Had Buddhism and a Christian upbringing led me to believe too much in respect for oneself and others?
Where did respect sit in the divining path of love and sex? Celibacy seemed the way forward and where I should be going—no-man’s land.
I don’t know the answers. I didn’t take myself there; I began instead to learn the truth about myself.
I also began to question whether you are able to expand your life this way when immersed in the lust, greed and desire that surround much of modern western civilization. Western society was where I had my roots and perhaps where my Buddhist practice was best placed.
If I was to isolate myself in a monastery and protect myself from this reality I might be helping myself but I wouldn’t be doing much to help others.
If I were to wear a dog collar, veil, see the world as black and white I might be building boundaries but would I be building bridges? There’s the colour grey after all.
So where does my story start? From a sense of guilt and not recognising my own humanity.
If I was truly honest with myself I knew I’d never sincerely given.
Worse still, I’d duped myself into believing this was not my sole responsibility. The easier path was to put this down to chemistry or any other fitting excuse I could find in my relationships. The seesaw of love and sex had ridden up and down, if you’ll pardon the expression, and if there were something seriously wrong I thought I’d have had cause to change.
I thought I had it all figured out. Abstain because I don’t deserve better. Deny because it’s better that way. I’d have found fulfillment if that was right.
Typically it’s at times like these that change smacks you in the eye.
I had boarded a train and realized that the attraction I had for the woman on the opposite aisle was one that went deeper than initially thought; we had worked together some twenty-seven years previously. Unable to stop myself, I sparked up a conversation.
By the end of the journey I realized I was about to embark on another journey, albeit one of a different kind.
Serendipity, a belief in certain events happening for a reason and the importance of seizing the day all combined to surge me forward.
Though I felt this rush of excitement my instinct was to tame and harness my desire. Buddhism had in no uncertain terms taught me the errors of compulsion—that the best harvest is one that involves many layers of nourishment and above all the fullness of time. True value doesn’t emerge from the immediate but the simplicity of evolvement.
There’s a time for spontaneity and a time for contemplation. Months of dating distilled into something of greater potency and respect.
The inevitable sex surpassed any living experience I’ve had.
When restraint was cast aside I discovered pleasure so unique, so utterly intense that I knew my life was undergoing a transformation of sorts. It was as though I’d spent my life driving with the clutch in, or never realized the unbound freedom that comes from a fifth gear.
Truly satisfying sex, or true sex must be the most fundamental source of letting go.
The difference I experienced was that many elements need to come together to achieve an alchemy that promotes a sensation of overall health. Trust, love and truth devoid of effort.
Emotional injuries have dissolved with every union; the elixir that manifested in my freedom of expression was one that made me feel whole again. Trapped pain dissolved with the past.
There is no right or wrong, just the pursuit of what feels essentially true.
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Apprentice Editor: Kim Haas/Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photos: elephant journal archives