Living Awareness Institute:
where Sex and Spirit
will come together again
by Dolores Richter
My speech will have 4 chapters: 1. The historical perspective, 2. The personal perspective 3. Universal principles to apply to social structures, 4. Creating places where sex and spirit will come together again.
1. Sex and Spirit in historical perspective In these days of fear, terrorism and revenge we may ask: why are we talking about Sex and Spirit? I think we have to do it even more and even deeper. Because the time when the separation between Sex and Spirit happened is the time when war and cruelty started to expand over the planet. May my thoughts be a contribution to understand why it came so and what we can to about it. When we learn to reconnect Sex and Spirit we can heal wounds that are in the collective memory of our cells and so prevent violence in the long term.
Conflicts in love life are quite often the deepest reason behind illnesses, accidents, conflicts, even wars. The fear of pain in love life is so big, the fear of abandonment, lonelyness.. that we react like beasts when we feel hurt.
Why is that the case?: Here I am coming to the centre point of my talk: The tragedy of love relationships in the last centuries lies in the fact that something was seeked for in a place where it cannot be found: People looked in an individual person for something which they lost in the universe. And they looked in an individual person for something they lost in the community (which in former times used to be the tribes and clans..) The loss of the spiritual triggers a whirlpool of desire. This loss is then focussed on one individual person, your partner. Love is confused with the personal fixation with the partner, and this carries the fear of loss along. And this is transferred to the children who transfer it to their children and so on.
The separation of human kind from Spirit lead to an malformation of our ego. Conquering, fighting, blaming always the other, consuming and dumping characterizes our society and are also the usual basic mental attitudes in love: We are constantly looking for the "right" partner and when we find him or her we want to hold onto him. Of course, this only works if we are someone special for him or her. "Nobody else is what I am for you". That is quite exhausting. One has to constantly pay attention that no other becomes someone special, too. Competition with other possible partners follows logically. We tell the beloved ones faithfulness means that he or she loves only me, and no other. If he or she does not follow that concept we desert him or her. In the moment of disappointed love anything goes: revenge and destructiveness are used as normal methods against the other person, whom we previously loved.
This is a consequence of the loss of spirit.
Many historians call the separation of Sex and Spirit the patriarchal revolution. It was a long period of time where the whole way of living changed as well as the images of religion changed: In matriarchal times there was Mother Earth, the Grand Goddess. She was protecting as a friend, she was not outside but inside of every living being, all plants and animals and all humans. The religion of the Grand Goddess was all including. She honoured life itself and its origin: the female womb, the earth from which everything grows, including sexuality.
When the period of the goddess came to an end and the notion of the one God almighty arrived (which was a process accompanied by lots of violence and suppression) we had to deal with a higher untouchable spirit.
This meant, direct contact between humans and gods was over. Nature was put down to something to be made use of and was considered to exist without soul. All parts of nature were considered to be separate.
Sex which used to be celebrated in the center of life to praise the goddess, the exstatic aspect of creation, and pray for fertility was later excluded from the allowed and visible part of life. Sex was divided into the permitted and the forbidden. By excluding sex from public and spiritual celebrations sex was reduced to a small leftover for fulfilling our needs (or even only pro creation). The supressed parts of sexual energy started erupting in the form of aggression and cruelties against women, against "foreigners", and against nature, against life itself.
This is the crucial point to think about when we want to come to the source of violence and wars. I think that here is where our attention needs to be when we want to step out of the spiral of violence: in our suppressed life energies, in looking down on our bodies and our sexuality, in putting down the women and their role in society, in transforming the grand Goddess who cared for all their children into the one God who is the only one who is right and everybody has to believe in and will be killed if not... To create non-violent world we have work for new conditions in these aspects.
2. The topic from a personal perspective The split between Sex and Spirit is inside of me. And I think in every woman and man. The split inside of me often feels like a split between Sex and Love. I am torn between longing for love and sexual hunger, between the longing for intimacy and the will towards independence. I am torn between the longing for everlasting love and the truth of being attracted to others than my partner. As a young woman the difference looked like that: I kept changing partners. After a while the ones I loved by heart became less sexually exiting. The ones who were sexually exciting did not stay very long. Some men adored me so much that they would not even touch me, and the ones who lusted for me same time looked down on me. And once in a while I thought I met the one and only who would integrate it all. It then happened that I opened up my heart, body and soul and then this huge desire came up which the partner could not handle anymore. And I would have loved to put my whole life upon him. But when I tried it respect got lost and attraction faded away, and love was dying.
