Human ovum with sperm (New Scientist)
Sustainable Culture and Natural Abundance
To survive in abundance over evolutionary epochs, our societies need to develop the powers of survival we know are possessed by natural ecosystems - societies which reflect our sexual complementarity in partnership and natural diversity in all our interactions - autonomous, free societies, with rich regional variation.
The key to this is replenishing the fertile condition of sexual paradox in human relationships, engendering between women and men a mutual sense of appreciation, respect, awe, and completion. The healing of our social 'condition' in 'whole-heartedness' involves both a 'holy' wholeness - completion in complementation between the sexes; and heartedness - emotional connectedness with one another, which engenders a sense of being participants together in the unfolding adventure of life.
It is the very interplay between chaos and order, in natural and sexual selection, which is at the root of the ecosystemic climax complexity of natural and social diversity, and the future abundance of life. For all its paradoxes of chaos and order (p 498) in the prisoners' dilemma of fidelity and deceit (p 13), our gatherer-hunter roots have evolutionary original virtue (p 50) , through the positive feedback of mutual sexual acceptance, and the physical and emotional bonding which accompanies it. Through the influence of sexual selection, we are capable of romantic and compassionate love, beyond the confines of kin altruism or reciprocation (p 19). When imposed divisions of alienation are removed, we are sufficiently generous and empathic to be naturally capable of forming a just, supportive and caring world society. We are so, principally because of the positive filtering of sexual selection, rather than through negative social, moral, or religious filters using the threat of punishment, nor through the Machiavellian complexities of expedience alone, although these are also part of our heritage. Without such original virtue, all attempts to impose the good and just upon us would fail.
We can capitalize on our evolutionary sustainability and innate sexual goodness of heart in love as a species, to evoke consensually a sane, blessed, biodiverse, sustainable society, through the autonomy of family, partnership and our peers - and centrally through the sacredness of sex itself and its relation to the reproductive process, through which the immortal passage of the generations comes about.
Society still hasn't come to terms with female reproductive choice, even in an era when genetic testing has become routine. The complementary paradox between the reproductive strategies of women and men and mate selection as a catalyst of human evolution into cultural complexity is only beginning to be understood. We need to accept female reproductive and maternal choice as 'holy' if anything is - an integral part of the whole pattern of living existence. We need to allow women to make reproductive choices, even though this may cause men jealous anxiety. Rights of choice over pregnancy and sensitive issues like abortion need to be understood in the context of maternal ambivalence and its key role in natural selection for our long-term survival. Men in turn need to play a greater creative role in child-rearing and display supportive parental love to all the offspring their partner may have regardless of the 'stripped naked' evidence of genetic testing.
The feminist revolution has brought a swing of the pendulum in Western society away from patriarchal dominance, in which women are recognized as the equals and even superiors of men in many respects, are able to enter management positions and pursue academic, artistic and entrepreneurial careers without discrimination. However the paradoxical reunion in partnership sexual equality and complementation invites has yet to take place. The immense central importance of mothering to the future of life has been all but discarded in a narrow culturally-based idea of 'gender' which neglects the very biological complementarity which underpins our future survival. The resolution of this dilemma is made possible only through a mutual respect between women and men for the contributions each can make to parenting.
The old patterns of patrilineal inheritance have given way to equal patterns of inheritance by both sexes, and patrilocality has given way to fluid and flexible family associations, from single-parent and nuclear families, to the diverse parenting arrangements provoked by serial monogamy. These could bring grandmothers, daughters and granddaughters back into a closer relationship where good female choices can be encouraged which promote resourceful sociable male partnering rather than the violence and domination of the disaffected patriarchy. Young women need to be able to make wise decisions in picking male partners who will espouse resourceful domestic bliss, rather than delinquent patriarchal confrontations, amid lethal jealousy. We all need to take advantage of these gains, by the men learning to take full advantage of a partnership society by engaging as fathers and as lovers in a way which enriches and complements family life and creative abundance.
Many of our institutions and corporate, economic, social and electoral processes are still patriarchally distorted with motifs of pure competition without compensating cooperation, boom and bust short term instability, winner-take-all exploitation and profound inequity of resources, education and opportunity. We need to review all these structures and institutions and find new, more abundant, and fairer ways of dealing with our social contracts, the equitableness of resources and opportunities between women, and men and between rich and poor. Central to this is a fundamental change in workplace practices to integrate the needs of mothering and parenting as central human activities essential to the human condition with continuity of careers. Flexible work conditions, including part-time, shared positions, and adequate parental and maternity leave are a starting point.
