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TAPE #11 Rianne EISLER, PT. 1
IN TERMS OF SPIRITUALITY AS IT IS LINKED WITH SEXUALITY, HOW WOULD YOU VIEW THE WORLD TODAY?
I think we are today in a time of very exciting re evaluation of both sexuality and spirituality. I think we're all familiar with the conventional take on sexuality, which is, to put it mildly, not a spiritual one.
WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY THAT?
What I mean by that, it's certainly not associated with the sacred. If anything, it's associated with the obscene. But I mean by that that it isn't even very often associated with what we consider spiritual connection, even any kind of a connection but with contempt for women, with violence, with hate, domination. And you know, it isn't just pornography or the sex and violence in the media. If you look at something that we take so for granted like that quote, innocent cartoon of the caveman, on one hand he's got the weapon, violence. On the other hand he's dragging a woman by her hair. So before a child can even form a ... picture, there it is, sex and violence, sex and domination. Nothing about sex and spirituality.
BEFORE WE CONTINUE ON DOES THIS IN YOUR MIND EXTRAPOLATE OUTWARDS BEYOND RELATIONSHPS BETWEEN TWO PEOPLE. DO WE SEE IT AS IT REFLECTS SOCIETY AS A WHOLE TODAY?
We see that and that of course is one of the central motifs of my work that sexuality, spirituality are how we perceive this, how we behave. It's not something that happens in a vacuum, it happens in a social context and that there is this interactive relationship between what I would call the social construction of sexuality and spirituality and the larger society. So yes, if you have this model of one half of the species dominating violence even as in that cartoon, the other half of the species, a child can internalize what is a model for all human relations on a very deep, unconscious level. And then it can become generalized to where any form of difference, not just gender based difference race, religion, it becomes automatically equated with superiority inferiority.
HOW DOES IT AFFECT OUR INSTITUTIONS, OUR GOVERNMENT?
Tremendously. And we're only beginning to look at values. You know, there's so much talk today about values. But the social construction of gender relations and sexuality of spirituality as a field of inquiry relating to economics is only beginning now. In periods of dominator what I call dominator regression, because I have two basic models that I talk about the partnership and the dominator models you begin to see a lack of funding, a withdrawal of funding for stereotypical women's work. Why? Because in the rigid dominator mind set, women's services caring for children, no money for those, right? Caring for the sick, again, quote women's work or environmental housekeeping, there the head of the households do for free. Now it's not conscious all of this but it's time we became aware of how all this interconnects.
WHAT ABOUT RELIGION?
Ah, what about religion? Religion can certainly elevate us spiritually, can help us behave, well in the words of Jesus, treat others as we would want them to treat us. But unfortunately what we have is a heritage of religious institutions and yes, a morality not of caring but of coercion. That throughout what happens in history, namely the alliance between religious institutions and very authoritarian and often very brutal regimes. The witch burnings, for example, in the Middle Ages are a classic example of the co option and distortion of the spirituality of caring, compassion, non violence that Jesus preached into one of coercion and violence. And today we're seeing again the so called fundamentalist resurgence that has very little to do with religion, certainly not with the teachings of Jesus, the so alled Christian right but a lot to do with the reimposition of a system of domination of strong man rule, of authoritarianism and yes, of violence.
RETURNING TO THE INTIMAGE I SUSPECT MANY PEOPLE TODAY IF YOU ASKED THEM TO ASSESS THEIR SEXUAL RELATIONS WOULD SAY THEY WERE NORMAL. WHAT DO YOU THINK IS THE CONTEMPORARY PERCEPTION OF NORMAL SEXUAL RELATIONS?
I think it's shifting and I think that's one of the very exciting and healthy aspects of what's happening in our society today. When I look at sexuality in my work, I speak of the real sexual revolution which was the rejection f a lot of beliefs and behaviours that really diminished us and that deprived us of real pleasure and I don't mean pleasure as an escape but pleasure as a fulfilment. For example, the notion that there's something wrong with our bodies, that sex is sinful or the notion that women don't enjoy sex, that they're just there to, if you will, sexually service men. Or the notion of compulsory heterosexuality. These are all part of what I would call the real sexual revolution as is the relinking of sex and spirituality. But then there's also what I call the sexual counter revolution, the dominator sexual counter revolution of this constant linking of sex and violence, sex and domination. That is a way of pulling us back to what's very unhealthy and basically anti pleasure, anti fulfilment. It's certainly anti spiritual ... of sexuality.
