Bennett on the Relationship between Sex and Spiritual Development

A number of years ago I read Bennett’s short, 74 page book, Sex: the Relationship between Sex and Spiritual Development. I was impressed by it then. I made a number of notes on the blank pages at the back, and remember thinking to myself that it was a very powerful, very deep book which I needed to return to. Having now worked through some ideas on the evil of pornography, I felt it was time to return to Bennett and try and deepen my understanding of sex, normal development (that is, development in accordance with the divine norm for man), and distortions of that, such as pornography and promiscuity. I am glad I did. Bennett’s book is even better than I had remembered. Trying to keep those posts to readable length, I will deal with it in several articles. This first one is basically devoted to A.G.E. Blake’s preface.

Blake’s Preface

It is worthwhile commencing with Tony Blake’s concise preface. He indicates the topics Bennett will deal with, and something of his approach. He states: “The rejection of ‘old-fashioned’ morality has left a serious vacuum. Bereft of rules and inhibitions, men and women pursue an ever elusive satisfaction in their sexual activity. The result is contempt of the sexual act or meaningless indulgence” (7). Some may see the “vacuum” as being a good in itself, but no one can doubt that the vacuum exists. Writing in the months after the breaking of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, it is evident that the vacuum has provided an opportunity for what I cannot call anything less than wickedness.

Blake continues to the important point that to improve our sex lives we must have the “aim to go deeper into ourselves and cultivate the more profound aspects of our being” (7). Again, this is very true. I have concluded that our sexual appetites are directly related to our state. The more collected we are, the more orderly our sexual appetite, to the point that a collected person has all the control over their desires that they need.

Waste and Sexual Waste

The next significant matter Blake alludes to is that the sexual energy working in us produces waste products, and that the sexual act is the normal way for sleeping man to dispose of those wastes (7). Again, this is absolutely correct. Behind it lie two facts: first, there are many different energies at work within us. As Gurdjieff said, different fuels are needed for different functions, and the chief divisions are the physical, emotional, intellectual and sexual functions. Second, when the active elements in them are extracted by our organism, these fuels produce wastes. The physical wastes are obvious, we discard most of them at the toilet. The chief fuel of the emotional centre, the air we inhale, expels carbon dioxide when we exhale. There are various wastes of impressions, of which, we were told by Mr George Adie, the most important is in some automatic manifestations. This makes sense, but I shall not go into it. We now have Gurdjieff’s recently published statement on 8 April 1943:

“Every man has three ‘shits’ in him which are produced and which must be eliminated. The first is the result of ordinary food and is eliminated naturally. This must be done every day; otherwise, all sorts of sickness ensue. This is well known in medicine. In the same way, the second shit is eliminated through the sexual function. It is necessary for the health, for the equilibrium of the body. For some people, it is necessary to do this every day; for others, every week, for still others, every month or every six months. It is subjective. A third shit is produced from the third food, impressions, and waste from this food accumulates in the cerebellum. … This third type of shit is eliminated by the appropriate use of breathing” (G.I. Gurdjieff Paris Meetings 1943, 34).

The answer is short and obscure. It is not complete and exhaustive. It makes no obvious reference to the exhalation of the waste products of the air. Even if that is possibly implied in the reference to “the result of ordinary food,” it is not spelled out. I do not know what he meant by saying that the third type of shit is eliminated by the appropriate use of breathing, unless he meant that being conscious of one’s breathing, one can extract more of the higher energies in the air, and is less subject to the tendency to react and manifest mechanically. However, it would appear to underscore the importance of the breathing exercises which Gurdjieff taught.

I approached the question of waste by considering the different aspects of man: his physical, emotional, intellectual and sexual organisms. Gurdjieff came from another perspective: the three “shits” or excrements. We seem to have arrived at the same point. What is important is that Gurdjieff seems to be saying that because we have sexual energies at work in us, we have a need to excrete them, and that this will be through sex.

I don’t think that that is the end of the story. As we shall see, Bennett suggests that creativity and, I think Bennett means, spiritual activity can also dispose of those waste products (46).

In other words, I think we can say this:

  1. Sexual energies which work in us in a particular way after puberty, and after this point, they seek expression in the sex act. This sexual activity can have the effect of disposing of the waste products produced by sexual energies.
  2. However, while this is, as Blake said, the way open to “sleeping man”, we do not wish to be or to remain “sleeping man”. There is another way to dispose of it, the path of spiritual development.

I think that this is important. Many people are bothered by their sexual activity. They find themselves addicted on pornography and masturbation, or resorting to prostitutes. They often feel demeaned afterwards, and if they are religious, they often feel dirty. Promiscuity, and accepting these activities as being healthy, are not the answer. The answer is understanding and self-control.

People may be aided by the realisation that they are dealing with a natural process, the production of waste products, and that the waste can be dealt with in other ways than the most obvious, sexual activity.

Blake hints at the possibilities of understanding sexual activity as a whole and using that understanding to develop in a positive direction: “Bennett eases our bewilderment before the spontaneity of sex and enables us to see a way of understanding and living better. His guidance can enable men and women to appreciate each other more wisely and, through understanding the role each has to play, to grow in mutual compassion” (8). This thought takes us beyond what I have dealt with today, but it is the study we shall undertake in future articles.

Joseph Azize, 23 December 2017

6 comments

  1. “A third shit is produced from the third food, impressions, and waste from this food accumulates in the cerebellum. … This third type of shit is eliminated by the appropriate use of breathing” (G.I. Gurdjieff Paris Meetings 1943, 34).”

    The area one should consider is the Hippocampus

    “The hippocampus is a small organ located within the brain’s medial temporal lobe and forms an important part of the limbic system, the region that regulates emotions. The hippocampus is associated mainly with memory, in particular long-term memory.”

