Urge and urge and urge,
Always the procreant urge of the world.
Out of the dimness opposite equals advance, always substance and increase, always sex,
Always a knit of identity, always distinction, always a breed of life.
To elaborate is no avail, learn’d and unlearn’d feel that it is so.
Sure as the most certain sure, plumb in the uprights, well entretied, braced in the beams,
Stout as a horse, affectionate, haughty, electrical,
I and this mystery here we stand.
– Walt Whitman
THE EVOLUTION OF SEX
Creativity is the essence of the kosmos. The Big Bang itself was an act of mind-stopping fecundity that has continued to complexify, in material and mind, for the past 13.8 billion years.
The latest emergent appeared last week on Big Brother, the CBS reality show, where a straight man and a gay man began snuggling with each other. Even I am shocked and moved to ask: what’s going on here? What is Eros bringing on now, and is there no rest for the weary?
Every stage of development expresses sex in its own way, including animals and bacteria. In fact sex itself is a relatively late emergent in the evolution of the universe. Life started out asexually. We had 2 billion years of single cells simply dividing, passing 100% of their genes on to the next generation.
But the kosmos, which is known for its big surprises (such as the advent of life itself) eventually presented a new means of reproduction that exponentially multiplied creativity: sexual union with other individuals. This is the point where life makes the deal that if each individual gives up 50% of his genes, the resulting variety of the offspring will more than make up for it. This brought forth a splendid new display of life into the kosmos and today virtually all plants and animals reproduce sexually.
PART CHIMP/PART BONOBO
We get our first glimpse of early human sexuality by looking at the animal kingdom from whence we’ve evolved. One of the most interesting lessons can be found in the difference in sex and gender behaviors between chimpanzees and their close cousins the bonobos. Chimps are aggressive and brutal, and the males dominate the females who are often isolated from each other. Over in bonobo land, on the other hand, it’s all “make love not war” and “love the one you’re with.” Bonobos have an inordinate amount of sex with themselves and with whoever is handy of either sex.
The difference? Chimps live in trees and hunt, which favors the physical prowess of the male. Bonobos forage for food on the ground, which is something the female can do in full partnership with the male. As a result the females affiliate with each other which creates a counter-force to male domination. This emergence of female power changes the entire system.
So are humans more chimp or bonobo? Theories differ as to the earliest human, and I have no problem imagining that dawning cultures could be both brutal and loving as life conditions varied. But one thing is clear: by the time we reached the red, warrior stage of development we were channeling our inner chimp. And since then we’ve been working our way toward bonobohood.
In fact, one of the great culture wars of our time is going on between pre-traditional cultures — where women are shrouded and girls’ schools are burned down — against a society where women have full partnership. Female empowerment is indeed lethal to the patriarchy.
One of the developmental themes of human sexual and gender relations as we develop is that women become more and more powerful as new cultural structures arise.
WHAT’S NEXT IN SEX?
So what is integral sex? Well for starters it’s an integration of the best of what all the previous structures have to offer.
As integral sexual practitioners we want to feel into the earliest strata of our being, where we experience the obvious: we are biological creatures who are carriers of the procreant urge of the Big Bang itself, which wants to be expressed in biological union with one another. This, folks, is known as animal sex, and it is ideally a key part of the integral sexual repertoire.
We also want to be conscious of the role of sex in the miracle of procreation. A woman friend once told me that the best sex she ever had was when and her husband stopped trying to avoid pregnancy. So for the times of life when the window of procreation may be open, let’s notice and enjoy it, and take part in the deep fulfillment of what it is to bring forth a new life.
As integralists, we also want the sex with God. Sex has always been imbued with sacredness, from the fertility statues of the earliest humans, through the insatiable horniness of the power gods and goddesses, to the tantric traditions, which intentionally incorporate deity energies into the sexual act.
This sacredness survives well into the amber “traditionalist” altitude, where today’s social conservatives live.
And life is good there apparently; conservatives report more satisfying sex lives than liberals. It turns out that there’s a special kind of heat that can be generated in the crucible of lifetime committed monogamy, where our sexual union with our mate is experienced as being blessed by God and furthering His purpose.
As we enter modernity, however, people tend to lose their religion and one of the unfortunate consequences of this developmental move is a disenchantment of sex. The sexual revolution sparked in modernity may increase the span of our sexual lives but rarely the depth. Bringing a fully felt spirituality back to our sex lives is one of the challenges of progressive practitioners.
One of the astonishing new human emergents to come online as we enter the green, post-modern culture is that for the first time in history it is okay for adults to be single yet sexually active. Think about it: don’t you wince a little when you hear of a seventeen or eighteen-year-old getting married? Yet this was standard for most of human history. A new phase of life has emerged in just the last generation, a stage of transitional adult singlehood that lasts through the twenties. Plus divorce is no longer taboo, giving many of us single periods throughout our lives. One way to see the evolution of culture and consciousness is as a process of ever increasing choice. In today’s green cultures there is a enormous proliferation of options for expressing our sexual and gender creativity.
Smartphone apps are the new singles bars (above).
In this week’s episode of the Daily Evolver I talk about all this and more. I also did a live call on this topic where I asked my listeners to rates themselves on a one to five scale as to their level of sexual intelligence. I used a wonderful definition of highly developed sexuality developed by sexual therapist Marty Klein in his new book, Sexual Intelligence:
We are born sensuous; we become erotic. To cultivate the erotic is also to engage with sexuality as a quality of aliveness and vitality that extend beyond a mere repertoire of sexual techniques. We learn to play, be curious, engage with our imagination, anticipate. Erotic intelligence is our ability to bring novelty to the enduring, mystery to the familiar, and surprise to the known.
The results of the survey? Turns out we’re not doing too badly, at least by our own lights: nearly 70% of the listeners rated themselves a four or above. Another reason integral is so hot!