Maturing with Purity, Chastity and Virtuous Living

It came as a shock to realize how much my thinking about relationships and in particular sexual relating had been shaped by the culture I grew up in. I am a child of the sixties, the time of my teenage years. The spirit of the Hippy Generation influenced and shaped me.

As I grew up in middle Europe in a time and place where the signs of the destructiveness of the Second World War were still visible, I eagerly accepted the explanation that sexual repression was responsible for creating an authoritarian personality structure1 that had led to people blindly following a leader. I had also been impacted by the prudishness of a Catholic upbringing and fell for the promises of the Sexual Revolution2 in my twenties. Personal freedom and allowing free reign for the natural impulses ranked highly in my perspective of life and the world.

Psychoanalysis and, in particular, the writings of Wilhelm Reich3 captivated my thinking as well as the experience and study of Fritz Perls and early Gestalt Therapy. For me, freeing ourselves from any imposed limitations and in particular sexual repression seemed a way forward to a more just society where suppression of the individual was something of the past.

When I embraced the Baha’i Faith five years ago, it came as a surprise to learn about chastity and purity and the notion of ‘no sex before marriage’. This first seemed to me like a step backward into a repressive way of thinking, reminiscent to my experience with the Catholic Church. Yet, looking more closely at the results of the “sexual revolution”, the moral decline so visible in our society, I could see the discrepancy between the promise of liberation and the actual results of unhappy marriages, increasing divorce rates and personal suffering. The ‘progressive’ stance had not lived up to its promise.

When I learned about “worldview”4, it gave me a new perspective and orientation.

We swim in our worldview in a similar way as a fish swims in water. It surrounds us, it is all that we notice. No, we don’t even notice it. We take it for granted. It is all there is. Our worldview provides us with the lenses through which we perceive the world. It is our reference system. It is what we look for and therefore what we always find. Whatever we look out for, we will see. Our perspective, our worldview determines the world that we live in. Our worldview is formed over our lives and it is the accumulation of our experiences and how we make sense of them. Then it becomes lodged and firmly anchored in our subconscious mind and forms our default system. It becomes the glasses through which we see the world. It ends up in a self perpetuating, self reinforcing loop and does not change easily. It works according to the principle of self-fulfilling prophecy5.

A worldview is like the ground that we stand on, and we can become very attached to it. It gives us safety, security, and provides us with an orientation and familiarity. We would defend it vehemently if ever questioned. Often, we think that this is how the world is and find it difficult to imagine someone else could see it differently. It provides the basis for us sometimes stubbornly insisting on points of view irrespective of rational arguments against them. It all works on an unconscious level, without us even knowing that it does. The only way we ever question or consider changing our worldview is either triggered by situations of crises or through conscious awareness.

As I said earlier, it came as shock for me to realise how a dominant societal worldview had been absorbed without me knowing it or even noticing it.

I found the succession of 3 different worldviews that HB Danesh describes a very useful orientation6. Let me briefly recall them. He compares them to the developmental stages from childhood to adolescence to adulthood. They can be seen to represent the progress of humanity over time.

The stage 1 worldview relates to a child level. It is a power-based worldview. Its strength is a clear structure, in a similar way as a child needs clear instructions. The world can easily be distinguished between right and wrong, good and bad, black and white. Everything falls into a clear category, there is no surprise. A power-based worldview gives clear orientation; you are either for or against. If you are not for me, you must be against me, you are either friend or foe.

This reminds me of some games that I played as a child where there were fights between good and bad, you either were a cop or a criminal, a cowboy or a red Indian, in a similar way as it was depicted in the early movies of a world where there was a clear discrimination between right and wrong, good and evil. The good ones were always good and the bad ones always bad.

It is an authoritarian worldview that is survival based and oppressive. The background of it is that the individual feels threatened and responds to the notion “The world is a dangerous place”. Therefore he needs power to be in control for his security and gratification. It is dictatorial, hierarchical and asks for conformity. This worldview is typical for dictatorships and for groups with a strong leader. It can be abusive, yet provides clear orientation, like it is the case in dogmatic sects with a charismatic leader and willing followers who behave in a childlike manner.

