7 of Desires

A sensual body is gripped and caressed by a lover's hands. Tenderness is brimming with urgency; the dance of courtship gives way to the press of insatiable eros.

In the intricate play of attraction, affection, and arousal through which human beings approach sexual contact, there is a point of no return, when sexual exploration becomes sexual expression. We surrender control to our needs, and relentlessly pursue their gratification. At this moment, any pretext of ambiguity is abandoned. Romance, love, compassion, fondness - all these feelings persist, and even intensify, but they now swirl helplessly around a central core of sexual energy.

This can be the most magical, and the most frightening, phase of a sexual encounter. The loss of control it represents makes us vulnerable, not only to the other person, but to our own weaknesses. This moment can sweep away caution, even when the potential consequences are enormous. Sexually transmitted diseases, unwanted pregnancy, and irreversible changes in relationships are just a few of the realities that can follow in the wake of the 7 of Desires.

Some people fear this loss of control and alter their experience of sex so that they never truly surrender. Sex then becomes a mechanical process, a premeditated and predictable sequence aimed at producing an orgasm (one's own or one's partner's). Such an approach occasionally serves a useful purpose, but if it becomes habitual, it represents the death of sexual intimacy. For it is mutual abandon, not sexual gratification, that exposes the lovers to each other, and binds them profoundly together.

Sex and intimacy are not identical or inseparable, of course. Yet they enable and deepen each other in a most extraordinary way. Just as those who pursue sex while avoiding intimacy are impoverished, it is equally limiting to imagine intimacy to be such an ethereal, spiritual condition that sexual passion has nothing to contribute to it. When we surrender to sexual desire in the presence of a lover, we show the other an intensely personal face of our identity, something unique. It is an experience that has no real substitute.

It is the moment of abandon makes deep intimacy through sex possible.