Challenge of the Heart

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John Welwood "Challenge of the Heart: Love, Sex, and Intimacy in Changing Times" Shambhala 1985 is a series of essays he collected while writing "Journey of the Heart"
"Passion and Transformation" by Bernd Jager [quote] To sexuality still clings the dread and awe, the guilt and exaltation that one time belonged to the realm of the sacred. A thoroughly rationalized , efficiently managed sexuality, without flashes of terror and benediction, becomes another consumer-good, another recompense for the day's work at the office or in the factory. Sexuality as a "wholesome practice," as a mere process of mutual gratification and ease of tensions, can no longer fulfill its ancient role of manifesting the depth and the other side of things and beings. Civil, cosmeticized sexuality, with blunted arrows, neutered, becomes the solid inhabitant of the middle, and the noon of life, cut off from dawn and dusk, from the beginning and the end, removed from the empire of passion, incapable of movement, blind to the beckoning and threatening horizons of the world. Such a sexuality, removed form pain and divisiveness, from suffering, from death and from the gods, ignorant of height and depth, becomes a harmless "feel-good," the itching of a scratch, a sucker in the hand of an idiot. Fertile sexuality, whatever its form, must live in the awareness of the beginning and the end, the source and the depth. Only from that perspective, only within that possession can it give birth to the other side of things and beings.[/quote]

"Coming to Meet: Advice From the I Ching" by Carol Anthony. If you are hungry, get something to eat or decide to fast. Do not ask your wife to fix you dinner or start looking at her like she is food.

Other good essays:
"Conscious Love" by A. R. Orage
"The Sacred Dimension" by Suzanne Lilar

From "The Alchemy of Man and Woman"

by Eleanor Bertine. She examines the story of Amor and Psyche, one of my favorite stories (Robert Johnson does too in the excellent "She"). [quote] Sexual union is fundamentally symbolic and this is its deepest meaning. It expresses the coniunctio, that mystic inner marriage which was the goal of ancient alchemical work. By its process Sol and Luna, gold and silver, logos and eros, were no longer to be estranged but were to be brought together and united.
The coniunctio is a completely nonpersonal process...separate from the ego of the individual in whom it takes place....Yet the individual must be able to endure the fire. In the coniunctio, love and truth are reconciled. The woman adores the spirit embodied for her in the man, and he in turn comes to realize that spirit must incarnate as love. So the human union is paralleled and completed by the mystic marriage of the opposite principles within the psyche.
....back of the relations of a man and a woman, there lies in the unconscious the image of this transcendent union, waiting to be wakened to is a striking fact that frustration seems to be the fate of most great lovers. Perhaps the suffering and the struggle are the conditio sine qua non, the vital condition, for the production of redeemed love or the philosopher's gold. ...sometimes the directions call for the application of intense heat. The psychological equivalent of this could hardly be less than the full intensity of passionate conflict and emotion, and passion mounts when it meets a barrier. Only then, if at all, does the alchemical process begin.[/quote] taken from "Human Relationships" 1958
Now, boys and girls, let's not confuse withdrawal with passion...
Speaking of stories, Cyrano de Bergerac is another favorite. Just the mention of it by Umberto Eco in "The Mystical Fire of Queen Loana" (not good unless you are really interested in fascist Italy) made me tear up. So, of course, "Roxanne" is one of my favorite movies.

vos amo

On suffering

Yes, it is easy to mistake withdrawal angst for "undying passion, worth ANY price." I've done that many times m'self. Wink In my past, I could *totally* relate to Romeo and Juliet, and to Phaedra, and Io when I read about their tragic passions.

Now, having tasted something a lot closer to balance for extended periods, I am more inclined to believe that the insights of the type above (on the value of suffering) are sincere, but misguided. Yes, we *do* need to tap our life force energy. No we should *not* repress it.