Fear is in the foreground, and the only way to combat fear is to have power. Therefore the acquisition of power is the main pursuit of this worldview. Life is dangerous, and the only way to keep myself safe is to have power. If I cannot have the power myself, I need to align myself with the powerful one(s).

Power can also be replaced with money. The accumulation of money then becomes a goal in itself, irrelevant of what to do with this money, what it is used for. As HB Danesh points out, you can never have enough power or money. Both can become traps and be addictive. They are the driving force for unacknowledged fear. It is the fear of our own impermanence, created by the certainty of our death. Irrespective of how much power or money we have, one day we will die, and all our accumulations will be of no use, whilst the time of death is uncertain.

On a relationship level, this stage corresponds with the ‘traditional’ marriage ideal. Here, marriage serves the wider family, the tribe. Its main purpose is to produce a heir, to continue the blood line. Conformity describes traditional marriage. Matrimonial partners conform to families and society’s needs and preferences. The institution marriage is stable and idealised. There are clearly defined roles. Women bear and raise children and men raise an income. They have clear guidelines of their duties. Traditional marriage is an instrument for upholding the status quo of society. It requires submission and conformity.

This also expresses itself on a sexual level, where there are clear role definitions between men and women. A man is the provider and a woman the nurturer. There are clearly defined role expectations for both. Men are driven by testosterone and the urge to procreate. Women’s role is to go along with it, or as a participant at a workshop once shared her mother’s advice, ‘close your eyes and think of England’.

It is not surprising that on a societal scale, stage 1 moved into the next level, necessarily, as in any society a child grows into a teenager. The limitations of this restrictive way of operating in the world become at some point unbearable. The move to the next level feels like a revolution. We can see signs of this move in many different developing countries. A child, when growing older, at some stage, doesn’t want to be told. They feel stronger than they really are, but also idealistic, as if they had all the answers. It is a time of exploration and discovery.

Level 2 replaces the clear, rigid structure with an urge for freedom. It is a move out of the restrictions of convention; it is the questioning of what had been taken for granted. This process creates chaos, where the old order is being rejected without a new one being yet established.

The second worldview is individualistic. It came into being with Darwin’s theory of the “survival of the fittest”. Here, the world is seen as a jungle, and the purpose of life is competition, to win over others. It is adversarial, relativistic and conflicted.

In our times of individualism, it has become the dominant worldview in Western societies. It is an antagonistic worldview, where everyone fights for their advantage. Competition gains a major role and its existence is taken for granted. Governments in Western democratic countries operate in this way, where parties fight against each other for supremacy. This is the way the business world functions with trust in self-regulating forces like the market economy.

On a personal level, it seems that anything goes. It is a time for exploration, as teenagers do. The pursuit of pleasure and gratification become the major motivators in life.

Both, the first and second worldview are based on power, the first on domination, and the second on power struggle. Both are conflictual and won’t allow for lasting peace. At the first level, the suppressed will rise to eventually overthrow the order and in turn suppress the former suppressors. This is what we have seen in different revolutions. It makes me wonder if the predominant worldviews are the prerequisites for the ongoing strife in the world.

Life on the second level has no calm point. There is continuous strive to win, ongoing competition. Your competitors will take advantage if you are not alert and up with the play that continuously changes.

On a relationship level, the individualistic worldview resembles the “modern marriage”7. Modern marriage came with the rise of individualism. It became based on “love” and developed the focus on getting our personal needs met. Here the marriage has become transitory and no longer a predictable source of comfort and security. Separation has become endemic. Often, the reason given is “we were just too different”, or “we grew apart”. A marriage may break apart when partners fail to satisfy each other. Instead of the marriage as institution, now the partner is initially idealised and seen as the source of passion and for getting the individual needs met.

Partners are put on pedestals and inadvertently, eventually fall down. A common way to deal with the profound disappointment that follows the failed promise of love is to blame the relationship or each other. Rational considerations, like agreements on fundamental issues, to have children or not, spiritual basis, and the like, are generally not being attended to. Differences are viewed as a threat, and partners seem to have only two options. They comply with the stronger person’s wishes, change themselves and try to fit in with their partner. Alternatively they engage in confrontation and power struggles, where they tend to want to change the other.

