What’s happening here?

Oceans are rising. Shorelines are crumbling. Trees are burning. Bridges are buckling. Bees are collapsing. All while human beings are still building commercial and data empires. Electrons are spinning. Gluons and Muons are emerging more quickly than the blink of an eye and disappearing again. Protons are continuously jumping from atom to atom.

It is not so hard to see, wherever you look, that so many different kinds of things are happening. Some of them happen very quickly like the blinking of your eye. Some of them take much longer like the orbiting of the earth around the sun. Some of them seem to go on and on forever, while some are over in a flash.

Somewhere in between there is you. Here now and soon to be gone. In the meantime you are always doing things, fidgeting with things, adjusting the world. Pushing a little here, pulling a little there. Organism exchanging with environment. Citizen participating in society.

Of course, some of it you can’t help. Circumstance, or your nature, demands it. You can’t go too long without drinking, eating, sleeping. Yet you don’t always drink the same thing, eat the same thing, sleep in your own bed. You are always making choices. 

Some of these choices are automatic. They come from your autonomic nervous system. Some of them are made reluctantly. You don’t really want to do it, but you know you must. Most of the ones you know about are probably voluntary. You consider your options and their implications and you choose. Then the consequences start to flow in. Not always what you planned and hoped for.

What is it that differentiates a human being, or a tiger or even a grasshopper from a mountain or a tree or the wind. A scientist or philosopher might say that the difference is ‘agency’. Animals can take action, move about, even learn and communicate. The rest of the natural world can not move and learn new behaviour even if some of them can communicate: trees for example.

If you look around, you see ‘agents’ everywhere. A cat is an agent by that definition. You know that if you leave some chicken cooking on the stove the cat’s gonna go for it. This is agency. The stove is not gonna start trying to lick the chicken, the stove has no agency.

So if we look around us, we see the world is changing. There are more people, there are more cars. There are other deeper, more structural changes going on too. Weather is becoming less stable: hurricanes and earthquakes, tsunamis and droughts are on the rise. These changes are not direct expressions of agency, although they may well be the consequence of it.

I think it’s not hard for anyone, not only a scientist, philosopher, barrister or judge, to know that everything is not always as it appears. What is apparently happening is not necessarily what is actually happening.

What is apparently happening is that independent objects are interacting through discrete actions. Discrete actions means particular actions, specific action. This action not that action. Human beings talk to each other, make love, kill each other, build empires, destroy continents, change the balance of the planet. So this is what is apparently happening. Independent objects includes cats, bees, amoeba, wolves. It also means mountains, clouds, rivers, oceans.

Sometimes the cat jumps onto the stove when you are cooking chicken and steals your dinner. Now this isn’t what is actually happening. The cat is jumping towards a smell and a sound, it doesn’t know anything about dinner, nor who that chicken is for.  For you what is actually happening is that your mind is intepreting neurological stimuli. In this case it is interpreting physical phenomena, mainly the flow of photons against your retina.

When you’re in the kitchen cooking chicken, and you see the cat you need to be aware of that cat. If not the cat will get the chicken. It is usual to think that that cat is inhabiting the same reality as you, but it isn’t exactly. I imagine that it it it has no interest in the fine colours on you shirt and the contrast between the badge and the rest of the pocket. Those kinds of subtleties may not even exist for the cat, in the cat’s reality.

There is a couple walking down the Champs-Élysées.  They are looking at those incredible shops full of those incredible clothes and shoes. Whereas Jose Luis is tired, and hungry, he is rejecting McDonald’s, and Häagan-Dazs looking for a little nice bistro. He doesn’t even notice the shoe shops while Juliette didn’t notice Häagan-Dazs. She is looking at those heels and buckles.

What is apparently happening is not quite the same thing as what is actually happening. While one street is actually being walked down, two different streets are being experienced. When it comes to human experience, what is apparently happening is an interpretation in and of the nervous system. What is actually happening is that minds, nervous systems, connective tissue systems are interpreting.

So what is apparently happening is that independent objects are interacting through discrete actions by way of the very simple dynamic, of cause and effect, If a boulder has a mass above a certain amount and lands on a human being it’s gonna crush that human being. That’s a matter of cause and effect. Even the boulder coming down the mountain is a matter of cause and effect. The human being asleep on the beach is a matter of cause and effect.

There seems to be no escape from cause and effect, and certainly there isn’t within what is apparently happening. But what about within what is actually happening, if what is actually happening is the interpretation of neurological stimuli by what we call mind. You can still see cause and effect there, the effect being the interpretation, is caused by the nature and experience of the nervous system.

We live in a world of interpretation. It is a real world, but reality is an interpretation generated and determined in its perameters and possibilities by the nature and constraints of the perceiving instrument. In our case the human nervous system. Generated as it is by our DNA our nervous systems are more or less identical, although each one is unique.

So it is that we can function together as we experience gravity, time and wind in similar ways. Yet at the same time we experience the same things in subtly different ways because of our different genetics, history and experience. These subtle differences are where the game is. It is the differences between us that make life challenging, interesting. If we were all exactly the same it would get very boring.

There is a deeper level. Underneath our individualised, collective interpretations is what is being interpreted. Just as beneath what is apparently happening is what is actually happening, beneath what is actually happening is what actually is. What is apparently happening is one thing: a butterfly is passing by. What is actually happening is that your nervous system is interpreting the contact of refracted photons with your retina. But, what are these photons. What is it that is being interpreted through all of our many senses?

You may know that some very smart people have worked out that statistically speaking it is more likely than anything else that we are just part of a computer programme.  It is very easy to be intimidated by statistics. For example, everyone knows that human life expectancy is higher now than it was in the past. How is this known? Through statistics. What is not so commonly known is that this does not mean that we live much longer than our great grandparents, or theirs. It just means that less babies and children die. The expected life span for humans in Biblical times was not forty five. It was “three score and ten”. That’s seventy for those of you who can’t speak Olde English. So don’t be intimidated by statistics

Nevertheless, maybe we are a hologram. So what. You still want to be happy. You still don’t want to destroy the planet. You still want to learn to be nice to your neighbours, even if you are a hologram. So if what is actually happening is that we are generating synchronous interpretations of something unidentified, we are all trying to be happy within those interpretations.

However, maybe that something can be identified. They reckoned they identified it in India long ago. I reckon that i have identified it too. Please don’t take my word for it though. Nor anyone else’s. Find out for yourself. Become as intimate as possible with your own presence.

Within that intimacy a few very significant things will become clear. First is you will start to experience the interpretative dynamics of cognitive intelligence at work. You will see all the nested layers of interpretation underlying your concrete experience. Eventually you will arrive at the intelligence of consciousness upon which it all depends.

Then you will have hit the source, the juice that drives it all. Not only your interpretations, but also what it is you are interpreting. All you need to do is go down deep often enough for the uncertainty to reveal its inherent luminosity. Within that luminosity all will become clear. Don’t take my word for it. Don’t take anyone’s word for it. Check it out for yourself.

EMBODIED RESILIENCE

What makes Embodied Resilience a possibility  (2020 Embodied Resilience Immersion – GD talk)

There are two fundamental factors that make Embodied Resilience possible. Where Resilience is the ability to absorb and assimilate difficulty without being overwhelmed.  And Embodied means it’s actually functioning for you,    not just something you are hoping for, dreaming about, talking about, thinking about.

Embodied Resilience doesn’t mean you never feel unsafe, that you never feel threatened, that you never feel helpless, but just that doesn’t overwhelm you. That those experiences don’t determine the nature of your behaviour: so that your behaviour is as much as possible an expression of your deeper nature and its invulnerabilities, rather than of your biological and social natures and their vulnerabilities.  Vulnerabilities which you can never escape from.

The first fundamental factor that allows Embodied Resilience is your nature.  Not your wealth, not your knowledge, not your skills, but your nature as a spiritual being. Yes you are a biological being. Yes in your biological nature you are a sophisticated organisation of vulnerabilities. But in your spiritual nature you are an expression of invulnerability.  Now this is something we can think about, talk about, argue about, justify, explain and rationalise for or against, or it is something we can experience.

So that first factor that makes Embodied Resilience possible is the invulnerability of your spiritual nature. This is actually the context within which the vulnerabilities of your biological nature and its social expressions express themselves so loudly. So loudly perhaps that you don’t even realise that you have a spiritual nature.  Perhaps you have been convinced by all of those people who think they know better that you, that you are nothing but a biological being. That therefore you are nothing but extremely vulnerable and it would be foolish to ever feel safe.

However you can experience for yourself that there is more to you than body and mind. You can even experience for yourself that this more, that you can most directly experience as awareness, is not a serendipitous extension or expression of your biology. That it is far more fundamental and therefore potent than that. 

This you can experience. 

But how can you do that?  It is the how you can experience the invulnerability of your spiritual nature that brings us to the second fundamental factor that permits Embodied Resilience to be possible,  and that is a willingness to feel

All of us without exception have been hurt by life, by others and not least by those that we loved and that loved us. This can be quite disturbing: to have such a long history as we all do of pain.  And it can disturb us to a point where we can, even if only subconsciously, decide that it’s better to not feel anything so that I don’t have to keep feeling pain.

Without a willingness to feel Embodied Resilience is not possible. Then it’s only an idea, a fantasy, a dream. It is at best an irrelevance and at worst a hindrance: just a seductive concept that bothers you as you try to find out how to get it. 

However the source of Embodied Resilience is your nature, and it’s already present. Accessing the invulnerability that is the source of Embodied Resilience depends upon your willingness to feel. This of course includes a willingness to feel tension, discomfort, pain. Not to indulge them but to become intimate with them. 

So how do we become intimate with pain, how do we become intimate with pleasure?  Well the answer is very simple: by feeling the sensations rather than getting caught in the conceptual elaborations of their imaginable implications.  You know how you feel unwelcome, unpleasant sensations in your body sometimes and you end up saying: “I’m all alone, nobody loves me, nobody cares about me”, in response to those sensations.  Your mind has run away with itself into its imaginative elaborations.

What this really means is that the possibility of Embodied Resilience depends both on your nature as a spiritual being, and on your willingness to feel.

However, what connects the two together is feeling as deeply and intimately as possible the sensations being generated by your body.

Most people participating in this immersion lived in a world where people spend a long time being educated in school, including university. Even if your were studying dance or communications or music technology the education to which we are all subject is very cerebral, conceptual, academic.   We live in this culture that over emphasises the significance of the mind.  A culture within which nobody realises that almost all of the problems we face in the 21st century have come from the mind: not least its attempts to solve other problems that it already created. 

Within that culture and its assumptions, especially its assumptions about intelligence and happiness, it would be considered ludicrous to suggest that feeling sensations could be in any way important, could be anything more than an indulgence.

Yet it is. 

You may think that you agree with what I’m saying. It’s very possible that you think that you do. However, if you do, that agreement exists only in the your conscious mind.  It does not exist in your subconscious. Therefore it will not express itself into your behaviour. You will still think that if you want to be resilient, if you want to be ok, if you want to be happy,  you have to work out with your mind how to do that.  You have to work out whom to listen to, what to understand, what to be able to explain to yourself.  Down that road there is nothing but insecurity.