WHAT ARE THE LINKS BETWEEN PLEASURE, SEXUALITY AND SPIRITUALITY?
We humans have an enormous yearning for connection. And that the mainspring for that yearning of connection is deeply rooted in our revolution. I would submit to you that it is not conincidental that words like passion are words that we find in both the erotic literature and the spiritual literature. Or for that matter that love is a key word in both the erotic and the spiritual literature. Why? Because both the yearning that we have for that pleasure, for what Masters and Johnson call the pleasure ... and yes, for sex as an ecstatic experience, as an altered state of consciousness that makes it possible for us to understand our basic interconnection, our linking and our powerful yearning for connection with what we call the divine. They stem from the same evolutionary thrust and indeed one of the most extraordinary things that we're learning from science today is that in the course of evolution, if you will, by the grace of evolution, we humans are given chemical rewards for fulfiling that yearning for connection eurapeptides. I'm sure you've read some of the research. These are chemical rewards we receive not only when we are loved but when we love. Not only when we are touched in a way that makes us feel good but when we touch another, be it a lover or a child to make them feel good. So this is something deeply rooted in human evolution and there's a huge falsification about human sexuality being what makes us like animals when in fact we have a unique human sexuality that yes it's linked with these peptide rewards, it's linked with this powerful human yearning for connection and yes has a spiritual dimension as well.
HAVE WE EVER, HUMANITY EVER BEEN OTHER THAN DOMINATOR BASED, AUTHORITARIAN, SOMETIMES AND OFTEN AGGRESSIVE? HAS THERE EVEN BEEN A PARTNER BASED SOCIETY OR SOCIETIES?
One of the super myths that we have been taught it's not only so many myths about sexuality like linking of sex and violence and domination being natural or the cave man cartoon, youk know, dragging the woman by the hair with a club, which has absolutely nothing to do, if you look at cave art, with any of the images in cave art. Which there is not one image linking sex with violence and domination. Quite the contrary and this dispels another myth, the myth that sex belongs in the category of the obscene. The imagery of sex, of woman's body, man's body was part of the imagery of the sacred in cave art. But the super myth, the super myth that we've all been taught is that what I call the dominator way of relating, be it sexually, in our intimate relations or internationally for that matter, that that's just human nature, that is also today being dispeled by what the British archeologist James Maylard calls a veritable revolution in archeology. Finds of societies that were not ideal, societies that lasted for thousands of years longer than the 5,000 or so years that we call history that oriented more to what I've called a partnership rather than dominator model.
WHAT SPECIFICS COULD YOU OFFER ME FROM THE FINDINGS, ARCHEOLOGICAL AND OTHER?
One of the most interesting things about the art, prehistoric art that we are now these images and excavations of an ideology revealing a way of structuring society very different from what we've been taught is quote, normal, already appeared in the 19th century. But it's really only since World War Two that we've had new dating methods and also much more extensive excavations. For one thing, there is a remarkable absence in the art of the socities from the paleolithic, neolithic of the image that we take so for granted, images of so called heroic battles, of men basically hurting, inflicting pain on others. There is a remarkable absence also of images of people being dragged in chains by so called hallowed rulers. It's very interesting. A lot of the art has to do not with what I call in the title of my book, one of my books, The Chalice and the Blade, the power of the blade, the power to dominate, the power to destroy but rather with the power to give life, nurture life, illuminate life and yes the derive pleasure from life, a great deal of sexual imagery, the sacred union between the goddess and her divine lover. In the neolithic, the gomayonito lovers, for example or in Chatalhuyac which is the largest neolithic site ever found dating back about 6,000, 7,000 BCE there the union of woman and man is part of the sacred iconography. Now why? The ancients must have noticed something. Life emerges from the body of woman. And what precedes that is sex. So sex became the central mystery, one of the epiphanies of an earlier, much more nature based religion in societies that as I said were not ideal, were more based on partnership rather than domination.
