Probably most of you have experienced something like this during or after sex: a feeling of well-being which goes beyond sensual pleasure, and is caused by a change of consciousness. Perhaps earlier you felt stressed and worried, as if your life was full of problems—but often after sex everything seems miraculously different. Your problems seem to have disappeared and you seem to be glowing inwardly, as if a kind of dynamo has been switched on inside you, filling you with a feeling of completeness and serenity. You might feel tired physically or completely exhausted, in terms of muscular energy, but in terms of life-energy you feel fantastically alive. This is a form of transcendental sex.
When I think of transcendence or transcendentalism, I think of the nineteenth century American philosophical movement of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, and Margaret Fuller. These transcendentalists believed that society and its institutions—particularly organized religion and political parties—ultimately corrupt the purity of the individual. They have faith that people are at their best when truly "self-reliant" and independent. It is only from such real individuals that true community could be formed. Though self-reliance can be a strong motivator, we also sometimes need others to help us transcend to a higher existence.
The adjective transcendent means going beyond the limits of ordinary experience or being far better or greater than what is usual. Transcendence exceeds or surpasses usual limits, that is extending or lying beyond the limits of ordinary experience. It is a state of being beyond comprehension. When there is an intense connection between two people, you can experience sexuality that is beyond a mere sexual coupling. The energy can flow between two people in a way that the connection itself is beyond definition. The result can be an intense love and longing and even need for that person. It brings an understanding on such an intimate level that the experience is truly mind blowing in its intensity. The key to this experience is communication and knowing your lover and being able to heighten their pleasure. I think it is paramount to a transcendental sexual experience that neither partner be selfish lovers. By providing the pleasure to each other, you reach a different plane of sexual existence that must be two sided and all encompassing.
There's no doubt that the ecstatic feelings that sex can induce are partly connected to chemical changes, such as the release of endorphins. But I believe these transcendent effects are mainly due to the fact that sex has a similar—but often stronger—psychological effect to other ‘spiritual' activities like meditation or contemplating nature. It empties our minds, and intensifies our inner energy. The sheer pleasure of sex creates a state of intense absorption. Our attention is taken away from the normal ‘thought-chatter' of our minds, which quickly begins to subside. This is why we may feel that we don't have any problems—because the worrying thoughts which created the ‘problems' are no longer there. When we have sex there's usually silence, stillness and darkness around us, and our attention is effectively closed to everything beyond the desire and pleasure we feel. As a result, we become quiet and still inside, and our psychic energy - which is normally used up in concentration and perception - intensifies, generating a sense of wholeness and well-being.
Like physical exercise and yoga—although again in a more powerful way—sex also appears to generate new energy inside our bodies, or at least of unblock and ease the flow of energy. People who have transcendent sexual experiences often report feeling that they have awakened new energies inside them. This can occur in many different ways, but in my experience it comes with a certain mental connection. It's that intellectual sexuality that brings about this strong bond.
Religions tend to see sex as something to be slightly ashamed of, a ‘weakness of the flesh', a part of the lower, instinctive being which we shouldn't pay much attention to, or should even try to overcome. But perhaps not surprisingly, some esoteric religious groups had a more spiritual view of sex. The Tantric sects of Hinduism and Buddhism (which developed in India in the middle ages) see sex as a symbolic expression of the unity of the universe, and believe that sexual partners can directly experience the bliss which is the nature of the absolute reality of the universe. According to Tantra, the whole of the body is filled with divine energy which becomes aroused during sex, and which we can learn to control. And even within Christianity, the heretical medieval sect, the Brethern of the Free Spirit, had a similar attitude: to them a controlled form of sex was as acceptable as a spiritual practice as prayer or meditation.
So since we know that sex is a gateway to higher states of consciousness, perhaps we should place more emphasis on its spiritual side, rather than thinking of it in purely physical or emotional terms. It's one of the most sacred activities of our lives, and has a transformational power even greater than meditation and yoga, or any other spiritual practice.