THE SPIRITUAL PATH OF INTIMACY
In the old-fashioned patriarchal vision of myth, the hero is typically a solitary male who renounces intimate companionship to pursue his glorious, arduous quest. Along the way, sporadic help may arrive from an ineffable muse or deity.
But there are alternative scenarios for the hero’s journey. In the tantric tradition, for instance, a seeker’s connection with a beloved human companion is essential to his or her spiritual inquiry.
Some early Christians described Jesus and Mary Magdalene as equal collaborators. Sufi mystic poet Rumi may not have actually made love with his teacher Shams (then again, he might have), but it’s clear the two men sought divine communion together, not through lonely solo work.
Some modern teachers have also broken from the narrow perspective. The quest for illumination, they say, can thrive on the challenges of loving and living with an actual person. In John Welwood’s Love and Awakening, the author reimagines relationship as an “alliance of warriors” devoted to awakening each other’s “holy longing.”