Aristotle contemplating the bust of Homer, by Rembrandt.
Every now and then, despite my numerous posts on the pleasures of the flesh, and the beauty of various women, I need to write something on spiritual matters. There is more to life than physical pleasure, there is also the spiritual, the mystical side of life too. What I have discovered to be most fulfilling is the fusion of the two, a balance and harmony between the spirit and the flesh, and not, as has been the common notion throughout history, a conflict between the spirit and the flesh. What I have discovered in my own lifetime is that setting up a conflict between the physical and spiritual, especially in the realm of sexuality, too often leads to self destructive behaviors and states of mind. In my own younger days of religious fervor and enthusiasm, I have dealt with such conflicts. I have also seen this too often in the world. The sexual neuroticism in the Catholic Church is a good reflection of such pyscho-sexual conflicts.
So how do we find this balance? I offer no all encompassing answer. This is a never ending journey. At least that has been my own experience. All I can do is keep my eyes fixed on heavenly things, while at the same time enjoying and appreciating the beautiful things of the world. Sex and sensual pleasures are wonderful, and yet so is prayer and a spiritual life. I can’t imagine one without the other.
If there is one thing that I want to advocate in a serious way on this blog is that there needs to be a greater understanding of human sexuality amid religious peoples and institutions. I believe spirituality and religion are ultimately good things in our world, but the never ending sexual scandals among different religions of the more puritanical bent are enough proof to me that there is something seriously awry with the traditional, religious notions and practices of sexuality. This is not to deny the value of self restraint, even celibacy, or people living sexual lives that work for them. We all different, after all. But for many people such high standards of complete abstinence or monogamous sex with only one person throughout their entire life are not only impossible but highly impractical.
Balance, balance is always the key to happiness in life. Find the golden mean. Loving both God and sex, seeking both the spirit and flesh, all in a healthy and happy way, is to me what is most important, not simply following theological rules, or attempting to force your personality into a moral box of rights and wrongs that becomes a prison of madness, and not a path to spiritual enlightenment. Likewise, completely abandoning yourself to pure physical pleasures and sexual pursuits without any care for your mind or soul can be its own prison of neurotic unhappiness.
At least these are a few of the things that I have learned so far on my own personal, spiritual and sexual journey through life. But that journey, as always, continues, it is never ending, and what lies ahead is often unknown, except that we can be sure that new things will always be discovered along the path.