This mystic Jewish tale takes place in Jerusalem in roughly 500 BC – almost 200 years before Plato and Aristotle
The masters of the day were distressed. Adultery was spreading rampant as plague among the people. The authorities were at a loss as to how to curb this powerful drive. Finally, driven to desperation, they began to pray. For three days they fasted, weeping and pleading with God, “Let us slay the sexual drive before it slays us.”
Finally God acquiesced. The masters then witnessed a lion of fire leap out from within the Temple’s Holy of Holies. A prophet among them identified the lion as the personification of the primal sexual drive.
They sought to slay the lion of fire. But the result was that for three days thereafter the entire society ground to a standstill. Hens did not lay eggs, artists ceased creating, businesses faltered, and all spiritual activity came to a halt.
Realizing that the sexual drive was about more than sex that it somehow echoed with the Divine, the masters relented. They prayed that only its destructive shadow be removed while retaining its creative force. Their request was denied on high with the insightful response: “You cannot have only half a drive.” The greater the sacred power of a quality, the greater its shadow; the two are inseparable. So they prayed that the lion at least be weakened, and their prayer was granted. The lion, less potent but no less present, reentered the Holy of Holies.
This ancient wisdom – over 2500 years old – got lost on us when we separated the mind/spirit from the body. Our core desires (each expressed in and through our bodies) even our core sexual drive, is another face of the image of God within us. Our body is our spirit thickened. It is in desire that our creative forces of life, love and creation are nourished. Our sexual desire is powerful and in need of respect and proper channeling. Freedom of expression in all human desire is found inside the boundaries that liberate desire to serve, nourish, love, express and create. Our bodies in their most free state are intimately serving the desires of the heart in love. Desire that is expressed in self-serving and hurtful ways oppresses others and ultimately oppresses the one with the desire.
Another paradox of life … desire finds her freedom of expression inside the bounds of love.