So, I’ve got oodles of stuff I want to post about, but I want to post about this while it is fresh on my mind, because that’s the best time to post about it.
A long time ago, I realized that people appreciate things best when they are presented in sharp contrast. Specifically, people appreciate virtues best when they are in sharp contrast - if some virtue is missing from everyone in someone’s life, and then they meet someone that exemplifies that virtue, they’ll really appreciate it. But for some people that live with some virtue (or other quality) in a continual lukewarm medium, they wind up taking it for granted - they neither pursue it to an extreme, nor do they value it as someone who hasn’t had much experience with that quality would upon first encountering it.
So, we notice the presence of something via it’s absence, and the absence of something via it’s presence.
This too, I noticed a while ago, with sensuality/physical-beauty-of-people. And I mean a long time ago. When I was in an environment with what seemed to be a severe lack of said quality - but with enough exposure to imagine that said quality was plentiful in the rest of the world, to one with what seemed to be an abundance, at first I really appreciated it, and then in time I managed to become accustomed to it - and to be able to function within it.
And that was how, for some periods of my life, I was able to overcome the intimidation that sensuality has/has-had for me. I think this is at least somewhat wrapped up in my “Christian” upbringing in which the body and soul were separate, and the body considered evil and the soul good - the body “of this earth” and the soul “of heaven” - but that might not be all. Because, you see, it also was rooted in lessons I’ve taken from some Hindu texts - that of the mind as being the charioteer, and the senses as the wild horses to be kept under it’s control.
In the Hindu worldview, one way of breaking things down is into the three gunas - Sattvas, Rajas, and Tamas. (Correct me if I spelled them wrong.) Roughly speaking, they are wisdom, passion, and lethargy. They are also light, fire, and destruction. And also truth, royalty, and decay. And probably more.
Sattvas has a definite connotation of being something to be valued more. Wisdom above passion. Truth above the passion that the senses could drive us to.
I had believed that not just from Christian, but from Hindu (and other) sources, that a rejection of sensuality was something I should engage in.
But is this so wise? Perhaps my problem was that I had such a severe lack of it during my upbringing. I remember in junior high, there was this fundraiser that was going on - I don’t remember what it was for - but it was a dollar for a candy bar. For reasons I won’t disclose right now, I usually had a spare dollar. I didn’t care much for candy bars, but I figured I’d get one one particular day. So I got one. And there was this attractive young girl (”young”? she was the same age as I, which back then was young), who wanted a candy bar and didn’t have a spare dollar. She put her arm around me and pushed herself against me and asked me in a rather suggestive voice for it. I gave it to her.
So for a while there, it was this weird sort of relationship - I’d give her a the candy bar, and she’d give me the hug. Eventually that fundraiser ended. I think the last I saw of her was when I graduated - or perhaps before.
Looking back, that was a waste of money. But then, it seemed worthwhile.
Was this prostitution? No more than something like this.
But it illustrates something that has been churning through my mind that the “shady character” of some previous posts has related to me: that women use sexuality as currency to earn respect (or to earn whatever they want - such as perhaps candy bars in that case).
And by the law of supply and demand, the demand for sexuality should be higher in places where the supply is lower, and vice versus. And so we see how this demand becomes so high in places like celibate clergy (where the supply is supposed to be cut off) that it manifests itself in unhealthy ways.
I’m not saying that the sexuality as currency metaphor is the “right” one. But when we see in this way and start applying economic principles to it, all sorts of insights come to light.
And so perhaps the solution is not to hide from it, but to embrace it. And this, my friends, is what Tantra is supposed to be about. But, we shall revisit that issue perhaps at a potentially more opportune moment in life.
So, suppose we take a moment and say “ok, we’ll embrace it - we’ll go to a world in which sensuality is common place and normal, and get accustomed to it, and then the supply will be plentiful enough, that the demand will not have any sway over us, and we will be fine with that”. Is this a valid thought?
Perhaps. As I mentioned, I had issues with a certain recent movie, one of which is with the whole salsa dancing (initially called “dirty dancing” ) scenes. And I’m thinking to myself, why would someone want to be dancing with (read “sharing their body with” for such was the great extent of such physical contact) someone that wasn’t attracted to them, or wasn’t the person who was “the attraction” ( “the date” ) for that evening? And I’m wondering if this is a consequence of a lifestyle (not mine, at least not presently) in which sensuality is so normal and common place that people get used to it, and so share it freely?
