Love, Sex, and the Way

All Christian writers insist that the spiritual love of the God-head is superior to the carnal love of the humanity, which serves as introduction and means to man's final end in unitive love-knowledge of the divine Ground; but all insist no less strongly that carnal love is a necessary introduction and an indispensable means.

Aldous Huxley - The Perennial Philosophy

"If I were to point to any part of my life as my most intensive practice, I would point to marriage. And that's been a quite conscious effort too."

Steven Michael - "No Enlightenment" (Article)

You see, the whole thing in marriage is the relationship and yielding - knowing the functions, knowing that each is playing a role in an organism. One of the things I have realized - is that marriage is not a love affair. A love affair has to do with immediate personal satisfaction. But marriage is an ordeal; it means yielding, time and again. That's why it's a sacrament: you give up your personal simplicity to participate in a relationship. And when you're giving, you're not giving to the other person: you are giving to the relationship. And if you realize that you are in the relationship just as another person is, then it becomes life building. A life fostering and enriching experience, not an impoverishment because you're giving to somebody else. Do you know what I mean?

Joseph Campbell - An Open Life

Both heterosexual and homosexual marriages, whether legalized by civil or religious ceremony or not, if they are to meet the human potential for development in the life of the Spirit, will be increasingly characterized by love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, fidelity, gentleness, and self-control. . . That form of sexual expression and union is best which effectively differentiates, for real union differentiates. Again that form of union is good which fosters and encourages the interiority and subjectivity of both, thus furthering individuation and a marriage of the masculine and the feminine components in each individual. Where differentiation and real interiority are present, more profound communion is possible, communion of which sexual intercourse is the sacrament, "outward and visible sign of the inward and spiritual grace". Clearly these values are furthered most by an exclusive relationship, and one in which the mutual commitment is abiding and unconditional.

John R. Youngblut - The Gentle Art of Spiritual Guidance


"God-consciousness is not sublimated sexuality; sexuality is repressed God-consciousness."

Since Washburn endorses what I believe is that same error (above), it is no surprise to find, ten years later, in Washburn's (1988) book: "Contrary to the Freudian position, then, according to which spirit is sublimated libido, the position that I am advancing is that libido is repressed spirit." The problem with that view is that it unmistakably means that enlightened beings can have no libido or no sex, which is silly. Some, indeed, are ascetic in relation to the gross plane in general; they restrain their use of money, food, and sex in their desire for disciplined awareness. But that hardly means that they could not genitally function, period. In my opinion, this is yet another example of the pre/trans fallacy - in this case, the lumping of pre-genital with trans-genital and then confusing the two. Contra Washburn (and my own earlier model), libido is not repressed spirit; libido is simply the lowest expression of spirit, but an expression nonetheless (which is precisely why Tantra uses sexuality to climb back to spirituality, which it could never do if the one were merely the repression of the other). In other words, sexuality and spirituality are not mutually exclusive or even incompatible, which they would have to be if one were simply the repression of the other.

Ken Wilber - Two Patterns of Transcendence

It has long been noted that the process of spiritual awakening and growth is associated with periods of rising sexual passion. In part this comes from the frank liberation of energy that accompanies lessening of attachments and release of psychological blocks. It is also connected with the awakening of ever deeper levels of love. Often these energies surface as passionate feelings that seem to be looking for an object. It is all well and good to say that their true object is God, but pilgrims who find themselves suddenly infused with passion may have difficulty seeing God as a sufficiently identifiable, immediate, and substantial object. Instead, they may seek outlets for these feelings in sexual relationships with other people. Sometimes the other person is the director. . . . .

Sexual feelings may also occur within the direction relationship as an outright substitute (displacement) for one's hunger for the Lord. Here again, the desire for losing oneself in God often finds expression in the safer, less demanding act of giving oneself to another person. While seeking spiritual fulfillment in erotic sexual relationships is an exceedingly common phenomenon because it preserves self-image, it is never finally satisfying because it always represents a side-tracking of one's primary longing. This is not to say that normal sexual relationships need to interfere with one's search for God. They can, under the proper circumstances and with the right attitudes, be ways of celebrating God. And they can certainly be avenues towards deeper appreciation of oneself and others. Finally, they can be simple, honest expressions of our graced human existence. But they must be recognized for what they are - interpersonal relationships and nothing more. When they become mixed up with more specifically spiritual aspirations, deep confusion can occur; celebrations of God's creation and searching for deeper relationship with God are not quite the same thing. . . . .

It seems to me that at our present place in history, the two most important dimensions of life to see through are psychology and sexuality. Both provide endless opportunities for reducing or eclipsing the reality of God for us as we delude ourselves into believing we see the Creator when we are really viewing the creation. They are so wonderful, so fundamentally good. Our individual and collective minds are an exceedingly rich resource for exploration of ourselves as God's creation. But while the mind is of God, it is not God in God's entirety. Sexuality offers us the closest possible experience to joining with another, and it reflects in broken but endlessly hopeful ways what God's inloveness with us might be like. But it is not the path to God.

Gerald May - Care of Mind Care of Spirit


Deception is almost impossible in sexual activity. This does not mean that deceptions are never attempted. Nevertheless, in lovemaking few people can successfully disguise how they feel about themselves or the way they relate to others. Sexual activity is the most truthful of all human activities. It is for that reason it is often exceedingly threatening and problematic.

There is both sadness and joy in any loving relationship, love and death are inseparable both in myth and human experience. It is through love that the individual fulfills his reproductive function and transcends his own morality.

Richard Rubenstein- Eros and Morality