By: Patrick D. Goonan
In modern times, it seems as though many people have lost a sense of something transcendent. In other words, organized religions and other forms of spirituality have lost their meaning or ability to connect us to something larger than ourselves. While this isn’t true for everyone, it is certainly symptomatic of a general attitude of our times.
As a result, the closest most of us come to an actual felt experience of transcendence on a regular basis is sexual intimacy. For many, other forms of connecting to some sort of higher power feel empty. This partly due to the rise of modernity with the enlightenment and subsequent abandonment of ways of knowing outside of the scientific method. In other words, we privilege science to the point of ignoring nonverbal means of connecting with reality.
Interestingly, those things that are most personal and important can’t be thoroughly explained or even looked at by the methods of science. For example, love, a thought or our own consciousness are beyond the reach of the senses or their extensions – telescopes, microscopes and instruments of various types. This situation leaves many of us feeling empty and some of us try to fill this void with distractions or looking for something deeper in other places. For many, we look for that mystery, charge and deep fulfillment in sexual expression.
This situation is a double-edged sword, it could be good if it leads to deeper intimacy. However, it could become unhealthy if it’s driven by a compulsive search for more intensity because other areas of our lives are lacking. This can lead to sexual addiction or acting out in an attempt to fill our emptiness or need for connection in all the wrong places.
On the other hand, the bedroom is also a place where one can have an authentic transcendent experience, connect to something larger than oneself through love and deepen a significant relationship through a highly charged experience. An interesting acronym, S.E.X. could be translated Sensual Energy Exchange or Spiritual Energy Exchange. Often, both of these acronyms could be applied to our sexual experiences because in them we come to know ourselves and our partners in a deeper way. We also somehow connect with life on a deeper level.
Above, I talked about sexually “acting out.” This refers to trying to use sex for power, like a drug or to fill some void in ourselves. However, if we do this we pollute a potential channel for love to come through us. In this sense, our behavior becomes like a lie rather than a deep expression of who we are that we share with another human being. When we do this, we may feel a strong physical release, but sometimes at the expense of intimacy and our ability to connect.
My hope in writing this article is to have you consider how more than ever the expression of sexuality is important and one potential way to experience oneness or be carried beyond the normal bounds of self. It is also a indictment of a purely scientific and modern perspective that excludes phenomenon that defy the scientific method. That is to say that we are creatures who crave meaning and science alone can’t give that to us. Lastly, I hope what I wrote gives you some encouragement to seek out other spiritual avenues or interpretations that do have meaning for you and not stay stuck in a belief system that isn’t enriching your life.
Since sex is all around us and something we reach for when we want a transcendent experience, I hope this posting raises your awareness around the danger of hurting others by treating sex too casually or as mere recreation. Because of the ability of sex to be so powerful and deep, there is an equal potential for doing harm through the inappropriate expression of your sexuality. It is your own values that will determine exactly what that means.
Although we call this a modern age, there seems to be more ignorance, guilt and shame around sex than many other periods in history. This leads to suffering for oneself and others and often makes it difficult to have a good and transcendent experience. Therefore, if you are having issues in this area, I encourage you to reach out to a therapist, personal growth coach who does work with sexuality or other avenues to address the issues. Life is too short not to make the most of your sex life.
Interestingly, my mother compared sex in relationship to putting oil in a car. She said within the context of a marriage or intimate relationship, sex is like oil in that it keeps all the other parts running smoothly. At the time she said this, I didn’t realize just how wise these words were. However, now I realize they are true and there is also potential for so much more.