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River 05-14-2009 06:52 PM

Sacred Sexuality & Sacred Relationships
In another thread in this forum [http://www.polyamory.com/forum/showthread.php?t=226], I recently said that I prefer to treat all sexual exploratoin and expression as "sacred". In this topic, I want to say more about what that means to me, and does not mean to me, at present.

First of all, the term "sacred sexuality" is not at all uncommon, though the terms mean different things to different people, according to whatever tradition or traditions of thought and belief they are inspired by. Many people using such a phrase are coming from a particular religious or spiritual tradition. Indeed, the word "sacred" sometimes has an off-putting feel to people who are not religious or who are atheists, etc. But it should be pointed out here that the term "sacred" also has a very secular or non-religious meaning, as well. The concept of "the sacred" needn't rely on any religious belief or affiliation--though it may.

The basic idea of "sacred" I have in mind doesn't rely on any theological or religious beliefs--though it may be called "spiritual," in some sense. (That's a whole topic in itself!) The Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionary defines "sacred", in item 2-B, as anything "entitled to reverence and respect."
And in 5-B, "highly valued and important <a sacred responsibility>"
( http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sacred ) The American Heritage Dictionary also has both religiously contextualized and non-religously contextualized usages of the term "sacred".: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/sacred

According to the American Heritage Dictionary, reverence is "a feeling or attitude of deep respect tinged with awe; veneration." http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/reverence

And "respect": http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/respect

So we begin to see that both religious and non-religious people use similar concepts, though they can also be very different. For some, an external "God," on high, above or beyond the world, decides what is sacred and informs us little people down here as to what that is. It's a very authoritarian sort of thing, with some big Sky Daddy passing down the law to us mere mortals and foolish children, and scolding us as He does it. This is NOT what I mean by "sacred" -- or even "holy". Holy means wholesome:

Following such a pattern of thought, you can begin to see what I mean by something being "spiritual". Spirit means breath. Who among us does not breathe?! What do we breath with? We breath together. To breathe together is the literal meaning of "conspiracy". Look it up!
( http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?...earchmode=none )

[L. spiritus "soul, courage, vigor, breath," related to spirare "to breathe," ]

So, when I say that sex is "sacred," I mean that it is appropriate to treat it with awe and respect, and not to treat it too lightly, as if it were not important. It is very important. Like fire, it can burn you (or another) or it can warm you. It is nothing to trifle with!
( http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/trifle )

Sex play can be light and lovely, and needn't always take place in long term committed relationships to be treated as sacred. But it should never be trifled with, because it will burn - or harm - those who don't give it the reverence it is due.

All of this can be understood in terms of somatic psychology, wherein it is well understood that to touch the body is to touch the soul/psyche. Who is touching if not a soul/psyche (soma)? Who is being touched?

Mark1npt 05-14-2009 09:26 PM

All excellent points, JRM......thanks for the research, links, etc.....guess this is why the thought of swinging never appealed to me......not that it's wrong, it just never seemed like it could be a fulfilling experience deep down for me. So unlike our poly relationship among 3 very good friends developed over more than 20 years. I really feel that it has helped my relationship with my wife by re-opening our lines of communication, our love and even our friendship lately.

I didn't realize how much even our friendship had deteriorated over the last 10years! Adding our good friend as a 3rd to our lives has added so much to my appreciation of the subtleties of life, of love and the deep connections we all share. I feel like I've come alive again but with a million new nerve endings to feel, and appreciate who and what I have. It's so hard to explain to my wife how the connexion with our 3rd has deepened my love and connexion with her also. It is truly mystic.....and I never really used to believe that "new age" lingo.....but it is so true.

River 05-14-2009 10:20 PM


Originally Posted by Mark1npt (Post 1047)
I feel like I've come alive again but with a million new nerve endings to feel, and appreciate who and what I have. It's so hard to explain to my wife how the connexion with our 3rd has deepened my love and connexion with her also. It is truly mystic.....and I never really used to believe that "new age" lingo.....but it is so true.

My partner of 12 years, Kevin, and I have also experienced happy improvements of our communication and tenderness and shared joy each of the times we've included others in our lives as intimates--however briefly (we'd have liked a more lasting connection, but we don't always get what we want). That's just not what monomamorists expect to see happening with us! They expect terrible dramas and horrible fights and struggles, etc.... But that's not how it's been going with us. Lots of others report similar experiences.

As for the term "mystic" ..., it's just about feeling more connected to "the universe," "being," existence," others..., and also a sort of trustful opening to life, joy, freedom.... We're all natural born mystics -- as children, until life starts batting us around in some way that shuts down our sensitivities..., or we allow it to do that to us. After all, we're young and inexperienced, and we don't know how else to respond to the traumas of life than to try to shut life out, dull ourselves down.... And now that we're older and wiser? We can open up again, only this time with the wisdom of an adult mind and heart to meet our openhearted "new age" "inner child".... Ha!;)

River 05-14-2009 10:39 PM

I'd like to invite others here to share their ideas and experiences concerning sacred sexuality. There are many traditions which have their own various discourses on the subject, be it tantra, neo-tantra, "body electric...", various taoist traditions, buddhist tantra, etc....

