The Wheel of Passion
There are many cycles in the stream of our experience. Macrocosmic cycles are the rounds of repeated rebirths, the cycle from birth to death, seven year cycles (or a spiral) of the maturing body-mind, the annual cycle of the seasons, the lunar cycle and its associated woman's monthly cycle, the diurnal cycle and so on. Internal microcosmic cycles are the swings through attraction, aversion, disinterest and back to attraction, from happiness to sadness and back again, from outgoing socially oriented extroversion to antisocial self-absorbed introversion. All these cycles of experience compose the wheel of life, also called the wheel of time because the changes of life are the fabric of constantly moving time. The external wheels spin slowly, the internal wheels much faster. The speed of the spin of the internal wheels is determined by many different factors. Emotional volatility accelerates the spin, full consciousness of each moment of emotional experience slows it down. Impulsiveness accelerates it, patience retards it. Indulgence speeds it up, repression slows it down. It spins faster in youth where changes happen in rapid succession and slower as we get older where change is impeded. Whatever the speed, the wheel of time composes our inner life and our experience, and on this wheel of life we are ruled by our emotions.
It is an easy delusion to believe that we are in control of the wheel, that our thinking ego rules, but looking closely it becomes evident that our thoughts are reflections of our feelings. It is as if the steering wheel is turned by the bends in the road, not by our hands on the wheel. The tail of the dog is our thought and the dog itself is our emotion, and the dog wags its tail not the tail the dog. Even when our feelings are deeply repressed and the rational mind dominates, still our thoughts are determined by seepage from unconscious feelings.
The wheel of life spins fast and furious particularly in youth, when we can be sitting on top of the world one minute and find ourselves cast out in a lonely alienated space of anger and hatred in the next. And particulary in adolescence the emotional changes in the process are driven by sexual instinct and the emotional charge has a sexual source. The feeling of self assurance in a beautiful world is most likely to arise out of a sense of sexual fulfilment in which a youthful, sensitive body-mind is flattered by love, endearments and sensual ministration. The greater the sense of self-admiration and self-congratulation the more intense is the pain of loss when our love object is sharing the pleasure with someone else. Jealousy obsesses the mind completely. Cut off from the love object and any chance of satisfaction, the mean head we are in gets negative reaction from alternative partners, and frustration is amplified. The anguish of this bind turns the whole world black and even friends appear as enemies and their ordinary remarks like wounding darts. Oblivious rage and violence against people or things comprise one possible exit from this trap, and we spin into a calculating self-serving world where we prey on our friends and enemies alike. When this catharsis is complete, energy subsided, we can return to humanity again to find the possibility of love and responsiveness. These are stages in the cycle of adolescent love-attachment and the wheel can go full circle in a minute, an hour or a day.
So the wheel of life can be articulated as the wheel of sexual desire and attachment. Life-force, lust for life and sex with a voracious appetite for pleasure, is its engine, and the whole gamut of emotion is spin-off. As we grow older our sexual habit patterns become set, our sexual preferences more explicit, and it becomes evident which emotion, which mind set on the wheel of sex-attachment, dominates us. We can get stuck in a single state for days, months or even years, and accordingly our sexual personalities approximate one of the archetypes that define us socially and sexually. We are the perpetual virgin or the victim, the sensualist, the contender, the sexual junky, the demon, the predator -- or the yogi of buddha love. These labels denote psychosexual types, sexual personality types. Each personality type is dominated by a particular nasty emotion that seeping into sex life forms a tyrannical psychosexual complex. These emotions, specifically, are anxiety, pride, lust, jealousy, anger, and fear.
The Perpetual Virgin.
Anxiety is at the root of all our psyches and fear is the mind poison. All our sexual responses arise out of anxiety. It is established in our sense of separation, our aloneness, that arises at birth with departure from the oneness with our mother in the womb into an alien world. As we grow up and our consciousness matures we are increasingly aware of our isolation and separation from the outside. "I" is cut off from "it", "us" from "the other", "us" from "the enemy", and looking at the world from inside a bubble, anxiety arises with all our perceptions. When something threatening is perceived outside, when "it", "the other", "the unknown", threatens to invade our space, then anxiety spirals and adrenaline pumps into our body-mind. When the unknown is a horny man or woman threatening invasion of our bodies, the fear creates a wall of protection that seals us off from their advances.
