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  • Writer's pictureAnnelisa MacBean

Sex and Death

Sex creates life; life requires death.

Sex is essential for and deeply, sub-consciously fundamental to the human capacity for creation. Before the days of condoms and birth-control pills, making a child . . . creating a life . . . was always a possible outcome of sex. It is apparently a law of the universe . . . certainly true in nature at most levels I know of . . . certainly within and beyond our species as far as I can discern.

Sex is a fundamentally creative act. And orgasm, the path to completion of the the creative act, is fundamentally an exercise of letting go, release, ultimate surrender . . . death. Contemplate for a moment, the intense drive toward orgasm in your own sexual encounters. Contemplate the passion and intensity of focus on and pursuit of the pinnacle of your sexual interactions. We are seeking death. We want to finish . . . to feel released . . . to end the search. We find ultimate satisfaction in the practice of surrendering the ego, letting go of limiting beliefs about ourselves . . . for a moment we practice death before dying . . . which creates the field and releases the seed for life to cycle anew through our bodies

Sex as pure pleasure is a fairly modern association. This is not because sex wasn’t enjoyable before recent times (it undoubtedly was), but more likely because sex was intimately tied in with creation of life there were responsibilities and repercussions that placed restrictions on the pleasure component. From the perspective of creating life, sex as a source of pure pleasure may have been considered counter-intuitive, and for some even outright absurd. There's too much at stake, too much to lose. Sacrifice of my body, diseases, loss of a child, financial and social considerations, potential for being ostracized or scorned . . . orgasm itself suggesting that a person throw all these cautions to the wind . . . fear of death and sexual creativity all bound up together.

Sex for the fun and the freedom of it, sex that is not specifically and directly about creation might then diminish or obscure the death component that is inherent to the creative process.

This may give us pause to reconsider the benefits of the sexual revolution. Perhaps there were some unforeseen consequences to the “free love” envisioned in the 60's. The dream of the sexual revolution may have been a dream of sex divorced from death, sex separated from consequences. There may have been a belief (unconscious, of course) that sex divorced from death would lead to more sex for everyone . . . perhaps even to life without death.

But there is no life without death. And if that is fundamentally true, is it possible that distancing our sexual self-expression from the consequence of death took the creativity out of sex, and turned it into a kind of masturbation with another person’s body? Still physically gratifying, still fun, but ultimately fruitless? Interestingly, in our post-modern approach to sexuality, our emphasis on pleasure and freedom of sexual expression may have inadvertently sublimated or even denied the relationship between creation and destruction, thus removing a fundamental sensory/sensual vulnerability.

The hard, cold reality appears to be that all life comes from and is sustained by death. Even vegetarian animals destroy plant-life to survive and reproduce, and nothing needs to be explained about carnivores like ourselves. Even for Jains, who only eat plant-matter which has already died, death is still required to sustain their lives. By circumventing killing, the Jains don't ultimately avoid the inevitable necessity of death. For one to live, another must die.

Hopefully this association of death with sex doesn’t make sex something fearful… at least, not so fearful as to dissuade people from participation. To the contrary, hopefully it makes sex more intimate, more exciting, more important and meaningful. Hopefully, awareness of the connection between sex and death makes sexual encounters more intentional and perhaps more profound.

Technically speaking, sexual intercourse is the primal exercise in which self-destruction and self-creation intertwine, and the continuation of one’s human, physical identity can be achieved through and with another person. Biology and spirituality have the potential to coalesce during sex and it can be one of the most powerfully transformative things people do.

Sex without death isn’t really "bad: or "wrong" . . . it more that it's impossible. The illusion of sex apart from death still leads to death . . . a slow, lingering unconscious death — spiritually, and eventually, physically — death without ever feeling the intense connection that is possible when two people consciously, intentionally choose to die together.

By contrast, sex enjoyed in the knowledge of the death it entails is a cosmically significant act of creation, destruction, and transformation, achieved through a unification of opposites. Understanding this allows for sex that — for most people — is the closest thing to divinity they may ever reach in their mortal lives.

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