IN ANCIENT CARVINGS .... ART, DO THE BREASTS, THE VAGINA HAVE A ROLE, A STRUCTURE OF ANY DOMINANCE?
Tremendously important images in the ancient art. We're so used to thinking of breasts, vagina, phallus as pornography. Anything sexually explicit is obscene. And yet we find so many of these images in the art of these earlier societies that, if you will, did not have the spirituality of man and nature excuse me. We find so many of these images I'm going to start from the beginning.
I WAS ASKING WHETHER THERE WERE A LOT OF IMAGES OF BREASTS, VAGINA AND
We're so very used to seeing images of breasts, vaginas, phallus. We think of them as obscene because they're part of what we call pornography. But in the art of the anciety society, they were part of the sacred iconography. And the marriage, the union, the sacred union between the female and the male, between the goddess and her divine lover, that was one of the central mythical motifs. Why? They must have noticed something. Life emerges from the body of woman and what precedes that is of course sex. So sex became one of the central mysteries of this much more nature based way of imaging the powers that animate and govern the universe.
WHAT DO YOU MEAN WHEN YOU SAY NATURE BASED IN THIS CONTEXT?
We are very used to thinking not only of spirituality, well it's man and spirituality over woman and nature that's the model. And it's not only in the Western model. A lot of the Eastern religions, I mean certainly not tantric yoga but as a whole have the same model. It's very, very different. The spirituality that emanates from the images of these earlier, more egalitarian societies, societies where in the words of Maylark there weren't these huge disparities in status and wealth between people and certainly men did not dominate women, the images that we see from these societies have a spirituality that is both imminent and transcendent. It's not just detached remote spirituality.
LINKED RIGHT TO THE NATURAL WORLD?
Linked to the rhythms of nature, to the cycles of nature, to the life giving, life nurturing, life supportin and illuminating aspects of nature. They took into account the destructive power of nature too and they respected that. But they saw it in a cyclical way, very different in a way from like you'll burn forever in hell if you have sex for pleasure, right. It's not a one way destination. There is sex, there is birth, there is death, then there is rebirth and that's really and sex played a very important part even in the funerary rites because they thought of sex as the animating and animating not just in the terms of life giving but pleasure giving powers of the universe rather than those powers associated with punishment, with the infliction of pain. It's a matter of emphasis.
WHY COULDN'T THERE HAVE BEEN DOMINATOR SOCIETIES THAT HAPPEN TO HAVE A DIFFERENT VIEW OF SEX THAN OUR CONTEMPORARY SOCIETIES?
It's a very good question but the evidence does not support that view. The evidence really indicates first of all that in the relations between women and men which is a basic model because there are two halves of humanity and they're called women and men, men did not dominate. Women were priestesses, women were craftspeople. Some of the most important crafts of the time pottery, for example, are very important in early days. And also the way that they imaged the powers that governed the universe, they really saw the world as a great mother, from whose womb all of life ensues, to whose womb all of life returns at death like the cycles of vegetation once again to be reborn. But, and this is very important, in the iconography she also had divine daughters and divine sons. So you begin to see for example in the sacred union of the goddess, the gulminita lovers or the lovers of Tatanhuyac that it is not only the female creative sexual power but also the male creative sexual power.
HOW DID WE LOSE THAT?
Well we have many clues to that just as we have clues to the earlier society and we have the clues in some of our myths. It's very interesting some of the best known myths. Take for example the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden. It is a clue, highly over idealized to a time when woman and man lived in harmony with one another and with Nature. But that same story has a clue to the shift. Suddenly they're ashamed of their bodies. Why? I mean we all get a body. But it's a question of guilt, shame, fear. Those are the ways that you dominate don't you? And we're told that henceforth now, henceforth, woman will be dominated by man and in the very next story we find brother killing brother. War, the world of sexes. Now the archeological data is like fingerprints in the archeological record. That there was in our pre history a long period of society's orienting more to the partnership model. But then during a period of great disequilibrium of climate changes, natural disasters and the migrations from the more marginal, harsher environments where, if you will, the earth was not a good mother
THE RUSSIAN AND EASTERN STEPPES.
