Back home in Newcastle for a week now having spent the past year living and working with the FF. (Most of the previous year was also spent with the FF.) I notice that I have been missing my room in Cluny a bit; I clearly got a bit attached to it. This is probably a good thing as it shows that I was happy there. Some attachment is inevitable and probably part of healthy engagement with life. Practice no doubt lies in how one responds to the attachment. I decided a month or so back to take up a place on a one year masters degree starting in January, hence my leaving Cluny. In the intervening period a job interview came up together with a subsequent rejection. This and no doubt a few other, yet to be clear to me, factors have cooled my feelings about the masters degree. So, I am wondering just why I did leave and what I might best do next. I miss the buzz of being in community. Even though I didn't directly engage with many people for much of the time, there is still being 'in the field' as they say. Back home it seems much quieter. Great to be with DC but definitely quiet not having all those people coming and going. And until I start the course or something else, there is not the purpose which life in the community affords. The challenge to get meaningful work, relationship and home all in the same town seems to remain. I can make my home wherever I need to do so, the other two I can't dictate to.
Christmas is not my favorite time of year. It has a sort of in-build failure; however hard one might try not to let it get built up into something it can't be, there is still an expectation of... Of what? Salvation, satisfaction through consumerism, great social interaction? Probably all that. And of course it's just another day but with the hint of peace on earth, presents good and not so good, interactions good and not so good. I'd love a Christmas without the consumerism. Not just in my own experience but also in wider society. That would totally shift the field.
The weather is grey and the short days are dark and wet. At this time of year nature is holding her breath and I've said for years that we ought to hibernate. Looking at the economy and the environmental problems we face it seems to me that we need to back off all the busyness and look towards what we really need. Interesting then that I dread the prospect of being without purpose. But there is a difference between backing off the busyness and lack of purpose.
Looking back over the past few years (and more) I see I grown some wonderful relationships with people in the FF. I've made a difference there and that is good. Even though while I am in the FF I find the (excessive) feminine energy tiresome and often crave a bit more dynamic, male energy, I never the less recognize that some (probably feminine) part of me is clearly nourished by the particular opportunity to serve which the FF offers. It has been suggested to me that I am wrestling with two sides of myself; the gentle, feminine, laid-back and the dynamic, male part. The key is probably something to do with dynamic action that responds but is not driven. Again, it will, I suspect involve facing and releasing more fear.
On the bright side, DC and I picked angel cards; I have Joy and he Sisterhood / Brotherhood. May this coming year be filled with joyous connection to sisters and brothers. Over the next few days I'll be tuning into how that wish might best be served.
Saturday, 15 December 2012
Friday, 7 December 2012
Being inside (the tent) is smooth, warm and soft. Being outside is jagged, tight, hot or cold, prickly or hard. It doesn't matter what the tent is. At the deepest it is the separation of the original fall; the exile from the garden (of unity). In the everyday it is generally separation from other people at the individual and collective level. And separation is often from our self; fragmented parts and lost parts. Experiences that might have been but were only glimpsed in the imagination still seek expression so that some aspect of the self might flourish. Might flourish that through the self, the Self might see and thus make the whole point of the original fall; we come out of unity to have experience. (The tree of knowledge so often taken only to represent sexual knowledge, is of course the very content of our lives. Sexuality is an aspect of the wider erotic impulse.) Painful indeed then to look on experience with some part of that experience attached to something that never was. And more so if what was / was not puts one outside the (imagined) group experience. The group experience affords living expression of separation in unity. All that I have been is is clearly all that could have been. That which is, is. Yet we all have unexpressed wondrous parts; many unopened buds. There is a sadness in life that many such buds will not flower. Yet if karma ripens such that we see the buds and can imagine the flower then at some level maybe this is the flowering. No wonder this complex of connection and separation takes a life time to mature and then only if we are lucky. If I could go back with the ghost of Christmas past and give the gift of hindsight to myself would this be a blessing or a curse? Would I, in trying to save my younger self pain and my current self grief, rob my self of wisdom? Did being outside let me see a bigger tent?
Sunday, 2 December 2012
A recent conversation briefly turned to the 'non-raunchiness' of a certain 'rather attractive' non-dualist teacher. It was agreed by all present that that was to be expected. Sex is about a hunger to bond with the other, to merge, a desire for oneness, yet also a desire to have. It requires (the illusion of) separation. This is why long term couples can find it difficult to keep that part of a relationship going; they become too close. At least for a certain kind of sex this is true. The picture is of course more complex; human sexuality has many twists and turns (to match the complexity of our being in the world). And a sensual - sexual continuum ebbs and flows with the ongoing dance of relationship. Sex turns about oneness and separation.
Then today I read in the paper that civil servants have had some difficulty in defining consummation of a gay relationship. This it seems is required if we are to have gay marriage. Ha; I laughed out loud! That old chestnut. The business of 'really doing it'. It is of course tied with an other slightly more complex than often thought of area; virginity. In a society wrapped up in a heterocentric world view it's all very simple; penetration, penis in vagina. Or is it? In reality people have always known that there are many ways to merge in a sexual way and that it's the opening of two (or more) people to each other that is at the root of all this. Did any rapist ever take anyone's virginity? Can a couple who have been lost together in the journey to orgasm without penetration claim not to have had sex? The civil servants have decided to leave it to the judges to decide.
And I think it fair to say that there is a deeper level of something required to engage in anal intercourse with someone than is required for vaginal intercourse. Defining that something is not straightforward but it is approached in terms of trust, intimacy, meaning and connection; opening. Generally speaking it takes a bit more opening to get it to slip in. Which is not to say that it is in some way a deeper consummation than vaginal penetration. And on the other hand, it is. And of course, if you are less aware of the meaning of any act then it can be all too easy to engage in it at the physical level. At the emotional, mental and spiritual levels of course things are not necessarily following suit. It's not that any physical act can be said to enshrine consummation in the way the law might like. And I am sure there are plenty of male gay couples who have consummated their relationship without ever having penetrated each other physically. At this point the invisibility of lesbianism becomes all too apparent. Society has always be far less concerned, far less fearful of lesbianism than of male homosexuals. It has always been concerned that its males should not be penetrated. The business of consummation in the eyes of the law is probably more to do with power than oneness. Sexually knowing each other is not captured in a simple did / did not have sex with. Sex is complex because it is part of a journey to oneness. The sexual act penetrates us at emotional, mental and spiritual levels. It is about cracking us open. The monk Ikkyu must have seen a wonderful resolution of the Red Thread koan in his relationship with the blind singer Mori. Now that I write this post I recall the sheer complexity of all this... And the simplicity. I start to remember the types of desire to which the koan might point, the energetic aspects of sex, the unique opportunity that gay sex offers to see what we are, the vibrant aliveness of life and the stillness in which it is held. The word intimacy implies both separate and together.