AUTHOR, PHILOSOPHER AND INTEGRAL THEORIST Ken Wilber laughed playfully on a recent Ethics of Sexuality podcast when he said: Don’t touch it or touch it as much as you can. That, Wilber pointed out, is the line humanity holds on the subject. Going solo for the first time in years, while a second marriage ends, I’m still surprised to return to this question of extremes. I see I haven’t escaped the trap of wondering how much of a priority sex should be. Would celibacy, for the time being, allow freedom from worry, keep me from jumping into another relationship just to take care of needs, or should I just indulge whenever I want to with whomever I want to?
I’m hopeful for a happy medium, perhaps even a Buddhist Middle Way. In Buddhist reasoning, sex should not simply be a conduit for sensual pleasure — kama, Eros — because this will only lead to suffering and addiction as one continues seeking fulfillment outside of oneself. In that case, one’s destiny becomes the realm of Preta-gati, the Hungry Ghosts. Of course, I wouldn’t want to walk the path that leads me to become a Hungry Ghost.
Less threatening is the tantric idea of sex as Sacred Energy Exchange or Soul Energy Exchange. It brings conscience and higher consciousness to the subject — even magic and manifestation — but also consideration that one must cut the cords of attachment to partners past, a clearing out of emotional entanglements, baggage (which I have yet to do).
I’ve long considered sex essential to my physical and emotional health. The Taoists stress the idea of sexual health, as do most medical doctors the world round. In The Tao of Sexology: The Book of Infinite Wisdom Dr. Stephen T. Chang instructs partners how to do daily “Morning and Evening Prayers,” sexual positions performed to enliven the body at the start of the day and to relax it at night. “The Prayers” are only two of some sixty odd positions for the purpose of healing specific ailments or diseases. All at once, Chang advises, warns, and promises the following in the preface:
Sex, a function that is generally unavoidable, must be made into a source of happiness, not pain. Happiness is healing, joy, and longevity; correct sex yields infinite happiness. Pain is incurable disease, depression, and death; incorrect sex yields infinite pain. Correct sex spreads happiness among individuals, their progeny, and society. Incorrect sex—that is, sex used as a weapon against others, as a license for promiscuity, or as an immoral profit generator—causes social decay. The ultimate purpose of this book is to point out a pathway of righteousness.
These days, I’ve had what you call a friend with benefits, and so wonder if it’s possible to have “correct sex” or “happy sex” while living alone and occasionally sharing a bed with a partner who may not be for life. And we certainly cannot yet call sex a “pathway to righteousness.” Ghosts of relationships past and present are in the bedroom. Rooms hold memory.
To further complicate things, ghosts have not always been just metaphorical or allegorical for me, they can be literal. It was some years ago just before I met my second husband, when I thought I was hearing or feeling ghosts — subtle bodies, presences — outside of dreaming. I kept this to myself until one day at my parents...read more