When I (Marc) sit down to prepare a teaching, the process goes something like this. First is the attraction. I generally teach only that which attracts me. I must have an almost unquenchable longing to explore the subject. Second, I must be fully present in the impassioned pursuit, in the investment of energy and attention, in learning its contours and plumbing its secrets. Finally, on the good days, there is the ecstatic merging with the wisdom, when all the disparate pieces fall together in an elegantly interconnected whole.
I once had such a romance when preparing a series of talks on the topic of laughter. I had decided to give a lecture series on laughter, a topic that had always fascinated me. To prepare, I gathered my ancient texts, bringing them into a friend’s apartment in the old city of Jerusalem. I barely emerged from the apartment for three days. I read source after source, but somehow it did not make any sense to me. Ancient sources are very different from the modern essay. The modern essay is too often “a lot that holds a little.” The ancient Hebrew wisdom sources are koan-like in their quality and are usually “a little that holds a lot.” Moreover, you can understand them only if they decide to let you inside. So I danced with them and flirted. They teased me, led me on, but then demurred and withdrew. Somehow it wasn’t clicking.
Finally, one night I arrived at the apartment at two in the morning, very tired and about ready to give up. “No, not just yet—one more time,” I said to myself, “and if there’s no breakthrough, I’m through with this topic.” And as I slowly, gently read the text for the last time, it was as though light—a soft white light—illuminated the room. The words seemed to read themselves, and a single elegant sentence offered herself to me. And then, thunder and lightning and wild erotic ecstasy as the text dropped veil after veil until she stood naked before me in all of her sensual splendor. I was on the inside of laughter. All the sources organized themselves in an instant and unfolded beautifully, as two distinct forms of laughter distinguished themselves in my soul and mind. Knotty issues that had troubled me gently untied themselves. And then, not more than six or seven minutes later, it was over. I was spent but happy.
But the story is not quite over yet. Exhausted, I gathered my books, and after sitting for a while, I walked to the old walls of the city to find a cab back to my own apartment. I got into the cab and the driver, whose name was Ari, wanted to talk. Truthfully, a quiet ride would have worked just fine for me, but such was not what the universe had in mind.
“So what are all those books about?” Ari asked. I knew I could not share with him the whole story, so I nonchalantly said, “Just books I was studying.”
Undeterred, he pressed on. “Well, what were you studying?”
Having little choice, I answered, “I was trying to unpack the ontological and existential essence of laughter.”
Now usually that would be a conversation stopper. But Ari was undeterred. He went right on. “Laughter—the essence of laughter. That’s easy. My grandmother told me about that.”
At this point, I was both bemused and interested: bemused because I had just spent three days in intense erotic encounter with this idea, and if he thought he could just throw out a few words about such a profound topic, well . . . And yet interested, because I know that grandmothers are often wise and almost always worth listening to.
To my chagrin, even as I half expected it, he did it. He articulated in different words, in his grandmother’s name, that great sentence of illumination that I had experienced but an hour before. Tears gently rolled down my cheek. It was much more than the affirmation of an idea. I knew that God was in me. I felt completely loved and embraced by the universe.
Everything I have described to you has nothing to do, and yet everything to do, with sex. I promise you that during this entire story, the sexual was absolutely the furthest thing from my mind. And yet the process of study was no less than a loving courtship leading to intimacy. Sex models the erotic, but it does not begin to exhaust the erotic. At least for a few seconds on that night, I was on the inside of God’s face in the Holy of Holies between the cherubs.
Erotic experiences are available to us in every facet of our lives. We cannot live without them. To access Eros, we just have to make a decision to live high. This is the teaching of the Master of Kotzk, who once asked his students, “Where is God?” (In our terms, I would reframe the question:
“Where is the sacred—the erotic?” One student pointed to heaven and another to nature and the third to the sacred writings. “Yes,” replied the master, “Yes, but where is God?” The students were silent. Answering his own question, the master said, “God is where you let him in.”
To be continued…
A Return to Eros: On Sex, Love, and Eroticism in Every Dimension of Life, from Drs. Marc Gafni and Kristina Kincaid, reveals the radical secret tenets of relationship between the sexual, the erotic, and the holy. They reveal what Eros actually means and share the ten core qualities of the Erotic, which are modeled by the sexual. These include being on the inside, fullness of presence, yearning, allurement, fantasy, surrender, creativity, pleasure, and more.
A Return to Eros shows why these qualities of the erotic modeled by the sexual are actually the same core qualities of the sacred. The relationship between the sexual and the erotic becomes clear, teaching you how to live an erotically suffused existence charged with purpose, potency and power.
To be an Outrageous Lover—not just in sex but also in all facets of your life–you must listen deeply to the simple yet elegant whisperings of the sexual. This book will forever transform your understanding and experience of love, sex, and Eros.
One of the many fruits of the Joining of Genius between the Center for Integral Wisdom and the Foundation for Conscious Evolution and their respective founders, Dr. Marc Gafni and Barbara Marx Hubbard is Evolutionary Church — a weekly, interactive, live-streamed gathering, where we join together to articulate, discover and experience the living memetic codes within our very being that are guiding us towards a positive future.
Together we recover hope through accessing our memory of the future and reveal the direction of our personal and collective evolution. We awaken as our irreducibly Unique Selves and claim the beauty and obligation of our notes in the Unique Self Symphony.