According to the Toltec teachings, the only energy in the universe is fundamentally the sexual energy. The key is in how we use this energy. And, as with anything in the universe, the choice is always ours. We can choose to do whatever we like with anything we may dream of, or think, or feel or do. We can uplift, we can learn, or we can destroy. So with the sexual energy, we can either get caught up, in the sense of indulging in thoughts of eroticism, titillation, fantasies, feelings of desire, frustration and yearning, and countless actions and subterfuges leading to an expression of lust, or we can choose to learn about ourselves, and also learn how to channel all our energies creatively.
Lust and love - these are the two polarities of this energy. Most people are only ever familiar with the polarity of lust, and therefore mistakenly view it as an expression of love, or a pathway that if pursued for long enough, will lead them to true love. Rare are the individuals who have developed the tenacity and the ability to take the sexual energy to its opposite polarity and find creativity, true fulfillment and joy.
An example of one such rare individual was the artist Matisse. Matisse was married, and so never physically consummated his relationships with his nude sitters, but developed the ability to use the energy they brought him to learn and to make breakthroughs in his art.
However, in terms of what people often perceive as channelling this energy, the Victorian attitude of plenty of exercise and cold showers far too frequently still prevails. Yet, this purely physical outlet is not a proper use of the creative force and has more to do with suppression and denial than constructive use. For in order for us to use something, we first of all need to become aware of it, and acknowledge it fully, rather than trying to lock it away, which is the result of denial.
How, then, can we learn to use this energy constructively?
When people think sex, most think of the physical act of intercourse. Sexual intercourse is the goal and final result of much social activity, and fantasies about sex form much of people's mental processes.
But there is far more to sex than physical intercourse. The true extent of sex is vast, and it is their inability to think beyond the immediate physical act that is responsible for so much emptiness and boredom in people's relationships. The consequences of this have been wide-ranging and severe, ripping apart the family unit in our societies, and causing so much of the sterility and destruction in the world today.
What then is the purpose of physical sex?
In the past, getting to know about sex was termed learning about "the birds and the bees." This may have been something of a prudish euphemism, but it did get across the point that sex is a natural act, and that it is all about procreation. That is the purpose of physical sex - and something that many have lost sight of nowadays.
As a species one of our strongest instincts is that of survival, and the reproduction of the species ensures its survival. The sex instinct is therefore extremely powerful and all-consuming. It needed to be, in order to ensure that the human race did not get wiped out. This need to keep reproducing the species is no longer with us, but the drive has not changed, and unless constructively channelled, it threatens to provide the means by which we are destroyed, rather than perpetuated.
But it is not only an indulgence in sex and a preoccupation with sexual thoughts and fantasies that threaten to destroy us. Equally dangerous for us as individuals, as well as for society as a whole, is what happens when the sex urge is denied. For apart from those people who overindulge in sex, there are countless others for whom there is no outlet at all, fruitful or otherwise, for the sexual energy. Whether out of guilt, or countless other reasons, these people try to deny the sex energy and lead lives that are completely asexual - as if somehow this will make the problem go away. Yet this energy exists within us all. Being a natural part of us it needs some form of creative expression, otherwise it atrophies and we become stunted and decaying as human beings, and we also become stunted and degenerate as a society.
We can see shortly how this works, but if we just consider one society where the sexual energy has been suppressed as a whole, we can look no further than Switzerland. It has often been joked that over 100s of years of development the Swiss have given us nothing more than the cuckoo clock. Yet this saying does contain a germ of truth in that true creativity on a national level has been stifled through the wholesale denial of the sexual energy, and consequently, its lack of useful channelling. In connection with this, it is perhaps not surprising that C.G. Jung himself was Swiss, being born into a society that needed his help more than others at the time.
Another widespread example of the effects of suppression and denial is to be found within the churches, and especially the Catholic Church - rocked by many sex scandals in recent years, which represent nothing more than the minute tip of a vast iceberg.
However, even though the behaviour of humans is often far worse than animals, the fact remains that we, as human beings are not the same as animals. Thus Toltecs teach that sex is a mystery - a mystery whose true meaning remains ever elusive. As one old song puts it so well: "Let me tell you about the birds and the bees and the flowers and the trees … and a thing called love."
True love and lust - the most common polarity all too often ending up being destructive and demeaning - the other, more rare, forming the rocky pathway to great joy.
Great joy does exist, but the true pathway is hard to find, and once found, to tread to its end. The main problem is that the polarity of animal lust is so strong, and the social conditioning surrounding the subject of sex is also so powerful, that to resist it, and yet not to fall into denial, takes perseverance. This social conditioning is today all-pervasive, and permeates our televisions, newspapers and also most of our literature and poetry.
The key to the constructive use of the sexual energy lies first of all in our ability to see the bigger picture, thereby to relate what we consider as sex to a much broader context, and so to get beyond the purely physical expression of sex that dominates and threatens to overwhelm us today.
In trying to get to the bigger picture, we need to look at the origins of sex.
There is a universal force that exists throughout the entire universe, and this force is what mostly manifests as desire or emotion. Therefore Toltecs have maintained that there are only 4 pure emotions - all others being some kind of a mixture of these. The four are; Joy, Anger, Fear and Melancholy. All of these are expressions of desire: Joy being the desire to live; Anger being the desire to fight; Fear being the desire to retreat and Melancholy being the desire to change.
The one fundamental force underlying all of these is the desire to manifest, or the desire of Life to be born, in order to give expression to Itself in a multitude of unique ways; therefore to fully experience, and learn to know Itself in Its infinite variety. In this process, Life manifests part of Its awareness as man or woman, in order to learn about the male and female aspects of Itself.