Embodied Resilience depends not just on your willingness to feel, but your readiness to put it into action by way of sensations. You must get down and dirty with the sensations being generated by your body. So that within that you are brought deeply into contact with your nature as a spiritual being. As that contact deepens and stabilises the invulnerability and wisdom of your spiritual nature will begin to express themselves into your life. You will no longer need to rely on your mind to bring you home. You will find yourself already home.

SEX AND CONSCIOUSNESS part two

Hello again Natalia here we are. You want to carry on our conversation I believe.

 Yes I do. So I wanted to carry on with love, sex, intimacy and consciousness. And the last bit of our previous conversation was very clarifying to me when we were talking about intimacy related with sex. But I would like to ask you how would you define love, how would you define sex, how would you define intimacy if I can put it that way.

 Ahh yes that’s easy. Sex is love looking for itself and intimacy is love finding itself. Of course that needs a little qualification or elaboration because we all know that sex very often doesn’t end up with love. It ends up with conflict, misunderstanding, exploitation whatever. I’m not actually defining circumstance. I’m speaking more about the nature of sex, the nature of love, the nature of the intimacy. To me that’s really undeniable that sex as a natural force is love looking for itself. Love doesn’t usually find itself through sex because of cultural, social forces, but that doesn’t change the basic fact that sex is not something destructive or evil or bad. It’s an expression of love. But intimacy is when love finds itself with or without sex. That’s how I would put them all together. Sex is love looking for itself, intimacy is love finding itself. But that really doesn’t define them.

So in the terms of our conversation, sex to me is the whole domain that arises out of the fact that human beings and other mammals and forms of life can’t propagate their genetic information without another member of the species that is opposite:  sexually opposite. So what this means is that we as human beings are biologically inadequate to the purpose of genetic continuation. Because we can’t propagate genetic information without another person of the opposite gender to mate with. So in terms of the evolutionary drive of genetic propagation we are biologically inadequate. We are inadequate. And I think it’s very important to acknowledge that. Individually, we are inadequate. It’s really important to recognise that. Especially if you are seduced by or interested in spiritual ideologies. Because spiritual ideologies more often than not claim or imply that sex is irrelevant, sex is not important. Your sexuality is some kind of aberration and only to be dealt with either by side stepping, repressing, controlling, sublimating or whatever. This to my mind completely overlooks the very simple and undeniable fact that we are biologically inadequate. That means on a biological level we are always looking for what would complete our genetic propagation possibility. Which is a fertile partner. This is not a neurosis. This is not an expression of insecurity. This is not an expression of an inability to love yourself. This is an expression of biological inadequacy.

 So to me sex is everything that comes out of that. Not just copulation. Not even just sexual interaction whether it be kissing, petting, whatever but the whole dynamic of tribal social life . The whole game, the whole dance that comes out of biological inadequacy where in, for example, the female member of the species has a uterus. Then that uterus gets filled. Then this has many implications for her and what she can do. At a certain point, approaching nine months there are certain things she just can’t do. So that means a historical division of labour between the sexes was necessary, however distorted, manipulative it may have become over time. There were certain things that women couldn’t do at certain points because of that. And that’s sex. Therefor you could say that whole tragic travesty of patriarchy is sex. It’s about sex. It’s arising from sex. It’s arriving from this biological inadequacy that cannot be fruitfully denied. So sex to me is a massive thing in that sense. Sex is children. You look at a children you are seeing sex. The children equals sex. Children are the fruit of your sexual activity then that’s life is sex. So it’s big.

 Yes but then where does it leave all the other part that’s not have to do with either having children continue the species let’s say or this biological inadequacy that we have.

 I don’t understand the question.

 So apart from that where does sex come from would you say. Apart from its biological purpose, doesn’t sex serve as a very direct door to the depths of consciousness?

Well I think that’s a bit jumping at a head of the game a little bit. Because right now I was just talking about sex because you ask me to define sex, love and intimacy. So I’m defining sex in that simple sense from our biological inadequacy from which the whole game of human activity is shaped. Because of that biological inadequacy. So sex is a big thing. It’s not just what people do with the lights out.

 Then love this is where we could be going towards the word consciousness with the word love. So I say go towards consciousness but I don’t say we are going away from sex because I’ve already said that sex is love looking for itself. But to define love that’s a big one. It’s bigger than sex in a way because it’s less concrete it’s much more allusive and not so easy to define. You could just say things about it and they make sense or not. You can define the nature of water more or less it’s chemical properties etc. Everybody I’m sure knows there is such a thing as love. But I doubt you can get even two people who totally agree on what it is, on what it means and how it functions.

So I’m not trying to be definitive. But i will speak about love in a way that I can relate it to what I just said about sex and intimacy, and of course to consciousness. So I’d like to start with the love of a parent to a child because that’s a little bit more consistent than love between adults. Romantic love, sexual love falls apart very quickly. It can also happen between parents and children. But usually a parent loves a child automatically. It’s automatic. If you want to say that the child loves a parent back it’s a little bit more tricky I think. But you know a mother wakes up five, six times a night day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year getting exhausted and maybe thinking I wish this wasn’t happening, but never resenting the child. Never thinking – maybe occasionally having bad moments-but you know but not basically thinking I wish this person wasn’t here. Because the love is really really strong.

 So I think if we look at that love relationship rather than a man/woman, man/man, woman/woman sexual romantic relationship we can get a better grip on what love might be. To me the essence of love is giving. But it’s giving not giving in order to get: not exchanging, just just giving. You can say that a mother is also getting, but she is not asking for anything, she is not demanding anything. She is not going to say “If you don’t I won’t.” She just does it. And I don’t mean to say that that kind of giving can’t come from the fathers. It’s just really obvious with the mother. You know I’m a father and I’ve slept through all of that. Really I’ve slept through all of it. And so I have no direct experience of the relentlessness of that love despite all of that difficult stuff. To me the essence of love is giving, genuine giving. This has two elements: a willingness to give, and a need to give. They are not mutually exclusive. So for now that’s what I am going to say about love: it’s giving.

 Intimacy is tricky to encapsulate. To me intimacy is possible with another, it’s possible with yourself, it’s possible with the world. It’s possible to be intimate with sunlight, it’s possible to be intimate with water. So that’s how I see it. Of course my seeing is deeply influenced by being a yoga teacher. And I would say that the essence of my teaching is about intimacy. Becoming intimate with your body, becoming intimate with your joints, becoming intimate with your breathing, becoming intimate with sensations. So what do I actually mean in all of those cases, or if I was being intimate with you. Really being intimate with you, as opposed to having a little chat with you. It would mean the dissolution of barriers. The dissolution of boundaries. So to me intimacy is about closeness. Now of course there is  a spectrum to closeness just like there is a spectrum to love. So you can be very close, a little close, moving away, moving towards. At a certain point in moving away I would say  “Well there is no more intimacy.” I think we all know this in love relationships that begin more or less with intimacy. Even if that intimacy increases for a while very often many people would say “Yes but I have fallen out of love.” Very often that involves distance. Going away from that closeness and as well as no longer being willing to give. The essence of intimacy is a particular kind of closeness where the distinction between the two, or the subject and the object, or the lover and the beloved, is no longer clear. There is a mingling. So if you take sexual intimacy sometimes you don’t know who it is. Is it you? Is it them? Is it me?  Is it her? You know it’s not really clear. So within that closeness there is a blurring of boundaries.

 That’s intimacy: blurring closeness. Love is the willingness, the need to give and sex is life. Now that’s not to say that sex is bigger than love at all. We can quantify things in different ways. But connecting all these to consciousness is not so easy but it can be done and most simply in being intimate with your own presence. Which requires that you feel completely safe and that you are unconcerned about anything going on around you or even within your body. If you settle deeply enough into your own presence love will be there, love will be present. You will find love. Not love for, not love of, but just love. It could be called love without an object or it could be called unconditional love. It could be called love without a cause. Love just is. And as far as i know from the people that i know, this seems to be the case for anybody that becomes intimate with their own presence.

 Those people that don’t arrive at this unconditional love without an object seem to be those people who can’t or won’t go deep enough into themselves because they are afraid to. Very often it seems that is a result of what I would call very loosely trauma. Now I don’t necessarily mean that they’ve been subject to acts of violence of some kind. We can be traumatised much more subtly in other ways than a catastrophic one-off event. Using  the word trauma would mean that we’ve been wounded in such a way that we’ve closed up. To the extent that it has happened inside a human being they can’t become intimate with their own presence. Intimate enough to arrive at the love, peace and joy.

 So if we become intimate with ourselves what does that mean? That means we get closer to the fullness of our own presence. That means we get close to what? What is present? Body is present we know that. Mind is present: thinking is going on, cognition is present. Concepts are functioning, perception is taking place. You could argue it is the body. Argue it as much as you like, but in our language we separate, we distinguish between body and mind. So I am doing it. So you encounter and you recognise the presence of your body, its parts and activities. Much more subtle but still functioning and expressing itself, you encounter the presence of your mind. You can’t actually experience your body without your mind saying “That’s my body, that’s my toe, that’s pain, that’s pleasure.” So mind is always there. So intimacy with your own presence includes intimacy with your body and intimacy with mind. But these are only verbal and experiential distinctions, not definitive ones. 

So, what else is present in our experience of our body? When we are aware of our mind  we are aware of its thoughts. When we are aware of our body we are aware of its sensations. So here is the third aspect of human experience or human presence. There is the body physical aspect, the somatic aspect. There is the mind, the cognitive conceptual aspect. Then there is awareness, which is consciousness, which I would call it the spiritual aspect. So if we become intimate with our own presence and experience love, peace and joy, then the question arises: “what is that love, peace and joy; what is it an expression of?”. Mind is insatiably curious. It is going to wonder, to ask: “What is that? Is that my kneecap? Is that my mitochondria? Do mitochondria feel like love? Or is that my DNA? Does my DNA feel like peace? Or are we feeling consciousness?”

That’s what I think. I don’t think that because I want to think that. I don’t think that because I have this ideas as a yoga teacher that everything must be consciousness. I didn’t used to think like this. When I used to hear people say “Consciousness is all there is.” I used to think “Well that’s stupid.” Somebody once asked me “Godfrey are you saying consciousness is all there is?”  I replied: “No I’m definitely not saying that consciousness all there is.” She said “Why not?” And I said “Because that’s unverifiable.” And in my role as a teacher I have no right to say anything that is unverifiable. And she wasn’t stupid so she said “But do you think that consciousness all there is?” I said: “My answer is the same.” I’m not going to assert something that I think is unverifiable.  If she were here now she would have to say “Why are you saying it now then Godfrey?” and I would say “Because now I think it’s verifiable.” I’m absolutely sure it’s verifiable. To my own satisfaction I’ve verified it and not just within my own experience, but  also in research feedback with other researchers, meditators, yoga practitioners.

 So the generosity a mother and father have for a child is love.The passion between lovers can be love. The love that you can experience by being intimate with your own presence is something else, but it is also love. They are bound up with each other. The love that a parent has for a child is in a way a sexual love. Not that it involves sexual desire for the child, but the child came from sex. And so in that sense it’s a sexual love. It’s a love that arises out of that biological inadequacy. And it’s necessary. That’s part of the propagation of genetic information. Because the love is  giving. And the giving creates the protection that the child needs. So even though that’s a wonderful and admirable love between a parent and a child it’s necessitated biologically. In a sense it’s nothing to be proud of. Any love is nothing to be proud of. It’s a wonderful, amazing, admirable thing from the outside. From the inside you are not doing anything it’s just there. You can’t help it. This other love that you can experience within your own presence by way of intimacy, the unconditional love without an object: well that’s nothing to be proud of either.

