Animalistic Sexuality (Love vs Sex 234)

Our unique brains result from our chatty sociability. Though debate rages concerning precisely why the human brain grew so quickly, most would agree with the anthropologist Terrence W. Deacon when he writes, “The human brain has been shaped by evolutionary processes that elaborated the capacities needed for language, and not just by a general demand for greater intelligence.”

In a classic feedback loop, our big brains both serve our need for complex, subtle communication and result from it. Language, in turn, enables our deepest, most human feature: the ability to form and maintain a flexible, multidimensional, adaptive social network. Before and beyond anything else, human beings are the most social of all creatures.

We have another quality that is especially human in addition to our disproportionately large brains and associated capacity for language. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it is also something woven into our all-important social fabric: our exaggerated sexuality.

No animal spends more of its allotted time on Earth fussing over sex than Homo sapiens—not even the famously libidinous bonobo. Although we and the bonobo both average well into the hundreds , if not thousands, of acts of intercourse per birth—way ahead of any other primate—their “acts” are far briefer than ours. Pair-bonded “monogamous” animals are almost always hyposexual, having sex as the Vatican recommends: infrequently, quietly, and for reproduction only. Human beings, regardless of religion, are at the other end of the libidinal spectrum: hypersexuality personified.

Human beings and bonobos use eroticism for pleasure, for solidifying friendship, and for cementing a deal (recall that historically, marriage is more akin to a corporate merger than a declaration of eternal love). For these two species (and apparently only these two species), nonreproductive sex is “natural,” a defining characteristic.

Does all of this frivolous sex make our species sound “animalistic”? It shouldn’t. The animal world is full of species that have sex only during widely spaced intervals when the female is ovulating. Only two species can do it week in and week out for nonreproductive reasons: one human, the other very human like. Sex for pleasure with various partners is therefore more “human” than animal. Strictly reproductive, once-in-a-blue-moon sex is more “animal” than human. In other words, an excessively horny monkey is acting “human,” while a man or woman uninterested in sex more than once or twice a year would be, strictly speaking, “acting like an animal.”

Sex at Dawn

Ryan and Jethá          2010

Crippling and yet, still Clutching (L vs S 225)

It was no sigh, no moan; it was a real scream. She screamed so hard that Tomas had to turn his head away from her face, afraid that her voice so close to his ear would rupture his eardrum. The scream was not an expression of sensuality. Sensuality is the total mobilization of the senses: an individual observes his partner intently, straining to catch every sound. But her scream aimed at crippling the senses, preventing all seeing and hearing. What was screaming in fact was the naive idealism of her love trying to banish all contradictions, banish the duality of body and soul, banish perhaps even time.

Were her eyes closed? No, but they were not looking anywhere. She kept them fixed on the void of the ceiling. At times, she twisted her head violently from side to side.

When the scream died down, she fell asleep at his side, clutching his hand. She held his hand all night.

Even at the age of eight she would fall asleep by pressing one hand into the other and making believe she was holding the hand of the man whom she loved, the man of her life. So if in her sleep she pressed Tomas’s hand with such tenacity, we can understand why: she had been training for it since childhood.

The Unbelievable Lightness of Being

Milan Kundera          1984

The Heaviness and Lightness of Love (L vs S 222)

But is heaviness truly deplorable and lightness splendid?

The heaviest of burdens crushes us, we sink beneath it, it pins us to the ground. But in the love of poetry of every age, the woman longs to be weighed down by the man’s body. The heaviest of burdens is therefore simultaneously an image of life’s most intense fulfillment. The heavier the burden, the closer our lives come to the earth, the more real and truthful they become.

Conversely, the absolute absence of a burden causes man to be lighter than air, to soar into the heights, take leave of the earth and his earthly being, and become only half real, his movements as free as they are insignificant.

What then shall we choose? Weight or lightness?

