Tag Archives: sexuality

Chuck’s Place: Facing Now

Time for your two selves to sit down and have a chat?
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

On March 24, 1995, Tony Schwartz phoned Elmer Green to share his frustration that his recently reviewed book, What Really Matters (1995), which chronicled the development of the New Age spiritual movement in America, had sold so few copies. This despite favorable reviews in The New York Times and Fortune, and an upcoming guest appearance on PBS’s Charlie Rose.

When I went on to research Tony Schwartz, I discovered that he was the ghost writer for Donald Trump’s Art of the Deal (1987), the hugely successful, number one bestseller that first made Donald Trump a household name.

The coincidence and cognitive dissonance of Tony Schwartz, who has gone on to be one of the most successful proponents of New Age energetics, as applied to the workplace, being the same Tony Schwartz who first launched Donald Trump, is too compelling to ignore. Regardless of the findings of the Mueller report, Donald Trump was being groomed to become president by the forces of destiny, decades ago, as the prerequisite to the real launching of the Age of Aquarius.

Destiny insists that we reconcile our nature and our spirit selves for evolution to proceed now. Tony Schwartz reveals this polarity within himself in his 1995 call to Elmer Green. His outrage at his poor book sales, and his attachment to self-importance reflect his bottom-line-self, growling from his solar plexus chakra, saying, “what about me!?” On the other hand, the book he wrote speaks to the emergence of the New Age, reflecting a view from his heart chakra self, where the self-serving ego of the solar plexus chakra acquiesces to synchronicity and the importance of interconnected energy, versus self-importance and the will.

The fact that Tony Schwartz bemoans his role in Donald Trump’s rise in his 2016 statement on Good Morning America, where he characterizes his ghostwriting of Art of the Deal, as putting “lipstick on a pig,” suggests to me that he misses the true significance of his contradictory actions. All humans have two selves that must be reconciled with to advance both themselves and the human race.

To project the evil squarely upon a president, who may have stolen an election (even if it is true), is to dissociate from one’s own shadow self, which, as is evident in the Tony Schwartz example, continues to impact one’s life, albeit unconsciously.

The self of the first three chakras is embodied in the caricature of Donald Trump, and we all have that self. The first chakra is all about the wall and core safety. Do I have enough to survive? How much of our lives is spent on this obsession?

Birthright and entitlement spring from this chakra. Did I get the attention, resources, and security promised by the ruling archetypes of family? Have I settled with my core disappointments and resentments, or do I secretly harbor acrid bitterness and jealousy? Why do I really have to share? The bottom line is everything. “I’m all for spiritual enlightenment, just as long as I get my piece of the action,” is the perspective of this chakra.

The second chakra is truly the scourge of humankind. As a therapist of some 35 years, I know for certain that child sexual abuse is a hidden industry in all communities, at all socioeconomic levels of society. It’s an ancient shadow industry that reflects humankind’s inability to face the true depths of its animal sexual nature and, with the turning of a blind eye, relegates the instinct to target the most innocent and vulnerable.

The notion that human beings have mastered and integrated their sexual selves is absurd. Many ‘solve’ the issue of sexuality through dissociation from and repression of their sexual selves. This, of course, only empowers the collective dissociated instinct that flourishes in human trafficking and the hidden corners of spiritual traditions.

Even those moderately engaged with their sexual selves have to question how much of their sex lives are commandeered by manipulation, avoidance, obligation, personal gain, control, or simply a focus on personal desire. How much of the fullness of sexual desire is integrated with true love and meeting of another? To reach this level of refinement, sexual connection must travel to the heart center, where the egg of narcissism is cracked open to reveal the other.

The third chakra is all about personal power, as the ego comes into its own.  At this locale, the ego is all about Me. I want, I need, I deserve, I desire. These are the ego’s marching orders. It’s about agency and will, deeply colored by desire steeped in narcissism. The emboldened ego serves the desires of the physical plane, be they sexual or material. The tendency is to overindulge all the appetites and be granted attention for one’s specialness.

Though many may have settled for a codependent solution here, the shadow of that dissociated will-to-power fuels the energy of a Me First president, regardless of how deeply he may be consciously disavowed.