And also what is now the Saharasian desert. Horde after horde of pastoralists who basically were traumatized by these massive climate changes that made marginal areas almost uninhabitable and their cultures moved very much in a dominator direction. And so you begin to see a remything after that happens. Almost reality stood on it head. And may I suggest we close that door because it sounds like Inner Sanctum
AND AS THE FRIEZES ON THE TEMPLE CLEARLY DENOTE THE SEX ACT IS A SPIRITUAL ACT.
Yes and that is what really links tantra with these earlier traditions of the sacred union because you see the friezes of the female and male deity, Shakti and Shiva embracing in sexual pleasure. What's so exciting about that resurgence of interest in tantra today is that it is again a way of linking the spiritual with pleasure not with the inflicting or suffering of pain which is the dominator mode, if you really think about it, of depicting what is sacred. But pleasure not as, you know, mechanical sex or basically debasing or violent sex but sex based on a mutual giving and receiving of benefits of pleasure. And yes of caring. It doesn't have to be a lifelong bond but some, I mean when you use the term erotic, a lot of pornography is really not erotic in the sense of Eros as a deity of sexual love. Quite the contrary. So that's a very, very exciting thing to see that interest, even though a lot of the text that we have inherited now from the tantra writings are very male centered and that remything is also taking place of the equalizing of the relationship.
TAPE #12 Rianne EISLER, PT. 2
YOU WERE TALKING A SWEEP IN FROM THE PLAINS OF PASTORAL GROUPS AS CLIMATE CHANGES OCCURRED AND YOU STARTED TO TELL ME HOW THAT DEVELOPED DOMINATOR SOCIETIES.
What we then begin to see is a tremendous shift in the archaeological landscape. You see what archaeologists call cultural impoverishment, the disappearance of craft traditions, sophisticated craft traditions. You see the shrinking of settlements and you also begin to see for the first time and this is now in Europe, what the UCLA archaeologist, Maria Ginbutas called Suti burials borrowing from the Indo European practice of the burning of the wife, of the widow, after the death of her husband, you begin to see graves, chieftain graves with sacrificed women, sometimes sacrificed children even. Completely different from the earlier types of burials which were either communal graves or very often they were graves in an oval shape with a very small and as some of the archaeologists said, inconveniently small opening. But of course if you consider that it was the grave, the oval shape was symbolic of the womb, the womb of the goddess and the opening was the vaginal opening, it was not for the convenience of the living, it was for the rebirth of the dead either spiritually or actually. So there are many, many signs of the shift, not the least of which is the shift in what the art depicts because now you begin to see these images of, well the emphasis is no longer on the giving of life and on pleasure. Sex, the imagery begins to be very much one of the taking of life, so called heroic battles, conquest.
(COUGHING) I BEG YOUR PARDON.
HAS A MORE LOGICAL PATTERN OR A PATTERN ONE COULD ARGUE IS MORE IN TUNE WITH THE WORLD IN WHICH WE LIVE, THE PARTNERSHIP MODEL YOU DRAW. WHY HAVE SOCIETIES IN YOUR VIEW NOT BEEN ABLE TO RETURN TO THAT MODEL FOR THOUSANDS OF YEARS? WHY DIDN'T IT REASSERT ITSELF JUST BY ITS NATURAL WELL BEING?
