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Saturday, June 20th, 2009

Sex, God, Rock & Roll

A while back I was interviewed by the "Punk Monk" Stuart Davis on Sex, God, Rock & Roll on "Relationship as Spiritual Path". Check out a clip of it here:

Stuart is funny. An amazing musician. The king of off-off-off humour. Sacred. A loving father. A stellar husband. Rocks the camera.

Close your eyes and open your legs, it's time for the full episodes of Sex, God, Rock & Roll! I'm on episode 4, and will be in the DVD box set that's coming out soon. Membership is $5 a month or something silly.

And here's the article I wrote, after having so much fun with Stuart:

Sex and Relationship as Spiritual Path: can a relationship actually do what an ashram does?

by LiYana Silver, Relationship Specialist, November 2008

I am sitting in a filming studio in Boulder, Colorado, getting ready to be interviewed on the Stuart Davis Show, "Sex, God, Rock n' Roll." I'll be talking about Relationship and Sex as Spiritual Path; can a relationship actually do what an ashram does? It's going to be a good one.

In a pre-interview email, Stuart emailed me the following questions: Relationship as Spiritual Path: Can a relationship actually do what an ashram does; can a relationship actually do what a teacher-student relationship does? In what ways can relationship do what lineage, community, etc, does? In what ways do we use spiritual communities or teachers to "avoid" deeper engagement and relationship with our partners?

There's no One Right Way. This is a unique concept in a world that functions as though there is very much One Right Way. Our world loves the "either/or," "black/white," "good/bad" paradigm; our cultures raise arms around who are the chosen people, who's getting into God's kingdom, which diet is the right diet, is a homosexual marriage still a marriage?

Relationship can absolutely do what the ashram does. It just tends to do it in a sort of technicolor thriller, comedie noire, 3-D dramatique way.

The ashram asks of those who enter to supplicate, to prostrate yourself physically, emotionally and mentally at the feet of a master. It asks of you to give over of yourself in order to gain insight and maturity, to strip away illusion and delusion, to awaken. If you have a partner who has a basic grasp of the foundational elements of powerful relating (self awareness, communication, honesty, vulnerability and integrity), and you have a partner you can trust, your partner (or partners) becomes teacher, sensei and master – as well as and student.

The ashram offers you practice and challenges to rise to. Getting up to meditate at 4:00am in a cold zendo with aching knees and back, whether or not you feel like it, is a lot like getting up to breast-feed an infant or tend to your lover's food poisoning, whether or not you feel like it. Cleaning the meditation halls is a lot like cleaning the bedroom, sweeping away the dust and clutter to allow seekers to again tomorrow, free of too much distraction, lay themselves at the feet of intimacy and union.

The ashram offers you a physical and spiritual container, within which to examine who you are: Who are you in the glorious, open times as well as during the tough times? Come rain or shine, the ashram demands of you to do your practices. It's one thing to be a good communicator and a loving open being when the sun is shining in our relationship, but can we keep our hearts open and vulnerable in the midst of a painful, confronting storm when the shit hits the fan and it gets tough and scary? The cultivation of discipline, whether done in the ashram or in the relationship, is useful because of what it trains us for.

My rather irreverent assertion that relationship can be a vessel for growth, discovery and communion with the Divine, as the ashram can also be, comes from my experience with Vedic Tantra. Vedic Tantrism offers that there is nothing to transcend; the Divine is not out there or over there, separate from you; you are the Divine. The Divine is having a human experience through you. There is no where you could go, nothing you could do to escape the Divine. Being human is not a fallen condition. There's not a place of perfection we fell from and can claw, pray or self-flagellate our way back to. Vedic Tantra is inclusive, offering a way to see our shadows not as deviance from the Divine, but for further means of integration and experience of the full spectrum of the Divine. There is no experience that doesn't offer you, bundled inside of it, the chance to open to God. Relationship, when done with the intention and heart of a spiritual seeker, is an honorable spiritual path.

Lineages, like pilgrimages to ashrams, offer the beautiful structure of well-trodden spiritual paths, but don't necessarily have built in to them the elasticity to account for human and cultural development. Often in trying to transcend our humanity – our visceral, earth-bound bodies with their plethora of racing thoughts, storms of emotions and abounding sexual energies – is an excuse to push away life like a mirage, and can drive us even further from a union with the Divine. We have been taught, whether through Eastern, Judeo-Christain or through Puritanical traditions, to deny the body, kill the ego, cut out parts of ourselves and ascend above our messy humanity in order to commune with the Divine. But those same sought-after spiritual experiences are equally as accessible through the body, thoughts, emotions and ego; through an integration and understanding of our humanity. Rather than pretending our shadows aren't there or can be exorcised, we can embrace, include and integrate them.

When you choose life (and relationship) as spiritual path and choose to know and engage (rather than deny) every part of your being, the conversation with the Divine then happens right here, right now, not limited to churches, synagogues and ashrams. There is no spot where God is not, no place that is not holy; every moment becomes one where union is available. If you choose relationships, you choose to engage. Relationship is the highest-stakes, highest-reward spiritual game I know.

LiYana Silver is a Relationship Specialist, teacher, writer and counselor. Visit her website at

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