Published on December 31, 2013
Lizard Brained Fuck Monkeys and the Path to Enlightenment Editors Note: This is an extended essay that explores tantric sexuality through the lens of more and less conventional relationships. In it, I attempt to explore the shadows and shortcomings of neo-tantric polyamory as I experience it currently being practiced in the U.S., especially within the Burning Man and global technomad communities. I also make a case for sacred monogamy as an essential component of a path to Spirit through sex. If you are practicing tantra and/or polyamory and you find any of my assertions or suggestion to be unfounded, glib, inaccurate, unkind, or untrue—great! That means you’ve already solved for the issues brought up here and you can help me learn of better ways to address all this stuff than I’ve seen modeled so far. If you’re mad, outraged, and compelled to respond at length—slow down, reread what’s here, and see if it doesn’t maybe strike just the tiniest cord of Truth—not of what we say we’re doing, but of what we are actually doing, sometimes, even if just a little bit? I’ve got tons of gratitude for my poly friends—you’ve enlivened and created incredible space in my life and love—inspired and challenged and provoked me to think and love differently, more courageously and better. I’m stoked for getting to walk beside others treading a different path up the same mountain. I hope that my path and perspectives can offer the same in return—especially for anyone wrestling with their relationship to relationship who’s not quite comfortable with the status quo dialogue in The Community.
To start off this conversation, can we all agree that monogamy, serial monogamy, celibacy and polyamory are four of the primary sexual-spiritual roads to Communion? And if we can do that, can we also dispense with flag waving for which path is better, and look bluntly at what works and what doesn’t in each chosen approach? Ours and others. Past, present and future. Rather than feeling threatened by other paths, can we celebrate them all as fertile experiments in relating—united by a shared commitment to seek what matters most? Because if we hold each path a little more loosely--defending less and observing more—we can move beyond any singular construct or confine and live into what the Greeks called hieros-gamos, the Sacred Union. Or as we might describe it less formally today, higher-ogamy. Higherogamy. That’s the place where masculine and feminine unite and lose themselves in the mystical union that provides a gateway to the All. That’s the game we’re all playing anyway, right? Or at least trying to. To move from impulsive primates frantically seeking pleasure and avoiding pain, to homo ludens— the playful apes, playing at the Infinite Game of being lived by Love in this life. Polyamory and Neo-Tantra: or How The Relentless Pursuit of Freedom Becomes a Prison All Its Own How often do we witness spiritual bypassing in the poly community? How often do we find people exploring primal urges, caulked over with progressive process, calling itself post-conventional spirituality? Here’s a typical example: hot to trot Guy who’s been in committed but untested “open” relationship with Girlfriend #1 (he probably introduced her to “The Community” in the first place) starts checking out Girl #2 who may/may not already be a friend or acquaintance of Girlfriend #1. Guy and Girl #2 approach Girlfriend #1 to let her know about their recent feelings for each other, and potential desire to “explore more with each other.” Girlfriend #1 feels all sorts of things, including jealousy, insecurity, and uncertainty. She may be reanimating old wounds from her past, she may be at the edge of her experience, she may just need time and support to test these new waters safely. And Guy and Girl #2 are deeply attentive and very sensitive to all of this. For a while.