These concrete, primal, instinctual footings of the first three chakras are the basement foundation of our spiritual being, which resides in the heart chakra. Material accumulation, carnal desire, and personal power are the building block challenges through which our soul must pass. Though we may stalk the higher values of energetic interdependence and love for all beings, at the heart chakra, if we haven’t grappled with and made peace with our own first three chakras, our experience there will be overshadowed by unrequited need.

A well-seasoned warrior is one who has faced the power of the kundalini energy of the instinctual self within, and raises it for further refinement in love, compassion, truth, and right action of the heart chakra. Arrival at this heart-centered place marks the integration of the two selves, that which is needed for evolution to proceed now. As destiny is boldly reflecting to us now, we must cross the divide from the full experience of the lower chakras to the heart chakra for evolution to proceed.

The transformation of our political landscape, that which rules the world, is directly linked to each of us, as we face the fullness of our own natures. Soulful introspection into the truth of our inner opposition, as well as a sacrificial attitude that brings moderation to the heart, as well as acquiescence to the true leadership of the High SOUL, are the keys to this transition. This is our golden opportunity to face, now, with strong foundation, and launch ourselves into the spiritual potential of a truly enlightened New Age.

To be alive in such times as these is the envy of the Shamans of Ancient Mexico, who treasured the opportunity for spiritual advancement as they faced the tyranny of the invading Conquistadores. Nothing tempers the spirit more than to shake loose the bindings of self-importance, that which is needed to cleanly arrive at the sobriety of the heart chakra. Owning the tyranny of narcissism, both within and as reflected without, is to find the ark to begin the journey across the great chasm of self-reflection to SOUL purpose.

Taking the journey,


Chuck’s Place: Shadow and Wholeness

You never know what you’ll find lurking in the shadows…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

According to the Shamans of Ancient Mexico, human beings engage a mere 10% of their energetic potential. Ironically, that which limits the full realization of our energetic potential, the internal dialogue, also miraculously limits us to a fixed definition of self that enables us to form a cohesive personality necessary to embark upon a fulfilled life. Put simply, as our personality solidifies essential components are left out as we secure a necessary foundation to take on life. Life then becomes the quest for the Holy Grail of our lost wholeness.

To live a fully realized life we are increasingly challenged to develop a fluidity of being that can flow with life into its many alternative realities. The world is currently being inundated with many alternative realities. The threat to cohesion this has created has undermined mental stability on an individual level and on civilization itself at a collective level.

The silver lining to our current world crisis is the opportunity it creates to more fully experience our true potential as the Earth evolves beyond its own fixed patterns. Jung would call this individuation, the full realization of all that we truly are. For him the journey of individuation begins with the shadow, that which we are but don’t know about, or don’t admit to, as it festers in the labyrinth of the unconscious mind.

The shadow may be dark because it lives in the dark, but the act of  incorporating it into our lives is golden, as we add appreciably to our wholeness by embracing it. Part of our current world crisis is the unleashing of the shadow in the form of greed or rage. Rather than facing the shadow and figuring out its message, and how to incorporate it into their wholeness, many people have become possessed by their long suppressed shadow personality, which is finding its way into life with a vengeance.

What if one discovers a racist or sexist personality in their own shadow? Would it not be best to leave that personality repressed, for the sake of everyone? Probably in some cases that would be best for everyone! However, as in the case of sexuality, the repression of the shadow can give rise to a deeply hidden, predatory alternative reality that flourishes in the darkness of everyday life.

Shining the light upon this predatory behavior is essential. Subjecting the predator to the light of judgment is appropriate. But neither of these actions addresses the failure of human beings to fully embrace their sexuality, which ultimately is the reason for the dissociated, highly-charged sexual shadow.

To face our shadow we must get to know it. To get to know the shadow we must suspend judgment of it. So, for example, if one discovers that they are indeed sexist they must begin with accepting that they have a part of themselves that is sexist. They must suspend the judgment that they are bad because they house a sexist within. On the other hand, they must assume responsibility for the fact that they have a sexist within themselves and that they will not allow it to take possession of the personality and act out.