The virgin, uncertain of his/her sexual identity, is only too well aware of this mechanism, but it afflicts -- and protects -- all of us. Whenever we find ourselves in a state of uncertainty, unsure of our personal, social and sexual identity, anxiety seeps into the mind. If our egos are unformed, as in youth, then we need to climb the mountain of mind in order to gain a sense of who we are. We cannot engage sexually unless there is enough confidence to banish this basic anxiety. And ego-loss is only possible after the ego has been formed and possesses a strong sense of self and, in the same way, orgasm is unattainable until a threshold of tension is reached beyond which relaxation allows release and ejaculation. If our egos are formed, as in adulthood, but a sense of inferiority or low self esteem undermines us, again we are a prey to the anxiety that inhibits sexual engagement.
Sexual abuse in childhood, painful or traumatic adolescent experience, repeated rejection, unhappy relationships, any of these can induce the anxiety that reinforces a habitual negative response to sexual advances. Desire is not strong enough to break through the resistance and rejection becomes an automatic response. Desire is repressed and an unwanted or at least an equivocal celibacy is enforced. External circumstances can arise, however, in which barriers are broken down -- by alcohol, by perception of total security with a partner that causes an unusual boost in self confidence -- and the paralysis is relaxed. Loss of virginity can then occur, but in that experience impotence, premature ejaculation and orgasmic failure is quite likely. Take away the external conditions and we are back to the old syndrome of perpetual virginity and wallflower mind. If our straight sexual drive is constantly frustrated by anxiety, if fear of the opposite sex is an insuperable obstacle to fulfilment, then the flow of desire can be sidelined towards the less threatening option of same sex attachment, and a gay habit is formed. Lack of experience can lead to arrest of our sexual development and we can get stuck in nonthreatening pre-adolescent practice resorting to sex with children. We also take refuge in the self-love and narcissism that makes masturbation the habitual mode of release.
Anxiety arises together with every sexual response, but the irrepressible, undeniable, emotion of lust, supported by pride and jealousy, usually dissolves or overwhelms it. If inhibiting factors prevent this process, the straight heterosexual drive is sidelined. But there is another way out -- taking on the victim syndrome. Both male and female perpetual virgins can fall into this trap, but since nature endows woman with the weaker physique and provides her with more passive and submissive propensities, her greater vulnerability makes her more susceptible to it. The victim need do nothing more than obey, allowing her rejectionist tendencies to be overruled, taking no responsibility for her actions. If she has a history of abuse in childhood, rape or rough treatment to body or mind somewhere down the line -- any sexual experience that destroys self-esteem -- then the syndrome is already partly formed. She can fall victim to any of the psychosexual types: to the sensualist who will use her as a toy and as an erotic stimulant, to the contender who demands utter obedience and keeps total control of her, to the sexual junky who unleashes his frustration on her, to the sadistic demon who may take her to the bottom of her basest leanings, and to the predator who takes her and abandons her at will. The victim may make an unequal marriage wherein she is used and abused or she may be forced into the meanest option -- prostitution.
The Sensualists or Gods of Love
Love is a sure means of dissolving anxiety and breaking through the paralytic effects of fear. It is an antidote to the mind poison of fear. To be loved is to feel sexually secure and induces the trust in which sexual mutuality can arise. We lose all inhibition. To be in love is an outgoing state where physical giving and taking are a joy. In this state we can fulfil our own and our partners sexual needs and indulge our sensual whims. It may not be on the first night, in the nuptial bed, that things come together, but in the honeymoon phase of a marriage or a love affair the time and means exist for exploration and experimentation that leads to an understanding of, and then a reflexive physical response to, each others' needs and preferences. Erotic predilections are revealed, erogenous zones explored, sexual positions tested, and the most satisfying parameters of time and space delimited -- all of this as an end in itself rather than as a means of establishing a fixed pattern of behavior. With increasing knowledge of each other's body-minds our sexual identities are focused, and this increases the self assurance, boosts self-esteem, raises self confidence and creates the ambience for developing the basics of erotic love that have already been established.
