Jay Michaelson
Meditation and Sensuality, p. 4

Finally, since meditation teaches us to let go of the natural identification most us have with our thoughts (I am hungry, I am greedy, I am insecure), it reduces self-consciousness. "I'm not the sort of person to shout/moan/sigh during sex," the small mind might say, identified as it is with a certain person and personality. That small mind can be discarded, and just as we can daven with an open heart, crying and laughing and singing beyond tears, so to is it possible to access parts of our sexual being that our personalities might otherwise put out of reach.

3.     Meditation and love

The second major shift related to my sexual life that has come about through meditation is a change in how I regard it from a religious point of view. I am primarily gay, and also a single, sexually active man in New York City. Both of these aspects of my sexuality are seen by many as problematic from a Jewish point of view, and even from a non-specific spiritual or moral- religious point of view. And I have internalized these criticisms. (See related article.) Being gay is wrong; being sexually active (if not outright promiscuous) is unholy; decency and modesty are important religious values.

If you look closely, these judgments are all operations of the rational mind. An idea of right and wrong, rather than a perception of it; a concept of the holy, rather than a sensation of it; a confusion of social norms with ahistorical rules of behavior. When the rational mind is quieted, an openness to what actually istakes over, and all is seen to be nothing but God.

Now, many, many times, 'openness' leads to very negative sensations, because to expose ourselves to what is means opening up to cruelty, suffering, objectification, unhealthfulnes, destruction of the body or Earth, and so on. It becomes viscerally painful to see an SUV belching climate-changing gases into the atmosphere for no good reason. The suffering of innocent people because of war becomes harder to endure. I often used to think that 'spiritual' people were just oversensitive. Now, I see that authentic spiritual practice makes one oversensitive, at least as measured by our own, callous society.

So openness is not all sweetness - which makes the sweet taste of sexual love all the more resplendent in holiness. When the rational, deciding mind shuts up I, like most other people, , have an ability to know that this expression of love, of life, of carnal energy - this God-given pleasure and emotional connection - all of it is holy. Love expands the heart, makes us more gentle, leads us to experience our natural bodies. And this is not dogma; it is experience.

Of course, there is still doubt in my katnut mind about whether I can truly judge what is holy, or whether I simply want to label what I enjoy as such. Yet one thing I have noticed about doubt: you always doubt your happiness, but you never doubt your sadness. So maybe a good use of doubt is to doubt the doubt: is doubtreally the objective objection it pretends to be?

[1]       [2]       [3]       4       [5]       [next->]
Image: Jay Michaelson

July 2003

Symposium on
Douglas Rushkoff's
Nothing Sacred

The Sacred and the Profane
A Conversation with Douglas Rushkoff

Reinventing the Wheel: A Review of Nothing Sacred
Michael Shurkin

They Gonna Crucify Me: A 'Lapsed Jew' Responds to Nothing Sacred
Ken Applebaum

Plus these other attractions:

Meditation and Sensuality
Jay Michaelson

Anything You Want to Be
Ben Cohen

Not Mentioned
Hal Sirowitz

Josh Graduates High School
Josh Ring

Zeek in Print
Spring 03 issue available here

David Stromberg

about zeek