Sexual Soul Quest

Wed. April 19, 2006
Categories: Dreams, Papers

 

Libido or life force depends on the dynamic of opposite forces, yet when people in the United States think of soul they do not necessarily think that they are divided into two parts, male and female.  It is my assumption that generally most people think there is a male soul that is distinct from a female soul, and they do not generally believe that the soul contains polar opposites. Perhaps I can find a path to holy union between the male and female inside of myself.

Thirty years ago I used to run the track at the high school football field and one day I was thinking about Jesus as I ran. Running wasn’t easy. I didn’t particularly enjoy it but I needed the exercise.  Maybe it was the clear blue sky along with deep breathing that elevated my thoughts because suddenly in my mind’s eye I saw a blue-bodied figure playing a flute. The idea occurred that I should follow the song being played on the flute, pacing my stride and my breath with the rhythm.  He was beautiful!  I had never imagined anything like this, nor heard of it.   Six years later I was at a Vedanta Center bookstore in the mountains of Montecito, California.  A friend suggested I might learn to meditate properly. I spied the blue-bodied flute player on the cover of a beautiful book surrounded by women who danced around him, entranced. I asked the nun to tell me who it represented.  She said Lord Krsna was the cowherder who stole the hearts of the Gopi women (away from their husbands). I bought the book. I felt Lord Krnsa was to the Hindu what Jesus was to me, and I felt that I was a Gopi. I imagined dancing before the blue-bodied Lord Krsna and sensed the strange paradox between feeling sexual and spiritual at the same time. I had moments where I felt that if there were a spirit of god, this spirit accepted my totality as a human being. I could praise this spirit with my body, please this spirit with graceful motion and surrender to romantic passion as an act of worship.  While daydreaming of love and self-abandonment as I danced before Krsna, I learned about Ramakrsna and Sarada Devi, turn of the century saints of India.  Ramakrsna surrendered to the feminine archetype of Kali as a goddess and experienced bliss.  He initiated his child-bride into spiritual practices and called her Holy Mother.  I never imagined them physically engaging in intercourse because they were “holy” people.  I sat in meditation before photographs of the male and female representations of the divine, yet the father and mother aspects were separate and I felt I had to pick one or the other to love most. The duality filled my mind and heart with conflict.

My practice of yoga over the years has informed my understanding of duality.  I am aware of the opposite sensations in my body:  cold and heat, strength and weakness, light and dark, and the actions of opposing muscles as well as tension and relaxation.  I have been working with my body for years to balance these opposites through physical exercises called asanas along with breath work.  The breath work helped particularly with balancing emotions.  My sympathies were with Marx, as well as Freud, because I understood life as conflict and struggle.

During this period I learned a technique that claimed to resolve conflict. I used it to deal with my emotional problems. I was taught to work at the level of my beliefs, first labeling my beliefs as only opinions and then consciously reversing my belief (opinion) to experience both sides of an issue.  As much as possible I tried to “feel into” these opposing beliefs to discover my experience of them as I amplified my sensations around the belief. I tried to be as non-symbolic and non-intellectual as possible. It was simply a visceral experience without words. Then I let go of my opinions and redefined my experiences of persons, objects, feelings or ideas by accepting them just as they appeared to be, surrendering all judgment by choosing to create no responses to the phenomenon until I felt peaceful.  I began to be conscious of how to counteract all sorts of conflicting experiences by feeling fully what is, and then consciously trying to feel the opposite of what is while expanding these opposing feelings until they eventually merged and I experienced release of the tension of opposition.  I don’t think this was repression, but it was not expression either.  I disassociated myself consciously from my beliefs in order to discreate them, in other words, to remove energy from them.

The reason I mention this is because of a recent experience (now twenty-six years later) of Amma, a modern day saint from India.  After deeply uncomfortable feelings around my sexuality and after the end of a relationship, I was experiencing separation and the feeling of loss that it brings.  Flipping through a magazine found during lunch at an Indian restaurant, I saw a picture of a pleasant Indian woman along with the invitation to see her that very night at a hotel near LAX.  I had never been “taken in” by traveling saints and gurus, but she seemed different.  I wanted to receive a spiritual blessing called ‘darshan’ through the wordless ‘spiritual hug’ she freely gives to whoever approaches her.  I sat and watched for hours as she hugged hundreds of people, watched closely the look at her eyes to see if she were genuine, observed the obvious happiness of the people flooding from their eyes, wondered it if was a cult and if I would get caught up in it.  I met nuns with whom I easily engaged in enjoyable conversations, and approached Amma hesitantly and fell into the prescribed hug posture with head resting on her right shoulder.  Although earlier in the evening I had felt peaceful excitement, at that moment I felt only my personal, individual sorrow like a child begging for attention.  I left expecting a miracle only to wake up the next morning in extreme pain, more emotional pain than I had experienced in a lifetime, the pain of being separated from Her, the pain that had driven me to consider suicide in the past, the unbearable existential pain of total separation.  I reached into my magic bag of tricks, remembering one I had paid two thousand dollars for…I embraced the pain, every inch of it, feeling more and more of it, unafraid to die, just kept pushing into it to explore every aspect of it.  I then merged this feeling with my impression of Her love for all of humanity.

I “popped” like popcorn in hot oil!  To my relief the pain resolved and I knew I was not alone or separate from Her, that I had somehow imagined the separation as real, that the union of these opposing feelings into a larger feeling of peace and love is possible, which leads me to believe now that I only imagine duality even while I continue to live in it!  This experience helped me to understand how the soul is divided, and that this division creates suffering.  What does this have to do with sexual soul?