Perhaps, at this point, if we are confident enough in ourselves then the emotional element of the relationship becomes less significant. We are caught in the simple sensory intensity of touch and sensation through foreplay and physical union which are prolonged and extended to hours in daily multiple sessions of dalliance. Sex and love are the reason for being and become the priority in life. We cherish and flatter each others' beauty. Our bodies come alive in previously unimagined ways. We are made whole through the mutual giving and taking of our bodies and sexual fluids. Orgasm gives us a taste of divine pleasure, and mutual satisfaction an intimation of the divine totality of being. Fantasy is fulfilled -- what we actually do, is our fantasy immediately realized. Mutual adoration heightens the sense of being a god and a goddess in a sensual paradise. Because we cannot prevent an overflow of joy out of our bubble of union -- and everyone loves a lover -- our paradisiacal state of being is socially reinforced.
How long can this last? When does the rot set in? How long does it take to get jaded? How long before love is undermined by personality incompatibilities? How long before the rough and tumble of daily interaction creates niggling doubts and fears and seeds of distrust? It can be an hour or a lifetime, but eventually that initial glow of innocent pleasure declines. Most likely it is an inflated sense of self that heralds that loss. We become ego-bloated, thinking that it is "I" who is creating the situation. Vanity intrudes. We become shameless in our love making, all sense of humility in the face of the great enigma of love lost, and we flaunt our sex to our partner and to the world in general. There is no longer any freshness and purity in sensual exploration and the bloom of love fades. Driven by conditioned habit and the drive to repossess the highs of the honeymoon phase, we continue with the same uninhibited passion but our senses are becoming jaded. To others our hubris is ugly and we lose social credibility and support.
Still with undeflatable pride and self assurance, with a regular input of pleasure, we are hanging in that realm of divine pleasure, and we join the ranks of career sensualists. We no longer need our first little lover and variety in sexual experience becomes the spice of pleasure. And so we become stuck in a sensual paradise with a succession of lovers -- or spouses -- who provide more of the same satisfaction and also, to some degree, emotional fulfilment. We become sexual aristocrats, prima donnas, stars and starlets, practiced and easy in a sybaritic milieu, someone lucky in love. This is the world of the playboy and his mistress, the courtesan, and the geisha. We take all this for granted and become disdainful of a partner who still has a modicum of shame and consequent inhibition. The mass of sexual neurotics is treated with contempt and to the jaded sybarite the urge to play power-games with lesser gods and mere mortals susceptible to jealousy or driven to competition is a pleasure. No pity or compassion modifies such attitudes or ameliorates the rules of the games, and our partners suffer. We use and abuse the opposite sex as our playthings, as whores or gigolos. A shamelessness that may appear to others as lewd and lascivious distinguishes our sexual activity. We take multiple partners or design bacchanalian orgies for greater erotic stimulation. Any aperture is as good as another for penetration and gratification. Bisexuality is a recourse for the jaded appetite, and release through anal and oral sex are goals rather than aspects of foreplay. The charms of virgins, youth, and exotic partners may be particularly alluring and enticing. The dogmas of the Maquis de Sade can become our creed in order to arrest the inevitable decline into bodily decay and mental disillusion.
The honeymoon phase of love lasts only so long as the fabric of the relationship remains whole. When cracks appear in the mutuality of sexual engagement, when perceived inequalities emerge, gaps in reciprocal giving and taking, misunderstandings of motive and intent, love is faulted and consequent distrust gives space for real or imagined jealousies. Jealousy develops out of mistrust. There need be no third party involved here. If we doubt our partner's motivation then our jealousy shows at first simply as a constant vigilance accompanied by defensiveness. If the cracks in our love persist then this anxious attentiveness turns to possessiveness which may be driven by love but is counterproductive and increases the tension in the space between us and our partner. In this space competitiveness develops. If we are the object of jealousy, we perceive an emotional advantage over our possessive and defensive partner and exploit it. If we are the one tainted by jealousy, then our partner's dominance increases the distrust and our jealousy is exacerbated and we need a sense of control to counteract the underlying insecurity. The stage is now set for a war of the sexes for control and domination. Some form of degenerate love is still present, forming glue to the relationship, and that attachment -- or perhaps it is the memory of a more generous phase of the relationship -- excludes the possibility of just walking away.