The Unbearable Lightness of Being

Milan Kundera          1984


Tantric Sex #33 (L vs S 218)

In the East Tantric practices are done only after you’ve already built up spiritual practices which create a strong ethical framework and after you’ve undergone a process of purification. This groundwork provides a whole context of clarity and simplicity in which you can start to build up a richness of experience. Through this spiritual discipline you work on your shadow side. In the West people have enormous problems with discipline, and by throwing yourself into erotic practices without looking at motivations, whether of loneliness, envy, greed or control, you can get caught up in the shadow side of Tantra, merely acting out issues of power and control without challenging them. The Eastern Tantrics always said that the very things that set them free, were the things that snare ordinary people.

Tantric Sex

Cassandra Lorius          1999

Tantric Sex #32 (L vs S 216)

In a Tantric relationship it is important to acknowledge your entitlement to pleasure. Pleasure is your birthright, and its greatest enemy is all-too-common feelings of shame and guilt around the body. Developing sensual enjoyment is central to the Tantric approach to life. Rather than try to subjugate desire through repression, Tantra teaches us to cultivate the art of living in this world as if it were sacred. Everyday awareness cannot evolve unless we experience everyday life in its full power.

The Tantric view is that it is not the world that is limited, it is our way of looking at it. Enlightened beings experience the world as a place of bliss, while unenlightened mortals experience the world as suffering. This is why Tantra places such a premium on identifying and incorporating deity into our self, believing that what we focus our attention on determines what we experience.

Therefore Tantra is not concerned with identifying with emotions, which oscillate between positive and negative. Far too many of us get stuck in negative patterns. Feelings, (which are linked to sensations) rather than emotions (which are linked to thoughts), are the main means of developing Tantric awareness.

Feelings are about being connected with the world, or with another. They are about being truly present, in each moment, to whatever experience has to offer. Feeling (or sensation) is cultivated rather than thinking, because thoughts tend to dilute or destroy the directness and intensity of experience. Tantrics focus and develop feeling through paying attention to the sensations discovered by their five senses.

Tantric Sex

Cassandra Lorius          1999


Tantric Sex #31 (LvsS 214)

What we call love in our society is often more about neediness—we say ‘I love you’, meaning ‘I need you’. We are brought up to believe that the source of love is outside ourselves. There’s also a false understanding of how energy works. Our society sees love according to material rules rather than energetic rules. For instance, we have the feeling there is only a certain amount of love to go around. ‘If someone else is getting it that means there is less for us.’ ‘If I give it away, I have less.’ And so we learn to hoard love, but because love is an energy it doesn’t work like that at all. We don’t gain extra energy by holding onto it. The more we have, the more we keep it flowing. So it’s not something that gets used up.

A Tantric paradigm of relationship is that we come together as king and queen, out of an overflowing and fullness. ‘I’m complete in myself, but because of the joy of experiencing myself in the flowing it’s great to come and share the experience with you.’

Tantric Sex

Cassandra Lorius          1999


Love vs Sex 208 (#30 on Tantric Sex)

For instance, you need to be aware of your tendency to project your own emotions and issues onto others, and to have developed ways of staying with whatever is going on—even when things get tough. Whether you’re crying, angry, fearful or blaming, all these emotions are your own. In order to get through them she suggests that you stay with them, rather than running away from them. It’s a challenge to take responsibility for your own emotions and not to feel either victimized or blaming about anything that comes up. Otherwise, you will end up constantly fighting with and blaming your partner as you attempt Tantric practices together. Tantric techniques can enable you to get to a point where you can treat emotions as pure energy, rather than anything real.

Instead, you can learn to concentrate on feelings and sensations. Emotions are our ego response to the things that happen to us, while our feelings are our sensory experience of the things that are happening to us. Feelings are very much to do with the present, while emotions tend to have roots in the past. Instead of sapping your energy because you’re reliving and recreating old emotional traumas, feelings are fresh and energizing. If you feel you’re getting into an emotional tangle, you can do a ‘reality check’ — concentrate on what’s really going on right now with the person in front of you, rather than what you think is going on.

Relaxing back into the sense of contact and connection between you can help more love to come in, and keep you out of defensive or attacking angry mode with your partner.

Tantric Sex

Cassandra Lorius          1999