The ego—consciousness—must remain ruthlessly honest with itself and in control as it faces the fullness of its shadow. The goal is to get to know the truth of the self, which is full of contradictory thoughts, feelings, and attitudes. The inner sexist must be acknowledged and understood, but it must not be allowed to act out. Nonetheless, the inner shadow must be allowed to express itself to the self.

The real goal is to get to know each shadow sub-personality. For example, one might discover, in an inner dialogue with one’s shadow, that it has had an exaggerated attitude of sexism because it has been forced to house a primal terror of women’s power that has forced it into the defense of an extreme condescension of women.

The shadow might reveal early terror in an abusive relationship with mother or abusive female caretaker that was split off from consciousness, repressed and incubated in the shadow, giving birth to its sexist attitude. The shadow might reveal rage at its ego counterpart for having compensatorily idealized and been subservient to women, negating the terror and rage of its inner shadow.

When the tumult of this inner process is contained within the psyche the potential for reconciliation and transformation becomes possible, as previously separated parts of the self are now able to emote and clarify the reasons for their distorted extremism and polarization. This reconciled polarization melds into a well-rounded, balanced attitude.

Outwardly, having reconciled with one’s sexist shadow, one is freed from the triggers and projections with women that previously crippled an authentic intimacy in relationship.

The fact is that we all harbor many different shadow personalities that, once acknowledged and inwardly reconciled with, can find an appropriate, non-toxic place in life. There is a place for all parts of the self somewhere in life. Even the most hostile inner shadow might have a place guarding the sleeping psyche from intrusive entities in the night! That same shadow might also be integrated into life as a coach to an intimidated ego that must learn to assert itself.

Once the veil of the personal shadow has been lifted and its inhabitants squared with, one is freed to begin to explore the even greater untapped energetic possibilities of the self that have hitherto remained dormant. One is freed from inner conflict and judgment, ready to explore the deeper possibilities of human existence, freed to delve into the magic.

Oh, what magical beings we humans be!


Chuck’s Place: The Divine Power Of Sexuality

Accessing the divine cosmic... - Photo by Jan Ketchel
Accessing the divine cosmic…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

Human sexuality is the physical manifestation of a far subtler yet powerful cosmic energy whose guiding intent is union. At the highest level that union is oneness with God, or the cosmos. At the most basic level, in the human form, it is unconscious instinctive union that results in procreation. One of the greatest challenges for human beings is to reconcile this divine energy with its physical, emotional, and mental energies in the human body.

I opened the Huffington Post the other day to an article entitled: Saudi Historian: U.S. Women Drive Because They Don’t Care If They’re Raped. This somewhat bizarre argument, to justify the Saudi law that forbids Saudi women from driving, does shine a light, however, upon a worldview that acknowledges the power and dangers of sexual energy. The Saudi solution is to overly protect women from the dangers of male sexual energy that loses control in situations of rape. Their solution is an affront to modern sensibility and progress, yet it nonetheless openly confronts the power and potential dangers of sexual energy.

In the West, the assumption that rationality, maturity, love, and respect insure safety in sexuality is blatantly on trial in our age of internet revelation. Abuse of sexual power is evident in our most sacred religious institutions, our schools and universities, and in our homes. It is quite arguable that for all our technological advances we are extremely naive and underdeveloped in our handling of sex.

In old Tibet, children entered monastic life long before the adult manifestation of sexual energy. Celibacy and the refusal to engage in sexual pleasure, even in masturbation, are fundamental to nuns and monks seeking enlightenment. The Shamans of Ancient Mexico discouraged sexual activity, as the energy it exhausted is seen as critical to dream advancement. In these practices we see a respect for the power and vitality of sexual energy, and while it is sublimated it is still utilized, channeled into spiritual advancement. Freud went so far as to suggest that civilization itself was a by-product of sublimated sexual energy.

This scant survey of sexual management throughout the world highlights the power of and the challenge that the carnal and the spiritual dimensions of sexual energy pose. If we can allow the hypothesis that sexuality is of cosmic origin, a blind yet divine energy, sent from “God” to empower union in human form, then it is our greatest human challenge to reconcile this blind, divine energy with full human consciousness. Thus, we can ill afford to lock it away in protectionism, divert it for spiritual aims, or naively assume anything goes simply because we all have rational control.

