Sexual pantheism.Principles of scientific pantheism* by Paul Harrison.
Life on earth is a vast tree with myriad branches, with each one of us a leaf. Through sex we join to the growing branches.
Tantric miniature, Rajasthan, nineteenth century.
Linking to the tree of life.
Sex is our second most powerful drive after survival. There are good biological reasons for this, since it determines the reproduction of the species and the spreading of individual genes.
This is not to diminish its meaning but rather to increase it. Life on earth is a vast tree with myriad branches, on which each of us is a leaf. Sex is the activity through which we join to the growing branches. It links us to all life in the past, and all human life in the future.
Sex is also a mystery, similar to the mystery of existence. Why do we experience the intensity, the ecstasy of orgasm? Why are we not simply impelled by blind drives, like the drive to sleep? Why are we given such a overpowering reward?
Sex can also be a religious sacrament. It is the one act in which the self is (or can be) completely transcended in union with another.
Some groups like the Tantrics have extended this principle, to see sex as a link with the totality, a way of abandoning the self in the arms of the universe.
Others have gone further still. Pursuing the logic of pantheism to extreme conclusions, they have assumed that, since everything is God, they too, individually, are gods, and can do as they please. So the Free Spirit heretics of medieval Europe were said to encourage every kind of crime, including theft, incest, and murder.
With the Gnostics, group sexual orgies bore an opposite meaning. They believed that material life on earth was under the power of evil archons. By wasting the semen in coitus interruptus, fellatio and so on, they were stopping the transmission of life and escaping the power of the archons.
This site explores the practice and philosophy of some of these groups.
An it harm no-one, do as ye will.
Since pantheism reveres the material universe and is fully at home in the human body, it has a relaxed and positive attitude to sex. It sees sex as a drive, a pleasure, a mystery and a sacrament.
This attitude could be summed up in the Wicca Rede:
An it harm no-one, do as ye will.Of course the "harm no-one" part presents difficulties. Humans, like chimpanzees, have a natural tendency to promiscuity. Unlike chimpanzees, they also have a natural tendency to form pairs, for companionship, mutual support, and child-rearing. Like most mammals they also experience jealousy.
These tendencies are very often in conflict. Promiscuity provokes jealousy, and exposes people to other partners who they might prefer. It can easily de-stabilize the pair bond and of child-rearing.
Because scientific pantheism reveres Reality, it prefers reality to image. It may therefore not approve of pornography. Pornography commercializes the deepest human instinct. It stimulates desire for another while offering only auto-erotic satisfaction. It offers models of beauty and availability which create unrealistic ideas, and can provoke dissatisfaction with partners. It encourages living in a virtual or imaginary world. The current media atmosphere stressing almost universal infidelity (quite at odds with the humdrum reality of low promiscuity revealed by surveys) also destabilizes the pair-bond and undermines people's satisfaction with their sex lives.
In the area of interpersonal relations, there are no easy answers, and the logic of scientific pantheism offers no clear conclusions. The Wicca Rede should be applied, but requires great delicacy and sophistication.
SCIENTIFIC PANTHEISMis the belief that the universe and nature are divine.
It fuses religion and science, and concern for humans with concern for nature.
It provides the most realistic concept of life after death,
and the most solid basis for environmental ethics.
It is a religion that requires no faith other than common sense,
no revelation other than open eyes and a mind open to evidence,
no guru other than your own self.
For an outline, see Basic principles of scientific pantheism. Top.
If you would like to spread this message please include a link to it in your pages.
Suggestions, comments, criticisms to: Paul Harrison, e-mail: pan(at)(this domain)
© Paul Harrison 1996. January 16, 1997.
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