A picture that had been given8 is that partners walk along opposite shores of a river, that symbolises their particular family tradition, and try to pull each other to their shore. They each want their partner to fit into their way of being in the world that they have inherited from their upbringing. Differences and difficulties that arise are viewed as a threat to the relationship. Strategies are being developed to correct them with a focus on symptom relief. In modern marriage, couples are mostly removed from family and society; they live as a nuclear family, left to their own devices. This is the price they pay for their independence.

A symptom of our times is the romantic notion of a soul mate, to find a person who completes oneself. When one finds the soul mate, “there is an unspoken understanding of one another, that they feel unified and would lie with each other in unity and would know no greater joy than that”9. “In current usage, “soul mate” usually refers to a romantic partner, with the implication of an exclusive lifelong bond.”10 This is in particular relevant in a society where one talks more and more about “life stage partner”11, in recognition of the fact that nowadays most people have at least three significant intimate partners at different stages in their life. No wonder then that we wish to find a soul mate where we are one heart and one soul.

The romantic notion of finding one’s soul mate is a driving force in our times where an “ideal relationship” is portrait in popular movies. There the struggle and problems for people mysteriously ends once two partners have found each other and finally got together. The focus is on finding the ‘right’ partner, not on ‘how to maintain a loving relationship in daily life’.

Entering and leaving a relationship is done lightly, often supported by a couple counsellor who is involved in “separation psychology”12. Here the personal freedom of the individual is over-emphasised. In contrast to the traditional marriage ideal, there now is little consideration for the welfare of the marriage as an entity or for the family, if it compromises individual freedom. Separation psychology “is “all about me” and disregards relationship our effect on each other”13.

Bert Hellinger expresses the fact that a significant situation is created when two people connect in marriage, through the power of a sexual relationship. “Once partners have established a bond by sharing sexual intimacy, separation without hurt and guilt is no longer possible.”14 Blame and anger are often used to cover up the deep grief that is the natural result of a relationship ending. This is stronger still when a child has been the result of this union. When those relationships dissolve, he calls it a “catastrophy”15.

“Partners often behave as if their participation in the relationship were like a club membership that has been freely chosen and can be freely terminated. But the unconscious and relentless conscience guarding love teaches otherwise. If we were free to terminate our partnerships, separation would be less agonizing.”16

The mechanics of a modern marriage are equivalent to a consumer society with a ‘throw-away attitude’. People are considered in terms of their usefulness and wonder if their partner is an asset or a liability. Terms of the business world have entered the sphere of human relationships. People aim to find the best possible match, a partner they feel mirrored in terms of their “worth” or attractiveness, someone they can afford. Personal appearance, including label clothing, even plastic surgery, anything to do with image become most important, which is a typical adolescent stance.

On the level of sexuality, it corresponds with the ideals of the “sexual revolution”. Sexuality no longer serves ‘procreation’ as in the traditional marriage but becomes ‘recreation’, a favourite past time.17

Level 1 and level 2 worldviews are the most common in our society. They are taken for granted and are continuously reinforced. The same messages are repeated over and over again, if you watch a movie, read the paper, a magazine, read a mainstream book, watch TV or engage in a discussion. This is how the world is, it seems.

As Einstein put it so eloquently, “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” The social conflicts that are so obvious in our world can be seen as the direct product of the predominant worldviews and can’t be solved with the same way of thinking. We need to consider a new paradigm, a new way of thinking.

Most people clearly would prefer peace over war. Both, the first and second worldviews won’t allow for that. Conflict and strive are a direct result and unavoidable in these ways of thinking and being in the world. What might be the crucial issue here is dealing with difference.

In the power-based worldview, differences are being squashed or suppressed. In the area of the individualistic worldview, they are dealt with in an antagonistic manner, an ‘either-or’ stance. People either learn to suppress their differences, surrendering to the force of peer pressure with the promise to belong, or they fight them out.

Both, if people are conflict avoidant or belligerent, conflicts won’t be resolved. A third way has been described as being “conflict capable”18, as a form to negotiate differences. Addressing the issues that are of concern as well as developing assertiveness is important, so that differences do not need to escalate into strive. The shift needs to be a focus on the common well-being rather than on individual advantage.

