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Agape/Love Feasts/Passion

From: (Hsi Wang Mu)
To: Thelema-93 and Usenet
Subject: Re: Agape/Love Feasts/Passion
Date: 49950128

Quoting: anonymous

[re: the incorporation of sexuality into 'agape']

|I know "Agape" CAN be interpreted this way, however, it is not generally.  

With this I tend to agree, though I think it is important to look at what
it 'generally' means within certain contexts.  For example, do you think
that within the *Thelemic* community it does not mean this?  Surely I'd
agree that within society at large (and here I'm mostly referring to a
rather world-hating, sex-hating Christian Puritanism which seems to
surround me in my US-culture) what you say is fairly true.

Most people either don't know what it means (not being familiar with the
Greek ideas or language) or interpret it in a somewhat popular and
asexual manner.

|...slinging it around without explanation and equating it helter-skelter 
|with Thelema leads to the possibility of Thelema being similarly "eroded," 
|in the minds of many.  

Thus the benefit of asking questions and looking at history in order to
choose how we shall mean our terms.  I agree with you that this is a danger
and it is one of the reasons that I have adopted the 'Free love, right now!'
greetings in Thelemic interactions.  

|Again the "love" that I speak of tries to disappear into the void....
|sanitized out of existence.

Yes, though it is not the love which is itself trying to disappear, as I
see it.  People find this kind of thing threatening and try to bury it
with sanitized ideas and notions (even within the Thelemic community --
the same can be said about those who equate 'thou' with 'God' and do not
admit of the intersection of the divine and the human when talking about
'Do what thou wilt').

|> ...we take today as 'platonic love' or the 'platonic relationship' is 
|> not properly considered to be asexual.  Neither, in this light, is the 
|> feeling of agape exclusive of sexuality, though it may sublimate it to 
|> deeper connection.

|Why the need to "sublimate" to the "deeper connection"?  

So as to separate it from 'eros', which is a strictly physical 'love'
(that I'd relate to 'lust' I guess).  I was using the term rather strictly,
as my secondary Bible implies but does not capture in its entirety:

# sublimate... 1. *Psychol.*  to divert the energy of (a sexual or other
#  biological impulse) from its immediate goal to one of a higher social,
#  moral, or aesthetic nature or use.

I'd say that the 'immediate goal' of sexuality is (hopefully mutual) bodily
pleasure, though I agree that this is fantasy in many cases.  What I meant
when saying that sexuality may be sublimated to deeper connection is that
within the context of our rather puritanical and uninformed populace, the
sexual is often seen as 'lowly, animalistic activity' and thereafter both
repressed and over-emphasized without the context of emotional response.

That is, in the strict usage, agape takes the sexual from a mere release of
reproductive urges and effective masturbatory motivation and allows for a 
deeper feeling for the Other, a more respectful and personal connection 
than the 'lust object' or source of pleasure which often becomes the norm.

|an "active" sexual element entered into the friendship, recently. 
|Standing on top of, so the speak, the already existing deep connection, a
|"deeper connection" has developed.  

A wonderful example of that to which I was referring! ;>  I don't just mean
that when we experience agape we shall transform our sexuality into something
beyond genitalia-focus, though I do think this may be true.  I also think
that relationships in which agape already exists may incorporate physical
intimacy and therefore expand the context of the original relationship in
an 'agapic' way.

| and openess is exceedingly high.  

I'd rather focus on precisely these qualities which we feel go into
relationships in which agape is present.  Trust and openness are quite
important elements, from what I can tell, as are lack of judgement
and ownership.

|Yet I have had less meaningful sex with people I thought I was head-over-
|heels "in love" with.

This is why I tend to utilize the language in order to discern various
types of love within English.  I tend to see that being 'in love' is
a rather immature and grasping kind of obsession, what I think has been
called 'codependent' by the popular self-help psychologists.

I contrast this with 'loving someone', which is to me independent of
my relationship to them and indicates for me a feeling I have about them,
caring, concern-without-interference, interest in their welfare and
activities, a warmth that emanates from the center of my chest and inspires
me to embrace them in joy.

Then I move on to describe my 'kin': those with whom I feel a very
direct connection (even if very separated by time and/or space), and for
whom I would likely do very much on their behalf and with whom I tend to
have an open and trusting attitude.  With my kin I feel love that extends
to every realm of our interaction, and it is this which I would associate
with 'agape'.

|...lust and sexual desire being two, somewhat separate, things, and
|neither having to do with what I was talking about in terms of "cultural 
|notions of sexual love."  

Wow, I've never broken it down that carefully before and I appreciate your
reflections here.

|Lust is an urge, a will, an "I want."  Sexual desire, perhaps a subcategory 
|of lust, but it doesn't seem that way to me, is something transcendent --- 
|and yet it dwells within the person having the feeling.  It is not bound by 
|cultural concepts, but can be bounded up by them.  

I don't know what you mean by 'transcendant' here.

|In this culture, we have tried to attach all kinds of baggage to it.  Yet 
|for some reason it remains slippery, unwilling to be bound.  

