In his Perennial Philosophy, published in 1946, Aldous Huxley examines the “Reality,” the Oneness of Being, shared by all mystics, East and West. And he makes the stunning observation that Two -ness indicates a Fall from Grace, its spoiling character embedded in language. As I remember, of some hundreds of words in English that have the Greek pre-fix di, meaning two, Huxley observes that almost all are disagreeable, disgusting, disturbing, disorienting, dismaying, causing disappointment and distress such as when disinheritance leaves one distraught and disbelieving.
So what is brother Aldous saying? Very simply, Sex is a spoiler! The “coupling” business wrecks the Oneness of Being, and the Mystics in every religion share in their quest for that Oneness.
The Catholic Church is in Huxley’s camp. Celibacy is a higher calling than participating in a sexual relationship. Mary, of course, was a virgin. When Adam and Eve fell from bliss and got booted out of The Garden, the very first observation they made was of their nakedness. They recognized their different genitalia were designed as a coupling device. It hit them like a bolt of lightning. They were fated, for better or for worse, to live together. Two-ness, not the Oneness of Being, is man and woman’s destiny, interdependency, not omnipotence.
“They flattered me like a dog,” said Lear, once every inch a king. “To say ‘ay’ and ‘no’ to everything that I said. ‘Ay’ and ‘No’ was no good divinity. When the rain came to wet me and the wind to make me chatter, when the thunder would not peace at my bidding, there I found ’em out, there I smelt ’em out. Go to! They are not men of their words. They told me I was everything. ‘Tis a lie.”
It’s a whopper of a lie. Whenever Republicans talk about pulling oneself up by one’s own bootstraps, I want to scream! “Look to the elephant! you dodoes! After all, your Party identifies itself with the great beast. For the first five years of its life, an elephant stays in physical touch with its mother, or no farther than a trunk’s length away.” That’s a ten thousand pound bootstrap.
Didn’t President Obama get started as a community organizer? Does anyone chatter more about our interdependence? Is any wife better husbanded than Michelle? Any husband better wived than Barack? It’s a mystery. Sometimes, not often, Twoness somehow manages to contain the mysterious power of Sex. Does the rarity of this event surprise anyone? Sex drove the Cambrian explosion. It quadrupled the human skull in the short span of the Pleistocene? It is not only as ubiquitous as Dark Matter, but as awesome as Dark Energy. As one would predict, it’s far more often than not a Third Rail.
Tina Packer, in her profound Women of Will, states that “Shakespeare’s most committed attempt is to see what the possibility of the world could be if we had real equality between men and women, if both had power in the political and social world, and if their highest spiritual calling was their sexual passion for each other.”
Spiritual life is not found in Oneness with a god, but in the sexual passion of Twoness.
(For the record, Shakespeare would vote Democratic.)