The partnership model and we're talking about configuration now that holds together has actually reasserted itself throughout recorded history. If we look at recorded history through this lens now the partnership and dominator models as two basic human possibilities, look at early Christianity for example. What was that really about? The teachings of Jesus. They were partnership teachings weren't they, compassion, non violence, empathy. But until now, these periods of partnership resurgence have been followed by periods of dominator regression. So you saw what happened. The so called Orthodox church appears. Rigidly male dominant, so much so that women are even excluded from the priesthood completely depriving women of moral authority of course, of the right to say this is right and this is wrong, including what's done to women. Highly authoritarian and yes, very violent the Inquisition, the Crusades, the witch burnings. We've seen these movements throughout history but now the grass roots partnership movement is very, very powerful because at a certain level of technological development this dominator mode which emphasize conquest, domination, basically is not functional. If you will, the blade is the nuclear bomb, its bacteriological terrorism and man's conquest of nature at this level of technology threatens to do us in. But at the same time that there's very powerful, powerful grass roots movement towards partnership and the redefinition of sexuality and spirituality is very much part of this. There's also very, very strong dominator systems, resistance and yes, even regressive movement. And the so called religious fundamentalism, if we really analyze it will certainly it has nothing to do with the teachings of Jesus with caring, compassion and non violence. It's really dominator fundamentalism. Let's get women back in their quote, traditional, subservient place. Again, holy wars, violence is justified. It's divinely ordained. And of course strong man rule. We are the only ones who know and we'll punish you severely if you deviate from what we consider is moral and right.
BUT HOWEVER REPUGNANT IT MAYBE BE TO MANY, ISN'T AREN'T MALES NOT ONLY AMONG HUMANS BUT MALES OF MANY SPECIES NATURALLY AGGRESSIVE, NATURALLY DOMINANT, BOTH IN THE HERD AND IN SEXUAL RELATIONS?
Depends on what species you pick. The seahorses, for example, have a very different arrangement. Very interesting because it's actually the male seahorse that gives birth, quote, gives birth. I mean the female lays the eggs in the pouch of the male seahorse who then incubates them and births them. As far as primates, which are the animals that are often, you know pointed to look, I mean male dominant, I did quite an extensive analysis in writing my book, Sacred Pleasure, of two sub species of chimpanzees. One the so called common chimpanzee, the others the so called binobo ah chimpanzees or so called pygmy chimpanzees although they're no smaller than we are. And very different social organization in each among the common chimps, although by no means rigid dominator model, there is much more of the male dominance. Among the so called binobo or pygmy chimpanzees, you have a much more egalitarian relationship. But one of the very interesting characteristics is the very different use of sexuality. Among the binobo, sexuality is in the words of one of the primatologists, ...., a ritual of reconciliation. It's a peacemaking ritual. It's a way of diffusing tension or as Akano, another primatologist writes, the binobos use sexual bonding, sexual pleasure as a means of maintaining a society based more on the exchange of benefits rather than on the fear of pain and punishment. So we have something to learn from two very different possibilities for our closest primate relatives and of course we humans are much more flexible than any other species. So it's rather nonsense really to use any animal species as a model for humans. We have a possibility for, yes for constructing societies based on domination. Very unpleasant, they're painful and at this point they may be suicidal and we also have the partnership possibility which has very ancient roots and which many people today in many different ways and sexually, spiritually is one of the elements of this, are trying to reclaim as a model.
WHY CAN'T YOU HAVE A SOCIETY, A DOMINATOR SOCIETY, PERHAPS EVEN IF IT'S A NON SEXIST MODE OF DOMINATION, BUT DOMINATOR SOCIETY IN WHICH THERE IS OPEN SEXUALITY AND IT IS EQUATED WITH SPIRITUALITY?
Well, can you? I mean, think. If one body controls another body which is really what we're talking about I mean the subtitle of my book is Sex, Myth and the Politics of the Body how can that be an open arrangement? How can that be an open society? You can't. You can't have it. So right there, that whole model of one type of individual controlling the body, the sexuality of another individual doesn't make for much openness or spirituality for that matter because if you have spirituality then you have to have an honouring of that other individual and of your own body too for that matter.
ON A DIFFERENT TANGENT, WHY COULD YOU NOT HAVE A PARTNERSHIP BASED FAMILY AND PERSONAL LIVES AND A DOMINATOR SOCIETY WITH DOMINATOR MARKET MECHANISMS?