Fractal ecosystemic consensuality permits regional diversity in the branches, consensus decision-making without a division by keeping decision making groups to a size between 9 and 16. Nominees are group representatives at the next higher level and remain accountable on all levels. Even on a planetary basis, this has far fewer layers of hierarchy than traditional systems of electoral democracy (right) in which a diffuse electorate (green) elects a party into power (blue) which runs a bureaucracy (red) which governs a population.
Central to this is the affirmation of sexual paradox as a founding principle of social engagement, and of consensual agreement rather than competitive majority decision-making in our government and economic life. There are many ways of doing this. One way would be to require mutual participation of women and men in decision making with a consensual agreement required between men and women on major policy directions as the Ashanti have done. Another would be to extend existing methods of proportional voting to elect a consensus cabinet comprising major parties and affiliations rather than an executive president or a prime minister and cabinet elected by the dominant party. This would avoid the administration and major portfolios always being in the hands of the 'effective majority'. Consensus would provide fuller agreement, but in the event of a break down into a majority decision, a natural opposition would emerge, guaranteeing checks and balances.
Another more radical possibility, which fits with the decentralized autonomous nature of human trust and decision making based on kin and peers, is ecosystemic consensuality, in which a fractal structure of consensual decision-making replaces central government. This would allow for much greater diversity in social styles and preferences and cater for both regional and minority group diversity and relative autonomy. It generally has many fewer layers of bureaucratic hierarchy than traditional electoral government. For example working in fractals of 12-13 requires only 9 levels of hierarchy to cover the world population.
Many of the vagaries associated with sexuality are products of sexual dominion. Feminists rightly decry the hard-core aspects of male-oriented pornography and its extremes of sadomasochistic violence taken to a nemesis of the whole meaning of sexual fertility in 'snuff movies'. The same goes for exploitation of children in paedophilic pornography where adult power is a form of sexual dominion. We have seen in the context of ancient Greece (p 204), and in violent male warrior societies today, such as the Yanomamo (p 149), where sexual access to women is limited that the toleration of male homosexual paedophilia correlates with male supremacist attitudes and monopolization of women. Although we all have needs for sexual bonding, prostitution is another face of the woman as possession (p 60).
Sexuality needs to be lifted up to its whole, holy and complete status as sacred, and the deepest expression of integration of spirit and nature, not cast into the gutter as pornographic carnal lust. Women, given a conducive environment, enjoy sex, and sexual erotica, every bit as much as men and are a sexual and sensual inspiration to ecstasy. Reducing sex to prim moral imperatives on the one hand and a commercial commodity bought and sold on the other is to keep it in patriarchal bondage.
The continuing social conflicts over abortion are also a test case of the dynamics of sexual domination in action. Fundamental opposition to abortion comes most prominently from adherents and spokespeople for major patriarchal religious views, which promote unrestrained fertility, both to increase the 'faithful' and to protect paternity rights over the unborn. Womens' right to 'choice' is an expression of the female’s evolutionary maternal ambivalence in the face of fluctuating male investment and paternity demands and the very real burdens of reproduction that fall on the human female, as Sarah Hrdy has noted (p 35). In an enlightened society, these factors, along with a sense of compassion for both the life process and for the mother’s central role, would mediate the need for abortion, in favour of effective contraception. There is also a need to differentiate particularly late forms of intervention such as 'partial birth', which raise deep ethical issues of the consciousness of the unborn, from early termination of pregnancy by curettage, or the morning after pill. Moral or ethical choices about such questions are central strategies in the prisoners' dilemma game the passage of the generations presents us and have to remain part of the ongoing decisions living people make, rather than being subjected to a final moral edict.