We clearly need a new paradigm, a more mature ways of resolving differences. First, we need to reflect on the conception we have of man. Are people in their very nature egotistic, just going after their own needs in disregard to others, or are they naturally socially minded and noble? The fact that people are noble and virtuous becomes obvious in times of crisis, like wars and natural catastrophes. At the devastating earthquake in Christchurch, people naturally cared for each other’s wellbeing, shared freely and displayed virtuous behaviour.

Elisabet Sahtouris, an evolutionary biologist, shows how in the development of life on earth, competition in the adolescent phase, the phase of competition and expansion, on a biological level is being replaced with cooperation.19 She argues that human society need to follow in the same way. It is a natural process like maturing after childhood and adolescence. Our current economic model has no chance of survival, unless it focuses on sustainability and cooperation. The best chances have “living economics that mimic nature”. Sahtouris suggests that we learn from nature.

A third worldview is emerging that is based on Baha’u’llah’s statement: “The earth is but one country and mankind its citizens.”20 Its focus is on peace and on unity. All humanity is one and oneness is expressed in diversity. It focuses on equality, cooperation, justice, and the ability to develop the capacity to deal with seemingly opposite conditions in equality. Instead of competing with others, we complement each other and compete with ourselves for excellence.

Unity appears as uniformity to a person in the power-based worldview and as sameness to someone who is immersed in the individualistic worldview. The unity-based worldview acknowledges that unity is expressed in diversity. In actual fact, diversity is a requirement for true unity. If people simply join in out of peer pressure, or if a strong person pushes through their one particular point of view at the expense of other, people might seem unified, when in actual fact it is mere pseudo unity. Only when differences are embraced, acknowledged and celebrated, like the different flowers in a garden, can unity exist.

This is hard to imagine, because it is not common in our world. A dominant thought suggests that differences are a threat to unity. Mediation is used for a compromise to be reached, if both sides are strong.

“Contemporary thought tells us we should resolve our differences so that we can have unity. The Blessed Perfection tells us we should have unity so that we can make our differences harmonious. Contemporary thought tells us that unity is a lofty goal, an ideal if unattainable objective. The Covenant asserts that unity is the starting place, the necessary bedrock. This is a reversal of contemporary thought and perhaps one of the most far-reaching single innovations of this age.”21

When you examine life, you will notice that everything exists because of unity. In the case of conception, ovum and sperm come together to form a new entity. As long as an organism stays alive, this cohesion that is formed exists. Life can be seen as a condition that arises when consciousness and matter come together in a condition of unity. When death occurs, they separate, and matter returns to its original state, dust, where the force that binds atoms and molecules disappears.

You can therefore equate life with unity.22 Both depend on the same principle of integration, whilst death is represented by disintegration.

This emerging worldview is also a necessity in the bigger scale of international relationships, as can be seen with regard to environmental issues and climate change. Neighbouring countries affect each other’s environment, the quality of the air, of the water. Consideration of each other becomes a necessity. In light of a common plight facing the forces of nature, it seems immature to only focus on the environment in a limited space, oblivious of the interconnectedness. The whole world and its interrelating aspects need to be taken into account.

On a smaller scale level, a dominant purpose of life becomes to be a unifier, a peace maker. Consultation is the method that has been developed to support this process, whose purpose is to “adopt and enforce that which is conducive to the security, prosperity, wealth and tranquillity of the people“23.

A spiritual approach – the third way – not only combines the best aspects of level 1 and 2 worldview, structure and freedom, but also adds a new dimension, a spiritual dimension. Then the objective of life is growth and transformation, to a complete, mature human being. Love is the force of unity.

We no longer try to avoid any difficulties that arise out of differences, but see the opportunities that lie within them, as we develop ourselves. “Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired, and success achieved.”24

The power-based worldview displays the rigidity of close-mindedness, and there is a fear of emotions apart from anger. The individualistic worldview, on the other hand provides total freedom of expression. There is nothing and no one to obey. A unity-based worldview, combines discipline and freedom, order and liberty. It supports a spiritual socialisation and the acquisition of virtues, as their guideline. The main interest now becomes finding the truth which can be easier approximated by considering all different positions. Just to be right becomes less dominant as we mature.