And then, if Girlfriend #1 is really, painfully, neurotically slow to get with the program, they maybe start withdrawing a bit. Girlfriend #1 is left holding the burden of her own fears and insecurities. If she lets go and moves on, then everyone Maybe spending more time in the giddy, if still technically Platonic stages of courtship. Maybe “someone” tactfully suggests to Girlfriend #1 that she needs to stop coming from a scarcity mindset, or perhaps use this experience as material for her own releasing and relaxing into what’s arising. showers and rewards her for her profound growth and “letting go” and she will likely be comforted into bed by one of the other sensitive new age guys in the community for sexual healing/revenge fuck. But if she doesn’t—if she comes across a hard stop, a boundary that for now, at least, can’t be crossed for her. Then what? And Girlfriend #1 is troubled by the mixed signals—her “sister” Girl #2 has been sooo sweet, but it’s kind of hard for #1 to trust her. She is after all, trying to get in her boyfriend’s pants. And she sort of suspects that once she’s got into those pants, that #2 might gently elbow #1 out of pole position. After all, that kind of thing does happen. Cause that’s how polyamory can feel sometimes—exactly like serial monogamy, but with slow motion breakups. “I still like you—really, I do. I just want to fuck someone else more right now, and I don’t want to feel guilty about that wanting. So I need you to be ok with that. Or I might decide that you’re just not evolved enough to continue playing in this space with us. Is that ok? Are you sure? You’re not just saying that are you? I love you. We all love you. ” And Guy #1 and Girl #2 get it on. Then typically, she takes on not just her own shadow of jealousy and insecurity, which it might genuinely be a good thing for her to release, but that of the other two fuck-bunnies as well, and maybe even the whole community, if they’re complicit to this bypass. —it’s not that they have no boundaries, it’s that hers’ are too rigid. It’s not that they are being selfish by pursuing their passion, it’s that she is being selfish by denying them theirs’, it’s not that they are mixing up sexuality and spirituality, it’s she who seems unable to unite them. So dosed with the triple whammy of the group’s unprocessed shadowy ego, she keels over sick, overwhelmed. While Guy and Girl #2 fuck themselves into bliss, high as coons on the honeymoon overload of dopamine, endorphins and the mutual intoxication of reflecting back to each other only the newest and best of their idealized selves.
The most addictive neurochemicals on earth (and a novel body to romp around with) against the flatline maintenance hormones of a longer term relationship (and its likely plateau of emotional and physical intimacy)--it’s asymmetrical chemical warfare! Girlfriend #1 takes the wound of the scapegoat. She dies (or simply hurts more than she heals), while the rest of the tribe is purged of its sins. And it works. More or less. Unless you’re the goat. Just don’t call it progress. And definitely don’t call it sexual evolution. Into the less-than-satisfying vacuum left by conventional and serial monogamy, polyamory attempts to pioneer a new way of relating that goes beyond strict code compliance, personal jealousy, and limitations of emotional and physical expressions of love. It purports to serve as spiritual and relational path, as a “practice” of its own, and potentially a vehicle to more enlightened living and awareness. In its current West Coast neo-tantric expression, it can trace its lineage from the utopian Free Love of the late 60’s mixed with a bit of the suburban swinging of the 70’s—topped with a silicon chip layer of social networked hypermobility and spiritualized sexuality. (and to that current zeitgeist, you can add the recent books Sex at Dawn, Vagina, and What Women Really Want, which all echo a similar theme of lusty women and non-monogamy) Added to the bohemian notion of Free Love, “if it feels good do it” and the suburban loucheness of “if she [thy neighbor’s wife] looks good, do her” we get a layer of non-violent communication/EST/Landmark style verbal emotional intimacy that promises to everyone involved that “this time, we’re going to get it right.” So you get a bunch of horny and/or a little bored and/or a little stuck folks willing to explore what it means to kick down “the fourth wall” of intimacy, namely, what happens when I’d like to get it on with one of my friends? Or their friends?
And what happens if we collectively agree to saying that’s ok? Obviously, taken to its heady idealized limit, polyamory seems like the inevitable pinnacle of human expression— beyond jealousy, beyond ego or guilt, shame and fear. A shining vessel of open blissed out sensual love and embrace for god men and women. revolution of the last half century, that every wall of oppression and restriction that we knock down is further progress. But it might not be that simple. And like communism, it looks fucking awesome on paper. In pushing this far this fast, we might have actually come full circle, and now, we’ve stumbled over the backyard fence of a very old and fundamentally different tradition— The big problem though, is that by the time you are truly ready for polyamory, you no longer give a shit. Tantra. But how many eager beavers rush in anyway, where dakinis would fear to tread? And not anesthetized, new age, yoni/varja swinging in disguise, but radical kundalini sex magik. The possibility of having and eating the tastiest of cakes proves too much for most. We fudge our transcripts. We swear our allegiance to only the purest motives. We “check in” with spirit to receive “downloads” that tend to offer rather elaborate justifications of what we wanted to do anyway. We meticulously check in with each other, we make a cult of sensitivity, of process. Of Open Communication. The Left