Learning the art of ecstatic orgasm may hold the key to a future without war, a panel discussion at the State of the World Forum has been told.
Ordinarily, a panel with the title "Sex, Power and Politics", held at the Forum in San Francisco on Thursday (Oct 29), might be expected to focus on United States President Bill Clinton's peccadilloes. As it turned out, Billy's willy took the back seat to a far more weighty debate.
French tantric-sex teacher Margot Anand began the discussion, urging her audience to "dream a deeper dream."
Ms. Anand is a "love and ecstasy trainer" and has developed a course of orgasmic training which is taught in nine institutions in several countries, producing 20,000 graduates to date.
She said sex was at the root of all life, and its celebration and understanding was therefore vital to understanding and loving each other. Unfortunately, at present sex was not taken sufficiently seriously, and an "anti-ecstatic conspiracy" had crashed the party.
"How can we love our planet and each other when the teaching of our dominant religion is that sex is somehow dirty and that we are conceived in original sin," Ms. Anand said.
The importance of sex in political terms should not be underestimated, she said. "When healing takes place, sexual energy has enormous power." Sex was also hugely important for leadership: "You cannot be a good leader if you are sexually wounded."
Ms. Anand vacated the podium for Scilla Elworthy, author of "Power and Sex", who provided another piece to the puzzle of why we should be concentrating on understanding and enjoying the sexual realm for the good of the planet. Sex, or at least physicality, was very useful in the battle to rid the world of nuclear weapons.
The Oxford Research Group, of which Ms. Elworthy is a member, works for peace by organizing discussion and dialogue between those involved in making decisions about nuclear weapons, and those seeking their elimination.
Ms. Elworthy said that whenever she held discussions, she always took body workers with her and attempted to get the participants to partake in physical therapy. This was particularly important when dealing with nuclear officials who were traditionally particularly tense.
She gave the example of a meeting discussing the disposal of radioactive isotopes, at which a U.S. nuclear official was clearly very tense. In the morning session there had been much waving of fingers, mostly at an Indian delegate.
"During the lunch break I encouraged him to have some bodywork to relax. He came back with a huge grin. And as he sat down he leaned over to a colleague and said, 'Michael, I've just had a treatment from Deidre - and if you had had a treatment from Deidre then you'd understand the Indian position as I do.'"
Author Marianne Williamson - the author of "A Woman's Worth" - said sex, power and politics were effectively three faces of the same coin.
In considering the topic of discussion, it had occurred to her that when people had problems with sex, they were also likely to have problems with power and politics. Similarly, when someone was having power problems in a relationship, it was likely to also lead to difficulties in sex.
Her touchstone for all three was simple - love.
"If anything you do is centered in love you are fine. Sex for love is good. Sex without love can be destructive. Power exercised in love is good. Power exercised without love is dangerous. Politics expressed in love is good. Politics without love is not."
The final contributor to the panel, Public Agenda Foundation president Daniel Yankelovich, brought the debate to President Clinton.
Mr. Yankelovich said he had never seen as large a gap between the views of society's elite (he singled out Republican congressmen and television news journalists) and the views of the public as he did now over the Clinton-Lewinsky affair.
"The elite assumes they are elite because they have superior knowledge", Mr. Yankelovich said. "But in this debate, that is not the case. In this debate every housewife in America has the same, if not a greater, degree of knowledge about the subject matter."
Why was the elite view so different from that of the public? He asked. "You can understand the Republican Party position, that can be justified for tactical political reasons. But why should journalists and other elites also be holding these positions?"
He suggested all the wailing about President Clinton was occurring because the journalistic elite were not reacting as individuals, and examining the issues through their own values. Rather it appeared they were taking on a posture of indignation on behalf of their audiences.
In the same way that a mother could disapprove of a television show when her children were watching, but find it acceptable when viewing the same show on her own, the commentators were trying to instruct the public they should find something distasteful. The problem was the commentators did not have the self-awareness to realize that - like the mother with the TV program - as adults, they themselves were not actually as offended as they pretended to be.
"These men, these journalists, are such hypocrites it is unbelievable," he said.
The debate continued in a lively fashion once it was opened up to the floor for questions.
The first questioner suggested the problem might well - like so many things - come down to the shortcomings and sexual failings of "old, white men."
Ms. Anand quickly rose to the bait.
"It is true that most of our leaders are male, old and suffer from prostate cancer which can cause impotence. And yes, it is true that sexual repression often finds an outlet in male aggression.
"So they threaten each other with atomic explosions, which, in the end is nothing other than the threat of their premature ejaculation."
The applause was rapturous.