It is also clear that all the forms of sexual 'infidelity', from secretive affairs, through sowing wild oats, and polygyny, to carefully negotiated polyamory, each wracked with their surrounding atmospheres of jealousy and intrigue, can and should never be eliminated from the social picture, repressed, or censured ethically, because they are fundamental components of the reproductive choices both sexes make. This applies particularly for females, who carry more than the 'lionesses' share of the reproductive parenting investment, even when they have partners who are good 'house husbands'. Nevertheless there are ways of dealing with sexual choice in relative openness, which can help to protect existing relationships, in caring for our offspring and our long-term partners. Without this sense of long-term trust, in a context of autonomous choice, sexuality itself becomes a meaningless degrading consumptive condition on the one hand and a straight-jacket on the other. In a modern connected world, we have to take additional responsibility and care for those we associate with sexually, to protect them from the very real defilements of sexually transmitted diseases, which often target women, from HIV, (which was first spread by highly promiscuous homosexual and heterosexual men, but is becoming a disease of women, because it is twice as likely to be transmitted from a man to a woman as the reverse), to chlamydia (a key cause of female infertility). Careless love can become fatal attraction, both for lovers and unwitting partners.
We need to learn to celebrate the deep relationship between sexuality and the sexual act as the most tumultuous expression of the life force in its pleasure and in its reproductive basis in the passage of the generations, for society to retain its biological anchor. To reduce sex on the one hand to a purely social bonding involving consenting acts between adults in private without any connection with reproduction, and on the other hand a religious imperative to reproduce often without pleasure, in a state of original sin, is schizophrenic and leads to a divided and confused attitude to sexuality, reproduction, and our living futures.
While society, as a system of moral contracts, needs to have the teeth to deal with violent defection, corruption, and sexual exploitation, we need to also recognize that criminality as defection is central to the prisoners' dilemma and that our patriarchal paradigm has actually been founded on defection in competition and gain for the strong against the weak. The true remedy is social justice and equitability. We need to develop natural justice with fair rewards as well as the minimal punishments necessary to avoid defection becoming anarchy, recognizing that defection is also essential to our welfare, in counter-cultural critique, art, music, scientific paradigm shift and the court and spark of love’s enticements. Criminality is best incorporated into the prisoners’ dilemma constructively. Draconian penalties simply lead to more intractable conflicts, and the emergence of cut-throat professional criminal syndicates.
We need to recognize the basic holiness of all the phenomena of life, particularly the ecosystemic aspects of living fertility. Sex, power plants, music and art, are a key to ecosystemic liberation because each provides a unique avenue of interactive engagement of consciousness, both between people and across species. Although the living sacraments have been revered in all traditional societies which have discovered their use, their synthetic analogues have become a scourge on modern society partly because of the very taboos against non-conformity which make them illegal. We need to accept and understand that agents which take us to the 'other' are valuable in understanding the verdant complexity that lies in the unstable equilibrium between the will to order and the fear of chaos. The war against drugs, like the war on terror is a contradiction in terms, an attempt to impose order by totalitarian conformity and taboo, which merely adds enticement to transgression.
We need to begin a forward 'visioning of our futures' through consensual dialogue involving a broad consensus in diversity among women and men, to conceive alternative futures and new democratic processes to address all the major issues of sexual equality, fairness of distribution, restoration of biodiversity, protecting the world's resources for all, demilitarization, climatic responsibility. We urgently need to develop a far-sighted and altruistic view of our human genetic futures and those of the species on which we depend, which can cope with the enormous watershed changes rapidly occurring, in a way which retains human viability and evolutionary adaptability. Entering the age of detailed genetic testing, germ-line engineering, cloning and artificial reproductive technology could be as fatal as rampant mass extinction of biodiversity and the rape and genocide of the natural planet's resources, unless we come to understand the dynamic roots of reproductive engagement.
Discovering the spontaneous roots of human goodness in the most fundamental altruistic relationship the cosmos has discovered - the sexual relationship - could become the key for a truly sustainable society with minimal imposed structure, local diversity, and sustainability. Such a society would have few of the root causes for criminality and violent defection that arise from the inequities and injustices of social opportunity, which inevitably result from the winner-take-all competition of an unmediated patriarchal free-market hierarchy. Recognizing the joyful completion of our original virtue, in the hidden repressed feminine complement of our all-too-male capitalist winner-take-all paradigm, could lead to the flowering of an autonomous, consensual, sustainable society, not based on imposed institutions of competition and greed, but spontaneously in perpetual abundance for all, in our enclosed planetary garden of paradise, celebrated by long life, good science, sumptuous environments, fulfilling families immortalizing our good relations, entertaining partners, entrancing music, fine art , deep meditation, cataclysmic sacraments, and life-long, life-giving love.