Hand path of every esoteric tradition, east and west, for millennia. We forge a social contract that as long as we tell everyone what we want, and we process it all as it happens, then we can pretty much do whatever we want—and we’ll all agree to call that “evolved” or “conscious” or “spiritual” or “freedom.” Because we presume, coming at this thing from the direction of the utterly secular, emphatically individualistic sexual And here, we realize there was a damn good reason that these practices, this radical freedom, were taught to few, and kept silent from many. It’s why chastity and humility are the monk’s vows around the world. If you want to stand a chance of making it to your goal in one piece, say all the abbots and masters, take sex and power right off the menu. As a zen teacher once said of the lefhand ways, “a path best never begun, but if started, must be finished.” It’s the fastest path to awakening, and the one with the low-
est success rate. It’s like breaking the sticks off Bottle Rockets and hoping they’ll still go where you aim them. Karma, kids, and dying: Can you pass the Poly-Test? The slippery snake of kundalini twists and coils, incredibly strong and filled with life and intention. And it feels incredible to rub up against, to feel the wet slick and smooth of it all, as it writhes upon itself, sheds itself, becomes itself again and again. To return to the notion of Higherogamy—it doesn’t matter which doorway we walk through—in celibate solitude, with a lifelong partner, with a series of partners, or with a freewheeling mashup of all of them. What matters is how far inside the kingdom we roam, and what we see and learn while there. But you can never forget that it is a serpent, and if you lose sight of the head, it can double back and bite you. Its fangs are sharp and its venom poisons. So here’s the three key cruxes of evaluating any conscious relational path, regardless of the configuration of the personnel: Karma, kids and dying. And despite all the lip service, contemporary polyamory might have overlooked/underrespected this critical aspect: It’s really only the first one—karma. But the other two are potent test cases of the first, and worth unpacking in a little detail. That in dismantling centuries old taboos and prescriptions in favor of a somewhat cavalier revival of Aleister Crowley’s injunction “Do what Thou Wilt,” we’re playing with fire, with a viper, that does not respond much to our juvenile efforts to “own our feelings” or “practice transparency.” That was something that Crowley was notoriously misquoted on anyway—his “Do What Thou Wilt” mono-commandment deliberately used the upper case “T” in Thou—to indicate one’s Higher Self. So, instead of a libertine’s excuse “if I want to, then no one can tell me not to” it becomes an ascetic’s reflection “I am only permitted to do that which aligns with my highest divinity.” Nothing more. 1) Does this act/path create more karma than it burns off? If so, it’s not really tantra. And by karma—we don’t mean “luck,” “good fortune” or any of those other sloppy translations. We actually mean “shit we do that causes more shit to happen.” And any of our sex and relational practices that create netnew drama are at odds with the tantric commitment to use sexual energy as fuel to burn off the ties that bind, not truss ourselves up still further. No matter how fun, or how dramatic and cathartic banging lots of people may be, at the end of the day, are you and your partners more or less translucent—to light, to love to God?
One way to think of it is to consider a primary relationship as a pond. Lying in the pond are mardi gras beads and all sorts of other enticing things that flash and shine. We’re tempted to reach in and grab them, and in a poly world, we can! But each time we do, we stir up the sediment in the pond and for a while we can’t see anything, even as we’re delighting in our newfound jewelry/lovers. It’s not until we let the pond settle for ages and ages, until it becomes perfectly mirror calm, that we can begin to see the actual contours of the bottom. And there, buried in the mud we find a giant shell, and if we’re able to patiently pry it open, lies the Pearl of Great Price. Now that pearl could be our own blindspots or knot of core karma—the kind that defines lifetimes of behavior and reflexive patterns. It could be our partners’. It could be a creative insight into our collective condition that becomes the seed of life’s work or art. Either way, it’s not until we are patient, and stop sending new ripples out across our pond, that it can still enough to become a mirror to catch our own true selves looking back. The deepest treasures are not close to the surface. We have to wait, still and silent, to unearth our darkest truths, and to reflect our brightest possibility. And if you’re constantly stirring up mud, it doesn’t matter how many plastic beads you collect around your neck, or how many girls you’ve talked into showing you their tits at the parade—you’re just as far as ever from prying open the Pearl and seeing your own true face. No. New. Karma. (Period). Not only does creating new Karma create additional Causes and Effects that we have to continually deal with (like generating 1.7 additional emails for every one we respond to, the only solution is stop sending emails, not processing more of them even faster), all that time and effort in support of The Process of polyamory creates a massive opportunity cost for any other deeper/greater work in our lives. But because the drama is so, well, dramatic, and the break up and makeup sex is so fiery and passionate, we can keep stoking this delusion loop for years before looking up and realizing that despite all the weepy council sessions and dreamy cuddle puddles—no ones that much further than where we all started. In a very real sense, our unintentional creating of endless Karma can cripple our efforts to live into our Dharma (what we’re inescapably born to do—living our ultimate purpose). Hotel California. Land of the Lotus Eaters. Odysseus sidetracked. Hero’s Journey postponed. 2) The kids are alright--aren’t they? Polyamory seems to work swimmingly for 20 and 30 somethings who are pre-chil-
