Sex provides most men and women with both intense pleasure and heart-wrenching pain. Pleasure because sex allows a deep dissolution of boundaries, opening your body and heart to be filled with love and energetic delight. Pain because, as your boundaries open, your heart is exposed, and few people know how to give their love as a vulnerable gift -- which is the only way to offer yourself sexually that doesn't create suffering.
Many men in America today -- the so-called evolved men, the new-age men -- are heart wimps. They have grown beyond the macho rigidity of their fathers but have yet to grow through their fear, to face their deaths fully and to discover the purpose of their lives. They are hesitant and ambiguous. They can't feel the depths of their consciousness and don't know where they are going, so they can't take their lovers, sexually or spiritually. Most women today feel 'untaken' by their men, unravished to God by their men's relentless, forceful, and exquisitely sensitive loving.
Many women in America today, the independent women who have learned to love themselves rather than look for love elsewhere, are deeply unfulfilled. Their bodies are angular with a mission adopted to cover and hide yearning hearts. Distrustful of men's love -- having experienced betrayal or simply inadequate men who are unable to open their women's hearts and bodies to God through deep sex and committed daily loving -- many modern women are afraid to surrender, open, and trust love to live through them. Because they are unable to open fully, divine love cannot enter them, claim them, take their hearts to God and lift their bodies as offerings of devotion. And so they settle for good food, nice homes, and relationships that leave them wanting more, wanting deeper, weeping inside, acting self-reliant on the outside.
Modern American culture has moved from macho men to sensitive men, from submissive housewives to career women. And though nobody wants to go backward to old sex roles, nobody is God-blissfully happy either. Something is still missing. The heart's deepest desire remains unfulfilled. Today's more balanced men and women are still dissatisfied, and thus another step is beginning to take place, beyond old-fashioned, narrowly defined limits and also beyond modern financial, social, and political equality.
American sexuality is in a transition phase. A dissatisfying arrangement of false characters populates the cultural cutting edge: women who have betrayed their own hearts' desire by protecting themselves in tense-body forts of independence, and men who have lost touch with the clarity of consciousness that cuts through every moment to reveal their hearts' deepest truths. Relationships are safe, respectful, and often boring.
Sex between so-called spiritually evolved men and women often seems like a session between therapists, each partner discussing needs and feelings in a civilized fashion, waiting for permission to bodily yield as expressions of their greatest impulse: to offer themselves so fully that they are gone in the giving. And even when sex is infinitely loving, what happens after great sex? How can a habitually heart-protected woman and a man who is afraid to murder her open in love's obliteration sustain love's bliss throughout the day?
The next stage of sexual awakening is beyond biological urge and emotional need. If you are ready for this new stage, you have grown beyond the narcissism of self-centered me-pleasuring: 'I'll do to you whatever you want as long as you love me.' 'Okay. Do to me what I want and I'll love you.'
You also have grown beyond the safety and fairness of us-centered we-sharing: 'Let's create a beautiful life together. You give me pleasure the way I want it, and I'll give you pleasure the way you want it, and we'll never violate each other's boundaries.'
Furthermore -- and perhaps most crucially -- you are ready for authentic spiritual sexuality only when you have grown beyond the new-age separatist safety net: 'You are responsible for your own happiness and I am responsible for mine. Although we can do our best to help each other, in the end, we are each responsible for ourselves.'
The next stage of sexual loving, which grows beyond dysfunctional abuse and victimhood as well as beyond self-responsibility, requires bliss-forceful heart surrender despite all boundaries and fear, feeling so widely and giving so openly that you are alive as all beings. When you have grown this open, you recognize that you are utterly responsible for the one-bodied form of the divine as well as the two-bodied form, no boundaries allowed or enabled. The openness of unsafe, heart-ravishing, two-bodied divine love is not for everybody but requires a deeper understanding of sex and a readiness to open as wide as the entire moment, inside and outside your skin.
Even now, as you read this, 'sex' is alive as all, including you. If you go deep within, you will find nothingness: an unchanging empty witness of all, the one who is reading these words, the same one who read words when you were 10 years old, the same one you always are, behind every thought, feeling, emotion, sensation, and perception. That is the masculine divine.
Everything else, everything that is now dancing as change inside and outside your body -- your emotions; the lights you see; the sounds you hear; your thoughts coming and going; the seasons cycling hot and cold; all bodies being born, living, and dying; everything and everyone that you can experience -- is the feminine divine.
