Thursday, August 30, 2007
A good friend of mine who is, so to speak, "deep in the work," raised some fascinating questions about the nature of our work over the last few days. She ended up touching on a subject that is not discussed that often in the Gurdjieff work, that is, sex.
It's of note to me that in my extensive reading of Dogen, which now encompasses more than 1500 pages of text, I have yet to come across any discussions of sexuality. If Dogen's Buddhism has any weaknesses--and to me it appears there are few--one of them lies in its failure to mention, let alone come to grips with, this essential question in its theoretical structure. Christianity and Islam haven't done much better.
Why do we avoid the question? Eros is the biological expression of reproduction through union. For this level, it's entirely lawful, appropriate, and to be celebrated.
Man, however, was created to serve as a bridge to establish union between levels. So his reproductive potential extends all the way from the roots of the material world (atoms, molecules, minerals, proteins, cells) to the heavens (electromagnetic Being of a planetary or even solar nature). That is to say, the biological potential we express through sexuality is a mere fraction of what is actually possible for us.
If we come to it, we will understand our experience of the expression of that union as compassion-which has a distinctly vibratory nature, a resonance within the organism. Unfortunately this is quite difficult, because sex as it is, biological sex, misleads everyone.
Don't get me wrong; I like sex as much as the next person, and I think that sex is a good thing and a necessary thing. However, again and again we see that sex leads us into very difficult situations. Senator Larry Craig, who just got himself into terrible trouble over sex, is a good example of this. It seems evident he has deep-seated biological impulses that contradict his intellectual understandings. In the end, his impulses won out over a lifetime of investment in politics. Sex got the better of him, and it looks like it is going to cost him his career. If not more.
In order to understand this better, we need to see that under ordinary circumstances, the sex center routinely produces the highest energy available in the body (Gurdjieff called it Si 12). That means that sex center can do pretty much anything it wants, if it puts its mind to it. Larry Craig is just one sad example; few human beings get through a lifetime without abruptly discovering that sex has gotten them into trouble of one kind or another. In worst-case scenarios, such as AIDS, it kills them.
Mr. Gurdjieff's famous "struggle of five against one" can only be construed as masturbation in the crudest of interpretations. In refinement, we see it is ABOUT refinement, that is, the effort to prevent the other centers from being either parasitized or, conversely, flooded and overwhelmed, by sex center. Instead, the other five centers need to raise their own inner levels of vibration to the point where biological sex (si 12) does not dominate the organism, but assumes a more balanced role. And take note- it doesn't go away, which is what a lot of religions and teachings seem to wish it would do- by force, if necessary.
It becomes integrated.
The balancing of the centers and the consequent creation of the other two "highest" hydrogens (mi 12 and sol 12) brings with it the possibility of transforming sex energy, with its partner energies, into true compassion. And this was the gist of the conversation I had with my friend.
Real compassion arises from within the organism, not from within the intellect. Not even from within emotion. When I say that, what I mean is that real compassion is three centered, and springs from the union of the three highest hydrogens.
This force is transformational in nature. It is also irrevocable. If and when the body produces enough to promote a moment of true compassion, there is no other alternative. It cannot go in any other direction.
As we exchanged about this, my friend and I agreed that the most intimate moments of spiritual experience are not just intimate, they are sexual. They are, however, as she put it "trans-genital." The energy passes over into a realm, a rapture, that transcends simple physical experience. Hence the ecstasies of St. Teresa, whose union with God would have been obscene, were it not so pure.
Pretty technical stuff, I suppose, especially for those not versed in the intricacies of Gurdjieff's chemical factory.
All it means is that in the balance, we can rise above biological sex and open to the much greater forces of compassion and love.
At this point the seed of the divine implants itself in the soil of the body, and flowers grow.
Now go have fun!