Still recalling the sense of power and divine satiation of the honeymoon phase, still self-satisfied and smug in our memory of those godlike moments, we are now bitter at the loss of it. Feeling threatened in the space of separation we resort to our ego as refuge, elevating ourselves and putting down our partner and adversary with contempt and disdain. Verbal and physical confrontation punctuate the relationship. We spin webs of intrigue enlisting allies in the war. The woman in the relationship, with greater susceptibility to jealousy -- and hell hath no fury like a woman scorned -- eating her heart out in this era of feminism can enlist an army of womanhood on her side and the engagement becomes a gender war in which the threat of the lesbian option may become an invidious strategic weapon. Other love objects or sexual partners may be brought into the engagement as tactical weapons. The male, though, pushed out of his equanimity, increasingly takes refuge in an atavistic macho mind set to combat the woman's wiles, which in its turn drives her to greater excesses.
All this jealous contention may prohibit sexual engagement. But it was only yesterday that we were satisfying each other nightly with intuitive and sensitive mutual response, and from habit and desire energized by combat the battle may take on physical and emotional forms in bed. Here the passion of jealousy is transposed onto desire, and mutual embitterment becomes reciprocal stimulation and satisfaction. The urge to control focuses attention on techniques of seduction, arousal and release, which refine and sophisticate foreplay and union. Such techniques may be refined in sadomasochistic games in which both partners are gratified in turn through domination and submission. But such moments of rapprochement and mutual gratification become less frequent as the spiral of combat widens and the greater distance between the partners induces the distrust that is indistinguishable from paranoia, and it is time for separation or divorce.
The habit of contention will follow us out of the formative relationship and into the arena of search for another partner. Here the drive behind our ambition to succeed and win, not only in sexual competition but in all aspects of life, will be seen as a desirable quality by a similarly ambitious partner. But if our luck runs out and we are rejected by our chosen lover, jilted for a friend perhaps, and then our next best choice abandons us for a peer in the rat race, the old propensity for jealousy is inflamed in a loveless, lonely space, where we can easily become caught and stuck with a jealous obsession. Envy of those still swanning around in their sybaritic milieu of mutual gratification is like a barb in our flesh. Here we are the embittered cynic who reflexively bursts other people's balloons, frustrates their designs, sinks their deals, imputes the negative motivation, and tries to outmaneuvre them at every turn in a constant game of one-upmanship. Sex and sexual politics is a loveless game here, played with a merciless disregard for the feelings of the competition. Honing political and verbal skills in this dance of jealousy and envy we become the politico on the sexual scene, the sexual manipulator, the player obsessed by defeating the competition and taking the prize, or our partner. But during the proceedings a creeping paranoia compels us to glance constantly over our shoulders to guard our back and we trip ourselves up with suspicion. We are increasingly alienated, and with this sense of exclusion from society and the opposite sex our frustration and craving escalate.
The sexual junky is addicted to sex as if it were the elixir of life. He is obsessed by his desire to the exclusion of all else. But he cannot score. He must have it, but he cannot get it. The intensity of his insatiable craving frustrates gratification. If through divine intervention he does get it, he cannot find any satisfaction. He wanders invisibly in constant search of relief in a sexual desert empty of romance, eroticism and sensual stimulation. The gross intensity of his need makes him repugnant to potential partners. If he does find a woman who pities him sufficiently, or who lacks any discrimination, and will give it to him, his imperative lust, his one track self-directed obsession, turns her off. If she can ignore his pathetic urgency, foreplay is a ghastly self conscious ritual and his frantic desire leaves him impotent. If his automatic sexual mechanism allows him an erection then he cannot penetrate her. If eventually he succeeds, his orgasm is premature or despite desperate prolonged and arduous effort he cannot reach it. If he does ejaculate there is no satisfaction in the act, no gratification and no remission of desire. His partner is distressed and unsatisfied and he is left to wander the sexual desert alone again in miserable chagrin. Although virtually invisible to others he can see their romance, their erotic interplay, and their mutual gratification, which further inflames his unsated lust. His recourse to masturbation is thwarted by the same mechanisms, and also by the ineffectiveness of his sexual fantasies, and it leaves him only with greater desire.
