A Planet Drenched in Shame

Why We Need a New Sexual Narrative

We live in a planet drenched in shame. Shame is the root of all evil. One of the core sources of shame is sexuality. The reasons sex causes shame is because we do not have a sexual narrative equal to our sexual desire. The result is that our experience of desire is at odds with the person we think we should be and therefore the person we project into society. In this gap between our true self and our public self, shame is born.

Shame is the experience that there is something fundamentally wrong with me that can’t be fixed. All evil is rooted in the desire to deny, suppress or bypass the feeling of shame. The political and social results of a planet drenched in shame are catastrophic.

Shame severs our connection from Eros. Eros is the very life force of reality moving through us. When Eros awakens in us, it does so as the feeling of being radically alive moving towards ever-higher levels of contact, depth and creativity.

Eros as the Source of All Ethics

Eros is the source of all ethics. For all ethical breakdowns, of virtually every form, is rooted in a failure of Eros. When we lose touch with that experience of radical aliveness, which is the natural expression of living our unique authenticity — what I have called Unique Self, then we seek aliveness in all the wrong places. When we lose touch with the gorgeousness of our incessant drive towards contact, depth and creativity- in a word — our drive for intimacy — we lose contact with the self-evident experience of life’s inordinate meaning and value. We cannot bear the pain of alienation from Eros. Therefore, when we lose touch with our Eros we seek to cover the emptiness with Pseudo-Eros. Pseudo-Eros is every form of acting out, addiction and inauthenticity.

The Sexual Models the Erotic

A primary doorway to Eros is the Sexual. The sexual is not the erotic. Eros is that experience of radical aliveness and movement towards, contact depth and creativity in all arenas of life. But the sexual models the erotic. The sexual intimates, in its most beautiful expressions, the experience of Eros that we seek in every dimension of life.

What happens when are cut off from the sexual? For most people it means losing a vital dimension of our capacity to live erotically. For without the sexual model we lose touch with the primal life forces that courses through all being and becoming. When we lose touch with the sexual we sever our connection with what for so many of us is the primary portal to the fullness of Eros that we seek in all the dimensions of our lives.

Let me be very clear about it. Most human beings are profoundly split off from the potent aliveness of the sexual and therefore lack an image of Eros that can call them home to their own aliveness.

People are cut off from the sexual and therefore alienated from Eros for two reasons: One, the sexual is often experienced as pallid and weak and can therefore no longer point us towards the erotic. When that happens we feel dead inside. But that is not all. We feel ashamed at how dead we feel. We feel ashamed that we can barely get out of bed in the morning. We feel ashamed because our lives are not the triumph we know they should be.

But people are cut off from the sexual for a second reason. This one is more complex. Most people are unable to find the fullness of the sexual in their current structure of relationship. Many people — and the number is growing — cannot find the right partner, so they remain alone. Many more people are with a person who cannot meet them in the full aliveness of the sexual. Therefore, they lose the vital connection to Eros that the pleasure of the sexual provides.

The Values Gap

When that happens virtually all people do one of two things. They shut down their desire and thus lose contact to Eros in all of their lives. Or they work out a hidden “arrangement” to fulfill their erotic desire. The “arrangement” for the fulfillment of desire is almost always covert and in violation of their own professed or at least public values. That might be in the form of illicit affairs, or other forms of sexual play that are politically incorrect.

This gap however, between one’s professed values and one’s actual lived values, (other than for the very few**), results in an intensity of shame that is unimaginable. Structurally, this expresses itself in the gap between our current social forms designed to express the sexual and our actual lived reality. In this gap is the abyss of shame into which virtually all of us eventually fall.

A Planet Drenched in Shame

The result is that we live on a planet drenched in shame. The result of that shame is politically, morally, and socially unimaginable in its devastation.

Take the following scene from the zeitgeist: It is 2016 and tens of millions of Americans are watching the second presidential debate between Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump. Allegations of sexual abuse about Trump as well as his comments in the Access Hollywood tape are front and center on everyone’s mind. Trump brings with him a group of women who have accused Bill Clinton of rape and sexual harassment. They sit in the front row. The web is filled with unsubstantiated rumors of Hilary reputed to be having secret lesbian liaisons. Is there a more obvious indication in the center of our culture that something is not working in the sexual drama of our culture?

The Need for a New Sexual Narrative

It is for this precise reason that we need a new sexual narrative. We need a sexual narrative equal to our power and equal to our potency. It is the articulation of that sexual narrative that is one of the primary commitments of the Center for Integral Wisdom.

False complaints or distorted narratives around sexuality, smear campaigns that pretend to be motivated by the protection of “future victims” — protecting them from dangers that do not exist, in order to cover up their far more base motives — are rooted in two primary factors:

First, a failure of Eros on the part of the organizers and consumers of the smear. Their disconnection from their own unique Eros incites malice and disease which cause them at some point to act out in a gross violation of ethics (engineering false complaints for example), driving them up a tree from which they do not know how to climb down.

The second factor is what Reich calls the “Little Man” who seeks to murder Eros where it does appear. This murder of Eros is because the little men get lost in a primal murderous rage when they encounters an Eros that they cannot access themselves. So when someone else does incarnate that Eros, they feel exposed and belittled by life itself. Since they can neither access this Eros nor control it, they move to annihilate it. They murder Eros because they cannot control it.

Marc Gafni


** The few include the most regressed, the sociopaths and the most advanced, the developmentally advanced post-conventional saints.

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