Sex and Zen II: Quelle probleme?

Part I

Le PenseurWhen asked how to deal with the ‘problem’ of sex, Krishnamurti gave this answer:

Why is it that whatever we touch we turn into a problem? We have made God a problem, we have made love a problem, we have made relationship, living, a problem, and we have made sex a problem Why? Why is everything we do a problem, a horror? Why are we suffering? Why has sex become a problem? Why do we submit to living with problems, why do we not put an end to them? Why do we not die to our problems instead of carrying them day after day, year after year? Sex is certainly a relevant question but there is the primary question, why do we make life into a problem? (The Krishnamurti Reader, 167)


My short answer is (as I think aloud), we think we know better. We think by creating rules, orthodoxies, norms, we can explain who we are and what we do. And then we create anxieties when we can’t fit ourselves and the world into this box of conventions we’ve created.

But why, though? What is the innate motivation for control in this fashion? Krishnamurti puts it down to fear:

Fear finds various escapes. The common variety is identification, is it not? — identification with the country, with the society, with an idea. … You … identify with the country, with a being, with an ideology. There are other times when you identify yourself with your child, with your wife, with a particular form of action or inaction, Indentification [sic] is a process of self-forgetfulness. So long as I am conscious of the ‘me’ I know there is pain, there is struggle, there is a constant fear. But if I can identify myself with something greater, with something worth while, with beauty, with life, with truth, with belief, with knowledge, at least temporarily, there is an escape from the ‘me’, is there not? (The Krishnamurti Reader, 60, emphasis mine)

Shunryu Suzuki-roshi, in Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind, has this to say about the illusion of control:

To live in the realm of Buddha nature means to die as a small being, moment after moment. When we lose our balance we die, but at the same time we also develop ourselves, we grow. Whatever we see is changing, losing its balance. (31–32)

I like this notion of dying as a small being, moment after moment. And of course, the association of orgasm with la petite mort, ‘the little death’, is an age-old one. Though Suzuki-roshi wasn’t (one surmises) specifically referring to a roll in the hay, if we take the sexual experience to mean more than the banality fed to us by popular culture, and consider it more as a mode of communication, in particular with oneself, the association isn’t all that far-fetched. Eric Francis, in all his writings about sex, asserts that (and I’m paraphrasing here, because I can’t find the exact reference right now) the moment of orgasm is the one moment we can’t lie to ourselves, when our intellect and reason give way to an experience that is only partially physiological. It takes place within us and yet somehow also outside us, it is of us and yet also bigger than us. A point of perfect balance where we lose our balance and die, but also develop and grow.

This writer ponders the function of Zen porn, that it may serve to point us to all that is impermanent, and teach us to transcend duality. I wonder if duality is not already transcended in the moment we walk that razor’s edge, and die our little deaths in order to grow our larger selves.

Part III.

Image: Rodin’s Le Penseur (The Thinker). Source: Wikimedia Commons.

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