Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Does Sex Belong in a Book about Insanity?

In We Are All Innocent by Reason of Insanity I use my life to provide examples for various points I make, and this includes some discussion of sexuality. When I am illustrating my insanity, I discuss problems I have had with family, relationships, jobs, self-esteem, etc.; I also include some related to sex. When I describe the lessons I’ve learned—acceptance, humility, compassion, and love—I also include some lessons I learned about sex.
Some readers have criticized me for this inclusion. The sense I get from these people is it’s okay for me to talk about how insanity has impacted my life in every area except one: sex. Somehow that’s out-of-bounds in a book that’s not specifically about sex.
This is a book about insanity, both personal and cultural. If insanity doesn’t describe most cultures’ attitude towards sexuality, what does?
American culture has an incredibly puritanical attitude towards sex: it’s dirty, and it’s damaging to young people and other innocents, so just don’t talk about it. But I would counter that sexual problems are rampant in our culture, and a lot of the reason has to do with our cultural attitudes.
We Are All Innocent by Reason of Insanity argues that every society develops a “consensus reality,” which is a collective mind-generated reality (my definition of insanity is: confusing our mind-generated reality with actual reality). Our individual realities are constructed within the collective reality of our culture. The American (and almost every other nation’s) consensual reality includes the belief “sex is dirty,” and we all imbibe that belief with our mother’s milk. As a result almost everyone in our culture is crazy in the area of sex.
Sex is a natural function of our bodies, like eating, yet we get no guidance from our parents and teachers about it. We're taught how to eat with a fork, how to use the toilet, how to wash ourselves, how to spell and do math, and how to drive a car. But we're not taught anything about how to have sex—because it's dirty. We might have sex education in school, but that’s mostly educating us about the consequences of sex—pregnancy and disease. So almost everyone grows up conflicted, confused, and privately believing that he or she is a monster for the "sick" fantasies and desires in his/her mind. We're taught that sex is something you have to hide.
No wonder half of all marriages end in divorce, with sexual problems as a major cause. Studies have shown that 15 percent of married couples have not had sex in the last six months to a year (or more). No wonder that loads of people sneak around behind their spouse's back to have affairs or watch porn.  A hotel manager once told me that during his career, the highest percentage of guests watching X-rated in-room movies occurred during an evangelical convention—the guests were in a place where they thought they could watch porn in secret (not knowing their program selections were being notated)…and they did watch.
In the chapter entitled My Story, where I lay out some of the major issues in my life, I wrote: 
At one point in my life I read a lot of spiritual books, and always I would wait hopefully for some advice on how to see sex from a more enlightened perspective. It always seemed as if the author either ignored sex completely, or did a whitewash of the subject, as if they were as confused as I was.
I determined not to do this.
I have a vision of sexuality that I call "clean sex," which is sex freed of the beliefs and preconceptions we’ve been burdened with, pre-eminently including “sex is dirty.” Clean sex is like meditating while having sex, but in the nicest way—no thoughts getting in the way of feeling the exquisiteness of the sensations.
Sexual energy is always flowing, like all forms of life energy. You can open yourself to tap into that energy flow at any time, and if you stay open you can ride that sexual energy wave into places of bliss, without need for exotic tricks to keep you interested. I think of it this way: when I want to have sex I shift my awareness to tap into the sexual energy, then I get out on the leading edge and ride the wave wherever it goes. It’s all about staying right there on the edge of the wave, not thinking about anything, just moving with the flow of energy.
Here’s a chart illustrating some of the ideas: 
Clean Sex.................................Dirty Sex 
Present in body...................Absent in mind 
Spontaneous..........................Ritualistic (same combination of elements) 
No goal.......................................Orgasm-oriented 
Whole self oriented.............Genital or fetish-oriented 
Variations.................................Fixed theme 
Heightens unity....................Heightens separation 
 There are many benefits to recognizing our insanity, both personally and collectively. Chief among these benefits will be a new attitude towards sexuality.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Nouns are Delusional

A friend of mine recently said to me, “nouns are delusional.” When I asked him to elaborate, he said he was quoting a physicist, but couldn’t remember who. Basically the idea is that nouns presuppose a static, unchanging object. Modern physics has shown that everything is changing all the time and that matter is energy, so nouns should actually be verbs to bring in the dimension of time and change. Instead of Kathleen, I should be called “Kathleening.”
I spent a little time googling the idea and found that Buckminster Fuller described himself as a verb. He published a book in 1970 called I Seem to Be a Verb: Environment and Man’s Future in which he wrote: 
I live on Earth at present, and I don’t know what I am. I know that I am not a category. I am not a thing — a noun. I seem to be a verb, an evolutionary process — an integral function of the universe.
My friend’s comment resonated with me because I had just read about the philosophy of Alfred North Whitehead, which also emphasizes the need to bring the element of time into our understanding of matter. From Rupert Sheldrake’s Science Set Free:
Whitehead was probably the first philosopher to recognize the radical implications of quantum physics. He realized that the wave theory of matter destroyed the old idea of material bodies as essentially spatial, existing at points in time, but without any time within them. According to quantum physics, every primordial element of matter is ‘an organized system of vibratory streaming of energy.’ A wave does not exist in an instant, it takes time; its waves connect the past and the future. He thought of the physical world as made up not of material objects but actual entities or events. An event is a happening or a becoming. It has time within it. It is a process, not a thing.
Whitehead’s philosophy is known as “process philosophy,” and its ontology (the study of being) replaces Being with Becoming. Nouns are objects that exist (being). Verbs are processes that become.
This has made me realize that the conception of static, unchanging objects is just another part of our delusional mind-generated reality. When I think of objects, I think of them as unchanging entities; change might happen but that doesn’t alter the essence of the object. For example, my car: I think of it as a wondrous mechanical device composed of an engine, transmission, wheels, and the body that I sit in (among other parts). Those things are the essence of the object “car.” When I think of it out there in my driveway, I think of a completely static and unchanging object. When a sparkplug gets clogged, or the transmission goes out, I think that something broke, and when it is fixed it goes back to normal. “Fixing” implies getting it back to its “fixed,” static object state.
What if instead I visualized my car as a verb, as a changing stream of processes? It’s actually instantly clear to me that this is a much better way to look at the car—what it is today is the sum of ten years of existence, of driving and sitting, all the dings on the doors and sludge in the transmission, and it will be different this afternoon after I drive to the Y.
I have always loved to look at trees in the winter, and this idea of “nouns should be verbs” is the reason why—without the leaves you can see the history of an individual tree written in the shape of its limbs. But now I realize that I was still seeing the tree as a static object, frozen in a moment in time, and not as a flowing movement of process in time.
When I apply this concept to myself it’s liberating. I’m not stuck as some unchanging “me,” I am a constantly evolving Becoming. I’m a work in progress.