In our age of individualism, humanity is at the stage of adolescents. Looking at the three stages in terms of development, we move from “primal union” to “differentiation – the battle of wills” to “enlightened union”25.

Applied to relationships, this third level worldview corresponds with “Conscious Marriage”. Conscious marriage embraces differentiation of both partners. It is transformative in that partners develop personal intimacy by exploring and cultivating their true selves in and through connection with someone they love. Marriage is seen as a spiritual path. Problems are converted into stepping stones; conflicts are seen as opportunities to become aware of our own vulnerabilities and habitual defensive patterns and we realise that the person we are supposed to be with is the exact person we are with. “Love asks us to grow and conflicts show us the direction in which we need to go.”26 Rather than being seen in competition, the complimentary aspect of differences is emphasised and valued. We need contact with difference in others to find out who we are and to extend ourselves.

The “No” is very crucial in a loving relationship. For Schellenbaum27, it is also a “yes” for the relationship as a whole. This is the space where two people meet. If I cannot say openly “no” to my partner, at times when it is necessary, it eventually comes across as a “hidden no”, in self-abandonment, denials or physical symptoms. This then can threaten a marriage more than a direct ‘no’ would.

David Schnarch emphasises the importance of “differentiation” for a successful relationship. “Differentiation is the ability to stand on your own two feet, physically and emotionally, when you are close to others.”28 Conventional marital therapy suggests that the lack of similarity is a problem in relationships and focuses on improving communication to bridge this. Schnarch asserts that it is rather the lack of differentiation that is responsible for relationships failing.

When people are differentiated rather than fused, they can validate and soothe themselves irrespective of the fact that their partner may not do that. It leads to more independence, to a growing up into a mature person. Fritz Perls identifies maturation as the goal of personal growth and defines maturity as “the transition from environmental support to selfsupport29. A mature person therefore embraces differentiation and is conscious of the fact, that we are not victims of circumstances; we are co-creators of our world. They realise that what impacts on us less are outside events but rather how we make sense of them.

Dependence is the condition of the child, as it is with the power-based worldview. This is followed by pursuing independence at the adolescent level. An adult is conscious of their own autonomy and self responsibility and at the same time the fact that humans are social beings and therefore also depending on one another. The third stage is interdependence, in recognition that we are “mutually reliant on each other”30. Interdependence does not exclude personal freedom, yet it honours the fact that “in an interdependent relationship, participants may be emotionally, economically, ecologically and/or morally reliant on and responsible to each other”31. Marriage becomes an ongoing living process. It is the process to learn “to be true to myself and open for the other”32. Dependence of traditional marriage and independence of modern marriage is replaced by interdependence. Couples are integrated into family, community and the larger world while they are free to make their own choices. Marriage becomes an instrument for evolution of consciousness, and is seen as a structure to contain and protect the process of self-realization. It includes a spiritual dimension, where partners take a supportive interest in each other’s spiritual growth. The goal of such a marriage is mutuality where “differences add”33.

Maybe, in the end, it is not about becoming “one” in finding the soul mate but about developing mature love, “the union under the condition of preserving one’s integrity, one’s individuality”. “In love the paradox occurs that two beings become one and yet remain two.”34 It is not about independence as the adolescent stage of human development suggests, but about interdependence, where both partners can be whole in themselves and add to each other’s life through their difference. It is the move from “what can I get” to “what can I give”35.

When we now look at sexual relations, it seems that a third level would embrace sexuality as a spiritual expression. Here, spiritual guidelines, like living by the virtues, go hand in hand with the expression of our most basic physiological drives.

Welwood inadvertently describes the three worldviews when he states: “From a prudish perspective, the sole legitimate function of sex is procreation, and the desires of the flesh are morally tainted. From the hedonistic perspective, sex is a form of recreation, and the body no more than a plaything. Since both these views fail to recognize the body as a sacred vessel, they prevent us from appreciating sex as a sacred activity.”36

The “prudish perspective” corresponds with the power based worldview and the “hedonistic perspective” with the individualistic worldview. Overcoming the division between sex and sacredness is the task for the new emerging worldview. It is in a similar way unifying as it is the case with “the Unity of Religion and Science”37.