dren and middle aged couples and solos who are post-children. It’s Hookup Culture carried over from college campuses, codified and reified into something not just transactional but flatfuck transformational!!! Beyond the kidless, there’s a rarer and braver subset who are trying to navigate the actual raising of children within the context of a polyamorous arrangement. And while the standard party line is “our kids have more concerned adults who love them—they’re realizing that we’re all family, there’s actually more love in our poly family, etc. etc.” and there’s a general emphasis on the social sensitivity angle of how the kids take a proud stand for “my two mommies” or whatever post-conventional form love takes in their household—the reality is that when adults are looking to get laid, they’re not at the top of their parenting game. (and kids can smell it). How often do poly kids get palmed off on sleepovers, put in front of movies, teed up with video games and baby sitters or a revolving retinue of “family friends” so that one or both parents can slip off to fuck? It happens all the time with divorced parents in serial monogamous dating environments—so it’s no surprise that it would happen in poly families too. What guy, looking to get into a hot young MILFies panties, doesn’t express greater interest in her young cute little children, than he might feel two years from then, while he’s babysitting them so their mom can bang another dude upstairs? Or four years from then when he’s not even dating their mom anymore, and they’re now surly pain-in-the-ass teens—who’s co-parenting then? Bottom line—raising kids is hard. Really, incredibly hard. And it goes on forever. And as adults coming into and out of kids’ lives, our impact far outweighs our memories of those same events—it’s just a bigger slice of those children’s memory pie. So as a lover of a woman with kids--going on two or three family trips or vacations with my new girlfriend feels like a lifetime for her kid. Sharing the same home or sleeping over on weekends for a year or two feels like family. And when the weaker ties that bind poly relationships drift, the kids suffer. And hanging out, tossling heads, catching up for 15 minutes, sharing popcorn and family movies—does not a parent make. Who’s staying up at two am on a Saturday night to make sure they come home? Who’s letting them cry their eyes out after their first romantic breakup? Who’s reminding them for the 99th time to take out the garbage on Monday morning? The 50’s era nuclear family is as much a fictional ideal as any other—but in the “it takes a village” file from years gone by— it really did take a village, and a vibrant network of family, kin and community, to pull non-nuclear parenting off in a culturally sustainable way.
Poly communities display much of the mobility of their demographic—generally educated, affluent bi-coastal knowledge workers and cultural creatives. They tend not to display the kind of geographic and relational fixity that powered the immigrant and agrarian communities of days gone by that successfully raised children within a network of relatives and neighbors. So in the same way that we’re pursuing sexual liberation from a humanistic angle, but perhaps missing the value of religious guardrails and prohibitions, we might also be attempting to create “interdependence in poly community” that just isn’t supported by the underlying assumptions of the adults making those communities today. After all, the whole reason poly communities come together is by choice to explore choices. Members come and go, ebb and flow over time. And for the consenting adults exploring consenting relationships, that works pretty well. The only ones that don’t ever get to leave, and that don’t have much of a say, are the kids. It’s a long time lag assessing karmic impact here too—you don’t get the feedback to identify the collateral damage for a decade or more. And by that time, most of the adults involved have moved on. Kids need parenting. Solid, stable, committed. Fierce. Selfless. It’s hard enough to pull that off when they’re your own. Parenting (and growing up) takes blood sweat and tears— and you generally need the ties of blood to bind you tight enough to stay connected through all of it. 3) Would you still need me, would you still feed me? Dying. It’s a bitch, and it’s really where the rubbers meet the road in any discussion of poly lifestyles. Because if a) a cornerstone of our poly agreements is I get to sleep with whom I want to when I want to b) dying, or even getting older and sicker is not sexy c) who’s going to want to stay with me when I’m not even remotely sexy (and possibly dying)? And, similarly to the kid discussion above, we’re not talking about dropping by with flowers and watching a football game every week or two. We’re not talking about Facetime chats, cookies baked, or any of that wonderful doodly doo neighborly stuff. All that’s laudable, but not even remotely sufficient. We’re talking about spending hours on hold with insurance companies. Changing catheters, picking up medications. Holding hands and crying in the dark together. Arranging funerals and calling relatives. And unless we’ve got some pact closer to “in sickness and in health” than “for as long as what feels best for me,” we’re going to fall short of advancing polyamory as a true cradle to grave innovation in how we live and love. Samuel Johnson once said, “A decent provision for the poor is the true test of civilization” and we could ask, in poly communities who are our poorest? Who are the most vulnerable against which we measure our own integrity?