It is to the intrinsic goodness arising from sexual selection, we owe the finest virtues we usually associate with the higher spiritual domains - of transcendence, enlightenment, and divine grace as manifestations of the cosmic in subjective consciousness. It is thus to the redemption sexual wholeness provides us that all the mergings of atonement follow. From the sexual relationship, formed in paradox between the genders, all the skills of sustainable survival in mutual appreciation discovered in the evolutionary emergence of humanity flow forth in abundance, and with them our capacity to bring to bear, with the benefit of enlightened technology, a sustainable future on planet Earth, both for ourselves and for all the diverse species which give the planet its paradisiacal robustness over evolutionary epochs.
The time of planetary rape needs to give way to planetary replenishment in abundance. Sheherazade's tale of "The Thousand and One Nights" is a founding parable of female wisdom healing the homicidal despotism of the king. As in Chaucer's tale of the Wife of Bath, the redemption of the young male rapist on a year's commuted death sentence to find ‘'what women want' is to give the gnarled crone sovereignty. When she offers him the fatal choice: he can have her old and ugly and faithful or young, beautiful, and possibly unchaste, he tells her to choose. When he does so, she turns into a beautiful maiden, and thus they live to their 'lyves ende in parfit joye'. This ideal is not submission to female dominance, but turning the tables of the prisoners’ dilemma, from a race against the other, into a peacock's tale of cultural and sexual splendour.
Why sex IS polarized
Sex is polarized and its extreme polarity is the very source of living diversity. Hence we should respect it and not seek to dissolve it into a sameness of our own cultural contrivance. Fusion sex (p 336) is a inter-fertile division of life into two complementary polarities. Symmetry-breaking is essential to generate complexity, because it means that the two 'aspects' are able to express differences, creating new kinds of interactions, often even in such a way as to make each dependent on the other. Their very differences lead both to interactive complementation and to strategic dissonance, and hence complexity.
Although it may have emerged from a form of cellular cannibalism, sex is the most powerful form of organic altruism to emerge in evolution, unparalleled at the molecular level by any other process. It is altruistic because we contribute our genetic endowment only in half-share to the next generation, to be entwined with the 'alien' other (p 329). From this time on, in the sexual weave, our unique genetic identity will never come together again. Because of this, sexual recombination in turn enables the generation of endless individual variety, almost every combination of which is viable. Without the recombinational power of genetic sexuality, no multi-celled organism could have ever evolved. Nevertheless it is from the polarity of sex that its full complexity emerges. The complementarity of heterosexuality is a direct generator of the complexity of life's evolution. Its polarity is no more starkly emphasized than in the egg and sperm, the immortal germ line, in respect of which we are merely a mortal conscious shadow.
The sex cells could not be more dissimilar if they consciously tried to plan their own design. The sperm is a tightly packaged bunch of almost entirely inactive DNA driven by the motile flagellum. The ovum, by contrast is huge, the largest of all cells and is electrically poised to crisis. One merely a nucleic acid particle, but the other an excitable wave enveloping cell - a nascent conscious being. At the cellular level, only heterosexuality is possible. There is no way a sperm can naturally make sex with another sperm, or an egg with an egg. Moreover this is because evolution has found the polarity of sex to be the most wildly creative solution to biodiversity.
Fertilization is not a neutralizing merging of these polarities, but a critical state of explosive complexity. At fertilization, it is almost impossible to discern which is the instigator of the merging. The sperm is trying to dissolve the egg's coating and but into it, but the egg is poised to an orgasmic cortical reaction, which sets of a wave of electronic excitability, explosively firing off all its outer coating. It then proceeds to drag the hapless sperm inside itself with octopus-like pseudopods (p 337).
This polarization of the egg and sperm has come about through a sex war, whose complexity has to make one marvel as much as its Machiavellian nature might make us cynical (p 335).The first sexual organisms had identical isogametes, so they were truly gay. Two egg-sperms from distinct strains would simply fuse together. But unfortunately their cytoplasms didn't get along because their endosymbiotic mitochondria, our bacterial energy batteries of respiration, were in deadly competition. A cytoplasmic war broke out and 90% of the cytoplasm frequently got lost, causing a huge deficit in fertility. The sustained attack of the dominant mitochondria caused a symmetry-breaking in which one sex stopped investing in cytoplasm, kept the flagellum and evolved into a particulate motile molecular DNA capsule. The other gender became the 'mother body', retaining the cytoplasm and internal endo-symbiotic organelles. These large cells then became the archetype of all of organismic diversity. The involuting form of the ovoplasm becoming the three-layer topological embryo.