The emergence of Sigmund Freud und psychoanalysis that paid much attention to the topic of sexuality, paved the ground for the principle of “power” to be replaced with “pleasure” as the dominant motivator. Where there was a certain form of rigidity, now it moved into promiscuity, extreme permissiveness, and disregard for laws, towards self-centred and selfish attitudes. Truth became relative, according to the principle “anything goes”, and people indulgent.

In the “sexual liberation”, it was even believed that it would result in health problems when a young person would suppress their sexual excitement and not relieve their tension with an orgasm.38 To achieve orgasm became all important, and if it didn’t happen, it caused major relationship problems. Welwood called it the “tyranny of the orgasm”39.

Orgasm became the main focus. Quantitative aspects, like frequency of sexual encounters, scoring, goal orientation became all important and overshadowed the quality of the relating. A curve was drawn that resembled a sine wave and assumed as a given, that orgasm, at the top, was believed to be the natural goal and the only relief of tension. This generalised “procreation driven sex”40 as the norm and created much suffering. As Marnia Robinson elaborates, this is the way we have been programmed by our genes that seek the most effective way of being passed on. She contrasts this with “bonding-based sexual expression” that has been called “Karezza”41.

“He (Shoghi Effendi) feels that the youth, in particular, must constantly and determinedly strive to exemplify a Bahá’í life. In the world around us we see moral decay, promiscuity, indecency, vulgarity, bad manners – the Bahá’í young people must be the opposite of these things, and, by their chastity, their uprightness, their decency, their consideration and good manners, attract others, old and young, to the Faith. The world is tired of words; it wants example, and it is up to the Bahá’í youth to furnish it.”42

Being a product of the Sixties and the “Hippy movement”, initially I felt that a focus on chastity and purity as well as to wait with sex until married was a step back into suppression, as it had been propagated by the Christian churches. Now, I realised that my worldview had been influenced by the time I grew up in and that in actual fact the requirements of Baha’i marriage are a step forward. How is see it now is that no structure, chaos and disorientation are being replaced by chosen limitations. And what I found fascinating is that after reading about Karezza, to see that recent findings in neuroscience underpin a more mature way of dealing with sexuality.

A third form of sexuality, same as a unity-based worldview, includes a spiritual dimension. This aspect has been described as “Karezza” by Alice B. Stockham already over 100 years ago, as the “perfect union of two souls in marriage”43. It “is the highest expression of mutual affection, and gives to those practicing it revelations of strength and power. It must be experienced on a higher plane than the merely physical, and may always be made a means of spiritual unfoldment”44. Rather than seeking “fleeting passional gratification”, the aim is “union and soul development”.

“Karezza gives to the sexual relation an office entirely distinct from the propagative act, a high office in individual development and formation of character. It is both a union on the affectional plane and a preparation for best possible conditions for procreation. Karezza should always be the outcome, the emblem of the deeper emotions; both husband and wife should hope and expect that the union will contribute to their spiritual growth and development. The marriage bond has given the sex functions a special consecration. In each union under spiritual law this consecration is renewed. There is no defilement or debasement in the natural and controlled expression of sexual love. Karezza does not lead to asceticism or repression, but rather to appropriation and expression.”45

In Karezza that comes from Italian and means “caress”, orgasm no longer is the goal, unless procreation is sought. New insights of neuroscience can now explain why this form of spiritual sexuality is more conducive to happy long-term relationships.

It has to do with hormones that are released in the mammalian (limbic) brain. Dopamine is the pleasure seeking hormone. It is connected to the “rewards circuitry” and “serves your genes before it serves you”46. Dopamine governs also addiction. We fluctuate between excess and deficient levels of dopamine. “Dopamine is released in response to expectations – rather than actual levels of pleasure”47. It is the pleasure seeking hormone that runs in our subconscious mind and is responsible for people having affairs, indulge in pornography and excessive sexual behaviour, as well as in gambling and substance addictions.

