Tree of Life - Passion Neurochemistry

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Passion Neurochemistry

Recent research suggests that sex, as we currently employ it, is indeed a source of physical and emotional distress — although nearly everyone still blames his or her problems on anything else. We deceive ourselves because orgasm feels good in the short-term, and we haven't yet made the connection with its longer-term costs.

In fact, however, intense passion directed toward climax triggers an over-stimulation of the reward mechanism in the brain. So do high-calorie 'binge' foods, recreational drugs, extreme sports, compulsive shopping, internet porn, and all addictions. For example, a key neurochemical (dopamine) soars and then, after orgasm, drops sharply.

Other neurochemical changes also occur. Prolactin shoots up, acting as a sexual satiation mechanism. For at least a week, dopamine cells shrink in a key part of the primitive brain. Androgen receptors decline and remain low for up to a week. Overriding our sexual satiety can exacerbate this natural "hangover." A list of research abstracts showing neurochemical shifts after orgasm can be found here. My husband and I believe there are more changes yet to be discovered, because we notice that the effects of a post-passion hangover can last for about two weeks. They show up in women as well as men.

Neurochemical shifts can alter our outlook profoundly. See, for example, Study Shows Acute Dopamine Depletion Can Create Psychological Distress and Orgasm's Hidden Cycle. Over the days or weeks following a passion bout, we may experience periods of defensiveness, emotional over-reactions, depression, irritability or uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms - which stem from subconscious feelings of scarcity and cravings.

Which activities and experiences offer short-term comfort in this state? Those that stimulate the production of more dopamine in the brain's reward circuit: junk food, reckless spending, dominating others, alcohol, watching sex, sports, and violence, gambling, novelty, more orgasms, and so forth. Unfortunately, such passing thrills tend to erode equilibrium further because dopamine is not a neurochemical of satisfaction; it's a neurochemical of craving. (True contentment, as opposed to momentary satiation, is associated with other neurochemicals, one of which we'll discuss in a moment.) Samson

In other words, Cayce was right that engaging in self-gratification magnifies the activities of the glands, creating inner conflict, and weakening willpower. 1 By way of example, the readings point out that Samson, despite his unusual strength, had no ability to resist the opposite sex because of his desire for gratification of glandular urges.2

Passion triggers an uncomfortable cycle of highs and lows (cravings), which can show up in our lives as hungry dissatisfaction, demanding selfishness, short-term thinking, or, paradoxically, revulsion at the thought of further intimacy. Revulsion may stem from low libido due to post-passion neurochemistry. However, after a temporary neurochemically-enhanced honeymoon period, most lovers also find it a turn-off to be used repeatedly as someone's addictive 'fix.'3

Revulsion incidentally, is generally limited to declining interest toward further intimacy with our mate. Scientists record a phenomenon known as the Coolidge Effect. It is the tendency to lose interest in a mate after sexual satiation while continuing to find novel partners enticing. This has been observed in every species researched, and not just in males — yet another hidden risk of 'procreating like beasts.'

Cayce warned that, "Inordinate desire takes possession of the sensory forces of the body." 4 It is habit forming, 5 or, as we would say today, addictive. Indeed, science now knows that the reward circuit, which drives sexual desire, also drives all addictions. Or said differently, other addictions hijack the brain machinery that evolved to drive sex and other appetites that further physical-plane survival. Urged by these cravings, we often do things we later regret. As Cayce pointed out, relationships based on physical gratification are not safe because they give rise to emotions of fear and doubt. 6And this happens at a neuroendocrine level beyond the conscious mind.

Animals are regulated by estrus periods, although some other primates use sexual activity and nonconceptive sex for maintaining pair bonds and social bonds rather than procreation. Humans can pursue their urges whenever they choose. Perhaps this is why Cayce says animals do not fear as humans do (2067-1). As "mind is ever the builder,"7 these post-orgasm emotions manifest as dissatisfaction, consternation, turmoil, strife, and dissension.8In our experience, they also give rise to feelings of lack, discouragement, and fear of ongoing intimacy - due to the anxiety of repeatedly falling in and out of love.

In short, we are 'not ourselves' while our neurochemistry is fluctuating wildly. Yet we never consciously make the connection between our distress and the neurochemically intense experience of orgasm, which may have occurred days or even weeks earlier. Perhaps you are beginning to see how biology's perfectly natural, deliciously enticing mating program can foster regrettable behavior, and even drive a wedge between spouses who start out very much in love.

Good intentions are difficult to maintain under this influence. For example, multiple studies suggest that porn use and viewing sexual imagery can increase short-term thinking and even delinquency. Interestingly, according to at least one of his biographers,9 Cayce himself was abusive to his wife Gertrude from time to time. Also, the readings point out that even those with special powers, such as the power to heal, lack God consciousness if sex is not under their control. 10

It is the interference [of earthly] desires that prevents a body and a mind from keeping in perfect accord with their ideal [i.e., the Golden Rule]. 11

Lust and Love

Thus the readings appear to be correct that the union of bodies through desire can give rise to "suffering, hate, malice and injustice," and bring into our experience the emotions that are the reverse of love, hope, patience and all spiritual attributes. 12 Carnal influences also belittle man's spiritual nature.13 Once again, to add perspective, Stockham, Lao Tzu and the author of the Gospel of Philip, recorded similar observations:

Many hearts are broken and hopes blasted mainly because the sexual relationship in marriage is instigated by selfish motives, and for personal gratification…. The ordinary hasty spasmodic method of cohabitation…is deleterious both physically and spiritually, and is frequently a cause of estrangement and separation.14

A person's approach to sexuality is a sign of his level of evolution. Unevolved persons practice ordinary sexual intercourse. Placing all emphasis upon the sexual organs, they neglect the body's other organs and systems. Whatever physical energy is accumulated is summarily discharged, and the subtle energies are similarly dissipated and disordered. It is a great backward leap.15

Do not fear the flesh nor be enamored of it. If you fear it, it will rule you. If you love it, it will paralyze you and devour you…. As long as [the sacred embrace] is hidden, unhappiness prevails; it always poisons the seeds [sperma], and evil is at work….All those who practice the sacred embrace [koiton] will kindle the light; they will not beget as people do in ordinary marriages, which take place in darkness.16

More...Tree of Life - The Rewards of Spiritualizing Desire

  • 1. p. 31, 281-38, 1597-1, 1999-1
  • 2. p. 40, 281-49
  • 3.
  • 4. 486-1
  • 5. 2067-1, 1597-1
  • 6. (911-5)
  • 7. 4083-1, 262-63
  • 8. 1912-1 
  • 9. A Seer Out Of Season: The Life Of Edgar Cayce, by Harmon Hartzell, (1989)
  • 10. p. 23, 281-34.
  • 11. 357-13
  • 12. p. 41, 281-51
  • 13. 262-63
  • 14. Karezza: Ethics of Marriage, pp. 76-77
  • 15. Hua Hu Ching: Unknown Teachings of Lao Tzu, p. 88
  • 16. Gospel of Philip, pp. 169-71, 93