 What about the love between lovers?

 Well a friend of mine said to me the other day “When two people fall in love it’s just consciousness finding itself.” She was just kind of exploring, she was not really meaning to be definitive. Then she said “The trouble is then personal reality comes in. Slowly but surely you discover things about the person that you can’t handle and you fall out of love. These personal things have nothing to do with consciousness.”  So anyway that was her thing.

 Voluntary love between consenting adults, is different to the genetic, necessitated love like between parents and children or siblings. Voluntary love, voluntary consensual love can embody different frequencies of love. If a man and a woman fall in love it’s not necessarily only sexual. It’s not only coming from biology. I don’t necessarily think that’s the case. I’m sure it’s not the case. I think that love between two adult, consenting individuals that works, works because it accesses the unconditional love without an object. It expresses that deeper love more than it does the sexual love that arises from biological inadequacy. I’m sure there are many couples who have been together 30, 40, 50 years who haven’t had sex in a long time and they love each other. They are there, they are giving, they are happy. So I think that a successful relationship – a successful meaning that doesn’t end up in tears – love relationship has to have that at its core. If two people come together just out of biological necessity or emotional need and the love that they mostly deeply are, that unconditional love without an object, doesn’t rise up into that somehow, I’m sure it’s going to end up in tears. One way or another. That’s not to say the other can’t end in tears too.

But our culture is in ignorance of this love that we deeply are. This unconditional love without an object. So it can’t be taken into account. So all that’s usually taken into account is whether or not you are getting what you want. Not the giving, not the real giving. I don’t mean to say that it’s wrong to want or to get. Because love is giving, then if giving is not the strongest frequency in it then sooner or later you are going to end up disappointed, judging your partner as inadequate. It’s not that they are being more inadequate than you are: we are all inadequate biologically. And if we are not relating to each other from that deep love of our nature, which is an expression of consciousness, than our love relationships are tricky. Really tricky.

Would you say that three things are the expressions of the same one? Love, intimacy and sex.

What I said in the beginning “Sex is love looking for itself and intimacy is love finding itself.” They are all in that diamond. That’s consciousness, but consciousness is bigger than that. Sex, love and intimacy are phases in the dance of being human which takes place within our biological inadequacy. Because being human takes place within a biological inadequacy we are always looking for something. And even if we can find the love that we are within ourselves, and even if that provides as it does deep nourishment and satisfaction, it doesn’t stop us being biological beings. It does not stop us needing oxygen, water, protein, carbohydrate, minerals and vitamins and other people.

Sometimes we feel satisfied within ourselves and we are not looking for love. We are not feeling inadequate, but then somebody comes into our lives and boom. We are there. In the love, totally committed to it. So we may not be overtly looking but if it comes, if it’s offered, something inside of us is going to say yes unless our conditioning is Tibetan Buddhist monk conditioning, or something to whichthose kinds of feelings don’t make any sense.

 So Godfrey yesterday in our conversation you were saying that you were most interested in consciousness and sex and how does this bring you to love.

 OK what I said was that the link between consciousness and sex is that for me they both point to love. If I go back to that phrase “Sex is love looking for itself.” I understand very well that most sex is not loving. I understand that. But that’s not my point. My point is that actually biologically it’s a movement of love. And its fruit is a child and a love of children. So sex is love looking for itself and intimacy comes into this because I find it impossible to imagine that anybody can be intimately sexual with somebody else without loving them. Without falling into love, without experiencing love. That’s my experience. I’m not referring to the need to own, possess, control, dominate, live with that person. I’m talking about the joyful willingness to give. The openness and the vulnerability that are an experience of love. I think that comes from the  the intimacy rather than from the sex: if you can divide them. So it’s not the pleasure it’s not the copulating, it’s not the things that people are doing to each other. It’s more the attitude within which that happens that allows them to open to each other and really feel each other.That intimacy within sex leads to love. Not romantic love, but something deeper. That’s my experience and my understanding.

 I’m not saying it always does. I’m actually saying usually it doesn’t. But we are talking about intrinsically. The reason that intimate sex leads to an experience of love is because within that intimacy there is an opening to your deeper nature which is love. But there is another person there and in my understanding and experience if you are genuinely being intimate with another person then they are being intimate too. If they are closed you can’t have intimacy with them. So what that means is that within the intimacy that’s very easy, even if rare, to access within sexual activity two people are being precipitated, without meaning to, without having a concept about it, into the deeper love that they are. Then it gets amplified through that mirroring. So that it intensifies and then it’s like “Ahhh!!!!!!!.” You are falling into something, whereas when you’re meditating you just kind of drift slowly down into it. And so while meditating as you go deeper and deeper into your own nature and the presence of consciousness and the presence of love you are getting used to it as you go down. But in the sexual activity you are precipitated into it and at the same time as being precipitated into it,  there is a mirroring and an amplifying coming from the intimacy with another person being intimate with you. It’s like a hall of mirrors reflecting each other into infinity.

 Because we don’t have a vocabulary for consciousness and its properties, such as love, and we think the only kind of love is either for parents or romantic sexual love then we come out of this deep sexual experience saying “I’ve fallen in love with this person.” Whereas actually you’ve fallen into the love that you are.I asked somebody recently “How is your love relationship going?” and she said “Ohh I’m in love but I don’t think it’s with him.” Now she didn’t mean she was in love with with somebody else. She knew she was in the love. And he was in the love with her. But it wasn’t really about the specifics, the particularities of who he is.

 I was going to say if you are saying if you arrive at the same place meditating and with this and when you are in this sexual encounter the one goes slowly and the other one takes you right there. Would you say that you arrive to the same place?

 Not really.  You can use the image of an ocean. Love is an ocean, but there are different ways to get into the ocean. You can get into a river and swim down it and slowly come in to the ocean  and swim out to the centre, or you can fly across and just jump in. But if you jump into the ocean you are going to have a different experience of the ocean then if you swim into it. So you are in the same place but it’s a totally different experience. Because it’s a totally different experience it has different implications. So the answer is yes and no. Same and different. It’s not that you’ve gone to a different love. It’s not that you’ve gone to a different place but you’ve accessed in a different way so you experience in a different way so it has different implications and so it has different effects. But they are all good. Sometimes you have these intense openings in a sexual encounter with somebody and you are just desperate to see them again you think you’ve fallen in love and they haven’t. You can’t have those problems meditating yes you can have problems there. You can have the problem of not wanting to stop meditating.   Not wanting to leave the love, not wanting to leave the peace.The gift of experiencing love always seems to be potentially tricky. Just because we are also biological beings and we need to survive and we need to take measures to make sure that we can. Otherwise we can’t love, if we don’t survive.

 My question came more from the experience of arriving at a point where there are no boundaries any more.

 With somebody else you mean?

 With somebody or in those situations you were talking about.  

For me there is another thing. Using the terminology of non-duality and duality. When you slip into the love that you are alone and meditating it is usually a calm and a quite and nourishing experience. When you enter the love that you are  through mirroring and amplification with another, it is also about the personality, history or circumstance. It’s to do with our nature and our personality. In the sexual let’s immersion in love the two are there. So even if there is kind of a merging, blending, you know who you are merging with. So there is a duality and a non-duality. Whereas when meditating it can become totally non-dual and that’s actually the problem with it. So in one sense you can say that the sexual encounter is more balanced. In a sense. It’s less likely to take you away from life. But it’s more likely because of its intensity to create pressing problems.

 I have this tendency to like to playfully say aphoristic things like “Sex is love looking for itself and intimacy is finding itself.” And one of them is actually based on something that one of my favourite songwriters Roy Harper said as an introduction to one of his songs. He said “May there be a lot more conflict in the world but a lot less war.” So I like to say “May there be a lot more sex in the world but a lot less fucking.” And I don’t mean let’s copulate with intimacy. Let’s just say that there is a lot more to sex than copulating.. There is much, much more to sexual exchange, the sexual nourishment, the sexual intimacy than copulating. Or what I would call “genitalial penetration of the pelvic floor.” That’s what I mean by fucking. And fucking can be very intimate and deep and loving. It’s not that fucking is an animal thing. I say that because fucking is dangerous. You can say meditation is dangerous. But meditation is not dangerous by its nature or intention. But the intention of fucking, biologically speaking, is a child. So if you are not absolutely sure that you want to live with that person and raise a child then fucking is dangerous.

Not only is it dangerous because it can make a child but it’s  dangerous because you can transmit diseases that can be fatal.  The third danger of fucking, which doesn’t seem to be there with milder forms of sexual exchange, is the deep risk of neurotic emotional attachment. When you fall into love during sex not realising it is your nature, this makes you want more sex, more of that person, because you want that love. You don’t understand that it didn’t come from them, it was just revealed in the dynamic. So then you end up becoming involved with someone who you have no real compatibility with. Then if children come you’re all  in deep shit. That doesn’t seem to happen if people just kiss. With genital penetration everything changes. Within that everything changes, people lose touch with parts of the brain that make them human. Anyway that’s another subject.

Babylon, an extract

i love people
without exception

they are so fragile and beautiful
like a snowdrop in a late winter storm
almost hidden in the cold white cruelty of its dying
yet still dancing its slight white innocence
in the biting wind that sweeps its coverlet of death upon it

i haven’t met one yet
that didn’t have a thousand stars hiding in their eyes
that didn’t have a rainbow tucked into the corners of their mouth
ready to break out in the light of one of those stars
when the rain has passed
cleansing their too often clouded eyes

that’s what gets me the most
not so much the magnificence of those stars
that shine from so deep inside
that i can feel the heat in my own cells
but the tremulous, fragile shimmers of light
breaking into momentary colour from a tear unfrozen
by an unexpected moment of honesty and pain
that in its innocence has become a gift of freedom
a rising breath
a wing outstretched that stirs the air
and cools the lashes of the watchful eye

i want to die then
in those eyes, on that smile
let my flesh melt, my bones crack
and my blood run through new gorges
into a brand new furnace
where the fire that burns is my own fire again
my blood, my life embodied
again and again in a million forms
a billion passing flowers of flesh.

because i know
i know the power
in the honesty of that tear
the balm of peace
that it sets free

a peace that hides in each of us
as desperate to come out
as i am to see it
loosed upon this mortuary of lies
to see it turn upon the beast
and hold it steady in its gaze
till it shrivels, cowers and vanishes

as it does my friends, as it does

yes
it cannot go anywhere
it cannot do anything
without our approval

we give it the feet
that stomp across the gardens of paradise
that we have laid waste

we give it the hands
with which it tears at the soil
uprooting the delicate balance of nature

we give it the engines of hell
with which it blackens the skies and thickens the oceans
with its foul and pestilent breath

it has no hands of its own
no feet, no eyes, no tongue
but ours

Response to Jem Bendell’s request

I am responding to Jem Bendell’s post about meditation, chanting and prayer. I am responding from my own almost 50 years experience of meditation, both as practitioner and teacher  My perspective on meditation rests on many years experience as a member of the Kanzeon Zen Sangha. Yet this perspective has been deeply fertilised by my experience of almost 50 years practicing and teaching Yoga also.

