Cultivating love for a sex partner is something that in our western minds may be of conflict. We have become accustomed to have sex without love, which in theory is not in and of itself an issue, unless of course the aim is to bring the sacred into our sexual connections.
As it is written in the tantric scriptures, we should learn to see our partner(s) as our own, meaning that we should cultivate a sense of identity with each other that is without duality. We tend to be afraid of unifying with an-other for fear of co-dependence or surrendering too much of ourselves. The point here is that in sacred sexuality each partner will benefit from intensely loving the other, leaving behind the mind trips and romantic ideas of who we think we want this person to be, and coming into a whole and spacious experience of love that is beyond the individual.
Love causes sex to automatically be purified. Purified in this case is meant to mean “without conditioning”.
The surest means for refining the hard raw sexual impulses is to engage in the sex act as an expression of love. And because our beloved is the Divine incarnate, we can overcome our personal needs and expand our expression of desire to a higher state of consciousness. In my experience, the feeling of love relaxes the crude animal impulses on the one hand, and on the other hand, cures the sometimes mechanical and lifeless sex act of its dullness and boredom. Although those hard raw sexual impulses may at times be pleasurable, can often be at risk for lacking in conscious awareness.
It’s helpful for long-term couples to keep the spiritual and loving aspect of sex alive, since over the course of time the warmth of love can cool down and the sex often becomes mechanical. The dilemma is that if sex is ignored or repressed it causes issues on other psychological levels, however if it is used purely for enjoyment, it becomes, after some time, draining and lacking in relish and flavor.
For the spiritually minded, there is the way out of this dilemma. Sex becomes meaningless and lifeless when it is devoid of love, that is to say when the sex partner is no longer an object of love but becomes an object of enjoyment. So love has a magnificent dual function in relation to sex: (A) it brings joy and satisfaction, and (B) in that very process it also channels the sexual energy by absorbing the experience with the sanctity of union with the other.
The state of sex being channeled or sublimated is a happy synthesis of two things – what is called preya (the pleasant) and sreys(the good & the beneficial). The ideal lover finds his or her desire for sex automatically gratified, even more intensely. When the sexual feeling is transformed to a higher and subtler level, it integrates the individual, leaving them feeling more whole than from where they started, thus adding richness and beautification to the social surroundings of each partner.
Love naturally reconciles one’s own inherent virtues with the virtues of the person who is the object of sexual desire. The Tantric insight is to take the raw material of sex and transform it. Human beings already engage in sex, so why not do it in such a way? It’s not as if one needed to begin a meditation practice on a subject they had no familiarity with. Sex is as natural to us as being born.
The question now moves toward how this practice can be a means to bring a blissful state of existence or ‘Self-realization’. All texts of the Indian tradition, whether left-hand or not, affirm that it is the feeling of oneness with all universal love that brings Self-realization. One cannot be realized unless one loves the entire universe.
One might object that while the practice of sacred sexuality may help in developing the feeling of love towards our sex partner, it does not necessarily serve to cultivate universal love, which is the means toward realization. However, I would say that love for the opposite sex is the beginning of universal love. Tantrism exploits the inborn impulse toward love and sex to prompt a melting into universal love.
In loving one’s sex partner, one has the first glimpse of spiritual love. Sexual love, if mastered, naturally paves the way for universal love. Moreover, it doesn’t really matter if the beloved object is a single person or the entire world; it’s the quality of love that matters. If we have in our hearts a flow of true and pure love for even one person, we can acquire the capacity to love all beings. If the sincere flow of love exists within us it will saturate whatever object comes before us, be it an individual or the whole world.
Supreme Consciousness or Siva is synonymous to the Self. Another reason the practice of sexual love may be considered a means to Self-realization is that we can actually reach Supreme Consciousness (Self) by catching a thread of the subtle creative pulse of the Universe (spanda) in our sexual experience and begin to develop it more and more.
Sex is perhaps the greatest creative act in our physical experience. If we catch a hold of that subtle pulse of the Universe as it manifest into the dynamism of living form and learn to cultivate it in the right ways, we can reach the ultimate state of freedom, which is in essence, spontaneous joyful activity.
The awakened pleasure of our sex life is not independent. However contrary to popular belief it is not necessarily dependent on an-other person. Sexual pleasure depends on our willingness to open, to feel and to heal anything that restricts us from being activated by ecstasy. It is dependent on the Self, the spiritual love the moves us. If we are not seated in the Self, or if we have not aligned with our own Divine nature we will not be able to experience the full enjoyment of the world.
One thing I have learned is that the pleasure we take from, and share with the world is proportionate to the degree of Self-realization we have achieved. We receive from life, or the world, the joy that we are already projecting onto it.
Triambika Ma Vive