“If you aren’t using your rational brain to help steer, this primitive mechanism can set you on a meaningless quest after the other in search of a brief sense of eager anticipation – and no lasting fulfilment. This is why chasing the dopamine surges related to junk food or affectionless sexual stimulation is more likely to lead to recurring dissatisfaction than happiness.”48

Karezza helps to manage dopamine at a healthy level. It also produces Oxytocin, the cuddle hormone, that supports bonding behaviour, not only between parent and child, but also between adults that engage in bonding behaviours, like cuddling, kissing, caressing, gazing into each other’s eyes and any other loving activities.

In Karezza, the focus is on loving connection, not only physical; it can also be a mental connection. What is being controlled is the unconscious, biologically instilled, urge to strive for orgasm, unless clearly planned in a harmonious marital union. We gain control over our instinctive desires that we have in common with animals. What has been found is that after orgasm, men tend to lose interest in their partner and look out for other possibilities to spread their genes, while women become irritable and their mood fluctuates. This lasts for about 2 weeks. Partners commonly think that having good sex would fix the problem, only to start another cycle after pursuing orgasm. This can lead to marital crisis and often ends up in separation.

The selfishly motivated pursuit for personal gratification that is supported by our biological programming undermines marital relationships.

“True marriage is based upon the recognition of the individuality of both husband and wife which brings voluntary, not compelled, co-operation in all the departments of family life. Only when souls, flowing together, acting as one, distinct in individuality, but united in their action are thus mated, are the psychological laws met and satisfied.” Marriage is then lifted “to a plane of spiritual companionship far exceeding any pleasure known to the mere physical”49.

Michaela Gloeckler50 also stressed that ongoing long-term happy relationships are best served if both partners take an interest in each other’s spiritual growth. This growth can be achieved “through the habit of self-control and mastery and through the desire of each for the best good of the other”51. It corresponds with the move from second level worldview to the third, from one that is individualistic focused to one that wants to be of service.

The concept of Karezza, I belief, offers valuable possibilities to achieve this and to support the maturing process on an individual level.

Maturing is a process of organic growth. We mature physically, as we reach an age of possible reproduction. Maturing emotionally, mentally and spiritually might take longer. We are a work in progress, as are the institutions of the Baha’i Faith.

“Necessarily there will be some who are defective amongst men, but it is our duty to enable them by kind methods of guidance and teaching to become perfected. Some will be found who are morally sick; they should be treated in order that they may be healed. Others are immature and like children; they must be trained and educated so that they may become wise and mature. Those who are asleep must be awakened; the indifferent must become mindful and attentive. But all this must be accomplished in the spirit of kindness and love and not by strife, antagonism nor in a spirit of hostility and hatred, for this is contrary to the good pleasure of God. That which is acceptable in the sight of God is love. Love is, in reality, the first effulgence of Divinity and the greatest splendour of God.”52

1Authoritarian personality is a state of mind or attitude characterised by belief in absolute obedience or submission to one’s own authority, as well as the administration of that belief through the oppression of one’s subordinates. (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Authoritarian_personality)

2 “The sexual revolution, also known as a time of sexual liberation, was a social movement that challenged traditional codes of behavior related to sexuality and interpersonal relationships throughout the Western world from the 1960s to the 1980s. Sexual liberation included increased acceptance of sex outside of traditional heterosexual, monogamous relationships (primarily marriage). Contraception and the pill, public nudity, the normalization of premarital sex, homosexuality and alternative forms of sexuality, and the legalization of abortion all followed.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sexual_revolution)

3 He wrote a book titled “The Sexual Revolution”, first published 1945.

“Wilhelm Reich, the father of the sexual revolution, started out as a star pupil of Sigmund Freud, the father of modern psychology. Reich was admitted to the Vienna Psychoanalytic Association in 1920, while he was still a graduate student, and already a radical idea was percolating in his head: that sexuality, fundamental to our being, and yet a source of shame for centuries, had the power to heal much of what ailed us, if only we would let it.

