Bennett on the Relationship between Sex and Spiritual Development (Part Six)

Part One

I have so far written five posts on the volume, the first of which dealt mainly with A.G.E. Blake’s concise introduction, can be found here:

Before proceeding further, it must be said that much of what follows, and especially the most important parts, are hypotheses. It is not as if one can produce a microscope and see what we’re discussing in vivid colour. But these hypotheses are not arbitrary, although I will not be able to outline all their rationale. The second post is here:

This took us to the end of the first chapter. Prime points were that “… the energy of love .. is as far beyond the range of the creative action of sex as that action is beyond the working of the energies involved in self renewal” (12); and that, in us, there work not only the highest natural sensitive energies, but also a conscious energy which is cosmic, meaning, that it comes from somewhere beyond terrestrial life: it enters our lives from a higher source. A further higher energy operates in us, that of creativity, which is higher than that of consciousness, and operates beyond our awareness, was made part of man by a sexual process …” (13) This raised for me the question of whether one can open to these higher energies if one could bring the sexual and conscious forces into equilibrium.

The third post dealt with the chapter on the sex act. There Bennett discussed once more the energies at work in us and how they need to be used in a certain normal ways if they are to regulate our whole in a healthy manner. I was particularly impressed by this: “For there to be an indwelling of love we must be opened and emptied of self. A special action is involved, that is little understood, because it is so far beyond the reach of our ordinary selves. So long as we remained attached to our own worth, love cannot enter” (21).

The fourth post treated his chapter on “negative sex”. One particularly striking statement was the hypothesis that when the sexual energy invades other centres, we are given to feverish activity, to hallucination, to believing “that we can think our way to God”, or to states of hysteria, all equally and dismally useless (28).

The fifth post was on “Procreation and Parenthood”. Bennett sees human conception as a cosmic process, through which the creative force can “penetrate into Nature” (33). Both the parents are receptive in relation to this active force, and it is the child, he says, who bears or transmits the third force, the reconciling, unifying or blending the other two forces to allow a new creation (33-34). The new life has “heredity” (relating to the physical body), “fate” (touching psychic characteristics and relationships), and from God, the law of destiny. A child’s destiny is unique to him and independent of his parents: it belongs to his spiritual nature or will (36). Since this spiritual purpose comes from the spiritual world, to be realised here, it must be freely accepted (36). It cannot be the subject of compulsion.

On another note, since the male is called to manifest the creative power, and that power is not his own, his situation is “peculiar”: he is called to be what he cannot be (38-39).

Part Two

“Creativity and Perception” was the title of the next talk in Bennett’s little book Sex: The Relationship between Sex and Spiritual Development. Creation and perception are not two separate things, and neither is the sex energy entirely a third. Rather, they are related because the creative energies which come from beyond this world bring the possibilities of a finer perception with them, and the sexual energies (not the act, but the energies) can bring the conscious and automatic energies within us into a fruitful contact, so that our ordinary faculties are permeated by something higher than earthly (43-45). Unlike the automatic energies which keep instinctual, purely animal life going, we have sensitive energies which provide “the screen of the mind” (44). The automatic and sensitive energies are quite conditioned, and are concerned with themselves. since conscious energy comes from beyond, it can see wholes and bring a non-self-centred perspective (44-45). So far can these higher energies transcend the narrow self that they can make possible extraordinary relations between people possible, not meaning sexual relations (45).

According to Bennett, the sex energy also produces most of the power of imagination in us, which can be both useful and useless (46). This has tremendous potential both for good and for bad. The conscious and creative energies which work in us are affected by the circulation of sexual energy, and so act differently depending upon whether the organism is male or female (44-48). I have omitted JGB’s comments on the differences between men and women, they are rather subtle and would require a lengthy treatment. But this statement should be carefully considered: “Men and women are different and they ought to be different, and it is just this very thing that makes the potential for the human race so great” (50).

In the question and answer session which followed, a question was asked about the sexual act. Bennett’s answer has, I feel, the ring of truth: “… perceptions cannot develop rightly if the man or woman is promiscuous. The sexual act involves the essence, even if the personality is quite unaware of what is really happening. In the essence contact a part of the essence becomes committed to that particular relationship. When there are many sexual relationships, the essence loses its freedom; promiscuity leads to inner confusion” (50).

One of the comments Bennett makes at the opening of the chapter had rather eluded me until I had read through to the end of it. It is this: “The opening of finer perceptions in us is of fundamental importance for our transformation, for without them we cannot see what is necessary” (43). I think this is true: as we are, we can enter a spiritual discipline such as the Work, learn much, experience much of value, and even achieve something within ourselves. But sooner or later one comes to points, many points, where no one can tell us where our work is. We need finer perception to see what is needed. And in this, some harmonisation of the sexual processes with our general functioning is absolutely vital.

Joseph Azize, 22 March 2019

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