Paradox at the Edge of Being


The French call orgasm "Le Petit Mort," or "the little death." Here we have an old wive's tale, a thread in the riddle of the mind of God. A dictionary is supposed to explain meaning and used to be called a con-cordia. Con-cordia means "with-connections." If the old wive's tales serve their purpose, finding the meaning in the connection between sex and death should enable us to trace the threads back and together, out of the spiral into time.

"Le Petit Mort" refers to the timeless moment of orgasm: a brief release from life, mind, and ego. For an instant the world falls away, and as the mind is silenced one is open to an ecstatic union as self glimpses Self. The ego is momentarily displaced: the little death.

The art of turning sex into meditation is known generally in the West as Tantra, but a specific name for the practice in the Indic tradition is Sattvic sex. Sat means Truth, Truth being the one true Consciousness behind it all. So as the 'goal' of meditation is to realize the Self, applying the same attention to sex has the power to expand the ecstasy of the little death. Ecstasy means 'to stand outside': outside the ego of self. But where the ego may die, awareness continues. This awareness is Self, and so in the 'little death' of sexual ecstasy can be found an ecstatic union in the Divine.

This state is called Dyhana in many practices. Dhyana can be the practice of attention, and also the state of Union witnessed when practicing attention. By attention I mean contemplation or meditation without object: simply watching.

On the way into Dhyana it can be understood that when you die, your whole life flashes before your eyes. For in the Union of the now and eternity, your whole life is laid out in a fractal kaleidoscope. There is only one moment, the Eternal Now, and in it we are simultaneously dying and being born. When I first experienced this, my whole life impossibly splayed before me at once, I thought that I must have had a heart attack and died while in contemplation. At the center of the kaleidoscope vision I lay in shivasana (corpse) pose with a blissful smile. I thought that, well if Peter is dead, at least he died with a smile on his face!

Here the Shamanic tradition guides strongly. For to continue one must shed the fear of death, an undertaking found most explicitly on the path of the Shaman. There are as many ways as cultures that the prospective Shaman faces their fear of death: a mortal illness or accident, a guided psychedelic trip, or guided dream trip are some examples. Death and resurrection is an essential initiatory ritual in almost all esoteric schools, from Zen and Tibetan Buddhism to the Western Occult practices of Aleistar Crowley or Terrence McKenna. For to breach the separation from God, the ego must die.

Beyond the ego, in the ecstasy of Dhyana, the fundamentally paradoxical nature of Self strikes one with wonder. For to experience the Wholeness of everything is to witness the Union of opposites: of the many and the one, now and eternity, and terror and ecstasy. One is simultaneously Alone and Everyone together; Everything and Nothing. It is a paradox at the edge of Being: A panorama of impossibility that is the world, and the Self.

The word 'Zen' comes from 'Dhyana' and is derived through the tortuous route the practice followed from India, through China, and on to Japan. Zen is perhaps the most elegant expression of the practice of liberation: Vedantic philosophy reduced to Taoist simplicity expressed in a Buddhist practice. The beauty of Zen is how it infuses the esoteric truth of the Paradox that is Reality into everyday reality through the contradictory riddles that are at it's heart. The whole point is that there is no answer. The world is the Play of a riddle with no answer. It cannot be grasped or believed, so one should simply stop the mind from grasping and believing: and beyond belief is Self.

The practice of Dhyana, or Zen, is an immediate experience, and that is an expression of the Paradox. People are always trying to figure out what to do, or how to understand enlightenment or liberation. But the point is not to try to do anything! When the mind is at rest and the ego passes You see that you already are enlightened, or liberated…and so is everyone else, for there is only one Self. There is nothing to be achieved in meditation, enlightenment is already part of You. There is no separation: of the sacred from the profane, of self from Self, or of enlightened from un-enlightened.

To give up control of the ego is to gain liberation. The death of the ego is the birth of the Divine: For the ego is the illusion of separation. And liberation is not separate. It is here and now.

previous page...