Trashy Barbie... - Trash Art by Jan Ketchel
Trashy Barbie…
– Trash Art by Jan Ketchel

As humans, we are charged with discovering the full depth and power of our sexual instinct, this divine energy from God, in all its manifestations—physical, emotional, and mental. We are all charged with actively uniting this side of our nature with our consciousness, that which, in our human form, is our ephemeral spiritual center.

This weekend we celebrate Valentine’s Day, a day appropriated to pay homage to love in relationship. The intent of this celebration is to merge love—union based on consciousness, driven by what is right—with sexuality, in its most instinctive form, in a harmony that symbolizes wholeness and oneness, as cupid depicts, in divine rapture.

Valentine’s Day is, not coincidentally, the opening day for the movie Fifty Shades of Grey. This movie is based on a highly erotic novel that develops the theme of dominance/submission, sadism/masochism in sexual practices. The novel, with all of its steamy sex scenes, has had unprecedented worldwide success. I suggest this success is due to its liberating effects on the exploration of female desire and sexual fantasy, which have been largely undervalued or “protectively” ignored. However, I don’t feel that this fantasy of female sexuality is fully accurate or comprehensive. It may serve for the release and exploration of a largely hidden topic—woman’s sexuality—but I think it actually mirrors the collective frozen states of women’s sexual pleasures and the relationships that reinforce them.

The storyline of the novel allows women pleasure in bondage. Bondage may indeed be a pleasurable experience, but it hardly touches the depths of real pleasure that a woman is capable of experiencing in a truly conscious, loving relationship. The true union of the primal sexual power with consciousness requires the containment of a safe, loving relationship where these primal energies can play and merge in full consciousness.

Bondage, by design, is the antithesis of true freedom. Nonetheless, bondage might be viewed as a more primitive form of commitment. In true commitment, however, a couple freely bonds themselves to each other in a love that allows the full meeting of two beings on all levels. This deep and freeing union, I suggest, is one realization of the divine intent of sexuality. Issued from the highest spiritual plane, it culminates in full realization of the divine in sublime human form.

Rape, in all its manifestations, is the consequence of an aberrant decision to not take up the challenge of humanness and instead to surrender control to the proclivities of the dark side. It’s inhuman. Bondage, in all its manifestations, is a rudimentary experience of trapping and controlling the divine energy. Conscious relationship is the exact opposite, as it seeks to responsibly unite animal and divine.

Will we go through the bardos into the light this time? - Photo by Jan Ketchel
Will we go through the bardos into the light this time?
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

The ultimate challenge awaits us in death itself, where we, as individuals, must completely merge our human energy with divine oneness. Notice, this is not union with another person. This is ourselves, as individuals, uniting with the divine.

Our ultimate, full realization of divine sexuality is in the inner union of self, in the wholeness of all energies merged, physical and divine, transfigured into the oneness of all. Will we resist releasing our body and land in the bardos to continue to work through our attachments to physicality? Or are we ready to fully join with the divine light?

Happy Valentine’s Day,

Chuck’s Place: Breakthrough To Wholeness

The magnolia buds have survived the winter and are ready now for breakthrough... - Photo by Jan Ketchel
The magnolia buds have survived the winter and are ready now for breakthrough…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

We are beings filled to the brim with conflicting tendencies. St. Paul said it succinctly: “That which I would I do not, that which I would not, that I do.” Confronted with the opposition of his own carnal sexuality and his deep spirituality, St. Paul went the way of many a monastic tradition and chose celibacy. The challenge of truly reconciling this polarity within the self by rejecting that which is outside of the self is daunting and often misses the mark. The failure of this resolution couldn’t be more apparent than in the modern Catholic Church,* tarnished worldwide with deep involvement in sexual abuse. Clearly, merely shunning or splitting off sexuality does not make it go away—it must be reckoned with.