Ever since, there have been sputtering genetic wars, from male-killer mitochondria to male flies that bear poisons which prevent a female mating with other males, to which the females evolve resistance in turn (p 16). In sea urchins, the sperm and egg are locked in such a genetic war, with the sperms continually evolving antigens to dissolve into the egg and the egg evolving just as rapidly to prevent it. These sex genes thus evolve at a highly accelerated rate. It is the very strategic paradox of this entwined dance of cooperation and competition, called sexually-antagonistic co-evolution (p 16), that has created the consonance and dissonance that has seen the teeming climax of living diversity, complexity and intelligence arise in multi-celled animals and plants. Even hermaphroditic plants, which are in the vast majority, emphasize the intrinsic polarization of sexuality in their adapted sperm consisting of fine pollen and ovum become embryonic seed germ, waiting to be fertilized in the flower's ovary. Sex-changing fish likewise display clear sexual polarity, switching sex so as to reproduce, based on dominance, (or possession of a sea anemone in the case of Nemo the clown fish). This is no sexual rainbow, but a natural metamorphosis from one extreme to the other.
Every aspect of this polarization has led to the enhancement of biological complexity and living diversity. Because the sperm is little more than crystalline inactive molecular DNA driven by a flagellum it can be produced easily in millions of copies. Paradoxically for a stripped-bare cell, the sperm flagellum is supposed to become the primal spindle orchestrating the division of the combined chromosomes of the fertilized egg - not a bad idea since it has proven it can work very well in getting the sperm here. The eggs by contrast are few and massive. This again enhances the evolutionary process because it enables the fickle males to be strongly selected and the females to become ever more adapted to viable motherhood. The ovum has become specialized to possess a unique vast cytoplasm, in which it carries a morphogenic imprint sufficient to enfold the entire complex topology of the organism through symmetry-breaking genetic switches, as the fertilized ovum begins to divide. Each stage of the development of complexity of the embryo is a symmetry-breaking 'sexual' division of the stem line. The ectoderm breaks symmetry with the endoderm and so on until we have the migratory interactions of migrating neurons in the brain. We are in this sense intimately heterosexual in the variety of our organs and cell types.
From the first egg and sperm, the investments of males and females have been skewed, complementary, but in partial conflict (p 335). Males invest less, contributing only DNA, and tend to cut and run. Females have to invest not only in an egg, but in mammals in pregnancy, lactation, and child care. This polarization continues all the way to the relation between male and female minds. Males are more lateralized and more focused to the exclusion of the whole picture (p 388). These complements have been of natural benefit to both sexes in all phases of our evolution, from the death of the dinosaurs, to the human gatherer-hunter mind, with its targeting, map reading males and classifying, networking females. This complementation of two somewhat differing minds bringing differing skills and intuitions to the bed and dinner table, caught in strategic paradox, yet aiming to please the ‘other’ and thus be sexually accepted, has been the basis of the flowering of all cultural and social complexity (p 53). Yet is is not just the human mind, but the human sex organs and their diverse and complementary orgasmic climaxes, that the beauty and meaning of sexual polarization gains its most sensitive expression, for here, like the evolutionary race between the sea urchin egg and sperm, there has been an amatory race between an ever more impetuous and discriminating clitoris, made all the more intoxicating by the unbearable fecund beauty of burgeoning breasts and buttocks, and an ever more turgid, pretentious, yet coquettish penis, seeking, at all costs, to satisfying the ‘other’ in the interplay of incessant social sexuality, which crowns the diversity of life with the bitter-sweet Machiavellian panoply of culture.
While we spend over 99% of our adult love life engaged in habitual, and sometimes highly creative social sex, a full 100% of us come into this world as conscious living beings through reproductive sex. This poses a paradox, which liberal attitudes to purely social sex between consenting adults fails to resolve successfully. Although human sex is highly social and conception is very occasional, in the face of the relentless habituality of coitus, it is reproductive sex which makes viable sense of the pleasure principle in evolutionary terms and puts all of sex’s diversity, addiction, longing, and sometimes frank pain, in relationship with the immortal passage of life itself. The fullness of reproductive sexuality doesn’t just have meaning between coital mother and father, in the ultimate Tantric act of reunion which sometimes becomes conception, but is intrinsic to brother and sister, mother and son, grandmother and granddaughter and the whole fabric of kinship and extends to the bonding between all people in the flow of life’s living generations. In the passage of the generations, social sex and the pleasure principle gain their true meaning, as the glue which binds the affection of the generations, to care for the future of life itself, generative of all life’s diversity.
