This morning I was without direction looking for zen stuff and clicked on this interview between Brad and Nina Hartley . I read through but didn’t study the article; it made me think. This morning I failed in zazen and kept thinking about the article, and gradually came to the realisation that the last time I had tried zazen I had given up because “where is sila?” and “where are the 4NT?” I couldn’t get away from that this morning, and the sitting was over – time up.
I have just reread the interview again, and it was better!! There is so much good sex advice in there that I have grown up with since the 60s, and which needs to be said – I leave aside the feminist discussion for the moment. The older I have got the more I see how peoples’ sexual needs are so different. Reading Nina Hartley I see a woman who appears to know where she wants to go – even though she is focussed much on sex. And then I look at myself and see someone who has enjoyed sex some of my life but I have never been sexually fulfilled. And this is because my spiritual desire is so much more important, and I have never been able to marry that important desire with the less important sexual desire. Example, in my30s I had an enjoyable sexual relationship, but in this relationship the woman brought so much baggage I was in pain with all her stuff. It came to increasingly dominate the relationship, and my spiritual needs were suffering. The baggage was human suffering, so how could I say screw them because my spirituality was suffering? In the end I was so unhappy I left.
Throughout life women have seen me as a good catch because I am a good man and faithful. I have tried a number of times – driven by my dick, but have never been able to attain spirit/dick balance. In the end I have realised I don’t offer most women anything. I have my own ways, and whether these are right or wrong they help me in my spiritual direction. How can I live with someone, love them, care for what they want, and drop everything for my spirituality? It doesn’t work. Many women take pride in their homes, my own ways got in the way of that especially when I was expected to pay. They wanted the home their home their way but it was my home to pay for. One user accused me of wanting a housekeeper with sex. From a certain detached viewpoint that was true but a limited view. For me the issue was freedom. In a relationship the two people need to be free to do their own thing including paying for the thing they wanted to do. If the money in a relationship is not equal then their thing becomes your burden and a financial burden limits your freedom, freedom that you have earned. In the same relationship where my spirit made me leave, there were additional problems. I went into the relationship feeling that I loved her so I accepted her burdens as mine. Her burdens required me to completely change my lifestyle including taking on different work that I had previously given up. Gratitude became an issue. I felt she should be grateful that I had accepted her burdens, but she expected it. I just wanted a feeling of gratitude, I never got it; I suspect she never wanted to feel indebted to me yet she should have accepted that because she was. My freedom was severely curtailed by her burdens, I was not free and left. I later realised that she never loved me. Whatever love goes for when you are young – early 30s, I loved her, but the negatives gradually just completely weighed me down. I know I had no choice but to leave – I was dying as a person, in a world where those in relationships accept burdens and the curtailing of freedom many saw me at fault. I also confused love with trust and that came back to bite me financially in a big way.
Not only is Nina’s sexual advice good it is clear she has a good 1%-consciousness. But what about her consciousness about the need for trust – about the problems caused by promiscuity and the lack of faithfulness. Quite rightly she sees it important to fulfil her sexual needs and those of her husband, and the way she describes this she has fulfilment. Well done, it is hard to find. If I were sex police and tried to force her and her husband into a standard monogamous situation there would be a legitimate reaction. But how many people are attracted to her lifestyle or similar when they would be much happier with standard monogamy – perhaps with a bit of Nina Hartley sexual education to help with their fulfilment. Most people do not have awareness of their desires – being led by the dick is one result of this. As she says “Watching the men, just showing them my vulva, I realized how sad it was”, there is a lot of sadness in the way sex goes down.
Desire creates envy. People see others “having fun”, and desire that façade. For many it is desire that destroys families, and not love nor need. How much damage is caused by the failure to stay within monogamy, damage to children, divorce and all that ensues?
The above was consideration of sila – sila desire and awareness. Does Nina Hartley hurt anyone with her style of relationship? The way she describes it – NO. But in relationships, men primarily, choosing to wander without agreement does cause hurt. With sila hurt is not caused. I am not giving the 10 commandments, only one – compassionate sila.
Nina describes herself as zen, does this mean she has compassionate sila? There is nothing in the article that says she doesn’t – but significantly as Brad is interviewing her there is nothing that does. She talks about compassionate awareness and acceptance as far as she can, is that sila as well? Here Buddhadasa describes sila as the basis for practise in Anapanasati:-
I just found Brad in an interview describing how Zen gave him morality. Confused.
Sila is a serious problem in western society. Muslims talk about the decadent west, and many laugh but it is decadent. Fulfilment of desire at whatever cost is a significant drive that is considered legitimate by many. The individual emphasis, that is encouraged by all that is west – all that is 1%, means that many try to fulfil desires irrespective of what happens to others. It is important to understand promiscuity in this way. For many men they approach promiscuity as a freedom, men and women being equally free to enjoy each other sexually. But for how many women is that sexual freedom something they fit into – or are they seeking a long-term partner? How many people get hurt in one-night stands? Do one-night stands lead to partnerhip? How much does one-night stands produce a coldness that takes a long time to break down? There is no doubt in my mind that western relationships do not encourage an openness and freedom despite what they say. I am not saying that elsewhere in the world relationships lead to fulfilment. In the end people need to be aware to get good relationships, and even then it doesn’t always work. What about the number of issues of sexual abuse that have arisen with “gurus”? It’s complicated.
And this brings me to the 4NT, and what I remember from my last zen time? Is there a priority on the 4NT? Now I am too ignorant of Dogen to answer that. What has happened to me so far with zazen has been an improvement in me but has not had any relationship to 4NT? Maybe I have done enough on that recently, and the dharma wants me to focus on zazen. I have been too intellect so that is good.
But this morning it wouldn’t let me stop thinking, and I had to focus on the 4NT. Later I began to think. What zen is for others does not matter, it is what matters for me. This blog is evidence of the potential trap of intellect for me, so zazen is particularly important for me. Why not zazen and the 4NT? Zen takes precepts, I suspect this is their sila – their conduct; I have to examine the precepts of the Dogen Sangha link to overcome my confusion.
Completely differently I love what she says about feminism, I am rereading just to perceive her relationship with feminism. What has the man-hating aspect of some feminists got to do with her lifestyle? And of course most women prefer to have a relationship with men – as she says. People standing up to represent the interests of all women need to represent ALL interests. Equally I support her empathy towards men who are lost following their dicks “Watching the men, just showing them my vulva, I realized how sad it was”. “But I see men as human, I see men as equally victimized by the system. Men are also victims of the patriarchy” of 200 families – as she puts it.