While there are many who would disagree, it is clear to me from my experience and work that first and foremost each human being is a spiritual being. Of course our spirituality is clothed in our biology, and that is why so many believe that a human being is exclusively a biological being. For me this is not only not the case, but a false dilemma. As, for me, our biology is an expression of our spirituality.
This, for me, is the case for all animals, insects and living organisms. I give no special spiritual status to human beings,
while of course recognising the fertile sophistication of our biology. Not least in the unique richness of our neurology
and the perceptual and cognitive possibilities that it offers us.
As biological beings we have many needs. Not only physical, but psychological, emotional, social needs. We can satisfy none of these needs alone, even if we can satisfy many of them without direct human interaction.
Some of these needs are survival needs: oxygen, H2O, amino acids, lipids, minerals and vitamins, warmth etc. Some of these are satisfaction or fulfilment needs: company, understanding, love, intimacy, touch etc. Even if all our survival needs are met
we cannot be genuinely happy or satisfied if our other, social, needs are not.
Many people have been experiencing this especially clearly in the last two years, because we are social beings no less than we are spiritual beings in biological expression. So, we have not only biological and social needs, but spiritual need also
Once upon a time, and even still for a very few, human society was very unlike the way it is for us. It was tribal, and deeply embedded in nature. Now the urban nature of contemporary society imposes on most of us a solitude that deeply compromises our social needs, even as we are surrounded by hundreds and thousands of other human beings.
As biological beings we are hard-wired to contain a limited amount of information. Apparently the human brain can only contain detailed information about 150 or so other human beings. That is enough to live in the kind and size of tribes our pre-urban ancestors lived in. This means that if we live in a city or town we are surrounded by strangers about whom we know nothing other than their occasional appearance.
This is is not only a problem for individuals, it is also a problem for the collective. This problem becomes one of regulation, of how people who can not know each other live harmoniously together in large numbers. To this end we not only have laws and regulations, but also moral codes and ethical norms; codes and norms which function more below our awareness than in the plain sight of our understanding. The things that they are designed to make us do and feel are taken to be expressions of our nature whereas in fact they are the result of our social conditioning.
Deep at the heart of our social conditioning is sex. Just as it is deep at the heart of our biology. As social conditioning it becomes also a matter of gender, of differentiated roles that we are given in society. This differentiation of roles may be based on biology but it has been usurped by love of power. In so being it has been institutionalised in the gender inequalities that stratify our world. In this stratification the structural sexism of society is mirrored and supported by the behavioural sexism of individuals. This includes not only how we act, but also how we think and perceive, consciously and unconsciously
Most men and women are of different genders, and more deeply all are different sexes. Both of those differences shape the ways that each of us experience the world. Yet there is much about that experience that we share, even if in ways subtly different because of those differentiations. We are all socially controlled, we are all sexually repressed.
A dark street will rarely feel the same to a man as it will to a woman. A new born baby will usually produce in a woman a depth of tenderness it rarely will in a man. This is as much cultural conditioning as it is also biological differentiation.
Gender and sexual differentiations have long been used to establish power hierarchies in society, at the heart of which is control. The control required to ensure vast numbers of strangers can live together peacefully.
The fundamental institution of control is ownership.
There has never been a time when men have been the property of women. There has never been a time when men have had to promise to obey their wife. Long ago, and rare, are the times that men and women experienced their sexuality equally or equivalently
If a man, even a married man, has many lovers, he is, by his peers at least, admired and envied. If a woman, even an unmarried woman, has many lovers, she is, by almost everyone, despised and condemned: sometimes even to death by stoning.
So, even though the social control required of urban society demands the control, regulation and repression of human sexuality in general, the demands of hierarchical implementation of that control repress, regulate and control female sexuality much more viciously. So it is that while both men and women are regulated and normalised into sexual insensibility, men are allowed to more fully experience and express sexual desire. While women, for whom by virtue of child-bearing, sex is far deeper and more significant, are left to pretend that sex is not as important as it is.
So we have the myth that women need an emotional connection before they can be sexual, and men don’t. Whereas the real truth is that both just need alcohol, or anything else that will deaden or dampen their sensitivities. Because to be genuinely, honestly, sexual, requires an openness and intimacy which are as intimidating as they are rewarding in equal measure.
At the same time as urban living compromises our social needs
it compromises our spiritual need.
This need is very simple, but very very powerful. Yet within the constraints of urban living it is more deeply repressed than our sexuality
It is the need to give without demand.
Giving within exchange is a social need that does not provide us with that which giving without demand does; which is the deep, nourishing satisfaction of spiritual fulfilment. This has little or nothing to do with religious ritual or belief.
Giving without demand is love: not romantic, parental or filial love, but pure, unconditional, spiritual love.
The repression of our spiritual need to give compromises our willingness and ability to truly love socially. Love is reduced to the contractual fulfilment of our social needs and biological desires.
Within the gendered differentiations of human sexuality everybody is suffering sexually, almost everybody is living without love. For this to change you need not only to 'own' your sexual nature fully. You need also to 'own' your spiritual nature. You can do both, simultaneously, simply by becoming intimate with your own presence. Intimate enough for the depths and subtleties of your nature as a human being to reveal and begin to express themselves into your life.
Then there will no longer be conflict between your spirituality and sexuality. Nor will there need to be conflict between you and any different gender, nor you and the opposite sex.