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:1511_The_Limbic_Lobe.jpg

    “Psychologists and neuroscientists generally agree that the hippocampus plays an important role in the formation of new memories about experienced events (episodic or autobiographical memory).[40][48] Part of this function is hippocampal involvement in the detection of new events, places and stimuli.[49] Some researchers regard the hippocampus as part of a larger medial temporal lobe memory system responsible for general declarative memory (memories that can be explicitly verbalized—these would include, for example, memory for facts in addition to episodic memory).[39] The hippocampus also encodes emotional context from the amygdala. This is partly why returning to a location where an emotional event occurred may evoke that emotion. There is a deep emotional connection between episodic memories and places.[50] [from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hippocampus}

    The food diagram indicating the proper placement of the conscious use of breath at the Mi/Fa interval providing for the proper entrance of impressions.

    https://drive.google.com/file/d/13eyo1FvhYu4wG0NOEtJqgYKKzR_7IsOm/view?usp=sharing

    Through the conscious use of breath, the emotional and thought patterns are excreted (or from another formulation redeemed). Much has been written about what is considered “the first conscious shock” yet rarely if ever is there a correlation to air/finer elements and the dynamic action of breathing. We should remember the first mechanical shock is due a demand of the body to remain alive. Why would the first conscious shock at the Mi/Fa interval of air not involve at the least a conscious awareness of its activity, if not something more explicit.

  2. A key for understanding the realtion of Sex and Spiritualisation seems to lie in Bennetts notion the personality sex leads to mortaliy while essential sex leads to the True Self.

  3. “People may be aided by the realisation that they are dealing with a natural process, the production of waste products, and that the waste can be dealt with in other ways than the most obvious, sexual activity”

    The question I think we could ask from this one statement is…. Can we deal with sexual energy in other ways aside from sexual activity?

    Do we have the being to do this? A man who has not worked on himself has no choice in this matter, he acts as his constitution dictates and as external influence dictate. In this regard there is no choice. The next question I think would be… When does an individual have the choice to act different in this regard. Surprisingly the answer is buried in the chapter holy purgatory. The analogy of a planet whom has three sexes that each act as one of the three being bodys. When in the act of sexual activity they merge and form a fourth being. Interesting to think about. What if the only other way to use sexual energy aside from what we know is when we have all three being bodys developed. Then sexual energy might be that that binds them together and when merged form what gurdjieff called I. This is speculation but seems reasonable when trying to understand that analogy. If we look at the food diagram what we are seeing is a diagram that represents the forming of Higher being body. In its completion we have…..
    ——————-Do re mi
    ———Do re mi fa sol la
    Do re mi fa sol la si

    It looks like when a material is brought in from the thinking center at its mi mixes with an emotion at sol and mixes with sexual energy of si they form a new something which we could call La. This I think is why the diagram stops at the la. La could be the second being body. The start of a higher octave of the first story. LA is LA but also a new Do. A higher octave of the first story. A new being which relates to the analogy above.
    I dont think its so cut and dry though.

    When we look at people and their habits of sexuality we are looking at their mechanical manifestions, their machines, in abnormal man its all they are. So in this regard if someone has no higher being bodys changing their sexual habits is just changing the machine and not helpng them develop. The question then is…. if this is the case can we still use sexual activetys for development.

    We also know sustaining from sexual activity causes harm as said in the same chapter. So what do we do. Can we use it to our advantage?

    ——

  4. “As we shall see, Bennett suggests that creativity and, I think Bennett means, spiritual activity can also dispose of those waste products”

    Though it has been reported that much has been lost in terms of Gurdjieff’s original intended inner directives, are not The Movements a proffered example of how an objective creativity constructively (transmutationally ???) ‘disposes’ sexual waste ?

    1. You may be correct, Greg, for if one’s sexual functioning is closely related to one’s being, then the movements can help with that. This idea of waste products which are disposed of by (heterosexual) activity alone is one which I can neither verify nor disprove. What about people with physical disabilities who are incapable of sexual activity, or who psychologically cannot have heterosexual relations because of an acquired second nature? Can they never eliminate the wastes? My theory is that although one’s general state of being neither cures nor prevents issues with the disposal of the other wastes, with sex it is different. That is, we see that the organism makes some adaptation for people with breathing problems, and one can inhale and assimilate more of the higher hydrogens in the air, so that one exhales fewer wastes. Perhaps the same can happen with impressions and sex: maybe the organism can adapt if one cannot or does not have sex, and maybe by not allowing sexual fantasy, fewer waste products are formed, and these can be lived with. The movements might help with that by facilitating the conscious movement of energies and breath. Regards, Joseph

      1. Excerpted from “The Prieure, Jan. 28, 1923”
        an address delivered by Gurdjieff to his students

        “In the meantime in every machine, if it is being fed, this matter (sperm) is produced. This particular matter is deposited and stored in a definite place In the organism and from time to time in a normal machine this place must be evacuated in order to be refilled. There are two ways of evacuating this place; it can be done either through sexual intercourse, OR BY TRANSFORMING THIS MATTER INTO A DIFFERENT KIND OF MATTER BY WILLPOWER, USING THE POSSIBILITIES GIVEN US. But for the second method, for transforming this substance into another kind of substance, we have at present neither the power nor the possibility, for in order to be able to use this substance when we need energy or power, we must first acquire other qualities and powers. And in order to acquire the necessary possibilities we must correct the working of the machine to insure a normal process.”

        As a lifelong dancer of a most particular training, the paragraph as a whole and its capitalized-by- me specific, reflect aspects of my personal experience and therefore more than resonate with me.

        Thank you, Joseph, for your response and a series which has given me much on which to chew.

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