My perspective is that the deep benefit/purpose of meditation is to integrate the intelligence of mind into the intelligence of consciousness. This is certainly what my Zen training brought me to. In my experience of Zen Training there was no conceptualisation about this process. There was however a strong emphasis on letting go of concepts. Any story of any kind, however satisfying, refined or subtle, was always dismissed by my teachers as a distraction.

As yoga takes place in action and meditation in stillness they offer different challenges and gifts. Yet my experience of Zen inspired me to fold its heart into my teaching of yoga. In doing this i came not only to a clearer understanding of yoga and how it works, but also of what was going on in my experience of zen meditation.

In yoga posture practice the first concern must be to protect the bodies vulnerability at the joints. This demands that the practitioner become intimate with the sensations being generated in the tissues within and around the joints. Then it becomes possible to not only ‘hear’ what the body is saying, but respond to it also. That responsiveness provides the protection (ahimsa).

In my latter experience of Zen Training my teachers had only one instruction for me: “do nothing”. At first i simply rejected this out of hand. They kept at it. Eventually i decided to drop my arrogance and see what it might mean. Eventually i found out. Having spent a lot of time and effort using my mind to ‘make’ nothing happen, in the end my mind let go completely of any attempt to make anything happen.

As my mind let go of its intention and efforts i was overwhelmed by an intense pressure in my chest. This pressure seemed to be pressing outwards and inwards at the same time. Its intensity was initially and for quite a while painful. But suddenly the intensity reached a peak pitch and spread and the pain dissolved into a deep, quiet, satisfying delight.

Even though i did not realise it at the time what i had been taken through was an intense experience of physical sensations. So intense that there was no space left for mind to impose itself on what was happening. Instead awareness was taken deeply by the flow of sensation.

In applying “do nothing” to my practice over time something else happened, over and over again. If my mind really did let go of its ability to make things happen i arrived at the same place. A place of clear, calm rapture. This happened no matter the quality of feeling i was experiencing. It was the same for pain in my ankle, pressure in my shinbone, aching in my back, grief, anger, fear.

So, my advice to anyone wanting to ‘deal with’ intense emotions through meditation is simple. Feel the sensations as deeply and clearly as you can. Allow your mind to express its dynamism freely, but invite your mind to let go completely into your deeper ability to feel.

This means no longer paying special attention to the content and activity of your mind. Instead it means just feeling the flow of sensations as continuously and clearly as possible: whatever they may be. It means no longer asking your mind to do anything. Not even to understand: with experience it will understand. Not even to notice anything in particular: what can be known will eventually be known.

Feeling sensations is quite different from noticing them. In noticing there is a gap. This gap can reduce intensity, but it reinforces the split in your experience between the observer and the observed. This split is the foundation of our sense of separateness and the anxiety and aggression it generates. Meditation for  daily living must dissolve that split, close that gap: unifying observer and observed, dissolving the distinction between self and other.

If we emphasise our ability to observe or notice the gap our underlying sense of separateness is strengthened. This can lead to chronic detachment. Not only from particular feelings, inspiring us to avoid, displace or repress our anger, grief and fear. It can also detach us from life itself. It can create a deep longing to escape the pressures and responsibilities of daily life and flee to an ashram, monastery or cave.

If we emphasise our ability to feel we will be doing more than quietening mind. Our ability to feel is a remarkable capacity. One that we share, in different ways, with all living beings. What it is that we feel as human beings is excitations in our nerves. Yet we do not feel most of the neurological activity of our bodies.

To feel a sensation three things must be present. The intelligence of the body must be generating neurological activity in the sensory nerves. The intelligence of mind must be recognising that something is happening, even if it does not recognise exactly what. Yet the experience of a sensation also requires awareness.

Awareness is an expression of the intelligence of consciousness.

Awareness functions through different pathways: feeling, smelling, tasting, hearing, seeing and thinking. Thinking, seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling, feeling all require the intelligent presence of consciousness. Your ability to feel requires the intelligent presence of consciousness.

Your ability to feel is a direct expression of the intelligence of consciousness. This is not the consciousness of the conscious mind. It is a deeper, more fundamental expression of consciousness. One which we share, in different ways, with all living beings.

By becoming intimate with your ability to feel you are becoming intimate with consciousness. In becoming intimate with the presence of consciousness mind becomes very still, quiet and clear. It is absorbed into the presence of consciousness and its spacious luminosity. The disturbing stories of anger, fear and grief dissolve into that peaceful luminosity. This allows us to act on their underlying cause with a clear, calm mind.

If you are feeling fear, grief, anger, loneliness or anxiety you have many options. Yet, whatever else you do, try feeling the sensations within them as deeply as possible. So deeply that you no longer even know exactly what you are feeling. So deeply that you no longer even know exactly who or what is feeling them. Stay there, being deliciously marinated by the nourishing presence of consciousness. It will make a welcome difference.

A RADICAL INTERVIEW extract two

People don’t trust nature. We don’t trust others. We don’t trust ourselves. This has to change if we are to meet this ecological catastrophe effectively. Even if that doesn’t mean preventing it. Even if that only means going down gracefully.

Trust in nature does not come from intellectual analysis. Nor does trust in others. It only comes from experience. By becoming intimate with your own presence you can arrive at both simultaneously. Trust in self and others and trust in the natural world.

That is really what we need. Trust and love go with each other. We can’t love nature if we don’t trust her. We can’t love ourselves if we don’t trust ourselves. That is what Radical Ecology is all about: generating that trust. Through experience. It does not have to be total, there just has to be an opening.

What do you mean by total trust?

I mean completely trusting life, in its wholeness, just as it is. This of course includes trusting Mother Nature and human nature. Not just as abstractions or collectives, but in all their individual particulars. I don’t mean that the trust has to be fully there but the openness to the possibility of trusting life has to be there because why would you want to be sensitive to something that you can’t trust?

Where most people are starting from is that you can’t trust life; you can’t trust nature and its dangers. For thousands of years civilisation can be seen as and is often called the conquest of nature. Within that there is fear of nature and within that there’s mistrust.

Of ourselves too – we fear our own moods so take drugs to change them

Yes. We fear ourselves because we don’t really know ourselves. We don’t know that there is an inexhaustible source of peace, delight and love inside each one of us.

People need to get to the point where they’re willing to become open to trusting life. That is two degrees away from actually trusting it. That is not such a big ask. It is very doable. In fact that is what Embodied Resilience Trainings are for.

The change we need has to come from very deep. It is not enough to change our beliefs and values, to put on an acceptable uniform, to pay carbon offsets. We need to change what we consciously want. Not what we want as an ideal or a dream or a hope. We need to change what we want to do and feel right now.

Only then will our behaviour change. I don’t see a political solution. Clean clothes on a dirty body just get dirty very fast. We need a deep change in the way people think. Not only concepts, but first, desires. We have to choose different things because we feel how much we want them, need them. How much we need to nestle in the roots of a tree, run our toes through sand and look each other in the eyes.

The environmental crisis is deeper than politics. It’s deeper than economics. We are not going to get an economic or political solution. The crisis is one of desire. We are wanting things that won’t and can’t satisfy us. So we keep banging our head against a brick wall: the brick wall of consumerism.

I don’t see a social solution. I see only an inner solution. People’s motives have to change. People have to want intimacy more than things. That’s it really. Intimacy with nature, with consciousness, with their body, and with each other. Not jut wanting that – we all want that – but realising that we want that. And that the other things we want are fine but they aren’t going to give us what those will give us – intimacy with body, mind, consciousness, others and nature. Intimacy with organic life, natural life is what’s needed.

I don’t mean to say the environmental, social, economic, political actions that people take shouldn’t be taken. I’m just saying that those are going to come to nothing if they don’t rest on something deeper. Our political actions must be based on loving and trusting life. Not on fear of destruction, or guilt about destroying.

Of course we need political and social changes. But they must rest on changes in the individual psyche. It’s not an either or. Life is recycling its units so very quickly. There has to be a deep change in human understanding. We need a change of consciousness. Something very deep has to happen.

Maybe something already is. I’m not suggesting that somebody has to come up with an idea. Maybe the idea is already expressing itself; we just haven’t quite recognised its fruition. People talk about critical mass and tipping points. Yes, sure we know these things happen. Yet of course you can’t tell that it’s tipping until it’s tipping. You can’t tell the waters about to boil – it’s just getting hotter. All of a sudden you know it’s boiling because it’s steam.

I’m not worried. The reason I’m not worried is that I love life more than I love Godfrey. I don’t really know who Godfrey is. He is a chameleon, a will o’ the wisp.

I think I know what life is. People always suffer. Suffering is the secret face of joy. I think to try to avoid human suffering is foolish. That’s never going to happen, that’s never going to come. People are making a lot of fuss, and I don’t mean to belittle the fuss, about economic and political exploitation. The 760 billion dollar bailout. Of course, I agree, it sounds ludicrous, nonsense. It’s just one more example of elitist exploitation.

Just show me a time when the few were not riding on the labour of the many. Just show me! I don’t see such a time. Except outside the history and thrust of so called civilisation. In the African savannah or the Amazon rainforest perhaps. But civilisation as we know it is based on surplus. Surplus means accumulation. Accumulation means concentration. Concentration means exploitation as long as society is based on mistrust and fear of nature.

As long as we fear for ourselves we lose touch with our compassion for others. This has always been the flavour of so called civilisation. We need to rise above that fear, that mistrust. It doesn’t take effort to do that. It takes intimacy. With our bodies, with each other, with nature. Most of all it needs intimacy with the indivisibility of wholeness. This is not so hard to come by. This is somatic spirituality, this is Radical Ecology. Only through intimacy can we come to the trust that we need to live in peace with each other and nature.

It’s interesting what you say about trusting yourself, trusting life, the wisdom because so few people really do…

Most people don’t even recognise that life has its own wisdom. Some people might give it intelligence but of a very basic kind. They don’t even recognise that their conceptual intelligence comes from life. It comes from the specialised differentiation of cellular intelligence, cellular sensitivity. The sophisticated circuitry of the cortex is just cells.

Not realising this is alienation. An alienation from nature that forces us to hope for something more, something other, something out there, something mystical, transcendent, metaphysical. It isn’t there. It just isn’t there. But still the hopeful keep tying themselves up in cords of hope, frustration and despair. But this alienation is easily remedied. We only have to become intimate with our bodies. As we do so we become intimate with our mind, and with consciousness. All along we are becoming intimate with nature. Within this intimacy a deep trust in and love for nature can not help but be born.

A RADICAL INTERVIEW: extract one

Isn’t the aim to get people to fall in love with all these creatures we share the planet with.

It has to be more than that unfortunately. I could fall in love with you, Laura, and still hate women. Do you see what I mean. So it’s not the specific, it’s not the particular. We have to fall in love with the abstract essence, the heart of it: nature itself, life itself.

That’s very difficult for people to do because it’s an abstraction. To fall in love with a particular is easy enough. To fall in love with a certain amount of the particularities is not enough. It’s not enough. You have to see the wholeness, the indivisible wholeness behind it. And to realise that that’s actually what’s functioning.

When I’m talking to you, what’s functioning? I couldn’t even begin to start describing it. Our love of nature is underpinning our knowing each other. The dramatic cerebral development of the neocortex is providing the means for us to talk to each other. The long slow drift towards vertebral verticality is behind this conversation. Cellular respiration is a necessary precondition for our existence. The love of oxygen for hydrogen, water, is functioning through me talking to you. The strong and weak nuclear force and gravity are supporting us.

