The Tao of Touch

It has a nice sound to it, the Tao of Touch – and for me if something sounds right there is something true about it. So as I think on it, I wonder why should we not have touch as a pathway through life? And, one that is as valid as any religion – touch makes a lot more sense to me. When I think of some of the greatest moments of pleasure, peace, and serenity I have had, they have been through the experience of touch. Peace and serenity certainly are things that religions profess to provide but for me are not able to deliver on. Pleasure, sadly, seems to be another matter altogether that most faiths try to suppress through fear as they seek to bind up the body and cloak it in shame. A Tao of Touch is about opening our bodies in positive and life affirming ways – it’s about intimacy, and true intimacy at that.

Touch is perhaps the most effective means of communication we humans have. So powerful is it that a gesture as simple as the placing of a hand on the shoulder of another can disarm adversaries. In the simple act of two people touching each other, all the differences built up by cultures and religions melt away through the act of feeling each other’s humanity. Where culture and religion seek to divide and control people, touch unites us. As such, it is one of the most spiritual experiences we can have – and yes, one of the most carnal.

We are at our best when we are naked, naked with others, and, when appropriate, sharing each other’s bodies in all levels of touch. It is in such moments that we are truly human because we are most united with others. Where cultures and religions separate and divide us, through touch our bodies bring us together. There is great wisdom here which has been hard wired into our DNA – precisely why touch is so very powerful and sacred. Because touch brings us together, it defies our neat little categories about gender and sexual identity – no need to expound on why so much fear has been associated with it.

The Tao of Touch begins with loving kindness towards ourselves as we exist in our bodies. It is about the beauty, freedom, and connectedness we have when we are on a nude beach, when we massage someone, when we share an orgasm. Little wonder that times such as these are the most memorable in my life, and no doubt for you as well. These are the moments when we are most alive – most human. When we are the most human, we are also the most spiritual. For me, any culture or religion that limits such interactions in any way is anti human and to be avoided. Throw off the straight jackets and get into your touch body. From there on, it will find its path through the world.

Myths We Live By

My British nephew is back in India and his blogpost today got me thinking about the myths of masculinity we live by. While he was waiting for a bus in Jaipur, he struck up a conversation with an Indian fellow which led to a chat over tea before he was propositioned for sex by the guy. When my nephew explained that he was interested in women, this fellow assured him that he had not one but four girlfriends and that he enjoyed sex with men only 5% of the time – truly a man’s man! Well, not exactly, at least in my book. Now, my nephew was being anything but dishonest in his response as he truly is straight. Having an openly gay uncle with whom he has had frank conversations about relationships as well as two well educated, loving, and accepting parents, he has certainly had the gift of a supportive family structure for exploring any gay side to his personality – that is, if he had one.

Back to the post and what I find interesting in it – the reaction of the man propositioning him. How many times have I heard that kind of story? Although in my case, it usually has been after sex. Though I must say, I have never had someone attach a percentage to the amount of time they like to have sex with men. Interesting how so many men who love to engage sexually with other men feel the need to somehow prove they are masculine, that somehow sex between men is seen to be something less than masculine. I have never understood this – have they never witnessed sex between gladiators?

It is probably commonplace for gay men of my era, who experienced deep hostility towards us during our formative years, to carry a sense of shame and vulnerability through life. Fair enough, but hopefully most of us have found ways to keep these negative messages at arms length. Yet, it seems that for younger guys who have been brought up in an era of much greater acceptance the power of these myths is still strong. Mind you, a sense of caution is not necessarily a bad thing – let’s face it, the world for gay men is not always a safe place. But shame is destructive, especially when it denies the physical, sexual, and spiritual nourishment our bodies need from other men – and this is what we need to fight against.

There is still much work to be done to make the world safe for men who need men, and we do not need to think on a grand scale in order to be effective. The important thing is for us to begin with small steps and work at creating spaces where it is safe for us to interact with each other. Key to this is chipping away at prejudices against men who do not fit stereotypes of masculinity. The challenge is for us to show loving kindness towards men who do not quite fit into socially acceptable images of what men should be. Don’t misunderstand me, I am not referring to just the less than butch. I am also thinking about the other extreme, the übermenschen – the butch muscle boys. Let’s face it, we do not make it easy for them to be openly tender and loving men. Think of how shocking it is for us to see them shedding tears or engaged in tender kissing.

We have our work cut out for us in changing notions about masculinity, clearly we need to blow people’s minds. OK, once we have finished blowing people’s minds then of course we can reward ourselves by getting down to working on the bits we were after in the first place. The important thing is for us to love ourselves as we rejoice in being physical and sexual with each other. That is what sacred intimacy is all about.