The man actually becomes lonely when the woman looses herself in him. He can no longer find her. And vice versa: The woman becomes lonely when the man looses himself in her. She can no longer find him.
How could I ever become complete again? Would there ever be a chance to fulfil this huge amount of desire that had led me from one man to the other?
I had to stop and think and started together with my friends to study how love works. First, I learned that marriage or marriage-type relationships are not the only possible images for love life. Our longing for the one and only is imprinted by our historical image of love life. This means I am free to find out what is really true to me. There are cultures, past and present, with different images of love life. For example the Mosuo in China as in many other matriachal cultures women stayed among their clan. Children were raised by the mothers and her sisters and brothers and the partners and lovers lived in another clan and came and visited by night... In this way love life was free of family responsibility and economical responsibility... And the way the erotic life was described in that culture it was growing and blossoming quite well. Just to give us one idea of other option how love life can be structured in society we are free to find any other ways that fit to our wishes!
So how could I find my own image of love? There was this wish for everlasting love: To share my life, my work, my engagement with a partner. And same time I myself felt good to have more than one partner. For some time this even was the only way to get to know all aspects of my sexual being. And it helped to deal with my huge sexual longing. I did not feel so well, however, when my partner had other women besides me. I was intelligent enough to find that not logical. How could I ask him to be satisfied with only me and not look for the beauty and Eros in others? So I had to decide. I studied my own inner movements and discovered: The more I am allowed to follow my heart, even in loving or erotic contacts, the more I am faithful to my partner. Because I have a real choice. Faithfulness to me now means not the exclusion of erotic contacts but it means to be faithful to the spirit of the person I love, and to support him to follow his heart. When I had this insight I also felt that my partner would experience it the same way. He would love me the more he would feel free to love wherever his love is drawn to. - To know this gives me the strength and commitment to work with my own feelings of jealousy if they come up. And not to dump them on him. I also know that jealousy is part of a historical imprint but must not at all belong to love. When I am jealous I let myself be a little sick and be good to myself. Sometimes it is a hint to find out what is to be changed in our contact, so I have to go for that. And I am aware that I do not have so much reason for jealousy since I am surrounded by good friends and lovers.
My experience of 20 years with my partner is: When we allow each other to follow our heart and attractions, our love grows and this means the love between us grows, too. ------- We have been going through many other conflicts. One was basically born from my demand to have the perfect partner. I kept being nasty about things I missed in him or his behaviour. Until I realized that this is coming from an expectation: It is coming from my idea of how I wanted him to be and not about who he really is.
As I perceived that I could decide to love him, what he is, and what I love him for. This completly changed our relationship and brought us to deep acceptance and trust. And from that basis we can work on our conflicts.
I discovered faithfulness to be a universal principle that is by itself connected to love when there are circumstances* that allow me to be true:
*friends that share the values of truth and self-responsibility in love-life.
I now want to talk about some more universal principles of love.
3. Universal principles
- Eros is a cosmic energy - Eros is an expression of universal love. It is a direct way to Spirit when it is happening in trust and truth. Eros is not something that one can keep or own. Eros loves casualness. Eros likes the invitation of an opening of awareness and sensuality. You invite: and the acceptance of an invitation is always voluntary and can never be demanded. That is the secret. Love comes in when it is allowed to, not when it has to. Through letting go there's a lightness in my body which is attractive. Living in erotic energy is a spiritual path in the finest and most direct sense!
Sex is pure life energy. True in itself - you cannot pretend sexual attraction. It is either there or it is not. Sexual attraction happens from very different places: from the beauty of a body or a voice, from the grace of movement, from respect for what a person does, or when you see a person fulfilling their highest calling. One attraction could be coming from the heart - whether you know each other or not. Another attraction could be coming from the pure and direct male or female energy from a man or woman you see for the first time. All of these attractions have their truth and want to be allowed to be lived. I think, to create social conditions to allow this, is a basic demand for a non-violent culture. This does not mean that you follow every sexual attraction or desire. But you are allowed to see them, to feel them, and to communicate them.