Everything that’s involved in the evolution of life is expressing itself through this phrase. Totally. And that word, this gesture depends upon all of that. This is what people have to encounter deeply for there actually to be any possibility of environmental recovery. Otherwise it’s just a tax we’re having to pay.

Targets to be met..

Yes: “fuck it, I’ll take one less flight this year because otherwise my grandchildren…..” That’s not going to work. It has to come from the heart. There has to be a change of values enough to bring about a change of motive. You have to really, really not want all this destructive consumer accumulation. To not want that strongly enough means you have to want something else so badly that you can see the false shine on all that stuff very, very clearly. Clearly enough to let go of your self deceptions, to let go of reassuring yourself with your carbon offsets. 

It’s not enough to want to save nature, to save the planet. It’s not enough because it needs to be saved from us. From human beings. From human consumption and accumulation. Saving the planet does not come from understanding the subtleties of interlocked ecosystems. It can not come from agreeing to reduce fossil fuel consumption. It will not come from targeting limits on global warming. It can only come from a total transformation of human behaviour, of human culture.

This transformation can not be imposed. We cannot intellectually proscribe how we all need to start behaving. Not least because we are collectively in so many different types of situation. Some of us would die fast if all environmentally damaging practices were abruptly terminated. Others would be fine.

No, we can not depend on top down, politically or socially imposed behavioural limitations. We may need to use them, to reconfigure our transportation, consumption and eating habits. Nevertheless it won’t be enough.

We need to start to feel that we are nature. We need to feel, not just know intellectually, that what we do to any part of nature we are doing to ourselves. We have to feel the destruction of the environment as a protracted form of suicide. And we have to want to live. To live as part of nature, as part of the wholeness.

You have to want intimacy with nature, with others, with the elements. If you don’t want those things badly enough then the gap that’s left by not having them will drive you into consumerism. All those gadgets are substitutes for nature as trees and dirt, snotty shitty animals and other people. You have to want to be intimate with all of that.  Otherwise you’ll just try to drown your longing with gadgets and special experiences. Especially spiritual experiences. Most of which are no more meaningful than a walk along the riverside: probably less.

The heart of the problem is a very deep one. We are deeply out of touch, deeply alienated from our own nature. This alienation leaves us with a deep feeling of dissatisfaction: only temporarily relieved by our excitements, achievements and successes. The constant drive to relieve it is underlying our consumerism.

Consumerism is not only about things. It’s equally about experiences. Those people who think and say that there are so many things they want to do before they die are hard core consumerists even if they are not hoarding physical objects. Their consumerism is not just about the resources they have to consume to have that experience, to go on that journey, to explore that place. It is also about that deep, ongoing dissatisfaction.

This dissatisfaction arises from not having come to terms with our apparently binary nature. When we do come fully to terms with our apparently binary nature we find our nature is absolutely singular. Not only that but we discover that it provides with as many resources as does the natural world.

Unlike the resources of the natural world however, the resources of our nature are inexhaustible. We can not exhaust, nor even deplete them. They are not quantifiable.

What are these resources?

They include courage, resilience, fortitude, generosity, compassion, wisdom, love. These resources are not only available to you, but to anyone and everyone around you too.

How can people access these resources?

The most simple, direct way is to become intimate with your own presence. For some people this is easier to begin in movement. For some people it is easier to begin in stillness. For others it is easier to begin within the mirror of others. In all cases it is a somatic experience, a somatic journey through your own presence into your own nature. Of course the remarkable cognitive intelligence of mind is involved. It is involved but it is not leading, not guiding. Rather it is simply recognising, and learning.

It is possible for almost everyone to access the singularity of their nature by way of their body. All that is needed is that you feel totally safe and can be guided deep into the presence of your body. As you relax deeply into the sensations being generated by your body you begin to be taken deeper than its anatomical and phsyiological expressions. You no longer notice ankles, pressure, nostrils, breathing.

As the sensations in your body dissolve into the deepening presence of softness spreading, softness opens. It loses its localisations and becomes nonlocal, expanding, becoming lighter, emptier. Boundaries melt, form dissolves. You very easily become enraptured in the peace of it. You very easily begin to vibrate with the presence of love.

This is not love for or of. It is the love that you most deeply, deliciously are. This is actually what you are feeling when you look openly and softly into the eyes of your beloved. It is not really your love for them, nor their for you, though it is flowing through those. It is the love that you are meeting itself in the love that they are. Love without a cause meeting love without an object.

This is very powerful.

If you go there enough everything begins to change. Especially if you do it with many people. Particularly people you don’t know. It becomes clear that you are not hallucinating, not projecting. That this love, this peace, this joy are real. Not only that they are real, but that they are what you most deeply are.

Beneath your memories and dreams, beneath your skills and knowledge, beneath your credentials and identity you are unconditional love, imperturbable peace, inexhaustible joy. This is your deeper nature, your spiritual nature. This is the source of all the resources you need to transform the quality of your life, to take care of others and honour nature with genuine respect.

The joy of this peaceful love that you are wants and needs to express itself. It expresses itself by giving. It has only one need. It is not like the needs of the body. The body’s needs are a demand. It needs to take, to get, continuously: oxygen, water, energy, minerals etc.

Your spiritual nature has only one need, and it is a need. It is a very powerful need. If it is blocked you will never be able to be happy. You will never feel satisfied. You will never be fulfilled. It is the need to give. It is not a need to give anything in particular. It is simply the need to give whatever is needed.

This need not only becomes a spontaneous and effortless generosity. A generosity towards all life, all beings, all people. It is also generates deep compassion, courage and clarity. When you are not pursuing your biological, psychological or social needs you can see more clearly. The doors of perception are cleansed by your passionate need to give. You see what is needed, you know what to do. You don’t have to think about it.

As i said earlier it is not enough to act from fear or obligation. We need to act from love, from generosity. And we can. All we need is to get in touch with our deeper nature. So we understand what we are. So that we know why there is a deep peace inside us. Why it is so easy to give time and attention to a stranger. Why violence is actually so disturbing.

As long as people believe that human nature is defined by our biology it is hard to be deeply optimistic. The old story, reinforced by Darwinists, Marxist, Freudians, that human beings are selfish, aggressive, greedy creatures by nature has to be challenged. It has to be totally discredited. This can not be done by abstract ideology. It can only be done experientially. That is not so hard to do.

So we’re back to where we were. We consume and accumulate because we are out of touch with nature. Not only with human nature, but also Mother Nature. We have to discover the deeper ‘spiritual’ truth about human nature, and we have to recover a genuine love of external nature.

To get to that love we have to first find to the connection. But to find the connection we cant’ go into the wilderness because the wilderness isn’t available to most of us. So we have to go into the body, because the body is nature. It’s our most intimate and precious resource – of nature. At the same time that then brings us to the heart of human nature. To our spirituality as an experiential discovery.

That’s somatic spirituality! We need to immerse ourselves in somatic practices that put us fully in touch with consciousness. This is not difficult.

Radically ecological.

There is in the discourse and institutions of human culture a deeply destructive dogma. That of the “Higher Self” which supposedly inhabits this body for a while. Sometimes known as the “soul”, we are convinced it is the real, meaningful part of us, untouchable by the trials and tragedies of circumstance. Untouched by disease and death. Even when, the story says, it can be stained by sin.

The fact that we are biological beings makes this dogma very tempting. We all know we are going to die. Most of us are going to die too soon, before we are truly ready. We know this. It makes us insecure. It makes us susceptible to well orchestrated superstitions masquerading as divine revelation or spiritual insight.

All of the errors, confusions and tragedies of the worlds of religion, meditation and yoga have their roots in this unsubstantiable dogma. Clearly any belief system that includes a transcendental personal core will generate psychological, technological and social artefacts that bind and distort human intelligence and its longings. Perhaps in the end even destroying the natural world upon which we all depend.

How can we truly love and care for nature if we believe there is something in us, that we really are, better, more valuable and significant than our own natural bodies.

So tenacious and all pervasive is the longing to be free from the inescapable vulnerabilities of our biology that there seems to be no escape from this dogma and its destructiveness. Even for those who recognise its absurdity. Yet escape there is.

It has a clearly delineated path: deep into the body.

This is the fertile soil within which Radical Ecology unfolds. Your body, its vulnerabilities, its dependencies, its intelligence, its richness, its capability, its deeply rooted power. This richness, this power has been sidelined and lost within the slander so relentlessly directed at the body, and thereby at nature.

It is only our alienation from our bodies and their significance that allows us to be bound by doctrines that feed and depend upon our destructiveness.

It is only our alienation from our bodies that allows us to see others, to see ‘the other’ as aliens. It is only our alienation from our bodies that allows us to feel threatened by, and so be a threat to, nature.

To become intimate with your own body is to encounter its identity with nature. To become intimate with your body is to encounter your identity with the world. To become intimate with your body is to encounter directly your spiritual nature.

Become intimate with your spiritual nature and the vulnerabilities of your biological nature will lose their power. Become intimate with your spiritual nature by way of your body and the temptation of ‘spiritual’ dogmas will dissolve into the clear light of the natural intelligence that you are.

Human nature is not distinct from Mother Nature. The intelligence that allows you to derive meaning from these words is a natural intelligence. It emerges from, is dependent upon, the sophistication of your biology. It is not a “ghost in the machine”. It is just one among so many expressions of the intelligence that sustains, drives and generates nature. It is not only intelligence that is encoded in your DNA. It is the intelligence of nature. Your DNA is an encoded record of the journey nature took from its opaque beginnings to you.

The easiest and most direct way to recover and embody love and respect for nature is through your body. Become intimate with the remarkable intelligence, power, resilience and wisdom of your body and you will find yourself face to face with intelligence, power, resilience and wisdom of nature. Then it will not be so easy to use your body as an instrument of destruction. Just as it will not be so easy to use your body to harm itself.

This is the way of Radical Ecology. The way that takes you through human nature into Mother Nature by way of intimacy, awe, appreciation and love. Radical ecology is not a discipline. It is a celebration: of Nature in all of its breadth, depth and subtlety: human nature and Mother Nature. Try it.

SEX AND CONSCIOUSNESS (part one)

GODFREY TALKING WITH NATALIA, ARTIST, YOGA TEACHER AND RADICAL ECOLOGIST.

Hello Natalia we are going to have a conversation, just a relaxed friendly conversation, about two of your favourite subjects as I believe. One of them consciousnessthe other one sex. 

 Of course

 I’m under the impression that these interest you a lot more than politics or philosophy 

 Much more.

 OK. I just want to begin with why I would be  interested in having such a conversation. I spent most of my life as a yoga teacher and I really enjoyed it. I’ve had a very unusual adventurous journey as a yoga teacher in which I’ve had many amazing experiences.  Not least really deeply investigating the nature of the body and how yoga can be made to work in the body. But over the last few years slowly, gradually I find that I’m less interested in yoga. Not completely, but it doesn’t have quite the same pull that it used to have. 

 You mean the practice? 

 No the teaching.

 OK

 Of course this also coincides with me teaching tantra and meditation more. But I think that is symptomatic of the fact that i have gradually become more and more interested in consciousness and sex than anything else: including yoga. So that’s why I thought we should have this conversation because you are interested in both of those. 

