More Wisdom articles
It is satisfying to see academics begin to acknowledge the apparent integrity of the early so-called gnostics, and consider the possibility that the Sacrament of the Bridal Chamber calls for some type of desire-free union of man and woman.
The Hindu legend of Parvati, who is the primary personification of the Divine Feminine in the Hindu tradition, paints a fuller picture of the true spiritual depth underlying Tantra than we usually see in the West. It also points to a more vital, disciplined and profound role for women who feel drawn to the Tantric path known as the "left-hand path." (The "left-hand path" incorporates sexual union rather than requiring celibacy.)
The tale began with the cosmos in an uproar because Lord Shiva, the Hindu tradition’s chief male deity ("The Auspicious") was in a profound sulk. The other gods had dismembered and scattered the corpse of his first wife (who had brought about her own death after her father insulted Shiva) in an effort to stop his destructive mourning. Utterly disheartened, he renounced the world and resumed his life as an ascetic in the remote Himalayas. Without a living Shakti (manifest Divinity) to balance his Transcendent Divinity, he lost the desire to act in the world.
I told a psychologist friend about your book when he said he had two clients struggling with masturbation addictions. He replied that he favors "sex positive" thinking. I told him, "you can favor it all you want and nobody wants to go back to the days of shame, but is that black-and-white thinking going to help your clients?"
The psychologist obviously meant that he favors "orgasm positive" thinking. He would prefer a solution for his clients that assures them that orgasm itself isn’t contributing to their distress. Unfortunately, if an approach is not "for" orgasm, it is branded "against" sex.
The ancient Chinese Taoists, who recommended therapeutic solo cultivation of sexual energy and hours of non-orgasmic sex in different positions to cure diseases, would find this label mystifying. In our culture, however, favoring sex without heartily touting orgasm can make people uncomfortable. Perhaps this is because we are still in reaction against religious doctrines that equate lust with sin.
Healing the notion of "sex as sin"
Before we look at some pitfalls in the current definition of "sex positive," let’s step into the past and consider the conclusions of two passionate idealists from over 100 years ago, both of whom noticed that lust caused problems. The first, an American named John Humphrey Noyes, stumbled upon the benefits of making love without ejaculation after his wife suffered through 5 births in six years. The second, Russian Count Lev Nikolayevich (Leo) Tolstoy, never did. As the result of his discovery - and despite his background as a theology student - Noyes figured out that the "sinfulness" of sex was manmade - the result of entirely avoidable post-orgasmic bad feelings. Tolstoy went to his grave feeling humiliated by his sinful, lustful behavior…and preaching his guilt-ridden message to others via his work.
Wrote Noyes in 1870 in a pamphlet entitled Male Continence :
Ordinary sexual intercourse…is a momentary affair, terminating in exhaustion and disgust. If it begins in the spirit, it soon ends in the flesh; i.e., the amative, which is spiritual, is drowned in the propagative, which is sensual. The exhaustion which follows naturally breeds self-reproach and shame, and this leads to dislike and concealment of the sexual organs, which contract disagreeable associations from the fact that they are the instruments of pernicious excess. This undoubtedly is the philosophy of the origin of shame after the fall. Adam and Eve first sunk the spiritual in the sensual….by pushing prematurely beyond the amative to the propagative, and so became ashamed, and began to look with an evil eye on the instruments of their folly.
More than 70 years ago, Denis de Rougemont, the late Swiss scholar, wrote a fascinating book called Love in the Western World. In it he theorizes that Tantra, which ignited in India some time before 800 C.E. from much older roots, traveled west via the Muslim world under the umbrella of divine passion, or fana (the passing away of the self). Fana was the theme of mystical Arab love poetry and song.
Clarity of mind brought about by dependence upon what is right can transform the world and perfect it….When pressures mount, don’t become explosive. Instead, work quietly and diligently to alleviate them. At times of high energy, don’t throw yourself away in undisciplined euphoria. Work toward making the best use of the energy to enact new ideas and further your goals. When energies subside, use the time to rest and gather your strength instead of exhausting yourself with useless struggling....Synergetic interactions will provide ideas and inspirations, generate surplus energy for continued growth, and refine communications and perceptions. Hexagram 30, I Ching [trans. R.L. Wing]
For those who enjoy historical tidbits about others who wrestled with how to channel their sexual energy upward, "Right Marital Living" is a colorful piece with an aura of tragedy. Its author, Ida Craddock, was a Philadelphian born in 1857, heavily influenced by Theosophical Society works and other mystical writings, some of which were just appearing from the Far East in translation.
Her essays on sacred sexuality and natural birth control drew fire from a man named Anthony Comstock and his self-appointed "Society for the Suppression of Vice," who had her writings declared pornographic. She was arrested twice. In 1902, on the day she was to be sentenced the second time, she committed suicide leaving behind an outraged letter to the public. Her death brought disgrace to the "Society for the Suppression of Vice," which disbanded not long afterward.
This article is stil in progress. Sorry.
Excerpts from Making Love
by Barry Long 
The cause of most of the unhappiness on earth is that man and woman have actually forgotten how to make physical love. This is the greatest tragedy of all time. The forgetfulness has been going on and slowly getting worse for so many thousands of years that it’s now a tragedy for the whole of mankind. There can be no mass solutions. The problem is too personal and too deep. Everybody has to do it for himself or herself, or it can’t be done.
"No thanks! She's too needy for me." Every man looking for a mate knows this woman. At an energy level, she's a black hole. And what about the male counterpart of neediness, voracious sexual hunger? Women, have you met this guy? "There's something…creepy about him. He sees me as a big dish of ice cream instead of a person." To be sure, men can also be needy or women predatory.