Submission as a spiritual endeavor
I started out thinking about this:
…with my religiousness, “worshiping” anyone feels blasphemous and two, it seems like it’d be hard to maintain the sort of almost sycophantic adoration of anyone that you were living with. People are flawed, that goes for dominants the same as anyone else, prolonged exposure to anyone’s company will expose their shortcomings, soone or later you’ll be forced to confront the fact that your goddess is mortal, right? I’d rather acknowledge that from the beginning, and decide to submit anyway. To me that is a realistic fantasy.
And then came across this:
…until and unless there’s some evidence that they reflect something that exists outside our heads and bodies, I’m going to apply Occam’s Razor*** and say that the simplest explanation is that they are physiological responses to various stimuli, rather than something external to our selves. That’s especially important since you don’t actually need to believe in the doctrine in order to have the physiological effects. That seems to indicate to me that other than motivating people to practice, belief isn’t relevant. And if belief isn’t relevant, what does it mean to call it a spiritual experience?
Both of these authors are men I respect and believe to have arrived at their divergent decisions through careful thought and reason. But I think they share a problem of orthodoxy. Perhaps I should say that they share THE problem of orthodoxy.(* and **) Namely, their point of view really doesn’t have any place for divergent views.
To address Peroxid’s issue with the word “Goddess” as an honorific. I see a lot of people in a lot of places who echo his sentiments, and I certainly understand why a lot of Dominant Women roll their eyes at the idea. However, “Goddess” as a indicator of divinity is only one possible meaning – just like the word “Mistress” can mean “female master” or “extra-marital consort.”
Another way of thinking about the word “Goddess” is to consider that the creative process that envisions an entity as the embodiment of a certain characteristic. Athena, for example, was worshiped as a divine entity at one point in Greek history, but in later times Athena was seen as an ideal: that Athena actually embodied the concept of wisdom so that anyone who sought wisdom was seen, to some extent, as a follower of Athena. Seeking wisdom, in that it sought to emulate the character of Athena, was a form of worship.
This idea, without the divinity concept, is how I view Mistress Delila as my Goddess. She is the embodiment, for me, of loving feminine dominance. When I submit to Her, I am, in effect, worshiping Her. I am acknowledging Her position of power an am actively seeking to reinforce it, to place it in prominence in our relationship. I can do this without being blasphemous or ignoring Her humanity.
Beyond that, the two OTHER definitions of “Goddess” are “a woman of extraordinary beauty and charm” and “a greatly admired or adored woman.” Mistress Delila is most definitely the fulfillment of these definitions. Nor do these definitions have anything to do with divinity, and I doubt many women would mind being referred to in this manner.
There is an aspect of the honorific “Goddess” that does relate to the divinity issue, though, and it relates to the second quote. My relationship with Mistress Delila is spiritual – or contains a spiritual aspect, at least. But to get to it, I have to deal with Mr. Glickman’s problem with spirituality.
Certainly, one meaning of “spiritual” is “the incorporeal part of human beings.” Another way of thinking of it is:
[to be] concerned with the end of suffering through the enlightened understanding of reality.
. This approach can also be summarized as:
[striving to be] more connected to something larger than ourselves.
I understand that this drives atheists crazy, and I understand why. What is a “feeling” after all if not a perception driven by brain chemistry. My point is this: even if it is simply driven by brain (and blood) chemistry, it is still an aspect of our existence. In fact, that feeling of connectedness is one of the more pleasant aspects of the experience of being human. If it is delusional; then it is a pleasant delusion – and one which, unlike other aspects of religion, results in a lot of goodness in the world.
Submission is not the only way I experience this connectedness. I recently watched the documentary The End of Poverty? and felt, as a result, connected to people in various parts of the world that I rarely consider. That connection renewed my commitment to seek local food sources, not just as an economic issue, but as an issue of social justice. There have been times when I have also found this connectedness through a well-written sermon in church or a lecture in school. Some books, poetry, and movies spark this feeling.
As should be obvious, I separate “spirituality” from “religion” and thus ensure that religion does not hold any monopoly on spirituality. Far from making this less palatable, I find it actually raises more people’s hackles than it calms. As far as I’m concerned, this is not a problem – which may show a bit of arrogance on my part, because I think most people actually don’t think much about these things, and those who do often think no further than to conclude that they are correct.
As far as the non-spirituality of sex – which Glickman touches on – I have to weigh in on saying it exists. Watching porn and jerking off is an exercise of sexuality, and it is physically gratifying…but I’ve never heard of anyone who found it EMOTIONALLY gratifying. This doesn’t make it better or worse, of course, it simply makes it different. It simply depends on what someone is looking for. If someone wants quick physical gratification; then masturbation is fine (and healthy). Having sex with another person without that extra component of connecting to/with them is sorta like masturbation, with the addition of being physically touched by another person.
I honestly don’t see how anyone who has experienced having sex with that extra component of connectivity can claim that it is experientially the same as the same action without the connectivity. This is what makes “love” so amazing, even if it is just a prevalence of endorphins, pheromones, and neurotransmitters. It is a huge part of what enriches the human experience, and I would not ignore it or negate it for any reason.
I don’t know why anyone would. Especially for the cold embrace of orthodoxy.
*I understand that atheism, strictly speaking, doesn’t have a formal orthodoxy. However, it is a school of thought – a philosophy about how the world works (and how to explain everything within it). It holds that one way – the scientific method – is the correct and only way. Hence, it creates its own orthodoxy.
**I think both men are careful to say that theirs is not the ONLY way, and I appreciate that. This is a shift to a softer form of orthodoxy, not a move away from it entirely.
*** (late addition) As a completely different issue, I think Glickman is misusing Occam’s Razor. William of Occam did not say, as he’s often misquoted, “The simplest answer is best” (that would be Ptolemy). Occam’s literal translation means something like, “Entities must not be multiplied beyond necessity.” The idea was to cut away competing theories until the best explanation was found. The idea that the simplest explanation is true would completely undermine such things as quantum physics and even higher mathematics. As a heuristic, I think Einstein’s Constraint is better, “Everything should be as simple as possible, but no simpler.”