Celebrating Our Sexualities


~ excerpted from The Way of the BodyPrayerPath: Erotic Freedom and Spiritual Enlightenment by Barnaby B. Barratt, Ph.D., DHS

Dr. Barratt plays and works as a psychoanalyst, a sexuality educator, a sex therapist, and a tantric facilitator.

"The supreme God/dess delights in sexuality"-so it is written in an ancient Vedic text. In our sexuality we access the divinity that is all around us and within us. Only through our lovemaking, through the mobilization of our erotic energies, can we access a momentum powerful enough to melt the edifice of our egotism, thus aligning our humanity with the divine Sacred Unity that embraces us all. Lovemaking, which means surrendering to the Love that energizes the universe and casts our egotism into ecstatic emptiness, is the essence of spiritual practice. It is our sacred calling.

Our sexuality is ultimately mysterious, yet we know its expression to be our bodymind's connectedness with the divine, our only way of inviting Holy Spirit to fulfill our lives. Sexuality on the spiritual path involves the sensual experiencing of our embodiment. It involves finding joy in the erotic experiences of our flesh. It involves the vibration of subtle energies within and through our embodiment, a mobilizing of the sacred flow for which we may offer ourselves as a conduit. And it ethically involves our mind, both in the dissolution of the chattering mind that bolsters our egotism, and in the cultivation of spiritual awareness-the cultivation of an ethical "mindfulness" by which we surrender to the holiness of the lifeforce that vibrates around, within and through our being-in-the-world.

Our sexuality is intrinsically freeing, subverting the moralizing judgmentalism with which our egotism attempts to restrict and constrict it. If "sex" is not freeing, then it has been appropriated by the ambitions of our egotism; if it is not consensual, ethical, and freeing, it is not authentically sexual. At its sourcing, sexuality is the movement of the lifeforce within our embodiment. It links us to the mysteries within and all around us, taking us out of the entrapments of our logical and rhetorical minds. And so it offers us the supreme resource by which we may return ourselves to spiritual grace.

Our sacred sexuality is not limited to this or that mode of expression. Our bodymind is an awesomely sensitive and sensual organism, a testimony to the divine ingenuity for enjoyment. There is something profoundly miraculous about the exuberant and abundant multiplicity of our sexual responsiveness. We are blessed with the ability to find all sorts of enjoyment through our bodymind, and we are blessed with sensitive and sensual bodies that spontaneously offer us these gifts. How we cultivate this spiritual enjoyment, the process of finding the joy in our bodymind's experience, is how we worship. These sacramental acts may be expressed in manifold ways.

We are born polysexual, and sexual-spiritual practice is available to all of us, whatever the condition of our body or the state of our mind. This path is for those who are sick as much as for those who are not, for those who are handicapped as much as for those who are not, and for those who judge themselves "sinners" as much as those who would be "saints." The practice also leads us to transcend our chattering mind's dichotomies that would limit us to identifying ourselves as this or that -- this or that gender, this or that orientation, this or that lifestyle. Sexual-spiritual joy is accessible to all who are alive, to anyone with any capacity for the sensuality of embodied enjoyment. It is ultimately the only viable and vital response to the anguish of our human dis-ease.

The sexual-spiritual path reengages our embodiment in relation to the outside and the inside worlds. So this practice starts with the celebration of our nakedness. Jesus of Nazareth, in the gnostic teachings of the Nag Hammadi Library, was clear that "God" only appears to us when we remove our clothing and our defenses, becoming naked without shame or guilt, like children in the exultant sensuality of their innocence. He was clear that, unless we return and become like children, we cannot enter the holiness of heavenon-earth. "Returning" to our Holy Spirit means divesting ourselves of our shame, our guilt, and our fear of being who we are. And, as the Koran clearly tells us, our spiritual life means that we are all returning.

By shedding our egotism's fear, we come to face the world outside ourselves as we truly are, and in the freedom of this nakedness we also reawaken the Holy Spirit within. Sexual-spiritual practice also starts with our awareness of the movement of erotic energies inside us. According to Thomas' transcriptions, the mystical Jesus, when asked the evidence for the divine within us, responded that we know it through our pulsations of "motion and rest." As we become aware of this momentum within us, we become able to cultivate and intensify this power, to mobilize our erotic potential.

This mobilization of our sexual-spiritual potential may be engaged in many different ways. Releasing ourselves to complete nakedness, as well as surrendering ourselves to the joyous and rhythmic dancing, the spontaneous movements, of our entire bodymind, is the essence of erotic arousal, embarking us on our sexual-spiritual path. This awakening, through our erotic arousal and then through our orgasming, may be invited through any medium of our bodymind ? through erotic sensitivities throughout our body and all over the tenderness of its skin surface, and through mindfulness of the deep stillness that underlies our waking consciousness.

Most of us live in conditions of touch deprivation that retard our spiritual awakening. Whatever our background, whatever the sociocultural taboos, the impulse to return to touching and being touched is a cry for the serenity that comes through accessing the divinity within. Consensual touching, whatever else it may also be, expresses our longing to reground ourselves in our capacity to experience Love, to return to the still vibrancy of the unity of Love through the erotic sensitivity and sensuality of our embodiment.