Surely it’s not the pretty young things, the next sexy, appealing and oh-so available sparkle ponies or god-men waltzing in with leather and feathers? Nope—and it’s not even the adorably cute little toddlers, the angelic little love children that everyone marvels at and calls “little Buddhas” with every precocious outburst. It’s the harried mothers of those little children. Tits and hips swollen with the burdens of motherhood. Wanting first to get their bodies back, before they kindle any desire to offer them up again to a lover. Hoping only for a man to stand beside them in this, their most vulnerable time—not slinking off to reaffirm his faltering masculinity and fears of commitment in the slot of a different temptress. It’s the scapegoated ones—those less-than-realized poor bastards who, in attempting to “speak their truth” and “own their experience” find themselves slowly, sickeningly, on the outside of a group Norm that no one will ever quite name. And that Norm is—“we are spiritual, and our needs are spiritual. And the only Unspeakable Act, is to insist that your needs might infringe on my needs.” It’s those same Buddha children, now grown up into awkward or angry tweens and teens. Cornsilk hair replaced with pimples and curls. Giggles and smiles replaced with a simmering anger that none of these fuckwit grownups knows what’s going on either, and there really isn’t anyone at the lead of this Children’s Crusade. And it’s the tired the sick and the lonely. The me that has a few more sags, bags, wrinkles and sunspots. The me who might need far far more than I can give right now. And maybe forever. “whosoever you screw, the least of my brothers (or sisters) that you screw over me.” So how do we deal with those big three—creating no new karma, and managing relationships through the dual rites of passage of raising children and burying those we love most? Because here’s the deal: if your version of “tantra” culminates with mind-blowing athletic sex with a host of available and skilled partners, possibly getting to tenderness, intimacy and insight, but always riding the freebase high of novelty and dopamine until it begins to fade into the low-tide mudflats of actual living, whereby you reboot and more or less do it again with a different or additional partner—you’re not really doing “tantra” at all.
Top 3 Tantra Traps: Fear, Wonder and Pride If we stop at the mutual-namaste-society, where I’m honoring the goddess within you and you’re amazed at the god within me, as we get to ball each other silly and ride honeymoon highs, we’re mistaking the trailer for the movie. Real tantra isn’t about reflecting back egoically contrived versions of our own divinity—that fancy dress fantasy of who I dream I am at my best—real tantra is flatfuck hairy, and includes looking into the eyes of your lover and finding the rapist, the whore, the addict, the lecher, the ballcutter, the demon and the divine—only this time, when you see the divine, it’s fleshed out—it’s dimensional. It’s embodied and embraces all energetic plays and possibilities—not just the cardboard cutout we masqueraded up front. You’ve got to have pulled an Odysseus and lashed yourself to the mast and stuffed wax in your ears not to go mad, change your mind, or lose your mind when the fire of kundalini really starts to warp and burn anything that’s not pure and enduring. And that requires sacrifice. That requires commitment. That requires setting aside childish things. The Pearl of Great Price—costs, as T.S. Eliot once said “not less than everything” ‘Cause the #1 rule of the lefthand path? #1 Don’t flinch. If you’re in anything less than fully committed play with a deeply dedicated partner when it gets that sketchy? One or both of you will bounce. Every time. Because if you make the critical mistake of fleeing from an imaginary purple dragon and leap off an actual 100 foot cliff? It’s still 16ft/sec all the way down. Like they say in D.C.—it’s not the scandal, it’s the cover up that kills you. True too (and too true) in tantra. And if there’s additional dramas around other partners and other lovers and other friends and what she thinks about what he did and how they feel? When you get into the post-conventional, amoral poly-perspectival realm—you’re at the doorstep of the Chapel Perilous. Crazy shit happens. Ego is just too slippery a fish, too prone to distraction and drama. We’ll get caught up in it, we’ll lose the plot, we’ll drift away. Fall back asleep. Even as we’re absolutely certain that we’re pioneering the leading edge of a frothy new wave of conscious evolution! And my overheated close to death ego will throw up any and all ingenious diversion/projections/distractions to abort the process. Any and All!!! And just like in the Grail legends, that hall of mirrors that is the Chapel Perilous can only be traversed by those with the purest heart.
