My earliest wish as a boy was to hold the hand of the pretty girl who sat three desks in front of me at infants’ school. It was incipient love; the dawning of the desire for union with the female, man’s missing half. At the time of puberty I wasn’t prepared for the sudden inrush of sexual energy and the extraordinary pleasure that was possible through masturbation and sexual fantasy. What could possibly compete with such an intense experience of concentrated delight? The fact that there were consequences to such actions (which would later manifest as problematical circumstances in my life) didn’t occur to me at the time. All that was important was the discovery of something that would offset the harsh realities of the world and didn’t have to be shared or disclosed to another – a recipe, if ever there was, for harbouring negative feelings of shame, guilt and the craving for sexual excitement. It was to be many years later that I realised that there’s nothing wrong with masturbation; it’s the misuse of the psyche through imagination that’s the error. When fantasising and imagination are given up, the desire to masturbate is no longer there.
When it came to making love to a real woman for the first time as a young man, the experience, as I recall, was not too awkward. It was the start, however, of a cycle of the highs of excitement and lows of depression that is common practice in normal sexual relationships. For a long time the dominant drive was for sensual pleasure as the blind repetition of sexual experience, regardless of the emotional wreckage left in the wake. Having extended as far out into ignorance and self-satisfaction as was necessary for me, a remarkable thing occurred (and I suspect all men confront this sooner or later when they reach a crisis point, or are confronted with the awful truth of their sexual self). This was the realisation of shame. At this level of shame there is a wretched sense of having profaned love and having disabused the female principle through self-gratification and sexual wanting. For me it was the trigger point that instigated an injection of new energy and the inspiration to make amends through making a stand for love.
As a general rule, man approaches love in the same way that he plunders the natural resources of the world. He is sexually driven to compete with others and take by force whatever he can get away with – so long as he can deflect any scrutiny of his motives and dishonesty to love. With sexual cunning man plunders woman’s virtue, usually through skilful manipulation of his economic superiority and by a sexual trade-off that attaches them both to an emotional compromise in the partnership. Man is attached to his emotional pain and utilises sexual energy as a palliative to assuage the force of his sexual drive. Just like the experience of the boy at puberty, the adult experience of lovemaking is self-gratification and personal pleasure.
To me, the transformation of sex into love is the ultimate discipline and challenge in the spiritual life. It is through grace that I have been given the opportunity to discover a greater purpose in the love between man and woman. The simplicity of two bodies making love in the absence of sexual wanting is such a radical departure from the accepted way of things. Sexual maturity and wisdom in love has been well and truly buried under the global sexual possession that is the dominant influence behind today’s cultural and political trends.
For a man to truly love a woman, he must be willing to interrupt the usual momentum of his daily activities. He must learn to pause to enable his senses to become attuned to beauty in all its manifestations. For man, the female emits a psychic fragrance that is like no other in existence. She is the rose, the flower from whose bouquet he receives the most exquisite perfume that permeates the depths of his psyche. To inhale her hair and skin, and to develop a fineness of touch in his hands, communicates a tenderness that only man can give to his beloved. A man loves a woman with his whole body, which becomes in time an extension of his love even when holding hands. To woman he emanates a similar spiritual fragrance of masculine authority which, in their union of love, symbolises the procreative nature of the earth and the all-embracing power of the cosmos.
To conclude: here’s an incident that happened one day around 1985 while I was walking in Knightsbridge, London, where I lived at the time. As I passed a lady in the street, her silk scarf flew into the roadside on a sudden gust of wind. Leaping into the road with no concern for life or limb, I gathered it up and presented it back to her. She was beautiful; she gave me a glorious smile and said, “You are my Knight.” And in that moment I was complete and fulfilled. This was romance and it wasn’t just something that happens in movies or fairy tales! And then she was gone as though nothing had happened. But something had happened: I was changed. The spiritual principle behind the appearance of all women on earth is the female mystery that man yearns to love and serve. She waits to be reached by he who is worthy; but she can only come where nothing meets nothing, and what remains is love.
Lance Kelly 2015