Social sex is also capable of manifold diversity, despite the overt confines of a moral society, simply because human sexuality is vastly abundant over its immediate reproductive function. Social sex is central to the glue that binds, not only traditional couples and families, but a wider spectrum of emotional bonding between people as an expression of physical intimacy and the ecstatic pleasure of physical contact and belonging. Thus individuals may elect to become philanderers, swingers, polyamorists, bisexuals or homosexuals. The emphasis of coitus shifts to all forms of erotic stimulus from fellatio and cunnilingus through vibrators and penis pumps to homosexual and heterosexual sodomy. People practice manifold forms of erotic dance, music and art, fetishism, transvesticism, transexuality, sado-masochism, prostitution, voyeurism and hunger to explore virtually every expression of sexual transgression the mind can imagine. These are themselves an expression of sexual paradox in abundance. In many ways this diversity is an expression of social maturity between consenting adults in pursuit of the pleasure principle, as well as perverted lust, domination and frank commercial exploitation. It is social maturity which speaks for acceptance of the right of people to choose their sexual orientation and style of love life, but social sexuality ultimately draws its rationale and meaning from reproductive sex and the sociobiological roots of the two sexes in their differing and complementary reproductive strategies.Without it reproductive underpinning, social sexuality drifts towards mere personal gratification. Unlike some forms of human social sexuality, bonobo sexuality, despite its manifestly bisexual nature, integrates fully with bonobo reproduction (p 62).
The advent of effective contraception (p 396) has resulted in a divorce between reproductive and social sex in which sexual reproduction tends to be marginalized as an appendage to a purely social interpretation of sexuality, becoming an extraneous elective that only the more conservative nuclear families in traditional societies and religious fundamentalists indulge, or the unfortunate consequence of contraceptive mismanagement. Heterosexual child-bearing women are vilified as mere ‘breeders’ by some of their lesbian and cultural feminist sisters, and gay men proudly claim to be practicing sexual liberation free from the risk of unwanted children in an already overcrowded world. At the same time in contrastscientists are seeking to provide same-sex couples with reproductively engineered offspring (p 410). However any society that defines sexual attitudes without supporting its reproductive basis runs a risk to its long-term viability, as evidenced in the almost precipitous population declines in several developed countries.
It is the prisoners' dilemma of life that sex is both the deepest union and the most divisive force, because of its exclusive nature. Many seek to tame this divisiveness by subjugating sex to a more oceanic spiritual love, forgetting that it is from sex that this all-embracing love and our heaven-and-hell panoply of emotional states evolved. Parenting is also divisive, because those that don't have children, whether gay, childless or unpartnered, recoil at the idea that in any sense we could be in some way unequal. But in seeking such equality we are letting go of the sacred process which gives us life in the first place. We are together as one in spirit, so it is in sharing the generational process that we really become one in the spirit and the flesh. This oneness of heart and the altruistic virtues of selfless and spiritual love all owe their emotional ambience to sexual evolution.
True fertility spirituality thus has the reproductive principle, pregnancy and the birth and continuity of all life's diversity as its core flowering principle. Any society which seconds this to the varieties of social sex, diverse or perverse, loses its way and ultimately becomes lost to history. Civilizations and spiritual movements rise and fall through the plug-hole of reproductive sexuality. All the pretensions of intellect fade in the light of differential reproduction not just because we are driven by our gonads but because it is our sex cells and only our sex cells which are the truly immortal bearers of life.
This polarity extends to the very foundations of the existential universe. Wave and particle (p 299) and mind and body (p 364) are each as complementary and polarized and different as they can possibly be. Most of the places where the relationship between us all and with nature breaks down is when one side of the Tao of sexual reality fails to recognize the intrinsic complementarity of the other, or lays claim to it. This is the classic mistake of both sexual dominance and self-love.
We should thus stop and consider whether it is wise for the liberation of sexual reunion, in seeking to merge the twain, to seek to diminish or neutralize the intrinsic polar complementarity that sex has given us, as its unbroken heritage of perennial life, from the ancient slime mold all the way to the flowering of human culture. Social sexuality emphasizes the horizontal - passion between people in the here and now, reproductive sex has a strong vertical component, running through the generations of time. They intersect in partnership in sacred union. This is the complete and fertile Tao.