I'm so glad that you have asked that question because so much of what we're still taught is so fragmented. And we then get the notion that is a false notion of a lack of connection. But societies are living systems and the kind of family form that we have is integrally connected to the kind of government and economic system that we have. Just to give you a small example, about 300 years ago we were just beginning what I call the modern partnership challenge, to entrench traditions of domination and it began with the challenge of the so called divinely ordained right of kinds to rule over their quote, subjects. But at the same time and ... publicity has been given to this, there was also a challenge to the so called divine the ordained right of men to rule autocratically over women and children in the so called castles of their homes. Why? Because it is in our intimate relations, in our family relations, relations that involve touch to the body parent child relations, sexual relations that we first learn and continually practice on the most unconscious, almost neural level, how two bodies should relate. Should one have the power and the right to control another's body through fear, through the threat of pain or should there be a relationship between two bodies where there is respect for the integrity of the other. Now if we have a model of violation of human rights very very early in our lives and if we also have that model for sexuality we're going to apply that, aren't we, unconsciously to it being quote, natural for human relations to be based on domination and violence.
WHY IS IT PART OF THE PACKAGE OR WHY IS IT NECESSARY TO HAVE AN EGALITARIAN PARTNERSHIP RELATIONSHIP IN SEXUALITY IN .... AND PERMEATING THROUGH SOCIETY? WHY IS IT NECESSARY TO HAVE THAT BE ELEVATED TO THE REALM OF SPIRITUALITY?
We have a very interesting conception of the sacred, of the spiritual that is our heritage from really a pathological distortion that happens with the imposition of regimes, family regimes, tribal regimes then social regimes, based on the power to inflict pain. Namely, we are very conditioned to think of the sacred in association with fear, aren't we, God fearing. You'll burn in hell forever, like if you have sex for pleasure, right. And that's a long time, forever, you know. And it was believable though in societies where autocratic rulers and autocratic heads of families had life and death power, power to do the most barbaric things to the people under their control. Now today we're trying to change our perception of what is sacred. You know, one of the great eye openers for me in doing the research for my book, Sacred Pleasure, was how many of the images of the sacred that we've inherited sacrilize either the inflicting or the suffering of pain. And it isn't just Western images, you know, all of these saints impaled and burned and tortured. It's the Mahabarata, the deities chopping each other to bits. Whereas if we move more towards a partnership conceptualization of the sacred, it's associated not so much with fear but with awe, with the awe at the wonder, at really the miracle of, well of what, of this great pleasure it has given to us to feel, from love, yes and from sex, from caring touch. From the giving and receiving of pleasure. So the imagery of the sacred, the imagery of the sexual as shifting into the realm of the spiritual is being imbued with a spiritual dimension, has very ancient roots, has been retained in distorted form but it's there in some traditions like tantra. But it is part of the reclamation for us of a more partnership way of imaging our bodies, our relationship to other humans and our relations to nature.
YOU SPEAK OF THAT IN SACRED PLEASURES AND IF COULD JUST QUICKLY PARAPHRASE BITS. ... BEING ABSENT BUT THE ACT OF BIRTH DEPICTED AS SACRED. SACRED MARRIAGE SCULPTURES. THE ACT OF COITUS AS A RELIGIOUS RITE. THE IMAGINED MENSTRUAL BLOOD AS A DIVINE GIFT. THE HUMAN BODY AS SPIRITUAL AS WELL AS SEXUAL. PREGNANCY AND BIRTH GIVING. A WOMAN'S SPIRITUALITY BEING DEIFIED. AS YOU POINT OUT YOURSELF, THAT IS A MONUMENTAL LEAP OF PERCEPTION FOR MANY IN SOCIETY. HOW CAN SOCIETIES EVEN BEGIN TO MAKE THAT KIND OF LEAP?