The female sexual junky is similarly afflicted, wandering the sexual badlands in search of gratification. Her craving inhibits display of the subtle signs and body language that would attract appropriate partners. Her one track obsession makes her ugly and offensive. But since her role in the sexual dance is more passive and men are less interested in her state of mind than her genitals she still succeeds in attracting potential partners. Her inappropriate verbal responses, hard edged, self-piteous, or lascivious, turn off a majority of those she attracts but still she has the opportunity to get laid. But she is utterly insatiable and no quantity or intensity of action will gratify her. Satisfying orgasm and catharsis is for her impossible, although any slight intimation of potential pleasure will drive her to frantic effort toward fulfilment. The urgency of her physical need is accompanied by peremptory demands. Inflamed and unsatisfied by one sexual act, with or without a partner, she immediately seeks another. Sex is the only thing that substantiates her sense of existence. She is the nympho.
The cause of this frustrated sexual craving seems not to arise out of fear -- though fear may be at its root -- so much as a separation from others. We feel ourselves to be cut off, enisled, isolated beyond bearing. When our sexual drive has been stimulated and intensified by emotional and sexual engagement and we are deprived of the source of our gratification through rejection in love or sexual failure, or just by a hiatus in the relationship, we are left with a heightened sense of self and a looming consciousness of the gap that separates us from our erstwhile lover. Infidelity is the most efficient way of driving space between ourselves and a committed partner. By seeking to reestablish the relationship, by grasping and clinging, we only push the love object further away and we create a vicious cycle of craving -- the more we crave and yearn, the greater the distance between us and the greater the need for union. The sexual junky has mistaken an emotional and spiritual need for sexual release, and since some significant human communication must preface sexual engagement, union is always unattainable.
But before obsessional lust dominates us completely, and before fulfillment is reflexively thwarted by a one-track pursuit of sexual release and orgasm, we can resort to extremes of sexual stimulation to arouse us. The connection between violence and sex can be exploited in sadomasochism, and at the extreme of impotence and frustration inflicting or suffering physical pain is a means to arousal. Acting out sexual fantasies, like bondage or infantile regression, can be used by the sexual junky to excite the jaded senses or inhibited sexuality in order to eak out some small sexual release and gratification. Our partner may be a sexual junky of the opposite sex who is susceptible to our needs and who indeed may welcome attention, but it may also be a vulnerable victim upon whom we may unleash the full force of frustrated lust.
The Sexual Terrorist
Frustrated craving is released by relaxation into a level of common human awareness where communication with other beings is restored and mutuality in sexual relationship is again possible. But what if that relaxation escapes us and the vicious cycle of desire and separation continues to focus consciousness on our self as an isolated, cut off entity? Since no one and no thing out there give us any sense of freedom and we are unable to discern even a germ of sympathy, an aversion to the entire world arises and to everyone in it. Anger at the injustice of our misery compared to others' happiness turns us bitter and acrimonious. Alone and alienated from the world and humanity we are afraid, and a grain of fear enters into every moment of perception poisoning us to any positive input. We begin to hate, not only what is hateful but whatever arises in the senses. Paranoia sets in.
If we are still in a relationship when fear and anger possess us then our partner is going to bear the brunt of our pain. We mistake the ministrations of our sympathetic partner for the goading of an enemy and we react viciously. We want to punish our lover for precipitating this state. "The other" is to blame. We express our alienation, our anger and fear, in verbal abuse, or mental persecution, sexually excommunicating him/her, refusing and denying communication. Projecting our own mind set upon our partner we react as if he/she had consciously given us AIDS, perceiving him/her as a demon out there, torturing us, seeking to inflict the maximum amount of pain on us. This is the reflexive reaction of the paranoid unable to distinguish between the delusory hell of his/her own making and the reality outside. If we possess an inkling of the miserable inappropriateness of our actions, we rage at the bind we are in, setting off another round of vicious behavior.