I'm still confused about how you are differentiating sexual love from
lust and sexual desire.  I can see that the latter two are related, the
last being a subcategory of the previous, yet I don't get the notion to
which you are pointing about 'sexual love'.

|you touch on what I object to when you talk about the Trobadours and 
|Christians and their idealization of the sublimation of desire.  

Generally what I was referring to was an historical look at what appears
to me to be a very specific discipline.  I don't claim to like those
things myself, but what *I* was suggesting about sublimation of desire
is different (by virtue of inclusion and acceptance of sexuality as
a natural and beautiful aspect of intimacy).

|I think "sublimation" is a stupid thing to do with it, and it is all about 
|"self control" and other "against the flow" sorts of ways of dealing with 
|the stream of feelings.  

Hehehe, now I know why I felt so funny arguing this issue with you.  Usually
I'm the one who is stating the case you appear to be making, and so it seems
strange to me that I might be seen as arguing against you to any degree.

I would like you to see that I am not using the term 'sublimation' in the
rather limiting and judgemental way that is common.  I tend to reclaim terms
for my own uses and explain my meaning as I go, as perhaps you can see above.

My intent was to point out that there are, I have seen, gradations of the
quality and content of experience within relationships, and sometimes I find
myself feeling about a person or activity 'sublime' (i.e. awe, inspired,
thankful and adoring).  

I do recognize that for many this includes 'self control' and 'discipline'.
For me it does not.  When I mentioned the ritual context of orgiastic sex
I was intending to represent the common variety of approach to the agapic
experience.  Personally I cannot stand structured and formulaic *ritual*,
let alone sexuality.  I find entirely too much 'control' going on in these
matters for my tastes and so while I can see that it is important for some
to come to terms with them (as BDSM sometimes breaks one free of one's
limitations and neuroses regarding sexuality and pain), I haven't found
I get as much out of engaging that structure as compared to releasing ALL
structure, playing around, and (when involved with other people) focussing
on my own experience and that of those around me rather intently, sometimes
coordinating with it, sometimes varying from it tremendously.

|No, I am not "objecting" to "self control."  I am 
|talking about something else.  You don't need to "control" the feelings, 
|you can let them flow unbound, but first you must "unbind" the cultural 
|notions that attach "compelled actions" to the feelings.  

Hoorah!  As I said, I think you and I are of similar nature here.  I agree
with you completely, even while I would suggest that this may be an advanced
practice and that some may not be ready for such lack of 'rules' and 
'recipes'.  I like to think of the structures of magick, sexuality and most
other disciplines as training wheels, and while I sometimes find them to be
valuable (especially in initial stages), usually I outgrow them and buck
them off, at least in a temporary and absolute sense.

|> |..."free love" or sexual orgies...

|> ...My understanding is that such experiences, especially when
|> engaged diligently, intentionally, and, largely, in a ritual context,
|> are conducive to just the sort of loving experience of which you seem
|> to speak ...

|...I have yet to see it realized in practice.  I think it requires several 
|very good magickians.  

Absolutely.  I did not mean to imply that it was an easy thing to draw up
in the pot of the sacred space.

|In twos and threes I have seen success in this area.  

This is as much as I can also claim to have experienced.  Generally I have
been most successful alone and then with one other person.  I think that
the cultural conditioning bounces around within a number of people and
sometimes collides as a difference of the exercise of will.  Some of us
still have very strong tendencies toward either falling into those pre-
programmed patterns or consistently engaging a reactive behavior when
confronted with restimulation.  I am likely a member of this latter
category, and I sometimes have difficulties being with people who need
to throw themselves into the conventional and consider it the One True 

|...finding larger groups than three ...that can be serious about the 
|ritual and serious about the sex and "get there" all at the same time 
|is asking a lot.  

Very true from my experience.  Sex has too many dangerous things attached
to it in my society (West Coast US) and is so complex with each person
that the more people we add to the situation it appears to become
exponentially complicated in response.

|I'm not afraid to 
|ask, but I have had a difficult enough time managing to get the concept 
|across without the sexual component to larger groups.  

That you have had any success at all is amazing to me.  While I have met
several 'Chaos Magicians' who saw the value of lack of strict controls
within ritual, not all of them understood the value of *coordination of
energies*, and so there was a similar problem in reverse as I saw it.

I don't claim to be a wiz at group stuff.  I'm rather bad at it, actually,
and have had some very traumatic experiences which dissuade me from trying
it out easily.

|> I think that the cultural filters of time and circumspection may have
|> made the view of agape passionless.  I don't think it has always been so,
|> and to the extent that Crowley and others like him associate with the
|> tradition of Gnosticism, surely it is not the case when we begin to
|> speak of the Gnostic 'Agape' or 'Love Feast'.
|The cultural view, however, will come and "get" the definition of Thelema 
|in the popular mind.  

Ok, but I don't think that the 'popular mind' is all that important.  Let
the popular mind fend for itself.  I am more interested in what the popular
*Thelemic* mind is thinking. ;>

|If you have to give a history lesson to reclaim agape, then the meaning 
|has changed!

No doubt, but I don't think that this must stop us from reclaiming it.


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