More on the Venus/Saturn/Neptune t-square.
The word “epistemology” comes from the Greek “episteme” which means a “knowledge or acquaintance with something.” It also means, “skill or experience.” Add the “ology” and you get something like, “the study of knowledge, skill, and experience.” Unfortunately most people speak of epistemology in purely philosophical terms, as “the study of knowledge,” and even worse the “episteme” part of the word gets reduced to its most analytical sounding component, “knowledge.”
But even with the science or study of “knowledge,” we’re generally not ACknowledging the deeper and more mysterious resonance of the word that is the subject/object of study. The word knowledge has a variety of root associations, including “honoring something superior or worship,” and even more interesting, “to have sexual intercourse with.”
So, using these deeper meanings as our guide for the moment, what can we say about our “theories of knowledge,” or put more simply, our “beliefs?” We might say that each set of beliefs, each piece of knowledge we carry, is to some extent the distilled or rarefied expression of our experiences. Stranger: whatever knowledge we carry is also sexual experience. Our knowledge and beliefs reflect the kind of “intercourse” we’ve been having with the world: environments, people, culture, geography, race, religion, gender, etc.
Our curiosity to learn more about other people, other parts of the world, other beliefs, other ways of seeing, doing, or believing, is also a sexual curiosity. To know anything involves an intimacy that we can’t help but experience as sexual, even if only on a psychic level.
Right now, many of our relationships are reflecting back to us the nature of our beliefs or knowledge…the accumulated experiences, their differences or similarities, which in turn are reflecting different sexual orientations, styles, aesthetic values, or curiosities.
We’re so hooked on the OLOGY part of epistemology, that we forget that experience, deep sexually intimate experiences with the world around us, are inseparable from the logical or intellectual comparisons between “systems of knowledge or belief.” In fact, we’re so hooked on the OLOGY piece of it that many people throw it right out the window. “What do you believe?” we ask someone. And they say, “Well, I’m spiritual not religious,” which is a way of saying, “My mind and body is sexually intimate with a lot of ideas and experiences, and putting them into one particular system would close the door to more of those experiences, so I’m spiritual, but I’m not religious.”
Even when people choose things like “universalism” or “oneness,” but then embrace hugely contradictory metaphysical ideas or ways of seeing or thinking, most people sort of nod and smile because we each “acknowledge” that these all inclusive notions are just more ways of honoring the experiential nature of the soul…the love or the making loveness of life.
The problem with all of this (not that it’s always a problem) comes when reflecting on the fact that so many of these all inclusive faith or knowledge statements originate from an overly dichotomized view of dichotomies themselves. Because we don’t want to shut ourselves down to the ongoing love making of experience (which is how we feel real knowledge is made), we react too strongly to the idea of systems or theories of knowledge all together. Granted that this is usually because so many of the theories or systems of knowledge DENY the ongoing experiential nature of truth, but nonetheless we tend to react to these rigid systems by closing down our imaginations to the value or beauty of such systems across the board.
It’s sort of like saying, “Just because monogamy can be a really shitty institutional form of relating, doesn’t mean it’s useless or bad. Just because systems of knowledge or truth are often repressive, doesn’t mean they are ONLY repressive.”
Staying “open,” therefore is sometimes more like “the dogma of non-commitment,” which can be another way of saying “selfishness” or “defensiveness.” Staying “all inclusive,” is sometimes more like, “the dogma of indifference or apathy.”
Isn’t it true that Picasso committed to the color “Blue” for a brilliant moment of his painting career? Hemingway the simple sentence? Bowie to Ziggy Stardust? Prince to Jehovah’s witnesses? Dickinson to her attic view? Or Madonna to the virgin and the whore?
Isn’t it possible to commit very deeply to someone, something, some way of seeing or knowing, without denying the ongoing and radically open nature of experience? Don’t we see the paradox all around us, and isn’t there something refreshing about epistemological commitment? Don’t we also admire statements of belief, commitments to schools of thought or traditions, doctrines, dogmas, lineages, apprenticeships, specialties, styles and subjects?
Don’t we eventually clarify our tastes, needs, and abilities in between the sheets of life?
The distaste that people often have for polyamory (not trying to pick on polyamory now) is the same distaste that people have for universalism or oneness. While it works for some people, there is also strange dogma or insistence upon the “radically open and without monogmaous commitment of any kind,” that rubs people the wrong way, like the person you sleep with who makes you feel like you’re just another person on a long list of lays that are mostly impersonal.
Our intellectual and spiritual commitments are begging to be made from the place of natural selection…from the most organic and soulful places convalescing into shapes and colors and styles…just as much an aesthetic as a “belief.” Like Picasso’s blue or Madonna’s cone stabbing bras in the 80’s. Universalism isn’t always the answer because Universalism is like an intellectual (rather than aesthetic) rejection of a non-aesthetic way of being.
The truth is that we like laying in bed with some gods more than others. Some ideas penetrate us more than others. Some seduce and take our mental pants off more than others. Some hold and nurture us more than others. We can’t avoid this process of differentiation if we want to grow in truth. Because truth is like the development of the thousand wings and colors of a single peacock’s tail. Truth grows and changes all the time, and commitments to particular truths, especially the kind that naturally exclude others, are just as important to the soul’s individuation as any all inclusive faith statement.
Right now we’re looking eye to eye with each other, and any of these questions or concerns might be present:
* Do you know the same things I know and is that make or break?
* Are we capable of creating a compatible reality?
* Are we sexually compatible on the deepest level?
* Is this environment stimulating enough for my soul?
* Do I have enough faith, do I need more, or is my ambivalence just fine?
* Does he/she/this group really see me or experience me as I am?
* Am I desired or desirable exactly as I am?
* In what ways are my beliefs changing based on new experiences I’m having?
* What compromises am I willing to make in my relationships based on what I believe or what my experiences have led me to value?
* What am I missing or longing for in terms of the conversations or relationships happening in my life right now?
Prayer: Commitment isn’t something that can stop new experiences. Commitment is a kind of experience itself. Help us to understand this, and lead us toward our soul’s deepest commitments in this moment.
image courtesy of creative commons: https://www.flickr.com/photos/pinkcotton/