Today we know that we are not defined by our physical bodies alone - there is far more to us than what is regarded as mere matter. Most people nowadays accept the important role of the mental body, as well as the emotional body, but there are also more subtle levels in our make-up than these.
The importance of these other, non-physical aspects, is that the desire to manifest does not stop with our physical birth, but extends to the nature and quality of our thoughts, our emotions, and, in fact, everything that determines the nature of our actions in every aspect of our life, from the moment we are born, till the moment we die.
If we liken the desire to manifest with fertilisation - which is most analogous - then the majority of our actions amount to the processes either of fertilisation or of conception. This is easy to see when we look at the physical birth process, but it also encompasses a vast amount more.
As children we are constantly conceiving ideas, thought patterns and emotional responses from our parents initially, and then from our teachers and others. As adults, we are also constantly conceiving what is being fed to us by our families, our colleagues, the media, our bosses, etc. In every situation within life, then, we find that we are either in a male role (fertilising someone else) or we are in a female role, (conceiving someone else's ideas.) If it is up to us, then, to decide how we fertilise, and what we bring to birth, is not the enormous responsibility we each face, throughout every moment of our lives, quite clear? Is it not also clear that the true nature of sex is far more vast than you have possibly ever imagined?
Of course, there is a lot more, but with at least this much, it is possible to see that there is a much bigger picture, and that to look at sex in only the narrower context is not only damaging, but it also robs us of our ability to be creative in any meaningful sense. In fact, it is because of the general obsession with performance and the physical sexual act that there is today so much impotence amongst men, and so much frustration amongst women. For how can you truly "perform" and be creative as a male, if you consider that the defining factor of your manhood is located between your legs, and how can you be of any value as a female, if the defining factor of your womanhood is also located between your legs?
Having acknowledged that there is a bigger picture, where does one start? Toltecs teach that unravelling your own life experience, your motivations and reactions towards sex is a necessary journey for all of us. Because all of life revolves around the sexual energy, this energy is not something that we can avoid without the most dire consequences, and some of these we have already noted.
In this context, it is not surprising to discover that many of the visions and yearnings of famous religious mystics and ascetics through the ages have resulted more from a lack of knowledge of the true nature of sex and thus are a product simply of suppressed sexuality, rather than from any real spiritual wisdom. And in this respect it is well-known that the Buddha himself, after have lived the life of an ascetic, decided to teach the middle path, rather than following any type of extremism.
The starting point is therefore learning about yourself. Through exploring your own feelings about and motivations for sex, it is possible to learn. Nowadays, we know enough about the human psyche to be able to say that, if I feel threatened by someone bigger than me, then, rather than avoiding such people, I can interact with them to find out why I feel threatened. However, this line of self-discovery does not usually extend to sex. Instead, if someone feels turned on by a particular type of person, the normal response is simply to try to have physical sex, in the belief that this is the only solution or the only way forward. However, focussing on the physical act alone so often leads to disillusionment, because whatever attracted them in the other person is so often a projection, and is therefore something they could use to learn about themselves, through interacting fully with the person, rather than only being focussed on the physical aspect of sex.
In trying to learn about yourself, if you are totally honest, and if you study your real reasons for wanting physical sex you will find that they are most likely more varied than would appear at first glance. Everyone of course has their own reasons, and their own unique experiences of sex - all of which colours their feelings about life, about themselves, about others, and, of course, about sex. Some of the reasons can include, boredom, excitement, frustration, anger, guilt, pity, manipulation, revenge, loneliness, attraction (mental, physical and emotional), feeling incomplete, seeking comfort, seeking a thrill, seeking new experiences, trying to relive an old experience, in addition to wanting to express and receive true love and warmth. But what is the intent behind these motivations? What do these have to do with reaching the polarity of true love or warmth?
Therefore, the first step in taking the pathway towards true love is in acknowledging fully all your thoughts and feelings about sex, and then, instead of necessarily acting all of them out or indulging in them, and instead of denying and suppressing them, making the commitment to learn about yourself. Through this commitment you will start to uncover your own true qualities and your own unique beliefs that have been buried for so long underneath your social conditioning.
Even though we are supposed to be living in an age of enlightenment, there is today still a lot of shame and guilt attached to the subject of sex. There are also an enormous number of lonely and fearful people who have in the course of their life, prostituted themselves in one way or another for what they perceived as love and warmth. As a result of the judgement, the shame and the guilt that they still feel, many of these people have made themselves believe that they are not worthy of receiving and giving true love and warmth. So they "satisfy" themselves through animal lust or through denial. But neither of these can slake the gnawing emptiness that permeates and suppurates throughout their lives.
However, even though our true nature may have been hidden through our social conditioning, it remains a fact that human nature is fundamentally good, and human beings are essentially motivated to strive towards upliftment.
The pathway to true love and warmth is not easy, and it involves recognising and overcoming our deepest and most ingrained fears, if we are ever to come to a true acceptance of ourselves. However, unless we at least try, this pathway will remain forever closed to us. The alternative pathways of lust and denial never lead to true love and warmth.
The first step though, is simply to want to start learning about yourself. Toltecs maintain that seeking true knowledge is the most frightening pursuit there is. Yet the rewards of being able to tread the pathway of self-knowledge: to be able to experience - to give and receive - true love and warmth, are more than worth the effort and any of the hardships along the way. For all of us, this journey is not only the journey of a lifetime - it forms the very reason for our existence.