 I am.

 I am sure most people are interested in sex but I don’t think that most people are interested in consciousness. Which I think is a shame. But anyway as time takes me closer to death i find myself less able to be clear where the boundary is: not conceptually, but in experience.

 The boundary between sex and consciousness? 

 Yes. I think the association of sex and consciousness all began a long time ago without my knowing quite what had begun. I was actually very slow getting to sex as a teenager, because i was busy with consciousness. I had spent plenty of my teenage years being mildly sexual, but never quite completing. Eventually i made myself complete, because i didn’t want to be left behind. It didn’t seem to grab me as much as it grabed my friends, both male and female. But when finally i got there i was struck by how immediate and potent was the change in the quality of my consciousness that came with sexual penetration. It was like another world. Not just of delicious sensation, but a whole different frequency of perception. I couldn’t explain why even now I couldn’t even describe how but everything seemed to change. 

 At that time was your understanding of sex different to what it is now. I think for most people the word sex means fucking. What was it for you back then? 

 I lost my virginity at 20. I think even then I was more curious about sex than driven by sex. I remember very well why I finally said to myself “Godfrey you have to loose your virginity.” I didn’t have a girlfriend. I’d never really had a girlfriend by the time I was 19 and this surprised all my friends because I was very open, gregarious, uninhibited and at parties I would be the first to dance and do all those things. However I was actually otherwise occupied with God and consciousness.  Of course yoga was a big part of that. So to me sex was not about fucking. Sex was to me was just another thing to explore. “What is this really?” I remember where I was when I made the decision. I was in my bedroom which was actually a cupboard in somebody else’s bedroom. I was coming down on LSD. I’d been having the LSD experience of everything melting and merging – the word that I used to use back then was fusion. Everything was fusing. I was coming down and becoming more normal. It occurred to me that sex was also a kind of fusion and therefore I wanted to know what it was like relative to tripping. So I went out and a few days later I found somebody open and lost my virginity. So it wasn’t out of hornyness or anything like that. It was out of my curiosity trying to understand “What’s really going on in here”. My wanting to understand what is going on here had already been focused on consciousness for a while without me having read anything of Eastern or Western philosophy. My curiosity had come from the fact that I started doing yoga just after I started taking psychedelic drugs. So they came together. The practice and experience of yoga totally coloured my psychedelic experiences. This wasn’t the case for all hippies. Some, yes: it is not unknown for psychedelic drugs to be profoundly spiritual with an Eastern twist

 What was sex’s part in your life back then? 

 Not much. It became a biological necessity once I had it. I didn’t think it was a particularly great experience but I remember very well two days later I was knocking on her door. 

 Would you say that when we are children there is some curiosity about sexual pleasure? 

 I think it is there for everybody. Curiosity is another way of referring to how intelligence works. “What is that, what is this, is it really?” You know. For reasons I will never know my curiosity wasn’t shut down really. In fact I think my curiosity was supported directly, especially by mother. Also I can remember my grandmother had a neighbour who was a teacher who my mother said was fascinated by my curiosity. She was constantly feeding it by asking me questions and not giving the answers. I think I was very lucky in the sense that my curiosity, my natural intelligence  was not hindered. I was also lucky that my education stopped when I was sixteen. Which is a long time before most people that I know. Because most people that I know have gone to university. You know they had twice the education as me and I’m not so sure if that is so good for your curiosity. So I think yes, there is natural curiosity about sensations and pleasure, but of course there is no sense of sex. I remember when I was 8 when I went to boarding school. An older boy was wanting to intimidate the new boys and told us there was a witch living in the attic and she was very, very, very sexy. I had no idea what that meant.

Then when I was 17  I was visiting my parents and my father came home to lunch unexpectedly and as he was coming down the drive he passed this pretty girl who was leaving. So of course his curiosity was triggered. He knew I didn’t have a girlfriend. And anyway I was just visiting. I told him she was my best friend’s girlfriend, who works in the hospital across the road. He didn’t understand why she was in his house at lunchtime. I told him she came to see me every day. He looked at me oddly and said; “It’s extraordinary Godfrey but females seem to find you irresistibly sexy”. I really didn’t understand what that meant. Not really. I knew that he meant women really liked me but I didn’t know exactly what sexy meant. So I’ve been a little slow. My curiosity of course extended itself into anything, into everything including females and what were they like, why do they behave the way they behave. But it wasn’t specifically focused on sex. It’s only now in the last few years it’s coming to a focus like “OK this is an unexplored territory.” People think they understand sex, but i don’t think we do. 

 No they don’t. That’s why I say that for most people sex is the same word as fucking. Would you say that having sex is an expression of consciousness? 

 Yes. In a way it is not fair to say yes. You can change any word for sex and I would say yes. Because to me it is very clear consciousness is all there is and everything is an expression of that. Can you be more specific? 

 What is it that has driven you to make this connection between consciousness and sex and why both have become two most interesting things for you? 

My focusing of interest in sex and consciousness is something that I notice. I notice it. I don’t really know how I got here but I have seen things that can perhaps make sense of it. There is an apparent duality, almost an opposition between sex and consciousness. To me consciousness is not a serendipitous accident of evolution, of sophisticated biology. Which it is in the vocabulary of scientists and philosophers. They are using the word consciousness to refer to the conscious mind, to conscious awareness. The word for that, for the conscious mind, in sanskrit is “citta”. But when i have been using the word consciousness in this conversation the sanskrit equivalent would be “cit”.  Cit is the root or the source of citta. This root or source consciousness precedes biology. 

The apparent distinction between consciousness and sex, or between biology and spirituality, or between matter and spirit is a distinction that exists only in the mind because of the way things happen. You slap me, I feel pain but then I think I better avoid you. I can distinguish between those two. There is a physical pain side and there is the OK I have learnt a lesson side. Mind and body. But the fact I learned it like that, verbalise it like that and think about it like that doesn’t actually mean that there is a duality. It’s an experiential one, a functional one, a linguistic one. So in that sense they are different. Within our experience they are different. This is the domain of yoga and meditation, the whole conundrum of that. So I’m not talking from a philosophical point of view of analysis. I am talking from the point of view analysing my experience which is not the same thing as pure analysis. I’m not familiar with the history of people analysing. I know a little but I am not a professional philosopher. 

Life went on for a long time without sex. So sex is not the deepest expression of biology. But sex is at the heart of mammalian biology. For a human being sex is very deep. It is very very fundamental. We could be reductionist about what is going on within a human organism. The human organism exists so that genetic information can find a way forward. As it has gone forward from amoebas to human beings. The genetic information has found a way forward. At a certain point it found a sexual way forward. And that’s where we are. Sexual transmitters of genetic information. Yet women don’t die when they reach menopause. Sometimes they really start to flourish. So there is more to life, to biology than the genetic imperative. It not then women would just die with the last egg. But that doesn’t happen. So for me … 

And if they didn’t die they probably wouldn’t have sex any more.

 Yes. Except that it is enjoyable. Nevertheless the propogation of genetic information is driving sex and it’s driving sex from very deep. It’s driving sex before sex. So it’s massively deep. Therefore it’s very very powerful. You know it’s almost ridiculously stupid that people should moralistically urge people to control their sex drive without understanding it. How do you control a stallion? Not by saying “Move over there”, not by saying “Don’t do that”. It has to be more sophisticated than that. To me consciousness is all there is. So what that means is that consciousness is the driving force behind evolution. To me the driving force behind evolution is not the propagation of genetic information. What is genetic information? It’s intelligence compacted, compressed. And the fundamental nature of intelligence is consciousness in the sense that it is the ability to distinguish. Without the ability to distinguish an amoeba dies.  So this ability to distinguish which is  the fundamental property of intelligence is also the fundamental property of consciousness. “I am aware it’s not this, I am aware it is that.” “I am aware I am alive.” “I am aware I am not asleep.” So to me you can’t get deeper than consciousness. So sex is very, very, very deep but consciousness is deeper. So your question is how did I get to see this relationship between them. 

 Yes

 And the answer is I don’t really know. It’s partly their depth. You know sex is not a superficial thing. Sex is a very, very, deep thing. But it is also that in my experience both sex and consciousness are inextricable from love.  Not in everyone’s experience, and not in all of my experience. I have been sexually assaulted and i have been raped, a number of times. Nevertheless to me sex and love, consciousness and love are intrinsically inextricable: they belong with one another.

They can’t be separated and in both there is love. 

 What I mean is that neither sex nor consciousness can be separated from love without losing touch with them somehow. 

 So is it’s all of them. 

 Yes, but I am giving that as a fundamental answer to your question. It is because both consciousness and sex point in my experience directly to love that I am fascinated by the relationship between them. 

 Point directly to love.  I would like you to talk a bit about sex and its deepness and how that relates to consciousness. I mean sex is so huge and I think there is a part of it that is unseen. I would like you to talk about how you can be overwhelmed by sex but without really knowing what is happening. We can’t explain but there is something there. Do you know that I mean? 

 I don’t know. Let’s see. There are people out there: Fromm, Reich, Osho who see more to sex than fucking and genetic propogation. I do too, but i can only speak from my personal experience. So what i have to say may not yet be too coherent. My experience is of course that of a human being, so a sexual and a conscious being. But it is also filtered through my role as a teacher.

Nevertheless my functioning as a teacher is a natural, spontaneous expression of my character, of simply wanting to share what I love with people. It’s not that I want even to help people, even though i understand that i have share what i want to share in a way that is not detrimental, that is helpful to those who momentarily play the student/teacher game with me.  It’s not just that they won’t get it if i am not thoughtful about it, if i am not careful about what i do and say: which i am, even to an extreme perhaps. More to the point is that to be a sexual being is to be inherently vulnerable, fragile even. Human beings are extremely fragile especially when it comes to sexuality. Also when it comes to consciousness.  A deeply frightening experience can predetermine the quality of your conscious experience for the rest of your life. Even if it has nothing to do with sex. So the hugeness of sex reflects the hugeness of consciousness.

I just want to drop in a story here.  It comes from one of those Hindu books. One of those stories. Briefly the story is that things started to go seriously bad with the Universe. The planets were imploding and gravity was not functioning properly and all kinds of things weirdly going. So the Gods were panicking. Indra, who is a king amongst gods insists that only Shiva can handle this shit. So one of them goes, in not a little trepidation, to find Shiva. Shiva after all is the Destroyer, so not an easy one to ask a favour of. So Shiva is approached but he is totally engrossed playing chess or whatever is the equivalent in India, with Parvati. Now this is my version of the story and he is losing and that’s why he is engrossed. He does not want to loose to Parvati. So Indra comes and says “Hey excuse me Shiva my lord the universe is falling apart we need your help.” No reply. And Parvati gets the point: she knows Shiva is beyond verbal communication. So she just pushes him over and starts to fuck him. And as they start to fuck gravity starts to return to normal and everything else goes back to normal. 

The way I understand the point of this is that the universe is fundamentally sexual. That sex is the fundamental power of the universe, where consciousness is regarded as the source of that power. You know the power is normally called Shakti, while consciousness is referred to as Shiva. 

 I think it is so important what you just said. That sex is the fundamental power. I really do. 

Well remember that story was made by humans. 

 Yes.