And yet if we look at the remarkable absence of scenes of birthing, of life giving, from our sacred art once we've looked at the art of these ancient societies, it seems peculiar doesn't it? It seems strange that this life giving act should not be part of the sacred imagery. It seems even more peculiar to read passages in our Judeo Christian Bible in which suddenly birthing has become something that is dirty, that a woman has to go to a male priest to be purified from it And this is where you begin to see the remything, the traces of the remything from the sacred marriage of the goddess and the god, of the hymns of Enana where we read of this sacred union between the goddess Enana, the goddess of love and procreation, the Sumarian queen of heaven and earth. The same queen of heaven that Jeremiah says, oh he rails against the people in the Bible backsliding to her rule. And the men, because by then only the men talk the women are silenced the men say well why would we not go back to the worship of the queen of heaven because when our wives, when our wives when our wives baked cakes for the queen of heaven, we had prosperity and we had peace. It's fascinating when you begin to look at familiar scriptures, the Song of Solomon, Solomon doesn't even figure in it. Neither does God, Yahweh, Jehovah. It's about the beautiful Shulamite, the rose of Sharon who sings an erotic song to her lover but he shall lie all night betwixt her breasts. That's a clue. What's it doing in a sacred book? It's part of that heritage but already distorted, co opted. She is now referred to as a woman in a king's harem rather than the secret union between ... and her divine lover.
BUT WOULD YOU NOT AGREE THAT ... IT DOESN'T MATTER, ... THE REALITY IS MUCH MORE COMPLEX AND SOCIETIES AND THE STRUGGLE CONTINUING STRUGGLE FOR SURVIVAL IS MUCH MORE COMPLEX THAN A MODEL OF PARTNERSHIP AND A MODEL OF DOMINATION. THAT TO RETURN TO A TO DEVELOP HARMONIOUS SOCIETIES IS VERY COMPLEX.
It is complex to change the way that we have been taught to think of what we call reality. But once we begin to see that we have alternatives, that we have that other possibility, the partnership possibility, a lot of the complexities begin to fall into place because they are part of this basic shift. Yes, everything changes how we image sexuality, how we image spirituality, how we image economics, how we image power, power. Is the highest power to be the power to dominate and destroy or is the highest power to be the power to give, nurture and illuminate life. In an earlier book, the Chalice and the Blade, these two symbols of power, the chalice and the blade. Now every society is going to have some violence and yes there will be some rankings. But in a partnership society, you have more rankings of actualization. Hierarchies of actualization and no hierarchies of domination. Why? Because power is not conceptualized as this power to control, to harm because empathy is more cultivated in the socialization of both women and men. So we're talking about a systemic change. But the problem is that so much during the last 300 years of trying to move towards a partnership model and since the industrial revolution destabilized everything, there's been an opening. It's focused on the top of the dominator pyramid, on the so called public sphere which was primarily relations between men and men, economics and politics. But some of the most foundational relations in the so called private sphere between women and men and children, these basic foundational relations are only today being addressed. So again the perception today that rape is not something as we used to joke about. You know, relax and enjoy it, if rape is inevitable. But that's it's a crime of violence and domination. That's a major change in consciousness and part of the movement toward changing the foundational relations. Changing the motto of spare the rod we used to say we used to say, spare the rod and spoil the child. Today we call it what it is child abuse. I suggest that the real sexual revolution, the real parent child revolution, the real humanizing of our intimate relations, the interjection of human rights standards into sexuality, yes, and ethic. I write in my work about an ethic for intimate relations. Not all is fair in love and war. But an ethic for intimate relations, for sexual relations. These are very important political developments because they are foundational so that there is a base on which these changes that we've seen in the last 300 years towards they're a more democratic, less brutal way of living so that they don't constantly get pushed back because the foundations haven't been addressed.
THANK YOU VERY MUCH.
IN TERMS OF SPIRITUALITY AND HOW IT INTERTWINES AND RELATES WITH SEX, WHAT'S YOUR VIEW OF THE WORLD TODAY?
