Finding Your Pleasure (philosophically)
If you want to be spiritual, ask difficult questions,
Dr Joanna Kujawa
Spiritual Detective and the author of The Other Goddess: Mary Magdalene and the Goddesses of Eros and Secret Knowledge.
Finding Your Pleasure (with the philosophical flare): After taking a few days off work and promoting of ‘The Other Goddess’ as well as take care of my family and myself, it has come to my attention that for decades I have been living the Spartan-Athenian model and that it is time to change it. Spiritually, I followed, the esoteric Tantric teachings on Consciousness and studied Gnostic and Hermetic texts on Mary Magdalene and the Mysteries of Ascension, however in my daily life, I unconsciously followed the Athenian and Spartan ideals which I chose as a young girl. How did I arrive at them? I was always interested in ancient history and when my literature teacher asked us to write a short story, I placed it in Athens where all the goddesses and gods I knew lived and where all the great artists and philosophers spent their time walking around the agora engaged in philosophical conversation (which I later studied at the University of Toronto in tutorials on Plato’s Dialogues and Aristotle’s Metaphysics and Ethics). But, as I sat down to write my story, with all the glory of the Pantheon and a clear vision of ancient Athens as the centre of learning as I knew then, I realised my difficulty: I was a girl! And I knew enough (quite a lot in fact) that those freedoms and those conversations where available only for men. Ancient Athens was indeed the most backward place for women: their place was clearly designated to the kitchen and motherhood. Men preferred to converse with other men – shouting down women. Knowing that, I made a literary choice of dressing my heroine as a man but things were not the same between myself and Ancient Athens. Since then so I turned to Sparta the warrior state of Greek city-states – not because I had interest in wars but because it was the only place where women had some rights – they could participate in sporting events and were encouraged to be athletic and that was much more than what they could do in Athens. I started to develop a fascination with Sparta and learned everything about it as I had once done with Athens. I was not an athletic girl, but I appreciated the sense of self-discipline and the care of the body. I was used to taking care of my intellect but now I had a body ideal – not an easy thing as my body was changing from a girl to a woman. For the Spartans, I can thank them for keeping my body fit (sometimes brutally) and for the self-discipline and courage. I chose to be fearless in my thoughts and words. This is how the young Joanna re-created herself form a dreamy girl to the Athenian-Spartan hybrid. I am grateful for that – it gave me confidence and courage but with a price – only recently noticing that I pushed myself through anything and I habitually took on challenges but didn’t know how to rest or take care of myself.
But back to finding our pleasure, after the decades of devotion to philosophy and Spartan discipline – pleasure is the last forgotten philosophical frontier. Yes! I opened up to this idea with the study of esoteric Tantra and the way of sensuality for the expansion of Consciousness. In ‘The Other Goddess’, I devote quite a bit of time to the Tantric Goddess Sundari who is little known in the West. She is the Wisdom and Sensuality personified that the West and our civilisation in general pretends does not exist! More so, I was delighted when through my research, and the research of other scholars, I discovered that this kind of women existed in ancient Greece as well and that there was a philosophical (even though not spiritual) school of Sublime and Higher Pleasure called the Epicurean School. The Epicurean School was founded by Epicurus in early 300 BCE and its main ideal was the pursuit of balanced moderate pleasure, peace of mind and healthy body. It is different from the concept of hedonism (pleasure as the final goal at any cost) and its dangerous possible implications. Epicurus himself was a student of another philosopher Aristippus (of a more pleasure-oriented stream of philosophy) who, in turn, was a disciple of Socrates himself. What I like about Aristippus is that his daughter was also a philosopher, Arete of Cyrene, who apparently wrote 40 books and was a head of school of philosophy in her own right. She had a good example in her father’s lover, Lais known for her intellect and beauty and a taste for philosopher-men as she also dated Demosthenes and Diogenes. Epicurus bought some land in Athens with beautiful gardens where he established his school called -The Garden where the pleasures of the body and the soul were discussed daily. He objected to politics as the source of all unbalance and unhealthy ambitions which was contrary to his understanding of life of balanced pleasures. His school, yes even in Athens, was opened for talented women – I assume based on his own experience with Lais and the fact that his daughter Arete was a philosopher in her own right.
So, after a short break from work and the madness of modern life, I began to appreciate The Garden School of Philosophy. Perhaps not as radical and not as transcended as esoteric Tantra can be, but more than ever I am open to the balanced pleasures for body and mind, a gentle stroll in the garden and a witty conversation in bed with a handsome partner – is it too much to ask? Epicurus was one of the few philosophers of Athens who appreciated the Other Goddesses and the Other Women who did not comply with what was admissible to them by the rigid rules of their society and bravely, intelligently, sensually and, at times, naughtily claimed the subtle pleasures that were normally denied to women. To them, and the men who appreciated and supported them, I raise a glass of the best Australian wine (in my own garden, with the book of my own on my lap).
Dr Joanna Kujawa
To order Dr Joanna’s Book – The Other Goddess:
US: http://amzn.to/3KsQmB1 (now also an audiobook)
Or take a course with her on The Goddesses of Eros and Secret Knowledge: https://courses.sacredstories.com/courses/goddesses-of-eros?ref=82dd41