But the "passion-->heartache and chaos" cycle is not especially productive over the long-term. Yesterday I attended a talk by a man I have known for six years. He's mid-50s, brilliant, creative, musically gifted, charismatic and has a lot of vision about creating community globally, etc. Yet he is also unwilling to balance his sexual energy. (I know because I happened to introduce him to an acquaintance, with whom he had a chaotic affair.) He has also spent two of the last six years in prison...from trying to take on the US government. All that brilliance and energy creates amazing chaos despite his noble intentions, because it is not balanced. And he can't see the problem. Each woman is in his life strictly for the drug-like high of falling in love - not as a complementary yin force who would create underlying feelings of wholeness with trusted companionship. I don't know him that well, but I suspect he would totally subscribe to the philosophy you have shared above.

For me, the Italian research showing that new lovers and obsessive-compulsive patients share low levels of serotonin goes far in explaining what's going on when people write about the value of suffering. That glorious, let's-lose-control-and-trust-the-anguish high is *not* some higher wisdom coursing through our veins when we fall in love with a new partner. It's a reckless drug high, albeit totally natural. Its very biological purpose is to *make* us reckless and we create pregnancies. It's unbelievably enticing and judgment distorting, especially in some of us.

Repression *is* bad, but when can we best trust the flow, and our intuition? When we are in balance - in the dopamine-oxytocin department - due to close companionship and careful management of sexual energy. That's when we can best hear our inner compass, which is aligned with the greatest good for all concerned. It's really important to tune in. We each *do* have an important part to play. And we need to get out there and play it - fearlessly and will full vigor!

Mating neurochemistry messes up our compass. It *feels* like a series of bursts of genius - and it especially makes us feel invincible, but it creates as much chaos as benefit...for ourselves and others. This can make life seem uncertain and anxiety producing - ultimately shutting many of us down entirely, or making us run for "soothing" addictions.

Our genius is there all along, but it needs *balance* (and the synergy of yin and yang) to flower in productive ways...not feverish dopamine dysregulation. As least IMHO. Wink


What wonderful quotes! They really convey the mystery and the power of divine union!

The Alchemy of Man and Woman one reminds me of Deida. Maybe IF there's going to be so much "intense heat", seemingly so inevitable, in such a beautiful thing, then it helps to use it as a path of growth, but if it's not inevitable, such as in a relationship with karezza, that is higher yet. Maybe the "Tantra" of it is to first go through the Deida level, to learn all there is to learn there? Like how a teenager's job is to rebel before he comes back to balance and knows himself, finding that place, unique to him, neither rebellion nor conformity, but his true confidence, and if that stage is missed, something doesn't feel right. There will always be a longing. I feel that way, and several of my nerdy friends told me they did too, shortly after high school.

Good point

You're right that we should all taste the drug...but with open we can compare better. In my case, my closed eyes made the learning curve unnecessarily uncomfortable. Took a long time, too. Wink


BTW, I liked you sci-fi fantasy in another thread. Here's mine for this thread: one day Karezza is very popular and everyone acknowledges its advantages, and the praise heaped upon it is so much that some people go their whole lives never knowing orgasm. Imagine then, people who have been sheltered from orgasm their whole life! Doesn't that seem kinda wrong? Another example is the person who marries their high school sweetheart... I wonder if they ever long for a larger experience? Maybe not all, but some do. When I was reading the Rosicrucian teachings on sex (One Flesh), they said that with every sexual coupling, a subtle emotional bond is created that is never broken. Actually, let me quote the section:

[quote]Within the intricate structures we call men and women are powers and abilities little used or even imagined by those in whom they reside. One of the most potent of all these abilities is the regenerative force of their Sexual Creative Centers. The nature of this energy and its proper utilization has been one of the foremost subjects of mythological and religious teachings in all civilized nations, though admittedly it was usually presented in an allegorical or veiled form.

Our own Bible is rife with references relating to this force. The disciples of Christ were well indoctrinated with its theory and use, but unfortunately when the early Church was politicized by Constantine the Great in the third century A.D. this teaching was lost to later Christians due to the insensitivity and vulgarity of the men put in charge of the new "state" religion.

Fortunately, the methods and techniques of human sexual Regeneration did survive Constantine's purge of wisdom that he could not understand, although this survival was mainly in the form of the "jargon" used by various secret societies of the Middle Ages. Had these methods and procedures been taught openly at that time, the teachers would have been quickly "silenced" by the Church. For then, as now, men always try to destroy that which they do not understand and which they feel might jeopardize their own authority.

