“Love” is a word that we use pretty indiscriminately. “I love ice cream”, “I love Game of Thrones”, “I love you”. I think it’s unfortunate that we throw it around so haphazardly, because the essential concept behind the word is a very powerful one. Perhaps it’s not that big a deal that we say we “love” our car or our socks or whatever, but I do think it’s valuable to contemplate what love is, what it means, and how we can attract massive, massive quantities of it into our lives.
“Lust” on the other hand, is a word that I don’t think we use enough, although we’re probably about as ignorant of the true meaning of the concept of lust as we are of love. As valuable as it is for us to understand love, understanding lust is probably just as important. The reason I say this is that I believe modern culture is built upon a substantial imbalance of the two, with lust being the presiding factor.
Sex is ubiquitous in advertising, media, and basically all aspects of modern life. I don’t think it’s ever been this all-encompassing in all of human history (though I could be mistaken). Sex is lovely, awesome, and loads of fun, but like with most intensely desirable things, it has a dark side. Sex, taken too far toward the negative pole of the spectrum, breeds jealousy and lack of empathy. It’s so powerful that it can completely take over a person’s mind, to the detriment of other areas of life.
This is why I write a lot about the dangers of the modern unlimited access to hard-core pornography. We’ve somehow come to believe that sexual health and sexual liberation are synonymous. I would argue that they’re not, in fact I would argue that sexual moderation and modesty are incredibly important and powerful for both men and women.
This may (and probably will) be decried as heresy against the current liberal attitude toward sexuality, but I believe it needs to be said. Sexual energy is too powerful to be played around with unconsciously.
Like fire, it can be used to warm our homes and cook our food and brew our lovely, lovely coffee, but it can also (and often does) burn our houses to ashes and blow up our cities. Sex, like fire, needs to be approached with care and consideration, and a healthy amount of respect and awe.
Obviously love is more than just a feeling spawned from sex, and it has many different aspects to it, but I want to focus on the typical feeling of shared ecstasy that we feel in the sexual act, and the ways consumerist culture, along with an excessively casual approach to sex, are actively getting in the way of our bathing in the glory that is actual love.
I don’t believe I have the right to tell other people how to live their lives. Everyone should be free to arrange their sexual lives in whatever way they please, as long as they don’t harm others in the process (which, incidentally, pornography does, massively). What I do want to do, however, is to spark conversation around the prevailing attitudes toward sex and challenge the very common belief that when it comes to sexual pleasure, stimulation and orgasm, more is always better.
With a less laissez-faire attitude toward sex, a more discriminatory attitude, a person can move away from lust and toward love, which is a very worthy goal to my mind. These days people dress provocatively, music is highly sexualized, as are other media, not to mention the endless semi-nude and erotic advertisements. This is all accepted in the name of breaking down outdated sexual norms and “sexual liberation”.
We’re convinced that “casual” sex is actually a thing, and that not only is it possible, but that it is the healthiest way of expressing sexuality. Is hook-up culture really all it’s cracked up to be? I don’t think it is, judging from my own experience and the anecdotal evidence I’ve seen from many others.
Perhaps the values of sexual modesty that have been passed down from previous generations were more than just old-fashioned bigotry and prudishness. Or perhaps they’re some mix of the prudishness and sensibility. The idea of societal and cultural “progress” is a very recent concept, and we’re all more or less convinced that while there may be bad years and unsavoury events in between, that cultural norms always tend to progress in the direction of better, healthier, and more rational, so that each century will be better than the last. Be that as it may, it bears contemplating that this may be another ideological fallacy akin to flat-earth theory. That is to say, something that seems pretty logical at first sight, but crumbles apart at further investigation.
“So define it,” said Ira, “I promise not to laugh.”
“Not yet. The trouble with defining in words anything as basic as love is that the definition can’t be understood by anyone who has not experienced it. It’s like the ancient dilemma of explaining a rainbow to a person blind from birth. Yes, Ishtar, I know that you can fit such a person with cloned eyes today – but that dilemma was inescapable in my youth. In those days one could teach such an unfortunate all the physical theory of the electromagnetic spectrum, tell him precisely what frequencies the human eye can pick up, define colors to him in terms of those frequencies, explain how the mechanisms of refraction and reflection produce a rainbow image and what its shape is and how the frequencies are distributed until he knew all about rainbows in the scientific sense . . but you still couldn’t make him feel the breathless wonder that the sight of a rainbow inspires in a man. Minerva is better off than that man, because she can see. Minerva dear, do you ever look at rainbows?”
“Whenever possible, Lazarus. Whenever one of my sensor extensionals can see one. Fascinating!”
“That’s it. Minerva can see a rainbow, a blind man can’t. Electromagnetic theory is irrelevant to the experience.”
In this quote from Robert A. Heinlein’s Time Enough for Love, the book’s protagonist Lazarus Long, the world’s oldest living person, is attempting to explain the English word “love” (which doesn’t exist in their language Galacta) to a group of his distant descendants and to Minerva, an artificial intelligence. I think it’s pertinent to a dissemination of lust and love, because there’s a striking similarity between the person blind from birth, and the modern man and woman “blinded” to love due to long-term excessive focus on lust, often for their entire lives.
Obviously there will be people in society with healthy attitudes toward sex and love, and then there will be others who are stuck in heart-breakingly destructive cycles of lust and unhealthy sexual expression. As with everything else in life, this issue falls on a spectrum. I think, however, that the prevailing approach and understanding of sex in our culture is highly corrosive to physical, emotional, and spiritual thriving.
I’m afraid that a large portion of the population have effectively blinded themselves to the more transcendental aspects of sexuality, myself included. I believe that the unprecedented access to violent and degenerate high-speed internet pornography has a huge role to play in this development, especially on the male side of the issue.
I have a feeling that the “meat-market” style dating apps and sexualized social media have a more profound effect on women, while the aforementioned problem of porn is more detrimental to men. Obviously there will be substantial overlap in both directions though, and it’s of supreme importance to the individual to become fully aware of the various ways that all of these different factors affect us.
I think it’s time to separate ourselves from what’s deemed “normal” and “what everybody else is doing” and really stop to think about the ways we’ve been programmed to think (or not think) about sex and love. It’s not even a century since smoking a pack a day was “what everybody else is doing”.
Cultural norms are rarely healthy. I live by the axiom that I heard from the late Terence McKenna, culture and ideology are not your friends.
If you want to delve further into these matters, might I suggest that you check out my book (cha-ching!) Health, Simplified, available through Amazon here. It’s a nice and concise tome on my own healing journey, the insights I’ve gained, and the incredible transformation that’s possible through taking full responsibility of your own health.
You can also check out the other videos on my YouTube channel, where I go deep into various aspects of health.