Stories & Reflections
By Paulo Coelho
(continuation of the transcription of notes of my conversations with J., from 1982 to 1990)
– Given that we must change our attitude toward sex, what is the first step?
– As I said: giving oneself up. People think that, before allowing themselves any pleasure, they must first solve all their problems, which is not the case. People can only solve their problems if they allow them to be themselves.
“However, there is a very curious thing: during the sexual act we are extremely generous, and one’s greater concern is for the partner. We think we will not be able to give the pleasure he or she deserves – and because of this, our pleasure also diminishes, or disappears completely.”
– Is that not an act of love, like you said?
– That depends. It is really an act of guilt, to believe one is beneath the expectations of another. In a situation such as this, the word “expectation” must be completely banished. If we are giving our best, there is no reason for concern.
“One must be aware that when two bodies meet, they are together entering an unknown territory. To transform this into an everyday experience is to lose the wonder of adventure.
“If, however, one allows oneself to be led on this journey, we will discover horizons we never imagined existed. ”
– Is there a key?
– The first is: you are not alone. If the other person loves you, he or she is having the same doubts, however secure you may seem.
“The second is: open the secret box of your fantasies, and do not be afraid to accept them. There are no sexual standards, and you must find your own, respecting only one restriction: never do anything without the other person’s consent.
“The third: give that which is sacred a sense of sanctity. For this one must be as innocent as a child, and learn to accept miracles as blessings. Be creative, purify your soul through rituals you invent yourself – such as creating a sacred space, making offerings, learning to laugh together, in order to break down the barriers of inhibition. Understand that what you are doing is a manifestation of God’s energy.
“The fourth: explore your opposite side. If you are a man, seek at times to think and act like a woman – and vice versa.
“The fifth: understand that the physical orgasm is not exactly the only objective of the sexual act, but a consequence, which may or may not occur. Pleasure has nothing to do with the orgasm, but with the encounter.
“The sixth: be like a river, flowing between opposite banks, such as a mountain and sand. On one side, natural tension, on the other, total relaxation.
“The seventh: identify your fears, and share them with your partner.
” And, finally, the eighth: allow yourself to have pleasure. Just as you are anxious to give, the other person wants to do exactly the same. If, when two bodies meet, both want to give and receive, any problems vanish.
“Alexander Lowen said that man’s natural behavior is open to life and to love. However, our culture has led us to believe that this is not so, that we must be closed and mistrustful. We think that by acting in this way, we will not be hurt by life’s surprises – but in fact what happens is, we are not taking advantage of our lives.”
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