Carl Jung pointed out that for a tree’s branches to reach heaven its roots have to reach hell. True reconciliation of inherent human oppositions must integrate all sides of human nature into a cohesive whole. A one-sided solution to our problems inevitably sets the stage for a backlash or a breakthrough of the forsaken other—the rejected shadow self.

Times of breakthrough are exceptional times, like the breakthrough of a swollen river over its dikes. In hexagram #43, Breakthrough, the I Ching counsels resolute action in such exceptional circumstances. First, resolution must be based on a union of strengths and friendliness. The adult self must hold its own and not be taken over by the opposing tendency. On the other hand, it needs to greet it with friendliness, lend an objective ear to its point of view.

Second, a compromise with evil is not possible. If the dissociated tendency insists on taking over the personality on its own terms, it must be openly discredited. There can be no compromise with a one-sided truth. On the other hand, the passions and one-sided motives of the ego self must equally be brought into the light and openly examined.

Third, the struggle must not be carried out directly by force. If an opposing tendency has taken on a compulsive habit in the personality, labeling it evil or denigrating the self for its presence in the personality only empowers it as it weakens the adult self charged with shifting the habitual state of affairs, such as with some kinds of addictions.

It's surprising just how much nature shows us how to break through. When the time is right...Just do it! - Photo by Jan Ketchel
It’s surprising just how much nature shows us how to break through.
When the time is right…Just do it!
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

Finally, the best way to advance is to make energetic progress in new behaviors that serve the true needs of the overall personality. A dysfunctional habit may actually be holding the place of a deeper need for fulfillment. Rather than brand the habit as bad, make use of it to turn in a new direction and engage in behaviors that fulfill the deeper needs of the self. For instance, challenge the self to go into the world and interact versus retreating and soothing the self with lulling talk and substance. Or rather than seeking excessive fulfillment in the outer world, retreat into the deep vibrational experience of transcendent oneness in meditation.

Breakthrough encounters are part and parcel of the individuation process. Breakthrough encounters are necessary guideposts in recapitulation as well. Through these encounters we are afforded the opportunity to integrate our opposing tendencies into a holistic being, truly capable of a new mantra: “That which I would, I do;” the ultimate conscious breakthrough, in consummate wholeness.

Breaking through,

* It is interesting to note that an ancient papyrus has broken through the sands of time and been validated by modern scientific method to challenge this one-sided position of the Catholic Church. At least some early Christian communities documented that Christ spoke of having a wife. Here is an excerpt from the NYT regarding the words that have fanned some controversy: “Jesus said to them, ‘My wife…’ ” Too convenient for some, it also contained the words “she will be able to be my disciple,” a clause that inflamed the debate in some churches over whether women should be allowed to be priests.

Read the entire report in The New York Times.

Chuck’s Place: The Path of Sexual Maturity

It takes decades to climb the many stepping stones to full sexual maturity. Great effort is required. Aging without effort guarantees only old age. Deep sexual union may, in fact, be the opus of a lifetime with the failures of the first half of life actually being the necessary preparatory steps for true fulfillment beyond midlife.

Nature's imperative...

Those failures include the fertile years where nature, in a most impersonal way, secretly dominates the sexual drive, masking its demands for recreation in the inappropriate attractions that spellbind us into sexual union. Many of those unions, though they may achieve nature’s aim of procreation, lack compatibility, sustenance and duration.

Nature fully takes advantage of the naiveté of youth to romantically do its bidding. Beyond copulation, nature provides little to support relationship. Yes, it does provide bonding and nesting urges, on an instinctual level, but that doesn’t stop nature’s compulsion; it will not be limited. That’s its survival strategy: quantity of children over quality of relationship. And true commitment, true containment, is hard to submit to in the fertile years. All humans must reckon with this debt to their animal natures, with its exorbitant interest toll evident in relationship casualties. If we truly grasped the power of nature to commandeer even our minds during the fertile years, we wouldn’t take so personally our failures. We didn’t stand a chance against nature’s imperative.

Coexistent with nature’s biological dominance in the fertile years is the ego’s growing control over sexual life. These include encounters with adequacy, self-esteem, performance, power, and the ability to connect.

Can I do it?

