SEXUAL PREDATION: Can Spiritual Warriors meet the challenge?!
“sexuality is the final frontier for our conscious awakening..” MS
Scripture admonishes us to think twice before casting judgment and blame, before stoning sinners. Spiritual, philosophical, healing traditions all advise us to do no harm; to treat others the way we would most like to be treated: with kindness. At its Greek spring of origin, “sin” means to “miss the mark.” This leaves room for atonement, mercy, forgiveness –and learning new, healthier, sane and life-giving ways.
One of the areas in which Americans (and many other cultures) are least able to comply with scripture, or seek rehabilitation and renewal is that of sexual predation. Why is that?! Why hasn’t inquiry about secular and spiritual salvation taken place there, aside for a very few circles that focus on sensual and sexual wholeness and healing? I run in these circles.
As a former ‘victim’ several times over of sexual impropriety, invasion and predation, my personal path has drawn me into the abyss of shadowed recovery over a lifetime.
I grok the guilt, shame, low self-esteem, rage, terror, grief that accompany that path. Impassioned to share any relief, wisdom or ‘ahas’ I found along the way, I chose to specialize in my professional counseling and healing practice in reclaiming deep feminine and masculine Sensibilities. In facing the unfaceable. And in cultivating compassion and kindness for myself, and for those who injure me. I’ve learned that perpetrators too, are human beings harboring these same terrible kinds of feelings, and harsh self-evaluations. This is seldom obvious at first glance. You have to be motivated to ‘love thine enemy,’ to find the sense of brokenness beneath a calculating, hardened heart, or a show of chauvinistic, blustering entitlement. Practicing non-violence is a spiritual warrior’s journey.
A treasured mentor was the late Marshall B. Rosenberg. “NVC” –Nonviolent Communication is premised in intending no harm, beginning with intending to make no one your enemy. Rather, you discipline yourself in a mindful manner to open your mind and heart, even to those who have done seemingly unforgivable deeds. (Including oneself). NVC invites us to discover “what is alive” inside us: what matters, what we value. In this way, common humanity can be found and shared, and our best ideas for our common well-being entered into the book of life.
The subjects of sexual predation, male chauvinism, misogyny, pederasty, the prevalence of internet porn, the normalizing of violence in our media (including the film and TV industries) — -deserve focus to uncover their roots. These roots are found in cultural mores, systemic patterns of sexism, familial environments and child-raising practices, religious beliefs — as well as thwarted dreams and traumatic early experiences. Because at the core –at the Heart of any dis-ease or trauma –there is Love awaiting release. And vitality, joy, creative spark. But too few of us know how to navigate that journey, that return to wholeness –or dare to risk it. And it’s not for the faint of heart.
In my former private practice in L.A., I was privy to the secret confessions of scores of men around their sexuality. Several were celebs in the entertainment or music industry. But every single male client arrived in protective secrecy, nervous that their status would shrink if anybody knew they were insecure about their masculinity. This revealed degree of vulnerability astonished me. I had thought men simply felt superior. Their concerns varied from worries about penile size and performance anxiety, to guilt over improprieties, anxiety about deviations or being caught. Examples varied from a skinny man who exposed himself on public buses, to a financial district CEO who was addicted to paying high sums to be demeaned by a dominatrix. There were also two clients in “poly” relationships struggling to establish real intimacy, and many who had been sexually molested as children or witnessed incestuous fathers abusing their female siblings.
In order for me to help any of these men find relief or redemption, I had to suspend sanctimony, and I had to open myself to risk trust –even letting them into the room sometimes. It was eye-opening. More important, it was majorly heart- opening, a balm to my own wounding. Today, I am more compassionate, wise –and curious — to understand the inner workings of ‘original pain’ for a client, to create a healing Story with fresh ideas and new behaviors to enable soulful, satisfying connection.
My personal history of molestation and fear of being raped caused me to attract women clients as well, with similar (often more extreme) backgrounds. One was a popular Tantric teacher/author whose yogi partner was a sexually abusive chauvinist behind the scenes. Her partner refused to admit he needed help, or risk public exposure. Sadly, there is still a dark side to the western Tantra world: sexuality is the final frontier for our conscious awakening there too. And even as spiritual warriors, we’ll grapple with our animal instincts, our acquired beliefs and habits of permitted bodily expression, and any expectations for reward or punishment for that display.
Last comment: Cosby. Ailes. Weinstein. Trump. Others in our local communities. When a celebrity or official is caught with his (or her) pants down in an act of sexual misconduct –or predatory assault, are we willing to wonder what actually caused it, at the core? Might we be willing to separate the odious behaviors from the person who committed them, and look for inherent value in that human being? Not join in the gleeful trashing (I am often guilty of this myself when it’s a politician I abhor!) Can I instead be open to silver linings? Or apply the adage, “As without, so within,” wonder what I might have in common with a person who did a terrible thing? Not often easy at first; but it’s such a Gift to discover basic human needs held in common, and to realize that Love has gone unfulfilled, intimate connection gone awry, desired union made crooked in the perpetration of a sexual crime.