Sexual intercourse is one of the most beautiful experiences one can have. Through the communion of the sexual act, two persons can merge and disappear into one another and experience ecstatic moments of love — moments everyone is deep down thirsty for. In those moments, the mind with its countless problems ceases to exist, time stops and anything that burdens the psyche vanishes into thin air. In those moments one’s consciousness soars to sacred heights of pure bliss.
Why then, in our culture where sex is considered a priority in life, most seem to experience no such beautiful moments? Why are people obsessed with sex, wanting to have more and more of it, without ever being satisfied? Why the constant search for more sexual gratification and the resulting experience of emotional discontentment? In order to answer those questions, we first need to take a look at the culture we are living in how it affects the way people relate to one another.
Sex in a Culture of Alienation
With the means of advanced modern technology, it seems that we humans are more connected than ever before. The internet especially has helped us create a global communication network wherein a split of a second we can share ideas and interact with others from any part of our planet. And yet it seems that we are more hungry for connection than ever before. No matter how many online “friends” or “followers” we have on social media, most feel alienated. That’s because online relationships are only skin-deep, unable to provide us with a true sense of intimacy and bonding. Text messages can’t substitute for in-person conversations, emoticons cannot substitute for body language expression, and cybersex can’t substitute for physical contact.
At the same time, due to the conflict and violence that prevails in our society, the majority of people have a hard time opening their hearts to others and forming intimate relationships, afraid that they might be hurt by them. To avoid that, they’ve created tall, thick walls around their hearts to protect themselves from any possible danger. And although the walls might prevent them from hurting others and being hurt, they also prevent them from loving others and being loved.
On top of that, we are living in a consumption-driven economic system (which is the main cause of the conflict and violence that exists in the world) where people are constantly feeling the pressure to buy products and services in order to keep the money moving in the economy. This pressure is being to a great extent enhanced by the advertising industry. How? By constantly trying to convince us that buying stuff is the solution to all of our problems.
For example, if you feel lonely and unloved, advertisements are selling your products or services that will make you feel more confident, beautiful and attractive to others. In fact, most advertisements exploit our inherent need for social connection and bonding. That’s why you see sex is being sold to us all the time: to promise us the reward of connection. Sex is being sold everywhere.
In the movies we watch. In the magazines, we read. In the clothes we wear. Day in and day out we are bombarded with countless sexual messages. Not surprisingly, people have become obsessed with sex, believing that it’s the only thing that truly matters in life. But regardless of how many love stories and “sexy” products we consume, we still feel empty inside and thirsty for more, because none of those things can provide us with what we truly long for: a genuine heart-to-heart connection.
Sex as a Substitute for Love & Sex as an Act of Love
Even the sexual act itself is not enough to quench our thirst. The genitalia might rub against one another, but when there’s no friction between two people’s hearts, the spark of love cannot be ignited. Love is so much more than bed gymnastics and the temporary pleasure that is derived from the short-lived experience of physical orgasm. Hence people’s obsession with sex: despite the amount of sex we have, most are never satisfied and desire more of it, because sex in itself is not what we truly want.
What we deep down desire is to love and be loved, and sex cannot substitute for that. Sex can provide only a momentary illusion of love by helping bring two bodies together, but it does not have the power to bring together two hearts that are distanced from one another. And as long as the hearts are separated, sex cannot provide us with anything more than perhaps a glimpse of what we’re actually searching for.
When two hearts are united, however, sex takes a totally different from — it becomes an expression of love. Through sex, two lovers can communicate their being with body and soul — that is, with the totality of their being. Having said that, for love to exist sex is not necessary — love can stand on its own feet, without needing the crutches of sex. But sex can become a love play between two lovers, an orgasmic dance where two persons celebrate together, sharing their experiences of ecstatic joy.
Sex and the Transcendence of Self
Lost in the hug of the beloved, the self, in a sense, dies. The sparkling flame of love in the heart, along with the intense pleasure of the sexual act, leave no space for the ego. When in love, the mind with its past and future, worries and concerns, dissolves. And that’s precisely what love is: the extinction of the self — that is, the disappearance of the boundaries between the I and you — the sense of belonging to a greater whole whose depths we can’t fathom. When this happens, we shine our brightest and feel at home with existence. Nothing is lacking — we feel complete and are not needy of anything. Desires and expectations stop torturing the mind and we accept life as it is.
As long as there’s no love between two partners, sex cannot be anything more than an egoistic act. Partners will be trying to control and exploit one another — to turn one another into their sexual objects solely for their personal gratification. Unconsciously, all they want to get out of sex is love, but love cannot be forced or demanded. Mistaking sex for love, and wanting to quench their thirst for loving connection through it, they become obsessed with having more and more sex, not realizing that they are trying to drink from an empty well.