And a pure heart is the one that continually, constantly, repeatedly opens, gutted and bleeding, back into the Love. And that requires the deepest trust of your lover possible. We cannot suspect their motive, we cannot harbor lingering wounds, we cannot doubt that at our worst, they will be at their best, or the whole thing unravels so fast you don’t ever catch back up—only now you’re creating Karma on Kundalini turbo, and there’s quite often, and quite literally, hell to pay. #2 Don’t give into astonishment Basically the same as #1, but the sunnier side of the street. Sometimes, things can get so amazing, so absolutely otherworldly, so orgiastically mind-snappingly incredible, that we can gawp and drool and forget what we came for. Most esoteric traditions caution against getting distracted by the siddis—the supercool shit that comes up as a byproduct of the Work. The Tibetans dedicate a whole realm of the bardos for the dieties of Awesome—that despite their Awesomeness, are still just distractions. Either way, you gawk, you lose. Maybe everything. And the dude who’s absolutely gobsmacked by how much Lulu Lemon pussy he’s landing with this heart-centered eye gazing shit? Stone cold busted. #3 It’s not about you Something remarkable and consistent happens when we punch through into a wild-ass experience of ego-death Light Body/Higher Self—no sooner have we breathed in the pow- er and possibility of living and being from that place, of the Grand IAM, than some smaller egoic fragment of ourselves wants to capture it and claim it all as our own. Rather than letting that wave of Grace come, lift us up, then gently set us back down. We clutch, we grab, we conflate our self with our Self. When we experience an archetype like the Christ, alive and beating through us, it can be somewhat disorienting (viz, the entire psych ward of Old Jerusalem dedicated to the messiah complex). There aren’t a ton of models out there for comparison, and we can get seduced by our own sense of exceptionalism, of uniqueness, of specialness. But anything that sets us up and away from others(rather than bringing us down and towards them), is definitely a spiritual bypass of some sort. After all, what does the face of utterly ordinary Enlightenment look like when you can no longer write a book about it and make a living on the workshop circuit? (And aren’t we kind of there yet?) The It’s Not About You caution cuts twice in the current neo-Tantra marketplace, because in this age of “personal brands” and “self as selfie” digital narcissism—how tempting is it, while standing at the gate of the Mysteries, to be mentally composing my next Facebook post, or god-forbid, information product rollout, based on my privileged position as a mediator of the sacred? And what the hell does that do to the sanctity and clarity of my own practice of getting rid of my ego, even and precisely
as I simultaneously inflate and photoshop my image to sell more of what I pretend I’ve found to other egos seeking more of what they believe I’ve got? Do we really keep forging full steam ahead on our path, or do we campout on the doorstep of the Divine, selling trinkets to the latecomers? In Conclusion: Shit sandwich—I’m bored of fucking you This one’s fun simply because it’s soo counterintuitive. When we think of tantra we almost always think of Wild Nights, hot sex and Sting-like eight hour sessions of eye-gazing, breathswapping multi-orgasmic yabyum. In reality, it’s the opposite of all that. True tantra can only happen when all the yearningstrivingwantingneeding of lower case “f” fucking is completely tapped out. And in polyland, you tend to avoid Dullsville for all you’re worth, doing your damndest to change things up when you get anywhere close to boring—so you end up missing the boat, even as you chase the waves. The English tantric teacher Barry Long used to say “until you’d rather eat a shit sandwich than sleep with your partner, you’re not actually ready to begin.” And the only way I’m aware of to get to that place, and to not get bored, or withdraw, or go and seek some other numbing diversion or new piece of ass to reboot the franchise, is to commit to sex with a partner as ironclad practice. (see the Buddhist notion of the Freedom of No Escape) What that means sounds distinctly unsexy, often the opposite of the poly-go-round—something like, “ok, we agree to practice—OM, sex, dialogue, whatever—every day, whether we feel like it or not. Especially when we don’t feel like it. And we’re also going to agree to work with whatever comes up psychodynamically and not take it personally—which means that rather than this being “your issue” or “my stuff” we treat it simply as “stuff” and we approach it with curiosity and commitment (see #1 Don’t Flinch). We’re going to turn up the heat on our awareness and if we’re doing it right we can expect to see darker, older, more horrific shit come up than we’ve ever seen before. We will hate each other, fear each other, be sick to fucking death of each other more than we’ve ever allowed ourselves to fully feel before. And we’re going to keep fucking each other through all that. And, we will not negotiate by withholding. None of the wounded retreats, none of the bargaining with sex, none of the dramatic exits or cold plays that have served our little selves so well thus far.
