“Romance is not just a sentimental game we play today,
it is a profound cultural and spiritual inheritance
that needs to be handled with skill and intelligence.”
John Lamb Lash
“E D’amor mou castitaz” (from love comes chastity)
a principle of courtly love
The aura of romance captivates even the most stoic. Struck by the prospect of love, we faithfully follow, some times in the face of tremendous adversities, even betraying better judgments. Yet, while we chase the initial fulfillment of our hearts, the fire of passion often wanes with time. In fact, long-term partnerships begin to face increasing challenges roughly around the two year mark that threaten the affectionate bond formerly so strong and seemingly invincible. How can we skillfully navigate the perilous adventures of loving partnership to assure longstanding harmony? Is monogamy even pragmatic or make sense? What is love??
In the wake of such torrential wonderings, we find the blessedness of our times: there is just so much wisdom to draw from to help us revise and reclaim visions and experiences of romance and skillful resonance that can be actualized to lasting effect. And, we can also choose to dance with desire, recreate and even pioneer new expressions of love. But not as mere rambunctious, sexual explorers, for through ecstatic practices, each body will become like a cosmos and we will be devotionally embodied, pilgrims of universal love, paradise found in each other…
“Here is harmony too sweet for violence, osmosis of soul within soul,
rhythmically blending, inflowing, outflowing;
singing without words; silent music of divine instrument.”
J. William Lloyd (The Karezza Method)
Most realize that our cultural, romantic conditioning is dished out by Holly-wood and pop culture. ‘Romantic’ movies often depict the early ‘honeymoon’ phase when lovers meet through magical synchronicities, captivating passions and overcome significant odds to cheerfully consummate their love. But, the story ends at this early glory: we rarely glimpse farther in time when deeper adversities set in to test the bonds of love.
We are the ones who can continue to write the story, and gloriously so, by the empowering knowledge of sacred sexuality traditions; practices which fuse sex with spiritual arts, such as meditation, mindfulness, energetic exchanges, altered and ecstatic states of consciousness, remedying deep and powerful healing of the mind-body-soul. There’s abundant potential to infuse lovemaking with skills which can expand sexual pleasure to truly blossoms as a natural love and panacea, beaming in the secret powers of the heart that is now lain open. It is this love revealed that sings harmony into partnership and makes lives radiant with sensual truths.
Conventional sex (i.e. sex that always pursues orgasm as the goal) actually does harm to the inner-workings of our being; on our nervous systems, hormonal balances, neuro-chemistries, and more. Frequent orgasm itself has been shown in recent scientific studies in both men and women to set off unstable conditions in the body, such as desensitization to the chemicals which allow us to feel pleasure (predominantly dopamine). On the other hand, sex that is focused on awareness of connection, the expansion of relaxation into “ecstatic melting”, and the regulation of the frequency of orgasm or the altogether evasion of it can lead to the cultivation of a boon of benefits, including the cessation of addictions, increased longevity and spiritual mastery. Karezzais a modern-evolved sacred sexuality tradition that arose in the 1800s and gives us this:
“The technique is not based on control. [During intercourse] you are not seeking to avoid orgasm or to manipulate your bodily energies; you are merely closing your eyes, feeling those energies stream into your heart, head and genitals and those of your lover, and allowing them to circulate…You are always relaxing, relaxing, falling back into the heart. Effortless awareness is the key. All your energies will be drawn upward, diffused throughout your body…As this takes place, lustful tendencies will be transmuted into feelings of love and the need for conventional orgasm will lessen.”(Marnia Robinson, Cupid’s Poisoned Arrow)
The “karezza method” was put forth popularly by Alice B. Stockholm in the 1800s and later J. William Lloyd’s beautiful book on the subject published in 1931. Karezza focuses on gentle, slow lovemaking which evades orgasm to create a more ‘orgasmic’ state which can linger for hours.
“Making love is like inflating a balloon. Having an orgasm is like popping the balloon, but if you finish without an orgasm you are like a balloon that takes several days to gradually deflate, leaving you much longer to enjoy the inflated feeling.”
(Marnia Robinson, Cupid’s Poisoned Arrow)
An orgasm, while a genital affair, has been also discovered as a neurochemical explosion in the brain that can cause intense disharmonies. One study discovered that the male brain during ejaculatory orgasm is the same as when taking heroin! Furthermore, the disarray that can be caused by orgasm can take two weeks to return to equilibrium.
Within that time, we are in a state of pleasure deficit because of imbalances within. However, because of lack of awareness of our inner-selves, we tend toward blaming external circumstances (such as believing our lover is not enough to satisfy us), become vulnerable to mood swings and even addictive and compulsive behaviour.
“Eventually a man can develop feelings of indifference or hate for his sexual partner because he subconsciously realizes that when he touches her,
he loses those higher energies that could make him a truly happy man.”