Our genitals have a unique role in this awakening, and although spiritual awareness can be initiated without the full functioning or the immediate participation of our genitals, it is a profound spiritual secret that the glories of our genitals are the altar for spiritual practice. Spiritual life can proceed without such an altar, but why would we shortchange ourselves by choosing such an option? Our genitals are uniquely powerful in facilitating our sexual-spiritual momentum ? this is why our chattering mind makes them a major focus for our shame and guilt.

Our genitals are to be worshipped, not only because they are breathtakingly beautiful, but also because our pelvic floor holds for us an abundant resource of erotic energies ? this is the lifeforce, or prana, of the kundalini energies, which are also known as the dancing "Shakti" energies, for which the "Shiva" form of our embodiment is the container. Our pelvis houses the "root" or muladhara and the "flow" or svadhishthana chakras, which are the key sourcing of our erotic energies, our potential for passion and flow, as well as a major way in which the lifeforce enters our embodiment. In celebrating our sexual-spiritual path, we arouse and intensify the energies of these chakras, arousing the fire within. We pleasure our genitals with the touch of our skin, with the hands, with our mouths, with the anal orifice, with the consortion of other genitals, and by internally flexing the musculature of the pelvic floor. In so doing, we stoke the inner fire, and we may draw it upward by our breath, movement and sounding out our vibrations.

The rippling, undulating, vibrating, orgasming dance of energies through the channels of our embodiment is our path of joy, ecstasy and bliss. Its momentum burns away the hindrances, blocks, resistances and obstructions that our egotism positions in its path. Our chattering mind is stilled by the flowing intensity of the energies of the lifeforce, tracked for us by our breathing, moving, and sounding out its vibrations. Sexuality is always a dance of lovemaking, when dancing is the sexual-spiritual practice of breathing, moving, sounding, and flowing in the vibrations of our sacred energies.

As our erotic energies become more free-flowing, we become aligned with the lifeforce of the cosmos, and our subtle energies move freely from our muludhara or "root" chakra, through our svadhishthana or "flow" chakra, through our manipura or "power" chakra in the stomach, through the heart or anahata chakra, through our vishuddha throat chakra from which we speak the truthfulness of our being-in-the-world, and through our ajna or "third-eye" chakra, to our sahasrara or crown.

With this free-flow, our chattering mind is silenced and our egotism dissolves. This rippling and undulating of our erotic energies aligns and unifies us, opening us to union with the divine rhythm and spiritual grace of the universe. Through the mindfulness of our breathing, our moving, and our sounding the vibrations of our embodiment, we surrender to our bliss. This is our orgasming. As we become unified, our judgmentalism fades away. In bliss we no longer separate inner and outer, and the "me" disappears, as we float into the divine. We become "at one" not only within ourselves, and with the other persons who may be our partners, but also with the trees, the skies, the mountains, and the oceans. The alienated, separated and incessantly judgmental "me" disappears into the joyous momentum of the lifeforce, which carries us into orgasmic ecstasy as our erotic energies dance freely within and through the lovemaking of our embodiment. This is the essence of all meditation. It is how we come into a meditative process, and how we access the magnificence of our Holy Spirit.

In sexual-spiritual union with our Beloved, we come to an awareness of our divinity, an awakened mindfulness that is the lifeforce itself. We no longer identify with our craving and clinging, with our possessions and our attachments; we are no longer fearful of the deathfulness of life itself. We are no longer identified with our egotism, and consequently our egotism deflates and disappears. We become the lifeforce itself; we become our prana, in the very presence of which we are the Compassionate Witness that lovingly sees all things and lets them go.

And who is the "Beloved" with whom we are to achieve this sacred union? We may engage our erotic potential in the bedroom, the torture chamber, or out in the beauties of nature. We may engage it when we are infirm or when we are in peak condition. We may engage these sexual-spiritual practices as an erotic solo, with an erotic partner of either gender, or with an erotic group. The "Goddess" delights in all manner of erotic engagements. Indeed, if we exclude anyone or anything from the embrace of our erotic potential, we fall back into the snares and delusions of our chattering mind. If our ethical intent is the dissolution of our judgmental egotism, there can be no "right" or "wrong" way to express our erotic potential. Our sexual-spiritual life is amoral ? indifferent to the rules and regulations established by human judgmentalism ? yet it is profoundly and inherently ethical. Our sexual-spiritual path follows the erotic enjoyment of our embodiment, and we do not try to imagine that we can control where Holy Spirit will lead us.

Who is the Beloved, with whom we are to unite in orgasmic exultation? As generations of Sufi mystics such as Jelaluddin Rumi, have shown us: It is our own divine self; it is our own divine self that we find to be the divine self of our partners and the divine self of all living entities; it is our own divine self that is the divine self of the entire universe. In the sexual-spiritual path of our own erotic unification, we come into union with the Sacred Unity that is the only One.