Valentines Day, 2006 and I had no-one to wish me a Happy Valentine’s Day.  I went to the archetypes for understanding, having discussed these in our Jungian Psychology class.  I have had dreams of compassionate and yet unfamiliar male figures that I ascribe to my animus, but have never actively worked with my dreams other than to write them down and think about their meaning.  But this morning I was led to actively engage the anima and animus archetypes as sexual soul because of my research question.  I assume there is a soul within each of us and my bias is that it ultimately desires spiritual union with another being either consciously or unconsciously. My bias is that the divided soul feels separate and experiences pain very deeply, and this is not a good thing.  I have as a hidden agenda the desire for a spiritual exercise that would call down the archetype to merge with my instinctual desires in order to experience a state of mind where my desires are fully satisfied, in order to live in peace and experience wholeness.  A part of that agenda is to ease painful feelings of isolation or loneliness through a genuine experience of sexual soul and not through a belief that someone outside of myself can save my soul.

But perhaps there is no personal, individual soul.  I am assuming that other people feel as I do, that the way I have suffered is a universal condition when it probably is not. It could be my repressive middle-class family and my upbringing in the Christian church, or the culture of narcissism I live in and my independence.  Buddhists, for example, do not posit a soul but do put forth the idea of enlightenment, i.e., soul is not necessary for the experience of a final blessed state marked by the absence of desire or suffering.

The concepts of anima and animus as representative of a divided soul may only apply to the psychological aspects of an actual relationship between a particular man and a particular woman, but my bias is that the imaginative act of union between archetypes has correlates on the physical plane of existence.  I recognize that divided soul may not be a universal human condition, that there are most likely people who daily experience wholeness and peace and oneness in their relationships with spirit, people, and nature.  If this were true for me, there would be no need of any spiritual exercises other than to love, which seems difficult to do.

What is soul?  I feel, with every fiber of my body, mind, and spirit, that soul is intangible and exists like the matrix in which all of these disparate thoughts, feelings and emotions are embedded along with the bodily sensations of sight, touch, sound, hearing, and taste.  Who is to say that the soul is sexual?  Although Freud based his theories on libido and instinctual drives, he never said the soul was sexual. The exact nature of soul appears to mean different things to different people.  Jung wrote more about spirit and even marriage.   Is it possible to have a marriage without sexual soul?  Likewise, is it possible to have sexual soul without marriage?  Is there a marriage of opposites that we can achieve in our psychological work?  Why have I chosen this word marriage?  I have always avoided any serious discussion of it in all of my relationships.

The question lived with me until the early morning of February 14th, 2006.  I awoke with the image of a past lover’s face floating in my mind as if he still loved me. I was perplexed because I had thought he was lost to me because of willful stubborn beliefs on both of our parts. What was left for me to do but active imagination in the service of the anima and animus archetypes?  I must have been dreaming my research question.

The thought of my solitude on this Valentine’s Day passed briefly through my mind. My instinctual desires seemed to be calling for him, but I soon realized they might also be calling for the archetype.  Breathing gently, I took the image into my heart, remembering what he said about my being ‘Miss Potato’ (starchy and unfeeling).  I recall him chastising me for a lack of emotional feeling towards him as we were eating dinner at a restaurant after a long day’s work. He had imagined a romantic dinner, which was the farthest thing from my lusty appetite for steak and baked potato!  It hurt because it is true that I have a hard time feeling emotions and expressing them.  I am the girl who used to look up words that convey emotion in the dictionary in order to understand feelings.

That morning I tried to feel my feelings more and thought about my physical heart as I dropped the image of his face into my heart. I was surprised to feel warmth and a tingling sensation as I focused my breath and awareness on my heart.  I swear my heart pumped faster and glowed like an extraterrestrial (E.T.). I remember thinking to join myself as his anima archetype with the animus archetype that I contain. This active imagination did not involve any sexual imagery, it was as if words merged in my hypothalamus, but with those words came untold meanings.  Love expanded at the joining of these archetypes like waves of bliss further and further until I felt joy which I could only imagine was a union that was lovelier than anything I had ever experienced, with the exception of my spiritual experience after Amma’s hug, which represented the union of the mother-child.

My experience of the union of opposing male-female archetypes helps me to understand what marriage is meant to be.  I realize there could be varieties of sexual soul, but this represents sexual soul to me.  I carried this incredible feeling of joy all day, unaware of any division in my soul.  I had married the archetypes inside my heart, and loved their union and now worship it and can find peace at the remembrance of it.  My experience of religion thus far is that there is no ritual for symbolic sexual union between man and woman, the feminine being so absent in Christianity, Judaism and Islam.  Nevertheless, there are religions such as Hinduism that do espouse the union of the physical with the spiritual.

I continue to observe that the experience of union, either physical or metaphysical, does not last.  Even after experiences of sexual and/or spiritual union, we can re-experience the feeling of being separate and alone.  That leads me to wonder if separation is bound to be the human condition and if should be embraced for its own unique meaningfulness.  Ultimately, there may be no ritual or celebration of wholeness, unity, or sex that will alleviate suffering permanently, because suffering is meant to be a part of human existence that requires acceptance.  And somehow this acceptance is another path to wholeness, to be one with our suffering.

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