Our whole game is to use sexual energy to put us into a fever, to burn up/burn off every last quivering cell of karma, and like a junkie going cold turkey, we’re going to sweat and scream and puke and maybe just feel like we’re dying. Want to play?” And how do you slip that one in smoothly over drinks with a new prospective “secondary” squeeze on date night? Love the ones you’re with—(it’s not called Polyfuckery) This one’s a truism in the poly community—it’s about the love not the sex. And everyone nods sagely in agreement, feeling secretly grateful that they’ve got such a catchy tagline to valorize their motives. But like the integral community’s “it’s not the map it’s the territory” or the Christian “Do unto others” or even W’s “No Child Left Behind”—there’s a massive fucking gap between what’s said and what’s done. And with something as infinitely distracting as liberated fuckery beckoning at the finish line, it’s no surprise we see an unusually high incidence of false starts. So here’s the simplest test of if you’re ready—actually truly, helpfully ready for a poly lifestyle… You’re already doing it—incredibly well with a dedicated partner first. And everyone else connected to that relationship—kids, exes, spouses, family—are also overflowing with love light and consciousness. If you, like Bob Marley have a “cup that overfloweth, and you don’t know what to do” then go forth and freak freely. Share the love (you can always make more, and you’ve obviously figured out how). Because if we’re not practicing polyamory—loving many consciously and skillfully—before we embark on polyfuckery—we probably haven’t mastered the core capacities we’d need to make a strong showing anyway. If I can’t speak my deepest truths to an ex spouse, or prioritize time for my thankless teen or be clear and own my part in ongoing family patterns with my siblings, what are the odds of me miraculously getting better at this with relative strangers thrown into the mix??? One important exception—if you are truly certain that your Dharma—your life’s work in this lifetime—is indeed to pioneer the relational path, to deliberately create karma with others—then jump right in and get messy, and thank you for your service—we all benefit from your willingness to push the edge! (the only people I can think of in this category are those gifted founders of their own communities and methods, for whom, exploring the edges of the relational path actually is what they’re here to do—Nicole Daedone, Decker Cunov, David Deida, Margo Annand, etc.)
For everyone else, do a serious gut check—is this my life’s work (or is this sapping my time, focus and energy from my actual life’s work, which may not include lots of new and sexy bedmates and cathartic drama, but might include slow steady scary ditch digging that I’ve been kind of relieved to postpone) So that’s it in a nutshell: If you really want it, you probably don’t deserve it. If you do deserve it, you might no longer want it. No new karma. Period. Conduct the experiment. Don’t flinch. Be warned. Higherogamy is an amazing game—the only game in town really. But how we get there is entirely up to us to choose. So let’s have a frank and ongoing discussion about what serves and what doesn’t on this path to Spirit through sex-let’s swap notes on our own experiments, and let’s not forget the accumulated wisdom of the lineage practices from which we borrow so freely. They might have something more to offer than the permission we want to do what we want—they might actually contain some of the caution and wisdom we so desperately need. Illustration by Android Jones This article written by Adiam—a discarnate being from the star system Whomp. He likes long nighttime walkabouts in the desert, bungee jumping through wormholes, and inserting his DNA strands into earthbound mortals for the fun of it. Feedback, comments, amens and righteous indignation all welcome - www.facebook.com/higherogamy. Please feel free to share, just attribute to the author.
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