Fertility and Spirituality
Some of you will no doubt ask where God has gone in this dissembling of the 'divine', exposed as a projection of male reproductive imperatives and anxieties. In answer to this, the sexually paradoxical state of immanent-transcendence, of incarnate 'soulfulness', holds the keys. The subjectively conscious mind in a physical body returns us right to the mysterium tremendum.
The 'easy' problems of consciousness research, such as how a human subject discriminates sensory stimuli and reacts to them appropriately, or how the brain integrates information from many different sources and uses this to control behavior , deal broadly with problems of consciousness in ways which could be resolved by functional explanations. The 'hard problem', by contrast, is the question of how physical processes in the brain give rise to subjective experience. This puzzle involves the inner aspects of thought and perception and the way things feel for the subject - all of them subjective experiences known only to the participant. In laying bare the depths of 'hard problem', David Chalmers (R112) noted:
"If the existence of consciousness cannot be derived from physical laws, a theory of physics is not a true theory of everything. So a final theory must contain an additional fundamental component. Toward this end, I propose that conscious experience be considered a fundamental feature, irreducible to anything more basic."
This position, in one sentence, reverses the Copernican revolution, putting the brain and its inner secret, the conscious mind, back into centre stage of the cosmic puzzle. We have explored this trend in the brain chapter (p 364), and the way both subjective consciousness and emotions, such as love, arise as universals in evolution (p 325), in a way which is consistent with the conscious brain being a culmination of the interactive processes begun in cosmic symmetry-breaking at the origin of the universe.
This is a view consistent with the Vedantic 'self' of the Upanishads we have noted (p 466), if expressed in somewhat devotedly male-oriented terms:
The Self knows all, is not born, does not die, is not the effect of any cause, is eternal, self-existent, imperishable, ancient. How can the killing of the body kill Him? He who thinks that He kills, he who thinks that He is killed, is ignorant. He does not kill nor is He killed. The Self is lesser than the least, greater than the greatest. He lives in all hearts. When senses are at rest, free from desire, man finds Him and mounts beyond sorrow.
Yeshua in the gnostic Gospel of Thomas portrayed the cosmic nature of incarnate consciousness in startling terms, at once also confluent with the immanence of nature (p 229):
"It is I who am the light which is above them all. It is I who am the all.
From me did the all come forth, and unto me did the all extend.
Split a piece of wood, and I am there.
Lift up the stone, and you will find me there." (77)
Since, as Elaine Pagels has so astutely noted, the entire theme of the gospel of Thomas Didymus the 'twin' is that we are gnostic twins of the 'christ' state, Yeshua is here saying something from the conscious realm as acute as David Chalmers (R112). Each of us is in the incarnate archetype of the cosmic 'I'. Each of us carries in our genes and in our subjective consciousness the capacity to see face-to-face the ultimate ‘nature’ of existential reality.
No longer through a glass darkly, as Paul declared (1 Corinth 13:11):
When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child:
but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face:
now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
This 'knowing' is gnosis and it is not a religious figment invented by culture, like some brief dew on the lawn of time, but lies in right the bones of our evolutionary heritage. We, by the very prisoners' dilemma of conscious mortal existence - natural sexual organisms, yet sentient in the archetype of the cosmic, have nowhere to turn, but to ourselves and our personal responsibility, as living participants, to ensure the future generations flower in abundance, so long as Earth shall live.
In returning to our innocence as a child we are returning to our evolutionary roots in sexual complementarity and to the garden of paradise and the immortal passage of the generations which all our hearts seek, even in the throes of apocalyptic conflict.
