Integral Ethics Part III: Sex
Integral Ethics Series
Integral Theory helps us hold multiple perspective; still, decisions must be made and actions taken. In that regard, one question remains largely unanswered, “does an integral worldview impose any moral imperatives?” Postmodernity, taken to the extreme, makes all perspectives equal. Integral includes honoring the relative truth of all perspectives but also reintroduces ranking. An integral perspective does not pretend that all actions are equally loving and good for the kosmos. No matter how many perspectives we honor in theory, we end up embodying the ones that we find ethical and act accordingly. The question is whether or not integral consciousness will tend to foster certain behaviors over others. Does integral have normative potential?
This Months Topic
This month we will look at how holding an integral perspective impacts our relationship to sex. Few things are guaranteed to exist through every stage of development. So far, sex is one of them. Clearly we have sex for a wide number of reasons. Even if technology someday changes the way we reproduce, it's looking like a safe bet that we will continue to have sex. But many questions of how, why and with whom remain.
DEVELOPMENTALLY we could chart an evolution of sexual drives in many ways, from self serving, egocentric sex all the way up to kosmocentric attempts to serve the One through divine sexual communion. Does being integral and holding an awareness of this spectrum compel one to choose certain forms of sexuality over others? Does it free one up to engage all forms of sexuality without compulsion?
We must also consider different TYPES of sex. The integral sexpert David Deida makes a distinction between sex as Therapy, Sex as Yoga and Sex as Spirituality. Check out a couple of short videos of him discussing this here: David Deida on SEX
And what of sexual relationships with teachers, spiritual or otherwise? Adi-Da, Genpo Roshi, Marc Gafni, Osho, Chogyam Trungpa....the list of teachers who have engaged in sexual relationships with members of their community is a long one. What does the level of development of the teacher have to do with the ethics of such acts? How does the development of the student change this? Are there circumstances that make this more or less ethical?
For those of you who were a part of our sangha in 2009 this topic might well be an open wound. We had three separate discussions with Diane Hamilton, Marc Gafni and David Ingber revolving around the accusations that Marc Gafni had an inappropriate sexual relationship with a student. Similar accusations were made again recently. Clearly this topic remains unresolved.
There is the question of monogamy. Martin Ucik, author of Integral Relationships, has been exploring this question with the community recently. He and I have discussed the possibility of monogamy and non-monogamy unfolding over many levels, but the highest levels are only now being created as we step into the largely uncharted territory of the more transpersonal levels of development. How does polyamory fit into all of this? Or polygamy? This topic is a potential minefield of Pre/Trans Fallacies. How do we balance judgement and acceptance, pride and shame?
And what of same sex love? I, for one, am very excited to read our very own Gilles Herrada's new book “The Missing Myth” which explores the history of this topic and offers “A New Vision of Same Sex Love”. Our country and the world at large are in the middle of a contentious debate about the ethics of same-sex love. What insights does an integral perspective offer?
We will be rolling around in these and many more topics on Monday February 18th. Please join us, and bring your partner.