We live in a planet drenched in shame. Shame is the root of all evil. One of the core sources of shame is sexuality. The reasons sex causes shame is because we do not have a sexual narrative equal to our sexual desire. The result is that our experience of desire is at odds with the person we think we should be and therefore the person we project into society. In this gap between our true self and our public self, shame is born.
Shame is the experience that there is something fundamentally wrong with me that can’t be fixed. All evil is rooted in the desire to deny, suppress or bypass the feeling of shame. The political and social results of a planet drenched in shame are catastrophic.
Shame severs our connection from Eros. Eros is the very life force of reality moving through us. When Eros awakens in us, it does so as the feeling of being radically alive moving towards ever-higher levels of contact, depth and creativity.
Eros as the Source of All Ethics
Eros is the source of all ethics. For all ethical breakdowns, of virtually every form, is rooted in a failure of Eros. When we lose touch with that experience of radical aliveness, which is the natural expression of living our unique authenticity—what I have called Unique Self, then we seek aliveness in all the wrong places. When we lose touch with the gorgeousness of our incessant drive towards contact, depth and creativity- in a word—our drive for intimacy—we lose contact with the self-evident experience of life’s inordinate meaning and value. We cannot bear the pain of alienation from Eros. Therefore, when we lose touch with our Eros we seek to cover the emptiness with Pseudo-Eros. Pseudo-Eros is every form of acting out, addiction and inauthenticity.
The Sexual Models the Erotic
A primary doorway to Eros is the Sexual. The sexual is not the erotic. Eros is that experience of radical aliveness and movement towards, contact depth and creativity in all arenas of life. But the sexual models the erotic. The sexual intimates, in its most beautiful expressions, the experience of Eros that we seek in every dimension of life.
What happens when are cut off from the sexual? For most people it means losing a vital dimension of our capacity to live erotically. For without the sexual model we lose touch with the primal life forces that courses through all being and becoming. When we lose touch with the sexual we sever our connection with what for so many of us is the primary portal to the fullness of Eros that we seek in all the dimensions of our lives.
Let me be very clear about it. Most human beings are profoundly split off from the potent aliveness of the sexual and therefore lack an image of Eros that can call them home to their own aliveness.
People are cut off from the sexual and therefore alienated from Eros for two reasons: One, the sexual is often experienced as pallid and weak and can therefore no longer point us towards the erotic. When that happens we feel dead inside. But that is not all. We feel ashamed at how dead we feel. We feel ashamed that we can barely get out of bed in the morning. We feel ashamed because our lives are not the triumph we know they should be.
But people are cut off from the sexual for a second reason. This one is more complex. Most people are unable to find the fullness of the sexual in their current structure of relationship. Many people—and the number is growing—cannot find the right partner, so they remain alone. Many more people are with a person who cannot meet them in the full aliveness of the sexual. Therefore, they lose the vital connection to Eros that the pleasure of the sexual provides.
The Values Gap
When that happens virtually all people do one of two things. They shut down their desire and thus lose contact to Eros in all of their lives. Or they work out a hidden “arrangement” to fulfill their erotic desire. The “arrangement” for the fulfillment of desire is almost always covert and in violation of their own professed or at least public values. That might be in the form of illicit affairs, or other forms of sexual play that are politically incorrect.
This gap however, between one’s professed values and one’s actual lived values, (other than for the very few1), results in an intensity of shame that is unimaginable. Structurally, this expresses itself in the gap between our current social forms designed to express the sexual and our actual lived reality. In this gap is the abyss of shame into which virtually all of us eventually fall.
A Planet Drenched in Shame
The result is that we live on a planet drenched in shame. The result of that shame is politically, morally, and socially unimaginable in its devastation.
Take the following scene from the zeitgeist: It is 2016 and tens of millions of Americans are watching the second presidential debate between Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump. Allegations of sexual abuse about Trump as well as his comments in the Access Hollywood tape are front and center on everyone’s mind. Trump brings with him a group of women who have accused Bill Clinton of rape and sexual harassment. They sit in the front row. The web is filled with unsubstantiated rumors of Hilary reputed to be having secret lesbian liaisons. Is there a more obvious indication in the center of our culture that something is not working in the sexual drama of our culture?
The Need for a New Sexual Narrative
It is for this precise reason that we need a new sexual narrative. We need a sexual narrative equal to our power and equal to our potency. It is the articulation of that sexual narrative that is one of the primary commitments of the Center for Integral Wisdom.
False complaints or distorted narratives around sexuality, smear campaigns that pretend to be motivated by the protection of “future victims”—protecting them from dangers that do not exist, in order to cover up their far more base motives—are rooted in two primary factors:
First, a failure of Eros on the part of the organizers and consumers of the smear. Their disconnection from their own unique Eros incites malice and disease which cause them at some point to act out in a gross violation of ethics (engineering false complaints for example), driving them up a tree from which they do not know how to climb down.
The second factor is what Reich calls the “Little Man” who seeks to murder Eros where it does appear. This murder of Eros is because the little men get lost in a primal murderous rage when they encounters an Eros that they cannot access themselves. So when someone else does incarnate that Eros, they feel exposed and belittled by life itself. Since they can neither access this Eros nor control it, they move to annihilate it. They murder Eros because they cannot control it.
As I reread this article I realized that a short addendum was necessary in order to be fully fair and in integrity. These two motives that I have outlined, the failure of Eros and the desire to murder Eros, usually drive the hidden actors that are the original root cause of a smear campaign.
However, those root actors, over the years, often attract others who are sincere but profoundly misguided. Their own internal issues, their own anger, or their own wounds might prevent them from reaching out and fact checking for example. Or like many of the Alt Right smear campaigners, they may simply not have a genuine consciousness of what sacred activism means.
And make no mistake about it, this lack of sacred consciousness exists on every side of the political spectrum, the left and the right. Both the so-called ‘alt right’ and the so-called ‘alt left’ have the same tendency to ignore core principles of Sacred Activism—such as careful information gathering, a commitment to facts, fair process, checking both sides, face to face dialogue, compassionate listening, and other principles that are among the core axioms of Sacred America.
Because of the failure to enact these core principles, a smear activist may sincerely but mistakenly buy in to the narrative of those who are the original root source of the smear, and believe that they are acting with integrity. Certainly many of the consumers of a smear campaign—or even those who might sign on an internet petition—believe that they are acting with integrity.
It is easy to get swept up in group think narrative that is powerful in your social circle and even easier to get swept up in internet activism against ostensible abuse, without checking facts, histories, context and so much more. The result of course is that those who appear to be rescuers—standing by the side of victims—are actually acting as perpetrators, perpetrating a smear which itself is a serious form of abuse.
- The few include the most regressed, the sociopaths and the most advanced, the developmentally advanced post-conventional saints. ↩