In this quest for the inner light, it is the fecundity and abundance of nature, in all her immanence, that is our most precious resource. As we look out at the universe, as a realm of dark forces and consuming energies, from an explosive big bang to an almost certain heat death, the only thing we know possesses the mystery of subjective consciousness is that three-pound universe, so apparently fragile and such an idiosyncratic product of evolution - the sentient brain. It is thus to the mind-brain and to the diversity of nature, we should stoop to respect, to revere, to cherish and replenish in our awareness of the cosmic mystery within:
Such in outline, but even more purposeless, more devoid of meaning is the world which science presents for our belief. Amid such a world, if anywhere, our ideals henceforward must find a home. That man is the product of causes that had no prevision of the end they were achieving; that his origin, his growth, his hopes and fears, his loves and his beliefs, are but the outcome of accidental collocations of atoms; that no fire, no heroism, no intensity of thought and feeling, can preserve an individual life beyond the grave, that all the labours of the ages, all the devotion, all the inspirations, all the noon-day brightness of human genius, are destined to extinction in the vast death of the solar system, and that the whole temple of man's achievement must inevitably be buried beneath the debris of a universe in ruins - all these things, if not quite beyond dispute, are yet so nearly certain, that no philosophy that rejects them can hope to stand. Only within the scaffolding of these truths, only on the firm foundation of unyielding despair, can the soul's habitation henceforth be safely built. ... Brief and powerless is man's life, on him and all his race the slow, sure doom falls pitiless and dark ... (Russell R602 45)
The antidote to this schizophrenic vision of a physical wasteland lies in sexual paradox. The balance between the transcendence of the mysterium tremendum and the immanence of nature is sustained by respecting nature in all her diversity and the sexual paradox between nature and consciousness, without which divinity and the cosmic mind would never be able to be revealed, in the completion we find in the living universe. We thus attain to the light, not by flailing a defective flesh, but by cherishing and respecting the body, sexuality, and the conscious mind as finely tuned instruments of the evolutionary paradigm reaching towards a universality, in which nature is as sacred as divinity.
In her closing statement in 'The Curse of Cain', (R629) Regina Schwartz, commented:
My re-vision would produce an alternative Bible that subverts the dominant vision of violence and scarcity with an ideal of plenitude and its corollary ethical imperative of generosity. It would be a Bible embracing multiplicity instead of monotheism. And I hope that this description of the Bible will also serve to describe its future, that it will not only tell of proliferation, but that new versions, decrying the violence of monotheism, will proliferate. I anticipated concluding with the injunction from Augustine to 'close the Book.' For him, faith had superseded it; for me, its ancient agonistic values are far too dangerous to continue authorizing. The old 'monotheistic' Book must be closed so that the new books may be fruitful and multiply. After all, that was the first commandment.
Part of the purpose of writing this work in partnership has been to open these avenues of abundance between women and men in the paradigm of diversity, while at the same time giving a fitting accounting of the failure of the patriarchal epoch to address the totality of existence fruitfully, through imposing the paradigm of dominion over woman and nature.
The true strength of human society lies in its fostering of creative diversity and the wisdom that consensual agreement can be achieved through respect for diversity. The means of achieving a truly compassionate society comes from the wisdom of a population autonomously and consensually understanding the natural and social need and thus acting together to ensure government and the corporate sphere serve a wider ethic of compassionate justice in which diversity can flower and new evolutionary features can surface. This does not come from the rule of law, or the dominion of order, but from creative dissonance between order and chaos, without invoking the need for violence or force.
We also need to develop creative traditions celebrating living diversity, rather than the stereotyped ceremonies of submission to a higher power in the name of cultural conformity and patriarchal order. Neither the monotheistic tradition, which has sought to tame social sexuality and submit reproduction to the growth of the religious community, not the so-called fertility tradition of Neolithic Goddess culture, which has been fixated on the agricultural cycle, male sacrifice, and fertility rites which relate only casually to parenthood, can be considered true fertility spirituality. It is with the promise of the Tree of Life and the immortal weaving of the germ lines if each living species, that a true sense of sacred fertility emerges, and with it a balancing of the population crisis and the rape of the planet.
We are the living creative presence of the conscious life force and need to give expression to this on our living diversity autonomously and compassionately together. Just as religion is 'to bind together', so we need to unbind our spiritual traditions in the bridal unveiling the word apocalypse actually means, engaging in artistic and musical pageants which celebrate the living diversity of our fertility in nature - Gaian comedies in the chaotic denouement tradition of Shakespeare's 'Twelfth Night' healing the world themes of Dionysian tragedy exemplified by the unending violence of crucifixion, genocide and martyrdom.
In recognizing reproduction, sexuality and nature as our immortal unfolding context, sacred above all other attitudes, assumptions and beliefs, celebrating our living diversity in abundance we can come into our deepest sense of belonging in the universe - unfolding sexual paradox in the immortal prisoners' dilemma of survival, which we can never win outright as mortal individuals, but can give to life in fullness, while we are here, in altruistic nurturing of the unborn generations to come.