Today the mainstream image of sex and spirituality is like the twain shall never meet. Certainly we don't associate sexuality with the spiritual, with the sacred. On the contrary, we associate it with the obscene, pornography. We even associate it with anger, with contempt. I mean think of some of our language. The four letter words, they're sexual words. Very interesting, why? An act that gives so much pleasure associated with the giving of pain, with contempt, with anger, certainly not with the spiritual. And there is also of course the constant liking that we see of sex with violence, with domination. And it isn't only in pornography or in the more sensational film culture that we have. It's in something as presumably innocent as the caveman cartoon that we give to our children and think nothing of it, where in one hand he's got the club, the weapon, the violence. In the other hand, he's dragging the woman by the hair. So very early this picture sex, violence and domination. There's something else happening too and that's the exciting thing. It's been a recurrent theme through history. The troubadours, for example, trying to relink sex with ritual, with the spiritual, with the honouring of woman rather than debasing of woman. But today there is a very strong movement to relink and I say relink advisedly, to relink sexuality with spirituality. And in terms of my work that's part of larger movement, a movement to shift from what I've called a dominator to a partnership model for human relations not only intimate relations but all relations.
(COUGHING) EXCUSE ME. THE EQUALITY OF SEX CERTAINLY HEIGHTENS PLEASURE. WHAT IS IT TO DO WITH SPIRITUALITY?
A very interesting thing of course is that if you ask some of the scientists who are studying altered states of consciousness, they will immediately tell you that sexual orgasm and I don't mean just in the male case, ejaculation, but I mean orgasm, you know. Reich early made a distinction between ejaculation and orgasm, that full orgastic experience for women and for men, that that has the properties of an altered state of consciousness just as the mystical trance does. So right there on the most basic biological level you already have a link between sex and spirituality. But actually it's a very ancient link and what we're now rediscovering is that this link goes back to some of the earliest art , art as an expression of our view of the cosmos, of our asking of the questions that we humans want answered. What's this adventure here on this earth about? Full of sexual imagery, the sacred art of the caves. Nothing like the caveman cartoon.
WHAT SPECIFICALLY? WHAT KIND OF IMAGERY?
Oh you have images of woman's body is a central image and by woman's body I mean very definitely woman's sexuality woman's breasts, vulva, but not, you know, when the first images of this type were discovered in the 19th century, the scholars of the day called them Venus figures and they assumed projecting what I call a dominator world view, that these were some bizarre form of pornography because bizarre to them because these were very full bodied figures. Well of course they were representations of the life and pleasure giving powers of the universe. You see images that some of the scholars didn't even see. They called them indeterminate markings. They were clearly etched pubic triangles vulvas, phalluses. They called them batons de command. I mean they had nothing to do with some headsman, you know. They were phalluses, if you look at them, and very explicit phalluses. But you see, the mindset. It was the story of man the hunter, man the warrior. So what did woman, sex have to do with any of the art that they were finding. But it is a continuum, of sexual images as part of the sacred. You see it in the Stone Age, the cave art. You see it later in the firs agrarian societies, the neolithic, the sacred union of the goddess and her divine love, agomaylitha lovers. In Chatalhuyac, the largest neolithic site ever excavated you have a fascinating frieze of a woman and a man in embrace and next to them the woman with the child, the first Madonna, if you will. Maybe not the first because there are others. But it is very clearly not only a lesson in sex education but it is a story, a story of a sacred union and the birth of a divine child. Very different from the asexual story that we have inherited after there was a shift from these more partnership oriented societies.
WHERE DOES TANTRA FIT INTO THIS?
Tantra is a fascinating development. Actually the first tantric text come from about the 12 century, this era, not before the common era. And they came from the lower classes, the lower castes, the conquered people of India. The same Indo European invaders that changed the landscape and the culture of Europe changed it in India only later. Tantra is a reinstatement in to Hinduism of that which the Indo European invasions, the pastoralists who brought with them their dominator model, took out the linking of the body and the spiritual, the linking of sex and spirituality and yes, the honouring of woman not as the temptress Eve, as somebody dangerous to man. You know, Delilah you have to watch it, right. Intimate relations are dangerous to men in mythology but as a figure that is a divine vessel and figure that incarnates the life giving and pleasure giving powers of the great goddess of antiquity.
AND WHICH BY THE TEMPLE THE ACT OF SEX IS A SPIRITUAL ACT.
And the act of sex then in tantra becomes again reimbued with spirituality. But also a spirituality linked with pleasure, not with suffering, not with pain, not with either the inflicting or the suffering of pain and