 So to humans it’s maybe the fundamental experienced power. Though maybe gravity is a little bit more fundamental. 

 Also I was thinking perhaps it’s going a bit away from consciousness and sex but going back to this would you say this is intimacy?

 Parvati fucking Shiva?

 No.  But intimacy is part of what you feel when you go deep through sex to consciousness. 

 Well let’s just keep it going deep through sex. Because people can go really deep into sex and arrive at consciousness but they don’t know it. They don’t think they want to go back into consciousness. So I think that intimacy is a key for unlocking these mysteries a little bit in the sense that we are driven into sex by genetic imperative, by the biological imperative. Of course that’s there. But what happens when a woman goes through menopause. It must be something else and it could just be pleasure. But it could be more. It could just be habit, it could just be insecurity. Yes, yes it could. It could, but what else it could be. Especially in the theme of where we are. 

Taking this into my experience as somebody who came to sex late, yes i knocked on her door two days later but I didn’t get involved with anybody. I didn’t have a girlfriend for a while. I was busy doing yoga and taking LSD.  When I was living in Ibiza I met this couple and the woman was French and a yoga teacher. And one day in the conversation I said something like “Ohh sex is overrated.” And she looked at me in that French way and said “Yes Godfrey, but that is  only because you have never had really good sex.” What am I to say? It’s a fair enough observation on her part. If there is somebody who thinks sex is overrated it’s just because they didn’t have good sex. That makes sense. But this seems to be in my character, in my make up. Those things people really like about sex don’t have the same appeal to me. Nevertheless there is something that I experience in sex that definitely appeals to me and that is intimacy. I think that where biology and consciousness meet in sex is in intimacy. Biology doesn’t need intimacy,  it just needs sex. You can rape somebody and pass your genes on. Yet that’s not enough. Nobody is actually is satisfied by that.  Not even the rapist.  So I think that intimacy is the key to sex. But that key is actually an expression of consciousness.  That’s a way you experience consciousness without recognising it, and without knowing anything about it: through the intimacy of sex. Of course there are other ways to enjoy, share intimacy with others. You can be intimate with yourself also.  They are all satisfying. Now sex may have depths and subtleties to its frequency of intimacy, but for sure it has loads of overt, intense, even mind stopping pleasures.

Now I tend to be intimate with my body a few hours every day and from that experience of being intimate with my own body I derive a great deal of satisfaction. I experience pleasure too, but not the kind of pleasure that you get in sex. My experience is that sexual pleasure without intimacy isn’t worth much. But when sexual pleasure comes with intimacy it’s deeply nourishing.  

 Yes and why? 

 Consciousness. Because consciousness is being accessed, even if not recognised, within that intimacy. 

 That’s why I think it is so important  to understand that sex is not only about fucking. It’s much more. It’s also about intimacy

 From the genetic point of view it is about about fucking. But from the consciousness point of view or the point of view of intimacy it’s not.  A woman not too long ago expressed her desire to be sexually intimate with me. I was completely open to this idea. She is also a teacher. Not a yoga teacher. She is a teacher of shamanic tantra. We got naked and we lay down. We looked into each others eyes. And that was it. We just lay and looked into each others eyes. You know on a certain level, on an intellectual level we were both surprised and disappointed so we tried again a few days later. Same thing. So we thought we would try a third time. Same thing. It was enough. There wasn’t any need to do the other stuff.

 Would you say that it was a sexual encounter? 

 Yes, totally. Absolutely and a very, very satisfying one, nicely and amusingly repeated three times.

So this is also why you are more and more interested in teaching tantra than yoga? Would you say this sharing your experience sharing your interest in consciousness and sex and all we are talking about here has led you to this tantra? 

 Well I don’t know where the cause and effect is. You have witnessed  the journey. It began when my wife Olivia insisted that we had to take more responsibility for the effect what we were teaching was having on our students. She was getting lots of clear feedback that many of our students were having their sexual energy awoken by the practice. Yet we weren’t offering any help with that. She said this was really irresponsible of us.  I had a lot of resistance to bringing sex into out teaching conversation but she kept on at me. So I said “OK let’s try.” 

I’ve had had some experiences in my past with tantric teachers but I’ve always kept it to myself. I haven’t even shared it with my partners , because when I am with the person I love I just want to be with them. I don’t want to be doing any kind of conceptualised practices. But anyway we started teaching tantrayoga classes with overt references to sexual energy, desire and pleasure. We usually taught separately, but when we sometimes taught together I asked her to do the teaching and me do the assisting. That was part of my resistance, what you could call my conditioned sexual reluctance. My uptight middle class Englishness. I remember when you were translating you would say “Ohh Godfrey that was brilliant you should do more of this.” And I would say “I don’t really like it.” 

You told me once “This is so boring.” 

 Well it was, it was but it isn’t anymore. That was because I hadn’t let go into it. I was still functioning out of the erotophobic conditioning that there is something not spiritual about, that there is something wrong with, sex. That there is something dangerous about sex. Well of course there is, there are many things dangerous about sex and especially fucking. Now I wouldn’t say I enjoy teaching tantra more than I enjoy teaching yoga but I feel that it is needed more. I enjoy teaching both of them and they are different. In a way teaching yoga is deeper because it’s more directly about consciousness.

 When I practice and I’m alone on my mat a lot of what we are doing I can feel the sexual energy and also the practice is bringing to me to consciousness. It’s also on my mat that I think sex is going on in another way. 

 Recently when i said something negative about tantra one of my students said to me “Yes Godfrey but when you are teaching yoga you may not be saying it but you are teaching tantra. The way you teach yoga, the things you are teaching put people in touch with their internal energies, and sexual energy is here to be felt.” 

Interestingly, at least to me, i can not say, like you just did, that i have ever felt sexual energy during my yoga practice. I know many people who say they have, they do. Not me.  Maybe it’s again a part of my resistance. Maybe i have an unconscious block that doesn’t allow me to acknowledge that this or that frequency of pleasure is sexual in nature, in origin. I have delicious experiences but they are experiences of softness and pleasure which I do not in my mind associate with sex. However I’m absolutely sure that they are sexual but I just don’t get it like that. And I wonder how many other people don’t. You know we are feeling it but we are not willing to recognise what it is. 

If I think about how powerful is the sexual drive and how misunderstood it has been socially and culturally I really think it would be a revolution to understand sex the way you are talking about and if people could be conscious about this relationship between sex, consciousness, intimacy, love all this I really think it’s revolutionary it will change so much cultures, societies. 

Well you have to remember Natalia that you are talking to an old hippie. We thought that we were revolutionising the world back then, especially sexually. And it didn’t happen. Therefore having been there I am not so inclined to look at it in that way. But I do understand what you mean. And of course if people could be as relaxed about their sexuality as I am now I’m sure the world would be a different, better place. But I have no relationship to that idea of revolution or of changing human culture or human society. My motivation as I said before is the sharing. But there is an extra element within that sharing. Of wanting some relaxed company who have similar values, what i take to be more sane values about sex than those imposed by our implicitly manipulative culture. 

When i was young i shared psychedelic drugs with one and all, for free. Now i would like to share an ease with human sexuality. Not in a Hugh Hefner Playboy way, but simply inviting people to become intimate with their own sexuality so that they can become more comfortable with themselves and therefore with others. And therefore less exploitative, less manipulative. You know that when I look at the protocols of human society I see manipulation everywhere. Everywhere. From the fact that somebody ask you a question they think that you have to answer. Or if they dialled your phone you are supposed to pick up. And again from my own experience I think that it is impossible to manipulate and exploit if you are satisfied. If you are happy and if you are satisfied you just can’t, why would you anyway? You don’t want anything, you don’t need anything that needs to be extracted from someone against their will. 

So being satisfied as a human being is not just having enough food, it’s not just having enough water, it’s not just having enough protection against the cold. And it’s not just having enough sex. Those are the basics. Those are the things I would say are not so important including sex. To be satisfied we need intimacy, we need understanding and we need to love. And I think our need to love is actually deeper than our need to be loved. And we know we do need to be loved. We also need to love because love is our nature and you cannot be satisfied if you are not expressing your nature. Hermann Hess wrote a great story about it. 

And actually that is etymologically the significance of the sanskrit word for suffering: dukkha. Because dukkha means the axle is stuck.  It can’t revolve. Therefore it cannot express its nature, and that is the essence of suffering. The inability to express your nature. And if your nature is love then you need to love. But human nature is multi dimensional. We are sexual beings too. So sexuality is a part of our nature and it needs to be expressed. And if it is not expressed openly, which might just mean lying down and looking into somebody’s eyes, its going to come as criticism, anger, judgement, ideology, fundamentalism. 

 But all these are consciousness. Even that way of expressing is consciousness? 

 Yes, have you ever danced? 

 Yes

 Consciousness too. That’s how I see it. I know I’m being anthropomorphic. I know I’m being metaphorical but that’s how the mind works, how my mind works. You know and sometimes it’s like “Yes, but what’s going on?” OK consciousness is all there is but “What is it up to? What’s it all about?” and the closest I can get to make sense of it is just: consciousness is dancing. It’s not trying to make anything, it’s not trying to build anything, it’s not trying to find anything, it’s not trying to prove itself. It’s just dancing. I’ve been told there’s a sanskrit text that begins:  “Consciousness leaping in eternal delight”. I totally get that. I think what comes next is the manifest Universe. Yes, I get that totally, consciousness leaping, dancing in delight. You know how it is though when you really go for it, when you let go into the dancing.Sometime you get dizzy. Sometimes you hurt yourself. Same for consciousness.

So even just fucking is an expression of consciousness? 

 To me everything is an expression of consciousness. Hey but let’s not be mean here. There is nothing wrong with just fucking if both people want to be just fucking. Even if it doesn’t have intimacy. Tennis doesn’t have intimacy. There is nothing wrong with playing tennis. Well except for maybe for your shoulders and knees. 

 What I am trying to say is that sex with intimacy can bring you to the depts of consciousness but sex without intimacy would be an expression of consciousness but not really bring you to it.

 Not in a conscious way where you clearly enjoy the fundamental properties of consciousness like love, peace and joy. 

So I keep on thinking when we are children sex is so much wanting to express itself. This sexual drive is potent as I’ve experienced it, but you can’t express it it. As a child we are more close to consciousness then what we are when we grow up. I feel there is something very authentic about children and their sexual curiosity, then it’s like you get alienated from it. 

 I don’t know again if it’s my sexual resistance but I have no childhood memories of being sexually curious. I do remember discovering that I could get amazing pleasure from my cock when I was in the bath and at boarding school I would play with myself at night in bed and other boys would realise and we would talk about it. But it wasn’t like a really big thing. I never touched anybody else, nobody ever touched me. I never showed my genitals to a girl. I never asked a girl to show me their genitals. I say i never did, but maybe I just don’t have the memory. So I can’t really say anything about what that is. But to me it’s pretty clear that children to the extent that they haven’t been too traumatised are in touch with consciousness. And for me this resonates in my current experience as an adult. If you asked me to characterise what it is like to become familiar with, grounded in consciousness i would say that you become more like a child. Not absolving yourself of practical responsibilities and obligations that children don’t have, but in not thinking so much about things. Not constantly worrying about what to do and how to do it. Just doing more feely and spontaneously. Like a child. They are not using their minds to direct and determine their lives like we do. They just get up and just do what they feel like and of course some of them feel like being nasty to others. But I’m sure a lot of nastiness has come to them and they are just trying to get it out. But I think left to their own devices an untraumatised child will just feel like exploring. That’s all, just exploring anything and everything. So if they feel sensations on the genitals why not explore that? Which is what I explored in the bath. But I had no conceptual vocabulary for it.  I don’t remember masturbating being a particular feature of my childhood. But then again I might be blocking the memory. 

