Spirituality and Sexuality: Interdependent and Complementary Patterns of Energy
Background: In my late 20s a conflict began to emerge between who I was discovering myself to be and the life I was living. At the time I was married with two children, a successful high schoolteacher and a well-respected leader in the local church and community. I was also having secret same-sex encounters. Eventually, I couldn’t keep the secret and these two worlds collided. This collision led me into a deep, soul-searching journey of self-discovery to understand my sexual attractions and to try to reconcile my two selves.
For the next 35 years I kept a detailed journal of my dreams, meditations, psychotherapy sessions, life events, and synchronicities as I tried to make sense of and reconcile my two selves. In that journey I discovered that sometimes erotic longings and sexual attractions are not just about sex but can be symbolic of something else that wants to come into consciousness.
This blog pulls excerpts from my book where I explore the connection between homosexuality and spirituality.
Freud’s discovery of the unconscious changed the world forever. For the first time we came to understand that phenomena outside of conscious awareness influences our beliefs, our thoughts, our feelings, and our behaviors, and therefore how we see the world and how we perceive reality. Jung’s discovery of the collective unconscious with its archetypes altered our world even further. Not only did the unconscious influence reality it organized it according to certain universal patterns, acting like a magnet attracting various and relevant experiences that influenced us to live out their emotional and behavioral stories. Einstein’s famous discovery that E=MC2 or energy equals mass plus light squared, set in motion a series of scientific experiments that concluded, in the language of quantum physics, that at the most basic level everything is energy. Both the physical plane of matter and the more abstract plane of the mind are energy. Therefore, our thoughts, our emotions, our fantasies, and our behaviors are expressions of energy, each vibrating with information that attracts those experiences that match its energy.
Sexuality and spirituality can thus be understood as expressions of energy.
Sexuality does not exclude spirituality, nor does spirituality exclude sexuality. Rather, they represent two aspects of a person’s total energy flow. Sexuality and spirituality are one energy. The flow in one direction is complementary to, and dependent upon, the flow from the opposite direction. This means that the spiritual life of each person is an inner, private exploration in which everyone is trying to understand the meaning and purpose of his or her life in his or her own terms. Inevitably, as sexuality and spirituality become increasingly recognized as interdependent and complementary forces, the fulfilling of this purpose includes an exploration of one’s sexual life. If everything is energy, and if sexuality and spirituality are two aspects of one energy flow, each complementary and dependent on the other, then all sexuality including homosexuality and same-sex attraction can also be understood to have a spiritual purpose. By spiritual purpose I mean the intent of homosexuality as an interplay of energy within the individual to provide a healing to the soul, a reconciliation of a split between the “outer-man” or “ego-self” and some “inner-man” or “unconscious self” that longs to live and of which a man may be completely unaware.
From an energetic point of view, sexual attractions, fantasies, and behaviors are fundamental and meaningful patterns of energy that play at creation and development. They are archetypal in the sense that they express the call of a basic power in the depths of the soul that is essentially of a spiritual or sacred nature. These images and sexual acts carry a certain mystery, a certain sense of awe, a certain power that grabs the soul. The experience, whether in fantasy or acted out, can be so powerful that it can lift one outside of oneself into some transcendent place.
With the explosion of gay rights, same-sex marriage, and increasing numbers of people “coming out” and proclaiming their sexual orientation, there is the potential for a split in our thinking. We are either gay or straight. If we have same-sex attractions can we be in a traditional marriage or a heterosexual relationship without being judged as somehow going against our “true nature”? Is there a place for the homosexual or bisexual man within the context of a traditional marriage or heterosexual relationship? Could same-sex attractions be about something else altogether; some other longing of the soul that takes the form of same-sex desires, fantasies, and attractions?
I applaud the advances we are making in tearing down the prejudices against gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people.
However, I wonder about those countless individuals who are married and have chosen to remain married or in a heterosexual relationship or other living circumstances and struggle with being gay or bisexual, or having same-sex desire and attractions, silently suffering in the recesses of their souls. Many men are afraid to face their homoerotic desire and attractions, repressing them, hiding them, living in quiet desperation, often feeling confused and at odds with themselves, wondering about the meaning of it all. Longing for acceptance and understanding, they want a way to live with these longings that is congruent with their soul’s deepest needs and works within the context and demands of their individual lives.
The challenge is how to hold the tensions of these “conflicts of the soul,” these seemingly contradictory paths, while making sense of them. The task is to find meaning in it all so that one can live one’s life with compassion and honesty, being true to the deeper nature and longing within.
In the case of same-sex attractions, this may be the call of an ancient man, a memory living in the depths of the soul of a time when the masculine was a companion of the earth, one with her, living as a spirit in nature instead of personifying a masculine image living in the heavens. I propose there are many forms of homosexuality and the reasons for same-sex attractions are as varied as the people who experience them.
Same-sex attraction has its own meaning peculiar to the individual and psycho-spiritual development depends on becoming conscious of that meaning.
(An excerpt that was taken from the introduction to my book, The Other Man in Me, Erotic Longing, Lust and Love: The Soul Calling)
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