Breaking with religious teachings that the sole function of sex ought to be procreation and that any other erotic pursuit was sinful, Reich offered a new and defiantly humanist perspective, asserting that sexual pleasure was beneficial—indeed, necessary—to human flourishing, and that, when it came to orgasms, the more the merrier. As Christopher Turner writes in his new book, “Adventures in the Orgasmatron: How the Sexual Revolution Came to America” (Farrar, Straus & Giroux; $35), Reich offered the “tantalizing suggestion that sexual emancipation would lead to positive social change.” Good sex was the path to the good society.” (Ariel Levy, Novelty Acts, in The New Yorker, 19 September 2011, http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2011/09/19/novelty-acts)

4A comprehensive world view (or worldview) is the fundamental cognitive orientation of an individual or society encompassing the entirety of the individual or society’s knowledge and point of view. (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_view)

5A selffulfilling prophecy is a prediction that directly or indirectly causes itself to become true, by the very terms of the prophecy itself, due to positive feedback between belief and behavior. (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Selffulfilling_prophecy)

6Hossain B. Danesh, Transforming our habits of thoughts, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=70sfqSOHaKY

7John Welwood, Journey of the Heart, The Path of Conscious Love, Harper Perennial, 1991

8By Bert Hellinger

9“The Internet Classics Archive& ”The Symposium” by Plato”. Classics.mit.edu. Retrieved 2012-09-22. in: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soulmate#cite_note-3

10“Soul mate – Definition and More from the Free Merriam-Webster Dictionary”. Merriam-webster.com. 2012-08-31. Retrieved 2013-08-24 , Ibid.

11In German “Lebensabschnittpartner”

12Hugh Prater, “It is central to separation psychology, which aims to define, distinguish, and “empower” each separated ego.” http://www.livinglifefully.com/flo/flobelettinggoofrigidresponses.htm


14Bert Hellinger, Love’s hidden symmetry, 1998, p.32

15In Gunthard Weber (Hrsg.), Zweierlei Glueck, p.142

16Bert Hellinger, p.79

17John Welwood, Journey of the Heart, The Path of Conscious Love, Harper Perennial, 1991, p.174

18Friedrich Glasl, Confronting Conflict, 1999

19Elisabet Sahtouris, evolution biologist in “Cooperation is superior to competition” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SWxyTJ-Y1Mw

20Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 250

21 Kolstoe, John, Consultation, p. 11f

22See Tom Price, in his talks on the “Five Year Plan” 2013

23Baha’u’llah, Tablets of Baha’u’llah, p. 92

24Helen Keller

25HB Danesh

26John Welwood, Journey of the Heart, The Path of Conscious Love, Harper Perennial, 1991

27Peter Schellenbaum, Das Nein in der Liebe, 1986 (not yet translated into English)

28David Schnarch, Passionate Marriage, 1997

29Fritz Perls, 1965



32Mirjam Busch & Rudolf Jarosewitsch

33Shem, Samuel & Surrey, Janet (1998); We have to talk, Healing dialogues between men and women; Sydney, AUS: Hodder

34Erich Fromm, The Art of Loving, Harper Collins, 1956, p.19

35John Welwood

36John Welwood, Journey of the Heart – The Path of Conscious Love; New York: Harper Collins, 1990, p.174

37The fourth principle of Bahá’u’lláh, Abdu’l-Baha, Paris Talks, p. 130

38Wilhelm Reich, Sexual Revolution, p.116, German edition

39John Welwood, p.175

40Marnia Robinson

41By Alice B. Stockham, M.D., Karezza, Ethics of Marriage, 1903

42Compilations, The Compilation of Compilations vol II, p. 16


44Ibid., p.5


46Marnia Robinson, Cupid’s Poisoned Arrow, North Atlantic Books, 2009, p.92; See also: http://www.reuniting.info/

47Ibid., p.94

48Ibid., p.94f

49Stockham, p.13

50Head of the Medical Section of the Anthroposophic Society, during a conference in Christchurch, 2003

51Stockham, p.17

52Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 397

1 thought on “Maturing with Purity, Chastity and Virtuous Living”

  1. Interesting article that makes me think of what Teilhard de Charding has written about happiness and love. He suggests that the fate of humanity will evolve towards less procreation and an inceasing awareness of what is called “spiritual love”….

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