Spirituality and Sexuality taken from Forty Days: The Diary of a Traditional Solitary Sufi Retreatby Micahela Ozelsel

Brief Thoughts

Dr. Ozelsel’s book is truly tremendous not just for anyone interested in the sufi tradition. It touches on teh rich relationship between the seen and the unseen, between the struggles of realizing our true divinity while living, growing old, raising a family and all the things we do. The book is broken into two halves, the first half being her diary writtern during her 40 day Sufi retreat in Istanbul and the second half presents the reader with  a series of essay that bridge that aim to in my opinion bridge the gap between the mystical experience and the approaches of psychology.  Dr. Ozelsel holds a Ph.D. in clinical psychology, and her field of research is ethno-medicine.

This posting comes from one of her essays in the second half of her book. Please  enjoy and get the books!



Spirituality and Sexuality

To be sure the sex drive is not just there to ensure the production of children, in another respect as well it is a wise arrangement. Because the pleasure that comes when it is satisfied which if it only lasted longer would be beyond comparison with all others, is also meant to suggest the promsied joys of paradise. The earthly pleasure, therefore is, important insofar as it awakens the need for the last enjoyment of it in Paradise, thus spurring a person on the service of God.

Al Ghazzali – The Revival of Religious Sciences

Islam is basically a “pro-sex” religion. However the connection between spirituality and sexuality is not expressed as explicitly as in other traditions, particularly those of the Far East. In this regard Sufism, however is much more open than orthodox Islam. The relationship with God (the “Friend” or “Beloved”) – in particular, the deepest mystical experience of union with the Creator -is often described  allegorically as a love affair. Most of the time, however, such description are understood only as metaphors.

A look through kundalini literature shows a clearer picture. The assumption is made that there is a direct but subtle psycho-physiological interplay between sexual and spiritual experience which Krisha (White pg 196) sees as the actual “missing link” in human evolution. To the Western observer of such ways of seeing, it seems as if sexual energy is transforming itself into higher states of consciousness.

in fact its just the other way around: higher consciousness is beign freed from its chronic confinement inti “lower” that is, more bounded and closed in forms of consciousness or energy. Gof-consciousneess is not sublimated sexuality, sexuality is repressed God Consciousness (Wilber “Chakras,” p. 117)

McCleave, who experienced a Kundalini awakening brought on by intense Christian prayer, assumes that Christian mystics has the same experience:

Perhaps the [Christian] mystics would have been able to express their experiences in greater detail if they had lived in an age which freedom of speech and research and an honest appreciation of their holiest secrets were possible. Had all this been the case, they would have admitted that their relationship with God was sometimes decidedly sexual. Concepts like delight bliss ecstasy and divine union might have been fleshed out with words like sensual erotic and orgasmic. The hearts and sense of the mystic were not clamped shut. The mystic making his way to the sacred wedding doubtless realized that the wedding in question was in some part sexual. Something happened to him during his periods of meditation, prayers and other submission filled efforts to love God and be loved by God. This something, so it appears, was the awakening of the Kundalini …. Why, apart from the limited technical vocabulary, were mystics so limited in their ddescriptuion of the physical aspects of enlightenment? the answer is guilt. The sexual guilt that lies hidden in a person with a “normal” sex liofe would be sure to prevent that person from accepting or granting recognition to anyone claiming to have a sexual relationship with God. A Mystic knew that only another mystic could ever understand him. (McCleave in White pg 370, 381)

The shifts in perceptual emphasis that occur in the process of a Kundalini awakening are frequently represented in the literature on the basis of a hierarchical model:

When for example, spirit and energy are expressed through the second chakra, one may be overpowered by sensual pleasure whereas through another chakra, the fourth the person is filled with love and sympathy and is concerned with having concern for others (Rama, in White, p 26) 

However if the experience catches a person unaware or is accompanied by burdensome feelings of guilt, the sensual pleasure can be experienced as sensual torment.

As I was in deep meditation on the guru, my mind filled with lustful thoughts…. A powerful lewd desire tormented me …. I couldn’t think about anything but sex …. My whole body felt the arousing lust. The pain in my organ is hard to describe ….. My mind was beset with  violent  attacks of self hatred every time I thought about my sexual arousal again and couldn’t meditate any further… I couldn’t sleep, the self-hated kept me up late ……At this point I would like to add that all of these emotional states were really traceable to siddha’s grace. But because I was ignorant, I feel into confusions instead of experiencing joy (Mukunda, in White pp. 145-147).

Stay tuned for part 2 

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