which Campbell replied, “I underline passages.” There you are. Underlining passages might well be our gift to the world. Let those who build Habitat houses, build Habitat houses. Let those who ladle soup, ladle soup. Let those who sit in prayer and meditation, sit in prayer and meditation. Let those who underline passages, underline passages. And, don’t disparage anyone for the way they choose to bring their gift to life in the world, or think that everyone must serve, must be of help, in the same ways.