Then it is no wonder that there are culture clashes between those that want sensuality to be restricted out of a sort of territorial nature ( “you’re mine, and your body is mine, and share it with no one else” ) and those that want to let it flow freely ( “we’re just dancing, that’s it - there’s nothing more” ).
Can I flow freely between these two? Can I be comfortable in my own way? Can I live in both worlds, without getting seasick as I traverse between them, or without needing to regain my “land legs” or “sea legs” as I move from one to the other?
Considering my issues with dancing, I thought I should perhaps take lessons or something, to gain confidence - or something like that. So today, due to the bad snow, what I would have done on Tuesday evenings was cancelled, which enabled me to have the time to pay the $2 to the MSU State Swing Society for a beginning lesson. Fortunately I was not the only beginner. We learned the basics of the 8-step East Coast Jitterbug. I can’t think of a recent evening in which I’ve had my arm around so many different females.
At any rate, the phenomena was an intriguing one. There was simultaneously a desire to be proficient, and a desire to admire the partner’s body/touch. There was simultaneously a desire to lead and show off proficiency, and a desire to continue doing the basic steps, so as to not risk making a fool out of myself. I had thought to stay longer and perhaps dance some more with some more people after the lesson was over (I only danced with one person after the lessons were over), but I didn’t want to let this one particular female (no one I’ve mentioned before) walk home alone (and she lived in the same dorm as I) in the cold, so I showed her all the ways of staying warm by walking through buildings on the way back.
I’m not certain if I’ll do it again. The thing which had been cancelled was the group that is presently discussing Parker Palmer’s “Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation”, a book I’ve mentioned previously and it is a good book, and the chapter that we’ve been meaning to discuss (but which we haven’t gotten to for the past several weeks - it seems like something always winds up coming up) is one that does, I believe, have relevance to my life journey - but I’m not certain discussing it does have any such relevance. I mean, what can I say - just “this resonates with me” ?
And much as I might consider doing it again, the obvious ties in with sex as represented in the “etiquette” page from their website do give me pause, for reasons that may seem obvious:
Think of sex. Knowing all sorts of positions does not
guarantee good sex. Wild uncontrolled gyrations does not
equal good sex. Ditto with dancing. Think of a good kiss.
Focus on the music and your partner and connecting with
your partner. If your partner likes to go solo, is oblivious to
the music, is only concerned with him/herself, and will not
connect with you or needs to be hurled around to get any
results, get another partner, quick. Probability is that sex with
that partner will not be so great either so if that is one of your
possible interests think of all the time you have saved.
And so you see, just as sex is/can be a dance, so too dance can be like sex. But in both, there is a loss of one’s self - a surrender to the moment - a reliquishing of control - perhaps to the music, perhaps to the partner, and most definitely to one’s one “spontaneity” . And I’ve been thinking about the lack of spontaneity that I’ve been mentioning that I have - first on the side and then more obviously and then even more blatantly and prominently.
And I wanted to share the following quote from Nature, Man and Woman which touched me deeply on this issue:
We then make the mistake of socializing children, not by developing their spontaneity, but by developing a system of resistances and fears which, as it were, splits the organism into a spontaneous center and an inhibiting center. Thus it is rare indeed to find an integrated person capable of self-controlling spontaneity, which sounds like a contradiction in terms. It is as if we were teaching our children to walk by lifting up their feet with their own hands instead of moving their legs from within. We do not see that before spontaneity can control itself it must be able to function. The legs must have full freedom of movement before they can acquire the discipline of walking and running or dancing. For the disciplined motion is the control of relaxed motion. Similarly, dsciplined action and feeling is the direction of relaxed action and feeling to prearranged ends. The pianist must therefore acquire relaxation and freedom in his arms and fingers before he can execute complex musical figures, but much abominable technique has been acquired by forcing the fingers to perform piano exercise without preliminary relaxation.
Spontaneity is, after all, total sincerity - the whole being involved in the act without the slightest reservation - and as a rule the civilized adult is goaded into it only by abject despair, intolerable suffering, or imminent death. Hence the proverb, “Mans’ extremity is God’s opportunity.” Thus a modern Hindu sage has remarked that the first thing he has to teach Westerners who come to him is how to cry, which also goes to show that our spontaneity is inhibited not only by the ego-complex as such but also by the Anglo-Saxon conception of masculinity. So far from being a form of strength, this masculine rigidity and toughness which we affect is nothing more than an emotional paralysis. It is assumed not because we are in control of our feelings but because we fear them, along with everything in our nature that is symbolically feminine and yielding. But a man who is emotionally paralyzed cannot be male, that is, he cannot be male in relation to female, for if he is to relate himself to a woman there must be something of the woman in his nature.