Some of the ego challenges that men may encounter as they attempt to firmly establish their potency and power are questions such as:

Am I attractive enough?
Am I virile enough?
Am I worthy of this person?
Can I approach and hold my own in interaction?
Do I know how to seduce?
Is my penis adequate, large enough?
Can it get the job done?
How do I turn her on, what’s the best method?
What’s the deal with oral sex? Can I handle it?
How are you supposed to do it?
Where’s the clitoris?
Can I handle a real life encounter?
Can I stop shaking?
Can I get an erection?
Can I maintain an erection?
Can I handle the responsiveness of her body?
Will I ejaculate too soon?
How will I know if she’s satisfied?
Can I share my fantasies?
How did I measure up?
Why doesn’t she ever approach me?
How can I get more?

Am I sexy enough?

Women are challenged by many of the same ego and self-esteem questions, but their are others specifically female related, such as:

Am I pretty enough?
Am I smart enough?
Am I desirable enough?
Do I have an attractive body?
Are my breasts too little, too big?
Do I smell good?
Does he really like me?
Can I tell him my dreams?
Will it hurt?
Where is my clitoris?
Will I orgasm?
How do I tell him he’s not doing it right without hurting his feelings?
Is this love?
Will he come back or is this just a one time thing?
What if I just want to cuddle, will he be okay with that?
What if he comes first?
Do I have to fake an orgasm so his ego isn’t hurt?
How do I stop him, say no, if it doesn’t feel right?
Why do we have to do it so often?
What if I get pregnant?

These questions and thousands more, including a readiness and willingness to commit, pervade men’s and women’s thoughts during the fertile years. Concerns are largely self-centered, only marginally relational. True readiness to be with, take in, and merge with another person, in mature union, transcends the ego’s preoccupations during the fertile years.

Biological aims and ego insecurities dominate the fertile years and must be experienced and burned through to prepare the ground for the depth of spiritual union inherent in sexual maturity at midlife and beyond. Midlife crisis is actually the spirit’s call to recapitulate and complete the learnings of the first half of life’s lessons to prepare for deep union in later years, what the alchemists called: conjunctio.

A major component of recapitulation is reliving our complete sexual history, facing the full truth, releasing the myths as well as the myriad of feelings combusted and stored around all sexual encounters. In recapitulation, we retrieve our freed energy; we enter our bodies deeply; we accompany the free flow of libido with calm presence and openness, as we prepare for union without barrier.

Recapitulation itself is an arduous process. As we climb the stepping stones to full maturity we learn that it takes time, patience, and a deep yearning for, and commitment to, the truth and fulfillment of this life. During recapitulation, ego issues and traumatic underpinnings that once froze the free flow of sexual energy are discovered for what they truly are, dismantled and released. Recapitulation is conjunctio within the self, as energy previously separated is reclaimed and merged into a unified whole within the self. From this recapitulated place of wholeness, extraverted conjunctio, matured sexuality, is possible with an “other.” If the residual sexual issues from the fertile years are not resolved through recapitulation, these issues will be carried forward, interfering with conjunctio, both within and without.

Ecstatic union

After recapitulation, the physical changes of midlife, and beyond, matter little. With ego relativized through recapitulation, full spiritual, sexual union—at the deepest energetic level—is completely possible! After recapitulation conjunctio is no longer thwarted by such issues as body image or mechanics, for no physical limitations or ego limitations can stop true sexual, energetic union. There simply are no limitations! Two fingers alone can touch in ecstatic orgasmic union!

For those still in the midst of the necessary challenges of the fertile years, stay patient. Full sexual maturity awaits if you allow yourself to have your own necessary experiences and acquiesce to recapitulation when it beckons. For those with limited or deeply compromised sexual experience during the fertile years, recapitulation provides the necessary process of integration of self that will lead to openness to union in later years, when true union is really possible, offering the ability to fully actualize the sexually mature self, in true relationship!

The full realization of sexual maturity ultimately includes the biological, ego, and energetic or spiritual dimensions of our beings. It’s far more than nature just taking its course. It requires us, as conscious beings, to evolve as individuals to really meet each other.

From the nest,

Chuck and Jan