Spiritually Incorrect: June 2007
Sex is the answer – Come back from Egypt.
-by The Lover
Does anything else so grab our rapt attention, incessantly pursue us, occupy our daydreams, fantasies and yearnings? Sex is the answer.
Sex is not Eros. The failure to understand the relationship between the sexual and the erotic lies at the root of much of our confusion and pain around both. Sex models the erotic; it does not exhaust the erotic. The erotic at its deepest is synonymous with the holy, the sacred.
When I use the phrase erotic sex, I mean heart. We all know that titillation of the sexual instruments feels good. That is not what the erotic sexual is all about. Fleeting feel-good is for people who are afraid of the full divine power and pleasure of the erotic sexual. Sex is not a path unless it cracks you open to the divine.
The first face of Eros is the way of interiority. In the erotic sexual, we are invited to abandon the superficial games of fractured ego and fragmented identity and enter the interior castle of reality. Only inside that interior reality is the heart set free, allowing vision deeper then the flatland of surfaces.
Eros means to be on the inside, not physically, but on the inside of experience. It matters little whether the experience is jogging, conversing, playing sports, engaging in commerce, writing a book or fixing the kitchen sink. When you enter the zone, when you cross over from the outside and enter the inside of the experience, you are in Eros. To live erotically is to live on the inside.
The second face of Eros is the way of presence. The erotic sexual invites us to a realm which we do not recognize easily in our daily struggles to prove we exist. In the erotic sexual, existence is a given, the gift of the divine cosmos. Beyond mammalian fight or flight instincts, the erotic takes us to the deepest feeling and knowing of our radiance and aliveness. We feel no need for any explanation; existence simply and joyously is. Eros is our opening to the presence that always is and always will be.
In the Kabbalah, the divine force is often referred to as Shekhina, which translates from Hebrew as presence or eros. The Shekhina is always present and alive in everything, but most people never enter her healing expanse. They are contracted into false hopes, building edifice complexes to assure their survival. But in holding on to their comfort, they are betrayed. Everything they know as their life will one day disappear. They are lost in the superficial pleasures of mere sex.
One can have sex one's entire life and never experience the ravishment of opening to Shekhina. This opening means becoming fully present without clinging to past, resisting the present or grasping for the future. In such a life eternity is realized. To have is to close. To be is to open.
In Hebrew mysticism, exile is called Egypt – Mitzrayim. It literally means the place of narrowness, the place where your heart closes. When you close, you suffer. Eros is called by the mystics Merchavim, the wide place, the vast expanse, the place where you open. Lost in Egypt, in the narrow images of constructed reality, one never touches joy and never experiences rapture. Redemption is opening in love. There is really only one choice to make, to open and live or to close and die. Openness is presence. Closure is absence.
The Maggid of Mezritch, a Hassidic master, late in his life revised his earlier asceticism, teaching, "If you only feel the Shekhina in the arousal of your sex, then you are already dead. If the arousal of your sex ravishes you open to God, you are being born."
The lover in Psalms says to the God who is the All – in what for the Kabbalists is understood as a blatantly sexual moment – "Open for me your gates… I will enter them… I will moan your praise."
Let yourself open all the way and know that only then, in this radical openness and vulnerability, are you safe. In the erotic sexual we show up, we are present in ways we barely even imagine possible in our daily routines. Every gesture, every caress, every shiver of our body, every fleeting touch is invested with the infinite love and fullness of living presence.