If I look at the experiences that have reappeared in my journey, I can see that over the years there have been times of intense pleasure, strong energy, deep pain, suffering, profound fear, transcendent joy and the stillness of a peaceful heart. These experiences have been both the gateway for and the result of much learning. This entire range has also been part of my experience of sexuality, which is the theme I'd like to explore. In particular, I want to discuss the connection between the experience of sexuality with aggression, on the one hand, and loving-kindness on the other. We need to understand both these aspects of sexuality, whether we are celibate or not, as part of our endeavor to awaken to the full human condition.
For more than twenty years most of my dhamma teachers have been men. Occasionally, there have been some very bold, insightful, sensitive dhamma teachers who have talked about sexuality in language that I have been able to relate to and understand. I've felt grateful for their courage and compassion in bringing light and clarity into these deep waters. But when I was a laywoman I also heard dhamma talks describing sexuality in ways that I could not relate to; that is, describing sexuality as dominance, objectification and raw attraction to physical attributes driven by a desire for gratification—all devoid of affection and genuine respect.