News+and+politics religion philosophy the cynic librarian: Love Is the Drug

Friday, May 20, 2005

Love Is the Drug

I found Honey on the Razor's Edge: The Nature of Gender and Romance, by Ngak'chang Rinpoche & Khandro Déchen very intriguing reading. It reminds me of the cosmic sensuality of Whitman, the Song of Songs, and Dante. My most intimate reaction is one of sympathy and acceptance. I "want to" accept the way of looking at the world that this article so finely expresses it. Of course, any type of "criticism" becomes suspect for several reasons: there's an assumption that unless you have experienced something close to the way the writers experience it, then there is some form of inauthenticity afoot.

I acknowledge this suspicion and recognize that one must be conscious of motive. Indeed, the existential (or is it more adequately phrased as "experiential?) perspective of the religious dimension opened up by the authors' remarks is very powerful and seems to want to elicit a response that works at the same level of perception of reality as it does. This is only right, i think. Where would a response come from to meet it on its own grounds of authenticity?

Perhaps an anecdote can suffice for lack of an analytical approach. During my wander lust days, I made a stop at the nascent Naropa Institute in Boulder Colarado. I stayed in a co-ed Sanga there for a few days. Being the horny teenager that I was, I was putting the moves on a woman in the living room of the Sanga. She was deftly diverting my approaches with mystical elan. In the course of what turned into a discussion, she mentioned that she would only have sex with her guru--this was put in much more mystical terms than I now portray it (some 32 years later). At the time, I did not really get what she was saying, since I was only familiar with Buddhism from the Zen perspective.

Later, I attended a poetry reading where Allen Ginsburg and an American Zen poet read their work. Chogyam Trungpa, the founder of the school and the Sanga was in attendance. During the reading, Ginsberg read a very shocking (to me at least) poem that spoke about ****ing his guru. Everyone in the audience, myself included, recognized that he was talking about Trungpa--just as the woman I had tried to seduce earlier had been.

Anyway, I am not sure there is a moral to the story. I do think that while religious expressions of these types of sexual practices are very powerful and very beautiful, I something inherently self-based in them. Let me substantiate that statement somewhat: I once read a Tibetan monk's book in which the author stated that there is no love involved in Tibetan meditation--from the persepctive of the initiate tantric sexual meditation is geared towards one purpose--to gain enlightenment. The concerns or even the existence of the yogini (at least in this author's experience) was simply instrumental towards achieving that enlightenend state.

I will leave the ethical implications of this monk's assertions hanging in the air for the moment. I do hope that you will not find this anecdotal approach too personal or its seeming critique as an attack. Personally, I have been very attracted to Vajrayana Buddhism--the way it deals with sexuality in a religious framework is very appealing. The promise of enlightenement through the appropriate use of tantric sex is obviously very powerful. Yet, don't these very estehtic feelings of "appeal" and "power" and "attraction" call for suspicion the same as any other appeal to emotions might elicit? That is, shouldn't these suspicions be dealt with in order to gain an authentic experience of the reality of what is promised just as much as the experiential authenticity appealed to in the essay by Ngak'chang Rinpoche & Khandro Déchen?

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