Man's Search for Meaning In Relationship
That which is occupied with conscious thought is sexually depolarizing to the one who is conscious. The opposite is also true.
This is why man feels so deeply nourished by spending time in nature, where conscious thought ceases to innervate his surroundings. Man is polarized by nature, and therefore nourished by it as a result.
This is also why man has been calling nature “the feminine” for millennia. He assumes Her to be something fundamentally different than himself—something fundamentally different than consciousness.
In spiritual philosophy, there has always been an intuitive understanding that there is something sexually polarizing about the sacred coupling of Nature and Consciousness. Countless traditions have described this relationship in their own ways: “Mother Earth and Father Sky;” “Yin and Yang;” “Shakti and Shiva;” “Form and Formlessness;” and so on.
As some of the greatest spiritual traditions have taught us, this polar dynamic is the very source of that which nourishes man. It is also the primary source of his greatest suffering.
When man ventures out into the wild, to brave the world alone, the sweetness of solitude tastes a lot like freedom. To a man, nothing tastes quite like it. Yet, despite the decadence of his independence, his solitary joys and sense of well-being are short-lived.
Sooner or later, he will become overwhelmed by the need for company—a conscious companion. Someone to talk to. Someone to laugh with. Someone to cry with. Someone to share life with. Someone to love.
His deep yearning for companionship pulls him out of his cave—as if by some mysterious, monstrous, magnetic force—to wander the plains in search of someone to love.
When he finds this other conscious companion, he is overcome with joy once again. Life feels brand new—full, exciting, and enriched with an even greater sense of purpose.
At first, their intimate connection is ecstatic.
Naturally their bodies polarize like magnets, creating a powerful sexual charge between them. In celebration of finding each other, they make love endlessly. Chores, concerns, and inquiry into life’s biggest problems comes to an abrupt halt, so something even greater can be felt—the bliss of love’s embrace. Life never tasted so sweet.
Yet, over the course of several months together, something starts to change. He feels like his companion is no longer enough. The celebration has waned, sexual desires have been fulfilled and therefore have subsided, and the endless tasks of survival have become the focal point of their now shared life’s purpose. Both of them feel gripped by the anxieties of the daily grind. And the polarity that once drew them close, now seems nowhere to be found.
While looking out over the horizon, he reflects on the time when they first met, and how incredible it felt. Her body felt open, free and wild, as if there was nothing standing between him and the deepest parts of her. There were no walls, no boundaries, no stories; only infinite possibility.
The sharp contrast between his precious memory and the cold sting of the present moment hits him like a two-by-four upside the head.
Today, his woman feels angular, critical and more purposeful than she did when they first met. As if the burdens of survival weren’t hard enough with one’s own critical mind to deal with, now there are two of them. And seldom do they agree.
She too has allowed the celebration of their union to wane. As life’s endless list of daily chores began stacking up again. And fair enough, it’s much harder to feed two mouths than one.
Where they were once lovers, today they are merely partners, and sometimes friends, but the importance of sexual connection seems to have been long forgotten by them both. Purpose takes priority, every moment of every day, and the belief that there is no time for, nor no value in, purposelessness consumes them.
Up against the forces of nature and the critique of another critical mind to manage, his heart once again yearns to be in the presence of that which is merely present and unburdened by conscious thought. To him, there is nothing more beautiful than that glistening silence. That decadent taste of freedom. It calls out to him like a mirage in the middle of the dry desert.
He feels the need to escape—to leave his woman and homestead behind. He yearns for release. “Get me out of here,” his inner-voice screams!
Ensnared in his frustrations, he ventures back out into the wilderness alone.
But whatever he finds matters naught. He either finds nature, only to become sickened by the feeling of being alone again. Or he finds a new companion, only to repeat the same pattern he just played out.
He is a hamster on a wheel. And his foolish sprint forward is only aggravating his suffering. Yet he continues to cling tightly to the belief that the wheel is taking him anywhere other than in circles.
Exhausted and defeated, he falls backwards into a patch of soft grass and looks up to the stars. He just wants to die. And in that moment, a large part of him does. A tear rolls down his cheek.
The part of him that dies leaves a hole in his heart that is filled with nothing—just emptiness. And in his empty state, a moment of clarity takes him. His eyes become wide.
“I understand,” he whispers to himself.
Within that single moment, he accepts the truth:
“There is nowhere but here. And here I have both: the glory of nature surrounds me, and the goodness of companionship awaits for me at home.”
In his moment of clarity, he saw that in order for his transformation to be everlasting, then his actions needed to demonstrate what he had come to understand. To merely continue trudging on through life, obsessing on one purposeful task after the next, would be insanity. He sees that now because he can see himself running on the wheel. His perspective is no longer limited to the space behind his eyes.
How could he continue to run on the hamster wheel—which is required to keep himself and his companion alive—while also remembering that the wheel is getting him nowhere?
A paradox. A cosmic joke that few ever understand. But unlike yesterday, today, this man is smiling. Because today this man has understood.
He remembers the profound gift he felt in the moments with his lover that were completely devoid of any purpose at all—holding her in sexual embrace, lost inside of her trance.
In a single moment, which his entire life had been preparing him for, he realized the meaning of purpose and the supreme bliss of purposelessness.
He walked home that night to make love to his companion. To reclaim her. To remind her of what he had remembered.
And they were never the same.
*The title of this post is an intentional nod to the book “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Holocaust survivor and Austrian psychiatrist, Viktor Frankl. I am eternally grateful for the gift of his work and the illumination he has brought to our world.