I used to struggle (a lot) with the idea of spirituality. Hearing somebody talking about their faith, their interest in the stars, the tarot, about white universal energy… for me that would be straight away a ‘turn off’.
I was brought up in Spain. In 1970s Spain everybody was Catholic by default. My parents never pushed religion on us, but Catholic values would be filtering everywhere in society. Even that I was brought up in a big city, my parents kept still strong ties with the small village down South where they came from. In the village some traditions of shamanism and healers kept alive. It was not uncommon that you would be taken to see the local healer to help you with whatever health issue you had. I used to have lots of tummy upsets, grandma would take me to see her neighbour, a lady dressed in black (as most of the ladies in the village, they spent half of their life in mourning) who would get some olive oil and rub my tummy while saying some prayers. I used to find it fascinating.
Most of the healers I used to see were women. Some of them had altars in their houses full of Catholic ‘kitsch’. I used to be fascinated with the images of suffering and pain. I also used to be attracted by the naked torsos of the angels and fantasise with the idea of having wings: having wings would have been so cool – and the wings often came with a six pack!-.
As I grew up I became totally uninterested with anything religious or spiritual, those became dirty words in my vocabulary. Spirituality and the mystical were linked to that village. I was into the city life, into science, into what ‘made sense’.
I had to get ex-communicated
As a young adult my perception of the Catholic Church became tarnished with a sense that I was not welcomed. To be honest I did not really want them either, but certainly I sensed that I did not belonged there. More and more I felt the people going to church were narrow minded, conservative and held a set of values that I could not identify myself with.
As a young man I could not make a distinction between spirituality and the Church. I was also determined that I did not want anything to do with them, particularly when they started to be so antagonistic towards gay men when the new laws for gay marriage were approved. I felt really strong that I did not want to be part of their club. I wrote to my archbishop and I ask them to ex-communicate me, which they did with no fuss. I was disappointed it was so easy. I had a party.
Tantra, touch, meditation, healing and pain
In my 30s I started to flirt with learning some holistic therapies. The likes of aromatherapy and shiatsu kept bringing a new dimension of spirituality but these times it had an Eastern flavour: reiki, Buddhas, patchouli incense. I just wanted to learn massage but I felt I could not escape all those added bits. Gosh more ‘flaky’ people!. Words like ‘meridians’ and ‘chakras’ seemed to me like lazy concepts of a mythology that had no substance. For me science had the robust answers and the rest was just just ‘cheap’ explanations with no grounding in real physiology.
I decided that I had to move away from all that and I embraced a more ‘clinical’ touch. Something that could be measured and rationally explained. That made me feel happy.
I also encountered tantra back then. I came to Tantra with the idea of becoming a stud in bed. In my head it was only a set of techniques to be ‘multiorgasmic’, to fuck for hours and never come. The Holy Grial of the man who I wanted to be. In reality I was suffering at the time. I felt inadequate in bed, but nothing that this new course in tantra could not be able to fix (I thought).
In my first weekend course I had a ‘peak experience’: a couple of guys massaged me for 90 mins including my cock and I was off my face like the girl from The Exorcist. I had so much fun, all my body tingled but also I felt I had some sort of ‘out of body’ experience. It was phenomenal.
That brought some curiosity and with the curiosity there was an openness to ‘new experiences’. I started with meditation courses in my local Buddhist centre. Nothing religious. I would go there simply to explore something that scientific studies proved that worked. For me it was a way to calm down the nervous system at a time I was experiencing growing anxiety. Nothing controversial about it.
The meditation class happened in a ‘praying room’ at the Buddhist centre, there was a Buddha there. It was a beautiful room, an old industrial building now modernly converted. I was more interested in the cast iron pillars than in the Buddha to be honest, but the Buddha was there.
The meditation groups got me in touch with a ‘like minded’ type of people. People that seemed to share a sensitivity that I was also ‘developing’. There was a quality in the interactions that I felt fulfilling. Nobody talked about religion, just about life. They did not seem ‘flaky’ to me. Most of them were older than me. People came from all sorts of paths of life, but the thing that stroke me is that there was a common denominator in all those experienced people at the centre, they appear very calm and genuinely kind.
I kept dropping in and out meditation for years. I used some of the tools I learnt in the courses, like learning to separate ‘feeling’ and ‘emotion’. Understanding that the emotion is mediated by my experience in life. I could grasp this concept but not fully internalise it.
I embraced Tantra
Finally I decided to enrol in a full immersive week of tantra with T4GM a few years ago. I thought I was going to be in a whole week mastering my wanking techniques but the work ‘spiritual path’ started to appear. I was confused.
On the first days of my week I started to get some more of those ‘peak experiences’. They were so out of this world that it was difficult to find any scientific language to define them. All my being had been shaken.
I realised that there was a further truth beyond any construction I had created of myself (in psychological terms normally described as ‘the Ego’). Who I thought I was it was only a construction shaped by my experiences. Nothing wrong with that… but yes only my experiences, only my version of reality. I learnt to appreciate that other people had different versions of reality which were as valid as mine… in fact I could learn from their versions of reality, rather than ‘poo’ on them.
The basic learning curve was that there was something ‘bigger’ than my version of reality…. and this is when I discovered what the ‘spiritual’ path was… it is nothing to do with angels with a six pack, with abandoning medical language or with the idea of crystals or patchouli incense… it is just accepting that I don’t know it all, that there is more to come, that the more open you are to receive the more opportunities you have to learn and that there are many stations that one can tune in the dial, that you may not have been able to ‘pick them up’ yet.
It comes with an acceptance that I don’t know it all. That my senses are limited, and what I sense is often heavily manufactured by my ‘emotional’ self.
The human eye is not able to see what a cat can see in the dark, the human smell can not smell what a dog can smell. What you can not see or what you can not smell does not mean it does not exist, you simply can not perceive it.
Tantra made me feel an urge to open my heart and my mind. For me the Buddha -and the angel with the six pack- are just metaphors, just symbols pointing out to potentials beyond who you already are and what we already (think) we know.