In reality, this is not new information. An immense amount of knowledge passed down from ancient sources affirms sex that is excessively passionate with the goal of orgasms is deleterious to the health of body-mind-soul: “Tibetan Buddhists refer to orgasm as the killing of the inner-buddha” (Cupid’s Poisoned Arrow). In Taoist literature from the ancient Orient we find this sobering resolve: “A person’s approach to sexuality is a sign of their level of evolution. Unevolved persons practice ordinary sexual intercourse. Placing all emphasis upon the sexual organs, they neglect the body’s other organs and systems. Whatever physical energy is accumulated is summarily discharged, and the subtle energies are similarly dissipated and disordered. It is a great backward leap.” (from the Hua Hu Ching). Yet, the adage rise by what you fall brings the resolve that sex, when used skillfully, can be a “symphony of sex of nerve, heart, thought, and soul in touch, at-one-ing” (J. William Lloyd, The Karezza Method).
Seek the experience of the pure embrace; it has great power.
The Gospel of Philip
Instead of shooting toward climax, the destination is altogether thrown away and the journey of devotional embodiment sets in, sex becoming a meditation, a metaphysical exploration and incantation – “finding the kingdom of heaven in your own hearts” (Alice B. Stockholm, Karezza--Ethics of Marriage). Instead of a solitary peak, waves of pleasure roll on and on and on into bastions of bliss and multi-dimensional connectivity, with not just self and lover but with infinite, cosmic energy. Using subtle techniques of awareness (such as the “inner-body awareness” depicted by Eckhart Tolle), the body can become much more sensitive to sensations, allowing for the sexual feelings to soar far beyond what ‘normal conventions’ allow. The Taoists referred to this kind of sex as “angelic intercourse”. Again from the ancient text, the Hua Hu Ching: “If you wish to unite with her heart and mind, you must integrate yin and yang within and refine their fire upward. Then you have the power to merge with the whole being of the Mysterious Mother.
This is what is known as true evolution.”
Lovers who live by these techniques perpetually discover their whole entire concept of what love means to change, becoming more beautiful and dynamic than they could have ever believed, redefined with awe: “Absolute peace, realized heaven, the joy that never disappoints, that exceeds imagination, that cannot be described.” (J. William, Lloyd, The Karezza Method).
Aside from the practical considerations of sacred sexuality, there are also salving, philosophical ones. One of the most empowering consideration is the notion of agape which means love of the divine or even the divine’s love for us. Here, the primary romance becomes the adventure to reclaim a connection to the source of All. Mystical teachings affirm this separation and attest that one of the major themes of existence is to reunite with the divine through the adventure of physical incarnation. One of the most powerful and beautiful ways we can experience “becoming total” is in romantic relationship and the robust cultivations of love sourced from the sexual unions therein. Our “soul-blending embraces” can become a means to express and experience reconnection in the deepest ways possible. Human love is divine love :)
“Contemplation of the Reality without formal support is not possible…Since, therefore, some form of support is necessary, the best and most perfect kind is the contemplation of God in woman. The greatest union is between man and woman.”
We aim our love to the highest principle. We place our partnerships in bigger contexts, in The Big Love, and so much beauty, healing and upliftment arises. Our love trickles down to bestow blessings on the world. To have this relationship with the divine as our primary relation guarantees our self-reliance in mastering ourselves and nullifies vulnerabilities to co-dependency. We fulfilled. The Taoists call this skill of love-making “dual cultivation” and have some pretty awesome things to say about it:
“Through dual cultivation it is possible to unravel the net, soften the rigidity, dismantle the trap. Dissolving your yin energy into the source of universal life, attracting the yang energy from that same source, you leave behind individuality and your life becomes pure nature. Free of ego, living naturally, working virtuously, you become filled with inexhaustible vitality and are liberated forever from the cycle of death and rebirth.”
Hua Hu Ching
When we take on the ardent endeavouring to transform our ways of love, partnership and sexuality, we become love revolutionaries. We become ultimate activists for what is good and true by our nature, by the benediction that is the body. We save the world by letting it save us, naturally, over and over and over again; making love, no time for war or being bored, but only the wow of now; the big love. We fight for the freedom to love, more creatively, more wildly, more skillfully, more powerfully, more. We honour the open heart’s daring truths before stringent social formalities, called and captivated to evolve, push against self-imposed limitations, sometimes knocking them over, sometimes erecting new ones (more artfully J), expanding the great galaxy of our love. We create and destroy but by the desires of love, no longer hatred, grievance nor pain. Religions of pleasure wash over the Earth; the Goddess, being kissed, caressed and blessed everyday by God’s rapturous rays…
“Sex happens; it is not a thing that you have to do. So you have to learn the eastern attitude toward sex, the Tantra attitude. The Tantra attitude is that you be loving to a person. There is no need to plan, there is no need to rehearse in the mind. There is no need to do anything in particular: just be loving and available. Go on playing with each other’s energy. And when you start making love there is no need to make it great. Otherwise you will be pretending and so will the other person. He will pretend that he is a great lover and you will pretend that you are a great lover…and both are unsatisfied. There is no need to pose anything. It is a very silent prayer. Making love is meditation. It is sacred, it is the holiest of holies. So while you are making love, go very slowly…with taste, taking in every flavour of it.”
The lover is the artist in touch
J. William Lloyd
Many of the quotations are from the texts Cupid's Poisoned Arrow by Marnia Robinson, the works of Diane Richardson and other authors whose online resource are below. I express tremendous thanks to the loving efforts and elucidations of these true revolutionaries of love :)
Alice B. Stockholm, Karezza--Ethics of Marriage
J. William Lloyd, The Karezza Method
“Romance is not just a sentimental game we play today,