The ever-divine moment is the union of He-emptiness and She-fullness, the sexual play between unchanging consciousness and ever-dancing light. That is why bodily sex is so painful and pleasurable: unless you are able to open without boundaries and merge fully, sustaining love's openness as full-blown conscious light alive in two-bodied form, you will experience an occasional fleeting grace of immeasurable bliss surrounded by many moments of knowing this isn't it.
Most moments -- sexual or otherwise -- are not recognized, felt, and lived as love's bliss appearing through many bodies. She-fullness is not allowed to dance open as love's all-giving life-light, and He-emptiness is not allowed to fearlessly penetrate and lovingly pervade Her bright showing. Ravishment is disallowed. He holds back. She dims down. You kiss your lover on the cheek, settle for occasional peaks of bliss surrounded by years of something missing. Few moments are allowed their magnificent display of light yielding open as love, perfectly, without residue or regret.
Instead, the masculine divine is kept sheathed in false layers of hesitancy. Today's man has learned to let his lover talk on and on, even when he is bored witless, even when he would rather enter his lover's heart with the same boundary-annihilating penetration of consciousness, pervading the moment, open, full of love, and gone now. And now. Meanwhile, she waits to be felt by him through and through, she waits to be seen, really seen, and adored as the light and love she is.
'Take me,' she silently yearns, unfulfilled, unravished, aching inside to be claimed by a man of utter integrity. 'I want to take you,' he squeamishly desires, squelching his passionate depth beneath tons of false pursuits.
The next sexual step is a spiritual one. He recognizes who he is and offers himself as God's unchanging and all-pervading presence: 'I am consciousness, and you are mine, you love-wild bitch.'
She relaxes her body open, actively receiving his true claim, displaying her deepest heart as God's love-light, unafraid to cut off the head of any false wimpiness that enters the depths of her heart: 'I am light. Take me, if you dare.'
She is alive, as all-alive as anger, joy, sadness; bliss-opening as every form of love; dancing as every shine of light. He is feeling her deeply, feeling through her as deep as the moment goes, opening as her body and emotions, invited by her heart's radiant yearning to surrender, together opening as One, as God, as the He-She that is.
Or not. She can focus on her career. He can relax in Bali with his girlfriends. And then, sooner or later, she and he will die.
To die without coinciding with this moment's blissful openness -- at first in rare moments and, with practice, in all moments -- is to die uncomplete, unfinished. Like lousy sex, a residue of dissatisfaction lingers, which, strangely enough, makes you want to try again and again, until the trying itself is too meaninglessly painful and you relinquish your boundaries of safe striving. Finally, you exhaust the illusion of self-responsibility and are open to be lived as the heart's surrender. You open to be lived by God, to be lived open as love. And this is the basis for every moment of your life, including sex.
America has often been at the forefront of sexual exploration and political innovation. The next sexual step is a spiritual commitment to making love for the sake of God, which requires that He is willing to fully claim Her open and She is willing to fully shine Him open, as love, as One Heart appearing through two-bodied merger. This moment, as it is, right now is already ravishing -- or you are hiding behind boundaries of safety.
Either your consciousness is already fully offered as unrelenting presence, ravishing all forms open to God, or you are holding back your masculine gift. Either your body is already surrendered open, as an active invitation to be claimed by love's force -- breathing as the bliss of love, rippling with pleasure, undulating with pain, raging as anger's passion, showing your open heart as all love-light -- or you are hiding your feminine gift.
Sensitive men and independent women are a necessary transition step. But in 50 years, perhaps, these images will be humorous enough to forget: a man, unsure of his deepest purpose, lost in temporary projects, pretending to be interested in spirituality as long as he can still hold back his absolute commitment -- especially from his woman, who, not trusting his ambiguous love, tries to love herself, direct her own life, and postpone the heart-crushing knowledge that she is growing older and has never been claimed for real.
The choice is yours right now: Are you opening to feel all bodies, offering your vulnerable, indestructible love through every moment with every breath, even when you are hurt, or are you still protecting your deepest heart, waiting?
David Deida teaches and writes about sexuality, women's spirituality, and the men's movement. He is a founding member of the Institute of Integral Psychology and has taught and conducted research at the University of California, San Diego, School of Medicine; the University of California, Santa Cruz; San Jose State University; Lexington Institute in Boston; and Ecole Polytechnique in Paris, France. He is the author of several best-selling books, including The Way of the Superior Man and Intimate Communion: Awakening Your Sexual Essence.