----------- - In Creation there is no such thing as a Closed System All natural systems are open systems. And likewise in love. - Seen from the universal principles of love it is incomprehensible why you should cut yourself off from outside attractions. A person who loves is beautiful, and will thus naturally be loved by other people. And everywhere love is happening, serves as an enrichment for a love relationship or partnership.
------------- - Every Being has its Place. Every being in an organism is connected and communicating. This we can apply to communities and relationship networks. Who are you? What is your way, which type of love is appropriate for you? What is your gift, your talent for the whole? What is best for you in this phase of your life? Who are you in connection with other men/women? In a functioning organism there is no comparison and there is no competition! Our liver does not compete with our heart. If everything has found its place and fulfils its task, there is no competition.
It is our spiritual duty, to develop the best possible. The task of a love relationship is to emphasize the beauty and light of each other a community of growth in servicing the world.
To make these universal priniciples happen, it is our task to create places, build up intentional communities and networks, in which lovers can find an organic human environment that supports love to grow: ->
4. Creating Places where Sex and Spirit will come together again
The conflict between men and women cannot be healed in the relationship between one man and one woman. In fact, every individual relationship is overcharged with issues that are not their personal issues but issues of our patriarchal culture. We have to integrate individual healing work into the process of creating new cultural models.
It is a political task to make love work. What else is the basis of peace if not the capability of love? In community love is not a private topic of two lovers but a concern of all: The african Dagara say:"If there is a conflict between lovers it touches the whole tribe. And therefore the whole tribe helps to solve it." (Sobonfu Some). The same they mention for the children: "It needs the whole tribe to raise a child". Community as I understand it will share and cooperate as a related organism in what we usually call "private" areas: love, sex, partnership, childraising, spiritual practise etc.
Living in a community like this means in the same time to commit ourselves to inner, spiritual work towards the ability to give trust to others, take responsibility for our emotions, for what we want .., We don't put blame on others but inform them about our needs. It is my decision to love...We give others the chance to be new in every moment..
In our project we invented a way of honest communication to support that inner work with the feedback of others. It is a communication to make truth possible among all people that are involved in the community. Our main tool for that is the "Forum". It is a group communication where we work on issues about love, sex, power, money in a manner of "research" and humor (theatre): every person that brings their issue into the center of the group is dealt as something we want to learn from. In this way we get to know ourselves and we create transparency. And transparency leads to trust among people.
In this framework of trust and research there will grow a structure, where the universal power of Eros is allowed to flow. In this kind of framework intimacy and ever lasting love will "prevail" the same time: Because they all belong together and they support eachother when the structure around is safe. In these places we will also create a new kind of spirituality. A spirituality that gives us home in ourselves and in Mother Earth. A spirituality which is able to embrace our longings, that advises us while we work on our darker innermost feelings at times of transformation. A spirituality that helps the suppressed side of sex to re-emerge. A spirituality that honours life, nature, women, sex, all living beings.
By this I mean: communicate and co-operate with plants and animals, respect other people of any other believe, respect all aspects of sexuality and love images.
To come to the end I want to summarize:
We experience in the world an eruption of institutionalised violence and fear. This system is also in ourselves. Wanting peace is not just a protest against war, but wanting peace is to be committed to transformation of the circumstances of our own lives. We must create new human and social structures around our hearts so that love and solidarity receive continuity. Our earth needs continuity of love where new social, sexual, ecological and economic structures of co-operation with nature and the universe can develop.
The ZEGG and the Healing Biotope Tamera in Portugal are places which have been created for this purpose and has been working on it for 20 years. You can have the opportunity to get to know ZEGG and our work in our workshops further in the week.
We wish to co-operate with other places and networks for the healing of the earth. In this network every project and each person has its place. Whether it deals with Sex and Spirit or with political issues, ecological healing or peace activism - we have to know from each other, to learn from each other and to support each other.
I want to give Thanks to Findhorn Foundation for their contribution to peace work in the world.
Thank you for listening.