It is through misinformation and the suppression of the truth that the Church has held its adherents in sexual bondage for centuries. The Church is right to fear the effect that real knowledge of the human Sexual Creative Center would have on their authority. Once we understand the true potential of this Creative Center, we no longer have need of an interceding Church to assure our immortality. It is little wonder that the Church opposes such power in the hands of the people. Fortunately, the power of the Church today, at least in this country, is no longer sufficiently strong to create the Medieval need for secrecy of the Sexual Creative Center and so the ancient principles of sexual regeneration may now be taught openly to all who are willing to "see and hear."


But, you may ask, what about the couple who, as is now often stated, "just wish to enjoy each other's bodies?" Where is the harm or danger? They may not love each other, but they don't hate or resent one another either. Can there be harm in this? To answer this, let me again quote Jesus from Matthew 6:24. "No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon." One cannot enter into an act so fraught with emotion-producing potential as sexual intercourse without some strong feelings manifesting. If it is not love, it could be greed, selfishness, or simple lust (a desire to only allay one's needs with no thought of the other person involved) usually followed by guilt and remorse except in the most crude or unfeeling individual. As Jesus said, one will either love or hate. If you continue to go through a sexual relationship with a person you do not love, your feelings will eventually turn to hate or some other equally destructive emotion, for such a strong force as is resident in the Sexual Creative Center knows no middle ground in real men and women.

Under the laws of the One Flesh concept, there is no such thing as a "one night stand." The nature of the One Flesh principle is such that every time a man or woman has a sexual relationship, this principle begins to function automatically and the vibrations of each of the participating individuals are taken into the body of the other. Here they will reside for a long time-some say forever. They may well function as a computer "virus" or, more accurately, a "worm" which can work its way into many vital body functions in time and affect all for either good or bad depending on the nature of the original vibrations of the "infecting" partner.[/quote]

This makes sense when I read it, and though I cannot help but believe that the ideal case is the one man/one woman married for life situation with no interference by the vibrations (remaining subconscious attachment?) from previous partners, it seems MORE harmful to me that people enter such a marriage and remain ever tempted, longing for the freedom and experiences now barred to them. It seems better then, to come to the idea on one's own, having learned from experience, even if that means having created a few (or more, if that's what it takes) of these old connections.

Same with teenage rebellion. If I did things that hurt others, I should make amends, but I might have done greater harm if I had not rebelled.

Oh, it is a narrow and treacherous path humanity walks!

Fascinating post

Thanks. I wish I knew more about the Rosicrucian concepts. Anyone? I'm afraid I've lumped it into the "sex magick" category, which I've consistently steered away from. Frankly, what I learned about Crowley and Craddock just did not make me want to learn more. It sounded like sex magick is often about using sex like a attain an altered state, but also retaining orgasm and basically going kinda nuts. But there's probably more to it. Wink

Yes, Tantra11, for now, most humans need to learn by experiencing both approaches. I certainly did. Still, there may be folks who have already made enough experiments/insights that they know where they want to head.

One Flesh

I read the whole book, "One Flesh," and it's definitely not sex magic in the sense of Crowley. It was kinda like sex magic in that you use the energy to heal, but you also use it to find God (not covered in the book because it's too dangerous to try on your own). Orgasm was allowed too, at least in the healing part, and it's based on the idea that the male and female fluids must mix to bring about the energetic exchange. Another idea behind allowing orgasm has to do with not thwarting the will of God.

And now I've probably totally butchered the concepts. LOL. It's been a few years since I read the book, but I remember being turned off by the moral aspect. In retrospect, though, given that marriage is a given, the spiritual benefit of trusting in God, that surrender, is a powerful practice.

I always wondered if the secret part was similar to Taoist sexual alchemy or totally different.

Great Stuff Y'All

[quote]The psychological equivalent of this could hardly be less than the full intensity of passionate conflict and emotion, and passion mounts when it meets a barrier. Only then, if at all, does the alchemical process begin.[/quote]
I ID'd that with my struggle with porn and learning to see the divinity of my wife.