Dr. Dean Ornish answered:
At its best, making love is an ecstatic experience when two lovers merge as one, opening their hearts to each other and melting the boundaries that separate them. After my first sexual experience as a teenager, however, I remember thinking, "Is that it? That's all?" There was a brief physiological release but hardly an ecstatic experience. Only much later in life, when I learned to make love with an open heart, did I begin to understand how joyful it could be. There is a growing interest in Tantra and other approaches that help couples learn to combine sexuality and spirituality.
The ecstasy that comes from melting the boundaries between self and other is also part of most religious and spiritual traditions. While there are many pathways to experiencing God or the Self, praying with an open heart is one of the most powerful and joyful. Someone might choose to live a celibate life as a monk or a nun or a swami or a priest out of repression or fear of one's sexual impulses, but at its highest form they might renounce worldly relationships because the feelings of ecstasy and freedom that come from merging with God, with the Self, are so much more powerful even than merging with one's beloved mate. Indeed, in this sacred tradition God is often referred to as the Beloved. As I wrote in chapter 3 of my book, Love and Survival, there is no point in giving up something you enjoy unless what you get back is even better. In this tradition, people believe they are giving up a worldly life for the direct experience of God - a good trade-off.Seen from the highest perspective, we see others as incarnations of God, of the Self, as our self. On a more human level, Dr. James Lynch writes, "The mandate to 'Love your neighbor as you love yourself' is not just a moral mandate. It's a physiological mandate. Caring is biological. One thing you get from caring for others is you're not lonely. And the more connected you are to life, the healthier you are."Find out more about this book: Love and Survival: 8 Pathways to Intimacy and HealthAt its best, making love is an ecstatic experience when two lovers merge as one, opening their hearts to each other and melting the boundaries that separate them. After my first sexual experience as a teenager, however, I remember thinking, "Is that... More