In this state of acute aversion and fear there is no possibility of mutual sexual engagement. It is a state of sexual paralysis. But this numbness of sexual response can easily be broken. When fear and hatred spiral beyond the tolerance of consciousness our anger becomes physical violence -- here are the wife-beater and the flailing, berserk lover -- and violence is a sexual stimulant and rape the form it takes. At the end of his tether, the sexual terrorist is the sadist, the rapist, the sexual killer and the maker of snuff videos.
The hell of paranoid fear and anger also passes. The wheel turns, and emerging out of that black hole in the ground, we rebound from excessive aversion into the dark world of the predator. Our rage has burnt itself out, and our impulsive, destructive urges are sated. In their place is an instinctual drive to survive and a brute cunning. Our sexual drive is uninhibited and uncontrolled. We are devoid of self-esteem and we lack any moral sensibility or discrimination, so woman or man, anal or oral sex, are equally acceptable in this bisexual sphere. The male can use his brute strength to take what he needs. An implied threat of physical violence is enough to effect initial physical intimidation. This type of sex is brute lust, gross physicality. In this twilight world the perpetual virgin is particularly vulnerable.
The predatory male takes whatever female he can domineer. His bonded partner is the most accessible victim. If he is without a partner then a woman with a similar absence of self-esteem in a similar state of arousal is accessible, as in this instinctual state we are hypersensitive to pheremones and are naturally attracted to partners of similar mind -- the predator is not necessarily a rapist. Prostitutes, male or female, and sex workers cater to the predator who has some relational sensitivity. Whoever the female partner, she will be used without compunction or constraint on an instinctual level of gross sex, with orgasm and ejaculation the one-pointed goal. The male caught in this state learns to use his physical strength to his advantage, identifies the victim like a lion his prey, rejects any foreplay taking his partner with him, and concludes the sexual act in a very short time, probably with premature ejaculation.
The female predator in this state is the unfettered pornographic woman, displaying her sex grossly and focused only on the satisfaction of being inseminated. But she can be as cunning as the male in her hunting, the virago feeding off the innocent and stupid male. Physical strength is not her weapon, although size and energy intensity may equally serve to intimidate a male victim. But more likely it is with her keen calculating mind that she seduces him, like a spider luring the fly into the web. Once her desire is sated he is abandoned, thrown onto the heap of her rejects. Like a vampire she sucks him dry of the sexual fluids that give her vitality and then discards him, and like a vampire's victim he is conditioned to follow her method in the future.
The Yogi's Opportunity
In the same way that some animals can be domesticated and their "survival of the fittest", "kill or be killed" instinct overridden by the promise of safety and security, so the sexual predator can be socialized by the promise of greater pleasure to be attained through relational sensitivity and consequent mutuality. We go through a similar process when we have been lost in a fog of inertia and sloth, where our sexual responses are lazy and blunted, our pleasure curtailed, and where relationships are difficult to create. Through the intervention of a new potential partner a window is opened upon the pleasures of a refined, eroticized sexuality with a moral sensibility and a satisfying emotional aspect, and this carrot dangled in front of us is enough to vitalize our sexuality propelling us into another dimension of satisfaction.
In this thoroughly human dimension there is emotional security and we can relax and explore the exciting possibilities of sexual relationship. Here we can train ourselves physically, with yoga or some type of calisthenics, and experiment with different sexual postures, modes, breathing, and decreasing or increasing the period of sexual engagement and so on. Inside and outside the bedroom we are more aware of the nuances of gender relationship and the benefits that sensitive and selfless response can give, and our consciousness of this dimension of sexuality is broadened and heightened. In this process of sensitization and socialization some guilt and shame at our past grossness, selfishness and viciousness can be useful in motivating us toward a state where mutuality flourishes. Some people will become stuck in this process of sexual training, where sexual engagement is a nice physical ritual without any chance of spontaneity. But if this pitfall is avoided, our sexuality developed and matured through self development, we arrive in a space where a potential partner beckons from a paradise of sensuality, heightened pleasure and joyful satisfaction. Most of us will take this option and move into another cycle on the wheel of sexual passion. But some will say. "No more!" "Never again!" and take the path of Vajra Love.