My own preference is not to adopt a religion or belief system about these things but to be willing to explore, experience, discuss... without falling into any single prescribed system or religion or guru, etc.... Also, although I have had powerful mystical experiences -- some involving sex --, I tend to be a pretty "grounded" rational and scientifically informed person. I can be quite skeptical in my open-mindedness -- which I think is fine.

I'll reach out to some other polyamory sites, etc., and let them know that we're discussing sacred sexuality in an open sort of way here, and invite participation.

If you have experience or knowledge you'd like to share, or just a perspective, we'd be happy to hear from you -- especially the hundreds of you who are "lurking".

Mark1npt 05-14-2009 10:58 PM

I'd venture to say that anything or anyone who touches you, connects to your inner soul, your core........is providing you with a mystic experience or "mystic input".......obviously, we have to be open and accepting of that message or input. I recognized immediately upon finding this site that those of you on here, have that advantage over the general population......and I'm ashamed to say, up til 6 months ago, over me, too. My growth, my ability to feel and absorb this "mystic input" has leapt into hyperdrive the last few months....maybe that's why my wife has commented on how happy I seem to be now. I'm reaching a level of peace and contentment I never knew existed. I guess, one could consider that "mystic", huh?

As for "sacred" that's another word all together......I'll have to explore my strict Catholic upbringing before commenting on that one! More to follow....

River 05-14-2009 11:17 PM


Originally Posted by Mark1npt (Post 1055)
I'm reaching a level of peace and contentment I never knew existed. I guess, one cold consider that "mystic", huh?

My two cents -- to be taken with at least a pinch of salt:

Different traditions and sources define or describe "mysticism" in differing ways, of course. Many traditions are theistic, and these divide in terms of whether the tradition is monotheistic, polytheistic, pantheistic or panentheistic--and there may be yet others(!). Personally, I lost interest in religion and theism long ago, and prefer to explore these things almost as a scientist would--without a lot of prejudgements about what it is I'm exploring in experience. Only, the scientist is looking for explanations and concepts, and I'm looking to evolve or grow in my capacity to have suchlike as peace, joy, freedom, happiness, ecstasy, generosity, kindness, compassion, wonder.... And some yet unnamed--especially those!

I'm not a theist. I'm a "naturalistic mystic". Nature, to me, is whole and undivided into categories like sacred/profane, holy/unholy, divine/earthly.... I'm also influenced a lot by buddhism, and especially zen, and also taoism -- both of which I interpret as non-dual and naturalistic mystical traditions.

There may be sciences of ecstacy, joy, freedom..., but they are very different sorts of sciences than the natural sciences such as physics, biology, chemistry, etc. Distinguishing myth and hearsay and anecdotal evidences and superstition from spiritual fact is very tricky! And, anyway, it isn't a "mystical" fact as an explanation. Mystics of every tradition almost always say, "you can't grasp this stuff with your intellect; you're going to have to cultivate the experience.":p


Final additional thought: I think most of what's going on in "mystical experiences" can be explained and understood in psychological terms--though I'd not use a Freudian analytical psychological theory to frame such explanations. We could just as easily explain feelings of mystical union with others, the world, nature, the cosmos..., the universe..., as a dropping away of ego defensiveness and a profound re-integration of a fragmented or alienated or dissociated self (or sub-selves) with itself and its environment. Most, or at least very many, people have recurrences of such experiences in their lives, leading to levels of joy, peace and happiness they never dreamed of in their contracted/defensive strategies and the like. Those defensive strategies usually get a strangle-hold on our energies and capacity for vulnerability and openness to experience and wonder.... When we begin to drop these, we bloom wildly. As Annie Dillard put it in her book, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek: "I had been my whole life a bell, and never knew it until at that moment I was lifted and struck."

Mark1npt 05-15-2009 03:33 AM

River......Your two cents are well taken. I know we tread some tender ground here when we wander onto anyone's religious turf. Coming from a real religious upbringing, raising a family with those values, I can say it's been nothing short of a "miracle" that I've taken these steps in to this lifestyle. In reality, I've been headed down this road for a long time. As a science major in college, and a medical professional for 30 years, my mind, my beliefs, my feelings have all drifted away from the traditional religious grounds revolving around "God" and toward a purely evolutionary all encompassing "Universe" of power, majesty, limitless energy and wonder......or maybe it's just an odd feeling I keep getting about there being a Mothership floating around "up there", lol,lol,lol.

In any event, my core beliefs now center around this life, right here, right now, the close immediate relationships/loves I have in my life and the inate feeling that I have that this is it. I no longer believe that there is a magic far away place up in the "heavens" where I'll go to see long dead relatives and live forever in air conditoned comfort drinking as many Margauritas as I want to, without ever getting a hangover!

I think we make our own heavens and hells right here, right now as we move through this life, living our lives. That's about what I've reduced the hereafter to, and my desire to share my life and love with two wonderful women, to make their lives more of a "heaven" here on Earth seems to be a gravitational force more powerful than any I've known before in my life. There is "mystism" in that for me. My personal life, combined with my professional life, my unique abilities to affect other peoples lives in a positive way through medicine, is in fact, my religion.

River 05-15-2009 03:40 AM

Lovingkindness is my religion. Yes... there's no need for past lives or future lives in that. Here we ARE! Now! THIS!

A moment in Heaven or a moment on Earth - - -, What's the difference?

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