I honestly don’t think the whole masculinity thing is such an issue for me as perhaps it might have been once upon a time. There’s a picture of me somewhere wearing a dress and whatnot….
But anyway, I’m going to continue the quote, but skip a quote within the quote that dealt with male/female stuff, and thus get back to the issue of spontaneity.
Childlikeness, or artless simplicity, is the ideal of the artist no less than of the sage, for it is to perform the work of art or of life without the least trace of affectation, of being in two minds. But the way to the child is through the woman, through yielding to spontaneity, through giving in to just what one is, moment by moment, in the ceaselessly changing course of nature. It is to this “just what one is” that the Hind adage Tat tvam asi - “That art thou” - refers, and That is the eternal, nondual Brahman. To the degree, however, that this way is not one of anxiety-ridden self-control, it is equally removed from the exhibitionism of the arty libertine whose display of “being himself” is designed to shock and draw attention.
Actually, in the process of putting that quote in, I typed beyond the portion of the book that I had read up to this point….
Anyway, my point is - I’m not in touch with my spontaneity. When I do sense it, I usually run with it and I call it intuition. But I don’t sense it often. I can’t sense it regularly. And it doesn’t happen often enough for me to rely on it. And I know enough about my own potential ulterior motives to know that while there were lots of pretty females there that I could perhaps have danced more with had I stayed longer, that I would not have been doing so for what I consider to be the “right” reasons - they were just attractive, and that’s it. And I feel better about myself having ensured that that poor girl didn’t walk all alone back to the same dorm I live in all by herself. But I can’t help but spend at least a little bit of time and effort wondering what might have been.
But I digress. I know a lot of what other people would do without having applied the exacting tools of logic to their thought process that I do would be what I consider the other two main forms of illogic (besides intuition), namely: emotion and instinct.
By and large I have hitherto imagined that emotion always had a logical explanation to it, except, of course, for the silly phenomena that was her, for whom the only explanation that made any sense was sheer beauty in a way that fascinated both hemispheres of the brain (how does one achieve proportions that perfect? What are these perfect ratios?).
Also, I have hitherto imagined that instincts always existed for good reason, and could always be reasoned out (albeing perhaps more slowly than via trusting the instincts).
But I’m beginning to think that my classification of forms of illogic into instinct, emotion, and intuition, is perhaps not the most prudent of things for me to be doing. For, as I’ve mentioned, I have issues with categorization and I think this is just one example of that coming into play. Perhaps even my classification of things into logical and illogical is also something I should question. And when I see a distinction between my intuition and what I see as other people’s basis for doing things, such as wishful thinking, absorbing society’s subliminal messages, and so on, perhaps I’m merely just contributing to my own sense of isolation. It is becoming quite clear that I’m merely using the “sharp knife” of classification/categorization to destroy the mystery in such things as how I think and how I relate to other people and what sort of motivations I allow myself to have.
Perhaps now I can begin to internalize the true meaning of Sam’s comment because what I need to do is to acknowledge my dependence upon other things - something I’ve been loathe to do. Instead of a domino, I imagined that I was not unlike a coiled spring - somethings would momentarily disturb me, such as a slight tug or whatnot - but I would always go back into place - and only time and certain extremes of temperature/pressure/etc… could truly transform me. Now, I imagine Sam could reply with some scientific thing about how every disturbance of the spring really does change its nature, and I’ll admit that it does, which defeats the whole analogy that I was going to use, which is why I wasn’t going to use it, which is why Sam’s comment sat there so long and ignored - because I couldn’t find a better counter analogy - and I now I don’t need to - because I think I got it.
That’s enough for now. I just needed to get all this out of my system. And who knows - maybe your feedback will help me decide whether to try to continue to try Swing dancing, or to go back to that book discussion, or to try something else. Or perhaps you can suggest something that facilitates more spontaneity than Swing dancing - where there isn’t that sexual tension (but why am I running from it?) or that desire to cultivate/show proficiency (am I cursed with that the rest of my life in all my interactions?)?
And also, I’m wondering - does this mean that for some people, they “like to dance” for not just their own experience of themselves dancing, but also for the sensuality of the interaction with others? This horrifies a part of me which disdains such “impure” motivations - but in as much as I can comprehend perhaps accepting sensuality as a more normal part of my life, perhaps I too should endeavor to appreciate this viewpoint?2d1f