9: SEX AND SHAME: A CHALLENGING AND IMMENSELY REWARDING JOURNEY
Updated: Mar 28, 2022
Unfortunately, this journey into liberation, particularly in the domain of sexuality, is a long and arduous one. The Israelites had to wander in the desert for over forty years. And despite all the miracles revealed to them, they found the journey hard, repeatedly asking to return to Egypt, to the familiar yoke of slavery. Later, in the promised land, they were led by two great men, King David and King Solomon, two icons of faith who both transgressed in the realm of sexuality. King David, the author of Psalms, was known to be among the most exalted writers of devotional spiritual poetry. King Solomon, known in the Hebrew Bible to be the “wisest of men,” penned the Song of Songs, a highly acclaimed erotic and allegorical love poem to The Beloved, God. Still, both men revealed their darkness when it came to sex and women. In our modern times, all too many so-called “enlightened” spiritual teachers have abused their positions of power over women for their own sexual gratification. And many priests, presumed to be celibate, have abused innocent boys. Sexuality seems to be the Achilles Heel of many men. Fortunately, King David repented and cleaned up his act, and it was foretold that from his lineage the Messiah would come. This clearly indicates that our redemption and the end of our suffering is dependent on owning our mistakes and correcting our ways.
What message are we to take from all this? Perhaps that our sex drives are powerful and can often overwhelm our better judgment, even for the best of us. This sexual energy, which is inextricably linked to our life force, deserves our reverence, of course. Still, the journey to free ourselves from its shadow is a challenging one that requires steadfast and ongoing commitment. Perhaps that’s why some spiritual paths require a vow of celibacy. While that might work for some, most of us want to pass the gift of life and procreate, celebrate life, and enjoy the bodies we were given. We can’t run from our sexuality; we must embark on a journey of transforming ourselves and our relationships to sex. Fortunately, the rewards are great. We can liberate our sexuality from the shadow of shame and into a joyful celebration of it as the carrier of our life force. Let us remember that sexuality and spirituality are intimately tied. Sexuality carries our life force—it is how we come to life. And spirituality, from Latin spiritus means “the animating breath of life.” Thus, in its highest form, sexuality springs forth from the power of our spirit, as the very essence of our source and force of life. It is not just about freeing ourselves from violence and shame, it is about celebrating life by connecting to its source.
When we realize this truth, we can start to understand and experience “sex" as a “Sacred Energy EXchange.” Indeed, beyond the physical pleasure and procreational function of sex, our sexuality can take us into transcendent states, into spiritual awakenings. This is well understood in the tantric and kundalini yoga traditions of the East: that lovemaking can awaken the spiritual kundalini energy that resides near our genitals at the base of the spine. It is such an awakening of our spirit that brings us into union with our beloved and union with The Beloved—as the Old Testament says in Job 19:16, “And through my flesh I shall know God.”
This is our potential: to align our sexuality and our spirituality through the energy of love. To get there, we must travel through the dark terrain of shame, face our demons, and heal the wounds we bear around our sexuality. Doing so can ignite, enliven, and set free the sacred spark of our spirit.
Continue reading: 10: SHAME IS OUR PRIMAL WOUND
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