I never lost the curiosity. 

 You mean the sexual curiosity? 

 The sexual curiosity yes.

 I think my curiosity is more general and sex is just in there, but not as a major factor. At least until more recently. More recently it’s its association with consciousness through love that intrigues me. But actually I’m still not particularly curious about sex what I’m curious about is its relationship to consciousness. So my interest in sex is contained within part of my interest in consciousness. I am not likely to sit around thinking about sex. I am likely to sitting around thinking about consciousness. 

 And experience sex? 

 What do you mean? 

 You say you don’t sit around thinking about sex, but you do about consciousness. But what about doing sex, having sex? You do that right?

Well I do experience sex, yes. But my sexual activity is not research, like my meditation and yoga are. Going to a yoga mat or meditation cushion has many elements and one of them is definitely research. But my sexual activity is motivated more by the call of consciousness rather than researching into it. The call of consciousness by way of intimacy. The story I told you about the woman with whom three times we just looked into each others eyes. I have no problem with stopping there. I don’t  need to go to any particular destination within the context of intimacy. It’s not a problem. So the sexual side of it is secondary. Although, supposedly, my testicles are still wanting to propagate genetic information. 

At some point I can make the connection but it’s like I smell something in a very naive way. Intimacy has given me another clue. I can understand what you said. The call of consciousness. 

 Let me tell you what I mean by the call of consciousness.  And I’ll misquote my friend Juan whom I mentioned to you earlier. “Those enlightened people who’ve realised we have to dissolve at least once a day.” By the call of consciousness I mean that. And it’s the same thing that calls me to a yoga mat. The same thing that calls me to a meditation cushion. But of course it’s calling in a different way. And the call to consciousness is a call to intimacy. You could say it’s a call to love. You could also say it’s a call to surrender. You could also say as Juan said, it’s a call to dissolve. The dissolution of your social identity and armour and memories and even of attention. Sex doesn’t do that. Intimacy does that. But sex can be a way to get very quickly into intimacy and stay there. Meditation has a lot of oscillation. And yoga is a little bit the same. Sex is like, if you open the door it’s there until you are finished. It’s there until you get up and go. And it doesn’t oscillate. Not for me anyway.

 Plus meditation is intimacy within yourself and sex is intimacy with another. 

Yes but to me the call is still call of the consciousness. And you are accessing the same property, qualities and nourishment of consciousness. But the thing about sex or tantra as opposed to meditation or yoga is that the other person is a mirror. Not just a mirror but an amplifier: so it cranks up the juice. The juice of the love, the peace, the joy and the nourishment that comes from it. Again I’m not saying that sex is more nourishing than meditation. No, I’m saying intimate sex is deeply nourishing. I’m not making a comparison in nourishment but I am making a comparison in stability. The intimacy of sex in my experience is more stable. It’s much more naturally stable. We don’t have to learn. It’s not stable through practice. Meditation becomes more and more stable over time. But with sex it falls on me and stays there as soon as penetration happens.It doesn’t waver or fluctuate. I remain in a deep state immersed in delight, love and peace being amplified in another.

So anything else? 

 I was just thinking that it’s been perfect for me. The way we’ve been going through this conversation to arrive to this clarification of intimacy, intimacy with the other, intimacy with yourself, intimacy on the mat, in sex, consciousness. It has been super clarifying for me. 

 Great. I’m sure we are going to talk about it another time. 

Yes please. 

 

LIVING FROM FEARLESSNESS

We are living in scary times. The familiar and the known are threatened from every side. As the planet heats up exponentially, the soil is losing its fertility. As billions of living creatures are incinerated in wild fires, the insect population is being worse than decimated by chemical agriculture. As trees are demolished at accelerating speed, water is being degraded by the activity of rapidly reproducing human beings. Not to mention financial instability, religious fundamentalism and the rise of fascist populism.

It would seem like we have little choice but to shrivel uptight with anxiety and fear. Or gird ourselves with elaborate denials and hypocritical self deception.

Not so.

Even if we police our thoughts, and allow others to regulate our information flow, there is more to us than what we think. There is more to being human than what we can do. More fundamental than our ability to act and our ability to think is our capacity to feel.

What we feel is not unlike what we think and do. In that they are based on experience. They all function through the remarkable power of habit. We do not really choose what we think. We think what we think now because of what we have thought before. We can not do something just because we want to. We have to learn to drive, use a computer, climb a tree. We feel what we feel because of what we have felt in the past.

Human experience is a function of our ability to learn. Although based on genetic determinants we have to learn to walk the way that we walk. Although based on inherited capacity we learn to speak the language and the way that we speak it. Although based on the nature and limitations of the human nervous system we all learn to perceive what we become able to perceive. Eskimos see many more shades of white than other humans. Those who grow up in the jungle or forest see flora and fauna that city dwellers can not.

It is hard to look at little babies without responding with warmth and delight. They are so full of joy and love. They can not speak, nor move freely. Yet when they are not in physical need they radiate happiness and trust. This can not be said of many human adults, if any.

This universal transformation from joy to anxiety, from safety to insecurity is no mystery. It is a learning process. A learning process based mainly on experience. We learn to feel unsafe by experiencing being threatened. We learn to mistrust by being neglected, rejected, manipulated, exploited. Not only by strangers, but even and especially by those that we know and love.

It can be unlearned. Not by reading, thinking, talking about it. It can only be unlearned by experience.

A human being is a social being, a tribal being. We need each other. Because we experience neglect, rejection, manipulation and exploitation at the hands of others we feel unsafe. We know how vulnerable we are from long and often bitter experience. To feel safe we need to experience something else. We need to feel that we belong. That we are not alone. That we are supported.

This is definitely possible. Even in these cataclysmic times we can learn to feel safe. Even though we can never know when nor how disaster and death may take us, we can still feel safe in the unpredictability of this world.

There is a place of inviolable safety. It is an unusual place. It can not be found on any map, nor in any diagram. It has no geographical location. It can be found in the city or the desert. It can be found by the old and the young. It can be found by rich and poor, able and disabled. It can be found no matter the colour of your skin, the architecture of your ideologies. It can be found in solitude and it can be found in company.

It is to be found in the heart of human nature.

The heart of human nature is not a place. Yet when it reveals itself you feel completely at home. You feel totally safe. Anxieties and strategies fall away into a peaceful, satisfied silence. There is nothing left to know. There is nothing left to prove. There is nothing left to do. Being is enough. You feel safe. You feel supported. You are home,

This place is easily found. You only need become intimate with your own presence, or that of another. This does not require any technique or action. You do not have to know anything. You do not have to do anything. You only have to feel. To feel as deeply and clearly as possible.

Of course the sensations generated by your body are always changing. Inhalations become exhalations. Air flows create changing stimulations on your skin. Digestion creates changing vibrations, rumblings, circulations. Gravity creates changing pressures and tensions. Plans and regrets rise into awareness. Doubts and anxieties bring changing feelings into your body. It you give them all welcome, if you let them express themselves without indulging them, they will pass.

If you remain quietly within your own presence, or sharing your presence with another, these stimulations will fade. They may continue in the background perhaps, but you will lose interest in them. Instead you will be taken by more subtle currents, flows and rhythms within your own presence. Currents of softness and warmth. Vibrations and pulsations of pleasure. Rhythms of opening and release.

It does not matter what your mind had been doing. If you leave it alone and just feel the simplicity of sensations being generated by your body you will be taken through the anatomical presence and physiological activity of your body. You will be taken into the presence of your spiritual nature. You will be taken through the particulars of your socialisation and biology. You will be taken into the universal presence of the human spirit.

This presence does not belong to any culture or society. It is as universal as blood. It is with you. It is you.

Sometimes you may be a teacher, nurse, doctor, mechanic, engineer. Sometimes you may be a daughter or son, sister or brother, mother or father, wife or husband. Just as you do not always wear the same clothes, you do not always act and live through the same social persona. We are all continuously changing our psychological and social clothing: in response to changing circumstance.

Whatever the social and psychological clothing you may be wearing you remain present. It is never your daughter or son, sister or brother, mother or father, wife or husband. It is never your best friend. It is always you. It has always been you at the heart of your life. It always will be.

Beneath your social and psychological identities is who you most deeply and continuously are. Who you most clearly know yourself to be. You are only sometimes any particular social role. You are always you. You know this you with a certainty, a clarity that you do not have about any of your social roles.

This you has no distinguishing characteristics. It is neither young nor old, small nor large, wise nor foolish. Yet you know it more intimately than you know anyone or anything. It is you. It has always been you. It has no flavour although you know it better than any taste. It has no scent yet you know it better than any smell. It has no sound but you are more familiar with it than you are with any melody. You know this presence better than you know anything. Yet if your try to speak of it you will likely find yourself floundering.

This presence, this pre-social, pre-cultural you, is not only more familiar to you than anything. It is also more reliable, more consistent than anything else in your life. You have always been you. You have never been anyone else. Even as all your experiences, hopes, memories, skills, knowledge continuously change, this presence and its familiarity never change. It is with you always, even when you don’t notice, without ever changing.

It does not change because it can not change. It can not change because it has not been created. It can not end because it did not begin. Even though most of the time you do not notice it. Even though most of the time you can not experience it. You cannot experience it without a nervous system. You cannot experience it without a brain, a body. You can not experience it in a coma or when you are asleep. Yet it is present. It does not go away. It has never gone away. It can not go away.

This presence, this you, is your spiritual nature. It never goes away. It never changes. It can never change. It will never change.

It is because you know that everything changes that it is so hard for you to feel safe. You know that what is born dies. You know that whatever begins ends. This makes it hard to feel safe. Unless you know something else also.

There is something you know that has never changed. That will never change. That which animates your own life as you. To become deeply familiar with your own unchanging presence is to loosen the grip of the changing. It is to weaken the power of your biological vulnerability. It is to find the presence of invulnerability: spiritual invulnerability.

This invulnerability is always present, always potentially available. To unlock that potential you need only become intimate with your own presence as often as possible. To hang out as deeply as possible within yourself whenever you can. To let go of your social, psychological and biological personae into who, what you most deeply are. Into this presence that is not a thing.

You don’t have to do this alone. You can do it with others: one other or more than one. It doesn’t matter. Whether you are alone or in company just settle into stillness and tune in. Tune in to the sensations being generated by your body. Allow your mind to freely recognise their implications. But invite your mind to relax, to let go, as much as possible into your deeper ability to feel. As distinctions blur and boundaries dissolve you will be taken through the opening spaciousness of your own presence into the peaceful abundance of a formless emptiness. You will feel and find your self at home. At home in your body. At home in your mind. At home in this unstable, crumbling world.

The experience of the changeless is all you need to counterbalance all of the experience that have left you feeling unsafe in this world. For within your experience of the changeless you find indubitably that you are not only a biological being. You are also a spiritual being. In your spirituality you are untouched by change, untarnished by time, untouchable by death.

Ok. Check it out for yourself then.